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Oakley School

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Hey I registered to share my experience about the Oakley School.
I went to a wilderness program, Second Nature, and an RTC, Vista Adolescent Treatment Center and I've always thought Oakley was at least as bad for the low quality of their therepeutic approach, the flippant nature of the rules, and the manipulative nature of their staff.  If Vista brainwashed me into a robotic Golden boy, Oakley quickly shattered that and turned me into a jaded, cynical asshole.

It's true that you have to apply to go to Oakley but that's kind of a mindfuck tactic.  First of all, a lot of the time you are applying to Oakley out of a very strict RTC, usually island view, which Oakley also owned, and you just want to leave that place. I remember applying and thinking that if there was the risk of rejection than it couldn't be that bad, right?  Like it was probably a normal school? In the lobby when I applied, a former student at Vista approached me and encouraged me not to go to Oakley.  When I returned to Vista that day, which had a *relatively* compassionate and invested approach.  I started to campaign with my parents and counselors to find somewhere else, especially a place that my immediate friends were going and seemed to like.  One of my counselors was actually advocating for me but ultimately bthe... Consultant? Idk what you call that person, that my parents had wouldn't recommend any alternatives.  Vista's social paradigm was approaching the point where it would enter a very strict and confrontational "shutdown" mode and so I really wanted to leave on time.  So to say that we "applied" to Oakley is true, but it is absolutely a reuse.  It's not like people were being rejected or something

Oakley classically got by by having a conventionally beautiful campus and "offering" ( really forcing) it's students to snowboard on the weekends.  How can it be that bad?

Vista was a heavily regulated and monitored experience and leaving that I was heavily into rules enforcement and compliance and this immediately out me at alienated me from both the student body and the staff.  This paid off during my first snowboarding expedition.  I'm very non-athletic and I didn't want to go. I was terrified actually, but I was trying but staff basically ripped into me for a couple of weeks when I lost one of my gloves after bailing and put me on the punishment level for a few months.

A student's experience at Oakley was heavily dependent on their assigned counselors, one for academics, one for therapy, and one for student life/dorm stuff, and I guess one for weekend activities.  These all tend to change over time but you are stuck with your therapist and during the course of my two year stay I was unable to Foster any kind of meaningful relationship with my therapist who, ironically, was only interested in surface level compliance and day to day drama.

Oakley engaged in a number of manipulative practices to extend my stay beyond necessary.  Different from other programs, most students are intended to remain at Oakley until they graduate high school.  So when I amassed enough units to graduate early, staff engaged in a number of measures to manipulate my parents into keeping me there another month.  First they shuffled my acquired units so that I did not meet the graduation requirements, when I actually did.  They for instance redesignated the number of required community service units against the required physical activity units.  They then started a therapy flavored campaign with my parents that I "wasn't interested enough in college" when in fact I was very eager about film school, they actually hamstrung my abilities to produce sample films for my applications.  At one point, I asked a teacher for a letter of recommendation to a college.  When I later found the letter (I wasn't supposed to)  I found that the teacher recommend that college should not admit me. During this period, I was sent to Oakley's own miniature wilderness program with a special "college focused group."  This was  a typical abusive, isolation based wilderness thing but it only lasted a few days.

I think Oakley has a reputation for being more lenient, and that's definitely true, it is not a residential treatment center and it is also true that drugs made it in on occasion and people were getting in trouble for sexual contact fairly often, including myself.  I do see this as ultimately normal teenage behavior at a boarding school, though, it doesn't really affect my view of Oakley in a negative or positive light.  Rather it's their handling of these situations that cast it in a negative view.

Oakley's rules about physical contact are very strict considering it is a coe-ed experience, including strict punishments for hand holding.  Lower form was actually not the lowest and most punitive form, although it was basically the standard and most common form for all students.  The most punitive form was Off-Form, which was isolation based and indefinite.  I was never placed on off form but the people I know who were insist that off form lacked a constructive therepeutic element, it was ultimately just punitive isolation and hostile confrontation based groups which includes personal attacks by staff towards students.

