Rickover Naval Academy History
The planning of Rickover Naval Academy began in the spring of 2003. Current Academy Superintendent Michael Biela was selected to spearhead the planning of what was then called the Chicago Naval Military Academy. As the school came closer to opening (Spring 2005), Mr. Biela enlisted the help of CDR Donna Fournier, Mr. Scott Fogel, CPT James Patterson, and Mr. Derrick Svelnys, who later became teachers at Rickover, to complete the task of planning the academy. Decisions had to be made on everything from the school policies to the four-year curriculum to the paint colors of the classrooms. The name was changed to Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy after Mrs. Eleanore Rickover gave permission to name the school after her late husband, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, a 1917 Chicago Public Schools graduate and 1921 United States Naval Academy graduate.
RNA was to be located on the north side of the city, which was not being served by a JROTC academy. After evaluating several potential locations, Senn High School was chosen due to the availability of space in the building. Via the staunch support of Mayor Richard M. Daley, 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith, and the Chicago Public Schools, the plans for RNA moved forward. A $2.1 million dollar grant was awarded by the U.S. Navy to start the academy. Most of the grant covered capital improvements to the RNA spaces, the campus lunchroom, the campus library, and a Senn science lab.
On September 6, 2005, Rickover Naval Academy opened its doors with approximately 120 cadets and 12 staff members. RNA has continued to grow to over 450 cadets and a staff of over 35. The first graduating class was awarded $3.1 million in scholarship monies. Currently, Rickover Naval Academy is the number one Military Academy in the Chicago Public Schools and the number one school in the Chicago Public School’s Area 26.
Admiral Hyman George Rickover
United States Navy (Ret.)
Admiral Hyman George Rickover was born in Russia on 27 January 1900. In 1911, the Rickover family moved to Chicago. He graduated from Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side. Admiral Rickover entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1918 and was commissioned an Ensign in 1922. He later returned to the Academy for postgraduate education in electrical engineering. During World War II, he served as the head of the Electrical Section in the Bureau of Ships. Rickover received training in nuclear power at Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1947 and explored the possibility of nuclear ship propulsion. By 1949, he was assigned to the Division of Reactor Development, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He assumed control of the Navy’s effort as Director of the Naval Reactors Branch in the Bureau of Ships, which enabled him to lead the effort to develop the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571). He was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral in 1958. Rickover built the Nuclear Navy through emphasis in the areas of design, education, and standards. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a full Admiral on 19 January 1982. Admiral Rickover passed away on 8 July 1986.
Rickover Naval Academy Standard
The use of a standard, or banner, dates back centuries to military units and universities. The standard marks the location of and the entrance to the unit. This tradition has been adopted by the Rickover Naval Academy. The Academy Standard is presented by a faculty member to a cadet at the Opening Convocation for the current school year and is returned to the faculty at the school year’s Closing Convocation.
The Academy Standard’s colors are navy blue and gold, the Academy’s colors. The Academy crest is similar in design to the Unites States Navy Officer Crest. The eagle represents the United States and the anchors represent the Navy. Inside the shield are four stars representing Admiral Rickover’s Navy rank. The book and torch symbolize learning and knowledge. The atom symbolizes the nuclear Navy, which Admiral Rickover founded. The sextant represents celestial navigation or finding your way via the stars while at sea. The scroll across the bottom has the Academy’s motto: “Discens, Ductu, Servatu”, Latin for “Learning to Lead in Order to Serve.”