To the Editor:

Given all of the destruction Hurricane Sandy left in its wake we decided we were very lucky and as the year comes to a close we should take some time to count our blessings. As we thought back on our blessings this year one true jewel stuck out for us. It is a place run by dedicated people who spend countless hours to make it that way and therefore give up much of their own family time. They work tirelessly to ensure a beautifully creative atmosphere for their students free from judgment and open for learning. An atmosphere in which each student is encouraged to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. An atmosphere in which they are encouraged to reach just a little bit farther than they might think they ever could. If you haven't guessed by now, we are talking about the Mountain Campus at Burr and Burton Academy. A program such as this may be foreign to kids and they may be resistant to it. They may not realize the potential of all that is to be gained from a program such as this. It is human nature to resist that which is foreign to us, but the reality of that is a stagnation of growth.

We, as parents, encouraged our son to jump in with both feet and get all that he could from his Mountain Campus experience. A semester is a very short time and an opportunity like the Mountain Campus doesn't come along every day.

He did that and more. We cannot begin to measure the depth of all he has gained through this experience both personally and educationally.

We have watched as our son embraced learning as a way of life. Learning not just from what can be gathered from a book but from the natural world around us. This learning included the confidence to go outside of his comfort zone and test himself. Accomplishing that which most of us sitting comfortably in our houses would not imagine doing, and the rewards of which were so sweet.

The smile on his face, the confidence and the excitement that Ben Freeman and the entire staff at the Mountain Campus have instilled in him for learning cannot be matched.

Congratulations to Ben Freeman, Cindy Mowry, Paul Kelly, Jillian Joyce and the countless others who helped make a dream a reality for our son, one of the Pioneers of the Mountain Campus. We will be forever grateful for your hard work and dedication. If the Mountain Campus is the Jewel then you are the Shining Stars!

Denise and Bucky Tuttle Dorset