New high school for recovering addicts to open in Franklin County
COLUMBUS, Ohio —
A new school is being planned for Franklin County to fight back against the opioid epidemic from inside the classroom.
According to the Association of Recovery Schools, there are 40 "recovery" high schools across the country and soon, the first will open in Ohio. It’s called Heartland High School.
It’s a school Forest Thiel wished he went to when he was in high school. Thiel said when he was a sophomore he was addicted to painkillers and Xanax.
“Sometimes I would say this shot might kill me or this drug might kill me but that seemed like a safe alternative,” said Thiel.
Thiel went to rehab twice and fell right back into the cracks.
"I know part of my reason relapsing and not being able to stick with it is because when I was in my public high school, all there were people getting high. It's the cool thing to do, it's what everybody's doing,” said the now 19-year old.
But now there will soon be a brand new high school dedicated to helping these students fight addiction.
"Public schools don't know what to do with these kids when they come back from rehab and it's really not fair,” said Laurie Elsass, one of the boards of directors at the new high school. "Our focus is to get these kids a high school diploma and encourage them and help them along their walk with sobriety."
It's a high school Thiel said he wished he went to, "When I was in high school I didn't know another single high school that was trying to get away from drugs, I was the only one and I felt like an outcast,” said Thiel.
Thiel is now studying at Columbus State and says he’s 15-months sober. He's living in a sober house with roommates and staying clean.
"It feels great, honestly it was unbelievable,” he told us.
One of the locations the founders of Heartland High School is looking to rent space is at the "Dream Center" in the Short North. They're also looking at places in Hilliard, Columbus, Franklinton, and Clintonville. Board members will make their official announcement on the location and new principal this March.
Tuition will be based on needs so there will be scholarships available. The private school is scheduled to open this fall.