The Grade Blog

Thursday, Apr 03 2014 06:46 PM

Shafter schoolgirl dies; school to continue fundraising

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    By Contributed photo

    Jillayne Lowe, one of Isabel Rodriguez's former teachers at Sequoia Elementary School, shared this picture of her Thursday. It's one of the family's favorites that the child's mother had on her phone.

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    By Contributed photo

    Jillayne Lowe, one of Isabel Rodriguez's former teachers at Sequoia Elementary School, had her students create this wreath for Isabel.

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BY LAUREN FOREMAN Californian staff writer

Students at Sequoia Elementary School colored paper flowers and decorated them with photos. Their teacher, Jillayne Lowe, pieced the flowers together into a paper wreath with the words "Friend" and "Isabel" printed on connected ribbons.

The class had made the wreath in honor of Isabel Rodriguez,a former student in the Richland School District.

Related Info

Pre-event tickets for the enchilada dinner are $8 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets sold the night of the event are $10 for adults and $7 for children. The event will run from 3-7 p.m. in the Sequoia Elementary School cafeteria, 500 Fresno Ave., Shafter.

To donate to the Rodriguez family, visit

She died March 28 after years of battling an unknown medical condition.

Lowe, one of Isabel's former teachers at Sequoia Elementary, said the family held a funeral service and burial Thursday in Shafter.

Businesses, students and teachers in the Shafter and Bakersfield communities rallied around the 11-year-old, whose medical condition was never determined by specialists at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Children's Hospital Central California and Stanford's Lucille Packard Children's Hospital.

Students operated lemonade stands, contributed coins in collection boxes and distributed flyers to help defray the family's medical costs.

Lowe has helped organize an enchilada dinner and silent auction. She said fundraising efforts to help the family deal with medical bills and funeral costs will continue.

The enchilada dinner and silent auction will be from 3-7 p.m. April 10 in the Sequoia Elementary School cafeteria.

The school has a goal to raise $10,000. About $3,100 had been raised by Thursday on an online donation site.

Lowe said her goal was to support the family during a time when Isabel's mother was also struggling with breast cancer.

"We just want to make sure that they are worry free," Lowe said.

Isabel was bedridden in the days before her death and had lost use of the right side of her body. She had only limited use of her left side.

Isabel's mother and godmother drove her to Madera last Wednesday because doctors had planned to give her a regular checkup. Instead, they discovered she had pneumonia.

"And then she just took a turn for the worse," Lowe said.

She read to Isabel each day in the weeks before her death and often brought the child one of her favorite treats.

"She loved doughnut holes," Lowe said. "I took doughnut holes to the service today."

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