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'I think it'll be a struggle': Central VPA students, staff start virtually Monday

Monday marks the first time students and staff will be back to learning and teaching since the deadly shooting on Oct. 24.

ST. LOUIS — Monday marks the first time students and staff will be back to learning and teaching, since the deadly shooting on Oct. 24. 

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School will return to class via virtual learning on Nov. 14. One CVPA student shared his worries and thoughts about heading back to school with 5 On Your Side. 

5 On Your Side spoke to senior Rayquan Strickland, who was singing at a church service for 15-year-old Alexzandria Bell on Sunday morning. 

Bell was one of the two victims of the deadly shooting in October, along with teacher Jean Kuczka. 

Strickland stepped out of the service and shared how Monday will be hard because he is still healing.

"I was the type of person where I tried to keep myself busy...that way...I wouldn't think of it, but then I realized sometimes you have to sit in it and sometimes you have to indulge that pain...you have to indulge that grief," he said.

Wilted flowers and burned candles now fill the memorial in front of CVPA.

Every picture and every cross still sits there from the day the school changed forever. 

Strickland said it's a day that will always stay with him.

"It's not easy to just not think about it. It's not easy to just say it didn't happen...you know...and move forward, but I am in this process of healing," he said.

Strickland said he has spent the last week coping and resting, so jumping back on the computer to learn Monday morning worries him.

"For me to try to get back into this academic mode, as if everything didn't happen or to try to move forward through the academics, I think it'll be a struggle," he said.

According to Strickland, a lot of his friends are feeling the same struggle. Specifically, an unsettling feeling with returning behind a screen.

"Virtually, I don't think that we're the type of school where we can really fulfill all of our passions through virtual," he said.

Even if they are not together singing and dancing, Strickland said, one thing is for certain. No matter how long it takes to fully heal, this school in South St. Louis will move forward together.

"Our gifts are what helps us in our pain. Our passion is what helps us in our pain, so if our passion helps us in that pain -- we can't settle down on our passion -- and we can't keep it locked up, so we'll definitely be alright," he said.

Students and staff at Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which share the same campus as CVPA, were scheduled to return to class in-person on Monday, Nov. 14, but that deadline was pushed back until after Thanksgiving. 

Strickland said the public should be on the lookout for "Family Undivided," which was the theme of the march and celebration of life that he organized on Sunday, Nov. 6. 

He said that is not the first or last event that will be held and he is hoping to make "Family Undivided" a foundation.

If there's something newsworthy happening where you live send us an email to tips@ksdk.com and our team of reporters will look into it.

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