Tree honors deceased first-grader
Though painful memories were rekindled, the parents of a 7-year-old who died unexpectedly last fall said they were grateful for Lansing Elementary School's support in staging a ceremony in which a tree was dedicated to their daughter.
Megan Carlson, who was a first-grader at the school, died in October after a viral infection led to encephalitis, the swelling of the brain. Megan had been sick for two days but was fever-free for 24 hours on Oct. 29 when she was sent back to school, her parents, Mark and Janae Carlson, said. That day, however, she was sent home with a 103-degree fever. The fever caused the encephalitis, and Megan didn't recover. She died later that day.
Janae Carlson said the encephalitis, which caused Megan's death, only occurred in rare cases.
"She wasn't sick or anything (before the virus)," Janae Carlson said.
On Thursday, a flowering dogwood tree was dedicated to Megan at the school. Her former classmates in Mary Noyes' first-grade class and her brother Ryan's third-grade class were on hand for the ceremony.
LES librarian Mary Gale Kramer read the first chapter of a book called "Princess Megan," which the Carlsons had donated to the library in Megan's honor. The third-graders read acrostic poems using words to describe Megan that began with each letter of her name; Ryan's description of his sister was "Merry, Excellent, Grand, Active, Noisy: That was Megan."
Lilly Dorsey, Ryan's third-grade teacher, introduced a poem, "In Memoriam," that her father had written about a young girl who goes to heaven. Paul Dorsey, Lilly's husband and English as a second language teacher at the school, read the poem.
Two of Megan's cousins, second-graders Nick and Maggie Wagner, read some of their favorite memories of Megan. The first- and third-grade classes sang "Each of Us is a Flower" and danced around the tree.
At the end of the ceremony, Noyes' class released pink helium balloons into the sky.
The tree dedicated Thursday was donated by the PTA and planted that day. The PTA also donated a plaque with Megan's name to be placed near the tree.
Janae Carlson said she thought having the ceremony was a wonderful idea.
"It's nice not to be forgotten," she said.
The Carlsons chose the tree to be dedicated. Mark Carlson said they wanted a flowering tree and let their 3-year-old daughter Jill help to choose the flowering dogwood.
Linda Gilliland, Megan's grandmother who also attended the ceremony, said the family also had a memorial rose garden at home.
"I just think they're just such a special flower for a special girl," she said.