Cedu Documentary in Progress

Hi hi hi,

I’m back from three weeks in Cadeefawnya (the home of Gov. Arnold), where I, along with my intrepid co-producer Jessica Pentland, traveled the state, catching up with interviewees for our Cedu documentary project.

We interviewed (and I’m counting in my head) … 11, or maybe 12 former Cedu school grads and escapees, plus two former staff (one very much “with the program”, one very critical).

I had a wonderful time meeting (and re-meeting) everyone, hearing and learning and remembering that very, very strange and often troubling experience of being a… captive? student?… of the Cedu school.


The footage is in editing right now, but I will update regularly, and post a thing or two as clips become available.

Thanks to all who interviewed, thanks to those who gave use of their homes, and all who gave their time and openness and energy to re-visiting an often daunting and haunting past and subject.

very bests, more soon,

Liam

More on the Cedu Schools and therapeutic/”tough love” boarding schools:

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About Liam Scheff

"Author, Artist, Film, Permaculture." Liam Scheff is a writer, artist and stand-up lecturer on issues that people usually don't make comic books about. (Visit liamscheff.com). Liam's highly-praised book "Official Stories" reveals the complex details behind the myths of our times.

Posted on March 14, 2008, in Surviving Cedu. Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. Hi,
    I heard from psy @fornits that you have info about the cult awareness network categorizing cedu as a cult. Do u have a link for that? I need it for something I’m writing:

    Barbra Walters is promoting her memoir where she discusses her daughter’s salvation at a “special school”-cedu.

    I’m using this opportunity to get journalists reporting that cedu was an abusive, torture oriented, thought reform center.

    Please contact the gawker or jezebel sites
    http://jezebel.com/
    http://gawker.com/
    (relevant emails are listed there)
    with your own experience at cedu, and any pertinent info you’d like to add about its history, synanon connection, and in particular info about Jackie, Bab’s daughter.

    and contact me at about the cult awareness network

  2. Hi Lilly,

    If you want to contact me, then email me privately through my contact page. You ask for links, and info, but I don’t know who you are or how to contact you…

  3. Hi Liam,
    I thought I left my email in the mail section. O.K. I will contact you through email now. Thanks.

  4. I attended Boulder creek academy from march of 03 until it was shut down. i witnessed first hand the abuse and brainwashing cedu provides and how things got worse as the schools entered financial turmoil. I would love to discuss my experience and expose all of their creepy and bizarre mind melting “workshop” experiences. I still have original notebooks containing all writing assignments from “workshops” like the I and Me. Email me if you want to know more about cedu.

  5. wow I’d love to see this when it’s done! I was in jessicas dorm at rma. I attended Cedu for a year then rma for a year! So glad this is being done!

  6. I’m a CEDU survivor and I’d like to be involved in your project. Please contact me.

  7. OMG! I did not know Barbara Walters’ daughter went to CEDU, and she thinks it saved her daughter???? Poor thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I know my parents thought CEDU had helped me until my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I got so scared that I would never get to tell them what happened to me that I finally told them about what REALLY happened there… and they were shocked and devastated.

    I am SO grateful that I have a mother who cares for me enough to help me through getting over the trauma of what they did to me. I pray earnestly that Barbara Walters’ daughter know the truth of CEDU’s abusive ways and has the courage to admit that she was wrong, and side with her own child. What a travesty!!!!!!!!

  8. To Noah,

    I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. Boulder Creek Academy reopened promptly, and though the management is new, the horrors remain the same. RMA is “closed” but is in fact merged with BCA. See http://www.bouldercreekacademy.net. My niece has been there for 32 months with no home visits.

    Auntie Em

  9. I have to say i am a little dissapointed by some of the responses that are being written on this site. I attended CEDu from 8/95-12/97 when I graduated. Did I feel that a lot of things were abnormal about the school? Yes of course I did. However with that being said there are certain things that I learned that help me to this day. To anyone that was abused or restrained that is not cool to me at all. However I still have some of my best friends in the world from CEDU, and I would love to be honest about all my experiences at CEDU, regardless of if they were positive or negative. When I put everything into perspective CEDU helped me a lot, because i refused to be brainwashed and took from it the things I felt appropriate. Please contact me anytime and to all the CEDU survivors i hope you are all doing well.

