Fri | Apr 10, 2020

Central High student dies from dengue

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/ Gleaner Writer
Fourteen-year-old Areel Foster
Areel Foster in rehearsal for an 'All Together Sing' performance for her Central High School in Clarendon.

Fourteen-year-old Central High School grade nine student Areel Foster succumbed to her battle with dengue fever on Wednesday morning at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH). The Clarendon-based school and family members are devastated by the tragedy.

Grade Supervisor Marjorieth Manning told The Gleaner that she was having a hard time changing the mood of Foster's class as the students would not stop crying.

"It's gloomy, it's sad, it's tears. Honestly, I am out of words," she shared.

Manning said that they got the sad news at about 10 o'clock in the morning as the music teacher was in constant dialogue with Foster's family.

Foster, who sang lead on more than one occasion on the school's All Together Sing choir, was the pride and joy of the institution.

Described as someone with a bubbly personality, disciplined, talented, and just someone who you couldn't ignore, the teen's death has not only shaken her classmates, but the wider school population as well as those in the community who followed her exploits in the TVJ choir competition.

"It's hard, very hard. We are dumbfounded and don't know what to say, but we have to be there for them and allow them to cry," said Manning, sounding on the brink of tears herself.




Vice-Principal Christine Lumsden is thankful that Foster was a Christian and recalls being deeply moved by the song I'm Dreaming of A City, which she did in the competition.

"That song ministered so much to me, and now, it seems so prophetic," she mused.

Lumsden said that Foster did not return to school after the Christmas holidays as she was not feeling well. Information gleaned is that the teen went to spend the holidays with relatives in Portmore and upon returning to the parish, she fell ill.

She was first admitted to the May Pen Hospital and later transferred to KPH.

"The teacher who led the choir spoke with her the night before she died on video chat and Foster confirmed she had been communicating with God," Lumsden said, adding that the news gave her great hope and happiness that Areel made the right choice.

Lumsden also used the opportunity to warn members of the community to take the necessary precautions against what is happening with the dengue outbreak.

"This is something we need not to overlook and educate the children to take care of themselves," she said, sharing that the school was planning a session for today to address the seriousness of the epidemic.

Central High won its opening match against McGrath High in the first round of TVJ's Schools' Challenge Quiz competition on Wednesday evening, and commenting on the victory, Lumsden said that Foster's death was so impactful that she didn't remember to remind the students to watch the match.