First Annual Winter ONEderland Gala Fundraising Event

Carolinas First Recovery High School Gaining Momentum

Emerald School raising funds to bring Recovery High School to Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC February, 07, 2019

The Emerald School of Excellence held their first major fundraiser February 7, 2019 in uptown Charlotte at Bentley’s on 27.

The Emerald School of Excellence (ESE) presented their Winter ONEderland event to Charlotte and the business community to bring awareness of the team’s plans to open a Recovery High School in Charlotte for students with substance use disorder and mental health issues. The school would be the first of its’ kind in the Carolinas, however there are 40 other successful Recovery High Schools currently in the nation. ESE’s mission is to be a community service driven organization that provides peer to peer to support through faith, fitness and fellowship. ESE plans to provide quality education in a recovery friendly environment for youth with substance use disorder, as many times students suffering with this disorder are unable to attend traditional schools due to a variety of factors.

One of every 7 Americans ages 12 and older will develop a substance use disorder, with 1 out of every 3 households to be impacted by addiction” states ESE Director, Mary Ferreri. “I became involved with this initiative because the most important people in my life have been impacted and I have watched so many families bury their kids, so I just couldn’t sit still and watch this happen any longer. Our goal with The Emerald School of Excellence is to meet a need for stronger adolescent support in the Carolinas and to strengthen the continuum of care for young people in recovery from substance use disorders.”

Over 140 people attended the fundraising event that was sponsored by MAKO Medical, one of the most desired laboratories in the United States and diagnostic partner for businesses, physicians, urgent care facilities, and many hospitals in the country. MAKO Medical was the Diamond Sponsor of the event and is passionate about making an impact in people’s lives both here locally and around the world. Other sponsors included The Amfund Foundation, an organization that partners with 501(c) (3) non- profits to help them meet their fundraising goals. Amfund provided 12 vacation packages that were auctioned off to guests.

Keynote speaker Sasha Coles-McLean, Executive Director at Archway Academy, one of the first Recovery High Schools located in Houston, TX, spoke of the need of opening a school in Charlotte and shared her passion for teens and families in recovery. Coles-McLean speaks nationwide about addiction and recovery, teen development, failure to launch and media influences on youth. A previous Archway student, now Founder and Executive Director at Keystone Alternative Peer Group, Hannah Milne shared her personal story of addiction and recovery and how the seeds that were laid at Archway have been instrumental in her success.

Other highlights of the evening included a painting that was painted LIVE by artist Sapona Nakwisi, a native- born North Carolinian, an emerging contemporary artist based in Bremen, Germany. Nakwisi uses a modern pallet knife technique and her painting was auctioned off at the event. Grammy nominated and award- winning musical gospel artist, songwriter/producer Arnetta Murrill-Crooms performed many songs, in addition to a performance by Xailin Ortiz, Northwest School of the Arts student, singer and songwriter who has had several friends impacted by the opioid and drug epidemic in our country. Former NFL athlete Perry Tuttle, connector, speaker and father opened up the night with a personal story of how a teacher impacted his youth. Professional snow skier turned author, influencer, coach, consultant and entrepreneur, Scot Chrisman traveled from Colorado to support the event and plans to be involved in helping the school raise the funds needed.

The Emerald School of Excellence is projected to open this fall with 20 high school students and will be located near the uptown area at Memorial United Methodist Church of Charlotte, located off Central Avenue. Funding for the school, will be a combination of grants, tuition, private donations and partnerships. Other auctioned items for the night included the naming rights to four of the classrooms for the school, with the money donated going towards filling all four rooms with furniture, laptops, computers, smartboards and all the supplies needed for students and teachers.

Other announcements included the Carolina Green Industry Network announcing they have chosen the Emerald School their 2019 service project, which will be a garden and brick paver patio located in front of the school and to be a green space providing an outdoor alternative to indoor classrooms, enhancing health, wellness, socializing, reflection and healing. The bricks will be engraved to recognize a donor, to honor or memorialize an individual or family. Information for donations for the bricks can be found online on the ESE website.

ESE’s Director, Mary Ferreri, a current Charlotte Mecklenburg School physical education teacher along with a handful of other professionals started meeting two years ago with the vision to open a Recovery High School for Charlotte and the Carolinas. The Emerald School team has now grown to a diverse group of volunteers of over 30 professionals in fields of education, addiction counseling, healthcare, family support groups, service organizations and all facets of the business community. Other supporting groups for the school include Addiction Professionals of NC (APNC), Michael’s VOICE, Inc, the Carolina Film Festival and the school is currently exploring additional partnerships.

Media Contact:

Mary Ferreri
Director and Founder
Emerald School of Excellence


Phone: (980) 299-2017