Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Darrillyn Boyce

My name is Darrillyn Boyce and I attended the Family Foundation School from March 5th, 2002 until December 11, 2004. I would like to take this chance to tell my story at FFS. From the moment I got there I knew it was going to be a rough ride. I went willingly unlike some of the students because I didn’t want to be taken into custody by police men. As so as I got the there, they stripped me down and made me take a shower and also put lice shampoo in my hair. After that they went through all of my stuff threw away personal items such as diaries, CD’s, clothes, etc. Then I got the chance to say good-bye to my family. However I had no idea that I would have no contact with my family for the first thirty days.

After the first thirty days I got a 10 minute phone call with my guardian. After that only on ten minute phone call a week ensued, including if I wanted to talk to my sister, then my phones alternated between my sister and my guardian. However I wasn’t allowed to talk to my sister until about 6 months before I graduated the program. But let me back track for a minute. When I arrived at FFS there were so many new things and rules that I didn’t understand. The school was predominately catholic, but that was never a problem. It was the fact that religion was a pressed issue. If everyone else was praying then you should two regardless of your religion. We had chapel everyday, except maybe Saturday. But it was unfair to whatever religion people were practicing to participate in everything.

We had these events that took place at meal time, called “Table Topics” and I just didn’t understand why someone should have to get up in front of a table full of peers and adults and be bombarded with all these things there doing wrong. Most times I never heard anyone really giving advice, just sanctions. And I wasn’t the friendliest person there but I did what I need to. At one point they had me standing in a corner with no shoes on. I had to get up at the table everyday at every meal and tell one thing about myself, and if it wasn’t satisfactory then I either couldn’t sit or I would get alternative food. Alternative food varied at each meal. Breakfast was barely warm cream of wheat, Lunch was a dry untoasted English muffin with tuna straight out the can until they changed it to a lukewarm soy burger, and Dinner was a dry untoasted English muffin again but with creamy peanut butter. Till this day I cant eat, any of those items and seeing them makes me nauseous. Also there was a rule that you had to eat everything on your plate. If you didn’t they would put it in the fridge and you couldn’t eat anything else until you ate that. So they would warm it up and bring it to you until you ate it or it went bad.

At one point they get tired of you being stubborn or unresponsive, and take you out of school and put you on work sanction. Now work sanction, doesn’t that sound like child labor? They would take you out of class until they saw fit to put u back in class. This action set my back 6 months, so I ended up graduation late. And at that same time I was one alternative food while working. We were outside working, digging holes, cutting lawns, cooking, cleaning, and washing dishes, shoveling snow, any labor you can possibly think of. At the same time they put me on alternative food so I was losing weight like crazy. I went from a healthy 170lbs to 137lbs. It was disgusting, you could see the bones in my wrist and my face was all drawn in. Even when my sister can to see me at a family group she said I looked unhealthy because I was skinny. And then there are these events called family groups. They usually happen about a few months into the program, or whatever they call it. We had to prepare a list of our “dishonesties” and read them off to our parents or guardians. It was so humiliating and uncomfortable.

But there were so many things that are actually ok and are encouraged by either family or by psychology. Masturbation was a big, and I mean BIG no-no. They told you that it was inappropriate and that it was going to bring you down spiritually. So at one point you begin to believe them and you start feeling like crap, and you look like it too. You couldn’t really talk to the opposite sex let alone look at them. They had this sanction call no eye contact with the opposite sex and blackout. Blackout is when you can’t talk to certain people. Such as house, which was anyone outside your unit of 40 people, and there were 8 different units called “families”. Six months, which was the amount of time you’ve been there, and the opposite sex. So at one point in time, out of the 250 students there you might only be allowed to talk to 12 people.

And its so sad, especially if you’re on no eye contact because they would encourage the opposite sex to call you out and embarrass you in front of everyone. At one point I was brought up in front of the house, which is all 8 “families” and then about 200 staff and told that no one should talk to me because I treat everyone like crap and they should ignore me and that I was on this sanction called invisible. This meant that no one could see me and could ignore me if they wanted to. There were times where I would sit in the corner, with no shoes on, in poverty clothes (meaning u weren’t allowed to wear jeans and nice clothes, only nasty sweats, old shirts, ponytails and no name brand soaps and facial cleansers) and wait for almost an hour at times, so some one could acknowledge me. At one point I had to answer a question from the twelve step program that the school was based on, and if it was satisfactory then I didn’t get to eat regular food.

And the basis on the program was based on AA. I wasn’t an alcoholic nor had I drank previous to going to the school. So how was I supposed to relate. My thing is I know we all had our problems and issues or addictions but there should have been some type of what to really help out on an individual basis. I have to say I did make a lot of friends wit students and also with staff, but I wish I had met them in a different setting. At the same time the people there thought I was a liar when it came to certain issues. I understand that’s how we are seen because no body wants to be at this school in the first place. But I was told that I was a whore and I had slept around and there was no way that I was a virgin when I got there, I was appalled at what they said to me.

And to come there and be stripped of what you know and locked up in this bubble until its time for us to graduate, it’s hard. When I left the family school I was absolutely terrified. I was so used to being in this ball and being protected that I was afraid to go outside when I moved to Maryland with my sister. We really didn’t have a initiation into the “real world”. I went out to the mall at one point and a guy hit on me, and I started hyper ventilating and had to go sit and calm down. Till this day I cant take long showers, 4 minutes is what was drilled into my head for almost 3 years.Also its so sad what the students go through. While being there i saw a student commit suicide, because he just couldnt handle it anymore. Can you imagine how he felt before that event took place or how we as a student body felt seeing his body fall to the ground below?

So in conclusion, I hope that HR 5876 is passed. I refused to let some one else go through all the crap that I had to endure and go through if it can be prevented. And regardless of what excuses ensue from the FFS there are most likely items that still go on that did when I was there, and that went on years ago.

Darrillyn Boyce