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If the student has completed an impact letter in a previous placement, we will revisit the impact letter and letter of accountability. Parents and the students will continue to use these as therapeutic tools. We encourage letter writing by students and parents, and do considerable work on helping parents to be mentors rather than over indulging, and helping parents to set caring and appropriate limits with students and to help prepare students for the paths of life rather than preparing the path for the student.
There will be bi-weekly phone calls with the student, and weekly calls with the group leader and team therapist. These calls will be to inform, teach, guide, and learn to work together as a team.
While parents initially visit the ranch, there will be several meetings. Parents will meet with their child’s group briefly as well as the instructors and supervisors. They will have in person family therapy sessions with the team therapist on campus. They will have meetings with the group leader and student. Parents will meet with the Administrator, the Nurse, Clinical Supervisor, if needed.
Later in the student's stay, they will have one or more home visits. These visits will be important for the students and family to practice, see what the student still needs to work on, and visit with future therapists and schools. Parents will be coached on ways to help make these visits successful.
We refer parents to literature and encourage them to order the Positive Peer Culture book written by Harry Vorrath and/or direct them to literature about youth problems and or helpful parenting information.
The Big Sky Academy Art Program believes that all individuals have a creative spirit and that creativity can foster learning on many levels. Our program is in part focused on the creative process experienced as a group collaborative. Through group projects, executed in a variety of media, students not only learn how to express themselves as individuals, but learn how that expression relates to others and to the world in which they live.
Working with a group on a specific project affords the opportunity to learn a particular artistic process. Mirroring the masters, professional artists that lead the program emphasize technical excellence and careful craftsmanship. The technical skills learned while working with the group can then be used to create more individual work; art that explores more personal subjects, or perhaps work given to formal investigation of a particular medium or technique. Our focus on the collaborative artistic process leaves time for students to communicate on an individual level and to explore their own creative, imaginative ideas.
By participating in the Art Program, students learn to cooperate with others, think and problem solve in multiple ways, find meaning in their own as well as other’s work, and learn about the role of art in our society and other cultures. Some of the mediums students have the opportunity to explore are ceramic sculpture and tile making, assemblage sculpture and site-specific installation using natural materials, concrete sculpture, painting, drawing and printmaking. The Art Program also engages students on a periodic basis with visiting artists from the community.
Finally, by challenging students to participate in the creative give and take of collaborative art projects, we are integrating the creative process into the PPC model. The spirit of cooperation necessary to reach a common goal serves to strengthen the group, enhance the emergence of a positive peer culture and model behavior with connections to good citizenship, life and work.
The Art program is accredited and integrated into our school curriculum.
Big Sky Academy provides an extensive student activities and recreation program. Our campus has outdoor courts for basketball and volleyball, and a weight room. We offer weekly yoga instruction. Big Sky also has access to a large variety of outdoor activities. Warm weather activities include hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and swimming. During the winter, students participate in sledding, skiing, ice skating, bowling, and trips to the trampoline park.
Onsite the students are enlisted in on-going beautification projects. Students gain life skills as they work with various Big Sky staff to complete projects around the campus.