"Helping teens succeed in sobriety and in life."

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS HORIZON HIGH SCHOOL?
Horizon High School is a recovery high school. It is a private, not-for-profit, student-centered, high school, dedicated to helping students succeed in an educational environment fostering emotional, social and academic growth. These students recovering from alcohol- and/or drug-abuse and require a smaller, intimate learning environment.
WHAT IS A RECOVERY HIGH SCHOOL?
Recovery (sometimes called sober) schools have been in existence for only about 35 years. They offer supportive learning environments to youth who (1) have successfully completed Alcohol/Drug (AODA) treatment programs, or (2) are currently in counseling and struggling to stay alcohol and drug-free. As of late 2018, Horizon is one of 40 in existence around the U.S., as counted by the Association of Recovery Schools
WHAT IS THE HISTORY BEHIND HORIZON HIGH SCHOOL?
A counselor, had been working with youth with AODA issues for over 20 years, and had seen the problems encountered by youth returning from treatment with some commitment to being alcohol and drug-free, only to return to their old schools and relapse. Recovery schools exist elsewhere - why not here? In March 2004, several parents of youth in recovery and the counselor began to talk about creating a recovery school here. We began to do research, contacting individuals involved in founding and running recovery schools elsewhere, as well as learning some of the negative lessons of two failed recovery schools (evaluations of those schools in AZ and IL were done by a UW-Madison faculty member, who is advising us). Two of our 6 founding members also are educators with over 44 combined years experience.
AREN'T ALL SCHOOLS IN MADISON/DANE COUNTY ALCOHOL AND DRUG-FREE?
All schools have drug and alcohol-free policies and make efforts to keep drugs and alcohol out of their schools. Horizon is different because EVERY student at Horizon commits to being sober. All students and staff work to support each individual in their choice to be sober. Students receive daily recovery support and counseling at Horizon.
ARE RECOVERY SCHOOLS REALLY NECESSARY?
Experience and research have shown that students who have successfully completed AODA treatment programs and then return to the schools where they were involved with drugs and/or alcohol almost inevitably relapse and suffer further difficulties. At Horizon, we provide students with an opportunity to build on their successes as they re-engage in academic learning. We support the whole student in their academic endeavors and on their new path as a sober teen.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY THAT HHS PROVIDES AN INTIMATE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT?
It is small, with a student to staff ratio of 5:1. Many recovery schools only accept students struggling with AODA issues. It is our belief however that any student should be offered the opportunities to benefit from the small and supportive environment of HHS. We currently have 7 staff members -- a full time teacher, a full time teacher and dual diagnosis therapist, a part time director, a part time dual diagnosis therapist, a part time art therapist, a part time special education assistant and a part time student teacher. The staff engage with the students and work with them one on one to support their education and recovery.
ARE YOU A CHARTER SCHOOL?
No, we are not a charter school. We receive no charter school funding. We are an independently self-organized high school serving the needs of young people which our traditional high schools have been unable to meet. We work closely with MMSD. MMSD contracts with Horizon High School to serve the needs of some of the MMSD school population. Other school districts also periodically provide funds for some of their students to attend Horizon. But the majority of our funding comes from YOU, THE PUBLIC! THANK YOU FOR PROVIDING THE NECESSARY FUNDING TO KEEP US IN OPERATION SINCE 2005!!
ARE YOU INCORPORATED?
Yes. Horizon High School is operated by Horizon High School of Madison, Inc. We incorporated with the WI Dept. of Financial Institutions on December 13, 2004. Our board of directors currently has 7 members, who themselves have strong backgrounds in counseling, education, finance, and the experience of parenting challenging youth. We are a 501(c)3, non-profit organization.
DOES THE STATE OF WISCONSIN HAVE RULES FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS?
The WI Department of Public Instruction has a set of published administrative rules for private schools in the Wisconsin Administrative Code. There are 6 minimal requirements of private schools, and a school that fulfills these requirements can request "approval" of its educational program. 1. Its primary purpose is private or religious-based education, 2. It is privately controlled, 3. It provides at least 875 hours instruction/year, in 4. A sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, math, social studies, science and health, 5. The school's purpose is not to circumvent compulsory school attendance, and 6. Pupils return home annually for not less than 2 months of summer vacation. Beyond that, the rules only require that attendance records be kept, that the US flag be displayed, that there be monthly fire drills, and that school buses have insurance.
YOU MEAN THAT WISCONSIN DOESN'T REQUIRE PRIVATE SCHOOL TEACHERS TO BE CERTIFIED?
That is correct. The only requirement WI makes of teachers is that they have a chest x-ray or TB test prior to employment. At Horizon, we require that our teachers be certified and many of our staff has specific training in special education, counseling and trauma counseling.
HOW CAN A SMALL SCHOOL PROVIDE A QUALITY EDUCATION -- WITHOUT, SAY, THE MODERN SCIENCE LABS IN LOCAL PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS?
