‘A Sense of Unity’: New Canaan High School Senior, ABC Student Rajon Mitchell Reflects on His Experience

New Canaan High School senior Rajon Mitchell recalls his freshman-year self as a “much quieter, shyer version” of the young man he is today. An ABC House of New Canaan student from a tough neighborhood in the Bronx, N.Y., Mitchell had distinguished himself as a student in the city by leaning into his instincts as an introvert, keeping to himself and going his own way. “While that’s nice and that brought me success before, in my time prior to coming to New Canaan, having the ability and having the skills to connect with others, make relationships, it’s just so much better,” a smiling Mitchell said on a recent afternoon standing outside Town Hall, where he’s interning during his final month as an NCHS student in the Inland Wetlands Department. “And being able to have a team to go further and quicker.”

They’re life lessons that Mitchell—an organizer for an ABC fundraising car wash to be held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Saxe Middle School—will take to Northeastern University in Boston this fall. Bright, authentic, naturally curious and engaging, Mitchell in four years as a New Canaan student not only has come into his own as a person, according to those who have tracked his progress here, but also intellectually, feeding a genuine thirst for new ideas and experiences.

New Canaan ABC Founders Gather with Current Students, Directors

New Canaan High School senior Chris Andrews calls his four years here in town, as a student-resident in the A Better Chance or “ABC” program, “a blessing.” Andrews said shortly before a special dinner in the Locust Avenue home Wednesday that he’s not only met many people he wouldn’t have met otherwise, but also developed interests he may not have discovered—for example, his plan to study computer science at Penn State University in the fall was born from his experience under town resident and ABC host Michael Donnelly. “My host dad is an IT guy in a firm and he really helped me along the way, finding what I want to be,” Andrews said from the living room at ABC House, surrounded by fellow ABC student-residents as well as figures who were at New Canaan High School as students, administrators and faculty members in 1973, the year the program was founded. The group gathered for an informal “Founders Day Dinner”—attendees included not just the student-residents at ABC now but also co-resident directors John and Laura Walsh, Board of Directors President Mike Curran, 1971-75 New Canaan High School Principal Alan Haas, former NCHS Guidance Counselor Robert Jeffries, NCHS Class of ‘73 Maryann (Ruggiero) Gabriel, Class of ’75 Jennifer James, Class of ’73 Janice Benson, ABC House cook (and current Selectman) Beth Jones, ABC board members Amy Burger and Candace Curran, and ABC House tutor Tony Adams.

Here’s a slideshow with seven of the eight current ABC House of New Canaan students. Just hover with your mouse over their photos for personal information and quotes from each student.