German High School Mourns Loss of 16 Students on Germanwings Flight

PHOTO: Students hug each other as they arrive at the Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium in Haltern, western Germany, March 25, 2015 on the day after Germanwings jet airliner crashed in the French Alps.PlayMartin Meissner/AP Photo
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A German high school is in mourning today for the 16 of its students and two teachers who were on board the plane that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday.

The students and teachers from Joseph Konig School were returning home from a Spanish language exchange program aboard the Germanwings Airbus A320 when it crashed.

The plane was traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany, when it suddenly began a rapid descent from its cruising altitude at 38,000 feet. It plunged 32,000 feet in eight minutes, according to Germanwings. When the plane was at 6,000 feet, it lost contact with air traffic control.

The plane was carrying 144 passengers, including two babies, and six crew members, Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said at a news conference Tuesday.

The high school held a makeshift memorial in its gym Wednesday. Many carried candles and signs as they mourned their peers. One mourner carried a sign that said, "Yesterday we were many. Today we are alone."

Ina Grajestiki, a violin teacher at Joesph Konig, told ABC News, "I don't know how to work today. ... I cannot believe this, that it's happened."

Police helicopter searches of the Germanwings Airbus crash site resumed Wednesday morning.