Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zoom...TIME FLIES

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Z is for Zoom
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, the days blur together and (like April has) time flies by. We are constantly on the move, whether it is outside working in the garden or tending to llamas, or working on school. Many factors play into time here including seasons, school, workload, schedule, and the number of students on campus.

Seasons are a huge factor because a majority of the projects we take on are outside. In the winter here in Utah, it gets cold, windy, and snowy which prevent us from outdoor time. In the springtime, we turn the garden and add some of the oh-too-fresh compost to fertilize the soil and then we plant veggies and a combination of beautiful flowers. This spring, on the girls’ side of campus, we are working on building a fence due to the fact that the local deer feel entitled to our veggies. In the summer time, most of our downtime is spent outside working in the garden, playing with the animals, and trying to stay cool in this hot, dry climate. We also enjoy eating outside with campus-wide BBQ’s and playing sports in the ball field. Fall is spent preparing for the winter months. We turn the garden a few times and rake up all the fallen leaves. In the winter time, we spend a majority of the time bonding and growing together as homes and a campus. Ombu, the girls’ home, plays cards and board games with any free time or pile together on the couches for a girly night.
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The girls also spend time in the colder months doing crafts

Seasons aren’t the only influence on our activities here though. School is another big part of our time. We are in school from 8-3 PM and then again from 6-7 in the afternoons during the week. Because every student works at their own pace, the blended learning style allows each individual to take the time needed to really learn the material. This allows students to graduate year round and sometimes even graduate ahead of their expected class.

We appreciate the time you have taken to read about our lives here at Cedar Ridge, and hope that we have answered a majority of the questions you might have!

…..ZOOOOMMMMMM!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for You Only Live Once

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Y is for You Only Live Once
Y is for YOLO which stands for You Only Live Once and here at Cedar Ridge Private Therapeutic International Boarding School we are taught the value and meaning of the short amount of time that we truly have in and throughout lifetime. Here students are able to reflect on our lives and the issues we have as students at Cedar Ridge through our daily activities such as karate, yoga, and even basketball. We are encouraged by our therapists to think about what we want and who we want to be. Our therapists do this not through a religious purpose, or any other purpose, but more on what WE as students think our purpose in life is. I have had the amazing opportunity to be here and attend Cedar Ridge to learn about the opportunities of life. I have learned the opportunities that life holds as well as the surprises, disappointments, and most of all life’s happiness.

Although this phrase is over used in today’s generation it applies very much to the lives of many of the kids that attend Cedar Ridge. Because no matter what, we are here as students to learn, to understand, and appreciate the value that life has to offer us. As far as I know and understand it, we have only a one way ticket on this crazy ride. In life you only get one shot to do what you want to do, to make your mark, to create your legacy…… Looking at life’s road and mountain of trials and tribulations that may be ahead can be a very daunting and hard task to understand for those who wish not to work, but for the kids I have encountered here we all want something better in our lives. We will have something better for ourselves and our futures.

Living once and having this opportunity now to fix our problems, struggles, and issues is a privileged opportunity. No matter where you come from, where you’ve been, it’s not about that; it’s about who you are now and where you are going. You’ve got one shot to make the difference to go for gold and reach for the stars. I feel that all of the young ladies and gentlemen here have truly come to understand this idea. Some of us are going to college, some to the military, and others straight into life and to the work force. At the end of the day, we all know and understand the phrase YOLO, and we will go to be the best we can be. We will fight to accomplish our dreams, and our goals no matter what others say or what life throws at us. That is the meaning of YOLO to the students here at Cedar Ridge Private Therapeutic International Boarding School.

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A student at Cedar Ridge enjoying one of the many opportunities to see petroglyphs in Utah.

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xtreme

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X is for Xtreme
Is it extreme to send your son or daughter away? How do you know whether or not they will outgrow their childish behaviors?  Honestly, it’s pretty hard to tell. The good news being, anyone is capable of benefiting from what we learn here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School. The staff is trained to deal with anything from anxiety to promiscuous behaviors. The program is set up so that regardless of what your child is struggling with, being here will allow them to improve tremendously in life. If nothing else, the boy or girl is given the opportunity to get ahead or get credit recovery because we are a blended learning model allowing each student to work at their own pace. The concerns most parents have when they are feeling like they need to send their child away are called presenting problems here. They are defined as the behaviors that are showing up that usually are covering up a vulnerable fear or feeling. The director, Rob Nielson, created the fears chart that basically sums up all the irrational fears we (as human beings) tend to have. He created it so that when you come to Cedar Ridge you can learn to identify what it is you are scared of, what you would do at home to avoid feeling the “uncomfortable feelings” (avoiding behaviors are usually what gets students sent here) and how you can approach the uncomfortable feelings so that the intensity of the fear is lowered immensely.  The major fears include fear of abandonment, not being good enough, failing, being successful, not being in control, having responsibility, being rejected, trusting others, and getting close to people.

