LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Recovering from substance abuse and living a life of sobriety is difficult for anyone, but especially so for children as it can impact their ability to graduate from school. Yet, Las Vegas is home to the first publicly funded recovery high school in the United States.
“No one here is judging you. We want your child well, just as you want your child well. And this is a good place to get started with that,” Angela Nickels, principal of Mission High School, said.
Landynn Meyers is a graduate of Mission High School. He began drinking alcohol at the age of three, and by the time he was 14 years old, he transitioned to using hard drugs.
“Meth, cocaine, and heroin, and ecstasy. And drinking codeine,” Meyer said recalling some of the drugs he took.
Following a family member’s advice, Meyers enrolled at Mission High School in 2018.
“The reason I’m here today is because they changed my life, and they got me on the right path,” Meyers said.
The high school, which is part of the Clark County School District, opened in 2017. At the time, it was celebrated as the first and only public school in the nation for students recovering from substance abuse.
“I was going to die out there from my drug addiction or the streets. I’ve had alcohol poisoning. I’ve [overdosed] from drugs. I died off the drugs and came back, because my heart started back up,” Meyers said.
Mission High School is located at 801 N Veterans Memorial near Washington Ave. There are currently 24 students enrolled at the high school, although Principal Nickels said the “sweet spot” is 40.
Nickels said the school creates an intimate environment that focuses on supporting students.
“We like to say, we’re a little bit like a magnet school. Instead of automotive being our program, recovery is our program, so students come here to get the supports in the recovery process while earning their credits for graduation,” Nickels said.
Most students who attend Mission are referrals. Nickels said the students must be open to not only recovery but to academic rigor. Of the five graduating seniors, three will attend college; one is considering the military; and another is planning to enroll in a jobs program.
As for Landynn Meyers, he says people battling addiction should seek help.
“Just ask for help. It doesn’t hurt to ask and say, you’re not okay,” Meyers said. According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the number of middle and high school students self-reporting using marijuana and alcohol is at its lowest level since 2017