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WYLIE -- Students returned to class at Wylie East High School Monday for the first time since the murder of a 17-year-old senior, allegedly at the hands of two classmates.

Grief counselors were at the school for students and staff as they cope with losing a student. The school also held an assembly for the student body, which includes about 1,600 students.

'I think it's just going to be a really hard day for everyone,' said freshman Brett Hawkins.

Two 16-year-old students, Brenden Bridges and Adam Staup, were accused of murdering 17-year-old Ivan Mejia. Police said during a recent court hearing that Mejia was placed in a headlock and choked to death behind the school on March 8.

Students learned about Mejia's alleged murder during their spring break. In the days that followed, students met in various times to begin to cope, but Monday's assembly was the first gathering of the entire school.

'This community has been through this before, unfortunately,' said spokesman Ian Halperin. 'We have learned from that and we're hoping to learn from this and grow.'

The school experienced a similar tragedy nearly two years ago when Nahum Martinez, a 15-year-old track and field athlete at Wylie East, was shot and killed by a juvenile suspect. The teen in that case later pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges.

But difficult days may still be ahead for students as they try to answer the questions of what happened and why.

'I feel like it's going to be a pretty quiet day because everyone is in shock,' said sophomore Stephen Austin.

Despite the incident, district leaders are vowing to persevere.

'This is a great community, this is a great school, and we will get passed this together,' said Wylie ISD spokesman Ian Halperin. 'With help and with prayer we will move past this.'

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com

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