Years ago, teachers at J.O. Johnson High School started the Cap and Gown Program. A program tailored to mentoring kids and preparing them for the next steps.
“The amount of exposure I had, I didn’t even know about this college until I joined Cap and Gown. The college tours, all the visits it’s been very helpful," Wesley Clay said.
“With my financial situation I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go to college. Once I got accepted, it was really nice to be able to go stress free," Sebastian Berres explained.
Berres, who’s graduating from Mae Jemison High School with Clay, says without Cap and Gown, this opportunity wouldn’t have happened.
“I’m looking forward to being able to study what I want to study, and being stress free. Being able to focus on my major," Lamonika Dent said.
Dent, who’s graduating from Lee High School, is studying to be a nurse. Again, without the stress of paying for tuition.
Desmond Pearson, another graduate of Mae Jemison, is the fourth student from Huntsville City Schools who received a scholarship as well.
Heller, along with other colleagues at Johnson and Jemison High Schools, spearheaded the program years ago because of her own experience in college.
“As a low income student myself at the time, when I was in high school, what I’m most looking forward to is them graduating without a ton of debt, unlike me," Heller said.
Heller says she knows this will open up options for whatever the students want to do after they graduate, without the added pressure of student debt.