The Raymond J. Lesniak Experience Strength and Hope Recovery High School (E.S.H.) opened in September of 2014 and is the first public recovery high school in the state of New Jersey. The ESH mission is to create an environment where education and recovery from addiction go hand in hand.

What Makes a Recovery High School Different?

Recovery high schools differ from traditional and other alternative high schools in mission and goals. ESH Recovery High School combines common core aligned education with addiction recovery support. ESH provides assistance to our students and their families as they work to maintain and strengthen their sobriety through an integrated curriculum, peer support, family programs, counseling and understanding of the unique challenges that face the adolescent in recovery. ESH works with students, families and their treatment professionals to help support and further the students’ recovery plan.

Why ESH Recovery High School?

Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have identified the major life challenges that students face while trying to recover from addiction. The largest among these is re-entry into school: “For teenagers, school often sits at the heart of relapse.”

These same studies have shown that the first 60 days following completion of treatment are the greatest time of risk of relapse. This is particularly important when one considers the results of a study that has shown that, “virtually all adolescents returning to their old school reported being offered drugs on their first day back in school.”

ESH is a safe, supportive environment that combines academic excellence with the tools needed to support recovery. Our program combines five components that we have identified as keys to successful recovery:

  • High-quality curriculum and instruction
  • Supportive counseling
  • Recovery mentor support
  • Physical and mental wellness
  • Parental engagement

Entrance Requirements

ESH is a school for those students recovering from substance use disorder and related behaviors. Students seeking acceptance to ESH must be committed to attaining their high school diploma, as well as maintaining sobriety. Students must demonstrate this commitment through advancement in their course work, as well as abstinence from drugs and alcohol, attendance in prescribed after-care programs, and recovery meetings (AA/NA/SMART Recovery, etc).

Participation in ESH must be voluntary and supported by the students’ sending district. Addiction impacts the entire family and student’s success in remaining in recovery requires a buy-in from all stakeholders. These include family members, the recovering student, and the student’s treatment team (if applicable).

What happens if a student has a reoccurence of use?

ESH recognizes that for some students, a reocurrence of use may be part of their journey to a sustained recovery. People who experience addiction often exhibit certain behaviors which have been understood to: a) signal reoccurence of use, b) lead to reoccurence of use, and/or c) signal an unwillingness to pursue an education at ESH. ESH has a policy that addresses reocurrence of use and is reviewed with each student and their family during intake and orientation.

Who pays for the student’s tuition?

The ESH High School is part of the Union County Vocational Technical School District. Per pupil costs for students are paid by the home (sending) district, pursuant to UCVTS policies and agreements. Any additional costs for students to attend will be supplemented through fundraising initiatives. The students’ sending district is also responsible for providing transportation to ESH High School. 

How does a student become a candidate for admission to ESH Recovery High School?

Students are accepted to ESH on a case-by-case basis. All students and families must undergo an intake interview involving both academic and counseling staff to determine suitability for participation. Students may be referred by parents, the school SAC, Guidance Counselor, primary treatment facility, as well as the courts. To learn more, click here to contact us today.

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