Articles

 

Kolbe Academy is first Catholic high school for teens battling addictions

Four years ago John Petruzzelli saw the movie “Generation Found,” a documentary about people in Houston, Texas, who came together to start a revolution in youth recovery from addictions. Their model included a system of treatment centers, recovery programs and Archway Academy, a sober learning environment for high school students.

“I remember walking out of the theater and saying that this was really incredible, and that I wanted to do something like that someday,” he said.

He never expected, he added, that the Diocese of Allentown in eastern Pennsylvania would open a recovery high school, and that the documentary would be his inspiration to take a leap of faith to become part of the project.

Catholic recovery school

Kolbe Academy in Bethlehem, the first faith-based and Catholic-run high school in a network of about 60 recovery schools nationally recognized, will open its doors for the 2019-20 school year.

Students are being accepted for grades 9-12, and open enrollment will allow qualifying students to enter at any time during the school year.

The school will welcome youth of all faiths from all across the Lehigh Valley, Bishop Alfred Schlert said, “not because they are Catholic but because we are Catholic.”

Kolbe Academy is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, patron saint of the pro-life movement, prisoners and people struggling with addiction. He was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who was imprisoned in the German death camp of Auschwitz during World War II, and who gave his life by standing in for another prisoner who was sentenced to death.

The high school will fill a crucial need in the area, which has a number of services for adults but needs more programs for youth.

“Pennsylvania is the third-highest in the nation in the number of overdose deaths,” said Dr. Brooke Tesche, the diocesan chancellor of education. “We have Kolbe Academy working collaboratively with the state and the county to have an innovative response to kids age 12-17 who are in recovery from marijuana, alcohol, opioids and street narcotics.”

High schools generally have few in-house programs specifically for those students. Tesche, who came to the diocese seven years ago after working in special education in the public system, noted that these students are often placed in special education or emotional support programs. But that’s still in their previous environment.

Specially trained staff

“Research shows that when students go into treatment and then back into the same environment, they have less [than] a 20% chance of staying clean and sober,” Tesche said. “When they’re in recovery high schools, the chances for success are 85%. The data shows that this model works. Our bishop, with his passion around Catholic education, was committed to starting the first Catholic recovery high school in the nation.”

Petruzzelli has been with the diocese for nine years. He’s been in education for 30 years, 17 in administration, and was principal of Bethlehem Catholic High School for seven years. He’s been involved with planning Kolbe Academy for the past two years.

Teachers have received special training, drug counselors are on staff and the diocese is partnering with Mid-Atlantic Rehabilitation Services in Bethlehem.

The school is in a building on the 50-acre grounds of the St. Francis Center for Renewal that was founded by the School Sisters of St. Francis based in Pittsburgh. Their provincial, Sister Frances Marie Duncan, is on the Kolbe Academy board.

“The sisters have been very supportive and have incredible excitement about us being on campus and being part of their community,” Petruzzelli said. “I think it’s a special blessing to what we are doing to see faithful women supporting us. While they won’t be directly involved in the academy, they will be visible and it’s important for the kids to see them.”

Students are eligible for enrollment if they have been clean for at least 30 days, verified through a program, counselor or other professional. In addition to state-required classes, they’ll study theology and have Christ-centered support and programs.

Spirituality

Tesche cites research data that points to the role that spirituality plays in recovery.

“Many addicts in long-term recovery, defined as 10 years or more, attribute their success to a spiritual component, so there’s a direct correlation,” she said. “I put that in a strong academic environment. So Kolbe Academy will have the spiritual component, recovery best-practice and academic excellence in our diocesan curriculum.”

Students can earn privileges, such as being permitted to drive to school or have extended lunch times. There’s a code of conduct and there will be random drug tests, but students will not be expelled if they relapse.

“We’ll work with students and their families to ensure that they get the best services they need,” she said.

The diocese is seeking donations and grants to provide scholarships and aid to cover the tuition, which is set at $15,000 to $16,000.

“We were getting a grant from a source that gave us $75,000 and they came back and said that they love what we’re doing and wanted to give us $150,000,” Petruzzelli said.

That unexpected blessing was one of the “God moments,” he added, that they have encountered on the journey.

Tesche witnessed blessings when a hesitant community, once informed of what a recovery school meant, threw in their support and even stepped up to volunteer.

“Two of our board members privately shared with me that they lost a child to an overdose,” she said. “So this is clearly an opportunity for God’s hand to bring healing to their lives, and for them to make a difference in the community. That really touched my heart.”

By: OSV News Weekly

Link to Article

 

Readin'. Writin’. Recovery: Faith-based high school new option for Lehigh Valley students battling addiction

In the last year, three former students of John Petruzzelli have died from drug overdoses in their 30s.

