A Bakken Elementary teacher died unexpectedly Wednesday morning, stunning the school community.
Nadine Bloomquist, who started teaching for Williston Public School District No. 1 in 2012, was a strategist at the school, which educates more than 600 fifth and sixth graders. She worked with students on their reading and math skills, according to school principal Jeremy Melhoff.
He remembered her as someone who went above and beyond for her students and who always had a positive attitude.
“She always just wanted the best for her kids,” he said.
Bloomquist, 53, got sick last week with what she thought was the flu. Her condition worsened and she was flown to Trinity Hospital in Minot on Sunday after being diagnosed with viral pneumonia, Melhoff wrote in an email to students’ families.
Melhoff said he got the call from Bloomquist’s husband around 8 a.m. Wednesday, just as school was starting.
After he got the news, he contacted the district, and within 15 to 20 minutes counselors from all around the district were at the school.
“All of them are here to help our kids and staff,” he said.
He also had an assembly for each of the schools two grades to tell them of Bloomquist’s death.
Melhoff said he often speaks the school as a family, and that was especially true when facing tragic situations like this.
“Today, that was my message to my kids,” he said. “We’ve got to come together and get through this.”
He echoed that sentiment in his email to the families of Bakken Elementary students.
“This is a sad day for our Bakken family,” Melhoff wrote. “Mrs. Bloomquist was a dedicated teacher who worked hard for her students, and for our school.”
In an email he sent to school staff, he also praised Bloomquist.
“Words cannot express how much she will be missed,” he wrote. “I hope all of you know how appreciated you are, and how thankful we are to be a part of the Coyote Family with you. Thank you for all that you do for our students, and for each other. At times like this, we need family more than anything, and that includes our Coyote Family.”
School staff had collected about $1,200 for the family earlier this week to help pay for food and hotels while Bloomquist was in the hospital.
On Tuesday night, Melhoff drove to Minot to deliver the donations and to talk with Bloomquist’s family.
“It was a tough trip,” he said.
The school had planned on having a “hat day” today where students could make a donation that would go to Bloomquist’s family and get to wear a hat on the last day before the district’s Easter break.
The plan is going to move forward, but with a different focus now.
“We’re turning it into a way to honor Mrs. Bloomquist,” Melhoff said.