NEW YORK (AP) — He’s been a rapper, actor, singer, entrepreneur, record producer and clothing designer. Now Sean “Diddy” Combs has taken on a new job as the founder of a charter school in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.
Combs announced Monday that the new school will be named Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School and it will open in the fall, according to the Associated Press. The venture has been in the works for five years. The school will be overseen by Capital Prep leader and founder Dr. Steve Perry, who started Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2005.
Combs and the board have hired Orlando, Florida-based educator Danita Jones as the principal of Capital Prep Harlem. Combs says creating the school is “a dream come true.” In addition, Combs and Perry have been meeting in secret with community leaders and experts in education to build the program.
The school’s board also includes author and spiritual life coach Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, who has worked with Oprah Winfrey in the past.
According to Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School’s official website, the school is a free, public school for children grades 6-12. The extensive program will provide a “year-round, college preparatory education.” College courses will also be available to the students once they reach high school.
For the opening year, 160 students are to be enrolled in 6th and 7th grades. The deadline to apply for the upcoming school year is April 1st.
HARTFORD — One year after he bombed in one of the most notoriously disastrous stand-up sets in memory, Dave Chappelle made a surprise return here — and no one seemed more surprised than he.
“I didn’t think I’d ever come back to Hartford,” he said on Saturday, closing out a star-studded Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival show that was the biggest blockbuster in stand-up this summer.
After being roundly booed and heckled in 2013, Mr. Chappelle had promised that he would never return to Hartford, “not even for gas.” He also joked that if North Korea were to drop a nuclear bomb on the United States, he hoped it would fall on Hartford. He did not retract his criticism (“It was your fault,” he reminded the crowd), but on the day before his 41st birthday, he struck conciliatory notes. “I was really immature,” he conceded, before apologizing for making T-shirts that cursed the city.
The crowd embraced him without restraint, roaring when he appeared onstage, laughing throughout his set and remaining carefully quiet in between jokes. Mr. Chappelle, dressed in a long black dress shirt and smoking a cigarette, said that doing so poorly was hard on him. Then he confessed that he had not prepared anything for this show. “I figured showing up is funny enough.”
The warm show was in a stark contrast to last year’s Oddball performance, which began boisterous, turned contentious and ended with him running out his allotted time by, among other things, reading a book aloud onstage. Media accounts situated the show as part of a pattern of mercurial behavior, including his quitting his hit show on Comedy Central. Some described the evening as a meltdown, others as a crowd run amok.
As Mr. Chappelle has deftly done before, he turned bad press to his advantage, using it for comedy, starting with his next show in Chicago, where he described the Hartford crowd as “evil.” The jokes must have stung, since they earned a response from the mayor of Hartford, Pedro Segarra, who tweeted, “Dave Chappelle needs to quit whining, do his job and try some yoga.”
Mr. Chappelle’s return capped a dynamite night of stand-up comedy featuring a murderers’ row of comics, including Sarah Silverman, Hannibal Buress, Dave Attell, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Louis C.K. In a nice bit of suspense-generating stagecraft, Louis C.K., the final act on the bill, finished his set, started walking offstage, only to stop, return to the microphone and dramatically tell everyone to stay, before introducing Mr. Chappelle.
Last year’s Hartford show was so infamous that at several points, jokes by comics evoked the controversy. When after Mr. Ansari made his entrance and thanked the crowd, he made a joke demanding to know whether the audience would finally be quiet and let him speak.
Louis C.K. made an even more pointed jab by opening his set by saying of Hartford, “Nice area,” then making a wry face. The large screens picked up his smile and raised eyebrows when he held onto the moment, extending the pause, and repeating sarcastically, “Really nice.” With a new set dense with jokes, Louis C.K. was in peak form, returning to bread-and-butter subjects like raising two kids and also mining humor through some of the most unpredictable punch lines in comedy. After a setup about trying to answer the question of why babies always cry on planes, he concluded, “They are upset about gay marriage.”
Mr. Chappelle made a callback to this joke in a bit he does about Chaz Bono. While Mr. Chappelle comes off as the absent-minded enigma, he has a showman’s sense of event honed over a lifetime of performing. (He did his first stand-up set in Washington at the age of 14.) But on this night, he also seemed genuinely moved by the response.
“Are you sure this is Hartford?” Mr. Chappelle asked toward the end. Then, not much later, looking pleased and a little mischievous, he pointed to the front rows and said, “There’s someone giving me the middle finger.”
HARTFORD — Several hundred Trinity College students, faculty and alumni greeted Joanne Berger-Sweeney, named Thursday as the college’s first African-American and first woman president, with enthusiastic whoops and applause. “How could you have a warmer welcome for someone?” said Berger-Sweeney, a dean at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. “It’s not very often that I get to walk into a room and there’s a standing ovation.” But then, she noted, to a roar of laughter, there were no seats in the room.
Berger-Sweeney, 55, a neuroscientist who was accompanied at Thursday’s announcement by her husband and two children, told the crowd she fell in love with Trinity the moment she first set foot on campus — shortly before New Year’s. “We came through the arch … I looked to the left and saw the chapel, I looked to the right and saw this beautiful long walk, and I thought: I think I could be here,” Berger-Sweeney said. “… Some people may want to be on small bucolic campuses in Maine, but not me. I want to be right here.”
After that visit Berger-Sweeney decided to apply and emerged as the winner when the Trinity board of trustees Tuesday voted unanimously for her. She will be the college’s 22nd president. Berger-Sweeney will take the helm at Trinity as it continues to grapple with financial challenges, a reputation as a party school, security concerns, campus climate and conflict with fraternities and sororities over policy changes.
“Trinity is a forward-looking institution that excels in liberal arts and sciences, and both are areas of excellence for Dr. Berger-Sweeney, who rose to the top of our highly competitive candidate pool,” said Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh, who led the search committee and will become chairwoman of Trinity’s board of trustees on July 1. “She impressed us with her strong academic credentials, curricular innovations, collaborative nature and enthusiasm for the Hartford community.
“I strongly believe that her vision of Trinity College as an elite liberal arts college with an urban pulse is one that will guide us, inspire us and lead us on a path to distinction and greatness,” Thornburgh said. James F. Jones Jr., who has been Trinity’s president for a decade and will retire June 30, called the moment historic and said that Berger-Sweeney’s appointment brought him “an enormous sigh of relief” to know that his “successor is going to be a star.”
Berger-Sweeney, who has been dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts since 2010, brings with her experience that is relevant to Trinity, Thornburgh said. “At Tufts, she has proven herself in areas that coincide closely with, and are important to, Trinity: proximity to a city, a strong athletic tradition, budget and program coordination, an historical Greek tradition, and a deep appreciation for a liberal arts education.”