Classes resumed at Coral Reef High School on Monday morning after a student died from bacterial meningitis.
"We all thought it wasn't real," said Jonathan Stadmire. "I was stunned at what I heard."
"One of our own. It's scary," said Stephanie Vanderbiezen.
Valdez, a senior at the school, started feeling sick on Wednesday. On Thursday, he went to an urgent care and received antibiotics. By Friday, he was in the emergency room, diagnosed with meningitis. He died about an hour later.
"Just walking into that class I had with him and seeing that empty seat next to me," said Sophia Cue. "I don't know what my reaction is going to be like."
Even for those who didn't know Valdez, the news was shocking.
"The parents of the student must be grieving," said Kurt Burgess. "He might have already chose out his college. He was too young to die."
Students wore black on Monday in honor of Valdez.
"I didn't know him, but it's out of respect that I wear black for him," said Vanderbiezen.
"He was a part of our student body and we can't just let that go by without some sort of recognition," said Cue.
"As we keep pushing forward, we'll always remember him," said Stadmire. "No matter how much time passes, we'll always remember him."
Health officials said the bacterial meningitis is unrelated to a recent outbreak of fungal meningitis deaths linked to contaminated pain injections. County health officials are continuing their investigation to determine if anyone else has contracted the illness.
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include: a fever, stiff neck, headache, and vomiting.