The deaths hit Petruzzelli hard, and he hopes a new faith-based recovery high school where he will be the principal will save Lehigh Valley students from a similar fate.

“It was a tough year,” Petruzzelli said.

As the Lehigh Valley and the rest of the country battle an opioid epidemic, the Allentown Diocese is opening Kolbe Academy in Hanover Township, Northampton County. Starting next month, the school will offer students counseling, support and individualized plans to stay sober.

The school, which recently moved into the former St. Francis Academy, will accept 90-100 students in ninth to 12th grades. All must already have gone through some type of treatment and be sober at least 30 days before enrolling.

Kolbe leaders say they already received more than 100 inquiries, and will be evaluating students’ academic and recovery needs in deciding admission. Mid-Atlantic Rehabilitation Services Addiction Treatment Programs will conduct screenings and assessments for students.

A typical school day will start at 8 a.m. with daily check-ins from a teacher to see how students are doing. Students will then take academic classes such as science, history, English and math in classrooms with at least one wall painted purple, the color of recovery. While Kolbe will require students to take a theology class and there will be a chaplain on staff, students do not need to be Catholic to attend.

But what sets Kolbe and other recovery high schools apart from traditional schools is that students will receive counseling one-on-one, with peers and even for families. The school, employing six full-time staff members, will have a part-time certified recovery specialist.

Kolbe Academy, which takes its name from St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of people with addictions, is not a treatment center, but students will receive individualized plans to help them stay sober. Students also will be randomly drug tested.

“If they relapse, they won’t get kicked out,” Petruzzelli said.

Three days a week, students will have after-school activities such as yoga, hiking or intramural sports. Petruzzelli and Brooke Tesche, chancellor for Catholic education for the Diocese of Allentown, visited recovery high schools in Houston, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Massachusetts that had similar after-school activities to encourage students to have fun sober.

The recovery high school opens as the Lehigh Valley, like most regions in the nation, battles an opioid epidemic. For the first time in five years, drug deaths have dropped across Pennsylvania. Fatal overdoses in the state are down more than 23% in 2018, according to the state’s opioid data dashboard, which compiles prevention, rescue and treatment information, and documents deaths. While the number likely will rise slightly after toxicology reports are completed, 4,267 people in Pennsylvania died from drug overdoses in 2018, nearly 1,300 fewer than the previous year.

Northampton County investigated 81 drug-related deaths in 2018, while Lehigh County recorded 160 cases.

That seemed to be the trend nationwide as well. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows there were more than 68,000 drug overdose deaths in 2018, down from more than 70,000 overdose deaths in 2017.

Tuition at Kolbe Academy will be $15,000-$16,000. Petruzzelli said the school is looking into offering scholarships and financial aid because it does not want cost to be a hindrance for parents.

Kolbe officials have reached out to school districts in the Lehigh Valley about being an additional resource for students. Bethlehem Area Superintendent Joseph Roy said the district uses the Colonial Academy, run through the Colonial Intermediate Unit, for students with drug and alcohol use, but he sees Kolbe as filling a niche among students and their families.

“I am supportive because Kolbe is a community resource and a choice for parents, at their cost or through a Kolbe scholarship, to help a child in recovery,” Roy said.

Students will be allowed to graduate from Kolbe. Because the school will be small and offer a culture of support, Tesche believes it will remove triggers traditional high schools might have that could lead to students relapsing.

“These are the kids who want to get clean and sober,” Tesche said. “And it’s hard in other schools when there are peers actively using and not interested in stopping.”

That’s typically why recovery high schools are successful, said Andy Finch, a professor at Vanderbilt University who has studied recovery high schools. Studies have shown that recovery high schools have a positive impact on students, and that can be attributed to the small class sizes and support systems.

“You’ve created a culture of peers who are … trying to change their alcohol and drug use, and trying to stop,” Finch said. “When a kid starts to struggle, people are aware of it.”

The first recovery high school in the country opened in the 1979. Now, 45 operate nationwide. A number of them, Finch said, opened after the Great Recession and during the opioid crisis.

Kolbe Academy, at 395 Bridle Path Road, will have three open houses next month, with the first 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 10. There will also be open houses 5-7 p.m. Aug. 13 and 15.

By: The Morning Call

Link to Article

 

Allentown Diocese to open recovery high school, 2nd of its kind in the state

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Recovering from an addiction is difficult, especially if you are a teen.

The Diocese of Allentown is trying to help by opening the Lehigh Valley’s first recovery high school.

The Kolbe Academy is a Catholic school, but the school population will consist of teens from all faiths.

The walls of the school are painted a bright purple. It’s more than a paint job, it’s a symbol of recovery.

Kolbe Academy is one of only two recovery high schools in the state and 35 in the nation.

Next month, it will open its doors for its first batch of students.

“Students that have alcohol problems, maybe marijuana, opioids, the full scheme,” said Kolbe Principal John Petruzzelli.

