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Posted December 6, 2004 

To Whom It May Concern:

Because our family is new to the Whitmore Academy and our son has only been enrolled in the program since November 19th, we were very disturbed and taken aback to receive a call on November from Utah's Department of Child Protective Services last week. At the time, the caller informed my husband that children at The Whitmore, including our son, XXXXX, were being questioned regarding potential abuse there, but they were completely unwilling to provide any information regarding the alleged abuse or situation at hand. Distressed, we immediately contacted Mark and Cheryl Sudweeks, who assured us that our son was fine and explained to us that the situation had ensued from allegations made by XXXXX, a relatively new student/resident. Because they were driving a bus to Salt Lake City taking all of the kids to the theater at the time of our call, Mark and Cheryl were unable to expand much on the situation. We decided to call some other parents who also had kids in the program, and felt reassured that our son was in good hands. Soon thereafter, Mark sent all of the parents a detailed accounting of what had transpired and made himself available to answer our questions. Despite the anxiety and aggravation caused by this situation, my husband and I have made an informed and intuitive decision to keep our son at The Whitmore. We continue to believe that it is a safe, loving, and enriching environment.

We found out about The Whitmore from an organization called Parents Universal Resource Experts PURE ( The Whitmore Academy was one of three or four programs that they recommended for our son. We were interested in alternative education programs for mentally healthy children who were not thriving in public schools. All of the parent references we contacted had nothing but praise for Mark and Cheryl and their program. We were impressed that some parents had even opted to keep their children at the Whitmore even longer than the required year because their kids were doing so great there. In early November we decided to visit The Whitmore ourselves. Having spent the better part of day talking to the Whitmore staff and all of the kids, we decided to enroll our son there a few weeks later. The children who are living at the Whitmore see it as the “opportunity of a lifetime.” These kids shared their hearts openly and honestly with us while we were there, and helped us to understand the love, support, and guidance that they receive from Mark, Cheryl and the other mentors there. Again, since we are new Whitmore parents we cannot speak first-hand to the specifics of how the program works, but from what we have seen we believe that it does work. Never did we get the impression that kids were being coerced to sell us the program. They spoke privately and honestly about their feelings, and meant what they said. We are excited that, for one year, our son will have the opportunity to grow and excel at The Whitmore, and we are grateful for the devotion to our kids and the important and valuable work that is being done there.

Tim & Jimena Ryan

Copyright © 2004, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(This article may not be reproduced without written approval of the publisher.)

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