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Schools & Program Visits - Dec, 1994 Issue #31 

CROSS CREEK MANOR
LaVerkin, Utah
Tammy Prince, Admissions Director
801-635-2300
Lon's Visit: Oct. 16-17, 1994 

My first impression of the Cross Creek program was the incredible amount of energy emanating from the conference room. Due to a couple of delays, and a wrong turn or two finding the conference motel in St. George, I missed the closing segment of the family seminar. But, it was obvious that something impressive had happened! Some students were walking arm in arm in intense conversation with their parents, and groups of adults and students were scattered around the room talking in a way that can best be described as "engaged." All had good eye contact, and the phrases I heard were excited sharing of what each got out of the experience. Overseeing all this activity was a tired but bright-eyed and obviously pleased staff preparing for the follow up meal. 

The heart of the Cross Creek program is what they call TASKS (Teen Accountability, Self-esteem, and Keys to Success). This is a series of seminars developed by a consulting self-improvement firm specifically for Cross Creek Manor. About two years evolving, these seminars have matured into key experiences for students to evaluate the choices they have made based on the results they have created in their life. 

TASKS consists of four integrated phases which each girl goes through in sequence, followed by a three day Parent Seminar which is then followed by a three day family seminar (which is the seminar that had just finished when I started my visit). Phase I, Teen Discovery, is a three day seminar which addresses issues such as accountability, integrity, choice, cooperation, trust, anger, and honesty; Phase II, Teen Focus, is another three-day seminar which centers on critical life experiences and self-limiting beliefs; Phase III, Teen Visions, is a series of workshops which aim at skill development and integration in the areas of communication, cooperation, relationships, personal appearance, decision-making, family, and peer pressures; and Phase IV, Teen Services, is where girls serve as part of the seminar staff for others to help reinforce and internalize their own experience at the school. 

The balance of their program consists of individual and group therapy, a merit system of behavior modification where each girl earns her status and privileges through a leveled program based on positive behavior, and their academics which has an individualized competency-based approach to academics. Cross Creek Manor is Accredited by the Northwest Association for Schools and Colleges. 

LaVerkin, Utah is a small, remote town which looks like it has been only lightly touched by the late 20th century. The words "hot and dusty" come to mind, even in mid-October. Not a very encouraging prospect for a kid who might think of running away. 

Cross Creek Manor has three buildings in town (they use the Ramada Inn in nearby St. George for conferences to be able to accommodate the number of visiting parents). The main building is colonial style, with columns beside the front steps, and a two story foyer in the center of the building, complete with a fountain in the center which had no water, at least while I was there. (I can understand where they came up with the term "Manor" in their name).  Most of the girls live here with the new girls starting in the basement rooms. There are also a few staff offices. Security precautions are subtle but noticeable with the yard being fenced, and a van carrying kids will be unloaded within the confines of the fence for example. 

On the other side of town is a building that can best be described as utilitarian. It is older, and not as fancy, but it is for upper level girls who have earned the privilege of living in a less restricted and structured environment. Both places are basically neat and clean, it being the girls responsibility to keep their space that way. 

Most of each girl's time is spent in the third building, the new two story Professional building. This contains the classrooms, most of the staff offices, a Half Court Gymnasium, the Swimming Pool and Hot Tub, the Student Lounge and the Kitchen and Dining Room. It was specifically designed and built for the Cross Creek program. While I was there, it was a continuous bustle of activity. Whether going to or coming from classes, lunch, or other activities, the girls were intent on what they were doing with the standard hum of conversations you expect from teenagers. It was a positive sound and the girls were friendly and several were willing to come up to a stranger (me) and talk, but briefly because the schedule was important. 

The girls move around the building in groups led by a staff member with a walkie talkie. From hearing their use of the walkie talkies, I gathered this is how they handled logistics of movement so everybody wouldn't arrive at the same point at the same time. The effect was a well coordinated flow of groups of students. (It would not work well at all for one group to try to go up the stairs at the same time another group was trying to go down). 

I had a chance to visit with some of the girls, and the response was typical of most programs, in that the level of positivity toward the program was in some sort of direct relationship to the amount of time the girl had been there. The new girls generally had clouded eyes, trouble with eye contact, and were saying it was a good program, but without much enthusiasm. Those almost ready to graduate, on the other hand, had clear eyes, good eye contact, and were very specific about ways the program had helped them, and even areas they thought could be improved. 

I have been working with Cross Creek Manor for several years. From other sources, I had the impression that the program and its results had for some reason really jelled within the last year. That coincides with when the staff felt the TASKS seminars had matured into where the staff felt totally comfortable with its integration into the system. From my visit, I'm even more comfortable with referring girls there. 

Copyright 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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