    Darren

  10. Darren,
    I hope no one knocks on your experience, but some folks here are not too willing to see the perspective from the other side of the line, whichever side of the line you may stand. Maybe the word you were looking for was ‘surprised’, not ‘disappointed’, to be fair to all.
    Some of us had pretty miserable times there. Speaking for myself, I feel like 2 years of my life was completely wasted. Did I make some great friends? Yes. Did I learn some survival techniques? Yes, for sure. But beyond that…
    Maybe, in your era at Cedu, things were better, less intense, or you just focused more to get more out of it, OR, as we’re starting to discover, some of us had more time to reflect back on what really happened. I had seven more years than you to stew on this stuff. So again, kudos to you for finding some positive life lessons. I wish the positive outshined the negative for more of us Cedu survivors.

  11. The thing I have noticed from my cedu page Liam is that there were different “era’s” in the school where the majority of students enjoyed the experience or the majority of students had a very BAD experience. I have noticed that 88-92 was a VERY BAD era.

    The problem here is that it is not appropriate to discount anyone’s experience. Neither of us were there during their time and visa versa.

    Rudy left around 94 and if you look at patterns of abuse, the backlash would have been a softer program.. more caring until the next “hilter” came into power. The program also changed over the years and in 1992 they DID instate some sort of classes in upper school which I have heard turned into a semi-regular school like atmosphere (for the upper school of course)… Cascade even had 48 hour propheets instead of 24 hours so the kids could sleep 8 hours in between sessions. Also, before Rudy took power (late 70’s early 80’s) he was just a drama teacher and Jill was just an art teacher and they were very well liked and accepted by the student community.

    One thought is provoked when I write that last statement….. Power reaps corruption.

    Whatever the experience by a student through the years, it MUST be known that at OUR TIME… what they did to us was not only abusive but ILLEGAL! You cannot keep minors up for 24 hours using interrogation methods and other systematic problems during OUR time. It should make all of us relieved that others going through a semi-similar version of our program DIDn’t get fucked up by it. It doesn’t make what we experienced any less by any means. So both sides should not be discounted here.

  12. Hi to the above commenters,

    Whether you claim to have loved, hated, or tolerated your Cedu or Cedu-type experience, the details matter.

    The daily functioning of these schools is of utmost importance in creating an accurate history: the Raps, the untrained, invasive staff, the Synanon methodologies, the Propheets, the Smushing (mandatory or forced adult/teen and teen/teen cuddling).

    These are the details, and they are in evidence in the stories of everyone who has asked or agreed to be interviewed for the documentary.

    The largest shift at Cedu, as some of you can attest to, occurred in the mid-1990s, with the inclusion of drugs, psychiatric drugs – and these, now, often forced as the therapies had been forced.

    I’ve interviewed individuals from at least five schools – De Sisto, Cedu CA, Cedu Idaho, Mt. Bachelor, Benchmark – and the programs all follow the same path. This is not an isolated phenomenon, and it is not just “personal” or individual. It is a large-scale, though quite secretive phenomenon, and it requires some work to unearth the details.

    If you have a story to tell, and you wish to be interviewed for the ongoing project, which may result in a book, let me know, and I’ll get in contact with you.

  13. Damn, I would have loved to be involved in this. I have some things to say about this place. Especially the unqualified staff that fucked most people including myself up, emotionally. I’m a grad of rma 1998. Let me know if there’s anything I can help with.

    -sarah

  14. I was at Cedu in the ’94ish era. I rememeber I was in Pamelas “Family”. CEDU is a time in my life I never talk about—a void in my past. Not having that traditional Highschool education gives one a different perspective on things , hence I feel having gone to CEDU has a lot to do with who I am today, part of which is feeling like an outsider when those conversations about Highschool come up. So it’s comforting to hear so many speak out. I would love to buy the documentary , I’ll put it on that empty space on my book shelf where my Highschool yearbook was supposed to go……keep me posted

  15. I was really glad to have found this site. I was at the Cedu middle school from 2004 until 2005 when it shut down. I was the last person on campus. Reading all these bulletins and watching these clips had a bittersweet effect on me. If you need any help with interviewing or anything im here. I have a bunch of propheet cards, diarys, and pictures.

    Finally people speak out about this horrifying experiance.

