Students Get A Fresh Start At School
Recovery Program Opens at Odyssey Academy
By Susan Morse
Hampton Union, Friday, May 29, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- Today, 30 Winnacunnet students will go to school for the first time.
The students live at the Winnacunnet Adolescent Therapeutic Center on Winnacunnet Road, better known by its former name, Odyssey House. They will walk to their new high school less than a half mile away, Odyssey Academy on High Street.
"The students will be walking to school like normal kids," said Erik Johannessen, chief executive officer of OdysseyNH. "Starting Tuesday (today), they'll be having school there and then they'll be walking home when school is done."
The new teaching facility at 150 High St. is the state's first recovery high school. OdysseyNH bought the building, the former Maranantha Assembly of God, and renovated 10,000 square feet into school space.
"It is light, airy, you can sense the excitement and freedom in the way the building was constructed and is student friendly. The school is technologically sophisticated ... fresh and clean," said Johannessen. "It encourages a culture of recovery and growth."
OdysseyNH is a recovery program for teens age 13 to 17, who arrive generally by court order for treatment. They remain in the residential program from four to seven months. They go to school in the same building where they live.
Because of their histories of drug or alcohol abuse, mental-health issues, trauma or neglect, the students have often lagged behind in learning and are not able to keep up in a regular high school setting, said Johannessen.
Today, the 30 teens from the Winnacunnet Adolescent Therapeutic Center and two day-students who will be arriving from home, will open the doors of Odyssey Academy for the first time. Two weeks from now, 12 students from OdysseyNH's short-term treatment program in Rochester will join them.
Classes will be held year round, taught by an estimated six teachers. Education is individualized and offers Web-based learning such as remedial courses and advanced placement, in a wide range of subjects.
"Essentially," said Johannessen, "this school will feel much more like a regular school that normal students are going to."
More day students are expected to attend the Recovery High School beginning in August, when the first full academic year begins. Since the courts like to place kids close to home, said Johannessen, many of the students in the program live in or near the Seacoast.
Phase II renovations this summer will add a cafeteria, a commercial kitchen to train students in food service, classrooms and offices.
The students, said Johannessen, are "very excited."
A public open house will be held in August. An open house, by invitation, is scheduled for Wednesday from 1 to 6 p.m.