Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Rachel B

I came to the Family School in late May of 2000. Knowing that I would turn eighteen in ten months I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to do whatever I could to fit in. For the most part my plan went well. I floated by, but I had no real friends. It was though the rest of the girls looked down on me because although I wasn’t stirring up trouble, I was also unwilling to emotionally abuse those who had been singled out.

About five months into my stay I finally got into my first bit of “trouble.” My best friend in the school happened to be a boy. He was intelligent and capable of having enjoyable discussions with me. He and another friend of mine who has already shared her story were in journalism together. It was one of the few times of the day I knew I would actually enjoy. One night this boy and I were brought up at the table and told that we were “flirting.” As we were consistently taught at the Family School to tell the truth, I did so. I stated that what they saw as flirting was only myself having a friend. I was put in the corner, always facing a wall, and not allowed to come out until I got up and LIED, telling them exactly what they wanted to hear.

Once again I was able to fly under the radar, although being forced to do things such as cleaning pig pens in skirts and dress shoes on “dress up day.” The best part of my day was going to the dorms and going to bed, because I’d have that five minutes to myself before I dropped off to sleep on a bed that could barely support my 100 pound body.

Our “dorms” were just outdated trailers. At one point ours had mushrooms growing in the bathroom. Little maintenance was done and nights were cold.

About two weeks before I turned eighteen my birthday became a constant topic of discussion. I of course intended on leaving and freely admitted so when brought up at a table topic. I was put on a work sanction and made to carry buckets of rocks around in a circle. I was told that if I left, my life would inevitably become a failure. I was also told that if I left the school my brother would want nothing to do with me, who is and always has been one of the closest people in the world to me.

On the day of my birthday I walked the eight miles into town. I called my brother collect at 10am. He picked up the phone and told me that he had been told that I was going to stay and that I wanted him out of my life. Even though he had been working until 4am and he had to work that night, he got out of bed and drove the four hours to get me. When he got there he was shocked, I was begging him to give me some food, as this was a luxury I had learned was often cruelly withheld. My brother took me in for several months. When he first brought me home he had told me he expected me to get a job right away, however, soon it was painfully obvious that I was broken. He was just happy that I was taking such strong initiative to obtain my GED so that I would not be a high school drop out.

It has been eight years since I left the family School, I still have terrifying dreams that I am back there. I tell them over and over that I am eighteen and they have no right, I wake up sweating and just glad to be in my own bed. I cannot trust another human being completely, including my parents, and I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be in a healthy relationship. Today I am a student at Penn State, my GPA is a 3.77 and I expect to graduate with at least one bachelors degree, and three minors. Despite this I still don’t truly believe I can be successful in life and I view constructive criticism as personal attacks towards my character. What is really disturbing to me is that I know that overall, I probably had one of the best experiences that a Family School Student can have.

Thank you for this site, those of you who I knew, I am happy to see how well you are doing. I guess we had it in us after all.
Submitted By: Rachel B