LONDONDERRY — A popular Londonderry High School junior died Sunday night at Children's Hospital Boston from complications of viral meningitis.
Rebecca "Becca" Tenney, 16, was flown by medical helicopter to Boston Saturday morning from Parkland Medical Center in Derry, according to Karen West, a spokeswoman for the family.
West said Becca became ill a week and a half ago with flu-like symptoms.
"It spiraled from there," she said. "She went to Parkland after midnight Thursday morning and was diagnosed with viral meningitis early Friday evening."
West said Becca was airlifted to Children's Hospital after her heart stopped. She was on life support until Sunday night, West said.
"Her parents (Tammy and Mark) and sister Kassie were there with her," said Mary Zimolka, Becca's aunt. "There were also about 40 kids from Londonderry High who were out in the hallway."
Londonderry High music director Andy Soucy said Becca had many friends in the band. She played alto saxophone.
"She was just the sweetest kid," Soucy said yesterday. "It's been a rough day. We spent time in each class talking about her."
Becca was going with the band to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
"She'd already picked her roommates," Soucy said. "They are totally upset. All the kids are thinking of ways they can express themselves by honoring Becca."
Superintendent Nate Greenberg said the high school's in-house crisis team met at 6:30 a.m. yesterday.
"We set up counseling support for the students and we'll provide whatever additional support the family would like," he said yesterday.
Londonderry High Principal Jason Parent said many students spoke to counselors throughout the day yesterday.
"Mike Dolphin (guidance director) and I followed Becca's schedule to talk with her classmates," Parent said.
In addition to band, Becca was a member of the ski and track teams, and Drama Club.
She was one of the school's Pantene Beautiful Lengths "Angels," and donated her hair during last winter's pep rally for wigs for cancer patients. She also was active with the Londonderry Girl Scouts and the Londonderry United Methodist Church. She used to be one of the few girls who played flag football.
Parent sent an e-mail to parents and guardians yesterday, notifying them of Becca's death. In it he told parents viral meningitis is generally less severe than bacterial meningitis and is usually resolved without specific treatment. Meningitis — viral and bacterial — is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and around the brain.
Chris Adamski, chief of disease control at the state Department of Health and Human Services, said she has been in close contact with the school.
"We don't believe other students are at risk," Adamski said yesterday. "Viral meningitis tends not to be as severe as bacterial. People react to viruses differently and this is a very sad case."
Calling hours for Becca are from 4 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Peabody Funeral Home, 290 Mammoth Road. Funeral services will be on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Londonderry United Methodist Church on Mammoth Road.
Donations may be made in Becca's name to Londonderry United Methodist Church Youth Ministries or to Londonderry High School for a scholarship to be set up in her memory. Checks can be made out to the high school with Rebecca Tenney in the memo.
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