  16. hey im a former student from boulder creek academy, i was there when everything went to hell in a hand bag. when cedu got shut down. it was absolutly the greatest day of my life! there is a group on facebook called bca surviors, check it out. i think you will get a kick out of it. Facebook Link

  17. I would like to hear from anyone who went to cascade in the early 90s. my email is ekajata17 [at] hotmail.com

  18. Chris DiFalco

    I’ll keep this short and just make two points since I could write a book about book lol. I have Tourette’s, and I was diagnosed about a year and a half prior to me being sent to Cedu. Cedu told me to stop using my Tourette’s as a cop out and so on, well that’s like telling a paraplegic to stop faking and walk. I never learned to deal with it and to this day have issues I now can relate to my not being allowed to learn how to deal and live with it. Also I was forever hurt by their (L)academic program.

    I never did catch up and college ended up out of the question tho I tried ( again with my learning disabilities I never was allowed to address, getting best of me.) I fought that school tooth and nail (screeching in Dokken Fashion!) and was berated and torn apart for it. I knew it wasn’t going to prepare me for real life, cause those rules were nothing like the real world. I was never Cedu’s whore, I never just rolled over and took it, hell less than two weeks prior to my grad (Dec 95) I was put on indeff’s. And in past years I have found pleasure and satisfaction in seeing people, some of whom at the time were considered poster children for cedu’s results stand with indignation over the experience.

  19. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for writing and telling your story here, it’s much appreciated. It was a strange experience, to be sure, and I’m pleased that opening it up has been generally good for people – therapeutic, revealing, painful, but probably quite useful… I think it’s prompted us all to examine this very odd bit of the hidden culture that we were a part of (or subjected to).

    Do you know about Fornits? It’s another great forum for these discussion – you may be able to track down old peers, etc.

    http://www.fornits.com/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=11

    Again, thank you for being so open and talking about the experience. It’s been a relief, honestly, to finally get so much of this bizarre experience out of my system and into daylight – and I’ve heard the same from the others who participated in the documentary. It’s good to just be open about it – “We had this very unusual, goofy, strange, uncomfortable, and often abusive experience, here’s how it went – and it probably shouldn’t have!”

    I am pleased that groups like ASTART and CAFETY (see blogroll) are making strong efforts in pusing for legislation to make these programs become ethical, transparent, etc.

    Nothing’s perfect, but that’s a good thing, I think. Hope you are well, and being good to yourself. Check out fornits, and stay in touch.

  20. Hi Liam,
    I just finished watching the clips of the documentary on You Tube. First I would like to say that I am horrified…I mean REALLY and truly horrified by what I heard. The truth is that even the most delinquent behavior doesn’t warrant the kind of abuse being reported on your documentary. My heart aches to think of all the people who survived, and didn’t survive this place. My concern remains, even given the closing of this school, regarding the staff and the possibility of their future “professional” endeavors. Being a 27 year old teacher, I cannot fathom participating in such a program….

    Having said that I would like to encourage you and others to give your viewers more thorough information regarding the practices and the routine at Cedu. Having never attended the school or any similar school, I was left wondering if/how parents were not informed by their children that they were being forced to hate them and hate themselves. Was it a school? Was it accredited? Was it a correctional program?

    Also, how was one’s time in the school determined? How much information did parents have before enrolling their children?

    Another question I have is how former students related to their parents after their release…both initially and long term?

    Furthermore, how is it that in the state of California a man who participated in a gang rape would be allowed to work with youth? Was he never convicted, and if so would there be any way to report him, in order to prevent him from being able to work with youth again?

    I hope you won’t take offense to my suggestions/questions, perhaps these are facets of the experience that you have already covered, but have not previewed…I am just so profoundly disturbed by what I saw, that I am very curious…which really means that you’ve done an excellent job!

  21. I went to NWA in the spring of 1996. It seemed like an outdoor youth detention center, which it in fact was. I saw many people get restrained roughly by untrained staff members. I spent many nights outside in tents, since I didnt like going along with the programs that they had going on. I have a boyfriend now, and when I was at NWA, the anti homosexual (i dont say homophobic because, it was clearly just hate talk) , I was not able to come out to my parents until I left that school.

