Red Rock Canyon School on its Sweet Sixteen


ST. GEORGE, Utah — Red Rock Canyon School announced plans for an upcoming celebration of its 16 years spent providing important, highly effective help to teens and their families. To be held from October 11 to 13, the event will give teachers, counselors and others at the school an opportunity to reconnect with some of the 4,000-plus students from all around the world who have benefited over the years from the school’s services and supportive environment.

“We love to get graduation notices, wedding and birth announcements, and letters from our former students who want to share their milestones with us,” Red Rock Canyon School Admissions Counselor Kathy Michaels said, “We’ve even had many former students stop by for a visit years later. That is what makes all the hard work worth it, and we look forward to catching up with many more former students at the celebration of our 16th anniversary this October.”

The Red Rock Canyon School is owned by the family of founder Frank Habibian, a graduate of Southern Utah University who arrived in the United States from Iran alone at the age of 16 in the early 1960s. In addition to top-quality traditional education, the school provides residential psychiatric treatment and round-the-clock monitoring to people aged 12 through 18 whose needs exceed those outpatient clinics and programs are able to accommodate.

With many formerly troubled alumni having gone on to graduate from prestigious colleges, successfully pursue demanding careers, and start families of their own, the Red Rock Canyon School’s record is an impressive one. Emphasizing the inherent worth of each student, the school’s highly trained teachers, counselors, clinical professionals and other dedicated staff members entirely forgo the kinds of negativity and punitive tools sometimes associated with programs that target teens facing the greatest challenges.

That approach has proven to be so effective that the school’s founders have gone on to establish three other, more specialized centers: Falcon Ridge Ranch, where young women overcome emotional wounds with the aid of equestrian treatment; the Mount Pleasant Academy, where teenage boys receive help dealing with destructive sexual behaviors like addiction to pornography; and Lava Heights Academy, where boys and girls aged 12 through 18 engage in therapeutic music, drama, visual arts, and dance as ways of coming to grips with their problems.

In addition to providing such important help to thousands of teenagers over the years, the Red Rock Canyon School has consistently been recognized as a highly positive force in the southwestern Utah community. One of the largest employers in all of Washington County, the school provides rewarding, fulfilling work for dozens of people ranging from teachers and clinicians to degree-seeking college students who benefit from the great flexibility employment with the school affords them.


The school and its owners also contribute generously to charitable causes in the area, in addition to hosting an annual Thanksgiving Dinner that has become a highlight of the season for residents of St. George and elsewhere in Washington County. Red Rock Canyon School founder Frank Habibian was even honored personally for his many contributions to the community at last year’s Dixie State University commencement, having also endowed that institution with an athletic center named in his honor.

The upcoming Red Rock Canyon School celebration of 16 years of service will therefore be an important and memorable occasion for everyone associated with the school, from students past and present to staff members, as well as to the wider community. The event will be held at the school’s campus in St. George from October 11 through 13, with further information to follow as details are finalized.

15 Providing supportive structure and positive treatments that go far beyond what outpatient programs offer, the Red Rock Canyon School has helped thousands of teenagers heal and overcome their challenges, guiding them toward maturity and fulfilling, resilient adult lives.

Media Contact:

Kathy Michaels
St. George, UT, 84770
Telephone: 435-673-6111

Lava Heights Academy Approach


(Toquerville, UT) Campaign for Teen Behavioral Health, in April 2014, reported juvenile courts in the United States handled approximately 1.7 million cases involving a delinquency offense, the equivalent of 4.600 cases each day. Although the number of juveniles arrested for this type of crime declined significantly between the period of 1999 and 2008, an astounding 15.7 percent decline, the number of court cases dropped by only four percent. Parents worried about their child and the life they are currently living often turn to outside facilities for help, and Lava Heights Academy has earned a top spot in this field, offering therapy for troubled teens using the arts as a way for teens to communicate with a therapist.

“Talk therapy fails to help many teens because they are often unable or unwilling to open a dialogue with a therapist in a traditional office setting. In addition, traditional weekly therapy often fails because with every hour spent with a therapist, there are at least 50 more per week spent with peers who offer the opposite, or undo any progress that was made. After spending so much time with little results parents often believe they are running out of options. Lava Heights Academy offers an alternative approach; one which involves comprehensive art therapy programs covering drama, dance/movement, art and music therapies. With the use of these therapies, professionals find they can reach adolescents who failed to respond to other  treatment options, as the arts allow students to communicate complex struggles, fears, and feelings they are coping with when words aren’t enough,” Kathy Michaels, spokesperson for Lava Heights Academy, explains.

Creative professionals work alongside therapists to assist adolescents. Teens who take part in the program find they learn to accept themselves and others who have different ideas about the world and how it operates. Children learn to accept praise and feedback in a healthy way, and all participants are provided the opportunity to create and perform – often doing things as a character they wouldn’t dream of doing as themselves, thereby gaining confidence to extend their experiences to their own lives. Although art is the modality or tool used to facilitate therapy, students do not need an artistic background to take part in this therapy. The goal isn’t to produce fine art or exceptional musical or performing talents, in fact, some of the most important works created by students are often finger painted figures representing their fears, family, and hopes for the future.

Therapists work to promote dialogue between participants, while addressing social skills development, Michaels goes on to say. Empathy and cooperative play are emphasized and groups are continuously formed to meet the needs of all students. Parents find the program benefits their child in numerous ways and communication among family members improves. Many find it is the solution they have been searching for to help their child when talk therapy has failed. 

Adolescents participating in the program attend school daily to work on academics progress and take part in other therapy sessions individually and as groups. A treatment team works with each patient to determine which therapies will be of most help to them, and this team consists of nurses, therapists, a case manager, department directors, the program director, and a psychiatrist. Artistic and/or academic teachers and direct care shift supervisors also offer input into the treatment of each patient. 


“Lava Height Academy strives to provide a holistic, integrated, multi-faceted approach to treatment of adolescents. Troubled teens learn to come to a healthy and acceptable resolution with regards to their identity. In addition, they obtain the tools needed to deal with conflicts, both internal and external, which arise when one tries to hide their true identity. Students learn to connect with others in a healthy way, while remaining true to themselves, and the results are amazing,” Michales declares.


Lava Heights Academy takes its inspiration from the spirit of Tuscan artistry, and students live in a contained environment which works to nurture their soul. Safety and health remain top priorities at all times and students spend the majority of their time in secure dorms, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and more. The beauty of the campus and its functionality combine to provide a safe environment where children can grow and thrive, while healing through the arts.


Kathy Michaels
Toquerville, UT, 84774
(435) 635-0300