OPRF closes campus, kids speak out

Some students think it won't stop peers from drinking and using drugs


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Lucas Brandt was looking forward to the prospect of being able to leave Oak Park and River Forest High School's campus for lunch when he becomes a sophomore this fall.

Now that won't happen. Not with the school board's pending vote this week to close the campus during lunch periods beginning with the 2011-12 school year. The board will also consider the option of allowing upper classmen — juniors and/or seniors — to leave campus under certain conditions.

The school board last week reached a consensus to go with either of those routes, but will make it official with a vote at their May 26 regular meeting. They'll also discuss other details, including what they'd like those so-called "earned privileges" to be, and if juniors and seniors, or seniors only, will enjoy them. Freshmen are currently prohibited from leaving campus, though school officials, parents and students all admit some do anyway.

Brandt, 15, says he doesn't. But the freshman was eager to do so once he moved up a grade. He, along with a group of friends sitting on the grass outside the school's Scoville entrance after school last Friday, were not happy with the pending policy change.

"This isn't going to solve the problem of kids using drugs. It's a basic cultural problem. I wish the school would look at that," Brandt said.

The OPRF board has been discussing the closed-campus topic intently this spring though the issue has been talked about in the broader community for over a year now. At their May 19 policy committee meeting, the board decided it was time to make a decision — OPRF's campus will be closed to more students than before. Among students, word spread quickly of the board's stance. They began commenting on Facebook last Thursday, and by Friday the buzz was percolating in the building.

Closing the campus, along with drug-sniffing dogs and student drug testing, have been supported by some parents as a way to combat drug activity at OPRF. Supporters of closing the campus readily admit it won't stop kids from using. But they do believe it will curtail students' access to drugs and alcohol during the school day.

OPRF freshman Gordon Brinkman, though, doesn't believe it will.

"If kids want to do it, they'll find a way to do it. This isn't going to stop them," the 14-year-old said.

"Kids will still do drugs. They'll find a way to sneak it in," Brinkman added, recalling that he knows of students who bring vodka in water bottles and marijuana-laced brownies to school for lunch.

The school's decision won't impact 17-year-old Naomi Forson, a graduating senior. She's also a foreign-exchange student, arriving from Africa last August — she'll be returning home next month. Forson and her friends eat off campus, usually at Tasty Dog on Lake Street at Euclid Avenue, a couple of blocks west of school. She also knows some kids who go home to eat during lunchtime.

Forson doesn't think closing the campus will greatly impact student drug use. One of the arguments from open-campus supporters is that students need a chance to go outside during the day to get fresh air. Forson agrees. "Not everyone wants to stay in school," she said. "The way the lunchroom is, it feels crowded. Some people don't want to eat in there."

Sarah Feldman, an OPRF sophomore, goes off campus and eats at Ridgeland Common, the park just east of the school on Lake Street. She doesn't like the school's decision, calling it a "knee-jerk" reaction.

"They should go directly to the problem. Find out why kids are using drugs and drinking. This is not a solution to that problem," Feldman, 16, said.

Brinkman also thinks closing the campus will negatively impact restaurants around the school that students like to go to, such as Tasty Dog.

"It's definitely going to cut into their profits," he said.

Rob Barton, co-owner of Tasty Dog told Wednesday Journal this week that any impact on his restaurant will be felt during the winter season. Students still mostly come during that time, he said, while adults are the ones who tend to stay indoors. He estimates that students represent 25 to 35 percent of the restaurant's overall sales. Barton also hasn't seen or experienced any problems with students during lunchtime.

"The come in, eat and then go back to school," he said. "By the time they order their food and sit down and eat, it's time for them to go back.

"I don't see the problems other people are talking about," he added, referencing the complaints neighbors and parents have made about students' behavior off-campus during their lunch break. "I think there are probably more problems after school than during lunchtime. Generally, the kids are pretty good."

Reader Comments

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junior at op from op  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 1:23 PM

heres the thing ur all making a big deal out of this when it isnt effecting anyone if you were a freshman last year you couldnt leave if you were ever allowed to leave campus you still can so basically you were never allowed to leave and now yourn not either so it is fair they havent taken away anything because nothing was ever given to you

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 29th, 2011 8:57 AM

My high school campus closed while I was a junior over 20 years ago. I thought it was unfair, etc. The fact is though, I was getting into trouble during lunch and I was a "good" kid. Somehow college is different.

Ellie W. from Oak Park  

Posted: May 28th, 2011 10:05 PM

High school students have many of the responsibilities of adults. We are expected to act like adults. So it doesn't seem fair that we can't have the adult privelege of open campus. Also, high school is supposed to prepare us for college and life. How can it do that if we aren't given the chance to learn how to responsibly handle freedom?