    At NWA i was sarcastic and flippant the entire time of the program. I was on so many full times that they sent me to Ascent to do their wilderness program. It was supposed to be a six week program but I got “repeated”, so I did the program for 3 months. I will say I was in the best physical condition of my life. The PT work outs there were so amazingly intense that when I went to basic training at Ft. Benning georgia, the workouts I recieved there didnt really compare in intensity. For example there was an ex special forces soldier there named Brent who would have use do 1000 to -1500 jumping jacks. You know how long that takes? Nearly two hours.

    The camping experience and snow shoing through the local mountian regions was awesome, Im really glad I got that experience.

    After Ascent since NWA didnt work they put me at BCA. At first I thought BCA was so awesome because in comparison to NWA it had a nicer library, nicer buildings, and if you got put on a full time you were not rescricted to a tent on a wooden pallet , you just had to do work assignments and sleep in your nice bed. I liked that. I was on work assignments a lot because again, I was underground they said. My dirt lists never snitched anyone out, but I was snitched out many times and because I didnt tell on myself or others I was denied many many days of school edcuation to do things like sort huge rocks for the paths or pull weeds all day. I think the idea there was to lower the cost of groundskeeping by turning the children who were on punishment into free gardening and upkeep for the place.

    The propheets were intense and brainwashing. The music, the stupid things, all the kids watching these other kids come out with their hands raised and being laid praise in front of all the other kids at night after the workshops. They made it like this incredible thing that everyone should want to do, and at the time I did. Curiosity I guess. I played lots of chess there , it was fun to do chess tournaments in town and I enjoyed setting up chess tournaments at BCA. Funny thing was it wasnt like normal chess clubs, we were all these bad kids and so we would gamble by playin chess against eachother. Because they “stirpped you of your image” things like nice soaps and shampoos which you were allowed to have your own personal kind were a premium. Because cologne was banned , deoderants that smelled like colognes were also prized.

    Matt Muchinski and Alex Godfries were my best friends there, some of the laughs that I had with my classmates were some of the hardest , most sincere laughs Ive ever had in my life. The night staff was *so* fucking crazy and hickish, telling us wierd stories all the time and such.

    I attempted to run away several times, and generally got caught and sent to Pinecrest hospital in Cour De’ Alene Idaho. I was treated by Dr. Gumprecht who over perscribed anti psychotics to me until i felt at one point i was just walking through my life like the air was filled with jello. Id feel tired all the time, set my head down on the table during lunch or breakfast and drool a puddle on the floor.

    I was on “bans” a lot, which meant that the other students would be punished for talking to me, and I would be punished for talking to the other students.

    Eventually I refused the high dosages of xyprexa that I was forced to take (which later was involved in a very messy lawsuit because of the brutal side effects) alongside depakote. I was 18 and a half when I walked off into town to do my own thing. Nobody told my parents I was leaving, they told them I was crazy. I spent my first few nights in a local Bonners Ferry’s persons trailer. It had lots of ants and stunk, but they had cheap beer and satellite tv. Matt Short, who was a local kid that I knew because his mom worked at NWA and sent him there helped me out too. I went down to the Bonners Ferry employment office and found one of the nightwatch working days there, you could imagine the look on his face when I walked in and told him I needed a job, since its practically like having one of the prisoners from the prison you work at all of the sudden show up and want to work at taco bell.

    Im rambling now… just my two cents take it or leave it

    • Hey man, You said Matt Short? Are you still in touch with him? I was just wondering because he was one of my best friends when I was in Seattle. He use to tell me about NWA when he was there. I was mostly shocked about what he said, and sometimes thought he made it up.

  22. Thank you Liam for doing this documentary. I just finished watching all the youtube clips. God it brings me back and of course I’m in tears. My memories of CEDU are hazy. I only lasted there 6 months after 3 attempts at running away and finally making the break when I hid out at a friends house and my mom refused to pay for the private detective that would find you no matter what but cost like $15,000. She’d already given CEDU so much money and was tapped out. My mom told me she was required to sign over my custody to the school and they finally returned custody to her a few weeks after she wouldn’t pay for the detective and no one could find me. I do remember being on 10 different medications they fed me each night, maybe that contributed to my hazy memory. In any event I am looking forward to watching the doc when it’s done. Thank you for all your hard work. CEDU survivor 1992.

