Educators At Hartford Magnet School Headed To Vermont
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
July 12, 2012
HARTFORD —— Principal Steve Perry sat on a bench in the Capital Prep weight room, hunched over with pain on his face before the school buses arrived Wednesday morning.
"What do we have left?" he asked.
"Squats," replied math teacher Raymond Lynch. The baseball and assistant football coach then grabbed a 50-pound barbell.
Lauren Davern, who teaches high school history and coaches girls' lacrosse, lifted two, 20-pound dumbbells. College counselor Tammy Millsaps got a 25-pound weight and Perry gripped a 15-pound dumbbell in each hand for the set of squats.
It was 6:50 a.m. and the last burst of their final workout before Saturday's Tough Mudder in Vermont, a 10-mile military-style obstacle course that 10 educators from Capital Preparatory Magnet School plan to complete after months of training.
Yes, they must sign a death waiver.
The 25 obstacles include mud-crawling under barbed wire, a dumpster dive into ice water and a dash through hanging live wires charged with up to 10,000 volts of electricity. Thousands across the country have participated in Tough Mudder events since the inaugural one in 2010; although no deaths have been reported, injuries are not uncommon.
Why do it? Beyond bragging rights, Perry and the teachers said their mission is to set a fitness example for Capital Prep's students.
Perry noted the problem of childhood obesity, particularly among Latinos and African Americans, while Davern said she wants teenage girls to feel comfortable lifting weights with the boys, for their self-esteem as much as physical health.
"It behooves us as adults to be fit," said Perry, sweat-soaked in a white muscle tank and gym shorts an hour before the 8 a.m. bell. Nervous about a particular Tough Mudder obstacle, Perry admitted to practicing on his sons' backyard monkey bars.
"It creates a culture within the school... We win in the classroom, we win on the court and we win on the field," Perry said.
The 220 high schoolers at Capital Prep are required to play two sports during the academic year, which begins in early July for the prekindergarten to grade 12 magnet school on Main Street. Despite having one of the smallest varsity programs in Connecticut, the school made several state title runs in 2011-12.
"We do something and it's big," Davern said
About 10 other Capital Prep teachers plan to head to Vermont's Mount Snow as spectators. Whatever the outcome, team members said they have already seen results.
Millsaps, who also is the girls' basketball coach, said she has lost 15 pounds over the past 14 weeks and is prepared for the mental challenge.
Perry has lost 20 pounds.
Physical education teacher Terry Lynch, Raymond's father and the group's oldest competitor at 52, said he has lost more than 20 pounds since March.
Scott Wojnarowicz runs marathons but said co-workers will need to help him get through the wall climbing. Some students seem surprised, he said, when they find out the bow-tied high school math teacher and track coach will do Tough Mudder.
"Kids get to see that — that you're doing something outside of your element," Wojnarowicz said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at