June 13, 2006
By ANNIE TASKER, Courant Staff Writer
The five graduates of Capital Preparatory Magnet School's Class of 2006 took up only one row of chairs at their commencement ceremony Monday at Capital Community College.
But for Councilwoman Elizabeth Horton Sheff, the first class to graduate from the Hartford school represented much more.
"In you five, I see my hopes and dreams realized," Sheff said. "You have set the footprint for Capital Preparatory School, and we're all very proud."
Sheff's son was the plaintiff in Sheff vs. O'Neill, the case resulting in an agreement that Hartford schools make an effort to integrate. Building eight new magnet schools by 2007 was one of the ways planned to reach that goal.
The first full school year for students in grades 6-12 at Capital Preparatory began last fall. Before that, the program consisted of after-school and six-week summer programs led by social worker Steve Perry, now principal of the school. In the school's six-year history, every student who has graduated from the Capital Preparatory program has gone on to college.
The high school students can also simultaneously enroll in Capital Community College classes. Some graduates can transfer college credits. Those transfer credits allow some graduates, such as valedictorian Crystal Rosario, to start college as sophomores.
Richelle Abrahams of Windsor will go to Assumption College in Worcester. She is considering a major in psychology.
Bianca Haughton of Bloomfield will go to Southern Connecticut State University. She is considering a career in social work.
Salutatorian Tiffany Ayala of West Hartford will attend Connecticut College. She said she is leaning toward forensics and criminal justice.
Rosario, of Hartford, will join Ayala at Connecticut College. Although she has an interest in psychology, she said she probably will end up studying economics. Her goal is to get an MBA so she can open an auto insurance brokerage.
Rondale Williams of Hartford will go to Shasta College in California.
The five graduates have set the bar high for future classes when it comes to financing their college careers. "Almost half a million dollars in scholarships are right in front of you," said Perry, motioning toward the graduates.
Paving the road for future classes at the new school has fallen to this class more than once. Over their last high school lunch, the students said they felt a little stressed about graduating. While many schools have structure and tradition to guide their graduation ceremonies, this first class of Capital Prep graduates was feeling the heat of having to prepare speeches and start traditions of its own, such as a gift from the seniors to the juniors. This year, the gift was a digital camera.
In her valedictory speech, Rosario talked about her class' role in creating a tradition for those who will follow.
"By being the first on this path, we are true trailblazers," she said. "We have laid the foundation for future seniors to come."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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