  23. I just wanted to say how great the footage on the doc is coming out. Watching it really brought me back to my CEDU stay in 1992. I finally escaped the school after 3 run away attempts. The goal for my mom sending me there was to keep me off Crystal Meth which I’d been using when my dad died. That is probably the only positive thing from my experience I did not take that drug while there. But CEDU was feeding me 10 pills a night of pharmaceutical drugs so in the long run what was gained. I didn’t kill myself while I was there but thought about it. I’m just glad I survived the experience though it’s been a long hard road out of the brainwashing hell that was CEDU.
    CEDU Survivor ’92

  24. Liam,
    I noticed that you mentioned the Desisto school in the same breath as CEDU.

    “I’ve interviewed individuals from at least five schools – De Sisto, Cedu CA, Cedu Idaho, Mt. Bachelor, Benchmark – and the programs all follow the same path. This is not an isolated phenomenon, and it is not just “personal” or individual. It is a large-scale, though quite secretive phenomenon, and it requires some work to unearth the details.”

    I went to the Desisto school in Howey in the Hills Florida when it was open. I went in 1980 prior to CEDU. Desisto was 1,000,000 % worse than CEDU at it’s worst. They over medicated students, physically restrained students which often caused injuries, I watched Michael Desisto take a kid down and with a handful of hair bash his head into the floor. CEDU was a pleasure cruise compared to Desisto and many of the “schools” for fucked up teens in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

    I have to agree with Heather that it seems like the school was different depending on the era that people went to it.

    “The daily functioning of these schools is of utmost importance in creating an accurate history: the Raps, the untrained, invasive staff, the Synanon methodologies, the Propheets, the Smushing (mandatory or forced adult/teen and teen/teen cuddling).

    These are the details, and they are in evidence in the stories of everyone who has asked or agreed to be interviewed for the documentary. ”

    You say that you are doing a documentary yet you are only focusing on the negatives of the school and totally discounting any positive experiences that any of us have to share. A documentary is supposed to tell the whole story of the topic, yet you refuse to include our part of the story. People are pissed at the people who attended during my time for not commenting on their experience but when they do comment, nasty comments and attacks are made towards those people.

    By definition a documentary is “Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.”

    You have failed to present the facts objectively and whether you have intended to do this or not it has happened. Also people who make comments that differ from your opinion should not be negated or attacked just because you disagree.

  25. And just as a footnote. I am a survivor of CEDU but more importantly I am a survivor of life.

  26. Hi Marcy,

    I wrote you privately with the following invitation:


    We’ll be taking more interviews, and invite those who would like to defend the program to talk. You, Marcy, are invited, and we will be happy to include your story in the documentary.

    The problem I have had in this regard is that persons who want to defend the school on some grounds, almost always refuse to participate in the documentary. Almost – but you do see people speaking well of some aspect of the school in a few clips. They seem to be willing to explore the gray areas, and are not simply ‘pro’ or ‘con.’

    But the most “pro-Cedu” people have consistently refused to participate. They don’t want to be on the record. They don’t want to be filmed. They don’t seem to have the ability to tolerate the fact that the place was a brutalizing experience for many, or a majority.

    As to your other points, I agree and have agreed with Heather’s point, that the schools were different in different eras. This goes to the lack of formal structure, training, program, and the ever-present cults-of-personality which formed around staff – These were, in fact, the program’s internal structure.

    So, if you want the documentary (still in progress, by the way), to be less of a “failure,” then you’ll come and be filmed. And perhaps you’ll tell the story of Desisto. I have interviewed at least one Desisto ‘grad’ or survivor, and the stories were awful and creepy, to be sure.

    But, perhaps you will let us know how you determined that it was precisely “1,000,000 percent” worse than any of the experiences that any of the students in any of the clips shared here, themselves had at Cedu. Or, perhaps you’d be willing to give their stories just a little bit of credence.

    In any case, email me back privately, and we’ll get in touch, and you can come and talk and set your view into the film. You will be welcome to do so.

    – LS

  27. Liam,

    I have emailed back with my contact information and am willing to talk about the school while I was there. On the record.

    To anyone else who was there who are pro to the experience from my peer group or time period I would encourage you to step up and share your experience of the school as an opportunity to balance the scales on the documentary.

    I do agree that there are many gray areas of CEDU, I am not afraid to discuss those issues either.

