PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Port St. Joe High School and the Gulf County community mourned the loss of two students on Monday afternoon.
“You know, you remember them most positive light that you can. Port St. Joe Athletic Director Tanner Jones said. “Remember them how you want to remember them.”
Jones talks about 18-year-old Travis (TJ) Jenkins and 16-year-old Andrew Sheppard.
“T.J. had two younger brothers. Go be there for them boys. Shep had two older sisters. Go be there for them. Fill the void for them where you can,” Jones said. “Love on their mamas, love on their daddies, you know, be there. And think as long as they live, that will be all right.”
Both teens were killed Saturday night in a car accident on County Road 386.
The hallways of Port St. Joe High School were empty on Monday. Classes were canceled following the deaths of Jenkins and Sheppard.
This was done to allow faculty and administration to prepare and ready themselves to aid students from a mental health standpoint.
Port St. Joe High School Principal Sissy Godwin said that all end-of-semester exams have been canceled this week, with the exception of those students on the cusp of a passing grade. In that scenario, the school will accommodate the students as well as possible.
“For these families and those teammates and close friends of these boys, we feel like it’s important for us to capture this moment so that they recognize how much we love them, how much the community loves them, and that we’re here to go through this with them,” Godwin said.
Jenkins and Sheppard grew up in Port St. Joe, raised by the small-town community who knew them as family. Both were heavily involved in athletics and played on the Tiger Sharks Varsity football team, playing in the spring jamboree just a few days ago.
“Friday playing kickball. T.J. was there for five periods. I was like, how many English classes do you have? You know, he’s out there playing kickball and he’s having a blast,” Jones said. “You know, he’s just playful and he was fun to be around. Big smile on his face. Shep, you know, Shep being Shep, great smile. Very laid back, reserved, and what would come out of a shell when he needed to.”
Port St. Joe High School received an outpouring of support from around the Panhandle, and the unity within the Gulf County community is what continues to push them forward.
“Any time these types of things happen in our community, we come together and come together to love each other, to support each other, to try to be there. To help our families know that, you know, we’re there for the long haul for them,” Jones said.
Port St. Joe High School will reopen to students on Tuesday, May 23. Faculty and staff are ready to help students get through the tragedy. The school will also host an assembly to address the students with any questions they may have.
An account has been set up at Capital City Bank in Port St. Joe to make donations to the families of TJ and Andrew. If you would like to donate, see the directions on the image below.