By Cary Quashen, CAS
In a historic move, on January 13, 2014 the William S. Hart Union High School District and the Action Family Foundation began partnering to open a sobriety school for local junior and senior high school students attending school within the school district’s boundaries. The campus will open at the Action Family Zone located at 20655 Soledad Canyon Road, Unit 24 in Santa Clarita.
Currently there are 20 slots available for students, 10 for junior high and 10 for senior high students, and more added as the school grows. There will be 10 students per classroom and they will attend school Monday – Thursday. Action Academy students will attend one to two semesters, and return to their established school sites. All schoolwork at the Action Academy is accredited, just as it is at their regular school sites.
The educational component is comprised of University of California (UC) approved courses, A-G courses, and online course work via the APEX program, which includes Math, English, History, Science, Physical Education, and electives. Just as in a regular classroom, grades and credit reports are issued to students every quarter, and all grades and credits are transferable. Students will also have access to college planning with their school counseling staff.
Creating a partnership between the William S. Hart Union High School District and Action, and centered around a sober school, has long been a dream of mine. While there are other sober schools across the nation, I believe this is the first time a school district and a drug treatment program have partnered together opening a sober school. The district is providing the teaching staff and curriculum, and Action is providing the drug counseling staff and therapeutic services to help kids maintain sobriety.
For many alcoholic and drug addicted teens, the sober school offers teens a fighting chance to embrace sobriety, overcome their problems and live happy and successful lives. Recovery schools fill in the educational gap and emotional holes opened when kids use. Because classes are small, teachers can check in with each student regularly. Students also receive extensive drug counseling and recovery skills. And each student will have specific education goals and an individual treatment plan. The treatment curriculum includes life skills, addiction education, family and group dynamics, relapse prevention, as well as individual and group therapy. Students who attend the Action Academy will improve their decision making and leadership skills, as well as coping and resistance skills.
If you know junior or senior high school students who have trouble with addiction, now is the time to get them the help they desperately need. Adolescence and our American culture glorify and promote substance abuse and, unfortunately, easy access to alcohol and drugs combines to create a perfect, and sometimes a deadly, storm for our teens and their families. While teens often start their sobriety quest thinking “sobriety sucks,” we can no longer justify writing off teen substance use as a rite of passage or bad behavior. Addiction is not a behavioral problem or even a choice. Addiction is a disease and our teen’s behaviors while battling addiction is a cry for help. And teens do recover.
For further information about the Action Academy, one may call Alex Urbina at (661) 467-2714 or Kathy Hunter at the William S. Hart Union High School District at (661) 259-0033, extension 210.
Cary Quashen is a certified addiction specialist and the founder and president of ACTION
Parent & Teen Support Group Programs and ACTION Family Counseling Centers. Quashen may be reached at (661) 297-8691.