  28. I was just reading Marcy’s comments and felt I had to address something. Marcy mentioned that she had a positive experience at CEDU and was not only a survivor of CEDU but a “survivor of life”. Maybe I’m reading into her comment wrong, but it felt like it was implying that ex-CEDU students who did not have fond memories of the school are not survivors of life, but rather victims who blame their problems on CEDU.

    I am a successful 24 year old. I have a good relationship with my parents, I hold down at steady job at a well-known Seattle area company making good money. I pay all my bills on time, and am currently taking night classes to finish my college degree. However, I see how CEDU (and some of the other programs I attended) have had a direct, VERY visible, impact on my life and how I deal with problems.

    The reason I speak out about my CEDU experiences is because I would NEVER want anyone else to have to deal with the things I do. Emotional situations which may be much easier for other people to deal with can be incredibly challenging for me. CEDU conditioned me at a young age to respond to certain situations in ways that others tend to have trouble understanding. This doesn’t mean I am a victim, it just means I will have to work 10x harder then most people, which can be discouraging/overwhelming at times.

    I do not disagree that some people may have had a different, more positive experience at CEDU and other similar programs. I just don’t want anyone to assume that all anti-CEDU people feel they are defeated, helpless victims. I, too, am a survivor of life, but I also acknowledge that the CEDU experience makes survival an uphill climb for me.

  29. Well said Michelle S.

    I would like to clear up my statement about “different era’s”…. I think the head staff at any given point dictated the tone of the program and therefore the experience of the student. How the propheets and raps and even floor time was delivered to the students could absolutely make a difference creating either “positive or negative” memories. Unfortunately for me and many others… CEDU was run by diabolical monsters during my time.. that would rather use fear tactics, interrogation methods and spirit breaking as a means to coerce me into good behavior so my parents would think that the program was a success and keep spending their $$$.

    Besides that, the legality of the actual program is where I like to focus. CEDU was a school that costs over $40,000 a year that has no licensed staff or credentialed teachers. The students obtained high school diploma’s by earning math units for chopping wood, English units for floor time, raps and propheets, PE units for the summer olympics…etc.etc…

    It is not legal to keep a minor up for 24 hours.

    It is not legal to leave a minor “unattended” in the desert for 4 days with little food and only a tarp for shelter.

    The methods used in the early AM of propheets would put supervisors at Guantanamo in jail for life.

    Basic human rights were stripped from us (smiling, laughing, being touched, speaking…etc) with forced manual labor were used as a form of punishment.

    I can go on.. and on… and on….

    I received my high school diploma and started college immediately after graduating. I had gone to CEDU 8 days after my 8th grade graduation… I started college at an 8th grade level… It took me years to catch up but I finally got multiple degree in physics, math, chemistry and biochemistry.

    Am I a victim of life? No…. I am too a survivor of life and I agree Michelle, CEDU made my survival an uphill climb as well. Much steeper than it should have been and all for $40,000 a year.

    😀

  30. thanks–i think–for bringing back memories i had masterfully supressed for the past near two decades. i attended CASCADE from 92-94 and would be more than happy to recount the little i can remember if it would help your documentary. i’d be more interested in either a law suit or good old fashioned one-on-one with any number of the counselors who screamed and belittled the scared 13 yr old me. the 32 year old man has some unfinished business.
    yea i got something out of cascade, as the old saying goes.

  31. I would love to facilitate a rap with all my old facilitators..

    That would be delightful! Can we have house around the pit and do lugs to them too?!

    what fun!

  32. Heather, I’m unsure as to if subjecting those adults to the abuse we sustained would have the same effect as it did on us. Teenagers are delicate, and the situation of being abducted and tortured on top of a mountain can’t be simulated or explained with enough terror to do it justice. The developing years are some of the toughest times any human being faces. These schools threw daggers into the souls of often times troubled youths who were already emotionally insecure by the simple fact that they were going through puberty. In addition to that, so many kids at Cedu were already abuse survivors whose primary care givers delivered them into the hands of sadistic, mentally ill ex-junkies and Napoleons for the purpose of making the kids “accountable” aka telling them it was all their fault.

    Really, the only justice I’d feel good about would be to see these schools made illegal and their staff members punished by incarceration. Maybe each staff member would have to serve one life sentence for every child they traumatized, because really, we all had something forcibly taken from us that we may never regain due to the Cedu experience. I think we can heal, but there will always be a scar there. Lugs and raps for the old facilitators would be a kind fate in comparison to the suffering so many of us have endured post-Cedu.

