Published June 12, 2013
Young teens at a pricey private school on New York City's Upper West Side were asked to write first-person suicide notes — a macabre assignment that some of their parents have blasted as "inappropriate."
The English-class homework at York Prep required students as young as 14 to write goodbye missives from the perspective of a character who offs herself in “The Secret Life of Bees,” a best-selling book and film.
The task included justifying why they had committed suicide, a grim process that rattled a few nerves.
"We were pretty stunned at the scope of the assignment," said a father of a ninth-grade student at the school. "We thought this was such an outrageous assignment for a 14-year-old to get."
Tuition for high schoolers at the grade 6-to-12 institution on West 68th Street is slated to be $41,200 for the coming school year.
Newbie English teacher Jessica Barrish's assignment last month focused on having kids channel fictitious character May Boatwright by writing in first person — as if they were her — about her legacy and how they wanted to be remembered by her sisters.
"How would you justify ending your life? What reasons would you give?" the project asked.
Barrish, who previously taught for three years in the public schools, declined to comment.