White House official speaks at Indianapolis high school graduation

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Despite several set backs from Mother Nature, many area schools are now wrapping up their school year with graduation ceremonies in full swing.

For a unique high school in Indianapolis, those ceremonies included a stop from a White House official.

Fourteen students graduated Saturday from The Hope Academy Recovery High School at Fairbanks.

That includes valedictorian Summer Slavin, "I was in Fairbanks Inpatient for a couple of weeks after getting caught using drugs by my parents," she said.

That darkest part of her young life is behind her. She's off to college in the fall after graduating Saturday a year early.

"The secret is recovery. You have to work on your recovery before you work on anything else because that's how you get everything else done," Slavin said.

That same success story is shared by Commencement Speaker Michael Botticelli."I've been in recovery for more than 25 years," he said.

He's a top drug policy advisor to President Obama and serves as the Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"We really see a national movement here of diminishing the shame and stigma that's associated with addiction and we can change that fact with telling our stories and creating a level of understanding that treatment works and recovery is possible," Botticelli said.

And with the turn of a tassel, the 14 graduates hope to begin a future that's substance free.

Most plan to go to college, from IUPUI to as far as Kennesaw State University in Georgia studying a variety of subjects including Wildlife Biology, Forensics, and Addictions Counseling.

Hope Academy is one of only a few schools like it in the country. Saturday marked their eighth graduating class.

The school currently has 48 students enrolled.