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Letter from an alumnus about Proud of O’Brien

I am a graduate of Milton Hershey School and one of the “embattled” alumni trying to support my alma mater and my alumni association in these times of change and controversy. Both sides are embroiled in a bitter controversy and are dedicated to making the Milton Hershey School a place of hope and enlightenment for generations of children in need, but have differences as to how that should be accomplished. As for me, MHS has a special, yet perplexing place in my life and my heart that took me many years to put in perspective. It was my prison and my home; my death and my resurrection; my worst nightmare and the best thing that ever happened to me.

I dare say that I and my twin brother, with a single mother who was 43 when we were born, could probably have ended up as lost and astray as many of the forgotten and disadvantaged children of our society today had it not been for MHS and the new life it gave to us. We both took many years to come to terms with what was life in “the Home,” but the years of perspective have proven that MHS was a blessing that changed our lives in ways we may never be able to comprehend in this life.

I am grateful for the work and mission of John O'Brien (feature, Feb. 11). I was disappointed to see, after returning to the school, that the prior administration had transformed it from a school for children in need to a prep school of the most self-serving type, with designs on squandering the Hersheys' generous endowment on yet another educational research foundation, totally in opposition to the expressed desire of the founders of the school. Mr. O'Brien's predecessor viewed MHS as a test-tube for his educational theories and made some very questionable choices regarding the future of the school, the use of assets, and the legacy of Milton and Catherine Hershey as a whole.

In these times of change and controversy, I am grateful to have JO at the helm. I believe that it is his intent to return the school to the child-saving mission envisioned by its benefactors. It is my sincere prayer that he receive Divine guidance in this noble mission. Princeton can be equally proud of the contributions it has made to making Mr. O’Brien the dedicated man he is today.

Jimi Chappell
Address TK

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