While the finishing touches are being made on the school itself, the services necessary to help recovering high school students are already in place.

School officials say a partnership with the state, Northampton and Lehigh counties as well as Mid Atlantic Rehabilitation Services is firmly in place to help students.

“The goal of this School is to save lives. To get the students early, provide the intervention that they need so that they can in fact recover and live healthy lives,” said Brooke Tesche, Allentown Diocese Chancellor of Catholic Education.

But Tesche says often times helping the student also means helping the family.

Counseling options extend outside the school grounds to support family and even friends of the students.

As students advance in grade and  recovery, they will help younger students do the same.

Academics are just as important as the recovery at Kolbe.

“You know it’s state approved they’re going to get a state approved diploma from Kolbe and we’re going to prepare them whether they want to go on to college, what do they want to go on into the workforce, the military they will have all the credits they need,” said Petruzzelli.

Kolbe Academy is slated to open August 26 and already it has more than 100 inquiries for placement.

By: Channel 69
Link to Article

The Kolbe Academy

Allentown Diocese to open drug/alcohol recovery high school

The Diocese of Allentown announced in a press event Friday the planned opening of the nation’s first Catholic-run high school for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

The Kolbe Academy will open its doors next September to up to 90 ninth-12th grade students in need of an environment specifically designed to cater to recovery, where curriculum, staff and counselors are all focused on teens in need.

Diocese Department of Education Deputy Superintendent of Secondary and Special Education Dr. Brooke Tesche began work on the project two years ago.

“As I spent my career working, I’ve seen kids struggling with drugs and alcohol in their lives,” she said. “And when these students struggle, our teachers do their best to try to meet their needs. However, despite their best efforts and the depth of their caring, the system is not designed for their needs.

“We do have excellent resources in Lehigh and Northampton counties, but the majority of our providers’ expertise is working with adults,” she said, though both counties’ drug and alcohol offices have participated in the program’s development.

Such students are usually placed in special education or behavioral or emotional support programs in their school districts, she explained, where only about 20 percent of them are able to progress without relapse. Recovery high schools have around an 85 percent successful recovery rate, and offer continuous supports, Tesche said.

“Our children need a program that will specialize in the challenges they have. They need a recovery high school,” she said. “Lehigh Valley children deserve a recovery high school.”

Kolbe Academy will have a certified principal, teachers and support staff, and will be a tuition-based school at a cost of about $15,000-$16,000 per year. This is comparable to standard Catholic education with recovery and counseling components. It is also about what a family might expect to pay for a month of treatment. Financial aid, grants and work directly with districts are all expected to be available to help tuition affordable, Tesche said.

School days will be full – from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. – with transportation provided by student’s home districts or parents; the latter being mandatory for applicants from beyond the Lehigh Valley.

Referrals may come to the academy from schools, parents, churches, the Diocese’ intermediate units or other referral agencies or providers. Applicants must have proof of a minimum of 30 days sobriety before they will be considered, but students of all faiths and none may participate.

Allentown Diocese Bishop Alfred Schlert, present at the event, said, “The Diocese of Allentown is blessed to be able to offer this, recognizing the need of so many families in the Lehigh Valley. All will be welcome here. Not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic, are we offering this service to the people of the Lehigh Valley and beyond.”

The Kolbe Academy will open at the former site of the St. Francis Academy on Bridle Path Road in Hanover Township, taking over the lease of Mullen Hall with Diocesan finances.

By: Bethlehem Press
Link to Article

Kolbe Academy Prepares to Offer Innovative Education in New School Year

Recover. Succeed. Transform. That’s the tagline of the new Kolbe Academy, Bethlehem which, as the first Catholic high school in the nation for students battling addiction and participating in recovery from substance and alcohol abuse, will for the first time welcome students for the 2019-20 school year.

“One of the most challenging areas is for parents to recognize they need help” with their children fighting addiction, said Dr. Brooke Cortese Tesche, Diocesan chancellor for education. “Together as a faith family, we will help them, with faith and hope. We’re reaching out and want them to know we’re walking through this with you.”

Tesche said the extended day and recovery-based activities will be very important at the school. “Most important though is the intensive recovery support. We’ll have a full-time recovery support master’s level clinician. We’re building an intensive recovery plan for each student with a counselor, peer-to-peer counseling, group counseling and family counseling.”

Tesche said this integral support will help families access resources with support through Lehigh and Northampton counties and with Mid-Atlantic Rehabilitation Services (MARS) of Bethlehem.

“We want to really make a difference … we want to cultivate a culture of recovery.”

Tesche said no matter the financial situation of the family, students will receive financial aid and scholarships. “This is out of the box … it’s a statement to the current state of addiction in the community and the need for innovation.

