Closing OPRF campus not a solution, say students at The Buzz

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The closed campus debate at Buzz Café Dec. 15, was more of a conversation over hot cocoa and brownies.

Seven people, most of them students, attended the event, part of the teen café series organized by Oak Park and River Forest High School students to address substance abuse by teens on and around the campus. The roughly 90-minute talk addressed several issues, including talk of a closed campus, which is being pushed by some parents as a way to crack down on drug use. But for the students at the Buzz, 905 S. Lombard, closing the campus isn't a viable solution—one consequence, they said, would be more parties on the weekend and increased alcohol use away from campus.

There was some talk about what students could do to keep the building open, but also acknowledgment that little could be done if the school board approved it. Some of the Buzz participants also didn't think the use of drug sniffing dogs, another idea of some parents and adults in the community, will work.

The students at the Buzz felt that parents are stereotyping the OPRF kids as heavy drug users and drinkers. Not all students, they insisted, are users. The Buzz participants also felt that the high school and parents were focused more on trying to keep drugs out of the school rather than keeping it away from kids in general.

One participant in particular felt the school had no answers to stopping kids from taking drugs. To that, the students talked about the school providing more support for students who do use. They especially thought that teachers could reach out more.

Some participants added that students with good grades—even those with 4.0 GPAs—are also heavy users. The student participants did say they have seen drug dealing at OPRF but not as an everyday thing. Another participant talked about a friend who was an addict.

The students, however, did acknowledge that substance abuse was a problem at the high school that needs to be addressed, and felt that parents and adults in the community are truly concerned about their well being. Still, one participant said it was "infuriating" how little parents know.

Sarah Macey, a 17-year-old senior at OPRF who attended the discussion, is generally opposed to a closed campus, but thinks it should be open for students with consistently good grades and good behavior. As for canine-sniffing dogs, Macey said the school's money "could be better spent elsewhere." She does, however, support random drug testing, calling it a plausible solution. The Buzz group talked about OPRF's use of breathalyzers at school dances, which some participants thought was effective; others felt it was too intrusive.

Sarah Leib, a recent OPRF grad, said keeping kids on campus would not make any difference to the drug issue. Leib suggested utilizing police more to stop drug distribution, but said people would still find ways around that.

"It's just a hand-reach away," she said of drugs in the school.

Contact:
Email: tdean@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

13 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Darien from OPRF  

Posted: January 14th, 2011 8:21 AM

I find it great, that both Alberg and Violet, find it ok to confront someone who is putting there views in ideas on the web, i bet you feel like the big man on campus! Also @ Alberg, you should be a little more careful, because people have sleep disorders. Both of you are no better then bullys

get real from "coke" park  

Posted: December 21st, 2010 2:43 PM

Working in the lunchroom is no easy task. There is so much behind the scenes activities going on that would make students heads spin! Our doors open at 5am and the women are there preparing food for that day and the next! Don't forget we also cook for ALL of Dist.97 as well as the 2 middle schools. It takes a host of ppl to accomplish this. If one person calls in sick we all have to make up for what that person does, which adds to our workload. Lastly, 45 min. for lunch is plenty of time.

get real from "coke" park  

Posted: December 21st, 2010 2:09 PM

Speaking for myself, the students need to be prepared when in line. Have your ID out and your money ready when ordering. Pay attention, instead of dancing to your music, have your fight outside, not in the line, and for heaven's sake, face forward so you can actually see when your turn comes, instead of talking to the 3 friends standing in line with you that aren't even ordering! I'd challenge any of you to work any of the 16 stations to see if you're up to speed.

get real from "coke" park  

Posted: December 21st, 2010 2:01 PM

I for one am tired of hearing about the long lunch lines at OPRF. I work in the Cafe and I greet each student as if they were my own, I serve them as quickly as possible and with a smile. There are 16 different stations at the school for students to choose from. What holds up the lines are those students that DO NOT come to school with an ID. The "so called" you have to wear your ID is a joke. The ID is in their bookbag which is at their table, or it's sitting in a locker up on the 3rd floor!

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 18th, 2010 12:20 PM

When I was at OPRF, they went back and forth on closed/open campus. When it was closed, I used to sneak out a side door. Those were the good old days...The suggestion of cutting down the lunch period to less than half an hour really pisses me off. I worked in a school that did this and it's an utter travesty. These kids need time to decompress. I am tired of this drill mentality, along with Type A crap. At Whittier we used to get an hour for lunch each day and recess along with it!

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 18th, 2010 12:17 PM

Ezra, Ezra, Ezra...*ahem* It's not 'them self's,' it's THEMSELVES. As a high school student, I would expect you to know that. 'THEIR' and 'THERE' are words that even some intelligent adults seem to have a hard time with, but the grammatical error I first mentioned is glaring and makes me wonder about OPRF's status these days...

Alberg from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2010 11:16 PM

Ezra: What are you doing up at 3:20AM? No wonder you fall asleep in class! If 25 min lunch is too short because the line is too long, the school can find a way to move students through it. Others do! If you had gone out the front door when the weather was nicer, you would see students on Ontario all the way to Ridgeland, and in the alleys. The same thing on Lake St. Almost all were smoking (something), which is illegal under 18. More time in English would help with "there" vs. "their".

Ezra (Part 2) from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2010 3:20 AM

and that would cause them to fall asleep in there afternoon classes and not be able to remember everything that happened in class. Another reason is that cutting the lunch period and not letting students have enough time to eat would cause them to just go to the 7-11 down the street and get crap there and crap out of the lunchroom vending machines. Everyone's always talking about the fact that we arnt eating healthy food well cutting the lunch periods would increase this problem.

Ezra from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2010 3:15 AM

Alberg- changing the already short lunch period from 45 minutes to 25 minutes would hurt students more then it would help, the lunch lines in the cafeterias are so long half the time it take over 20 minutes to get your food and also being in class all day students use lunch as a time to clear there head and get ready for there remaining classes and the rest of the day. also if there's a 25 minute lunch period it means students cant eat so they don't have anything to energize them self's with..

Alberg from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2010 8:43 PM

I still haven't heard a good argument for an open campus. If OPRF had a half period of about 25 minutes for lunch, as many other schools do, there would be less time for mischief (or worse). The other half period is used for expanded classes like language, science labs, music, athletics or study hall. And the students don't seem to mind at all.

JMK from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2010 8:05 PM

What % of students currently eat off campus today?

chris from oak park  

Posted: December 16th, 2010 6:16 PM

We have to move away from police action of control and more towards educating our students, trusting them, listening to what they have to say. OPRF teachers have more of their attention in a single day than parents do. So...what's the plan?

Mary F. Torres from Oak Park, IL 60302  

Posted: December 16th, 2010 5:30 PM

In an article written by Roberta Raymond, the author mentions other important reasons for a "closed" campus besides a decreased opportunity for substance abuse. These are: less neighborhood disturbances, opportunity to build school spirit, a more serious academic atmosphere, and a decrease in tardiness and absences. It is always important in the implementation of a new policy to emphasize the positive points of said policy instead of simply an amplification of the negative ones.

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