September 21, 2023 by HCDE Communications
Students at Harris County Department of Education’s Fortis Academy are turning their journey to sobriety into a celebration of strength and transformation this month. Nationally recognized as Recovery Month, September is a time to support treatment and rehabilitation practices for those with alcohol or substance abuse disorders.
The observance carries extra significance at Fortis, where high school students seek a safe place to confront their challenges with the support of trustworthy faculty and staff.
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“We are helping our students discover a sense of accomplishment by providing benchmarks that show growth and progression,” said Fortis Academy Principal Travita Godfrey. “They know sobriety is possible because they are doing it. Celebrating Recovery Month shows students that Fortis cares about them and wants to share in their success, no matter how small.”
As part of the celebration, English Teacher Arial Coates and Recovery Coach LaKesha Hemphill collaborated to develop a recovery-themed curriculum centered around the 2012 movie Flight. The film follows Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot under the influence of drugs and alcohol who performs a miraculous crash landing with minimal fatalities.
Students were tasked with completing a series of writing assignments, including a character analysis of Whitaker discussing the stages of recovery from denial to action and maintenance. The second exercise focused on students’ personal stories, encouraging them to realistically determine their current period of change.
During group therapy sessions, Hemphill led students in a discussion about making positive transformations in their lives to support their sobriety and encouraged behavior and inner circles to reflect those decisions.
“Addiction does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of success,” said Godfrey. “We want students to understand the importance of accountability for their actions and unhealthy behaviors. While the movie depicts the downside of addiction, it also portrays the upside of recovery.”
Supplementing the curriculum with creativity, teachers and students said goodbye to drugs this week with daily dress-up themes, including “We Are Crazy About Being Drug-Free” and “Say Peace Out to Drugs.”
To learn more about HCDE Schools, visit hcde-texas.org/special-schools.