“It’s a blessing for the Diocese to partner with stakeholders in the community.”

“My hope as principal of Kolbe Academy is to give our students the typical high school experience, even though we are not the typical high school,” said Principal John Petruzelli, former principal of Bethlehem Catholic High School.

“With that said, our school day will run from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be different from the other Catholic schools, however.”

Petruzelli said Kolbe Academy will follow the same curriculum that other Catholic high schools follow. “Students will need the same credits to graduate that students at Nativity BVM [Pottsville] and Berks Catholic [Reading] need. What will make us different is the intensive recovery/counseling support that our students will receive each day.”

Petruzelli said every day will start with a morning check-in meeting with all students, led by Kolbe’s certified drug and alcohol counselor. “We have an agreement to work with MARS to provide all the counseling recovery support services we will offer to our students.”

This meeting, taking the place of a homeroom period, will provide students a time to share any issues or problems they may be having. It will also be an opportunity for them to be a support to a fellow student.

For some, it will just be a daily check-in time to say things are going well. During the course of the day the school will also provide one-on-one, peer-to-peer and group counseling. Students will be pulled out of class on a rotating basis or attend during study hall periods.

“Because of our small size as a school, we will be able to do several special things during the week. On Wednesday afternoons there will be a group activity of some sort. One week it could be a field trip, another week it might be a group service project. One week it might be a group recovery support meeting,” Petruzelli said.

“While that is happening for the students, faculty and staff will participate in professional development opportunities to make sure they are fully prepared to work at a recovery high school. These educational experiences will address issues such as drug and alcohol issues, mindfulness, health and wellness, and the like.

“On Thursdays we will run a 45-minute activity period so all students can attend and participate in different school activities. Those activities will be scheduled based on the interests of the student.

“On Friday we will offer a ‘Friday Speaker Series’ where people from the community will be invited into the school to address the student body on a variety of topics. These speakers may be people already in long-term recovery. They may be from a college that offers a sober-living environment or a Recovery Support Program. They may be people with different interests or in different careers that they can share their experiences with the students.”

Petruzzelli said the other big difference will be something called Alternative Peer Groups (APGs) that will meet three days a week after school, as an extension of the school day. The goal of APG is to continue to provide a sober social environment where students can be supported and build relationships with their peers in a drug-free environment.

“To date, we know that each Tuesday, we will run a 12-Step Yoga Program for our students. The other two days will be open for different programs and activities that will change weekly throughout the year,” Petruzzelli said.

“With regard to curriculum, we will provide an education plan for each student. We will evaluate their transcript and determine what classes and credits will be needed to graduate. We will offer both in-classroom and online courses for students. In-class courses will be taught by certified Diocesan teachers. Online courses will be offered for certain electives and language credits.

“We will offer an online summer school program in July each summer, which will allow students to make up credits that they need in order to graduate on time. We will also have a special education coordinator for students who might need certain services.

“The past few months have been an amazing adventure as we prepare to open in August this summer. So many times we have experienced what we call ‘God moments’ where something will happen, someone will come into the picture to help or support us in some way when we were not expecting it or we were worrying how we would accomplish something. We know that God is very much involved in this work.”

He said the support of the community has been tremendous. “So many people have reached out to us to offer help, to make both monetary and gift-in-kind donations, to share their support; and to offer to be volunteers.”

“We have spoken all across the five counties of the Diocese and beyond. I like to say we will speak to anyone about Kolbe Academy that won’t run away from us,” Petruzzelli said.

“We have spoken to the priests of the Diocese, Catholic school principals, Rotary Clubs, Knights of Columbus councils, hospitals, doctors and therapists, and Kiwanis groups. The list goes on and on. We are always open to speak to any group about what we are doing.”

Kolbe is hosting the first Kolbe Business Leaders Breakfast Monday, May 6 from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at DeSales University, Center Valley. Jennifer Smith, secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), will be guest speaker.

“We will be sharing the Kolbe story to businesspeople with the hope that they will support our mission and the work to help teens in recovery,” said Petruzelli.

The school’s namesake is St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of people struggling with addiction, prisoners and the pro-life movement. He was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar and a martyr in the German death camp of Auschwitz during World War II. He was very active in promoting the Immaculate Virgin Mary and is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.

The academy will be dedicated to him and placed under the protection of the Blessed Mother next fall.

Kolbe Academy is located on the grounds of St. Francis Center for Renewal, Monocacy Manor, Bethlehem. It will operate from Mullen Hall and the former St. Francis Academy on the property managed by the School Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis.

For more information on or to make donations to Kolbe Academy, or inquire about availability of tickets to the Business Leaders Breakfast, contact Petruzelli at principal@kolbe-academy.com or 610-866-0581.

Check out Kolbe Academy’s website, Like them on Facebook and follow @Kolbe_Academy on Twitter.

