Graduating Senior Reaches for New Horizon

One high school senior is really reaching for new horizons.

It's a day Tommy Marshment-Howell thought would never come.

"I was positive I wasn't going to graduate, I didn't care. I only went to school to meet people and do drugs," remembers Marshment-Howell, "I'd go to school, do a couple lines of Adderall, go out and smoke at lunch and then drink when I got out of school."

But Thursday night, amidst friends, family and fellow classmates, Marshment-Howell graduated from high school.

"I feel like it's one of my biggest accomplishments, aside from sobriety and rebuilding my relationship with my family. It's just a huge achievement for me," he says with a big smile, "It's amazing, it's one of the best feelings I've ever had."

Shelly Dutch founded Horizon High School, the area's first and only recovery high school, for kids who've gone through drug and alcohol treatment.

"The whole focus of this program is a safe environment for kids to thrive in an emotional growth setting as well as a sober living productive school," she says between hugs with those in attendance, "Tommy had that sparkle in his eye, he just wanted someone to believe in him."

But the graduation ceremony is missing one thing, classmate Aaron Meyer, who died in a car accident just one month ago.

His father attended the graduation.

"This was going to be a big day, he had aimed for it and he was looking forward to it," says Tom Meyer, "He'd want us to be here."

During a speech, one man said they're not forgetting Aaron's contributions to Horizon High School.

It's a celebration not only of the past but of the future, and a bright new horizon.

"I'm pretty sure I'm going to continue school in the fall," says Marshment-Howell, "Take a couple of classes at MATC and hopefully do a two year transfer program and do whatever feels right."

He has been sober for 11 months and 5 days.

7 other students are currently enrolled in Horizon, all by choice. Another 5 are starting in the fall.

Surprisingly, about 75% of high school students get caught up in drugs or alcohol and 25% of those either drop out or undergo treatment.

Some, like Marshment-Howell, muster the courage to break away from peer pressures and make the choice to succeed.


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