Imagine finding a hand-written note from your teenage son with lines such as “Thank you for giving me life,” “I am with Nan and Granddad now” and “At my funeral make everyone wear bright colors to remember my personality.” Traumatizing, no? When Vicky Walker read it, she assumed it was a suicide note or at least some sort of official goodbye written by her 14-year-old son, Wesley Walker.
“I really felt like I was going to find him hanging from his bed and maybe he felt he couldn’t take any more,” said the distraught mom. Turns out Wesley was just fine; the note was a school assignment in which creative writing students were told to imagine they had a terminal illness and had only a few hours to live.
Needless to say, Vicky is relieved (I suppose that’s putting it mildly). She’s also angry with her son’s school, The Discovery Academy in the UK’s Stoke-on-Trent, because she think she deserved some warning or context. The Academy has since apologized for causing any “distress,” arguing the assignment was meant simply to encourage student expression (we’re talking about a creative writing class, after all).
“The purpose was to enable young people to explore their feelings and emotions and celebrate the many good things with their loved ones that are usually left unsaid,” a spokesman from the school said. It’s actually a pretty cool assignment, if you ask me, though I’m wondering why this kid didn’t just warn his poor mom before handing her such a note and then taking off to his bedroom. (Duh.)