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What is Second Chance?

Second Chance is an educational program for Arlington middle and high school students to help them avoid using alcohol, drugs and certain other substances. Second Chance is not treatment or therapy. Students showing signs of early substance use will benefit most from attending Second Chance.

Why should a student attend Second Chance?

Students who are found to be under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and/or certain other substances may be diverted to Second Chance in lieu of school suspension by APS or prosecution by Arlington County Juvenile Courts. Parents who are concerned or see signs of early substance use can refer their teen and students can refer themselves.

*A self or parent referral will not necessarily preclude a teen from being able to attend Second Chance again should the need arise.

What are the benefits?

Students learn how substance use affects their physical and mental health, as well as skills to deal with peer pressure. Students also develop an action plan to help them make healthy choices. Parents/Guardians learn how to communicate more effectively with their teen and set clear limits and expectations for their behavior. Equally important, students referred by APS or the Courts who successfully complete the program usually avoid suspension from school and/or prosecution in juvenile court.

How long is the program?

Students attend a 3-day session, followed 6-8 weeks later with a booster session. Parents/Guardians must attend a 3-hour session after the initial student session and, later, the booster session with their student. 

*Attendance at all sessions is required for successful completion.

What about absence from school?

Participation is an excused absence for APS students, but students and their parent/guardian are responsible for notifying schools. Students are responsible for making up missed work.

How much does it cost?

The program is free for all Arlington middle and high school students.

Is participation confidential?

Generally, only the referral source and the school Substance Abuse Counselor will know that your teen is attending Second Chance. These professionals, along with Second Chance instructors, hold any information about your teen in confidence. If properly notified, the Attendance Office staff at your teen's school can code the absence in such a way that it is indistinguishable from other excused absences.

Are lunch/snacks provided?

Students are responsible for providing their own lunch. Second Chance will provide snacks and water. 

Is the location close to metro/bus?

There is a Metro bus stop at the corner of Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) and North Jackson Street immediately adjacent to Faith Lutheran Church. Schedules are available at The nearest metro stop is Clarendon, approximately a one-mile walk.

Several Arlington Rapid Transit and WMATA buses stop near the entrance to the Sequoia Plaza complex, the location for the Saturday morning parent session (for those unable to attend the previous Wednesday evening) and for the Booster session.

Limited assistance with transportation via Red Top Cab for the student and/or parent/guardian sessions is available upon request. Please contact Dora Guevara (202-321-3369; or the Second Chance Marketing/Communications Administrator (571-206-8085;