Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Caity Ingles

My name is Caity Super, formerly Caity Ingles. I was sent to the FFS Summer of 1999 and ran away to return home in May of 2000.

Although I did not endure any physical abuse from anyone at the school, I heard of it often, and probably would have if it weren’t for the fact that I was as compliant as possible so I could make my time there as easy as possible. Although I was a defiant teen, and my parents took the sort of “preventative” approach to keep me from continuing down the path my brothers were headed, I was certainly not an addict, but that was not acceptable to any staff. To them, anyone there was an addict, whether it be sex, drugs, alcohol, food, or anything else.

After my 24 hour eating grace period was up and I was forced to eat my sausage ziti dinner, I threw up. Let’s face it. Anyone who is not accustomed to institution food will take a little while to get used to it. But immediately, I was accused of being bulimic. After I was ill, I was told that if I refused to finish every last bite, I would be eating it cold in the morning for breakfast, which I did. Once they realized I was not even close to being bulimic, the staff spent the next 9 or so months trying to convince me that I was surely an addict and alcoholic since I smoked pot occasionally, and rarely drank alcohol. Eventually, after watching friends be pulled out of classes to carry rocks up and down a hill all day, being forbidden to have contact with their family, forced to cut their hair in a short, hideous, boy-cut, and some locked in an isolation room where they were fed dry tuna on English muffins and warm water 3 times a day, I decided to comply. Sure, if they wanted me to be an addict, I was now an addict. I just wanted to go home.

There were many kids that were fortunate enough not to have to go through the physical abuse, but I am certain that all of us suffered mental and emotional abuse. Most of the staff were not sincerely interested in the well being of the students, instead, they tried to brainwash us and make us say what they wanted to hear. We were often forced to stand up in front of 40+ of our peers as well as some staff members, and share our most personal experiences and feelings. We were then cursed at, yelled at, and usually teased and told how inadequate and unacceptable our feelings were. Staff often relied on the “senior” students to chime in on the bullying, as they knew these students would do anything to get themselves out of there.

Ultimately a punishment was decided. Maybe they would take our shoes away, and have us walk around barefoot for a while, so we could not run away. Most likely we would be stuck in a chair in the corner of the room. This would be while we ate our meals, during class, activities, anytime at all.
Well, after I was at the school for almost 10 months, I finally earned a 3 day outing with my family. We went to New York City for a few days, something I always wanted to do. It was a shame I could not enjoy it though, since I was so paranoid about doing something “negative” and having my sentence extended. I remember walking into a clothing store where they were playing rap music. I had to walk out and go into a different store, because this was unacceptable. We were not allowed to listen to any sort of rap, as this was forbidden. Once I returned from my not so fun outing, it was time to take annual exams for our classes.

Most students were in a class for the whole year before taking exams to move ahead a grade, but since I came to FFS mid-summer, I missed out on 2 months. I failed 1 or 2 of my pre-exams, since and was immediately accused of being “negative”. The staff was just sure that I must have smoked a cigarette, or listened to negative music, or spoken to an old friend on the phone, as this was forbidden as well. Quite the opposite actually, I was too busy being paranoid to even consider any of the above on my trip. I tried to tell this to staff but they did not want to hear it. I asked to call my parents, as I felt trapped. I was told that this was out of the question. I was told I would not be permitted to speak to or write my family, until I admitted to what I did wrong on my “vacation”. I begged and pleaded for them to believe me, and tried to explain that I just wasn’t ready to move ahead in class yet. I was put on “black out” where I could not speak to anyone but staff, and told I couldn’t speak to my family at all, indefinitely.

I could see it was all going down hill now, so I decided to wait a couple of days, and run away during breakfast crew. I was lucky enough to get help getting home to Virginia from a preacher of a local church. Once I got to Virginia, my parents had me agree to go back to finish the semester and they would take me home afterwards. I tried to explain to them that that was not how things worked. That I would be pulled out of my classes and they would just make me do pointless work. My father took me back to the school after I was gone for a few days, and tried to convince the administrators to let me finish my classes, quietly and compliantly, but that he would be taking me home in a month. The administrators told my parents that if I came back, I would leave when they determined I was ready, non-negotiable. Thank God, my father did not agree this was necessary and I returned home with him.

When we requested that my transcripts be sent to us to show what classes I had completed, the FFS refused to send them. As a result, I had no other choice but to complete the 10th grade in home school, as well as the rest of my high school career, unless I wanted to lose a grade. Aside from all of the emotional abuse that occurred at the FFS, the school had many ethical issues. Many students were Muslim, or had religious beliefs and guidelines that forbid them from eating certain foods. They were not given any option to honor their beliefs, instead they were forced to eat meats, daily. There were students who were ridiculed due to their sexual-orientation, as the staff did not agree with them. I remember one student who was mandated to stay at the school by the courts, with his only other option being prison, and he chose prison.

Bottom line is that this program is not effective. The school advertises such a high college admission percentage after leaving FFS, and high success rate among graduates, but I have spoke to many kids who ended up worse off after attending FFS. Speaking from personal experience I was one of them. I did much more stupid stuff after leaving than before I arrived. I had such resentment towards my parents and the staff. Luckily, as with many kids, it was a phase that I outgrew before getting into trouble. I now have a college degree, a good job, a strong faith, and a family of my own. But I attribute it to the fact that I escaped, not to the fact that I was part of the FFS.

And still, 10 years after attending FFS, I often have nightmares of being sent back. Twenty-five year olds should not have nightmares about highschool! I also want to say that I don’t claim that all staff members that were there when I was, were ill-willed, but the ones that weren’t didn’t make up for the majority of staff that were just a bunch of addicts on a power trip. The kids they have giving prospective “clients” tours, are simply trying to find a way to get out as quick as possible, and know better than to tell the truth. I sure hope this place is not as bad as it used to be, but it doesn’t appear to be.

Submitted By: Caity Super (formerly Caity Ingles)