MORRISANIA - Students at Validus Prep Academy in Morrisania say graduation will be bittersweet as they look ahead to the future while remembering two peers who were killed this past year.

The students, who will be part of the Bathgate Avenue school's first graduating class, are looking back on the deaths of 17-year-old Nadiree Walters and 18-year-old Martin Jackson.

Police say Jackson was killed in May by stray gunfire in Crotona Park. Walters was shot and killed Nov. 15 when a teen opened fire outside of a party, authorities say.

"At Validus Prep, we're a family," says student Milina Bryan, a close friend of Walters'. "[We're] just holding each other up. It's sad."