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One school, six students killed

One school, six students killed

BALTIMORE, Md. (WBFF) -- Baltimore students went back to school this week, following a summer of record violence in the city.

At one school in West Baltimore, the first day of class came with a tragic realization; the loss of six classmates in the past year. All six students shot to death in what has become one of America’s most violent cities.

Students returning to Excel Academy on Tuesday were greeted by City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises and Mayor Catherine Pugh. There were also mental health professionals and counselors on hand. New posters also welcomed students back to school. They describe how to treat a gunshot or stab wound.

“Yeah, it is that intense for a lot of them. It is,” said Dr. Sonja Santelises.

Since last October, six students from Excel Academy have been killed. Each one gunned down on the streets of Baltimore. Not one reached the age of 20.

“Schools like this are taking our young people who are living, really living, in what are incredibly violent situations.” said Santelises.

Six lives cut short, like Markel Scott, who dropped out of school, but according to media reports, had recently re-enrolled and been accepted into Baltimore City Community College. He never got to see that dream. He was killed in March.

There’s also Lavar Douglas. His death was captured on surveillance cameras in West Baltimore. He was killed by a Coppin State University police officer after allegedly shooting at a car. Prosecutors ruled the officer's actions justified.

“That’s the way that Baltimore is. It’s a lot of violence on the street, a lot of negativity, so something is bound to happen,” an Excel student told Project Baltimore.

Dr. Santelises opposed starting school after Labor Day, in part because of the violence many Baltimore students face on the streets.

“It is life or death,” she said. “For a lot of our young people, the safest place they could be is in school.”

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