Principal apologizes after 6th graders tasked to draw fictional addict's 'mug shot'

The principal is apologizing after sixth graders at Talley Middle School were given an assignment that required them to draw a picture or

The principal is apologizing after sixth graders at Talley Middle School were given an assignment that required them to draw a picture or "mug shot" of a fictional drug addict. (Brandywine School District)

A sixth grade health class assignment that required students to write about a fictional drug addict reaching rock bottom and to draw their “mug shot” or picture has led the principal to apologize that it “missed the mark.”

The worksheet used at Talley Middle School was called “Who’s on Drugs!” and followed more than a week of classroom work about the prevalence of drug addiction, Principal Mark Mayer wrote Tuesday in a letter to the “Talley Family” posted on the school’s Facebook page.

The task “was intended to make students think critically about how widespread the problem is and how there is no one ‘face’ of addiction or one type of person who is affected by addiction,” Mayer wrote.

“Unfortunately, though its intentions were good, an assignment related to this topic missed the mark for some families. For that, I apologize. In the future, more thought and care will be given to ensure that all assignments lead to their intended outcomes, in this case, relevant, honest and open conversations about addiction.”

Talley Middle School is part of Brandywine School District, where spokeswoman Alexis Andrianopoulos said Superintendent Mark Holodick supports Mayer’s letter.

Holodick is “pleased that the principal has used feedback from this assignment to create positive learning opportunities for students,’’ Andrianopoulos said.

Mayer wrote that he understood some parents were “caught off guard at home. I recognize that this is a very sensitive topic and some families would prefer to know in advance that it is being discussed at school.”

Mayer added in his letter that he is working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to host a forum next month entitled “Trends and Threats Among Students.”

“I hope your BSD community will take of the opportunity to learn more about this topic,” he wrote.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.