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New Perspectives - Oct, 1999 Issue #62 

 Rite of Passage
Sean A. Doak,
Chief Admissions Officer
1561 Highway 395
Minden, Nevada 89423

Rite of Passage, an athletic and academic behavioral program has the self-proclaimed goal of providing the best level of care and the most effective treatment for disadvantaged youths otherwise denied rehabilitation opportunities. It cares for hundreds of boys from placing agencies across the United States, and a number of private pay students, as well. 

Typically students are ages 14-17 at admittance, usually with discipline problems and failure at several out-of-home placements. ROP does not accept repeat violent offenders or those requiring psychotropic medication. 

“The three level program includes a charter high school, supported by California’s El Dorado County Office of Education. It offers a 25-30 hour per week, year-round, program that has received statewide acclaim. Students compete in athletics with other AAA Division high schools and have won Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association State Championships in many sports. ROP students also participate in individual sports such as skiing, cycling, triathlons and rock climbing.” 

Rite of Passage is Licensed by the State of California, the State of Nevada and various other state, local and federal agencies. Its students progress through three program levels, each offering different social settings with different behavioral expectations. 

Level One, a Remote Treatment Campus, is a self-sufficient facility in the high desert wilderness, emphasizing compliance with rules and pro-social behavior. 

Level Two, an Athletic Training Campus, consists of a residential high school near a small town. It focuses on developing self- esteem through achievement in athletics, academics and vocational training. 

Level Three uses Qualifying and Varsity Houses, homes in the Tahoe Sierras, as places where students mainstream into the community and learn to cope with real life expectations. Students of these houses provide more than 20,000 hours of service each year to numerous worthwhile organizations. Their efforts have been recognized through a special proclamation from Nevada’s Governor. 

“Rites of Passage has an achievement based program called “Operation Validate,” in which each student must meet goals in these areas: Vocational Training, Athletics, Lifeskills, Individual Graduation Plans, Demonstrated Behavioral Changes, Aftercare, Treatment and Education.”

According to John Bolaris, La Deputy Probation Officer, “85 of the 98 minors who were program completions have remained arrest-free to date; most of these minors were on their way to the youth authority until the court intervened and sent them to Rites of Passage. Minors who complete the program are successful because it does a good job breaking down gang loyalties, drug dependency, and delinquent acting out behavior. Rite of Passage gives minors new self-esteem, from physical conditioning, sports, and education, to replace what they received from their previous lifestyle. Although known for its sports program, Los Angeles County participants have also excelled academically and in the trade programs.”

The University of Nevada at Reno’s follow up studies of program graduates showed: overall improvement in their relationships with their families, peers and authority figures; improvement in grades; “a decrease in the frequency and amount of alcohol and drug use, including total abstinence for some respondents; and, not a single respondent who had not been a gang member before entering Rite of Passage jointed a gang after leaving Rite of Passage.” 

Copyright © 1999, 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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