by Danielle Nick
While witnessing her teenage daughter struggle with addiction, Rebecca Bonner realized how big of a need there is for recovery high schools. Bonner searched relentlessly for a school to accommodate her daughter’s needs, but the closest recovery high school was in Boston. Everything the Bonner family knew was in Philadelphia, and moving to Boston was out of the question. In 2011, Bonner opened a recovery high school, the Bridge Way School located in Roxborough. The school was Bonner’s way of giving back. She finally had the opportunity to help parents and teens struggling with addiction find a safe place.
Bonner explained how at Bridge Way, students are able to feel normal. “Everybody is going through the same thing,” Bonner said. So, unlike a normal high school where addiction is stigmatized, Bridge Way is a supportive environment for young people in recovery. Bridge Way is run similar to a standard high school with classes from August/September until June. The typical school day consists of regular classes with a checkout at the end of the day. Bonner explained, “if you articulate your plans much more likely to follow through with them.” Students at Bridge Way are also subjected to drug tests. However, the school does not have a zero tolerance policy. If a student fails a test, Bonner explained that the faculty tries to use that as a “teaching moment.” Ultimately, Bonner wants students to be open and honest. “Honesty is really key at our school; its secrets that make us sick,” Bonner said.