Air Force Academy High School gets Union League Boys & Girls Club to support students

BRIDGEPORT – Students, educators and community leaders gathered at Air Force Academy high school on Thursday to celebrate the opening of its Union League Boys & Girls after-school club.

The Air Force Academy club, 3630 S. Wells St., is the first Union League club to open at a Chicago school since the pandemic began, according to a press release.

Club students learn about good character, citizenship and academic success, said Tom Payne, vice president and administrator of the Union League Club.

“We are convinced that the Union League Boys & Girls Club will become important to this school and its students, and help them prepare them, along with the school, for a long, successful and prosperous life,” said James Gatziolis, administrator of the Union League.

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Flight simulators in a classroom at Air Force Academy High School, 3630 S. Wells St., in Armor Square.

Two years ago, the school requested a partnership with an organization that would support its nearly 200 students, principal Yakeisha Eggleston-Tippett said.

“We asked if we could just get at least one strong partnership that would help us not only meet the academic needs but also the social and emotional needs of our students,” she said. “… The Union League Boys & Girls Club partnership with Air Force Academy High School is my fairy tale, it is my dream come true, it is the answer to my prayer.”

The Air Force Academy High School club is one of seven Union League clubs that will open this fall thanks to a five-year, $ 1.4 million grant from the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Center, a grant administered by the US Department of Education, according to a press release. These openings mean there will be 19 clubs across Chicago by the end of this year.

More than 2,000 Chicago kids attend a Union League after-school club where they receive homework help, art classes, athletic programs, mentoring and more, according to its website.

Over its 100-year history, the Union League Boys & Girls Club has been dedicated to serving young people in neighborhoods with the highest economic hardship index, according to a press release.

The Air Force Academy High School is a college preparatory school with a full JROTC curriculum that is the only public Air Force academy in the United States. It is one of six military academies in the CPS and the only school in the system with multiple real flight simulators, according to the website.

The students “get a quality education here. They learn the discipline, they learn a lot of life lessons here. But what you are going to offer through the exhibition at the Boys and Girls Club is something that is going to be a lifetime experience that they have never had, and I congratulate you, thank you all for that, ”said Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th).

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Principal Yakeisha Eggleston-Tippett speaks as the opening of a Union League Boys and Girls after-school club at Air Force Academy High School, 3630 S. Wells St., in Armor Square is celebrated on October 28, 2021.

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