I go to Granbury occasionally and pass by Happy Hill Farms, located in Somervell County near Glen Rose. I noticed in the last year or so that the sign in front of Happy Hills is now an electronic one with North Central Texas Academy. Hood County News had an article about this on June 20 2012
What kind of students are they targeting? from Chuck Shipman.
Shipman said the school will still combine boarding students with day students, which Happy Hill began enrolling in 2010. However, he said the academy is going to be more selective, noting that over 100 — more than half of the students at the school — are boarders.
“We have to get back to where we were when we first started (in 1975), getting kids like the one in ‘The Blind Side,’ kids who come from difficult situations that need some help lifting themselves up,” said Shipman.
Shipman said in recent years a number of applicants for boarding school students have come from rough backgrounds created by the student themselves.
“I can’t ask international students and day students to be here where a kid might stand up and throw a book at a teacher and cuss them out,” said Shipman.
Yes, this would be a problem. Happy Hill has specifically looked before for troubled children. In fact, they partnered with the Dallas Cowboys to do this. From 2004 Dallas Cowboys Weekly.
Q: What Kinds of Children Come to Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home?
A: Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home serves troubled, hurting children . . . children with a broad range of behavioral and academic problems . . . children who are experiencing emotional instability, often due to family trauma. Some children are from backgrounds of abuse and neglect. For whatever reason, all are unable to live and study in more traditional family and community settings.
Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home is not a correctional institution nor a prep school. It is an inter-denominational basic child-care facility and private academy that provides very specialized help for children who need another chance in life.
...An overwhelming majority of the children who come to the Farm share a common problem. They have been failures in the public school system. Some have been expelled altogether. Academically, and usually socially as well, these children are the dropouts and kicked-outs of our society.
How were children accepted into the program?
Q: How Is a Child Admitted to the Program?
A: Boys and girls, 5-17 years of age, are considered for admission without regard to race, religion, or ethnic origin. References are usually made by a school counsellor, physician, psychologist, or diagnostic facility. Placement determination is based upon the school's ability to meet the applicant's needs.
What about licensing? Remember, this is part of the lawsuit that is now on appeal against Happy Hill. Here is the link to the 10th Court of appeals for the case. Again, from 2004.
Q: Is the Farm Licensed?
A: Happy Hill Farm Children's Home is licensed by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services as a basic child-care facility, authorized to admit children from 5 to 17 years of age.
Happy Hill Farm Academy is fully-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a private school and is a member of the Texas Association of Private Schools and the Texas Association of Non-Public Schools.
We've mentioned before that the line below has not applied to teachers, as they were required to pass a religious test for employment, so that while the children might have been inter-demonominational, the teachers had to agree they believed in a particular sectarian set of beliefs. And,of course, there was Eric Grimes.
Q: Are Morals and Ethics Taught?
A: The Farm is inter-denominational, and children from any or no religious background are offered care. The highest moral, spiritual, and ethical values are upheld and taught.
Does this change in name mean that there are no longer the troubled children? Or are they being phased out, so that troubled children are in the same classes with simply underprivileged kids? Is that still happening now?
I was curious to see how North Central Texas Academy is described on their website because it seems like they are changing their focus of taking in children with troubled backgrounds to touting Happy Hill as a private christian boarding school, where underprivileged, international and local children are going to school. We have also been under the impression that not all students came from underprivileged backgrounds, but from well to do families who had children with, say, drug or other behavioural problems. . From their mission statement.
North Central Texas Academy is a boarding, day, and international school that provides opportunities very much like a university but on a K-12 level. The Academy prepares students for university life educationally, socially, and physically. The student body is extremely diverse, yet each member shares a common goal of excelling educationally while demonstrating Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Self-Discipline, and Compassion.
What distinguishes the Academy from almost all other boarding schools at this level is the dedication to raise scholarship funding for almost every boarding student in the program. Traditionally, over 90% of North Central Texas Academy’s budget has come from donations within the private community from caring individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Academy seeks out underserved students with the same abilities, much like a university, and provides scholarships in order that these highly-motivated boys and girls receive the same opportunity to learn, commit, grow, and eventually assume positions of responsibility and leadership in society.
And they continue to be a religious school
North Central Texas Academy’s goal is to prepare students for advanced education through a rigorous, college-preparatory educational program taught within a Christian worldview framework.
P.S. As an example of the fact that Happy Hill also took in children of privilege, see this article from the Amarillo paper. Apparently one of the boarders, Hallie Hill, committed suicide while at Happy Hill on Sept 8, 2004 (the article is from Sep 22, 2004). Here also is the obituary.
She attended Highland Park schools in the Dallas area and most recently was a student at Happy Hill Farm/Academy in Granbury.
The family requests memorials go to Chemical Awareness Resource Education, an organization that educates the community about substance and alcohol dependency, at 6000 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75205, or to Happy Hill Farm/Academy, 3846 N. Highway 144, Granbury, TX 76048.