The Last Stop
- 1h 50min
The Elan School was the last stop. Set deep in the woods of Maine, Elan delivered controversial therapy to troubled teens. It was a meat grinder of raw emotion and harsh discipline. Some say... Read allThe Elan School was the last stop. Set deep in the woods of Maine, Elan delivered controversial therapy to troubled teens. It was a meat grinder of raw emotion and harsh discipline. Some say it sold hope, others say it sold Hell.The Elan School was the last stop. Set deep in the woods of Maine, Elan delivered controversial therapy to troubled teens. It was a meat grinder of raw emotion and harsh discipline. Some say it sold hope, others say it sold Hell.
Roughly 54k plus a year. The élan one corporation charged scared parents, fed up DCF workers, this exorbitant amount per child, per year.
Despite the fact élan received roughly 54K a year, per child, there were weeks without running water, heat, or electricity, children with ill fitting clothing and shoes, etc.
*Please note I am sharing experiences from the 1990 through 1993 era. *
Upon hearing that "The Last Stop" would (finally) be made, I met the news with joy, uncertainty, and hope. Hope that it was for real, this time.
That warm, beautiful, April night (of the premiere) I was filled with a palpable anxiety.
Walking into the movie theatre, seeing almost EVERY seat filled, filled my eyes with tears.
These were my fellow Elan brothers, sisters, friends, and supporters.
We were here for ourselves and for each other. This IS for real, this is going to happen.
TJ & Co. would be facing a Herculean task to tell all of our stories, represent both sides. I did not envy the job ahead..
That said, The documentary was refreshingly unbiased.
I knew it would be hard to walk that line.
TJ & Co. told the story with amazing accuracy and never once did you "feel" his personal feelings.
He allowed each individuals story to shine through on its own.
He did it in such a way that you could watch it and not feel forcibly swayed.
No matter your prior feelings about élan, you were allowed to consider all sides when each person shared their experience.
The blending of past and present was done seamlessly.
The integration of Joe Ricci's life outside of the élan one corporation did not cause any noticeable "hiccups" in the flow of the story.
The background on Mr. Ricci was eye opening.
We had been taught to revere this man like a "God among men".
Joe arriving on the ramshackle compound was met with noticeable glee and giddiness- amongst the staff and older residents that were "in the club".
People have jokingly compared this program to the "Lord of the Flies" , but there was no joke about it. It was sadly true.
No matter if you were a "golden child" or a "corner child" or fell somewhere in between, this program did eat a chunk of your soul.
Many of the "golden children" are no longer with us on this earth. Many of the "corner children" doomed to "die with a needle in their arms" as Mark Rosenberg so eloquently put it, are doing quite well with beautiful, enviable, lives.
I don't believe graduating the program as a "success story" meant a damn thing in the grand scheme of things.
If your success story came on the backs of verbally abusing and emotionally torturing others, then how successful were you really?
But again, that is my opinion and it is (probably) quite biased. (I feel the need to say not everyone falls under the aforementioned statement)
The one thing this documentary has taught me and will hopefully teach others, is that there is more than one way to handle "problem children" and that one size does not fit all when it comes to therapy.
Sadly many states and state workers and parents fed up with incorrigible children, overmedicated children , improperly diagnosed children , etc. allowed the élan one corporation to take the burden off of their hands.
While sticking them in a place like the élan one corporation may have eased their caseload/burden, all it did was further damage a young impressionable growing human.
Many say élan's tactics were a "necessary evil". I saw those tactics rip people to shreds, and destroy their lives- for years and decades.
Many of these people died before seeing that life was, and could be beautiful.
My trip to see the premiere of this documentary in Portland last April, allowed me to truly heal, truly forgive, and truly move on.
I suppose you could say I am FINALLY an élan success story.
PS: I just want to give much love to everybody involved with the creation of this film, with getting it out to the public, the film festivals, etc. for getting the message out there, for supporting all of us, and befriending us. Be kind to yourselves and each other.
- Dec 14, 2017