Chicago liquor store offers scholarships to sixth-graders

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For the second consecutive year, Chicago-based Happy Liquor and Foods will provide $500 academic scholarships for two elementary school students at the prestigious McDade Classical School.

The act of academic generosity has surprisingly made some parents unhappy, reports WFLD.

“A liquor store offering scholarships?” said Stacey Ellis, a mother of McDade student. “I do have concerns that it’s coming from a liquor store, because I don’t know, what is their motive? What is their incentive? I would rather it be from somewhere with greater things for the kids.”

“From a liquor store, that doesn’t sound like something that I would want to take a scholarship from,” Lashandria Sanderson, another McDade mother, told the station. “That’s just not … it just doesn’t sound good.”

The operators of Happy Liquor and Foods say the scholarships are part of a substantial effort to change the way people view the store.

“We had a bad image, and we wanted to clean up our image, so we decided to give out some scholarships,” manager Juan Alvarez told WFLD. “We’re giving them out at McDade to the smartest sixth-grader — the smartest in math and the smartest in science.”

Owner Nick Voutiritsas added that Happy Liquor has also stopped selling some higher-alcohol beers and wines. And blunt-style cigars will no longer be available.

Both the school and the liquor store are located in Chatham, a neighborhood on the city’s South Side.

School officials at McDade had no comment for Fox Chicago.

The students will officially take delivery of their scholarships at an awards ceremony at the end of the school year.

McDade Classical School is a public school. There is no cost to attend, and the $500 scholarships would not be used for any tuition. At the same time, admission is competitive and open to anyone who lives in the city. Candidates often come from far away and must score well on entrance exams.

Chicago Magazine ranks McDade the ninth-best elementary school in the city.

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