Emma Phillips

Natalie C and Sarah B

Last year, Seventh grader Emma Phillips overcame a severe case of influenza. After being hospitalized for several months, she has returned to school, but with many changes. Her doctors believed she would never be able to walk again but she stayed able and is now on the dance team.


“I think it affected me because when you’re not at school people don’t think about you as much”, Phillips said. “So when you come back it’s not the same and people treat you a little different. When I came back to school last year I had to leave class five minutes early with a friend and I would come to school only half a day. I think at first people treated me really different because I just hadn’t been there for a awhile and something big had happened to me.


In the hospital, Emma was diagnosed with Acute Necrotizing Encephalopathy (ANE), a genetic disorder where something as simple as a fever could lead to hospitalization.  She has to be careful at all times in order to not get sick again. She is now in a study skills class taught by Karina Garcia.


“This year I think since people didn’t see me as much last year I don’t have as many close friends,” Phillips said. “I learned that it is important to come to public school and have more experiences because you can make more relationships that way.”


In 2018, the flu vaccination was only 40 percent effective, however, Emma did not receive a flu shot last year. Now, doctors have pushed her to take any precaution she can in order to not get sick again.


“Anytime I get a fever I can get sick like this again,” Phillips said. “I had to go to the hospital. I’m just being really cautious and whenever someone’s sick, I try to stay away from them as much as possible and I wash my hands whenever I can.”


Although Emma was absent for much of last year, she still has friends who have supported her through everything. Some of her friends even helped her by bringing her school work to her and offering support.


“I think that Emma is a very kind person and she’s always there for me,” Seventh grader Brylee Bays said. “She got very sick last year, and she pulled through even though the doctor said she wasn’t ever going to be able to walk or talk again. But now she is doing dance with me and she can walk and can do everything that I can do. That made me feel really good. I learned that if people say you can’t do things then you still can.”