Four students, all from Kelly Miller Junior High School in Northeast Washington, have won full scholarships to attend prestigious Massachusetts boarding schools this fall through a program for minority students called "A Better Chance Inc."
The Boston-based program has been lining up gifted minority public school students from the District and other cities with prominent private schools since 1963, according to an ABC spokesman. Although students have been accepted from several city schools, the Kelly Miller school has been the most active,and has sent 20 students to private schools in the last 13 years, according to an ABC spokesman.
Kelly Miller has also been part of an "adopt-a-school" program with Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. The adopt-a-school program was organized two years ago by Phillips alumni and The Prometheans, a group of black World War II veterans interested in expanding educational opportunities for minority students.
"These students make good ambassadors of the kinds of programs we have in the D.C. schools," said Claude E. Moten, principal of Kelly Miller. "They get an opportunity to mix with other students, and it allows others to see that black youngsters can compete on an equal basis."
Each of the four students will receive scholarships from his or her respective prep school, ranging in value from $9,600 to $11,500. The program stipulates that the students must maintain at least a C+ average at the private schools in order to have their scholarships renewed in successive school years.
Antonita Cartledge, a 13-year-old eighth grader, has been offered a scholarship to the Brooks School in North Andover. Katrina Barlow, a 14-year-old ninth grader, was offered a scholarship to the Middlesex School in Concord. Robert Pearson, a 13-year-old eighth grader, will attend Mt. Herman School in Northfield, and Juma Thorpe, a 13-year-old eighth grader, will attend Phillips Academy as one of 17 students Phillips will enroll next year through ABC.
To qualify, each of the students maintained at least a B grade average and also had to score well on the Secondary School Aptitude Test, Moten said. Although some of the four students have not visited the prep schools, they said they were anxious to attend, and were confident.
"I feel this will be a good experience for me. If I get through this I'm sure I will be able to get what I want out of life. I'll stay there if it meets my standards," said Barlow, of 4856 Brooks St. NE.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," said Cartledge, of 4526 Clay St. NE, who wants to become an electrical engineer. "I don't think I would have had the opportunity to go there if it wasn't for ABC."
Edward C. Young, now executive assistant to the ABC director, attended Browne Junior High in Northeast and went to Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Mass., through the ABC program. Young said the youths selected "tend to be very good students" and have gone on to colleges and universities like Harvard, Howard, Morehouse, Tufts and Stanford.