Gazette: First High School for Teens Trying To Beat Addictions Opening In Colorado Springs

Posted 10/31/2016

Gazette,  Debbie Kelley

A sober high school for kids recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol is on its way to opening in a few months.

Saying it's a unique idea that would be new to the Pikes Peak region, Colorado Springs School District 11's board last week unanimously approved a charter change for Community Preparatory School. Six of the seven board members were present.

Community Prep, an alternative education charter school that answers to D-11's board, gained permission to add a separate program for students working to overcome substance abuse, starting Jan. 30.

"We are grateful to School District 11 for their support of this program," Community Prep Director Martin Schneider said Friday, after finalizing plans for the new school. "We are excited to help turn around the lives of youth who have struggled with addiction."

Landmark Community School will be the first sober high school in Colorado, Schneider said. The mission: "provide a relevant, high-quality education in a therapeutically supportive, sober environment."

It will open in a defunct school building at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 846 E. Pikes Peak Ave., east of downtown Colorado Springs.

Enrollment will start with up to 20 students ages 14-19 and expand to 60 students in four years, according to plans.

Students have to be in a recovery treatment program for abusing illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol to qualify for enrollment.

Landmark will be run educationally and financially under Community Prep and use its resources.

Community Prep, which started in 1995 for students who have trouble succeeding in traditional schools, has been on the state's "turnaround status" for poor academic performance but is working on improvements, Schneider said.

Community involvement is a key piece of how the new school will operate, he said.

A grassroots coalition of citizens has been working on the idea for two years, he said, and more than 80 people, including Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, have attended organizational meetings.

"These are people who understand addiction and what it takes to create an environment for young people to recover," Suthers told The Gazette in May. "There's an amazing number of kids who are recovering from addiction, and it's something we shouldn't ignore."

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