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A boy works on his therapy packet. Down time and alone time
help the students figure out their own fears
We are taught that there are many layers to the fears that cover up what is really going on. A good example to illustrate how we learn is this: a young boy is told by his father to mow the lawn and get an allowance. He mows the lawn and is extremely excited to run in and tell his father that he did it, expecting approval. Instead, his father unintentionally crushes his spirit by telling him he needs to do it again because it is not good enough (or up to his standards). The boy takes this as he is not good enough for his father and begins to avoid. He tells his father he can’t mow it again and makes up excuses. His father thinks he is just being lazy and yells at him. The boy then starts hanging out with his friends more often and getting involved in the wrong crowd. He sees them doing drugs and they tell him it helps to calm the nerves. The boy is nerve driven because he feels like he is incapable. He starts to do drugs to calm down and avoid feeling uncomfortable and unhappy. His dad and mom then think he is being oppositional and send him away for his drug use when really he is just a scared, hurt boy that feels incapable of being good enough. Here at Cedar Ridge, the staff works with the students to get to the fears beneath all the presenting problems.

So to answer my own question, we all have fears, so no, no case needs to be extreme because everyone can benefit from being here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Work Project

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W is for work project
Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School teaches their students here many useful life lessons and skills that are applicable to home life. Work project is one of those lessons that are taught here at Cedar Ridge Academy. Work project mainly consists of pulling weeds, mowing lawns, weed whacking, raking leaves, garden care and upkeep, moving rocks, etc. Work project is usually done in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. When I first got here I use to hate doing work project because especially during the summer, the days can get really hot causing me to get extremely sweaty and dirty. At the beginning, I use to dread pulling weeds and raking up the cut up grass left on the lawn mower. But I slowly adjusted and began to actually tolerate work project. Still today, work project isn't my favorite thing to do, as I would rather be lazy and watch a movie or have down time in the home, but I can honestly say that I do appreciate work project. I have learned through work project how to have a good work ethic that can be applied to anything in life. For me, the work ethic applied for cleaning in the home. Personally I'm not ecstatic about cleaning the bathroom I use from top to bottom, but I have learned how to work hard at it and ultimately scrub the bathroom down from ceiling to floor. This is just one area in which I was able to apply the skills and lessons that I've learned from work project into life.

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When you visit and see the beauty around you,
the students are responsible for that
I come from a pretty well-off family that lives in San Francisco, CA. At my house, all the landscaping around my house was done by hired professionals. Never in my life did I have to worry about raking up leaves, picking up branches, or mowing the lawn. Personally my whole norm was that the grass was cut and my lawn looked beautiful. Obviously I knew that somebody had to do it, but up until I came to Cedar Ridge Academy, I had never run a lawn mower or weed whacker in my life. Through work project, I have been able to learn many valuable skills so in the future when I have my own family, I can take care of my own lawn. I feel that I was very arrogant and thought of myself as better than those people who were landscapers. Through numerous hours of work project and gallons of sweat, I have been able to appreciate and really value others and their service to me regardless if that was landscaping, therapy, coaching, teaching, etc. I can actually say that I finally don't dread work project and actually enjoy it as a way to exert some physical energy. For me, that is a total paradigm shift from since I first got here. In all honesty, my whole view on life has been a complete 180 degree paradigm shift since my beginning of Cedar Ridge Academy.

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The students regularly improve the look of campus

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Victory

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V is for Victory
This blog post will be about victory and in other words success. I believe that victory is a main part in what can cause you to feel good about yourself and in life in general. Everyone wants to succeed and everyone tries their hardest and puts in their all to achieve victory in things that are important to that person. To me, it’s a very important thing in life. The boys and girls here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School put in their all to achieve victory in a lot of things and most importantly, themselves.

Here at Cedar Ridge Academy, all the students have their own ways of motivating themselves to achieve victory. To me, Cedar Ridge Academy is like a game based on the level systems. You need to follow level requirements, have good behavior, and follow the rules in order to achieve victory. Instead of controlling something else, you are controlling yourself to beat the game. The victory point is to graduate the program or to get to the highest level. Except in this kind of game in benefits you and can change your life if you let it. Not only are you beating the game but you are achieving victory in your personal growth in order to be successful in life and it makes you feel good. Just like in a real game there are many sorts of setbacks that cause you lose your level and basically start from the first level and you don’t give up and you keep on trying and trying to beat the game. There are also points in the game where you can get stuck and you don’t know what to do. You say to yourself “I can’t do this” and stuff like that and if you tell yourself you can or cannot do something, you are right. The main thing is, is to now give up and to keep on pushing and pushing in order to achieve the victory that you want. Sooner or later, you are bound to be victorious no matter what you do if you keep on trying.

