FULTONDALE—The student parking lot at Fultondale High was barely half-full Wednesday morning as the bell echoed off the old brick walls. It was as if some believed to not arrive meant, perhaps, the night before was mistaken.
One teacher said she heard the news as she sipped her morning coffee; another read the woeful words Tuesday night and wished she hadn’t. Two Fultondale High School students are dead, and there’s no easy way to hear that.
Tears fell on Wednesday morning as students and staff gathered for prayer in the wake of a cruel 48 hours. On Monday, Fultondale junior Shelton Waldrop died after a three-year bout with cancer, and Tuesday brought with it a fatal car accident involving another Wildcat student—14-year-old Destiny Marie Walker.
“We saw it on social media last night that the kids wanted to gather,” said Fultondale Principal Dr. Stephanie Robinson. “One of them said, ‘Let’s gather together in the parking lot and pray and just be together,’ and I thought it would be best to come inside and do this as a full group.”
“I just reminded them that we don’t have answers. We’re all looking for answers. Our comfort is in our hope that God can get us through this,” she continued.
Robinson opened the floor for students to share their memories of both Shelton and Destiny. Two kids took turns on the microphone in front of a somber student body in the school’s gymnasium. Another simply prayed.
“Their hearts are broken. They don’t have answers. They’re just trying to remember the positive memories right now—that’s what they’re searching for,” said Robinson, who has now lost a total of three students in her more than 20 years as an educator.
Katelyn Hubbard, who attended FHS in the early 2000s, died in a car accident on prom weekend. Her picture now hangs in the lobby outside the Wildcats' competition gym.
According to authorities, Walker was pronounced dead at the scene Tuesday night when a car she was riding in struck a tree off Rouse Road in Warrior. The single-car accident happened around 7:30 p.m., and left three more teens hospitalized.
The others, none of whom are Fultondale students, are listed as a 16-year-old driver and two 15-year-old passengers. All three were transported to UAB hospitals. Their identities have not been released.
As students exit through the main corridor at Fultondale High School Wednesday, they’ll pass a big blue and orange bow, and at least for a moment they’ll remember just how fragile life is.
Fultondale family, we are saddened that our own Wildcat Shelton Waldrop passed away today. Please remember his family and our students and teachers in your thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/EBalkxkqnt— Fultondale High School (@FultondaleS) February 19, 2019
💔love you little bro pic.twitter.com/GmC5Txl06d— jaylon hicks (@D1boundjayy1) February 20, 2019
Two people in the same week she was young she couldn’t even enjoy high school yet this one hit me deep 💔🌹😔🥺🤧 pic.twitter.com/XLaP6pMvbz— Jaysonjones (@Jaysonjones21) February 20, 2019