Alexandria City High School awards posthumous diploma to slain student

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The Alexandria City High School on Saturday awarded a posthumous diploma to Luis Mejia Hernandez, an 18-year-old who was fatally stabbed weeks before graduating.

“These past few days have been especially difficult and sad,” said Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. in the ceremony. “We couldn’t wait to see Luis walk across the stage today … with his fellow Titans to receive his diploma, a milestone we know Luis worked hard to achieve.”

Alexandria student fatally stabbed in fight outside mall

Hernandez was stabbed during a fight outside an Alexandria shopping center on May 24. Alexandria police said the fight, which involved between 30 and 50 people, broke out around noon at the Bradlee Mall. Hernández was transported to the hospital, where he later died.

On Saturday, the school’s principal, Peter Balas, asked the 2022 graduates to keep Hernandez in their thoughts.

“The loss of Luis… is heartbreaking”, Balas said. “Graduation is a milestone that all families look forward to and we are shocked and saddened by this tragic loss. We share our deepest condolences and affection with Luis’ family.”

Students later cheered when Balas said Hernandez would receive the first diploma at the ceremony, held at EagleBank Arena on the George Mason University campus in Fairfax. The slain student’s uncle, Guillermo Romero, accepted the certificate, raising it above his head as the crowd applauded.

Hernandez’s father, Osmin Mejía, said in an interview Sunday that his son had planned to continue working at Los Tios Grill in Alexandria to save money for college.

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“I was considering college,” Mejia said. “Luis wanted to be an engineer.”

Mejía said he was too distraught to attend the graduation. Police have not shared any information about the investigation into his son’s death, Mejia said.

16-year-old accused of fatally stabbing a schoolmate during a melee in Alexandria

A 16-year-old Alexandria City High School student has been charged in Hernandez’s murder, police said Wednesday. The suspect, whose name has not been released, is being held at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.

Alexandria police spokesman Marcel Bassett said Wednesday that police are still investigating the motive for the stabbing and the cause of the fight. No other arrests have been made in connection with the fight.

Saturday’s graduation marked the first since Alexandria City High School changed its name from TC Williams High School. The ceremony was also the first indoor in-person graduation since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“These last few years have not been without their difficulties,” Balas told the graduates on Saturday. “Throughout these many changes, all of you endured. I hope they can look back and remember that they were there for each other, lifting each other up, as they made their way through a restless world.”