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Who will win this face off?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unity at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

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U is for Unity
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, we have many opportunities to learn unity and camaraderie with our peers along with staff. We are able to learn unity through the various activities that we do here such as basketball, karate, softball, along with just our basic every day schedule. We are able to learn camaraderie through basketball because we get to play as a team. It’s not only in the ability to play as a team, but to learn, grow, and function as a team. We learn unity in basketball because as we run plays, we have to learn how to function not only as individuals, but as one solid unit. We get great practice at this through playing games in the local Ute tribe men’s league. Through our blood, sweat, and tears, we all become one solid functioning unit. In practice, we run, play, and do drills together that make us better as a whole. Thanks to basketball and our coach, I have learned to have patience with my teammates, to carry through on all that I do, and to give it my all no matter what the situation. It has taught me how to lead and be led, as well as how to function not only as a person, but as a member of a team and a family. Another team sport we play is softball.  Like basketball, softball helps to build our camaraderie because on the field we all have to work as one whole unit as well being able to function on our own too.

Karate has had many benefits for me, and bringing all of us on Cedar Ridge campus together as one whole group and team. As we work on our katas, we learn how to give effort yet how to receive instruction. We learn to understand that the body, mind, and spirit must work as one to perform at our very best in karate. That to function and be the best we can to have unity within ourselves. All parts and aspects of our lives must work in unison and harmony. Karate also teaches us in our katas to work as a whole, and through the katas, and sparring we learn to respect and work with each other.

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The boys practice their unity last summer with a ropes course

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tough Times

T is for Tough Times
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School our lives aren’t a walk through the park. Yes, the boys and girls here have their fair share of ups but we also have our fair share of hard times. A majority of our stay at Cedar Ridge Academy is based around therapy and working through our core problems. For many it is a day to day struggle for a while, especially if you are really working your program and working on bettering yourself. We are all really different so our problems are just as diverse as we are. Some struggle with stuff that may seem harder than others but no matter how severe someone has to at least at some point face things that are scary, hard, and at times what seem impossible.



A tradition with the girls to get through their tough times,
burning items that remind them of their
past to gain a sense of closure
For me, I have recently been working on learning to work through my previous experiences and core belief that I am unworthy. For most of my life I have always felt like I never deserve to be happy, to have the good things, to be with someone worth being with, to be respected. I didn’t feel I deserved anything. But recently, I went through a tough time. I got involved into sketchy things with a person who wasn’t worth it for me. I wasn’t able to get that through my head at the time though and I didn’t get it till recently. I am worthy of it all. I deserve the good things in life and I deserve to be respected; I shouldn’t settle for less. Now as hard as that experience was for me and still is, because of it I am growing and maturing and learning from my poor choices. I am already stronger. I am getting close to the end of my program and this is a situation that I am truly grateful for because of how much I have gained from it. This is just one example of why I believe that these tough times are necessary. I believe that through hardships and tough times we grow as well as become even more appreciative for the good times we experience. I feel that if you choose to make the best out of the worst that that is exactly the outcome you’ll get. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Students

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S is for Students
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, there are three homes for the students to live in. The homes are Redwood, Aspen and Ombu.  The Redwood and the Aspen are the boys’ home and the Ombu is the girl’s home.  This year the Redwood is spending a lot of time in the garden. Here are just some of the things that we will be growing in the Redwoods garden: lettuce, peas, beets, corn, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and squash. The Ombu has some goats and llamas. The Redwood has goats, a llama, and some chickens.

The students go to school from 8:00-12:00 and then from 1:00-3:00. There are lots of activities here at Cedar Ridge. You can join one of the clubs that the school has to offer here. They included boxing, magic (card game), basketball, life time hobbies, and technology club. These are good places to interact with your peers in a fun and positive way. 

We also do lots of karate. Karate is taught by Rob and Wes Nielson. During karate, we focus a lot on respect and having a good attitude, as well as a strong, powerful stance.  We show lots of respect to are senseis as well as our peers. The people that are in Karate group go to Karate after school on Tuesdays and Thursday from 3:00-4:30. Cedar Ridge also goes to Karate tournaments the next on that is coming up is in April in Las Vegas. Only the students that would like to go will be going.

