At a school football game in late September, senior Nyla Covington was crowned homecoming queen by her classmates. However, shortly after being crowned, she felt impelled to crown another person.
On the day her mother died of cancer, Brittany Walters made a promise to her mother: she and her father would attend homecoming, where the high school senior was nominated for queen.
When she was growing up, her mother, AJ Walters, (AJ) an administrator at Mississippi’s Forrest County Agricultural High School, never missed anything, from awards ceremonies to sports. Walters claimed her mother didn’t want her to miss her big moment.
Walters, who wants to be a nurse, didn’t win homecoming queen that night, but she did end the night with a crown thanks to an act of kindness that has brought healing to a hurting family and community.
Covington walked over to Walters, standing by her cowboy hat-wearing father, and placed the crown on her after obtaining permission from school administrators.
“I just felt like it was something that was put on my heart,” Covington said. “It was really just for her, to bring up her day a little bit, and she’d rather have her mum than a crown … but the point was, I was telling her that she was her mum’s queen and I was just letting her know that she was loved by many and especially me.”
When Covington’s gesture took her off guard, Walters said she was thinking of her mother, the “school mum” to so many who were both standing behind them and gazing back at them from the stands.
“I just felt so—like so much love from her—and I just felt so much love for her and the whole school,” Walters said of Covington. “As soon as I got off the field, I just got hundreds of hugs from every single person in the stands.”
When Brittany attended the event, she had just lost her mother to cancer the day before. As a tribute to her mom, this young woman put on her dress and went to the homecoming dance. The mom requested her husband to be with their girl on that special day since she feared that she wouldn’t make it.
“She made me promise her that I was going to come out here with Brittany because she didn’t want to ruin her day, her homecoming day,” Sean Walters, Brittany’s dad, said. “She said that’s something she’ll remember for the rest of her life.”
Amidst their sadness and grief, both father and daughter made their way to the school to support A.J. After thinking about her mom and how much she wanted to be there, the next she knows, Nyla came over and hugged her, but she didn’t expect Nyla to hand over the crown.
FCAHS employed Brittany’s mother AJ as a secretary. In Nyla’s opinion, Brittany’s mother, was really nice and compassionate, and treasured by all in the school.
“She’s like the person that I want everybody to be like, honestly, cause she just smiled.” Nyla made the comment.
“Her spirit was what made her special,” said Will Wheat, school principal, when she was going through the toughest of times, she always wore a smile. For the Walter family, it was a difficult day, but Nyla wanted to leave them something lovely as a memento.
As Nyla recalls, “I told her it belonged to her, and then she was, like, backing away,” Nyla recollects.”I was like, ‘No, come here, get it, you’re your mom’s queen.’ I wanted her to know that, and then I hugged her.’”
Mom AJ was undoubtedly smiling at both queens at the time as “her way of still touching people” and “what she lived her whole life around.”