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Letters to the Editor 

August 6, 2008


When I learned that Ken Picard was considering writing an article about the events that transpired at Pine Ridge this year I was delighted ["Hard Lessons," July 16]. Finally, I thought, the gap between appearance and reality will be closed, and the truth will be told.

I am a fan of Mr. Picard's work and was confident that he would do his homework, be discerning about his sources and tell the real story. Instead, he simply recycled old accusations and took shots at the convenient target that Dana Blackhurst has become.

Instead of delving below the surface to emerge with the truth, Mr. Picard unwittingly ended up carrying water for a group of parents and ex-staff who began sabotaging Dana Blackhurst's tenure before he ever set foot on our campus. Without reference to this larger context, it is impossible to make sense of recent events.

Two very different visions of the school had been in conflict with one another. The faction that wanted to continue to tug the school in the direction of a behavioral, therapeutic environment (with only the vaguest nod given in the direction of any academic rigor) supported an internal candidate to succeed the outgoing headmaster.

When Dana Blackhurst was hired instead, it sent a clear message that the school was headed in just the opposite direction. Pine Ridge would discontinue its irresponsible practice of admitting students with emotional and behavioral issues that the staff was not adequately trained to deal with and return to its original mission serving bright, mostly college-bound, students with clearly diagnosed, language-based learning disabilities and little to no significant behavioral issues.

The faction that did not get its way simply could not let go and so began the orchestrated sabotage that continues to this day.

Joshua Grant Canning


Canning is a member of the faculty at Pine Ridge School.

Click here to read Pine Ridge School's response to "Hard Lessons."


I have been following with great interest and some disbelief the story on headmaster Dana Blackhurst and Pine Ridge School.

I have followed Dana's career since he was a prep student in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the struggles he endured to develop into the educator he has become. Dyslexia was Dana's handicap, yet he overcame a multitude of hurdles to qualify as a recognized expert on the methods to reach out to dyslexics and realize the needs for education and development.

Because of those struggles, he has found the techniques to cope with student-learning problems and be a most effective and compassionate educator in this very specialized field.

If the editor had spent more time recognizing Dana's accomplishments, there would have been no need for the exposé that created this unfair commentary. Running away from reality has become a crutch to deny the truth, which has become a major concern in our country today. Truth is a virtue. Let's not ignore it.

Robert Wallenstein


Click here to read Pine Ridge School's response to "Hard Lessons."


Add my voice in protest of the goal of closing the composting operation at the Burlington Intervale [Fair Game, July 9].

It boggles the mind to think that great efforts at good works are being challenged by powerful state agencies that seem to ignore all the positive benefits. The cited reasons do not convince me of any attempt to understand them. The loss would be huge, and there is no Plan B!

Ellie Skolfield



It's great to see classical music being reviewed in Seven Days! Elisabeth Crean's review of the recent Craftsbury Chamber Players concert was dead-on ["Baroque is Back," July 23].

I hope she'll continue to cover classical performances, as she obviously has a good ear as well as the ability to capture the essence of a performance. At a time when classical music reviewers are being dropped like hot potatoes at many major newspapers, it's great that Seven Days is bucking the trend. Thank you!

Caroline Whiddon


Whiddon is executive director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association.

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