Sunday, August 19, 2018

Poor schooling at White River Academy

It seems that the risk of ending up with no schooling at all when attending White River Academy in Utah is very real. A parent wrote:

White River Academy has some kind and dedicated staff however their academic program has serious problems. Our son has a high IQ and was always ahead at previous schools despite behavior issues. During his 14 months at WRA they only had him complete 2 high school credits dispite our constant expression of concern.

We finally pulled him and at the new school, within 10 months he had approx 14 H/S credits completed. We heard other parents had expressed similar concerns on parent weekends. Our son also told us that the school told the boys not to talk about what went on there and that he had felt he was being encouraged toward the Mormon faith. He said there was only a few courses to choose from. Just be aware, thats all. At the time, they had a policy of keeping a kid from doing school work when he acted up. Long after our son stopped acting up, he was still not getting anything done and they were defensive about his school accomplishments. I did not feel they abused him physically or mentally and they may have helped him a little emotionally. I'm sure you can find a better shool out there with wasting thousands with no school credits.

Again I'll say they had some caring people, but I don't know who is running the school that their academics were so poor. My son has been gone a year now from WRA and is a success story. He's come so far at the new school and we welcome him back to our lives. Hang in their parents. It can happen. Do try to pick the right school. Start with some with actual accreditation and licensing even if you have to pay a bit more and many aren't more expensive.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

A stay at the Thayer Learning Center

This testimony was found on the message board belonging to HEAL-online. All rights goes to the author

(Too long of an intro?) Skip down to the time I arrived and read from there.
One summer day I was alerted to headlights coming up the driveway, little did I know what was about to happen.

I looked out the window in my bedroom and saw headlights pulling into the driveway, this is unusual as my family at the time lived in a remote ranch area with only a few neighbors nearby also it was around 4:00 Am in the morning.

I run into the house and alert my parents that there is a vehicle pulling into the driveway (my memory is a little blurry so bear with me) my parents get up quickly and pretend to not know what's going on, I go to the back door to see who was coming up the driveway and my dad rushes to the front door of the house and blocks the entrance, as I make my way to the back room where the back door is located to my surprise, a transporter is waiting outside the door, or blocking it, (unable to remember which) then another transporter comes from the other side blocking me in (he came in the front door) They do this boxing in method just in case the subject (me) decided to try and run.

So we're all in the back room, one of the transporters tells me to put on my shoes, so I comply after asking what was going on I'm very confused at this point, but my body is in no condition to run, I literally looked like one of those Ethiopian children you see in pictures, ribs sticking out, all skin a bones.

Anyway, I am transported to their car and I am told to get in the back seat, passenger side, so I comply.

I remember looking out the door before they shut it and my mother telling me that I am going away for awhile, I think her and I both cried.

The door was shut and my parents and the transporters talk briefly and away we go to the Reno airport to catch a plane. I was mostly quiet for the trip, I do remember asking one question "Where am I going?" I got a brief "Boarding school comment" from one of the transporters, So I thought to myself, well, I guess a little adventure couldn't hurt, since I was withering away anyway. Bear in mind I had had no sleep the night before, and my adrenaline and curiosity was at peak so I was not able to sleep at all during the trip.

We arrive at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and board a plane, so I use the restroom real quick and away we go.

Our plane departs and we land in Las Vegas to switch flights to Kansas City, MO.

We had to wait for a little while for our flight to prepare, so while we were waiting one of the transporters (shortish white guy, brown hair)starts to play some sort of video poker close to where we were sitting, I think the native guy asks me if I would like to have something to eat, a slice of pizza or something and he tells me "this is the last time for awhile that you will have an opportunity to have this kind of food" But I respectfully decline his offer as I was not hungry. (depressed people have trouble eating)
Both guys were fairly nice to me.

The time comes to board our flight, so we start heading for the terminal to board the plane, to be honest I kinda felt like a bad ass because I had two guys who looked like body guards standing around me at all times.

