Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Chris Ellis - The Family Foundation School Alumni Testimonial

Student 2000


Hi, my name is Chris Ellis and I wish to share my unique experience at the Family Foundation School. I went to the family school at the age of 16 one month before my 17th birthday. What I had heard from my father whom most of you would know, Tim Ellis, was that this is a great school. It would help me out with my grades and issues I deal with on a daily basis. I was given the option to either pack my stuff on my own and go to the family or he would have the escorts come sometime in the middle of the night to get me and I wouldn't be able to say goodbye to my family. I chose to go on my own terms. When I got there I was right away taken away from my dad and put in a room. After the staff member and students that were doing my intake process got ready they took me into the locker room, they went through all my personal belongings and made me strip down to nothing to make sure I had no 'illegal contraband' as they call it. Having my father as a staff member at the school proved to be extremely difficult. I was on 'blackout' with him as well as my family back home. I had to prove to the family school that I was good to earn privileges to call my family and even then when I did my calls were monitored and were 5 minutes long. My life at the family school became hell. I never got to speak to my mother, my father who was working there made it very difficult on me and my grandparents didn't understand why our phone calls were so short and being monitored.

In my time at the FFS I learned that if I didn''t eat what was on my plate from that meal it would be wrapped up and put in the cooler for the next meal. I learned to say 'yes thank you' every time I spoke as it became a sanction of mine. I did many useless work sanctions for example shoveling snow off the softball field in the winter, carrying rocks, shoveling a pile of snow on one side of the walk way to the other side and did that all day while the rest of the students were in school.

I learned very quickly from staff that being an openly gay person was wrong, being gay was wrong and was not acceptable. I wasn't ready to 'come out of the closet' to my true blood family just yet but Susan Runge made me tell my family this. I was told living as a homosexual is a sin and its not a choice. I truly believe I was born gay and I couldn't change who I am on that stance. So my first family meeting came and I was scared as all hell to tell my family this, thankfully they accepted me as who I am but the fact is I was forced to open up to my family about this. I was a pain in the ass at this school I will admit that, I never wanted to follow their rules and such, I didn't follow them at home well why would I want to start following these ridiculous rules that the FFS have made up. I was on blackout with my father almost my whole time there because of my behavior. I remember one thing in specific though I was on standing in the corner and refused to stand all day and my father Tim Ellis walks into a study hall and started screaming at me in front of the whole study hall and said that I am an embarrassment to him and our family.

I've spent many times in the isolation room where it smelled like urine, feces, and body odor horrid. I was stripped down to almost nothing and froze my ass off in there because no matter how cold it was outside the air conditioner was on in this isolation room. I was given many meals of dry tuna, water and an apple in which I didn't eat any of it most times. I was leveled by staff members for trying to keep me from running away. One instance I remember was when I tried to run out the door in the middle of winter and 3 staff members jumped on me (all of which were 2 times my size) and then the students followed. I was being squished on the floor by staff and my fellow peers. They carried me by my arms and legs over to the isolation room and locked me in there for days.

Also, I have severe asthma and many times I went into an asthma attack the school nurse didn't believe me. Sent me back to class or to the work sanction. Finally there were a couple times when I couldn't breath at all and they finally drove me over to Calicoon hospital where I was admitted for my asthma. All those times I was there not one member of the FFS staff nor student called and asked how I was doing, even though most went to an AA meeting at this hospital at night. My own blood mother found out I was in there and she visited me, not sure if this was allowed but hell it was the only visitation from anyone that I received in this hospital.

I went into the FFS as a kid who needed a little bit of help with schooling and some behavioral issues, I came out of the FFS as a drug addict. Something in which they pressure students into learning and doing the 12 step program. I myself got off the drugs as I noticed my life go downhill fast. I didn't need the 12 step program I needed to learn myself how to get over this hurdle in life. Finally I will say this, even though its against family school rules to have relationships with other students I had two relationships. I was moved to 3 different families was put in exile, got the nerve to run away, and they send one of the students I was involved with to pick me up on 97. I was planning on leaving on my 18th birthday but when Robin Ducey found out about the relationships I had , I was then kicked out and was never to come on the premises again. I was there for 13 months, 2 weeks before my 18th I was kicked out. I was forced to go to sexaholics anonymous for the only reason I could think of was because I was openly gay.

My experience at the FFS was horrible. Having two members of my family (one being my dad Tim and the other my cousin Jenn) was very hard, not being able to have daily contact with my true family who didn?t want me to be there. Being openly gay I was never accepted by any staff members. My life went from being a little messed up to totally messed up. I to this day have nightmares, hear the alarms going off when I sleep and always have to watch over my shoulder. The staff at the school made my stay the worst 13 months of my life. I pray everyday for those students there to not have to go thru what I've experienced. I pray for those students that have left to not have the nightmares I have, and for those that are openly gay to be accepted and have respect from staff there at the school. Finally after all these years the FFS Truth campaign has shed some light on the abuse there at the school. Finally I have other students to talk to about my experiences. Finally the Truth of the Family School has come to light.