By: Diocese of Allentown
Link to Article

Diocese to open recovery school
The Diocese of Allentown announced in a press event Friday the planned opening of the nation’s first Catholic-run high school for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The Kolbe Academy will open its doors next September to up to 90 ninth-12th grade students in need of an environment specifically designed to cater to recovery, where curriculum, staff and counselors are all focused on teens in need. Photo: Dr. Brooke Tesche Tesche said Kolbe Academy is the first Catholic institution of the kind, and will be able to offer the added benefit of faith in students’ recovery efforts.

By: Bethlehem Press
Link to Article

What you need to know about Allentown Diocese's recovery high school

The Allentown Diocese on Thursday announced plans to open a recovery high school for students with drug and alcohol addictions.

The school, to be called Kolbe Academy, named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of those with addictions, is scheduled to open in September 2019. The diocese says it will be the first faith-based recovery high school in the United States, where there are 60 secular recovery schools. Eighty-five percent of students who attend recovery schools after treatment maintain their sobriety, the diocese said in a news release.

In 2011, The Bridge Way School for high school students with drug and alcohol addictions opened in Roxborough, moving this year to Northeast Philadelphia.

The Kolbe Academy will be led by a board of directors and principal and supported by the Diocese of Allentown, said Brooke Tesche, the deputy superintendent of education for the diocese during a news conference Friday about the new school.

Some things to know about the new school:

Who is the school for?

High school students inside and outside the diocese who have completed at least 30 days of treatment are eligible to apply for enrollment. Students of all faiths, including no faith, can attend. Tesche said students can be referred by parents, schools or other agencies. She said students and their families will be interviewed and both will need to be committed to recovery.

What about transportation?

Public school districts will have to provide transportation for students in the area, but families who live farther away will have to provide their own transportation. Diocese officials said at least 15 school districts locally will be required to provide bus transportation.

Where is the school located?

The school will be on the diocese’s Hanover Township campus at Mullen Hall, which has a capacity for 90 students.

How many students are expected to attend?

Tesche hopes to have anywhere from 30 to 90 students in the first year.

What’s the need for this type of school?

Tesche said that students with drug and alcohol addiction are often referred to behavioral or emotional support programs that don’t dig into their substance issues, and that many addiction programs in the Lehigh Valley are geared more toward adults.

Tesche said many addicts attribute their success to their faith.

“A key element in recovery is surrender. It’s inviting a higher power into that process,” she said. “We can talk about that in a Catholic recovery high school.”

What will the staff look like?

The school will have a certified principal and state certified teachers. Tesche said there will be elective teachers for music and art therapy, physical education, vocational and technical training, administrative support and counselors who are drug and alcohol certified. The school will also work with the Caron Foundation for family counseling, and with other groups in the Lehigh Valley for individual, group and peer-to-peer support. There will also be a full-time nurse and other administrative support.

How much will Kolbe cost?

Annual tuition will cost between $15,000 and $16,000 per student. That’s slightly higher than other diocesan Catholic high schools, according to the diocese. It’s not uncommon for families to pay that amount for a monthlong treatment course, Tesche said. They’re looking for donations and grants to provide scholarships and aid.

How long will students be enrolled in the program?

Tesche envisions students staying for the entirety of their high school careers. “We believe they need to develop a community, and this is a new way of life,” she said. The school year runs from September to June, with summer programming also offered.

What’s the curriculum like?

Students will need credits in theology, English, math, science, social studies, art or humanities, health and physical education and electives to graduate. They’ll also have access to extracurricular activities, support services and the campus ministry.

What if students relapse?

Students will be drug tested randomly and regularly. They can earn access to privileges such as extended lunch time, homework passes and permission to drive to school, according to a handout from the diocese. Tesche said there will be a code of conduct, but that being a recovery school, she understands relapse may be a possibility. She said the school will work with students and families to ensure that they get the services they need.

By: Morning Call
Link to Article

Applications being accepted for Kolbe Academy recovery high school

The Diocese of Allentown has begun to accept applications for admission to its new high school for students in recovery from addiction.

Admission is open to any high school student who is in recovery from substance addiction. The school will serve students of all faiths from a broad geographic region, including all five counties of the diocese: Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill, and beyond.

Like the diocese’s six other high schools, Kolbe Academy will focus on academic excellence with a strong basis in Catholic teachings, while also offering a specialized curriculum for students in recovery.

“There is a critical need to provide spiritual, academic and emotional development for students who are in recovery from addiction,” said Dr. Brooke C. Tesche, deputy superintendent for Secondary and Special Education. “This new school is the next natural step for our diocese to give students the education and support that they need.”

