20 Grads: One Year Can Make All the Difference

20 Grads in 20 Days: June marks a huge anniversary in Connecticut. Twenty years ago this month, Governor John Rowland signed the law allowing public charter schools to exist in the state of Connecticut! To celebrate, we’re profiling 20 public charter school graduates every day for the first 20 days of June. Enjoy reading about our charter schools and the stellar kids they're educating.

Anthony Nieves is one of many students who transferred to Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport from Bassick High School, a local district school, for their senior year.

That decision to change schools made all the difference in his life.

“I have learned so much in this one year that it doesn’t even compare to how much I learned at Bassick in the three years I went there,” says Anthony.

“When I came into this school college was an idea, somewhere I wanted to be. I still would’ve had that same attitude at Bassick: college is something I want to do, but I didn’t know how to get there.”

Capital Prep’s culture of excellence and supportive teachers helped Anthony’s attitude change: “Capital Prep made me see things differently and see my own potential.”

Now Anthony, the oldest of six brothers and sisters, is headed to Newbury College in Brookline, Massachusetts, as the first person in his family to go to college.

Anthony wants to be a programmer when he grows up, which is why he’s planning to study computer science for the next four years. His dream is to make a video game, ideally something like his favorite of all time, Battlefield 3.

His favorite subject, math, will go a long way toward that goal. Still, math class isn’t his biggest high school accomplishment – that’s his Social Justice Project (SJP).

For SJP, Anthony had to do at five lessons teaching other students about a problem and come up with an action plan on how you fix the problem.

Anthony chose food insecurity among the homeless. 

His five lessons were:

  1. A definition of food insecurity and how to support people with food insecurity.
  2. An explanation of the different types of homelessness.
  3. A primer on food shelters in Bridgeport and what support they need the most.
  4. A breakdown of the cost of food for one person.
  5. A history on food waste in America.

Along with your SJP, Capital Prep Harbor students are required to have eight hours of volunteer work every marking period. Anthony spent his time helping out at food drives, one for Thanksgiving and another for Christmas.

“I love helping people. This school has helped change my view on the world. People need that help each other and I want to be a part of that,” said Anthony.

As Anthony looks back on his time at Capital Prep, it’s his parents who he believes deserve a big thank you. “My mother applied here without telling me and I was like, ‘I don’t really want to change, I want to stay in my own bubble.’ My parents pushing me changed a lot in my life.”

“Without this school I wouldn’t be where I’m going,” says Anthony. He hopes more kids get the same opportunity, offering one key piece of advice: “don’t procrastinate, ever.”

That mantra has certainly worked for Anthony. If he keeps it up, he’ll be a computer programmer in no time.

Mike is the former Deputy Communications Director for Connecticut for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
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20 Grads: One Year Can Make All the Difference
20 Grads: One Year Can Make All the Difference
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