BBC doc on Army-JROTC model

Cong. Bobby Rush interviewed for the doc, with associate producer Pat Lofthouse.

The model of Chicago’s high schools and military academies with U.S. Army-run JROTC programs is so unique that the BBC sent a documentary crew to film them.

A British crew, headed by BBC producer Jane Gabriel spent a month in Chicago, and Charles Wheeler, venerable journalist and former bureau chief of the BBC in Washington, D.C. who hosts the doc, was here for two weeks.

The hourlong program airs as part of the BBC “Correspondent” series on BBC America the end of March.

Pat Lofthouse, the BBC’s local associate producer, said the topic was chosen because Chicago, more than any other cities, has Army training in public schools. “The military is not prevalent in British schools,” she said, “and our model is being copied in other cities in the U.S.”

Shooting took place in inner city schools. Bronzeville’s Chicago Military Academy and Doolittle Elementary were the primary locations. More interviews were held at Patton Military Academy within Farragut Vocational High and Madero Middle School in Little Village.

The doc points up how ROTC programs supply the need for discipline in many Chicago neighborhoods, noted Lofthouse. “It keeps the kids busy and off the streets. The kids are very disciplined and dedicated. Many leave home at 4:30 a.m. to drill at school at 6:30 and they stay late because of these activities.”

BBC cameraman was Sam Gracey; Chicago freelancers Patrick Gulotta, Damon Hennessey and Ken Nillsen handled sound.