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June 13, 2013

Ethnicity, Class and Suicide Lead a Hamptons School to Reach Out

Jim Rutenberg:

As he walked the East Hampton High School campus on the last day of classes last week, Adam S. Fine seemed to be one satisfied principal. Graduating seniors were moving on to colleges including Brown and Cornell Universities; class-cutting was down; and Newsweek had ranked the school among the 2,000 best public schools in the nation, all to be expected in a ZIP code synonymous with success.
But, asked to reflect on the year that was, he sighed and moved his hand up and down, suggesting a roller coaster. "Resiliency," he said. "That's my theme word for graduation."

This has been a year like none other for East Hampton High, which faced an uncomfortable ethnic integration problem that had been festering in the background for years but was thrust to the foreground by a tragedy at the opening of the school year.

A 16-year-old junior from Ecuador, David Hernandez, hanged himself just a few days after homecoming in September; it was the second student suicide in three years. Two months later, a student who was about to transfer to the school committed suicide. Three suicides in three years in a school community of about 900 students is far above the regional average. And all of the students who killed themselves were Hispanic.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 13, 2013 2:38 AM
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