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Schools & Program Visits - Feb, 2001 Issue #78 

Reserve, New Mexico
Miles Decker, Admissions

Visit on Nov 1, 2000 By Lon Woodbury

The Mace-Kingsley ranch provides a typical rural ranch environment for teens with behavioral/emotional problems. Four hours south of Albuquerque, in New Mexicoís southwest corner near the small town of Reserve, this 200-acre ranch is located in a part of the state that is very sparsely populated. By leasing 1800 additional acres, not only are they able to operate a working cattle ranch, but also have plenty of room for the school as well as outdoor activities, horseback riding, and even a wilderness camp for those students who are having trouble getting with the rules. 

Driving into the front gate one gets the impression of a typical New Mexican functional ranch. The first thing the visitor sees are the horses browsing to the right of the barn. To the left is a collection of mobile homes that serve as offices, boysí dorms, lunchroom, etc. Plans have been developed for a permanent structure to be built in the field in front of the office, replacing the mobile homes. It will be more functional and provide an air of permanence, but in the meantime they make do with what they have. 

The boysí dorm reflects the utilitarian attitude most teen-age boys anywhere tend to have about their personal space. That is, the dorms are seen solely as a place to sleep, and they give them only the minimal amount of energy required for basic maintenance. On the other side of the property, about a two-mile drive through a pretty little valley, is the girlsí dorm. The girls had obviously put some effort into their permanent two-story adobe type building to make their living space cozy and relatively comfortable. Stuffed animals on some of the beds and pictures on the walls provide a variety of color and a feeling of comfort to the room. The large windows let in a lot of light, giving the impression of spaciousness and airiness, also providing a view of the surrounding hills and forested areas. Below the building a small stream flows into a pond that is sometimes used for swimming. Although there were no girls in the dorm at the time, the environment had a good sense of safety. 

The unique thing about the Mace-Kingsley Ranch School is that part of the program is based on the counseling techniques of Scientology developed by L. Ron Hubbard. The founders of the ranch wanted a drug and medication-free program and found that Hubbardís methods helped these young people become more aware of their condition and better able to improve and handle their lives. Hubbard, in the process of developing Scientology and Dianetics, arrived at some answers as to why sometimes peopleís actions are irrational and self-destructive, and why sometimes they have trouble in school. The Mace-Kingsley Ranch School was founded in order to apply Hubbardís philosophy and techniques to teens with behavioral/emotional problems. To my knowledge, all the staff are Scientologists, and many of the younger staff are graduates of the school. 

Each student attends classes with standard subjects such as History, Government, English, and Math. I saw several of the same standard high school texts that I see in virtually any high school classroom. The difference is their application of the study technology as developed by L. Ron Hubbard. Each student learns these study skills, which include basic courses on how to use a dictionary, understand basic grammar, and understand vocabulary. In addition, dictionaries are always by a studentís side since part of Hubbardís study technology is that it is vital to understand precisely how each word is defined and used. In their view, if a word is glossed over with only a vague understanding of itís meaning, then the subsequent text is likely to make little sense. This approach causes each studentís course of study to be highly individualized, with each proceeding at his or her own pace. 

Their counseling is also based on Hubbardís techniques. Called Auditing, it consists of asking exact questions designed to elicit emotional reactions emanating from emotionally or physically painful experiences in the studentís past. The point is to help the students focus on these painful experiences in a way that will discharge them so that they are no longer aversely affected. Once the students are no longer influenced by these negative experiences, they are in more control of their reasoning and rationality. 

After classes and auditing sessions, the studentís time is taken up with farm chores, feeding and riding the horses and taking advantage of a multitude of opportunities that are available from living on a working ranch. The average stay at the Ranch is ten months, but that is flexible, depending on the needs of the student. 

For a parent considering Mace-Kingsley Ranch School for their child, I would recommend obtaining at least a basic knowledge of Scientology. Since that is so central to the schoolís program, it would be vital for the parents to be comfortable with its major tenets. 

This article copyright © 1999-2001, 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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