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This is a version of Capture the Flag that the students love!
There is a level system here at Cedar Ridge the highest level is 900. A 900 has the most freedom on campus.  If you are on 900, you can graduate the program by maintaining level 900 for 2 months. If you are on 800, you can graduate the program if you stay on 800 for 4 months. At level 700 you can start planning off campus activates to the movies or to the football games and other cool outings that may be in town.

These are some of the things that we do here at Cedar Ridge Academy. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Responsibility at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

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R is for Responsibility
Responsibilities are usually something students lack coming into Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School. A majority of us blew them off as we made poor decisions and got into new friend groups. Here, we are given a list of chores to do on a daily basis and some are given assertive positions. On top of that, we are also responsible for ourselves and our actions, animals, our schooling, our programs and our general day-to-day behaviors.

Our daily chores might not seem like much, but they all add up. In the home, each student is given a few chores that they need to sign off in the morning and in the afternoon and they are responsible for making sure they are done consistently. In the home, the chores are separated by rooms such as kitchen, laundry room, bedrooms, dining room, and bathroom, and the chore loads are usually broken up by the amount of stuff in each room.

Assertive positions are usually given by the staff in the home in a way to gain trust with the students. The assertive positions include: watering, garden, work project, house leader, assistant house leader, school chore assertive, animal, gym assertive, and kitchen deep clean assertive. Each assertive usually goes into it being insecure and scared. By the time the staff removes you, the student is assertive, confident, and ready to stand up for themselves.

We are also responsible for ourselves, which in reality is one of the biggest responsibilities of all. Our program is entirely on us whither or not we want to work or just sit here until we are 18 and we can walk out on our own.

School is also a top priority for us because at Cedar Ridge we are solely responsible for getting school done. We have online school and can move at our own pace.

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Girls working hard in the kitchen
Animals are one of the biggest responsibilities we have here at Cedar Ridge. We have llamas, goats, ducks, a spider, a snake, (a skunk that lives illegally underneath the girls’ home) and many other lone rangers that wonder through our property.

The responsibilities we are given here allow us to grow and learn how to be responsible, independent individuals.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is Quiet Time at Cedar Ridge Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

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Q is for Quiet Time
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy an international therapeutic boarding school we have quiet time from 9:00 to 10:00 every night to allow us to reflect upon our days and to allow us to do other things we need to do without having a distraction. Cedar Ridge Academy is a coed boarding school with certified teachers and great staff who help us improve on our lives and in our relationships with family.

Quiet time is an hour a day and it allows us to reflect on what we did and some of the things that we have been feeling that day. During quiet time, you can read do projects or even do homework to catch up or get ahead in school. Getting time during the day to just sit back relax and read is very uncommon unless it’s during quiet time. I hated reading when I came to Cedar Ridge Academy, but now I love to read and I can read at a much more efficient level.
           
During quiet time, you can meditate, which I feel is great. Meditation is a great skill for self-soothing and it allows you to calm yourself faster than if you tried normally. Mediation has helped me get my next level and to lose some anger issues that were not healthy for me. I enjoy meditating every chance I get so I am calm, cool, and collected.

During quiet time, I can also use the computer to type an email to my parents or other on my approved email list. I can also use the computer to do my therapy packet. You can do your therapy packet every night and then vote up in no time.

Journaling is another productive thing to do during quiet time. You can write about your day, the next day, and what you would like to do during that day and other things to help you out. I journal about how I am feeling about myself, Cedar Ridge Academy, and my parents/ friends at home.
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Reading is a great option for students during quiet time.


Quiet time is a great addition to every day. It allows students to wind down before they go to bed and staff before they go home. Everyone uses quiet time differently, but no one uses it wrong. If you are being productive and it is helping you are right.

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Program

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P is for Program
P is for the program here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School. Cedar Ridge bases the program on a level system that ranges from the lowest level, which is trust level 400 to the highest level trust level 900. As you arrive here at Cedar Ridge you come in on trust level 400, and on 400 you really have very little privileges compared to being a 900 and being almost self governing here at Cedar Ridge. Also in being here at Cedar Ridge and you are working to get 900 the program teaches you many different things that you need to know in life. Things that I feel are very important to help make you successful in life. Some things that you learn here at Cedar Ridge are things such as how to be a honest and good person, and to have integrity too. Another valuable tool and life lesson that you throughout the program is how to effectively communicate in any situation, as well as how to deal with your emotions in an appropriate manner no matter what type of situation that you may possibly be in or may have to deal with. Also Cedar Ridge does a great job with helping many troubled teens from ages 12 all the way up to 18 years old who struggle with emotional, and substance abuse issues. The program here at Cedar Ridge does a fantastic job with their program, and helping troubled teens to resolve their issues, and become successful adults in our lives, and in the world.

