Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




S. G.

I was at the family school from Jan 98 until December 99. I have since moved on and due to my profession, do not want to further associate myself with this place. However, things went on there that need to be stated plainly and accurately, as no exaggeration is necessary.

I will start by saying that I certainly had problems and was no pleasant child to deal with. I experimented with drugs and generally acted with disregard towards authorities in school and elsewhere. My parents placed me there with the best of intentions and because of the tight lips surrounding the school there was no way that they could know what really went on there. My experiences mirror many others that have been posted on this website. I was not allowed to speak with my parents for over 30 days, and when I was it was no longer than a 10 minute conversation that was monitored by a "senior member" the entire time. I tried twice to run away. The first time I was tackled by staff members and hauled back in a van. The second time I was actually caught and restrained by a student and his father who was visiting. Both times my punishment was to sit and face a corner for several weeks, while my food was restricted. Another time, while I worked for the Yearbook, I was thrown in a corner for 3 weeks because my teams project was not up to speed with the rest of the school.

Not that it was late or missing deadlines, just that it was behind the others. At the Family School there is no such thing as an honest mistake that you learn a lesson from. If I didn't start the coffee on time it was because I was lying or masturbating (a favorite reason). Trust was non-existent because the consequences for expressing thoughts or fears were excessive and cruel. I could not even tell my parents what I thought because if someone overheard me, or they relayed what I said to Staff then I would be punished severely. I was fortunate to catch on to the game quickly and avoid many of the problems that other students faced, but I was then expected to support these punishments and enforce the cruelty on other students who were not behaving.

The real trick of the Family School is getting the students to do the dirty work for them. I am not one to make outrageous parallels, but it brings to mind the behavior found in many concentration camps in the second World War. The Nazi overseers would use inmates to enforce the standards, sometimes in a harsher manner than the guards themselves. The impetus was often food or clothing, and the added security of being on their "good sides". I am not trying to say it was like a concentration camp, but getting passes for a weekend, or even extras after a meal were entirely dependent on your good standing and status within the "family". It was very dog eat dog (to use a popular cliche). I can say that I was not able to trust a single person, because even the slightest slip in my faith and adherence to the program might mean months or even years added to my stay. It was truly a culture of fear. That being said about the atmosphere, I would like to offer a few examples of the physical abuse that went on there.

One student, whose first initial was T ( I do not want to name someone that does not want to be) was brought there as a 14 year old with only some ADD related behavioral problems. In the next few months he was loaded with so many "sanctions" that he had to carry around a big cardboard sign listing them all. For reference, a "sanction" is a catch-all for whatever sadistic punishment the staff decides to implement. I can not recall everything that he was forced to do, but at a minimum he had to jog in place any time that he was not sitting. He would have to start any sentence by saying "My name is T and I am a liar and manipulator". He stood in the corner during meals (which was often the dreaded dry tuna fish), was not allowed to speak to his family and was escorted everywhere by at least 2 people. He was on different work sanctions as well.
Let there be no confusion about what this consisted of. The favorite "work sanctions" were to take a bucket of water from one side of the pond and pour it in the other until it was uneven (obivously impossible), or carry cinder blocks around a volleyball court, or "sweep the sunlight off the porch". An even more cruel one was to dig your own grave, which was a 6X6X4 foot hole, which would then be filled back-in.There was definitely more, but this is the kind of punishment handed down to a 14 year old who had not committed a crime. To continue with my previous example, is this not the kind of labor that would have been implemented in a concentration camp? Is carrying a card and degrading yourself every time you speak not in any way similar to certain Nuremberg Laws? I think my example, while extreme, has some merit.

I have seen people rolled up in blankets, duct taped and put in a closet. As a matter of fact, I have stayed up all night with Staff checking on them every few hours. I have had sore throats (probably due to the mold in the trailers that we lived in) and had meals backlogged for days that I had to eat cold in order to get a hot one. I was there when we scrubbed floors with our toothbrushes and I have seen girls screamed at and called whores in front of upwards of 30 people. Certainly I have had nightmares since leaving, and from time to time I still do. I think that it is more than a coincidence that I have had more friends from that school die in tragic events than from any other group I can identify. The Family School uses a systematic approach of intimidating and manipulating young students into believing that they are worthless addicts. The result is that they either play the game and trust no one, develop some sort of Stockholm effect, or carry the weight of those tragic years in silence because there was no outlet.

I am writing this because there can be no doubt of the abuse that has gone on there over the years. Furthermore, anyone who says that anything I or any other alumni have listed is a lie needs to meet with some of us face to face. Specifically people like Paul Geer and Tom Wood, as well as Tony and Mike Argiros need to face the music for the wrong they have done. Why would all of us conspire against them if there was no real and deep felt reason? I would like to summarize with a popular phrase that was often told to people that felt they were not addicts, but were told repeatedly that they were:

"If one person tells you that you are a duck, ignore it. If two people tell you that you are a duck, think about it. If three people call you a duck, start quacking"

Time to start quacking Family School.

Submitted By: S.G.