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AF band members pay tribute to former instructor



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PROVO -- The American Fork High School marching band performed for the first time Tuesday night since a beloved band teacher was killed.

Heather Christensen died in a bus crash Saturday night as the band was returning from a competition at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Tuesday night's program was filled with moments of emotion.

American Fork won first place in their division as well as sweeping all possible sub categories, including best visual performance and best color guard in Tuesday's competition. But students say it wasn't about taking home the top trophy; it was about completing a performance Christensen would have been proud of.

AF band members pay tribute to former instructor

It was always planned that the theme for the band would be a tribute to veterans--people who dedicated their lives in service to others. Members of the band turned large posters around revealing photos of veterans.

The final photo they revealed was that of 33-year-old Heather Christensen. Then, in a moment of silence, and a member of the color guard placed a rose at the base of the photos.

It was an emotional moment, and one people say fit perfectly with the theme of the performance. Christensen was not only a dedicated teacher, but in Saturday's bus crash, when the driver seemingly lost consciousness, Christensen stepped forward to grab the wheel.

"I have nothing but absolute respect and love for her," said parent Wendy Jones. "As a friend also, I knew her very well. I cannot say enough for what she did that night."

"She's a hero, and I think she's part of the Greatest Generation. She served our school. She served our students and was very selfless in her last act," said American Fork High School Principal Carolyn Merrill.

Every member of the marching band was in attendance Tuesday night. Many in the stands, including members of other bands, wore red ribbons pinned to their sleeves as a tribute to Christensen.

Investigators are still looking into what caused the bus driver to black out. They're waiting on blood tests and medical records.

Tuesday night was not focused on the crash, however, but on the life of Heather Christensen--a woman who obviously made a difference in the lives of many.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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