Activists urge action against 'military coup' at Ames school

Activists urge action against 'military coup' at Logan Square middle school

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(From left) Ames Middle School community members Anna Espinosa and Maria Rios speak with a man on the street to raise community awareness about plans to convert the school into a Marine academy. (Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media) (From left) Ames Middle School community members Anna Espinosa and Maria Rios speak with a man on the street to raise community awareness about plans to convert the school into a Marine academy. (Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media)
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Anna Espinosa wasn't satisfied just knocking on the doors of Logan Square homes Saturday to ask for support for her plight against the conversion of Ames Middle School into a military academy.

So she stopped every person in sight along Armitage Avenue — food mart owners, a mailman and even stylists and customers at a barber shop blocks from the school.

"The thing is these businesses are supported by the school and the parents," said Espinosa, the aunt of two students at Ames, 1920 N. Hamlin. "So what happens to them when there's no longer a built-in community?"

Espinosa went around the neighborhood with fliers urging people to call David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the Chicago schools chief executive officer, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to stop what she and others called a "military coup at Ames," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

On Tuesday, Emanuel joined Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) in announcing Ames would become a military program including high school grade levels, with the city's Marine Military Math and Science Academy moving to Ames.

Since then, the mayor and school officials backtracked, saying the two wouldn't merge, and that both schools will keep the same staffs but a military program will be put in place at Ames, which will be extended to include high school as well as middle school.

Maria Trejo, an after-school program director with the Logan Square Neighborhood Alliance, said she's disappointed at the lack of information provided.

"Even our kids from the feeder schools and their parents, they didn't know it was happening," Trejo said.

Trejo said she hopes a CPS representative will attend one of two local school council meetings scheduled Tuesday at Ames.

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