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Alumni News

Dean B.

Class of June 2006

Dean B. returned to The Family School on May 21 with staff member Chris Scott.

Before his arrival at FFS, Dean lived a life full of violence, drugs, and multiple arrests. The unmanageable lifestyle finally caught up to him and Dean was court mandated to the Family School on May 14, 2004.

For his whole stay, Dean was a member of Family Four (now Mann House). After two years of being dishonest, refusing help, and fighting everyone, Dean hit rock bottom and decided to get his act together. By participating in sports, chorus, woodcarving, staying out of trouble, and doing internal work, Dean was eligible to graduate high school from FFS on June 23, 2007.

Life for the first year and a half outside the school was difficult for Dean. “The first year is not easy. It is hard adjusting, trying to find out how you fit in, and life does have a lot of pressures.” He managed to get through those times by visiting and remaining in touch with the school.

Now, Dean is a construction worker in Manhattan, and finds life “absolutely excellent.” He believes that his stay at The Family School was one of the most beneficial experiences of his life and is grateful for every second of it. He misses everything about FFS, especially current staff member Joe Petriella and former staff members Jim Kavarnos and Joe Salamoni, whom he describes as the most influential people in his life.

To the newcomer, Dean says, “Don’t quit. Don’t run away. Face the problems, and face the consequences of your actions.”

Alumni News

Rebecca B. and Candace M.
Class of December 2010

Two alumni visited and worked at FFS from June 2 to June 8.

Rebecca B. arrived at The Family School for her violent outbursts at her parents. Her life before FFS consisted of truancy, unhealthy relationships, self-centeredness, and violence.

Rebecca described her stay at the school as calm until her eighteenth birthday. “I was covering up my emotions, and I let them out on my eighteenth birthday.” After overcoming this struggle, Rebecca said, “I knew myself better. I began accepting days as they came.”

After graduating from FFS, Rebecca constantly reminds herself of the lessons she learned. “I have to accept the difference between other people and me. I remind myself that I shouldn’t be controlling others, but rather understanding of others.” Rebecca said that she continues to have struggles, but “ [she is] able to think my way around it.”

To the newcomer, Rebecca said, “Live and enjoy every moment as it comes. When you’re old, you’re going to want to look back and be happy with it.”

Candace M. arrived at The Family School for depression and anxiety. She describes her life before FFS as “hazy and unfulfilling.” She compared her stay to the Superman ride at a theme park. “It had its ups and downs, ins and outs, but I came out like a superhero!” she exclaimed comically. At FFS, she learned the true meaning of acceptance and self-worth. “I utilize the concept of acceptance. I also have to keep on pushing myself with the understanding of knowing I deserve more in life.”

Upon graduating, Candace’s biggest struggle was adjusting back into normal elements of daily life, such as waking up alone and eating lunch without 30 of her friends. She currently attends Sacred Heart University, and described her current life as “colorful, eventful, and purposeful. Oh, and fun! So fun.”

To the newcomer, she said, “Nothing worthwhile is easy. Give it a chance, because you have nothing to lose.”

Alumni News

Zach N. and Max Z. came back to visit The Family School on Memorial Day, May 30.

Zach was admitted into FFS on September 4, 2009, and was placed in Betton House. He described his previous life as “confusing,” full of anger, fighting with family, trouble with the law, and dishonesty. At FFS, he learned how to push through life’s struggles. His biggest helps were Max Z., Annie and Gerald Janauer, Tommy Cummings, and Rita Argiros.

Upon graduating, Zach practices the things he learned at FFS to handle his daily life. He will begin his freshman year at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York in the fall to study psychology. He currently works at Burlington Hospital in Vermont.

To the newcomer, Zach says to “just accept the help. Keep in mind, you are here to improve yourself and learn.”

Max Z. came with Zach N. on Memorial Day to spread his experience, strength, and hope. Max arrived at The Family School on April 6, 2009 for serious drug abuse, depression, and an angry attitude.
He said that his life before The Family Foundation School was “extremely ridiculous” and the quality of his life was choked by his drug use.

Max was placed in Family One, which turned into Betton House. His biggest help was his sponsor Bill Cordts, student Zach N., and all the members of Family One. He said that the help he received was what got him through FFS.

“Life is now amazing,” Max said. Now, he feels that he is able to make the right decisions. His primary goal is to “work hard in college.” He will attend Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall with upcoming FFS June 2011 graduate Jack S.