We board the plane and lift off to Kansas City International Airport.

We arrive, get off the plane and walk to the rent-a-car booth, we head to the rental car and start to drive out of the city to the tiny town of Kidder.

As we pull up to the facility, I see the main building and feel sort of relived "this place doesn't look so bad" I say to myself, that is until we rounded the corner to the other side of the building. Fear strikes me in my mind as we pull up to a fenced off area "The Beach" we called it, to see 3 drill Sargents in black/white camo BDU wear and big round DSGT hats on the inside of the fence.

We enter the fenced off area and immediately after entering my intake started.

I was yelled at, screamed at, billed in the face.

They started going over making me learn the 10 general orders of the program.

every time I messed up they would make me run a down and back to the end building and back. I eventually got tired of this and got a wild hair and got a little disobedient, as soon as those words left my mouth I was on the ground with 3 drill Sargents tying me into pretzel, one of them sat on my back I think it was DSGT "H1", while one of the other started to bend my legs up and backwards, DSGT "H2" bending my spine in the opposite direction it is suppose to go. Now bear in mind I am very frail due to the condition my body was in, I was so afraid they were going to break my back and I was in a lot of pain, so I pretended to have a seizure to get them to stop, I rolled my eyes into the back of my head and started jerking my body around as if I were having a seizure.

I think I scared them because they got off me immediately and let me lay there for awhile, deciding what they should do next.

They decided to wrap up my intake and took me into the building, they told me to take off all my clothes, one of the JR. Staff, A cadet that was about to finish the program turned on the shower and I was instructed to get in it, everyone still yelling at me of course, but not interacting with me physically. So after that is over, I am in a state of shock at this point so I don't remember much after that point besides going down to requisitions and getting a bin full of clothes and other items I needed as a Cadet and they placed me in Bravo bay. That day my entire bay was punished because I wasn't able to do a single pushup, due to them tearing a muscle in my elbow, also I had very little muscle mass if any at all.

That night I fell into catatonic state, I'm not sure how long I was in that state, but all I remember was looking up at the camera and the ceiling.

Eventually, I start to get stronger and learn the ropes.

A short while later my legs begin to swell like balloons, I kept putting it on my sick report, but it took about a week, maybe longer to get it looked at by an EMT, during that week I was unable to run or do the exercises properly, the Sargents kept making comments about my legs to each other "no wonder he can't run, his legs are swelled up like balloons" and laughing to each other making jokes and nasty comments, at one point one of the Sargents put his boot on my chest and let his weight down on top of me, looked me in the eyes and smiled evilly, knowing there was nothing I could do about it.

When my family rep finally took me to the hospital the doctors ran tests on my legs to see if I had any blood clots, they wanted to do more tests and keep me over night, but the EMT at the time (I'm not really sure she was even qualified to put a band-aid on an injury) threw a fit over it, so I wasn't able to get checked out further. (Which I should have because my legs were swelled up, they were huge!) They ended up putting me on no lower body P.T and called it good, basically told me to drink water and get over my drama. The Sargent that stepped on my chest, ignored the doctor sticker on my canteen and made me do lower body P.T anyway. That guy was mean.

I wanted to tell the doctors to help me and that they were abusing us, but I was so afraid of what they would have done to me when I got back to camp.
I suppose it has something to do with Stockholm syndrome. I think they actually used Stockholm syndrome and fear as a cover, they has us zombified, terrified and broken.

Eventually, I finally got stronger and was able to do all of the exercises, they became more of an annoyance when the pain tolerance built up and a fit body made the constant nonstop exercise easier. I kind of want to say I just got used to it, but I'm not sure if that would be the right words to use.

I want to go over a list here to tell what I witnessed and experienced at Thayer Learning Center

During my stay, I noticed that they broke 3 cadets wrists.
They lied to parents about injuries related to abuse. One particular Sargent there who was the wrist breaker was promoted for his extreme behavior modification techniques including the breaking of bones.

