Mt. Tabor Middle School students, parents grieve 8th grader's death

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The student killed in a campsite accident over the weekend was part of a group of 50 kids, who just got back from a two week trip to Japan. Portland Public Schools told us the Japanese immersion community is very tight.

At Mt. Tabor Middle School, some students had to hear the news about the death of 14-year-old Cruz Miller from fellow students. Their classmate and friend won't be back. Students grieved outside, parents gathered and supported one another, too.

"We've got a bunch of kids filled with tears, we've got staff coming and going from the safe room," said PPS spokeswoman Christine Miles.

The "safe room" is where grief counselors were placed.

"The teachers are just as emotionally connected to these kids as they are with one another," she said.

Almost 200 kids at Mt. Tabor School are part of the Japanese immersion program.

"Many of these kids grew up together," said Miles.

In fact, some just got back from a big trip to Japan.

"So they had two weeks of incredible bonding, adventure, learning experiences. It brought them closer together," Miles said.

Relatives and friends who heard the news first expressed their grief on social media.

A relative in San Diego wrote on his Facebook page, "For cruz ..." and posted the Johnny Cash song "We'll meet again".

A teenage classmate says on Twitter, "I'm gonna miss you. Loved getting to know you these three years of my life".

And another teen on Facebook: "Wish i could go back two mins before this all happened so that i could save you".

The district says it may have its crisis team return to the school Wednesday.