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First public recovery school in Virginia will give students fighting addiction safe space to learn

Posted at 7:51 AM, Jul 27, 2022

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A new high school aimed at helping students recover from drug addiction is about to open its doors in Chesterfield County.

Next Tuesday, Aug. 2, officials will hold a ribbon-cutting at Chesterfield Recovery Academy, which will be housed in a renovated part of the district's Career and Technical Center.

Around 25 students from across Region 1, which includes cities and counties like Richmond, Henrico, Powhatan, Petersburg and Colonial Heights, will have access to the school.

The academy is Virginia's first public recovery high school, and it’s technically part of a pilot program. That program was initially funded in 2020, but was put on hold when former Governor Ralph Northam paused all new programs and funding due to the pandemic.

Republican Delegate Carrie Coyner proposed the bill that established the academy, and said she got the idea for the high school when she was on Chesterfield's School Board.

"Our sheriff at the time in Chesterfield, Carl Leonard, was working really hard with folks who were in jail in Chesterfield, and their stories of their addiction started in middle school and high school for a lot of them," Coyner explained.

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Republican Delegate Carrie Coyner

The academy will mimic the makeup of Appomattox Regional Governor's School, and students will receive the same instruction they would at their traditional school. But they will also participate in group counseling sessions everyday, and they will have regular access to three clinicians staffed and funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

"What we know about our students in recovery is oftentimes the original high school that they came out of, it's not a safe space for them," noted Coyner. "They're committed to recovery, but there's a lot of folks who are gonna get in the way of that recovery journey. So this is the place where they can thrive. We're excited about it."

Any teen who has been sober for 30 days and lives in Region 1 is able to apply using this online interest form.

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors will meet Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. where CBS 6 hopes to learn more about the school and logistics, including transportation for students from other areas.

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