Wellspring to Open Michigan’s First Recovery High School for Teens Struggling with Addiction2 min read

Wellspring Lutheran Services will launch Michigan’s first public recovery high school in January 2021. Wellspring Academy will support teens who have struggled with drugs and alcohol to maintain sobriety as they complete high school and earn their diploma.

“Students who have made a commitment to sobriety, and have begun the tough journey of recovery, don’t stand a chance if they are forced back to their school of origin simply because they don’t have a choice. In fact, we know that 70% of those students will relapse within six months,” says Wellspring president and CEO David Gehm. He continues, “Our commitment to launch Wellspring Academy comes from knowing that we must do better for them, and is consistent with Wellspring’s long standing focus on serving those in our communities whose needs are not being met.  At Wellspring Academy, students will find a place where they can find and fulfill their purpose, with a community who will love and support them every step of the way.”

Despite Michigan’s disproportionately high rates of teen drug and alcohol use, the nearest recovery high school is currently located in Columbus, Ohio. The Michigan Department of Education estimates each year nearly 2,000 students in southeast Michigan alone leave or are kicked out of school for drug and/or alcohol use. Wellspring Academy will have the capacity to serve up to 120 high school students (grade 9-12), from southeast Michigan and surrounding areas at its 80-acre campus in Farmington Hills.

Recovery schools are not a substitute for substance use treatment. These schools help students find their way to recovery by:

  • Providing smaller classrooms with instructors who build and reinforce a recovery-oriented culture.
  • Customizing workloads to respond to the academic challenges that are common among recovering students.
  • Providing a range of recovery-enabling enrichment activities, such as daily meetings with recovery counselors, onsite 12-step meetings and available peer supports; and
  • Creating a welcoming environment where students are encouraged to be open about relapse (when it occurs) rather than hiding it

The recovery high school will be established as a free-standing charter school supported by Michigan International Prep School (MIPS). At the core of any recovery school is a rigorous curriculum that results in students meeting state requirements to receive a traditional high school diploma. The existing school building at 28000 W. 9 Mile Road on the Wellspring campus in Farmington Hills will serve as the recovery high school and will incorporate the other existing campus amenities. Those include: library, computer lab, and gymnasium, weight room, dining hall, auditorium, art studio, ball fields, and a running track.

Wellspring Academy will launch virtually in January 2021 with wrap-around recovery support services and a drop-in center at the Farmington Hills campus. In-person classes will officially begin in September 2021. For more information about Wellspring Academy and information on how to enroll your student, please visit

Featured image courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography. Graphics courtesy of Wellspring Lutheran Services.


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This blog is published by the Communications Department of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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herman burton - December 27, 2021

I noticed a story about you on ch 12 news and wanted to check you guys out.i have 3 grandchildren ages 14 13 and 12 no problems with them as of yet but they’re just getting to that age