Bridge Way School to host open house and ribbon cutting

The Bridge Way School, the state’s only recovery high school located in Holmesburg, will host an open house and ribbon cutting next week.

TIMES FILE PHOTO

A new school year, a new start. For some students, a new start could bear life-changing connotations.

The Bridge Way School, Pennsylvania’s first and (until next year) only recovery high school located at 7360 Jackson St., will next week host an open house and ribbon cutting to greet the community.

The open house will take place Thursday, Oct. 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the school. Potential students and their families will tour the facility and have the opportunity to meet with staff and current students.

The ribbon cutting will take place the next day, Friday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Representatives from the city Department of Behavioral Health and Department of Human Services and other providers of treatment and adolescent services will be on hand.

“Kids want to be in school, and sometimes it just hasn’t been a very hospitable environment, particularly if they had experienced negative peer influence,” said Head of School Rebecca Bonner. “The difference here is the positive influence. Everyone is working toward the same goal of maintaining recovery, getting a diploma and going on with their lives.”

The school has partnered with CORA Services, which will offer onsite clinical support to students and their families.

“We will be providing outpatient advising here [at the school] for the students,” said Mary Doherty of CORA. “We will also be doing parent consults and family work if they are interested.”

CORA already provides students with resource access services, such as assisting with job applications and interviews and connecting them with social and recreational activities.

In the future, CORA plans to offer Alternative Peer Groups, which is a non-clinical, support-type service presented as an after-school program. Students will participate in drug-free activities that will teach them skills for daily and positive living. The Independence Blue Cross Foundation provided CORA with a matching grant for the program.

Doherty said CORA has been asking students and graduates how CORA could improve their services and ensure the help is appropriate and helpful.

“Whether they know it or not yet, these kids are having a direct impact on the future of the addiction services system of Philadelphia,” Doherty said.

The school is for students aged 14 to 20 who have a substance use disorder. They have to have at least 30 days of sobriety to be accepted. In addition to their academics, students participate in an individualized recovery program, and participate in group therapy sessions several times a week.

Bridge Way was designated as the recipient of the state’s recovery high school pilot program. Students will receive tuition from the sending district and the state, meaning there is no cost to families. This will apply to students in each of the school’s 20 seats.

“In all these years that I have spent in this kind of service, this might be the most exciting thing and the thing that might have the most potential for success that I’ve seen in my 44 years of service,” Doherty said. ••