The level system here at Cedar Ridge and the way the program works with the levels is that when you come in, you come in on 400, and as a 400 you really have very little privileges. Then on 500 you have a few more privileges but not many. As you get 600 the doors start to open up a little more as you can have a straight razor, and you are allowed to go to your room without staff for up to one minute. Once you reach 700 the opportunities to get off campus and participate in off campus activities really opens up for you, also you are allowed to go to your room by yourself without staff as long as it is not na extended period of time. Once you reach 800 you are allowed to wear your own clothes and to have food/treats that are not from Cedar Ridge if they are given to you. Once you hit 900 you are ultimately now self governing, and are hopefully ready to graduate and go home. 
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A great therapy activity for the girls as they
burn items to gain closure from events in their past

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Overcoming Fears at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

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O is for Overcoming Fears
This blog post will be about overcoming your fears and what you need to do to face them and get better with them here are Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School. Everyone in the world has fears that have to do with being social or with any general thing there is out there in the world. The boys and girls here at Cedar Ridge Academy all have fears and we all find out ways of how we can approach them with our best ability and not avoid them. The main thing that I have learned about fears are that you attract what you avoid, so if you approach you fear and face it you are getting stronger and stronger.

At Cedar Ridge Academy, one thing that the students work on with the help from staff is to basically face your fears so you can become comfortable with things that you are uncomfortable with. An example of this would be that you are afraid of speaking in front of a large group of people and you get really nervous and don’t feel comfortable doing it. Instead of avoiding that the best thing that you could possible do is just get up there and do it so you can get better at it.

Another kind of fear that we approach here are things that have to do with the fears chart. Like a fear of rejection of feeling rejected from a certain peer group or just from one person that you are trying to gain acceptance from. The way you would usually avoid getting that feeling would be to basically not be yourself and do things that are cool to get accepted from that peer or peer group. One of the biggest things here at Cedar Ridge is to be yourself, get to know yourself better, and to most of all love and respect yourself for who you really are. If you can be yourself and not avoid being yourself you will find it a lot easier to make friends that way.

Most of all, the main thing to do is to approach and face your fears to have self-mastery at what used to be your fear. 
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A funny way students approach their fears are with the different bugs and critters

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Not Accepting at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapuetic Boarding School

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N is for Not Accepting
Not accepting is one of the teaching interactions that students may receive here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School. It is considered a pretty serious teaching interaction that is given out when the student doesn’t accept a previous teaching interaction given, doesn’t accept feedback, or doesn’t accept instructions that were given.

For many students that come into Cedar Ridge Academy, many struggle with authority and accepting what they have to say. For me in my life, I struggled with respecting my parents and listening and taking in what they had to say. Upon my arrival at Cedar Ridge Academy, I was quickly looking down a long tedious road of struggling with authority. It took me a while for me to adjust and learn how to respect authority. The not accepting teaching interaction is a 2 teaching interaction. Most all 2 teaching interactions are categorized as being oppositional or defiant. With the all teaching interactions come points that the student must earn back. A 2 teaching interaction comes with 20 points and can be earned back through an hour of physical work like scrubbing grout, pulling weeds, etc or from writing papers that stimulate the brain into realizing what actions that the student could improve on in the future. The points are a fantastic way for the student to think about the actions that they just took. Whenever I was doing physical work like scrubbing grout, I was given a good way to release some of my anger and frustration and give me time to think about what I’d done wrong and how I can improve. The papers are usually all 1 page long in length and they range from writing about your accountability, to preventing the problem in the future. The papers are a great way for students to recognize what they were doing and how it affects themselves and their relationships.

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A funny moment during karaoke really shows not accepting 
For me personally, the not accepting teaching interaction has taught me how to respect the authority figures in my life. Recently, I was given the opportunity to go on a home pass and when I was home my parents did say some things that I didn’t agree with, but using the tools and skills that I have acquired here at Cedar Ridge, I was able to handle the situation very respectfully and I was able to prevent arguments and conflicts. This is a huge difference for me in my life because prior to Cedar Ridge Academy, I was commonly oppositional and defiant. Cedar Ridge Academy has given me so many tools and skills that I am able to apply to life which is so beneficial towards me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Magic Club

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M is for Magic
At Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, students have the opportunity to join clubs. Magic club is just one of the many clubs that we have here. Some of the other clubs are boxing, technology club, life-time hobbies, and basketball. Through clubs, we learn great therapeutic skills.

