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5280 High School helping students recover from addiction during COVID-19 pandemic

Isolation during the novel coronavirus pandemic is testing students' self-control.

DENVER — Online classes have been a learning curve for teachers and students in this COVID-19 reality we now live.

For one Denver Public School, they’re dealing with more than just a new way of learning brought on by the global pandemic.

5280 High School located at the corner of West 9th Avenue and North Broadway is a project-based learning school catering to about 100 students who like to work in small classes. 

Melissa Mouton, founder and principal, opened 5280 High School two years ago to offer classes that focus on group projects and social engagement.

“They’re doing a lot of building, designing, creating, and we weave the academic principles in those projects," said Mouton. 

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The school also offers support groups at various times during the day for about 40 students in the Summit Program, a program for students in recovery from drugs and alcohol. 

Social distancing and isolation due to the novel coronavirus are putting some students in recovery at risk of a relapse. 

Many of them rely on the in-person support groups offered several times a day. Those support groups are now online which can be a challenge.

"Hugging someone and sharing with them one on one face to face is really important to these students," said Mouton. “There’s ample opportunity to connect virtually but it’s just not the same.”

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Canon Reece enrolled as a sophomore after spending time at a high school with hundreds of students. For years he struggled with alcohol and drugs, but he's found hope at 5280 High School.

“I couldn’t survive, I couldn’t function without getting loaded,” said Reece. “I didn’t have to go through the same struggles, like going back to school, like I could actually be around a place that cares about me but not only that, cares about my sobriety and my school.”

Mouton knows first hand the struggles these students face. She got the idea to open the school after going into recovery herself.

"This school was not in my career plan. I was actually a physician and graduating Medical school and ready to go to residency when I came into recovery from addiction myself," said Mouton.