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7/2017 CPS success story: Lindblom students heading to Harvard, Stanford, MIT

‘Hamilton’ Connects With 1,900 CPS Students and Teachers

March 2017 - Mary L. Datcher, Chicago Defender Sr. Staff Writer

Hamilton’ producer, Jeffrey Seller moderates Chicago ensemble cast of ‘Hamilton’ for a special Q&A.

‘Hamilton’ Connects With 1,900 CPS Students and Teachers

Last week, close to 1,900 students and teachers from 30 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) attended the matinée performance of the musical Hamilton at Broadway In Chicago’s The PrivateBank Theatre.

This was the first series of 10 all-student matinée performances launched in 2017 that will treat 20,000 Chicago-area high school students to the opportunity to see Hamilton. What makes the experience special beyond a $10 ticket admission for the hottest, most in-demand ticket on the theater circuit?

Students are required to spend several weeks in their classrooms studying American history that focused on Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers.

Performing in front of a packed house, 13 students had the task to perform original pieces from their assignment that led them to hitting the stage. The schools represented included CICS Ralph Ellison, Westinghouse College Prep, Hubbard High School, Providence St. Mel School, Prosser Career Academy, University of Chicago Charter Schools (Woodlawn Campus), Von Steuben Metro Science Center, Perspectives High School of Technology, Muchin College Prep, Lake View High School, Amundsen High School and Lindblom Math and Science Academy.

Chloe Johnson, a student at Lindblom, represented her school with a stellar spoken-word performance of Ode to Phillis Wheatley. An avid poet, she says the opportunity to participate in the program left her awe-struck. (Chloe Johnson is a graduate of Murray.)

“When Ms. Liz announced it to the class, I was freaking out. Some students didn’t know what it was and that’s okay, but I was like ‘Are you serious, to pay $10 to work on a project and see Hamilton?’ I was ‘thank you’ and that was cool.”

Lindblom Math and Science Academy student, Chloe Johnson performs ‘Ode to Phillis Wheatley on the ‘Hamilton’ stage.

She found the book in the school library and was thoroughly pleased to pick up the book of poetry. “I found three centuries of American poetry and I picked it up because I didn’t know what else I would do my topics on. I found Phillis Wheatley and I found one of her poems to the University of Cambridge inside of the book. I figured, the universe is trying to tell me something. I’m a poet, she’s a poet and I researched her some more,” she said.

The student ticket cost of $10 was subsidized in part by funders which Hamilton producers made each ticket available for this educational partnership at between $60-$70.

Some of the donations were provided by billionaire Ken Griffin, The Crown and Goodman Family, the Pritzker Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation committed an additional $6 million to support the expansion of the national program.

Expanding Program

Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller says about the Chicago program premiere, “Our goal is to ensure that students have a shot to see Hamilton and use its words, music and staging to further their understanding and enjoyment of American History, music and drama. Now we have the pleasure of expanding the education program outside of New York in Chicago and other cities around the country.”

Watching from the balcony were some of the ensemble cast members from Hamilton who eventually joined Seller onstage for a Q&A panel discussion.

Chris De’Sean Lee, who plays the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, connected with the young audience. “This show is crazy, it’s insane. There’s going to be somebody on stage you can relate to. It’s just a good show everybody can get down to. Even if you’re not a fan, there’s something for everybody,” Lee said. Making the comparison to J. Cole and not always loving everything, but there’s always something you’re going to appreciate.

After a morning of rousing performances by students, they were marched across the street to the Palmer House Hilton for brown bag lunches before the afternoon matinée performance of Hamilton. Their enthusiasm and encouragement for their peers’ efforts to perform was refreshing. There wasn’t a ”boo” or a “snicker” from the audience.

Although she was nervous, Chloe didn’t allow her performance to falter.

“My stomach was all shaky and I had the chills. I couldn’t see anything, it was dark. It was just an honor to represent my school and do that piece and represent Phillis Wheatley as well. As a poet, that was so amazing to me to have an experience that I don’t think I would’ve ever had.”

Nov 30, 2016 - Chicago SunTimes

Chicago’s Dante Brown ‘in awe’ of his dad on TV’s ‘Lethal Weapon’ - by: Maudlyne Ihejirika

"By the time he auditioned last May for Fox’s popular new show “Lethal Weapon,” 17-year-old Dante Brown was already a veteran of TV — as much as is possible at his age. But the Chicago native was still surprised how easily he landed the role of the son of a cop played by comedian Damon Wayans Sr., who stars in the TV series loosely based on the late ’80s action films of the same name starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson.

“It was a very quick process. I went on one audition, and I guess they liked what I did,” says Dante, who grew up in Chatham but was moved to Hollywood by his agent mom at age 11 to pursue a budding career...

Read the entire PDF article here....

Onlne version

Oct 2015

11-year-old, 6th Grade Murray Language Academy Student Launches 4th Year Disaster Relief Christmas Toy Drive

Chicago, IL-- Sam Love, an 11-year-old humanitarian, is holding a 3 p.m., Friday, October 16, 2015, press conference at the Murray Language Academy, 5335 So. Kenwood, Chicago, IL, to kick off his fourth annual disaster relief toy drive where he will announce the destinations of an expected 10,000 toys for children who are victims of natural disasters.

Love, who will be 12-years-old on Sunday, October 18th, is always thinking about children whose homes have been destroyed due to acts of Mother Nature.

It was two-years ago when Love was looking at TV news watching the effects of tornadoes when he decided to forego getting his own Christmas toys to collect gifts for others.

He decided to launch a “Sam and Santa Disaster Relief Christmas” toy drive for the children of those impacted areas. For the past three-years, Love has distributed nearly 6,000 toys to youth in devastated cities across the nation.