Magic the gathering is a card game. There are spell, instant, creatures, and lands cards and some other ones. Your goal is to build a deck out of the cards that you have. When you feel your deck is ready for combat, you battle your opponents, and your goal is to reduce their life to 0 from 20 or have them run out of cards to draw. You start out with seven cards in your hand and then you draw a new card each turn. You use your creatures to attack as well has defenders from your opponents creatures. You use artifacts to help boost your creatures up this means that they are stronger or they have more abilities. The spell cards are good for making your opponent’s creatures weaker and countering your opponents attacks.

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A Magic Game
We have magic club on Mondays at 8:00-9:00. This is a really great time to have some fun with your peers and it helps bring people together in a fun and productive way. Every once in a while the people that are in the magic club will go to magic tournaments to play agents outers from all over. Lots of people have their own magic cards and they get together on the weekends and battle with each other. They also trade cards with each other to make there decks as good as they can get.

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The Magic Club
Just like in all games there are conflicts that will come up during the game. We all learn how to deal with the conflicts that come up when we are playing in the right way. Something that we learn to do is to talk to others about what is going on for us in the moment. This helps work out the conflicts before they turn into something bigger. This is a good way to learn how to handle situations that may come up later in life. You will be able to use some of the same skills that you learned here later on in life. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Levels at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

L is for Levels
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy, an international private therapeutic boarding school, we have a system of levels that allows us to improve on our lives and to learn independence and other good qualities. Cedar Ridge Academy is a coed boarding school with certified teachers and great staff who help us improve on our lives and in our relationships with family.

Level 400 is the level you start out on when you get to Cedar Ridge. There are not many things that you can do on level 400. When I got to Cedar Ridge I did not want to be on that level for very long so I got all of my requirements signed off the first night I was here by my home manager. When on level 400, it is the only level where you can get the next one without voting up.
           
Voting up is the process where you read off the level requirements and then your peers will tell you if they feel that you meet the requirements for that level. When you are done with that you need to get feedback from a certain number of staff, depending on the level, and they will tell you if they support you. To get 500 and 900 you don’t need to do this, but for 600, 700 and 800 you do. For 600, your therapist, home manager and the school need to support you. 700 the same people, but add the home supervisor, and same for 800.

Level 500 is the next level after 400. When you are on 500 you do not have too many more privileges, but you are one step closer to getting 600 and gaining trust with staff.

Level 600 is the level where staff no longer has to watch you in your room. In my opinion, this is where the trust really starts to form. You ask the staff to go to your room and you tell them why you are going and then they will just say okay. This is also when you start to work in the kitchen. You will work around 3 or 4 shifts in the kitchen a week out of 21 shifts depending on the home you are in. You can also go off campus on 600 if you are on a sport team or if you are “thirding” for someone else leaving campus.

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Here we have 4 students (from left to right) on
 level 500, 600 and two level 700's
Level 700 is the level where you and your staff are putting around the same amount of effort into your relationship. When you are 700, you can ask to go to your room without telling staff why, you can skip a meal as long as you haven’t had an issue with that while home. You can handle sharp knives in the kitchen and you can also come in the kitchen on the weekend and help make breakfast or other meals if the staff says it is okay. On this level you can also get radioed from one building to another with staff discretion.

Level 800 and 900 are the levels in which you start to be independent. On 800 and 900, you can get radioed outside to hang out/walk around, to go running, or to go see the animals. On 800, staff are allowed to share food with you or give you gum and other things but you are not supposed to ask for them. On 900, you can ask politely for something. On these levels you tell staff where you are going before you go, your room, bathroom , shower, etc. 800 and 900 are the levels in which you can graduate the program on 4 months on 800 and 2 on 900. These levels are meant to help you adjust to going home soon because you are no longer asking to do things, but you are letting staff know that you are doing them. Staff can still tell you no, but if you are being appropriate you should have no problem doing what you want to do. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for "Kool Kids" at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

This blog post will be about all of the “kool kids” at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, also known as the students. In our therapeutic program, we have boys and girls who attend and it is a very safe environment for everyone. There is a variety of different kids here who attend Cedar Ridge Academy and to me they are all cool and nice.

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K is for "kool kids"
Everyone comes here to Cedar Ridge with their own problems and everyone is different. Some people can relate and some cannot. But whenever someone comes here to Cedar Ridge they have a hard time adjusting and things don’t always go their way. Over time they start to want change, fix their problems and start to be the best person they can possible be and to me that makes them a “kool kat”. The fact that kids can be here for so long causes them to want to leave by doing what they need to do and the right thing, which is getting their levels and following the rules.

I can personally relate with a lot of kids here in this program and can get along with everyone. In my life, I have never had so many close friends that I can be around and feel comfortable with. It makes me feel good as a person knowing that I can have really close friends that I care for and I know that they care for me. Since we live in homes with like 10 other boys, it is like a huge family of brothers and I like that. Everyone in the home is a “kool kid” in their own way and we learn to respect ourselves and each other for who we really are. This causes us as a person to learn how to build good relationships with ourselves and each other.

