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New Magnet School Plans To Aim High
January 3, 2005
By ROBERT A. FRAHM, Courant Staff Writer

Hartford's newest public school has begun recruiting students by promising the same kind of rigorous college-bound education found at some of the region's exclusive private prep schools.

The Capital Preparatory Magnet School will open in the fall, and officials say they are looking for applicants, including those from low-income families, who have the right stuff.

"We're going to be targeting motivated students who want more than the typical high school experience," said Steve Perry, one of the planners of the new magnet school that is scheduled to open at Capital Community College in downtown Hartford.

The school will hold an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the college's 11th-floor auditorium for families from Hartford and 21 other nearby towns. The school is a regional magnet school, one of eight new Hartford magnet schools opening under the court-approved settlement of the Sheff vs. O'Neill school desegregation lawsuit.

The school, three years in planning, is an outgrowth of the Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation Program (ConnCAP), an intensive college-prep tutoring and study program aimed at teens from low-income homes or from families who have never attended college.

The school will feature daily academic advising, mandatory extracurricular activities, summer classes, a rigorous curriculum and a required senior project, said Perry, director of ConnCAP at Capital. Students will wear uniforms.

"It is, by design, rigorous," Perry said. "We make no bones about it. If you don't want to do a lot of homework, if you don't want to go to school in the summer, if you don't want to wear a uniform - then this is not the place for you."

The school is scheduled to open with 220 students in grades 6 through 12 and eventually will grow to 700 when it moves out of the college and into its own building after a year or two, Perry said. Half the students will come from Hartford and half from surrounding towns.

"The vision for the school is to create a learning environment that will propel inner city children as well as suburban children into really good colleges," said former Capital Community College President Ira Rubenzahl, a member of the group that planned the school.

Students will be able to take courses at Capital for college credit and can earn associate degrees while still in high school.

"This school means everything to me," said the 35-year-old Perry, himself a product of a ConnCAP program at Wesleyan University in Middletown. At Capital, he has seen about 70 students graduate from the program. All have gone on to four-year colleges such as Boston College, Connecticut College, the University of Connecticut, Morehouse College and Temple University, he said.

That is in sharp contrast to the college-going rate of graduating seniors in Hartford's public high schools. In 2003, for example, only three out of 10 city graduates enrolled at four-year colleges.

"I know there are more kids out there, if given the opportunity, who would" go to college, said Perry, who holds degrees from the University of Rhode Island and the University of Pennsylvania.

"I was one of those kids," he said. "Somebody gave me a shot."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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