Our large public high schools no doubt serve as efficient educational settings for many students, with many in-house teaching and learning resources. At the same time, many teachers believe they could be more effective -- make more of a difference in a student's life, provide more interaction and feedback -- if they had only 10 students versus the 25-30 in today's schools. We believe that HHS can provide an excellent education, utilizing the many rich resources in our community. Our curriculum will emphasize experiential education, with students involved in activities such as prairie restoration, service learning, and collaboration with artists working in a variety of media. Most importantly, without a school like HHS, some of our students would likely never graduate from high school at all.
CAN MY STUDENT GRADUATE WITH A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA FROM HORIZON HS?
Yes. Students can expect to graduate at the same time their original class graduates from high school, provided they have the requisite credits required by the state of Wisconsin.
WILL ANY COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY RECOGNIZE A DIPLOMA FROM HORIZON HIGH SCHOOL?
College applications typically require students to submit a high school transcript, standardized test scores, letters of reference, and a personal statement from the student. We expect our students to be exceptionally strong applicants in competitive college admissions. Their applications will be enhanced by a narrative transcript from Horizon High School, portfolios that attest to their strengths and accomplishments, as well as letters of recommendation from teachers and mentors who know them well. We assist students with college applications and standardized testing as needed.
WHAT ARE THE AODA CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION TO HHS?
1. Students must WANT to be part of Horizon High School. No student will be accepted if he/she is being coerced (by parents, court, etc.).
2. We expect that students will have completed AODA treatment and can be assessed as in a process of change, or is currently in AODA treatment. 
3. They must have been alcohol and drug-free for at least 30 days, and take a witnessed urine drug test within 5 days of entrance to the school
4. Students must sign a pledge to remain alcohol and drug-free 24/7, and to be honest about it.
5. The student and parent/s or guardians must agree to drug testing at any time during the school period if requested by the staff. Each applicant will be assessed as an individual with individual needs. If he/she appears to meet the mission of HHS, he/she will be considered for admission.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT THE STUDENTS ARE STAYING DRUG-FREE?
There are random weekly UA tests given at the school, and any positive must be verified by a quantitative in-lab follow up test. All students attending Horizon voluntarily agree to these tests.
ARE THERE OTHER SCHOOLS LIKE YOURS?
There are currently (fall of 2018) 40 recovery high schools around the country -- many are in Texas and Minnesota. Some are public, and some are private. There is also an Association of Recovery Schools (www.recoveryschools.org). Horizon is currently the only Recovery School in Wisconsin
WHAT IS THE COST OF TUITION?
Tuition is $6000 a semester, $12,000 for a whole school year. Tuition is pro-rated to the day a student is officially enrolled at Horizon. Payment plans are available. Some local school districts cover the cost of a student attending Horizon. Currently Madison Metropolitan School District supports students to attend Horizon. Several other districts including Oregon and Waunakee have historically contributed to aid in student tuition of prior students. PLEASE CONTACT HORIZON DIRECTLY TO FIND OUT ABOUT ALL OF YOUR TUITION ASSISTANCE OPTIONS. WE WORK WITH YOU AND YOUR HOME DISTRICT TO EXPLORE ALL OF YOUR FINANCIAL OPTIONS.
I HEARD MMSD IS SUPPORTING HORIZON HIGH SCHOOL. DOES THIS MEAN MY MMSD STUDENT CAN ATTEND FOR FREE?
At the August 29, 2011 MMSD school board meeting, a proposal to fund up to 10 MMSD students to attend Horizon was unanimously passed. Parents with MMSD students should talk with Horizon High School Director Traci Gall about placement. Additionally, several other area districts have historically provided funds for students from their district to attend Horizon. Parents with students in other districts should talk with Director Traci Goll. The Horizon staff will work with you to explore all of your funding options.
DO YOU OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS?
Thanks to generous donors, we can offer limited financial aid based upon need, using the Federal college financial aid form. We will discuss this application process further with you during an admissions interview. If you know of individuals or foundations who might be interested in providing grants or donations, please let us know!
DO YOU HAVE A POLICY OF NON-DISCRIMINATION?
Yes. Horizon High School values diversity, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, or handicap in its education programs or in its employment. Our current location at 5001 University Avenue is handicap accessible.
CAN I MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS?
Yes. We are incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Wisconsin, have WI tax exempt status, and have 501(c)(3) charitable status from the IRS. If you would like to make tax-deductible contributions, contact us for details. We hope to develop an endowment so that youth who need our school and who want to attend, will not be hindered by financial need.
HOW DO I CONTACT HORIZON HIGH SCHOOL?
We have periodic open houses. We would be happy to have a speaker come talk to your group. Contact our director, Traci Goll, 608.335.0387 (cell) or 608.442.0935 (school).