Overall, being here at Cedar Ridge can help you with a lot of things like being a “kool kid” in the right way by doing the right things in life. There are life changing things that can happen here at Cedar Ridge to make you live a better life. 
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Karate also starts with a K!

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Junior Jazz at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

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J is for Junior Jazz
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School during the winter season, the boys on the basketball team play in the local Junior Jazz League. The Junior Jazz League consisted of 9 teams from around Roosevelt. Each team played 2 games a week on Monday and Tuesday nights. This year we had 11 guys on the roster. Each player brought their individual talents and skill to the team. Together all 11 guys functioned as one unit.

For some of my teammates, this was their first game at a high school level and that caused many jitters and butterflies to come out. The season took off quickly and soon many kids were motivated to work hard during practice and even after practice to improve their skills. The wins quickly began to pile up and quickly we found ourselves being on the verge of an undefeated season. With practices being on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the team was pushing extra hard to finish the season out on top with a perfect winning record. In the postseason, we were the top seeded team and quickly found ourselves playing in the Championship game. The team that we were faced was the 2nd best team and faced their only loss to us. Emotions and adrenaline was at a peak, as we were playing for the championship game. During the game, we quickly set and controlled the tempo of the game. This allowed for us to play quickly when we wanted as well as slow down the tempo a bit and run a couple of plays. Many of my teammates played their hearts out and it showed with the final score being almost a blowout.

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The team!
For me, the most amazing thing of this Junior Jazz season was seeing the team come together as a family. I was extremely pleased to see so many of my teammates gain confidence in themselves and begin to take confident shots in basketball. It was so rewarding to see how nervous and scared they were before the start of the season, and how they slowly believed in themselves. Being a part of this team here at Cedar Ridge Academy was a blessing. I was able to motivate and help out my fellow teammates in areas on the court that were essential for life. For example some of the skills that I was able to help my teammates in were confidence, hard work, leadership, persistence, etc. For me personally, I believe that the attribute of hard work is crucial in life. Nobody in the sport of basketball is getting better without hard work, which is identical in life. Nobody becomes successful without tedious hours of working hard. For myself, being a captain of the team I was taught how to lead my team with good leadership skills as well as setting the example. This season that we had with the Junior Jazz League was tremendous. Thanks to our gracious and amazing coaches in Sam Hoopes and Wes Nielson and the amazing organizers of this Junior Jazz League. I know that the basketball team at Cedar Ridge Academy was able to benefit a lot from this season! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to learn and play in this wonderful, beautiful game of basketball!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Impact Letter

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I is for Impact Letter
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School, we get an impact letter at the beginning of our program. The impact letter is from our parents and or guardian. It explains to us why they felt we should go to a therapeutic program. The impact letter is the start to your recovery.

When I first got to Cedar Ridge Academy, I already knew about the impact letter because I had been to a wilderness program before here. The impact letter allows you to start to open up to your peers and staff. It also allows everyone, including staff, to understand the reasons why you are here. My impact letter was mostly about school, because I had missed so much school my parents decided it would be best for me to be at a boarding school with a great credit recovery program.

The impact letter also allows for you to take accountability for your actions instead of blaming others for things that have happened. When you get it you read it to your home during family (a group where we listen to others and give feedback). When we are in a family setting, we have the opportunity to speak our mind and say what we feel. The impact letter is a great ice breaker for everyone, it gives us a sense of who you were and your struggles when you were home. I say were because you are not that person anymore, you are still the same person but your attitude and your bad habits will change.

My impact letter allowed me to be open and honest to my peers and the staff. It also allowed me to give my opinion or my perspective on the situation. If I felt that something wasn’t right in my impact letter, I could say I feel differently about it. It also allowed the students and staff to ask me questions about my personal life in a situation where I was very comfortable and felt I could be vulnerable.

The impact letter allows you to open up with people and start a relationship with them. It allows you to be real and to be open and honest about what has happened and why you feel that way. The impact letter allows you to take accountability for you previous actions. It allows you to grow as a person and become something you may not have been able to without it.

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Reading an impact letter to his peers 
so they can help him with his program

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Hard Work at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School

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H is for Hard work!
This blog post will be about hard work at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Therapeutic Boarding School and how the students here work really hard at academics, getting their levels therapeutically, about basketball and what that is like for the kids who play. I will be talking about the things the boys and the girls need to do in order to work and succeed through the program. Cedar Ridge Academy gives a lot of opportunities for the students to succeed and finish their academics and it requires a lot of consistent hard work.

