Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)


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Kelly Vanzant

I want to start by admitting that I have some resentment with the school but I do want to be fair in this testimony & leave resentment out of it.

Attending the family school I learned from a life skills teacher that if I smoke weed & take speed I can drink more without getting drunk.

I saw a guy jump from a balcony to his death.

I had to cut shoe strings off a girls neck in the middle of the night with fingernail clippers.

A student flipped a table & I was hit in the head with bowls & silverware.

I saw a 14 year old drop kicked by male staff-a 15year old slammed against dryers in the laundry room while being provoked & bullied into making another move so he could enforce his power over her again.

A girl drank face astringent & was sent to the ER.

A guy ran up the stairs knocking into another staff member's pregnant wife. This staff manhandled the guy & shoved him against the wall & threatened several times. I will say that the staff later apologized but I think that kind of behavior should never be tollerated from the staff, especially when there are such violent students who are court mandated to the school.

A guy in my family group was caught putting hidden cameras around to catch dirty shots of girls & would watch the dance videos (I was involved in several dance classes) over & over again to look at the girls.

If a student refused to do program or school work they were put on work sanctions:they would either do projects for the school (i.e. making outside pathways) or some kind of pointless work like carrying buckets of rocks from point A to point B. I am not against this as most kids are sent there because their lives are giong nowhere fast & this encourages them to get back on track:finishing school, building relationship back with their families...

Table topics: someone is brought up during a meal time in front of the family to discuss defiance, mistakes or to ask for help from peers & staff. You were to take your inventory (the exact nature of your actions, why you do what you do). Most ppl don't go through this type of soul searching until they're much older & this has been a great help to me to this day. However, sometimes these turned into bashing sessions. Sometimes a staff member would decide what your inventory is for you & unless you agreed you were yelled at or sent to the corner.

Sent to the corner means:no shoes (runaway precaution/humility), cold boca (veggie) burgers for lunch & dinner, malt-o-meal for breakfast, one piece of fruit, glass of water & glass of milk at meals. No condiments. No fooling around, no speaking until spoken to, face the corner & may speak or get up by raising hand & being called on.
One would be sent to the corner for being defiant.

Exhile: someone who chooses to not do any work & may try to corrupt others sent outside the family area into the hallway for any family time including meals. Typically put on work saction but not always the case.

I have seen kids thrown out into the snow if they don't get out of bed or sent to isolation rooms (2 rooms side by side, carpeted walls, enough room to lay down curled up). Isolation rooms usually if they are a threat to other students. Sometimes unnecessary abuse of power.

When a staff member did something wrong, it seemed it didn't matter. We were not allowed to say so. We were only to respond to staff as our authority figures & you don't tell an authority figure they are wrong. The students are always in the wrong.

Academics were tough. 75 is passing, good teachers who let nothing slide. My resentment with this part of the experience is that I had 5 classes mon & fir & 11 classes tues-thurs. That's a good thing it kept me from getting too bored with one subject but I would have maybe one study hall during the school week at some points. I went through a period where during night study hall I had to go to each family to see if they needed toilet paper or paper towels for their dorm, I also refilled the school bathrooms during my study hall during the week.

I had several sponsees (as in the AA program I would co-sponsor a student to help them through the program) & I had to use study hall time to speak with them. It was mandatory to participate in weekend activities. So I'd fail that week & be punished & HAD to go to study hall on the weekends, so I would start passing again then, passing, I'd have that study hall taken away again so it just went back & forth signing blackout(not getting my phone call to my parents) & having privileges taken away. No way to win.

A typical day: get up at 5?, 4minute shower, dressed, wake up rest of dorm, make sure they get ready, then clean dorm military style (wipe floors with cleaner & paper towels, windows, dust bed frames, dry out sinks & bathtub...) then to church, breakfast, school 8?-6:15?, lunch in between classes then dinner & study hall, then reflection group led by a student or staff then to bed. During the winter snow crews got up earlier & shoveled pathways from dorms & around the school during church time. Groups of students cook the meals (under supervision) & do dish crews, waitstaff & stock room for the kitchen.