“Kolbe Academy will recognize the need of so many families who are suffering,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert. “Some of these families are Catholic. Some are of other faiths and some may have no faith at all. All will be welcomed not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”

Kolbe Academy will be located in Mullen Hall, the site of the former Saint Francis Academy. It will have a capacity for about 80 students. Like other diocesan high schools, it will offer instruction on a normal daytime school schedule. There will be no residential treatment.

Kolbe Academy is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of those with addiction. For more information, contact the Diocesan Office of Education at 610-866-0581 or visit the Kolbe Academy website, www.kolbe-academy.com.

By: Times News
Link to Article

Allentown Diocese to open addiction recovery high school

When school starts next September, Lehigh Valley students in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions will be able to attend the Lehigh Valley’s first recovery high school, something experts say could improve their chances of surviving an increasingly deadly opioid crisis.

The Allentown Diocese on Thursday announced plans to open a recovery school — dedicated to helping students who have undergone addiction treatment — at Mullen Hall in the former St. Francis Academy in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

The school, to be called Kolbe Academy, will be the first faith-based recovery high school in the United States, where there are 60 secular recovery schools, according to a release from the diocese. Eighty-five percent of students who attend recovery schools after treatment maintain their sobriety, the release said.

Students who live in and outside the diocese will be allowed to attend the school, which would be the seventh school for grades 9-12 in the diocese, regardless of their faith.

The diocese’s announcement came as Catholic schools have faced decades of declining enrollment and closed or consolidated across the country, including in Allentown.

Students of the recovery high school will pay tuition akin to that of other Catholic day schools, said Linda Johnson, founder of the nonprofit Voices for Change, who is helping the diocese launch the school.

Tuition may be higher to cover costs of counseling, but Johnson said the diocese would offer financial help to students who need it. Students will have to be free from drugs and alcohol for at least 30 days before attending the school, she said.

Adolescents are among those affected by the opioid crisis, which experts say has highlighted the need for addiction prevention and treatment programs. In 2017, there were 109 drug-related deaths in Northampton County, an increase of 56 percent from 2016, while Lehigh County had 197 drug-related deaths, a rise of 25 percent. The deaths were largely fueled by the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The school, slated to open in September 2019, is welcome news for Lehigh Valley students battling drug and alcohol addiction, said Lisa Wolff, senior manager of special programs for the Center for Humanistic Change. It will help remove students from the people and places where they had been using drugs or alcohol.

“Anecdotally, most kids get their drugs from friends or at school,” she said.

That’s why going to school in a supportive environment, where teachers and peers understand the challenges of addiction recovery, is key, she said. Without a sobriety-focused environment, relapse is almost certain, she said.

Wolff, who leads the Center for Humanistic Change’s opioid programming, said the nonprofit plans to partner with the diocese to help teachers learn about addiction, recovery and trauma. She hopes to host life-skills and addiction programs for students, too.

If the family doesn’t heal and the family doesn’t understand what’s going on, that can really destroy a family.

A school day at the Hanover Township recovery high school will look similar to one at a regular high school, said Johnson of Voices for Change. Students will get their education, but also have group and individual counseling sessions and sober after-school programs.

The diocesan effort — which Johnson said is led by Brooke Tesche, the diocese’s deputy superintendent for secondary and special education — will provide options for students attending high schools that don’t have the resources to help them through recovery.

It will also help their families, she said. Johnson would know — her son is in recovery from an addiction that started while he was in high school. Healing the family is vital, she said.

“They’re going to have that family support [through the school],” she said. “If the family doesn’t heal and the family doesn’t understand what’s going on, that can really destroy a family. It truly can. It comes in like a tornado running through your lives, just destroying everything it touches.”

Kolbe Academy is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of those with addiction.

By: Morning Call
Link to Article

1st Catholic high school for students battling addiction opening in Bethlehem area

The nation’s first Catholic high school for students in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is planned to open for fall 2019 outside Bethlehem.

Diocese of Allentown officials on Friday announced the creation of Kolbe Academy, on its Monocacy Manor campus along Bridle Path Road in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

“The Diocese of Allentown is blessed to be able to offer this, recognizing the need … of so many families in the Lehigh Valley, families who may be Catholic, who may be of another faith, who may be of no faith,” diocese Bishop Alfred Schlert said. “All will be welcome here, not because they are Catholic but because we are Catholic, are we offering this service to the people of the Lehigh Valley and beyond.”

Friday’s announcement comes at a difficult time for this and five other dioceses across Pennsylvania, following a grand jury probe that found claims of sexual abuse against 301 priests dating to the 1940s.

The United States has about 60 high schools dedicated to students in recovery, said Brooke Tesche, deputy superintendent of education for the diocese. As a Catholic high school sharing that mission, Kolbe Academy is the first of its kind, according to the Association of Recovery Schools based in Houston, Texas.

“It is unique in the fact that it will be the first faith-based high school in the United States for students in recovery from addiction,” township Manager John “Jay” Finnigan said at Friday’s announcement at Monocacy Manor.