Love, who recently transferred from Beasley Elementary Magnet Academic Center, is now a 6th grader at Murray Language Academy where Greg Mason is principal.

Mason is ecstatic about having Love at Murray and is amazed at his passion to help children who have lost the only home they know. "As an adult, I am encouraged by Sam’s global perspective and understanding of humanitarianism and thankful that he continues to inspire to expand his reach to more and more children each year.

“As the principal of Murray Language Academy, I am filled with joy to have Sam as a student and filled with anticipated of where the next chapter will go…and wherever it goes we know it will have a lasting impact on the lives of children, identical to the work we do as teacher and leaders every day in schools across the globe.

“What a great story…what a great kid with a big, big heart for his fellow peers,” said Mason.

Invited guests are: Ald. Will Burns (4th), Dr. Gregory L. Jones, principal at Kenwood Academy, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Derrick Taylor, president of the Black McDonald Association, Rev. Keith Williams, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Josephine Wade, Love’s grandmother and co-owner of Josephine’s Cooking Restaurant, better known as Captain Hardtimes, Venisha White-Johnson, manager of the Studio Movie Grill Chatham Theater, 210 W. 87th St., Jack and Jill, Phi Beta Sigma and many others.

Sam Cholke | June 11, 2015 5:40am 

Two South Side Principals Win Fellowships at Columbia University

HYDE PARK — Two South Side principals have been selected as Cahn Fellows at Columbia University in New York, the only two from outside New York to be chosen.

Gregory Mason of Murray Language Academy and Jeff Dase of Edward Coles Language Academy were selected for fellowship at Teachers College at Columbia.

Mason and Dase will get 15 months of training from Columbia faculty, while still working full time at Murray in Hyde Park at 5335 S. Kenwood Ave. and Coles in South Chicago at 8441 S. Yates Blvd. The program also includes two weeks of an intensive summer leadership institute in New York City.

A total of 24 principals were selected. Besides Mason and Dase, all other principals selected from five boroughs of New York City.

(Sources :

October 04, 2013

Chicago and Paris to be Partners in Education

International partnership broadens cultural horizons for students

This week, six CPS principals joined their academic counterparts from Paris in signing a Memorandum of Understanding – a pledge to actively encourage the study and appreciation of language, art and culture by students and staff from both France and the United States.

The signings were witnessed by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Francois Weil, Superintendent of the Academie de Paris. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the French Delegation traveled to two of its new partner schools – the Chicago School for the Arts and Marie Curie High School. Other partnering schools include Murray Language Academy, Alcott College Prep, Whitney Young High School, and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.

“This was a very important day for CPS and the public schools of Paris,” said Mark Armendarez, principal at Lincoln Elementary. “It’s a chance for our students to learn from each other, and an opportunity for educators to instill a sense of global responsibility in our children.”

Located in Lincoln Park, Abraham Lincoln Elementary serves a population where nine percent of the student body has French as its first language.

“All students in grades K-8 study French,” said Armendarez, who hopes that the partnership between Chicago and Paris will open the door for the exchange of ideas and pedagogies. “We have two French programs, one of which is specifically geared toward our native French speakers, who hale not only from France, but from Belgium, Haiti, and numerous other countries.”

The primary goal of this partnership is to create a tangible appreciation for global citizenship. Students from Chicago and Paris will learn to study language, art and culture not in a vacuum, but with practical applications in mind. They will use digital tools like Skype and e-mail, and will form international teams to create and present projects, all in the hope of gaining an international perspective and improving their skills as global thinkers.

“This educational and cultural partnership will facilitate challenging learning opportunities, an appreciation of diversity and a broadened multicultural worldview,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “It is an honor for us to host our colleagues from the Academie de Paris this week, as this collaboration affords us a valuable opportunity to share ideas and best practices for a 21st Century education that prepares our students for success in school and in life.”


Kia Educator of the Month for January, 2013

Read the story here

Anh T. Hoang, Murray Language Academy
(Hoang joined by Melissa Voss, Regional Marketing Manager of Kia Motors, in the photo below)

December 27, 2012

The Chicago Bulls recently teamed up with Midway Moving and Storage and Vienna Beef to host a holiday food drive to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The food drive collected more than 35,000 pounds of food which will provide a lot of meals for those in need. This year, the team offered fans three different ways to donate.

New this year, fans had the opportunity to donate by adding $1 to their purchases at United Center concession stands, bars, in-seat service, the Budweiser Select Brew Pub & Carvery, Jose Cuervo Cantina and team store Bull Market at six Bulls home games including the in-arena collection on December 15. The Bulls extend a special thanks to Levy Restaurants for helping to make this possible.

Fans were also encouraged to contribute to the in-arena drive on December 15. From the time gates opened at 5:30 p.m. until the 7 p.m. tip-off of the Bulls game against the Brooklyn Nets, fans were able to drop off canned food items such as soups, fruits and vegetables at any of the United Center admission gates.

Fans unable to attend a game could make a monetary donation to the virtual food drive at

The team also partnered with 30 elementary schools in the Chicago Public School system to collect food. The school that collected the most pounds of food received 100 tickets to the December 15 game and Bulls t-shirts, plus an in-school visit by a Bulls ambassador and Benny the Bull at a later date. The Bulls would like to congratulate Phillip Murray Elementary Language Academy as the winner of the food drive collection competition. They collected over 4,000 pounds of food.

The Bulls coordinated the event as part of NBA Cares Season of Giving, a league-wide initiative that aims to brighten the holidays for thousands of children and families across the country.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 64 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 134,800 meals every day. For more information, visit or call 773-247-FOOD.


2012 Golden Apple Award:
Gov. Quinn Surprises Elizabeth Luna

CPS website