New security measures at Alexandria City High School following student’s death

Alexandria City High School revealed the additional measures it is taking for the remainder of the school year following the death of a student who was stabbed during a fight.

Luis Mejia Hernandez, 18, a senior at the school, died from his injuries Tuesday in a brawl involving dozens of students.

“As we continue to mourn and grieve, the well-being and safety of our students and staff is our utmost priority,” Executive Principal Peter Ballas said in a letter to the school community Friday.

Starting Tuesday, Alexandria police will be at the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses. There will be security officers inside and outside both campuses, and entry/access points will be restricted and monitored.

Students will need identification to access all campuses, and staff will be checking them before entry.

Classes will transition via schoolwide announcement to reduced hallway traffic. At the King Street campus, classes will be dismissed by floors. At Minnie Howard, classes will be dismissed by hallway.

The school is also implementing staggered and incremental afternoon dismissal — it will be done by hallway. This means some students will arrive home later than usual.

As for sports, athletic competitions will take place at away fields or at nonschool fields in Alexandria. School staff will review afterschool activities to make sure they are supported. There will also be changes to the lunch schedule and procedure.

The high school shifted to asynchronous learning Wednesday and synchronous virtual learning for the rest of the week due to the ongoing investigation into what happened Tuesday at the Bradlee Shopping Center.

Balas said the school wanted to take time to put supports in place for students’ “mental health and well-being for the remainder of the school year.”

Students participated in “community circles” this week to express their feelings, and Balas said this will occur Tuesday, as well, including additional counseling that will be available all next week.

Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson said Friday that it’s going to take a multilayered approach to respond to the stabbing.

Wilson said that a response to the violence should be targeted interventions that include mental health services, counseling, gang prevention efforts and peer-to-peer interventions.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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