The mass media perception of high school alumni groups is not flattering. It is all clichés. Sad gatherings in high school gyms. Lost youth. Spent lives. That's one version. Or there's the well-oiled development department putting the arm on wealthy grads in exchange for naming rights to the library.
For many years, Oak Park and River Forest High School didn't have an actual alumni association. Not sure why that was. But it does now and happily the efforts of this small band of proud alums is entirely forward-looking and focused on today's students trodding the halls over on Scoville Avenue.
Last week we wrote about the association's premiere effort, its summer enrichment program which sends select students out into the wide world each summer. Japan. The Galapagos Islands. Palmyra, Virginia. Yes, Palmyra, Virginia where a student studied counseling at an international summer camp.
We love that the alum focus on launching students who might not otherwise have the family resources or life experiences that typically lead to traditional summer abroad programs. They are looking for kids who aren't particularly well-off, who may or may not be getting top grades but whom a teacher or counselor has identified as having interests and potential.
That focus has won the association a three-year matching grant from an anonymous local donor. The match is $200,000 so this is a target worth hitting. Find out more about the good work these OPRF grads are doing at alumni.oprfhs.org.