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Logan Square school will become military academy

Ames Middle School supporters address Board EducatiWednesday before it voted change school’s focus add high school grades open it kids

Ames Middle School supporters address the Board of Education Wednesday before it voted to change the school’s focus, add high school grades and open it to kids from across the city. It may be called Marine Leadership Academy at Ames. | Jessica Koscielniak

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Updated: January 20, 2014 8:22AM



Logan Square’s Ames Middle School will become a military academy, officials said.

The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to change the neighborhood school’s focus, add high school grades and open the school to kids from the entire city. It may be called Marine Leadership Academy at Ames.

The board’s vote was not unanimous. Board members Carlos Azcoitia and Mahalia Hines voted no to changing Ames’ educational focus.

The board’s decision came after emotional pleas both from opponents and supporters of the changes to Ames.

The most ardent supporter at the meeting Wednesday was Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), who said military academies do a good job of getting kids to college.

“I want the children from my community that look like me, brown faces that look like me, to be able to have an opportunity to go to college,” Maldonado told reporters.

He said “Ames is a beautiful, beautiful campus” that’s under utilized.

Only 52 percent of students zoned to attend Ames for seventh grade chose it, Maldonado said. He said a community poll shows more than 70 percent of a sample of area residents support the changes.

“I have never been more certain that there is an overwhelming need and desire by the community to bring a quality high school to the ward. A high school that offers strong math and science courses and teaches our youth the values of community, citizenship and responsibility,” Maldonado told the board.

But parents of kids at Ames and community members have been fighting to keep Ames a neighborhood middle school.

They had been collecting signatures for a referendum and conducting their own poll.

The Chicago Teachers Union said Wednesday it supports the parents who have been fighting to keep Ames a neighborhood school.

On Wednesday after the board voted, Ames mom Delia Bonilla said, “It’s sad they didn’t take us into consideration. They didn’t care.”

Bonilla said she and others who have been fighting to keep Ames as it is won’t stop, though she had no immediate plans.

“We have lost battles, but not war,” she said.

Email: bschlikerman@suntimes.com

Twitter: @schlikerman



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