October 1, 2001

Nancy Manke
Northstar Program – Foote School
50 Loomis Place
New Haven, CT 06511

Dear Nancy,

I am writing to follow-up on our conversation some time ago about the wonderful experience that my daughter had in the Northstar Program. I know that often times you hear from people about things that might not have gone the way they expected, and I wanted to make sure you had a record of something that went better than expected.

When Leah told me that she was going to participate in the Northstar program at Foote, I confess that I thought very little of it. Leah, as you know, is a “signer-upper” for things, and she has participated in many of the extra-curricular activities that Foote has offered her, from sports to community service to dances. Consequently, I confess that I did not ask many questions about Northstar when she told me about it.

As the weeks went on and Leah participated in the program, it was clear to me, and to Ann, that this was a program unlike any others that Leah had experienced, and that, as an experience, she was involved in it at exactly the right time. As I am sure you know (because you have done so many of these), life is often a jumble of issues for a 12 year old girl in our society. Concerns about friendships, studies, boys, appearance, behaviors and a host of other issues create a swirl of questions and insecurities which are hard to prioritize and sort out. The so-called information that girls get from the media, and other non-parental sources, is frequently skewed by the motives of the party delivering the message. The guidance offered by parents is .. well… parental, and often suspect to a 12 year old. The ability of the Northstar program to provide Leah with the confidence to trust her own values and beliefs, while at the same time providing the analytical tools to fashion those values and beliefs was truly wondrous to observe as a parent. I know that Leah was impressed with her growth during the program, and frequently came home afterward upbeat and noticeably energized with the kind of energy that comes from discovering something about yourself.

I know that Northstar, and the role that you played in it, have made a permanent difference in Leah’s life in a way that will enrich her forever. It’s not often that one has an opportunity to touch another person so profoundly, and I wanted to make sure you knew that you have done so with Leah.

We cannot thank you enough, and hope that you continue this inspiring and much needed work. Ann and I will spread the word about how wonderful Northstar is.

Greg Pepe