‘Well-liked’ Portsmouth High School student dies

School department offering counseling for students


PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth school community is reeling from the news today that a male student at Portsmouth High School has died.

Superintendent of Schools Ana Riley shared the sad news to the school community in an e-mail sent out shortly after noon on Wednesday.

The student was not identified, nor was the cause of death revealed. Fire Chief Michael Cranson said the death was not related to the serious fire that ripped through three homes in Common Fence Point early Wednesday morning.

“Sadly, we were informed today that a student passed away,” Ms. Riley stated in the e-mail. “The student was well liked by his peers and the PHS faculty and staff. As our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this time of sadness, I want to share information with you regarding plans to support students, staff and you during this difficult time. 

“You may find that your child may want to seek support or ask questions. A Drop-In Assistance Center has been established at PHS in cooperation with our local mental health agency and Portsmouth School Department mental health providers. The Drop-In Assistance Center will be available to provide mental health support to students, community members and staff today including after-school hours. 

“Further information will be provided in subsequent communication regarding supports over the next few days. It is likely that your child may experience significant grief on hearing about this student’s death and I encourage you and your child to come together with our school community, students, and staff during this difficult time. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”

A staff member in the main office at PHS said all press inquiries were being directed to Ms. Riley, but she was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon. 

We will update this story as we learn more.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.