Being at P.E.A.S.E. Academy, for what Director Michael Durchslag calls, “the best mediocre pancakes in town,” was the place to be Saturday morning. The crowded cafeteria was filled with current students, alumni, parents, community members, staff—all kinds of people with one thing in common, a belief in the power of a community to support youth in their recovery from substance use and addiction.

Durchslag said,  “We can change the trajectory of this disease by reaching kids early. It’s an honor to be part of this work.”

The scheduled student speaker at the P.E.A.S.E. pancake fundraiser wasn’t able to be there, so Warren stepped in with only 5 minutes of preparation. He shared his journey. When he was twelve he tried alcohol and then began drinking every day.

“I had problems that were destroying my life. I felt like if I stopped drugs, the problems would take over.”

Warren was skeptical when he first came to P.E.A.S.E. and it took him awhile to come out of his shell. “People here focus on me as a whole person, not just my addiction. I’ve never been in a school that feels likes a community. I want to come here. I am proud to be part of this community. It means a lot to me.”

Michael shared that Warren has dreams of becoming a nurse, “Warren will make the most caring nurse.” Michael also thanked Warren’s mother, who was initially very skeptical of the school, for giving P.E.A.S.E. a chance.

Warren shared, “I didn’t think I would make it to high school. Now I’m a junior.”

I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.