"Sam Gerhardt confirmed Wednesday morning the closure of the school."
May 28 2004 at 9:03 PM
Smoke N Mirrors
Mountain Park Academy Closes
A private boarding school for troubled teens, located near Patterson, has closed. Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy was one of two schools owned by rev. Bobby Wills and his wife Betty.
rev. Sam Gerhardt confirmed Wednesday morning the closure of the school. Gerhardt also said that the Wills' other boarding school, Palm Lane Academy in Florida, has also closed.
"It is just time," Gerhardt stated. "rev. Wills is retiring. We've been in some battles for the last couple of years. It is just time for us to do something different."
In recent years, the school has been embattled in civil lawsuits. The legal battles have been over allegations of fALSE IMPRISONMENT, ABUSE,DENIAL OF MEDICAL TREATMENT, and DRUGGING STUDENTS. In April, a federal judge ruled the school did not violate federal labor laws when it forced a student to perform hours of chores for no money.
For all of the controversy, the school has changed the lives of countless people. In the past, the school has claimed a 90-percent success rate.
The school term at Mountain Park ended recently. This year, 12 students graduated. Since the opening of the school 17 years ago, more than 1,000 children have been educated at the private school.
When the decision was made to close Mountain Park Academy, school officials notified parents.
"We had to talk about some options for them and make some suggestions for them," Gerhardt said. "But, it was fine. Obviously, they were happy (with their children) here. Most of them were hoping that their children would be here until graduation. Circumstances being what they were, they were all accepting. They either found other options or decided to bring their child home."
The Wills opened Mountain Park some time after he began buying the school's 164-acre tract in Wayne County in August 1987. Until that year, he had operated the Christian Life Boarding Academy south of Hattiesburg, Miss., which he had opened in 1972.
Mountain Park was one of several teen reform ministries in Missouri. The school relied on Bible teachings, strict discipline, and corporal punishment to turn teens around.
Parents throughout the United States found the school. When it first opened, tuition was about $600 per month. In recent years, tuition rates had escalated to about $1,200 per month.
The student population has dwindled in recent years. According to a recent AP story, the total student count in April was 40 students. In October 2003, the school had an enrollment of 54 girls and 21 boys.
Workers at the school have been told that their last day will be Friday. Many have already found other jobs. The school and its property have been placed on the market.
Gerhardt said his family has plans for the future. Gerhardt served as the school's principal, and his wife Debbie was a teacher. Their married children were also employed at the school. Gerhardt said the family plans to continue to work in the ministry. The work will not be with a rescue ministry or a boarding school.
"The Lord has already given us some other direction," Gerhardt said. "We have accepted that this is of the Lord. Some doors close and other doors open. We have had to come to a place that the Lord has a plan. We don't always understand His ways and what He is doing. But, we trust Him. We're excited to see what He has laid out for us."
RE:Sam Gerhardt confirmed Wednesday morning the closure of the school."
April 14 2005, 9:26 PM
No,That`s not what he said.He told about how he was leaveing on his tour this coming up july with hanson.He has his second album called boys in the attic coming out may first.He and the whole staff are reuniteing on that day to hear his new album at mp.
Re: "Sam Gerhardt confirmed Wednesday morning the closure of the school."
July 22 2011, 9:30 AM
My take on this one. This is just sad news. These schools help boys get a head start on their university or college studies, with advanced educational goals, and early placement and testing for post graduate schools. These boys can be heading into medical school, law school, business school or any other field. Quite often, <a href="http://www.militaryschools411.com/">academic preparatory schools</a> will provide explorations into real life science careers and mathematics, with laboratories that are similar to large universities, allowing boys to study more in-depth than their classmates in other settings.
My name is Nicole and I attended Mountain Park, I graduated and had plans of going onto college. I worked hard at my schooling while I was there only to find out that they are not accredited. I had to get my GED before obtaining my degree in Business.
Hi Nicole, I'm sorry you have to go through that struggle. It must have been frustrating to know that the school you thought was okay wasn't even in the list of accredited schools. It's good though that your posts will warn others to be careful with what specific boarding school they would want to go to. For one, it's good to be investing in a trusted school especially for parents who are working hard for their teens to have a good future. I wish you the best despite your experiences.