OPRF to launch Students Against Violence Everywhere campaign

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By Community Editor

Courtesy Karin Sullivan, OPRF High School

In an effort to encourage conflict resolution, support positive bystander actions, and foster a sense of community, Oak Park and River Forest High School is initiating a school-wide awareness campaign called Students Against Violence Everywhere, or S.A.V.E., March 11-15, 2013. The week was created with input from students, who helped plan a variety of positive lunchtime activities.

The campaign kicks off with an assembly for students on Monday, March 11. Using video, music, roleplaying, and thought-provoking questions, speakers from Alexian Brothers, which offers programming around social-emotional issues, will engage and challenge students on how to prevent violence.

The assembly will be repeated for adults that evening, and all local parents and community members are invited to attend. For parents, the program will include a focus on building children's resiliency and ability to deal with bullying. The adult program takes place Monday, March 11, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Auditorium.

Messages from the assembly will be reinforced through a variety of activities during the week, including:

  • Writing compliments and venting frustrations on a "scrawl wall"
  • Participating in a "mix-it-up" lunch where students sit with students they don't know and participate in table discussions guided by student leaders
  • Practicing forgiveness and letting go of grudges on Peace Day
  • Holding a school-wide fundraiser for Sarah's Inn

The week culminates with "The Starfish Project," a play directed by English teacher Avi Lessing. For the play, students interviewed students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and others about how they understand the role of love and violence in the school community and their own lives—how have they been affected? How do they retain their sense of humanity in the tumult of school? The students are transforming the interviews into monologues that they will perform on the following dates: Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 17, 3:00 p.m.; Monday, March 18, 4:00 and 7:30p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.

Reader Comments

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Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 11:13 AM

I think there is a residual message in this and not the focus of this assembly. The message, that there is caring about all of us no matter what color.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 10:35 AM

JL - My son reported a very similar experience. He told me that the audience was told that white kids didn't need to listen to part of the presentation, and that people of color need "step it up."


Posted: March 12th, 2013 7:59 AM

The first thing that offended here was when they said something to the effect of -white people don't need to listen to this next part- ... and then, according to her, it spiraled down from there. Now I acknowledge she may have misinterpreted, but on the other hand, it's the message she took away - that bullying and fighting is a non white problem. She also said they talked down to the audience. Boy she was still upset after school and that was hours later!

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 7:06 PM

JL, did your daughter provide an example or two of what, exactly, was offensive?

JL from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 4:50 PM

I heard from my daughter that the assembly was offensive to people of color. Really?

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 4:43 PM

From what I hear, the assembly was a ridiculous failure. Was it previewed before OPRF signed up and paid these people? Another example of OPRF "fixing" problems without really addressing any issue at all.


Posted: March 6th, 2013 11:30 PM

This is a great effort, I'm glad this is happening. I fear that the students and parents that really need to be involved in this type of group to curb violence will not be a part of it.

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