Before getting down to business at just the third board meeting of the year, members of the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education on Thursday paused for a moment to talk about Emily Stillman.
With feelings still raw from attending the 19-year-old West Bloomfield native's funeral Tuesday, Board President Ingrid Day described the girl she got to know through her own daughter's involvement in forensics. It was one area, among many, that Stillman excelled at, she said.
"The Andover students and community were rocked pretty hard this past weekend," Day said. "Emily was a person that was full of life, it just exuded from her."
Stillman, who graduated in 2011 and attended Kalamazoo College, died Sunday in Kalamazoo from complications brought on by bacterial meningitis. The rapidly-contagious disease causes inflammation of the protective tissues surrounding the spinal cord and brain.
Day went on to describe the funeral at the Dorfman Chapel as packed with students and friends, and while tragically sad, it was extremely special. She said she was particularly struck to see the number of Kalamazoo College students that Stillman befriended in such a relatively short time, and how many of their comments mirrored what Stillman's close high school friends had to day.
"You realize you don't even the know the power that an individual student can have," Day explained. "She was such a special young lady."
Kalamazoo College provided a bus for about 40 students, faculty and staff to attend the funeral, spokesman Jeff Palmer said. The Student Health Center also provided antibiotics and consulted with students following Stillman's diagnosis. Though she lived on campus, no other meningitis cases have been reported, and the Kalamazoo County Health Department indicated the likelihood of additional cases was very low, a news release stated.
The health department provided two nurses to assist the college's health team, and together they treated about 150 people that may have been in close contact (within three feet) with Stillman during the week prior to her death, Palmer said.
The Stillman family is in the process of establishing a special fund to find a cure for bacterial meningitis, according to Stillman's obituary. Until finalized, Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield will accept donations on Stillman's behalf at 3999 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield, MI 48323, or by calling 248-737-8700.
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