Cedar Ridge Academy is a very helpful place for a student and it can help you grow in a variety of ways. But, it requires a lot of hard work and consistent hard work. This school is big on academics and we are expected to do a certain amount a week with required scores of 80% or higher for them. The teachers in the school push us to succeed and do what is best for us. Although it can be stressful and requires a lot of hard work, it is worth it in the end.

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This girl is working hard in the school

The therapy here at Cedar Ridge Academy is an everyday thing and it is hard work for a student to dig deep
in themselves and to learn about themselves to grow emotionally. Getting the levels here is a lot of hard work because you need to meet a list of requirements in order to achieve the next level. It requires a lot of hard work and consistency. The main key to it is to really want to learn about yourself, to just be yourself, and better yourself.

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Students work hard in the kitchen everyday
Basketball here at Cedar Ridge is something that is something that is played almost every day. The students on the team are student-athletes. Notice how student comes first. We are required to meet out academic standards in order to play. The coaches on the team push us to our limits to help us reach our potentials. We need to be on a certain level to play basketball and need to meet certain standards and it is a lot of hard work because of how therapy, school, and sports tie together. So all in all, Cedar Ridge is based off the idea of hard work and effort.

These girls are helping out in our great community!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Group Experientials

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G is for Group Experiential
Here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School, we (the students) often partake in group experiential activities. Group experientials are activities that we do in groups that range from 3 to 16 boys and girls. The experientials are very beneficial for the students. The experientials have varying activities that range from playing basketball to crawling through a spider web made out of rope. All the experientials are meant to symbolize life skills. Some examples of the life skills that are learned are: teamwork, communication, asking for help, hard work, personal characteristics, and bringing the homes together. Some experientials are meant to trigger students into acknowledging their issues and problems, like how students will sit down and say what they do that pushes people away from them.

My personal favorite experiential was when we sat down as a campus and one-by-one every student stood up in the middle of the group and said what they loved about themselves. Then 5 peers here at Cedar Ridge Academy gave the person in the middle a compliment that they liked about the person. I greatly enjoyed the experiential because I noticed how much of a difference it made for me. It greatly boosted my morale and I felt that as a campus, it brought us closer together. The experiential showed how caring and loving the students are at Cedar Ridge Academy.


Group experientials are meant to make some kids uncomfortable and allow for them to grow and become a stronger person. This experiential did exactly that. For many students who are shy and might suffer from social anxiety, it was a huge approach for them to stand up in the middle of the group and have the spotlight on them. All experientials are meant to make the person grow and teach him/her valuable life skills. For example, recently I partook in an experiential involving K’nex. The experiential overall was very fun for me, but I learned how valuable communication is. I wasn’t communicating with my group and so some of us were making the same item needed for our project. Due to the lack of communication, we were wasting valuable time and energy that could be bitterly spent elsewhere. This is just an example of the life skills and lessons that we can learn from Group Experientials. 

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One of the groups after the K'nex group experiential showing off their creation

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Freedom at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School

As staff members at Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School, we work hard to help students learn that the choices that they make are in their control.  When a member of the A to Z Challenge writing committee turned this post in for today’s letter F, I was impressed that this girl seemed to recognize this all on her own.

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F is for Freedom
Teenagers are wild by nature. Limit testing and wanting independence is natural. Their decision making will ultimately decide whether they have no freedom, or they can have excessive freedom.

Our school works on a level system. When you get here, you are immediately on Level 400. On this level, you have to be constantly watched by a staff and you have to be monitored at all times. The privileges are limited because they need to ensure the safety of the students by watching them. Moving up the level systems is easy, IF you are willing to put forth the effort and better yourself. That is the easier solution, if you ask me. Level 500 is a little less stringent. You can earn level 500 in just a few short days of being here. You have to be in staff’s view at all times, but because you know the rules you have less leeway to get out of teaching interactions. Teaching interactions are basically lessons that need to be learned. When you do not follow a rule, the staff tells you that you need to take accountability for your actions and you get this consequence.

Like in life, with freedoms come responsibilities. On level 600, even more privileges are given back such as make-up and jewelry. This is a struggle for a lot of girls, because they often use make up to hide who they are and their lack of confidence. The levels go up to 900 which basically gives you back all the freedoms you had at home.  


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One of the fun activities that the girls enjoy
Speaking from my experience, one of the biggest reasons I struggled at home was because I had an abundance of freedom. After being here for a few weeks, I recognized that the more structured the environment, the more likely students are to succeed and grow because they feel safe. Freedom is a privilege and here at Cedar Ridge the students are prepared for their future by having their freedoms slowly added back as they learn how to responsibly handle life.

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