COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After three years of planning, fundraising and recruiting, Ohio’s first and only recovery high school is up and running. Focused on students with substance abuse issues, Heartland High School is housed inside Broad St. Presbyterian Church in Columbus.
Gavin, a 17-year-old, claims he got a wake-up call when he overdosed two years ago. He is now one of 10 students in the first class at Heartland High School.
“You’re just surrounded by good energy 24-7,” Gavin says. “Being around here, being around people that are not around drugs is also affecting me outside of here. I’m not running around with any of my old friends that used to smoke weed and do all that.”
The school expects enrollment to increase to about 30 students as the word gets out about the program.
Dr. Paige Stewart, Head of School, says kids coming out of treatment or diversion programs who then go back to their old high school are likely to relapse.
“It’s the same stressors, the same people they used with and now they have that stigma – ‘Oh you’re the kid that went away to treatment and they reenter that environment and to trying to stay clean and sober is so, so difficult,” Stewart said. “If we can get them coming out of treatment and then funnel them into a recovery high school right away, you’re going to see much more success and other recovery high schools around the country are seeing success.”
The first day of class was Sept. 3.
A Grand Opening ceremony is planned for Sept. 20.