School reacts to death


Emma Weisner

Sophomore Carolyn Guddal receives a flu shot during school Jan. 17.

Lani Abelson and Grace Steffenhagen

Community programs inspired by freshman’s passing


After freshman Carly Christenson passed away because of complications from influenza, students, from the basketball team to St. Louis Park residents, organized various memorials to honor her memory.

With help from Student Council and Park Nicollet Clinic, Park gave free flu vaccines to students from 2-6 p.m. Jan. 17 in the cafeteria. The clinic was open to students aged 5-18. High school students could receive flu shots after turning in parental consent forms.

Vice president of primary care at Park Nicollet Joan Sandstrom, who organized the clinic, said more than 250 vaccines were distributed.

Junior Alyx Elkins, who received the shot during school, said she appreciated the availability of the vaccine.

“I usually don’t have time or know where to go, but they did a good job and everything ran smoothly,” Elkins said.

Although not all students were vaccinated, Sandstrom noted the importance of getting the shot, despite age. “People say (the vaccine) is only 60 percent effective, but 60 percent is better than zero percent,” Sandstrom said. “I think people forget influenza can be a very bad disease.”

In addition to the clinic, orange balloons flew from mailboxes and lampposts to honor Christenson. The girls’ basketball team also painted the senior wall, and students made shirts in her memory. Those who attended counseling sessions in the gym after Christenson’s death decorated posters that were hung up around the school.

Girls’ basketball captain senior Jane Henderson, who helped paint the senior wall, said it gave the team its own way to mourn.

“(The wall) is a silent reminder, and it’s helpful for people who are still affected by (her death),” Henderson said.

St. Louis Park residents, like freshman Gabrielle Johnson, also memorialized Christenson by flying orange balloons outside of their homes.

“The balloons show that our community cares so much and is grieving together,” Johnson said.