One day in the blistering heat we had to bear crawl everywhere we went, so when we went to the chow hall, and gym,(all separate buildings from male boot camp) the skin on our hands literally melted off on the sidewalk, everyone got bad blisters all over their hands.

Certain Cadets were singled out by Staff and Cadets, and were bullied more often than others. One cadet in particular got restrained at least once or twice a week. That I was witness to.

Lots of Cadets developed a foot fungus due to the latrine floor being covered in bacteria, we also did not have the privilege of having toilet seats on our toilets.

We slept in a basement with bugs and spiders everywhere, the walls leaked, so when it rained the boot camp basement bays Alpha and Bravo became partially flooded and our sleeping bags, clothes would get wet.

At one point during the program I tried to break my ankle so that I could escape the torment, so I ran up the catwalk in the gym when the Sargent wasn't looking and jumped off, I landed on my feet and fell forward, as soon as one of the Sargents realized what I did, he immediately restrained me, pushing my neck into the floor, I was unable to breath and began screaming "Sir! I can't breath" through my crushed vocal cords and windpipe.
All he said was "STOP SAYING CAN'T!!" I thought I was going to die, I quit trying to breath and I was going to try and let myself slip out of consciousness, but at about the point I was passing out he got off of me. A cadet mentioned it later and said the sounds I was making sounded like I was being killed.
I was placed in isolation for a week or so I can't remember, and my neck was messed up for about a year after that, I think he did something to damage my spine, or the tendons in my neck when he restrained me.

When parents would show up, they would call "code white" over the radio, so the Sargent/Staff on duty would be aware that they were being watched, so they had us sit down and read, or do other activities in an attempt to keep the parents from knowing exactly what was going on there, to keep their horror house under wraps.

We were woken up in the middle of the night to exercise outside on the beach, or inside. Those were what we called "moon burns"

We had to sleep on 1/2 Inch thick green mats on top of the concrete floor.

When I finally got to residency, we were allowed one phone call per week with our parents, whenever I tried telling my mother that we were being abused, my family rep would switch off my phone, and take over the phone call (all of our calls were monitored live)

All of our letters were screened and judged according to a cadets psychological profile.
whited out, or edited, not sent at all.

Every weekend we were allowed to sit on the concrete floor and watch a movie, we often had to watch the same movie over and over again as a means of psychological tactics. ("Aladdin" was favorite of the staff)

We had to listen to "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and repetitive motivational cassette tapes repeatedly over and over again, as means of psychological tactics.

Cadets who "acted up" were forced to sit in isolation for weeks at a time in a tent with a bright light, listening to the same motivational tapes over and over again, NOTE: they started putting cadets in empty bays instead of the tent for some reason.

If we were outside and a car drove by on the isolated road in front of the main building, we were instructed to face towards the building for who knows what reason.

I witnessed a Sargent punch a cadet in the face.

Whenever a cadet was restrained, the Sargent or JR. Staff would yell out grenade, which then we had to dive on the ground, and bury our face in our elbows and kick our legs as to not be witnesses to the event of the bodily assaults.

One female cadet in particular was made to stay there for years and be subject to the owners abusive drones we called Sargents.
I personally witnessed cadets urinate and a defecate themselves.

cadets who acted up, we were forced to mock them with a made up cadence all together that included their name to bully and shame them into obedience.

A cadet died there due to their neglect and abuse.

How these programs continue to flourish is anyone's guess
Which is very concerning.

The only positive thing I have to say about this program is, had I not been sent, I may have died due to severe depression I was not eating and my body was withering away.

Basically, I was broken down completely, but never built back up.

These places are abusive, plain and simple.

Do not send your kids to these places.

I am a survivor and assure you that everything I have mentioned is true and correct and not exaggerated in any way to my knowledge.

You have my permission to post this on your website, I wish to remain Anonymous and am also using a VPN out of fear that the owners will retaliate against me in my adult life should they come across this posting even though the place has since shut down.

