Rites of Passage
Montana Academy’s program is based upon the observation that maturation occurs in the context of accurate adult recognition and limit-setting, sustained over time. The program’s clan sequence provides both of these in tandem. Montana Academy’s therapeutic curriculum guides and marks a student’s progress and provides structure while defining privileges. The clans reflect shifts in maturity and honor a student’s progress and growth. Students begin at Earth clan and graduate when they reach Sky Clan. To earn promotion to the next clan requires mastery of a prior clan’s curriculum, challenges, and therapeutic assignments. Upon completion of each Clan, students propose for promotion and these promotions are rites of passage recognizing a student’s evolution.
Students arrive on campus on Earth Clan, where they are first introduced to the routines, discipline, and rules of Academy life. In Earth Clan students are expected to learn and follow the basic rules of Montana Academy, accept their placement in the program, and demonstrate a willingness to acknowledge areas for growth that they will work on during their stay. The focus of Earth Clan is on honesty, self-discipline, and accountability.
Students in Moon Clan engage in the process of self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. On Moon Clan, students learn to regulate, tolerate, and express emotions and develop a deeper understanding of the relationships among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Through clan assignments and in individual therapy, students learn to express feelings appropriately in a direct and respectful way and begin to understand both their adaptive, and maladaptive, defenses.
By the time students have reached Sun Clan, they have done significant self-exploration and are ready to look beyond themselves. Family therapy becomes a major emphasis as students examine their interpersonal patterns as played out both in the past and present. Students work closely with their families to address ways in which the family has affected them and ways in which they have impacted others in their family.
As students master the skills of appropriate emotional expression and interpersonal relationship, they are prepared for Star Clan, a phase that allows the time to practice newly acquired skills and consolidates a more mature view of themselves and the world. In Star Clan students are expected to exhibit a sustained mastery of their own emotions and behavior and be able to help others through active community leadership. Students are encouraged to be student mentors and role models in all aspects of the community by leading weekend activities, community service projects, or being a student council representative, a tutor, or a residential assistant.
In Star Clan, students are also expected to begin realistic planning for the future and transition.
Sky Clan is the final phase of the Montana Academy program before transition. During Sky Clan, students complete a realistic transition plan for the future and put closure on their experience at Montana Academy. Sky Clan students are expected to continue to exhibit leadership and positive program engagement. Transition plans made during Sky Clan allow students to consolidate personal growth in a way that maintains the skills and maturation that has been achieved during their tenure at Montana Academy.