Serving grades ninth through 12th, Kolbe Academy will be open to students from across the diocese’s five counties: Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, Carbon and Schuylkill.

School districts whose borders come within a 10-mile radius of the school will be responsible for busing students there, said Philip J. Fromuth, the diocese’s superintendent of Catholic education. That’s about 15 districts, he said. Interested families in the diocese beyond that boundary would be responsible for their students’ transportation.

The school will be accredited by the Middle States Association, and students who complete their coursework will receive a diploma in addition to support for their recovery from addiction.

“Our system is not meeting the needs of our students,” Tesche said. “We do have excellent resources in Lehigh and Northampton county but the majority of our providers’ expertise is working with adults. We need to expand supports for our youth.

“They need a program that will specialize in the challenges they have with this disease and supporting lifelong recovery. We need a recovery high school. The Lehigh Valley children deserve a recovery high school.”

Tesche, who moved into Catholic eduction from a career in public schools, shared statistics that students who enter treatment then return to their previous school environment have a 20 percent chance of avoiding relapse.

“But when students go into treatment and they’re ready to go back to school and they go to a recovery high school, it’s over 85 percent chance of staying sober,” she said. “Those statistics are astounding. This works.”

Students will pay tuition of $15,000 to $16,000, comparable to the diocese’s other high schools, according to Tesche. That’s also how much a 28-day treatment program can cost families, she said.

The diocese expects financial aid to be available, and Kolbe Academy will have room for 90 students in Mullen Hall. Formerly St. Francis Academy, the building is now home to Covenant Christian Academy under a lease that ends June 30, 2019.

The diocese has 40 elementary and high schools in its territory. This is its first new school to open since Immaculate Conception Academy opened in 2003 in Douglassville, Berks County, said Fromuth. The diocese this year also relocated its St. Jerome Regional School from Tamaqua to Rush Township, in Schuylkill County, the (Pottsville) Republican Herald reports.

The logo for Kolbe Academy is projected during an announcement Sept. 7, 2018, about the new Catholic high school for students in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction in Hanover Township, Northampton County, outside Bethlehem. (Kurt Bresswein | For lehighvalleylive.com)

About the name

Kolbe Academy is named for St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of those with addiction. Its logo features a phoenix: “It’s a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated and born again. In history the phoenix is often used to symbolize renewal in general, as well as the resurrection to new life in Christ,” Tesche said. The logo’s colors of purple and blue represent, respectively, recovery and the Virgin Mary.

By: Lehigh Valley Live

Link to Article

Film screening about addiction recovery high school

The Easton Opioid Awareness Task Force will show a movie about a high school specifically created for young people who are addicted to drugs.

The screening of “Generation Found” will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at Easton Area High School, 2601 William Penn Highway, Palmer Township. A panel discussion will follow the screening.

“The death rate in America is climbing way too fast. Over 72,000 Americans died last year due to drug overdoses. A recovery high school is one of the solutions,” said the news release issued by Bill Walters, president of the Kiwanis Club of Easton.

The Diocese of Allentown will open the nation’s first faith-based high school for students in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction next fall.

1st Catholic high school for students battling addiction opening in Bethlehem area

The Diocese of Allentown announced the creation of Kolbe Academy, a 9th-through-12th-grade recovery school.

Resources for recovery for those addicted to drugs and alcohol are primarily focused on adults, not young people, the news release says.

Teachers and educators can get continuing education credits for attending. The press release recommends that they check with their school administration to register.

“But when students go into treatment and they’re ready to go back to school and they go to a recovery high school, it’s over 85 percent chance of staying sober,” she said. “Those statistics are astounding. This works.”

Students will pay tuition of $15,000 to $16,000, comparable to the diocese’s other high schools, according to Tesche. That’s also how much a 28-day treatment program can cost families, she said.

The diocese expects financial aid to be available, and Kolbe Academy will have room for 90 students in Mullen Hall. Formerly St. Francis Academy, the building is now home to Covenant Christian Academy under a lease that ends June 30, 2019.

The diocese has 40 elementary and high schools in its territory. This is its first new school to open since Immaculate Conception Academy opened in 2003 in Douglassville, Berks County, said Fromuth. The diocese this year also relocated its St. Jerome Regional School from Tamaqua to Rush Township, in Schuylkill County, the (Pottsville) Republican Herald reports.

 

By: Lehigh Valley Live
Link to Article

Videos

 

Faith-based high school to help teens struggling with substance abuse

HANOVER TWP., Pa. – The Diocese of Allentown is opening a new high school that’s the first of its kind in the nation.

Recover, succeed, transform: those are the three words marking the mission of the country’s first faith-based recovery school.

