ST. LOUIS - When 11-year-old Antonio Johnson was shot and killed while he was sitting at the computer in his south St. Louis home Wednesday night, the Froebel Elementary School student became the 17th student of a St. Louis Public School to die this school year.
Superintendent Kelvin Adams says it's the most he's seen here. So he's taking special steps to help students and staff having trouble with the trauma.
The deaths involved murders, car accidents, fires, and health issues. They didn't take place at schools, but have a big impact inside them.
Crime tape and cops are more than a news story to Gateway High School Junior Stephanie Rone. She connects with what happened to Antonio Johnson.
"I have a brother who's like 12, so I think about like, I live in a bad neighborhood, so what if that could happen to him," she said.
That's the struggle Superintendent Kelvin Adams, along with his teachers and staff, face.
"We want to have young people understand that this is abnormal, this should not be happening," he said. "At some schools, kids don't come back to school for several days when a young person has died in the kind of violent death that occurred last night because they think their may be repercussions."
At Vashon High School, where Adams conducted a public forum Thursday night on the topic of accreditation, four students have died since school started in August.
"Two in a car accident and two as a result of gun shots," he said.
The school system has a trauma team, counselors and others, in place to address these issues, but Adams says he's now reaching out to community groups.
"Quite frankly, this is the first year that our trauma team needs some assistance as well in terms of dealing with trauma because the numbers have been overwhelming this year," he said.
Overwhelming even to students like Stephanie, who did not personally know any of the lost students.
"It's hard to focus, you're stressed out because, like, you never know who else is going to die," said Stephanie.
Prior to this year, the largest number of deaths the superintendent could remember was in the school year ending in 2010. That was 8, less than half of where we are now.