A death occured at the boot camp and the bad press coverage forced the owners to close. However, they were never prosecuted for their part in the tragic death


Sunday, April 15, 2018

A stay at New Leaf Academy in Oregon


I wanted to share my experience at NLA since it was a bit different than what I am seeing and I was more recently at New Leaf Academy Oregon. I was at NLA for about a year and a half. The two people who now own NLA are a very kind couple that really care about the emotional growth of the students. They no longer have the clan or stages system that was there before and now they have a system that helps each girl have their own individualized program. Girls can earn privileges depending on how well they are doing with themselves and others, rather thank how long they have been a student there. The usual consequences (LOs) last for 30 minutes. Most of the time the girls must do physical work like simple cleaning, but sometime they will have to do a written assignment. While doing LOs girls may not communicate with one another and can only ask the staff questions that have to do with the LO given to them. The girls may sing while they work, as long as it is not too loud (I found that very helpful and made the time go by much faster). I ended up having about 10 pages of LOs by the time I completed the program, each page had about 20-30 LOs on it. It was very frustrating to receive LOs at times because you could get them for very pathetic reasons like sleeping on top of your comforter, getting out of bed a minute after when we’re supposed to be up, going in your room without permission, and a very popular one was “not following the morning routine” I never did find out what that meant.

Hours of work were the same sort of think except you got them for bigger reasons like not taking out your rabbit enough times and rough housing. Where as grounding lasted for a week, maybe less, and it wasn’t that bad. All that happens while your grounded is you miss watching the TV show and have to do My Time instead, you can’t go to store or ask for privileges in treatment, and you have to do an hour and a half of physical work (i.e. Cleaning) and another half hour of written work on Saturday and another hour of physical work on Sunday while other girls are at store.

I was put on many spot restrictions which were very frustrating. While on most spot restrictions (hot tub deck, downstairs, admin, café, table, etc) I was not allowed to speak to other student. I felt isolated and very depressed. They would put you on spot restrictions for things like self harm, arguing with a staff, and procrastinating on working on assignments. I felt upset because I could hang out with my friends and I was constantly getting in trouble while I was on the table for things like being late to Last Light when I couldn’t even get up from the spot with adult permission. It was especially frustrating when I was on my café restriction because I would stand there raising my hand for about 10-20 minutes wanting to go to bed until another student would finally tell a staff member that I was trying to ask a question. I was unnoticed most of the time and other student pitied me.

Peer restrictions were also a set back. It felt like every time I got close to somebody, the staff would restrict us because they didn’t want me to have any friends. I noticed not only in my relationships, but in others as well that when good friends would get restricted they would turn on one another and star to hate each other. That made it hard because then one girl wouldn’t want to get off of restriction, while the other one would.

Although there were a lot of negatives about the school there were a lot more positives. PE was fun and it really helped student get into shape. School was taught in a simple way while most students were learning atleast one level above the grade they were actually in. The food was usually really good and we got served proper portions, and before Soccer games we got loaded on carbs. We went on many trips including going to Washington DC, visiting the Oregon Coast, quest (a seven day backpacking trip that is super fun), white water rafting, therapeutic retreat, etc. I personally had so much fun on the trips that I did go on and each time I went it was a completely different experience. Cook and Clean-Up was my personal favorite part about being a student there. Cook lasted for 30 minutes and Clean-Up usually lasted around 15-45 minutes depending on what we are and who was on Clean-Up that week. Both were very fun to do. We would sing, dance, and listen to music as well as get the occasional special treats from the cooks. It definitely didn’t feel like labor.

Each students experince is different and I happened to have one that was both good and bad. NLA is definitely not as bad as it used to be. Anyone who went to NLA NC might remember a staff member named Amber Wyatt (I don’t know if I spelled her last name correctly). She now works as the Program Director at NLA OR and she said that things are much better and completely different now. I really enjoyed my experince overall. I hope I was helpful for anyone curious about what NLA is like now.

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