Kolbe Academy is set to open in fall 2019 at the former St. Francis Academy in Hanover Township, Northampton County, near Bethlehem.

The diocese formally announced the new school Friday morning. Officials said on top of a regular curriculum, students battling addiction now will develop the tools to continue that fight after graduation as they move into society as adults.

“When students go back into the same environment, they have the same triggers or if it’s the same places, people and things,” said Dr. Brooke Teshe, the school’s deputy superintendent.

The tuition-based school will accept 90 students in grades ninth through 12th, who have already completed 30 days of treatment.

The admission process will start in January. Financial aid and scholarships will be available.

By: 69 News
Link to Article and Video

Berks students to be served by faith-based recovery school 'This is the next natural step for our Diocese'

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A new high school being opened by the Diocese of Allentown for those in recovery from addiction will be open to students of all faiths who live in Berks County.

The Kolbe Academy, named for St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of those with addiction, is set to open next September at the former St. Francis Academy in Hanover Township, Northampton County, near Bethlehem, the diocese announced Thursday, adding that it will be the first faith-based recovery high school in the United States.

“Our existing high schools, which are based on our strong Catholic values, are well known for academic excellence and ongoing formation of every student’s intellectual, spiritual, social, cultural and emotional gifts,” said Dr. Brooke C. Tesche, the diocese’s deputy superintendent for secondary and special education. “This school follows the model of our other high schools and offers a specialized curriculum for students in recovery.”

The diocese said its decision to open the new high school stems from recognizing the critical need to provide spiritual, academic and emotional development for students who are in recovery from addiction.

“At the 60 secular recovery schools recognized nationally, research shows significant success rates with 85 percent of students who attend a recovery high school after treatment maintaining their sobriety,” Tesche said.

Kolbe Academy, serving students in ninth through 12th grades, will be the seventh high school in the diocese, which is made up of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill counties.

“This is the next natural step for our Diocese to give high school students in this region the education and support they need to succeed,” Tesche said.

The diocese will hold a special event Friday morning to formally announce the new school to the public.

By: 69 News
Link to Article and Video

Kolbe Academy Recovery School Begins Accepting Applications

The new recovery high school run by the Diocese of Allentown began accepting applications last week. Kolbe Academy is set to open in September for high school students in recovery from addiction. It’s the first faith-based school of its kind in the nation, according to organizers. It will have a capacity of about 80 students and serve the five-county Diocese of Allentown territory and beyond. It will be in the former St. Francis Academy in Hanover Township, Northampton County. Kolbe Academy is named after St. Maiximilian Kolbe, patron saint of those with addictions.

By: Channel 39
Link to Article and Video

Pennsylvania to Get First Recovery High School

The Diocese of Allentown is adding a new high school in Bethlehem. Kolbe Academy, set to open on Bridle Path Rd. In Bethlehem, will serve as the first recovery high school in Pennsylvania. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Brooke Tesche tells us their mission is give kids who suffer from addiction a better chance at recovery.

Recovery High schools are not a new concept, but as a Catholic recovery school, it will be the first of it’s kind. No other Catholic schools exist in the United States, but Tesche says she believes “faith will make our success rate soar”.

The School will accept 90 students grades 9-12. Open enrollment opens in January.

By BRC 13
Link to Article and Video

Pod Casts

Episode 18: Kolbe Academy

Kolbe Academy will open in fall 2019 as the nation’s first, Catholic high school for students battling addiction. The Diocese announced the opening of Kolbe Academy on Sept. 7, 2018, at a press conference at St. Francis Center for Renewal, Monocacy Manor, Bethlehem. In this episode, Jim interviews Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert, Dr. Brooke Tesche, chancellor of education and John Petruzzelli, the principal of Kolbe Academy.

The school is the brainchild of Dr. Tesche who proposed the idea to Bishop Schlert. “Our goal is to do whatever it takes to give them the services they need,” said Tesche. “They need to learn how to live without drugs and alcohol in their lives. Faith is the critical element for their success. A key element in recovering is ‘surrendering.’ We can talk about it and explore it in a Catholic high school,” she said.

The logo for Kolbe Academy is a phoenix symbolizing rebirth, rising from flames and ashes, beating all life challenges and defeating hard times. The academy is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of people struggling with addiction, prisoners and the pro-life movement. For more information about Kolbe Academy, please visit their website.

By Advancing Our Church
Link to Article and Podcast

Episode 83 - John Petruzzelli

This week  I am joined by John Petruzzelli, principal of Kolbe Academy in Bethlehem PA. John talks about his previous roles that led him to be the principal of Kolbe Academy, He also discusses the uniqueness and purpose of Kolbe Academy and how they hope to impact the lives of children of all ability levels. For more information about John or the Kolbe Academy, please email him at principal@kolbe-academy.com.

By Catholic Ed 4 All
Link to Article and Podcast