WELEETKA (AP) - Students at the Graham Independent School District will remember two slain classmates when their summer vacation ends and they return to school Thursday. Students will receive rubber bracelets inscribed with the letters BFF — Best Friends Forever — in honor of classmates Skyla Jade Whitaker, 11, and Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13. Both were shot to death on June 8 while walking along County Line Road, four miles northeast of Weleetka in rural Okfuskee County. No arrests have been made. School officials say the bracelets will be purple and green — Skyla's and Taylor's favorite colors. Taylor, a straight-A student, would have been entering the seventh grade, while her best friend, Skyla, would have been entering the sixth grade. Together they served on the school's cheerleading squad, and Skyla was on the basketball team. The two also were active in 4-H and Students Working Against Tobacco. School Superintendent Dusty Chancey said he does not anticipate the need for grief counselors for students when classes resume. However, Chancey said teachers will meet with a psychologist on Wednesday and pose questions dealing with specific student concerns. He said the teachers will be able to use the responses from the psychologist for students still troubled by the slayings. Otherwise, Chancey said, if more therapy is needed, professional counselors will be brought to the school. But the superintendent is expecting a peaceful scene at the school on Thursday and Friday, as students get acquainted with new classmates, new teachers and new class schedules. "I expect it to be real quiet. We're going to try to get back to a routine; trying for normalcy," Chancey said. Chancey said teachers held workshops Tuesday, and each educator was given a bracelet to wear in honor of Skyla and Taylor. Including Chancey, the school system has a dozen teachers for about 100 students. The independent school system — kindergarten through the 12th grade — is located along Oklahoma 84, about seven miles east of Weleetka. It serves a 48-square-mile area, taking in students from the rural areas around Weleetka, Dustin and Henryetta. The school is not very far from the rural road where the lifeless bodies of Skyla and Taylor were found in a shallow roadside ditch. Both had been shot several times in the head and body. Authorities believe two killers were involved, because each of the girls was shot with two different caliber of bullets. Skyla was visiting Taylor at her home, and, as they often had done, decided to go for a walk along the road to the Bad Creek bridge, about a half-mile from the Placker residence. Investigators said the girls had reached the bridge and were heading back to Taylor's home when they were ambushed. They left for the walk around 5 p.m. and their bodies were discovered about 30 minutes later by Taylor's father, Peter Placker, less than 1,000 feet from his home. Authorities are still hard at work on the case, chasing more than 500 leads, along with having questioned more than 100 people, with many more interviews to go. Because of the remote location of the murder scene, investigators with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation believe the killers live in the area. A memorial to the girls bearing flowers, photos, stuffed animals and crosses continues to grow at the murder scene.
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