Regarding the Dec. 9 front-page article “Breaking free”:

Like Tabitha Rouzzo, I spent my days at New Castle High School determined to escape the Pennsylvania town. This was almost 50 years ago, and it was already going downhill. Luckily, my parents were middle-class and education-oriented, so college was my easy way out.

Some of my classmates who left for higher education returned to be the accountants, lawyers and teachers of present-day New Castle. No one denies our town’s decline, but to New Castle natives, it’s more than the setting for urban decay and limited opportunities. It’s a place where families have lived for generations.

We have felt not only the pain of plant closings but also the excitement of high school football games that the whole town turns out for. We take pride in the Zambelli family’s spectacular fireworks displays and in turning over a teacup anywhere in the world to see “Shenango China, New Castle, Pa.” imprinted on the bottom.

I used to get horribly depressed while driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as I traveled from the District to New Castle. Now, however, I can appreciate the stable-to-the-point-of-boring upbringing I had there, and I hope that motivated young people like Ms. Rouzzo can leverage their experience into a better life no matter where they choose to live.

Linda LaScola, Washington

I hope that lots of other kids in the same predicament at Tabitha Rouzzo will read the article about her and take action. I had planned to offer a list of possibilities to Tabitha, but on reading the article a second time I decided she is doing just fine on her own.

As a former Marine, I do have one suggestion to share, though: Ms. Rouzzo should seriously consider joining the Navy full time, not just as a reservist.

As bright as this young woman appears to be, she would be an asset to the Navy and to her country. On active duty, she would encounter possibilities for her future that she might not know exist, including but not limited to seeking enrollment in officer training school.

Her future is as bright as the sun, and I say to her, Semper Fi! You go, girl.

Ray Adams, Annapolis