  33. Yesterday at this time, I was at Cedu Running Springs. It was a 29 year journey to get back there.

    My hubby and I rode our motorcycles 3 hours to get to Running Springs. I had visited the area a few years ago, but never ventured into the actual school, which is now is a wonderful camp for children.

    This time was different. I wanted to stand on those grounds, which I hadn’t stood on since May of 1981.

    I somehow found Seymour Road. Everything looks completely different. Houses everywhere. I finally found the front gate of the camp/Cedu, and we parked our bikes near a visitor check in center.

    I got the shakes. Any minute, Dan Earle or his wife, or someone else was going to jump out and scream at me for being at the wrong place. Guess what? This time I’m 46 fucking years old, and I won’t take the shit. Don’t have it in me.

    We were met by some lovely Jewish Rabbis, that couldn’t of been kinder or more understanding. Tons of former Cedu students just like us have cried on their shoulders, and told tales of horror. These dear Jewish men with the long beards had heard it all.

    Not just from the former students; buy they heard stories of abuse from those in the town of Running Springs. I was finally validated. It wasn’t just me rebelling against not being able to listen to Led Zeppelin. But, everything I felt had gone on was repeated back to me from people I met yesterday.

    Okay, the school basically looks the same, except there are many new buildings that have been added. But, the main lodge still looks the same. We didn’t venture in the lodge, because I really didn’t want to over-do my welcome. Besides, I have every inch of that lodge memorized. I remember everything.

    The counselors are all long gone, and all that remains is a large cement slab that has “Cedu” carved into it. It made me slightly ill to see that.

    What went wrong, I asked the Rabbis. How does therapy turn into cruelty, I wonder. But, that is just what happened.

    No credentials from the staff to work with troubled youth. They even had kitchen staff conducting raps and those God-awful profeets.

    Look at it this way; the common tuition was $3,500 a month in 1980. Times that by maybe 85 students. That comes out to $297,500 a MONTH they were bringing in. That would explain the new fancy cars that the head counselors drove around in. I’m not sure if you ever saw the very nice custom homes that the Padgett’s and Earle’s lived in.

    They all lived very, very well. And that is because the students ran the school, and they hired unqualified staff at possible minimum wage to conduct the “therapy” sessions.

    There was no therapy. There was no education. In the 8 months I was there I learned basket weaving. Our parents were promised a high school education which was never given.

    As I left the school grounds and got on my motorcycle; I realized that I was free to go and could not be stopped on the road. I’m 46, and this is 2009. I’m not 17, and this isn’t 1980. I can’t be stopped. I can’t be screamed at.

    They could never break my spirit, and God knows how hard they tried. Their voices have been finally silenced.

    Tears started to flow as I started my engine. I thanked the Rabbis one last time, and tried again to explain the cruelty that had once taken place. Now, I see happy children running around the school grounds. My God, what a difference. I thanked these two men for replacing a horrible place with such happiness. We rode off……..

    I have forgiven. Somehow I received a healing, and I can’t quite explain it.

    I now truly forgive, but I will never forget.

  34. I’ve got to note that Marcy, who was so angry about not having her terrible Desisto experience (and her less terrible Cedu experience) included, has informed me that she will not participate, at present. She is still invited, of course, at such a time that scheduling allows for all.

    – Liam

  35. I truly do not believe anyone came out of Cedu a better person. Not a chance.

    Ever heard of suppressed memory syndrome?

    An on-line dictionary explains it this way;

    Repressed memory is a theoretical concept used to describe a significant memory, usually of a traumatic nature, that has become unavailable for recall; also called motivated forgetting in which a subject blocks out painful or traumatic times in one’s life. This is not the same as amnesia, which is a term for any instance in which memories are either not stored in the first place (such as with traumatic head injuries when short term memory does not transfer to long term memory) or forgotten.

    The term is used to describe memories that have been dissociated from awareness as well as those that have been repressed without dissociation. Repressed memory syndrome, the clinical term used to describe repressed memories, is often compared to psychogenic amnesia, and some sources compare the two as equivalent.

  36. I think we would have all gone crazy and/or committed suicide if we fully remembered the lion’s share of what happened to us in the program with accurate brutality. In fact, many students did: one in five, according to the latest statistics I read, were either permanently disabled and unable to function as normal members of society…or dead by their own hands as the result of irriversable traumatic stress. Just think about that: We’re the “lucky” ones.

