Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2014


A sea of people wearing green flooded the lawn in front of Opp Middle School Thursday night to pay tribute to the life of a girl everyone said just loved to smile.

Sophie Donaldson, a seventh-grade student at Opp Middle School, passed away Wednesday from injuries she sustained when she was involved in a three-car crash Monday near Elba, along with her mother, Wendy, and twin brother, Seth. Sophie was airlifted to a Birmingham hospital, where she later passed away.

Thursday, teachers, students, administrators and community members donned her favorite color and spoke of her kindness, as much for themselves as anyone else.

“I feel your pain; I see your tears,” OMS Principal Aaron Hightower told the crowd. “I want you to celebrate her with us this afternoon, because it allows us as a community to heal.”

Hightower said Sophie’s presence is one that will be sorely missed at school, because of how the young girl acted and reacted to the people she encountered.

“She touched us all,” he said. “And it wasn’t necessarily by something that came out of her mouth. Actions speak louder than words, and that’s what she did.”

And then there was that smile.0711-Sophie-D.-2

“She just had such a big smile,” said Sydney Preston, who played basketball with Sophie at OMS.

Fellow player Angela King said the smile was the result of an always-positive outlook on life.

“She was always in high spirits,” King said. “She always wanted everybody to be happy.”

OMS coach and teacher Sterling Driver had similar memories of his former student.

“I taught her last year,” Driver said. “She was just a real sweet kid. She was very sweet; very intelligent.”

Hightower said Sophie is now in a better place, leaving only her family and community to suffer while attempting to heal.

“She was my child too,” Hightower said. “Death is a part of God’s process, but it’s hard for us to understand it. God received an angel yesterday.”