June 8, 2007
By NIRAJ CHOKSHI, Courant Staff Writer
Four weeks ago, Stephanie Evans-Alexander was afraid she'd be the only one in her graduating class not to go on to a four-year college.
But she joined her eight fellow graduates last week at the Capital Preparatory Magnet School commencement in knowing not only where they would go to college but also what their majors would be.
Evans-Alexander will attend Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. - her first choice - in the fall.
"All the people there were so friendly," she said. "I felt uncomfortable leaving, I wanted to stay."
When Assumption didn't offer her enough aid, her counselor and Principal Stephen Perry made phone calls to Assumption's dean of admissions. Soon after, Evans-Alexander was awarded a full ride.
The ceremony was held in a large meeting room at Capital Community College. Superintendent Steven Adamowski and Mayor Eddie Perez both attended and delivered speeches during the ceremony. Adamowski praised Capital as being a great model school.
"This school, in so many respects, is representative and emblematic of the kinds of schools we are trying to create," he said.
Capital Prep was created by Perry, a social worker, in response to what he described as "a clear need." Students weren't receiving the education they needed in other area schools, he said.
"The good ones were underperforming and the bad ones were just being ignored," he said.
Underperforming is the last way to describe Capital's graduating class.
Jannel James, one of the graduates, started the school's National Society of Black Engineers Pre-College Initiative chapter and received the PCI member of the year award, according to the graduation program.
James only spent her senior year at Capital. She went to school in East Hartford before that but wasn't happy with the lack of attention and encouragement.
"I needed people driving me forward and teachers who really cared about me," she said.
The students seemed to agree that the teachers pushed them to perform beyond their own expectations.
"I did things I never thought I could do, like take college classes," said Evans-Alexander. Most seniors take six classes at Capital Community College, where the magnet school is located, over the course of the year.
The other 2007 Capital Prep graduates were Natasha Dunbar, Melissa Hamilton, Delroy Lewis, Margaret McCarthy, Darius Ritchens, Anastahsiah Robinson and Sherifa Smith.
Capital, with 241 students, ended its second year May 4. It grew out of the Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation Program, which is aimed at assisting economically disadvantaged youth who are among their families' first generation to attend college.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at