  37. i am a survivor of cedu middle school, high school, ascent and nwa. i was there 93-94. if anyone out there remembers me and wants to trade ‘war stories’, contact me at dbarazanji [at] hotmail.com. i went there when i was when i was almost 12 and i got quite the education at dysfunction junction. i later went to an all girls lock up in the most loathsome of states, utah for the summer of 96, cross creek manor. another gem. it took years to get over what i went through and even now it seems unreal.

  38. it is impossible to explain to anyone who hasnt lived it. and it is true that the majority of my traumatic memories have been supressed. i remember the cold of sleeping wrapped in a tarp for a week and a half upon my arrival at ascent which is 20 miles from canada in the middle of january. i remember sitting on a tiny log a foot high and six inches width 12 hours a day as well for the same week and a half. my punishment, i needed to think. i was cold for those entire six weeks and still freak out about cold weather. i also remember that no matter how bad those places were it was a toss up as to whether home with my undiagnosed schizophrenic? mother and her 100 year old husband was any better.

  39. I went to “CEDU”. It was an awful experience. It seems to me that most of the people there did not have all of the emotional baggage that the school was looking for. It said something more about the institution itself to me than about its students. It was the most gruesome example of emotional abuse that you could not possibly imagine. Anyone who thinks that there was any value to there tactics has a screw loose. I applaud the people who ran away from it and sympathize for the people who did not.

    This kind of experience leaves a life long disgust towards human nature that is contrary to the programs supposed intentions, and it will continue in one form or another as long as we view human suffering as a financial opportunity. Although it comforts me that the “school” has closed, I also know that these things have a way of repackaging themselves and I will always be a force against this type of unwarranted, unaccountable, unacceptable lunacy.

  40. Does anybody else remember hearing/seeing a reference to CEDU’s R.O.E.(Recognition of Excellence) program? Where team leaders and assistant team leaders would receive bonuses for every student they committed to the program, sent to Ascent or to another CEDU affiliated program? By the way, I was at CHS from 97-98 and RMA from 98-99.

  41. i.e. Claire,
    CEDO was accredited by wasc: http://www.acswasc.org/
    There is no doubt that they will give their logo to anyone willing to write them a check every month. I think that I might call them tomorrow and “break them down”. If they send their cronies with straight jackets to put me in a rubber room I will send out smoke signals.

  42. I was a student at boulder creek academy in 96-98.thats when the schools got sold..im glad I graduated when I did even though that placed ruined some of my life and I missed out on the normal teenager life..anyone wants to tlk that went to BCA then email me.

    zachernandez79@gmail.com and liam good job on opening this up to the publics eye..if u want any info get intouch with me..i would love to tell my cedu story

  43. Hello Liam,

    I was at Running Springs from ’77 to ’79 starting from age 17. I had pretty minor problems compared to most there. I smoked some pot, drank some, hopped out my window at home to go party with my friends, stole cash from my parents to pay for weed, pretty minor stuff. I was a private student there mixed with some pretty hardened kids sent there by the courts, it was pretty shocking to me. I laid pretty low there, never did a dishpan, never tried to escape. in ’79 they tried to get me on the phones to start seeking donations, but my grandfather, finally sick of the whole thing, drove up there and pulled me out, much to the dismay of the staff members. I have had nightmares over the years of my time there. I wanted to thank you for putting this documentary together, it helped me remember some of the oppressed feelings and memories I had of my time there. I was a peer of “Jenny” Wolfe, she was quite a piece of work. Lucky today I have put most of it behind me and have made a success of my life. Thanks again.

  44. tama cooper Christian

    Hello I went to cedu in running. Springs. From. 1979-1983 & was the worst thing in my life I escaped twice. The last time. I was gone 6 months I had a choice there or juvie till 18 so went back to have all my hair cut off my flothes taken away they banned me from everyone but a handfull of older students I was ripped apart week after week in rapps was isolated. From family alone I finally defided to give in I was so alone and lonley. I was turned in by my own peers for having sex so off with more hair had to do full time a lot washed a lot of dishs. The staff was a joke a bunch of horney old men holding us smooshing with us it was so bad it was no wonder when I left I hook

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