First high school for students struggling with substance abuse opens in Bay Area

Classes start Monday at a new non-profit private school in Pasco County.  It is not your typical learning environment, classes are year-round, and every student struggles with substance abuse. Victory High School will be the first recovery high school in Tampa Bay.

"We bring together mental health, recovery support and education to students 14 to 19 years old that are seeking recovery from addictions," explained Tina Levene, founder and executive director of Florida Recovery Schools of Tampa Bay.

The recovery high school has been in the works for three years, and classes start April 19. It is launching with five co-eds, and Levene says up to 50 students can be enrolled.

New Pasco school helps students in recovery

The Calvary Chapel Worship Center in New Port Richey is home to a unique school. Nine teens, ages 14 to 19, will fill the chairs as the first students of Victory High School, the first in the area for Florida Recovery Schools of Tampa Bay, a non-profit private school.

"Our motto is "if there’s breath, there’s hope" so, we’re not going to give up on these kids, this is an opportunity for them to have a second chance," she said.

A second chance before it is too late. Every student at Victory High is dealing with addiction in a county where drug overdoses are surging According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, 1,491 people overdosed last year, with a 71% increase in drug-related deaths.

"Last year in 2020 there were 22 youth, ages 10 to 17 that overdosed, and we lost three of those youth and that’s one too many lives," said Levene.

For Florida Recovery Schools of Tampa Bay, Pasco is just the start.  There are plans to open more hybrid learning centers all across the region.

"First and foremost our goal is to keep our students alive, and then second to actually stabilize them emotionally and mentally, and then educate them," Levene said.

LINK: For more information about the recovery high school, or how you can help victory students click here

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