Harris County Department of Education breaks ground on county’s first public recovery high school

Harris County Department of Education breaks ground on Fortis Academy Oct. 17.

Harris County Department of Education breaks ground on Fortis Academy Oct. 17.

The Harris County Department of Education broke ground on Fortis Academy—the county’s first public recovery high school—this morning, Oct. 17. Scheduled to open sometime in the spring 2018 semester, the school will serve students who have completed a substance abuse or dependency rehabilitation program.

In its first year, 30 students will continue their studies in a sober environment with a focus on coaching, counseling and academics, HCDE officials said. The program is set to grow to 60 and 90 students in subsequent years.

The facility will be located at the 20,000-square-foot former Highpoint School North, which served as an alternative high school for at-risk students at 11902 Spears Road, Houston. Renovations are already underway.

HCDE Superintendent James Colbert said enrollment numbers had dropped at this facility, but instead of selling the property, he ultimately decided to repurpose it as a public recovery high school.

“Having been a former principal, assistant principal, I knew that the only solution I had at my fingertips anytime I got a student who was strung out on drugs or fighting with addiction is we would punish them,” he said. “We would send them to an alternative school—not in hope that they would get better, but just so, I guess, they’d disappear.”

Colbert said this was not the right way to address the problem. At Fortis Academy, qualified staff will assist students with sobriety and make them whole again, he said.

In the U.S., there are 40 recovery high schools—eight being in Texas—but most are private. Fortis Academy will be the first of its kind in the Houston area and the third public recovery high school in the state—the other two are in McKinney and Laredo ISDs.

Students will benefit from the new school’s services through contracts with their home school districts—any of the 25 districts HCDE covers.

Principal Anthony Moten, a former West Orange Cove ISD administrator, will lead the new school. Substance use disorder treatment service Turning Point will provide contract counseling services.

HCDE also recently became a member of Adolescent Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, a group of agencies in the Houston Recovery Initiative that provides substance abuse treatment, preventative care, after-care and recovery support for adolescents.

Once fully renovated, the school will tout a fully stocked kitchen for a culinary arts program, a therapeutic ropes course with a zip line for team-building and trust exercises, walking trails and a garden.

Fortis—a Latin word that means strength—communicates the school’s mission of protection, courage and creating a safe place, Colbert said.

“We really need to get down to the root of the problem and help these children fight their addictions,” he said.

To learn more about HCDE or Fortis Academy, visit www.hcde-texas.org.
By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She became editor of the Cy-Fair edition in March 2020 and continues to cover education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


MOST RECENT

If approved, the Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District could take on all future dredging in Lake Houston. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
To-be-filed bill could fund dredging in Lake Houston by charging additional surface water fee

The conservation and reclamation district would have the power to take out bonds to fund projects. The bonds would be paid through a fee charged to utility providers who purchase surface water from Lake Houston.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Houston City Hall aerial view
Houston City Council ethics committee to review speech policies

The discussion comes after Facebook posts by Council Member Greg Travis led to calls for his resignation or censure.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled to return in person in October. (Courtesy Katya Horner/Bayou City Art Festival)
Bayou City Art Festival scheduled for in-person return in October

The Memorial Park version of the festival will be celebrated through alternative virtual and smaller in-person events.

The Conroe clinic was allocated 2,000 doses of Moderna Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine the week of Jan. 18 because of its designation as a hub provider. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Conroe's Lone Star Family Health Center designated as COVID-19 vaccination hub, receives 2,000 doses

The facility was the sole Montgomery County provider to receive a vaccine allocation in the sixth week of statewide distribution.

At a Jan. 15 emergency court hearing, officials came up with a plan to try to reduce the inmate population at the Harris County Jail that centers on hosting more bail reduction hearings. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduce Harris County jail population

The inmate population at the Harris County Jail is rising, and officials are looking for ways to quickly ease the pressure as concerns grow over the ability to quarantine and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Bocca Italian Kitchen serves seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes, such as polenta and various pastas. (Courtesy Marco Torres)
Italian eateries open in Generation Park; Houston bike lane fines enforced and more local news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The independent pharmacy went through 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine in nine days. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Magnolia Pharmacy aims to open volunteer-run COVID-19 vaccine clinic Jan. 22

If everything goes according to plan, the clinic could administer 200-400 doses per day to those who qualify, regardless of their county of residency.

Humble Mayor Merle Aaron announced in January that he would not seek re-election in May. (Courtesy Merle Aaron)
UPDATED: Humble Mayor Merle Aaron announces retirement, will not seek re-election in May

Prior to serving as mayor, Aaron was elected to City Council in 2005 to complete an unexpired term as council member. He resigned 10 years later to run for mayor.

Humble City Council Member Allan Steagall, left, who served on the council for 18 years, officially retired Jan. 14. Steagall was joined at his last meeting by his wife, Juanita, right. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Humble City Council Member Allan Steagall retires after 18 years serving community

Steagall served 18 consecutive years on Humble City Council, during which he never ran opposed for his seat.

Minute Maid Park
Houston Health Department vaccine appointments fill up in 16 minutes

The department will administer 5,000 doses at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 16 and 17.