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Students return to Peoria High with increased security presence after fights

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- Classes at Peoria High School Monday looked and felt different for students, with heightened security following a series of fights at the school last Friday.

Video from inside the school Friday shows widespread fighting and disturbances. In the aftermath, police arrested nine people, including seven children and two adults.

Police confirmed the two adults are 19-year-old Jaylin Johnson and 18-year-old Cody Anderson.

RELATED: Two adults arrested after fights at Peoria High School

School leaders are urging calm and a return to normal. Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat says the district is poised to rebound.

"There are going to be dark days," Kherat said. "There could be disappointments. But we don't let that keep us down. We pick up the pieces and we plan for it, and we keep moving forward."

Monday morning, Kherat and Police met with staff to discuss ongoing security measures. That includes an increased security presence inside and outside the building this week. Several officers walked around the building as students entered Monday.

Some students on their way to class said they were scared to return to school. The district says attendance Monday was down around 12 percent. But Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria says students and staff should feel safe entering the building this week.

"The message to the parents is that we're here," Echevarria said. "We're going to be here. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure their kids are safe while they are here at school, while they're on their way to school and on their way home."

Kherat stressed those involved in the fights have been removed from the school and will not be welcomed back.

"Today's a new day," Kherat said. "A fresh start, and we're ready for it."

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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