A high school for students in recovery opened its door to 23 new students Monday at its new location near the University of Indianapolis.
Hope Academy was established 15 years ago in partnership with Fairbanks. The tretment center and the school were in the same building on the Community North campus off of 82nd Street. However, in hopes of making the school more central for its students, Hope Academy relocated near the University of Indianapolis campus on the city's southside.
Hope Academy is the only high school for students recovering from substance-use disorders in Indiana. It is a mayor sponsored, tuition-free, public charter high school. It is also one of seven recovery schools in the United States currently accredited by the Association of Recovery Schools. Executive Director of the school, Rachelle Gardner, said making Hope Academy a charter school gives students, no matter their school district, access to the services they provide.
“As the disease doesn’t discriminate,” Garder said, “we didn’t want the school to discriminate either.”
It is a small school with a capacity of 75 students, which gives the students and staff the chance to create an intimate environment in the classroom. An estimated 750 students have gone through the school over the years and 92 percent of its graduates have been accepted to to higher education programs.
Hope Academy offers a similar daily schedule like that of a traditional high school with seven 45-minute periods a day taught by licensed teachers. Students follow the Core 40 curriculum; English, math, social studies, science, physical education, and art. In addition to those aspects of the traditional high school setting, students also meet with recovery coaches multiple times a week to set goals and life skill building.
Gardner said “the secret sauce” to student success and long term change is the school’s unique community-based culture.
“They feel at home. And then they feel safe,” Gardner explained. “And then as you see the community just kind of embrace them, then you can kind of see the transformation happen.”