His advice to the newcomer is, “Reach out to anyone you can find, talk to them.”

Alumni News

Emily R.

Class of December 2007

FFS alumnus Emily R. came to visit on May 18 with her 23-month-old daughter Adelina.

Rodriguez arrived at The Family School in February of 2006. She was placed in Family Six with family leaders Paul Geer and Christine Speicher. She said that the biggest lesson she received from FFS was the ability to deal with everyday problems. “I see a lot of people my age that can’t overcome daily issues. I feel like I left this school with something that can help me for the rest of my life, and something to pass on to my daughter… if she’ll listen to me.”

Emily currently attends Hunter College in Manhattan where she studies psychology. She also works part time at a shoe store. Next year, R. plans to begin a Masters program in psychology or nursing.

Her biggest struggle is finding peers that she can trust. She said that it’s hard to find a support system of people her own age.

She says to the newcomer, “This is only a fraction of your life. It doesn’t last forever.”

Alumni News

Parker S.

Class of December 2010

Parker S. is currently a freshman at New York Institute of Technology.

He came with Andrew B. to share his message with current The Family Foundation School students. “Life gets better,” Parker told his former schoolmates.  He tried to help as many boys as he could during the day of his visit. Parker shared a productive, hour-long program talk with Daniel K. on the front steps of The Family Foundation School.

Parker was sent to The Family Foundation School on January 2, 2009 for drug abuse, anger, and bad relationships with his parents. He was placed in Family 2, which became Lake House. Later he was switched to Wilson House. During his stay, Parker struggled with his relations with girls. He forced his will and did whatever he wanted. He also recalled being rude to people.

“Carlton, Jan, Larry, and my friends,” Parker said, “were my biggest help during my stay here.”

Since his graduation, he struggled with jumping into A.A., finding meetings, and consistently attending them. Today, he is active in A.A.; daily working with his sponsor.

Alumni News

Andrew B.

June 2010 Program Graduate

Andrew B. came to visit with fellow alumni Parker S. on April 20. Prior to The Family Foundation School, B. failed in his attempts to control his anger and impulsivity. He was easily enraged and lacked knowledge of coping skills and positive outlets. He arrived at The Family Foundation School on April 9, 2008, and was placed in Family 6, later known as Wilson House.

At The Family Foundation School, Andrew was reluctant to start his recovery due to his resentments. For a while, he fed into his resentments, which stemmed from being told what to do, rules, and the structure at The Family Foundation School. He also had a hard time being away from home and was angry at his parents sending him to the school. Once he realized that The Family Foundation School was an opportunity to start over, he made a conscious decision to surrender his will. Andrew adjusted to The Family Foundation School lifestyle and worked through his resentments with his friends.

Andrew recalled his biggest support in The Family Foundation School: Wilson House and its staff, especially Woody and Carlton. He also acknowledged his uncle Bill Musgrove as one of the biggest helps in his recovery.

Upon leaving The Family Foundation School, Andrew struggled with returning to public school for his senior year. “Senior year’s a hard time to start over.” He said that there were a lot of temptations, which he is presently working through with friends. To the newcomer, he suggests, “Be real and get honest. Find someone you trust that you can tell everything to.”

Alumni News

Drew D.

Class of December 2010

Andrew D. came back to The Family Foundation School on April 15, 2011, to visit the students and staff. Drew arrived at The Family Foundation School on February 1, 2008, and graduated December 18, 2010 with a New York State Regents Diploma.

Drew was in Family Seven (Talbot House) for the majority of his stay, and switched into Lake House for support during his last semester. His biggest help while at The Family Foundation School came from Family Leader Jan Cheripko, “I wanted the peace that he had and he always seemed to see what I couldn’t see. Eventually, I shut up and started to listen to him. He was also the first person I ever fully trusted.”

He was also assisted by his two closest friends from The Family Foundation School, Blake J. and Josh K. “We were like the three amigos,” Drew said. After graduation, Drew began attending Broome Community College, where he is majoring in music, and is planning on transferring to a college in New York City. However, there are some things that he misses about The Family Foundation School, “To this day, I still struggle with loneliness. For a long time, I didn’t know anybody. It was different than living with my friends 24/7 like at school. He is also auditioning for an off-Broadway show this summer, to help kick start his performing arts career.

