Mother of student killed in CVPA shooting speaks as students return to in-person learning

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:26 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Nearly three months have passed since Keisha Acres lost her daughter, Alexzandria Bell, after a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA).

Now, as CVPA brings students back for in-person learning Tuesday, Acres says she is on a journey to find new purpose and hope.

“At first, I kept telling everybody, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’ until I did--I had a mini breakdown,” Acres said.

She battled severe depression after losing Alex. She says a familiar item, along with professional counseling helped pull her out.

“I miss my daughter, a lot. But I keep her phone with me, and it’s amazing because the kids don’t realize how much they help me when they’re texting her--a lot of her friends still text her as if she’s still present. They have full-blown conversations with her, they talk to her about their days and what they’re struggling with, which kind of helps me,” Acres said.

Acres said she nearly dropped out of college after losing Alex but says she is keeping her promise to her daughter to finish her degree. Her first day back in class is also the same day CVPA students return to in-person learning. Despite her own grief, Acres says she will walk students back into the building herself to ease the fear and sadness.

“I’ve had a couple of children reach out to me if I could walk them back into the school. I just thought about how the rest of the kids would feel, having to go back to the school where they actually share memories of running the halls and laughing and joking with her, and I would want somebody to do it for her, I would really want somebody to be available to walk my daughter into the school if I was unable to,” Acres said.

Acres has started a GoFundMe for CVPA students who are going to college and in need of school supplies and dorm items. It will also help students who want to attend summer camps.