This extreme environment I believe is necessary for some extreme cases. Some were there for extreme drug abuse, alcoholism, severe gang involvement, statutory rape, violence towards parents or others.

I was deceived by my parents when sent to FFS because I would have run away if I had known where I was going.

Previous to FFS I had never used drugs or alcohol. My father & sister were abusive, my mother was in school to get her nursing degree in case my father wouldn't stop cheating on her & physically & verbally abusing me & my sisters. My way of coping was church & my boyfriend. I was at one point not allowed to go to church because I told someone what was going on & grounded indefinitely. My way of coping was to run away, & when I couldn't I cut myself.

For me, I needed to get away from the situation I was in & learn life skills so I wouldn't form co-dependent relationships or finding a new way to cope wih emotions. However, the violence, bullying, corrupt staff & drug information was not helpful for me.

Although religious practices were mandatory, I enjoyed learning about other religious practices & only took to heart what felt true for me. No one forced me to say I believed in what anyone else believed in. I was only instructed to be respectful.

The idea of the school is good, but there are some huge problems that need to be corrected & staff who should have been fired years ago & perhaps even pressed charges on. There is some "brainwashing" students will speak of (you have to go along with whatever a staff members says/thinks or are shunned) but I think the idea was originally to show us a different way of thinking/coping/living to stop the path of destruction we were on previous to attending this school.

There are some great staff who truly want to help.

There are staff who are there to bully, provoke & enforce power either verbally or physically over students & others who show favoritism, allowing certain students to break the rules:
Kevin Glasset!! *violent*
Joe & Colleen Rogalovich
Aleta? Khan
Annie Ducey
There are a few others I can't recall their names.

There were some in every family but these are some I noted from my experience. I did not mention the students names in the events listed above because it's not my place if they don't want it known but they are not stories I heard but things I actually witnessed during my stay. June 13, 03-june 25?, 05

I am unsure of the exact times hence the ?'s but they should be close to the right time.

My sanctions were:
to wear hair down
wear makeup
dressup
no singing (except in choir/show choir)
blackout with boys (couldn't talk to or sit next to boys because they thought my hostility was a form of flirting)
double boy shadow (meaning I had to have 2 guys escort me to every class, because they realized I was being hostile because of past sexual harassment I endured at my previous school)
no fooling around

Other incidents I remember:

A student was placed on anti depressants & at one point he's up at a table topic saying he hates the school & it's all bs & he's got a smile on his face then in a split second he's bawling uncontrollably & he was then sent to see the doctor.

A student is cutting up pills with a tape dispenser in the dorm one night while we were sleeping, snorts them, then starts threatening another girl and throwing, breaking her possessions on the floor. We moved bunk beds between her and the other girl 'til we could get staff up to the dorm (this would happen by opening the back door, triggering an alarm). Two men came to restrain her & take her to the isolation room. We go back to sleep, she opens the back door again screams, "I'm back!" & starts verbally abusing & threatening the other girl again.


I have had trouble relating to my peers since departure of the school. The reasons I believe this is is that my family & I did not know or understand eachother since I had been at that school from age 15-17:important ages for growth & change & so they were unable to support me, I was used to dealing with more than my peers from my tasks or events that happened at FFS,

I am an open book because I got used to having to share with the 250+ students at FFs, the staff member Colleen Rogalovich, was to be my sponsor over the phone until I got support groups at home after leaving, she answered 1 time out of many calls, & she would never call back: my parents divorced while I was at FFS, so I came home to new school, new home, new step parents, wasn't allowed to talk to any old friends, so I essentially had ZERO support. I tried co-dependent groups, EA, only men old enough to be my father attended these groups, & in AA men stick with the men & women with the women. So I snuck calls to my boyfriend who was my only support before I was sent to FFS. He died 2 weeks after being home. I never got to see him & no one was there for me.

To this day I still have difficulty relating & feel lonely. Like no one understands me except other alumni because I am more open than most, I am afraid to make mistakes (because you were not allowed to make them at FFS), my parents use things they learned at FFS (they are victims & I am a monster) against me & I missed out on normal highschool experience.

Submitted By: Kelly Vanzant