Military academy builds discipline

CHICAGO More than 250 students attend the Marine Military Academy on Chicago's South Side. The academy is a college-prep and leadership high school with a focus on a math and science curriculum.

Cadets start their day early with morning formation and drills. The academy provides a military structure based on discipline and accountability.

"They teach me how to be a leader," said Tearsa Adame, student.

Corporal Adame says she recommends the academy for students who want to succeed in life.

"My friends think it's a wonderful experience being here. And I've changed a lot. They know I have," she said.

Fifteen-year-old Luis Tellez is in charge of half of the school.

"If you're going to be a manager, it's teaching you how to control people, tell them what to do and how to accomplish your work," he said.

Tellez says he was a troubled youth trying to avoid the gang scene and that attending the academy has provided him with a safe haven to learn and excel. He said he intends to go to college and the Naval Academy.

"When I told my mom, 'Oh, they're going to give me the job opportunity, and I'm going to be in charge of all these cadets and going to competitions,' she was like, 'Are you for real?' And I was like, 'Yeah,'" Tellez said.

"I'm really shy, and here I was in charge of the freshman class. So I really have to speak up and tell them what to do and set an example for them," said Michelle Olvera, student.

The goal of the academy is to foster positive behavior, build self-esteem and instill a sense of responsibility and the understanding of leadership.

"We encourage the cadets to step forward and teach them leadership," said (Ret.) Lt. Col. Michael Stewart, academy commandant .

The staff say they also encourage cadets to be involved in extra circular activities.

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