Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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RIVER RIDGE, La. -- John Curtis students returned to class this morning facing the sad reality that their classmate was gone, after an apparent murder suicide by his father last week in River Ridge.

For some students, the news of Matthew Tarto's death hit hard.

'Obviously, it was difficult in the morning and of course we are in our final exams. We had an assembly this morning, first thing, and we talked with our kids,' said Curtis Headmaster and Football Coach, J.T. Curtis.

They were given two pieces of advice.

'Number one is that, don't try to figure all this out. You're going to have to understand that it's life and that death is part of life and not the part that we like. And secondly, that we have people here that they can talk with and that we didn't want them to hold their feelings back or to bury their feelings, that if they need to visit, to come and see us,' he explained.

A dozen students saw one of the six counselors.

'One of the little girls said that, 'He was the first boy that I saw when I came to school for the first time. And he was my friend the whole time.' And it's a hard thing for young people. It really is and they don't think about death as a reality, and especially one like this,' Curtis continued.

The alumni donated Plum Street Snoballs in-between exams today. Saturday, Matthew's mother came by a school ceremony where all the cheerleaders had Matthew's football number 56 painted on their cheekbones.

'There are no easy answers for this one. And I think the key to this is, for us, to be open and available,' said J.T.

Reports are surfacing that Matthew was killed several days before his father took his own life.
The father, Mark Tarto, told the school that Matthew was absent because of a lung infection.

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