January 7, 2019

Message from Superintendent – Student Passing

To Sparta Area School District Parents:

Yesterday, we lost a member of the Spartan family in a tragic accident on Perch Lake, Jaden Stalsberg, 4th grader at Meadowview Intermediate School.  As a learning community, our hearts go out to the family, friends, and staff members of the Stalsberg family. I was on the scene briefly and I spoke to Police Chief Kuderer, and I saw firsthand their rescue efforts; they did everything they could to help Jaden.  On behalf of the district, I would like to express gratitude to all of the first responders who were part of yesterday’s rescue efforts. At this time, I want to share a few thoughts:

  • Be patient with your child with each other:  Everyone processes grief differently, and everyone is entitled to feel how they feel.  Emotions can range from numb “nothingness” to intense emotion.
  • There’s not a timeline:  Grief has a way of manifesting in its own time and in its own way.  Don’t be surprised if you find your child having an unusual or oddly timed reactions when you might least expect it.
  • Regardless of whether your child knew Jaden, we are all experiencing his loss as part of our learning community.
  • Jaden’s passing may raise new questions for your child about life and death, and your child may experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, fear for personal safety, and feeling out of control.  We have counselors and school psychologists from throughout the district available to help you and your child process what has happened in the coming days and weeks.
  • If you believe your child needs additional counseling support, please do not hesitate to contact the Meadowview counseling office at 608-366-3409.  
  • Response plans are in place at all schools and at all levels to ensure that our students and families have the supports needed during this challenging time.
  • We will be providing ongoing support to students, staff, and families for as long as needed.

The loss of Jaden is and will continue to be deeply felt throughout the district.  In the days ahead, there will undoubtedly be difficult moments for all of us to endure in the wake of this tragedy.  While everyone will be responding to Jaden’s passing in different ways, our staff is equipped and committed to meeting the needs of all students as they arise.

Please keep Jaden and the entire Stalsberg family in your thoughts during this difficult time.


Dr. Amy Van Deuren
Superintendent, Sparta Area School District