Sixth-grader Nicole Mitchell was walking laps around the school gym when she collapsed on the floor. Teachers raced over and performed CPR on her. She died later at Wilson Memorial Hospital. Officials say a genetic heart condition was the likely cause of death.
Rick McMahon, principal at Southern Nash Middle School, says the school has never been through an incident like this.
"The staff is really upset. This is not something that we have ever gone through before here," he says. "To lose an 11-year-old child is horrible."
McMahon opted not to tell the students about the incident before leaving school. He says breaking the news before sending them home for the weekend would be unfair to the children.
He understands that the students will find out over the weekend, but he says their parents will be home with them to help them through it.
"I did not get back (to school) until right before dismissal from the hospital with the family, and letting the students know prior to getting on the bus and not being able to have the time to work with them, we felt that would be irresponsible," he says.
Counseling teams will be at the school Tuesday to help console students.
The school has a first-responder system that is trained to work with emergencies before crisis teams arrive at the school. McMahon says he was very proud of how well the system worked, but was still upset that they could not revive the girl.