"Helping teens succeed in sobriety and in life."

About us


Horizon High School

Horizon High School is a recovery high school. This means our environment and curriculum are structured to provide a safe and sober learning atmosphere for students in recover from drug or alcohol abuse. The classroom setting is small, in order to promote an individualized curriculum and to allow for students' needs. Horizon High School's guideline for enrollment is to maintain a staff to student ratio of five to one. Our student population varies and is usually between 6-14 students. Although the program is targeted at teens in recovery, anyone that needs an alternative to a traditional high school setting is welcome. Horizon does NOT limit enrollment only to students in recovery. To maintain an engaging and educational atmosphere, Horizon High School incorporates guest speakers, life skills education, physical education and field trips. Generally, an outing is planned every week to engage students in their community. Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities, both at school and after school, in order to help them maintain their recovery and develop into well-rounded community members. Since Horizon's creation, over 80 young people have attended. Today many of these former students are enrolled in colleges and universities, in the military, or working as contributing members of our community.

The Mission of Horizon High School

The mission of Horizon High School is to provide a school that fosters emotional, social and academic growth for students who want to learn in an alcohol-free, drug-free environment. Students will actively assume responsibility to create their own safe and nourishing community

History Horizon High School

In March 2004, six Dane County residents, including Shelly Dutch, a local AODA counselor, got together for coffee to discuss the concept of starting a recovery school. The group, which also included educators and parents of teens affected by addiction, wanted a safe place where teens could go to school after getting out of drug/alcohol treatment. They researched what options were available and found that there were about 20 recovery schools around the country, with most in Minnesota, but none in the Dane County area.

In November of 2004, a $10,000 donation from a family was made to start up Horizon High School. In December the founders of the school incorporated, got all the paperwork together and hired a young teacher to run the school. And in late January 2005, Horizon High School opened with 5 students in a church basement. By the end of that semester, there were nine students...

In 2006, Horizon moved into the Neighborhood House Community Center in downtown Madison.

Horizon continued to grow and in August of 2011, a new partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District was formed. This partnership allowed Horizon to remain an independent school while paying tuition for Madison-area students who qualified to attend Horizon. Horizon also moved to a new location on near west side of Madison at that time.

2012 marked the first year that Horizon was able to host summer school. Year round support for students in recovery is key in helping them maintain their recovery. Summer school also allows students who may credit-deficient get caught up on high school.

In March of 2013 to meet a need for more space, Horizon moved to 5001 University Avenue #50. In June of 2014, a flood forced Horizon to move again, to our current location at 5003 University Avenue....just across the parking lot from our previous location. This new location offers Horizon students a positive learning environment, comfortable room for therapy and a safe place to grow in their recovery.


Testimonials about Horizon High School

From Parents

“If it hadn't been for Horizon High School, we believe we would have lost our son to the continuing haze of drug and alcohol abuse, which would have led to his dropping out of school and increasing the danger to his health and safety. Instead, Horizon provided him with a caring, constructive environment that helped him move into recovery, graduate from high school, and move onto college. We believe that the small size, personalized education, and therapeutic treatment available at Horizon were directly responsible for his success. The large, impersonal high school he attended prior to coming to Horizon was unable to provide him with the consistent, daily connection with a nurturing adult that he desperately needed. Furthermore, they appeared to be unable to provide him with the accommodations that his learning style demanded. Consequently, he was lost in the masses, in a deepening downward spiral that brought only failure and punishment rather than treatment and hope. The staff at Horizon helped to reverse that spiral and gave him a renewed sense of hope, seeing the future as full of possibilities”.


“Horizon has played a HUGE part in helping me get my son back. I truly cannot adequately express how thankful I am for having found Horizon High. ”

From Current Students and Horizon Alumni

“Horizon is a safe and sober environment. It has changed my life in so many ways. I have been able to get my life back on track, be sober, and make mature decisions. I am more responsible now, but most of all I am going to graduate! This school has changed me for good.”


“Horizon for me is a school that provides a healthy and stable environment for me to learn in. Horizon has helped me with my academics, taught me to be more responsible, and has helped me to become more independent. Going to Horizon just makes me feel that it is possible to overcome hard times, and Horizon has been there every step of the way. They're not just a school to me, but a family to me also. Thanks to Horizon I have an education, I am sober, and I have support. I wouldn't choose any other school.”


“Horizon High is probably the best school I have ever been too. The staff here are extremely welcoming and friendly. You start to feel familiar with the environment after only a few days. One hour each day is dedicated to group, and I feel this really helps the students get to know each other, share their issues, get help and get past any shyness. Horizon High means a great place to learn and talk about what you need to get by in life”.


“At Horizon High School I can just be myself, I don't have to worry about popularity, fitting in, etc. I get more individual help when I need it, I don't have to worry about falling behind or getting into trouble”.


Horizon High School in the News

Brava Article
CapTimes Article
Wisconsin State Journal Article

2017 NPR Piece

Learn about Horizon High School

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