COLUMBUS (WCMH / CNN) – Community and school leaders gathered for the official ribbon cutting of Ohio’s first and only recovery high school.
Heartland High School, which operates out of the Broad Street Presbyterian Church, opened for class on Sept. 3.
Seven students are currently enrolled in the school. Three weeks into the school year, several of them said they are grateful for the opportunity to attend class there.
“It’s way more calming than other schools,” said student Brayden Murphy. “I don’t have to worry about people bringing drugs or anything, and I like it. It’s keeping me sober.”
Dr. Paige Stewart, Head of School, said earlier this month that kids coming out of treatment or diversion programs who then go back to their old high school are likely to relapse.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was at Friday’s ribbon cutting. DeWine has been a staunch supporter of Heartland High School, even allocating money for the school in the state’s budget.
“We’ve got to get rid of the stigma of this illness and we need to look at it as a medical problem,” DeWine said.
The governor is hopeful that more schools like Heartland will soon open.
“What we hope is that the results will be good, we expect them to be, and that this can be duplicated or replicated in other parts of the state,” he said.
School leaders said they hope enrollment in the school will continue to grow.