One girl promised to ship cocaine in a teddy bear to her friend after she graduated and when the staff found out they shutdown the school for a month.  A USB stick with porn was found to be passed around at the boys dorm and a lot of drug use was found during these intense, all day groups.  35 people were put on off form.

Oakley had a punishment reward system not just in it's level system but in it's pink/blue/gold slip system. Pink slips were issued for rules in fractions and warranted a number of hours of on campus community service.  They were so common, with dozens running at a given moment, that there was never any meaningful service to do.  The windows of each building we're getting washed at all times for instance, lol.  The floor was always being vacuumed, the porch was always being swept.... I can't remember what else people would do.  You had to have none to make middle form and to maintain middle form.  If you were on anything above lower form, you had to reapply every single week which included a five paragraph essay about why you should keep that form.  And that got to be ridiculous and difficult after several weeks of maintaining the form.  I found this especially difficult, because my house counselor was gone for weeks at a time, and would often come back and attribute random perceptions of me.

Blue slips were punishments for academic infractions, and each blue slip is a Sunday study hall you have to attend. Sunday is the only day you can sleep in and the study hall was at 6am.  If you did not attend, your blue slips doubled. At one point my friend over slept too many of his blue slips and had hundreds.  There was no possible way for him to move up in form unless he remained at the school for something like a decade which was kind of funny, but also spoke to the flippant and apathetic nature of the schools programing.  Because everyone knew their graduation date, and because that was always the same day in December or June, people would just stop attending these study halls at all in the weeks leading up to it.  At one point, the day before graduation, the one of the heads of the school threatened to deny everyone graduation if they did not attend their final blue slip

Gold slips were a reward for good behavior but I can count on one hand the number given out during my time.  I don't remember what they were used for actually.  I do remember that at one point someone figured out how to copy or print out the gold slips, and forged a bunch of them, but that was the only time any one had them.  This is consistent with other rewards systems at Oakley, the highest form was advanced form, which could score you a private dorm.  But almost no one ever attained it, and staff would used the dorm that was set aside. I think like six people made it there during my time and, naturally, they were all secretly breaking the rules in some kind of extreme way.

The staff definitely had some shadier shit going on but the information was carefully buried and partitioned away from us.  At one point a staff member named Eddie asked my girlfriend what her pants size was.  I heard a lot of things like that about Eddie, but the big thing that happened was a newer girl made some claim along the lines that he assaulted her.  She was immediately isolated on off form, and we never got to talk to her before she left and we don't know where she went.  I can't remember the name of this girl or the exact nature of the claim but certainly nothing was done about it, in fact Eddie was eventually promoted to head counselor for one of the girls dorms. I wish I can offer more details about the girl that was assaulted but she was isolated before most of us realized she was at the school

At one point staff caused a gas leak in one of the dorms and tried to cover it up.  Parents still found out and then they blamed it on a student.

Another time during some kind of celebratory event staff accidentally mixed up snow cone flavoring with anti freeze and sent a few dozen students to the hospital.  Some people hated the school so much they went to the hospital for the night even though they didn't have a snow cone.  They chose a stomach oump over a night at Oakley.  They were bribed with snacks and fast food and little was made of it with the parents.

Food was heavily commodified in a punishment sense.  Only my dorm was locked out of our personal food amenities for most of my stay.  The cafeteria food was really, bad so this was pretty rough and also characteristic of Oakley's firm philosophy of punishing the entire group over the individual.

Ultimately I feel like it's hard to identify how else Oakley was so horrible, especially compared to stricter facilities.  Perhaps I would say that Oakley is what happens when you take the punitive aspects of and RTC, remove almost all of the real therapy component, and place it in a cery nice prep boarding school. I would say that notions that "keep your head down and lick the staff shoes" is accurate about how to survive at oakley

I'll answer any questions you guys might have for clarity :) and I'll post more if I remember something important


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