The school on Penikese island will reopen this summer under new leadership and a new name, the board of directors for the school confirmed this week.
The new school will be named Penikese.
The program will use the same facilities as the long-running Penikese Island School, and will begin admitting adolescents with substance abuse issues beginning between mid-July and mid-August.
The former school closed in February 2011 due to lack of funding. But the board of directors and some staff continued to care for the island facilities, and to discuss possible ways to reopen. The school will receive funding from the Becket Family of Services, an umbrella organization. Organizers hope to hire between 20 and 25 clinical and residential staff who will reside on the island while on-duty, and use the Penikese Island School boat to commute back and forth.
The organization is not-for-profit and will not receive funding from state or federal sources. The program will focus on substance use issues in combination with anxiety disorders or depression. It is modeled after a treatment program in New Hampshire called Mountain Valley Treatment Center, and will limit enrollment to boys 14 to 17 years old. There will be eight to 10 beds. Backers plan to replicate the model for girls at a later date.
“As soon as we have Penikese established, I am convinced we will have a Penikese for girls,” said Carl Lovejoy, director of external affairs.
The plan calls for clients to stay for 60 to 120 days, during which time they will receive intensive treatment and catch up on school work online. Families will pay $760 per day. In some cases, insurance companies may reimburse part of the cost of treatment.
The Penikese Island School was founded in 1973 by George Cadwalader, a former marine. At the time, the school served adolescents who were involved with the criminal justice system and were unable to receive schooling in a traditional environment. Staff and clients at the school included many Vineyarders over the years. The now-defunct school received public funding and kept students for six to nine months.
“We are now focusing on earlier intervention, and in doing so, we are bound to work with the concomitant and underlying health problems,” such as anxiety and depression, said Toby Lineaweaver, director of operations for Penikese, who has been involved with the school since 1995. While the boys who attended the six to nine-month Penikese Island School had “many more overlapping serious problems, staff is now focusing more squarely on substance use,” he said.
The program will be more preventative than reactive in nature, he said. “We are trying to intervene with kids before they hit bottom,” he explained. “Before they have blown up their chances at college, before they have blown up their relationships with their parents, or gotten in trouble with the law . . . rather than walk in and help them pick up the pieces of something that has already blown up, we want to get in there before the worst things happen.”
Penikese is a 75-acre island in the Elizabeth islands chain, and is situated next to Cuttyhunk. It is owned by the state.