Drew says, “Oddly enough, I do miss this place. Something happens when you graduate…all of a sudden, you become grateful for everything that you were given at The Family Foundation School. I hear people who have left on bad terms or have gotten taken out early have said the same thing. So, I’m not lying.” His advice to the newcomer, “Stick with it, it is not that bad. You will get through it.”

Alumni News

Luke V.

Class of June 2010

Luke V, the Valedictorian of the Graduating Class of 2010, has done a lot since he left The Family Foundation School. When he arrived at the school on November 14, 2008, he did not have the drive to get into a good college, but after working hard in school, he got the results he was looking for. Today, he maintains a solid G.P.A. as a freshman at the University of Scranton. He studies Counseling, Human Services, and Psychology in the honors program. In addition, Scranton is paying for half of his tuition because of the scholarship he earned for his academic achievements.

“There have been a lot of life challenges put in front of me since I left. However, the school taught me how to handle these difficulties,” said Luke. As he deals with the everyday struggles of a first-year college student, Luke continues to have fun just as he did in Betton House. He goes to concerts and he even managed to make it to one on his birthday last month.

He still stays in touch with some of his good friends such as Josh R, Max Z, and Aaron Z. He will always remember the support he got from those three friends. “I will always remember the staff members in Betton House, also. Mike and Robin Ducey, Bill Cordts, and Nanci Newcomb were so important to my transformation.”

He continues to excel as a student and looks forward to visiting the school sometime this summer.

Alumni News

Thomas T.

June 2007 Program Grad

Thomas T. came back to visit The Family Foundation School to spend some time with his brother Joe and to watch the school play.

Thomas arrived at The Family Foundation School on August 3, 2006, and was placed in Family 2. Dr. Sidney Parham was his sponsor. He was sent to The Family Foundation School for anger and drug problems. Thomas struggled with making friends, following sanctions, and continual anger-management problems. A turning point for Thomas was when he was put on work sanction. It was the beginning of a new way of life.

Chorus and drama were a big support group that helped Thomas work through many of his struggles. Paul Geer was an inspirational figure to Thomas and a major help to him. Thomas developed a spiritual life that played a part in his recovery. Being spiritual also helped maintain his sanity.

Thomas misses playing drums in the gym with his musician friends while he was here, as well as performing in drama.

Since he has left The Family Foundation School, Thomas is pursuing his dream of being a musician. He still plays the drums and makes music. He is enrolling in The Musician Institute in Hollywood, California, in two weeks, and is ecstatic for the opportunity. The hardest part of leaving was re-adapting to the outside world. “If it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t have developed the life skills I received here at the school,” said Thomas.

Thomas T. still tries to help people today. To the newcomer, he says, “The process is rough at first, but nothing in life is easy. Just give it a shot; what do you have to lose?”

Alumni News

Nikki K.

Class of December 2010

Nikki K. came back to The Family Foundation School accompanied by other alumni to watch the performance of the school play on Family Day.

Nikki arrived at The Family Foundation School on January 30, 2009, and was placed in Family 5, now known as Lake House. She had Roxi Losicco as a sponsor her whole stay.

Nikki was doing the wrong thing at home for a long time and she didn’t believe her parents when they said she would get sent away. She constantly lied, stole money, skipped school regularly, and abused alcohol and drugs. Her parents couldn’t bear the pain she was putting them through, and eventually sent her to The Family Foundation School. “I was never happy with myself, and I was very depressed,” said Nikki K.

When Nikki arrived at The Family Foundation School, she struggled immensely with attention seeking and lying about her past. Roxi Losicco was a big help to Nikki and played a big part in her recovery. “Roxi helped me become a strong woman and helped me to stand up for what I believe in,” said Nikki. What made her begin to change and grow was a spiritual life developed here at The Family Foundation School. She also lost a beloved friend.

While Nikki K. was at The Family Foundation School, she developed a passion for the performing arts.

Nikki decided to stay an extra six months past her original graduation date. This tested her patience and pushed her to the limit. It prepared her to face the outside world, and she was grateful for the lessons she learned.

When she left the school, Nikki quickly realized life wasn’t what she wanted it to be. She had to make major adjustments in dealing with her family and friends. She made it through the hardships at home, however, and now is close with her family again. She attends The Fashion Institute of Technology and works at Pinkberry’s Frozen Yogurt. To the newcomer Nikki says, “The fantasy we have in our heads isn’t real. We need to focus on what’s in front of us, which is the next right thing.”