OPRF Student  

Posted: May 28th, 2011 9:54 PM

The students who are using drugs at lunch probably have gotten in trouble at school for something. Why not just close campus to students with suspensions/ excessive detentions? I understand this would be hard to enforce, but no harder than the current policy where campus is closed to freshmen.


Posted: May 26th, 2011 12:31 AM

People Republic of Oak Park, "law" was an analog... I KNOW it's a policy and I DON'T agree with your OPINION! There is no silver bullet when trying to stop drug use, but a combination of different strategies. Parents, police, counsellors and the school all have roles to play. Closing the campus during lunch is not the final answer, but it will help... I've seen it happen! Equating this POLICY to the suffering and punishment of teenagers is partly laughable, and partly embarrassing.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 5:10 PM

It does matter that our school is a few blocks from several restaurants. York, for example, in Elmhurst would not be a location where students could walk to a restaurant, have lunch, & walk back. Our kids can do that. So we can't compare other sprawling districts with our smack-in-the-middle of commercial area high school. I think this is a knee-jerk, irrational decision by the Board and will definitely remember it come election time. It's unfair to the majority of students who never misbehave

Just skippin P.E. from River Forest  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:50 PM

BTW...@2500 kids out for lunch or even skippin some kind of class- WHO really knows? It appears to be a free for all at OPRFHS. If this conversations brings to light anything it is that changes need to be made at this SCHOOL!

Just skippin P. E. class from river forest  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:44 PM

Sorry gym teacher, I'm skippin out today to use and abuse. I'm really eating at lunch time today ...I promise!

John from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 11:54 AM

No one ever mentions that closing the campus will also mean less students being late or ditching there after lunch classes. That is a benefit to all students, incluing those who are always in class but have their class interupted by the tardy student and the time they waste

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 11:41 AM

1) to clarify my earlier point, the 2500 number comprises soph thru senior classes. I said "up to", meaning w/3 lunch periodS 800 could go out at any one time (not all do,but they could). 2) This isn't an overreaction by a few. It's a measured step supported by many, many TAXPAYERS and it's not hurting or punishing anyone. It'll annoy some kids briefly, but they'll adapt. To Peoples Rep, it's not being done to solve all probs, only to help in a small way. It remains the correct policy.

Former OPRF Student from Don't take this appreciated freedom away from students.   

Posted: May 25th, 2011 9:12 AM

I can guarantee this will not solve any drug problem at OPRF. I graduated in 2008 & I don't think much has changed. Yes there are drugs at the school, but that doesn't mean that the students are going out during their lunch period and using them. They are using them right after school or maybe skipping a P.E. class. I ate outside everyday my junior year and I did not see any drugs or alcohol being consumed. This is an overreaction by just a few people and will end up hurting 3,500 .

People's Republic of Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 8:58 AM

@OP Guy - it's not a law, it's a policy. The policy is based on the belief that students leave campus at lunch time to take drugs or drink alcohol and that preventing them from leaving will somehow prevent them from ingesting these substances, as though they can't be ingested BEFORE or IN SCHOOL. The flawed logic is solely the school board's. They are punishing the majority of students who have done nothing wrong to prevent something that is not preventable.

OP Guy  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:04 AM

Ah, I see the logic here... why bother creating laws if people are going to break them anyway?

People's Republic of Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:32 PM

Yes, closing the campus is a great idea..because kids who choose to drink of do drugs can't do it before or after school (or carry clear liquors into the school in soda bottles...or bring in foods laced with marijuana). I can see where closing the campus solves ALL PROBLEMS. Why is every Oak Park elected official an idiot?

Brad from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:54 PM

And if oprf is seriously concerned with the drug abuse at lunch. They wouldn't let kids smoke in front of the same house everyday before school. They wouldn't let students hang outside the school during periods in which no students should be outside. And they should guard all the doors because it is very easy to exit oprf. These are all facts.

Brad from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:49 PM

2,500 kids don't go out for lunch. It makes me wonder if the rest of your claims are slightly exaggerated.

Huskie Mom from OP  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:44 PM

@Luke, 2,500 students go out for lunch?? Where did you get that number?

Ruth from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:31 PM

You can say "it's not a punishment" all you want, but that won't make the kids feel differently about it, or change that misguided concerns about drug use have led to this policy change. There is such a huge disconnect between what the kids are saying and what the adults are doing. And we wonder why they do drugs.

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:15 PM

OPRF parent, et al...again, the drug/alcohol issue is only one of several reasons why the BOE took this step. It is one small step to curtail use, not the sole solution. The location of the school is irrelevant to the question of whether an open campus is a good idea. The simple question to ask (once again!) is this...Is it a good idea to allow up to 2500 teens to roam unsupervised during the school day? The simple, emotion-free answer (again!) is no. Open campus benefits no one.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:15 PM

@Luke, if the school had a legitimate reason to close the campus, I could understand. But this is a b.s. reason that it will curtail drug and alcohol use. Ask any of the schools with closed campuses if it has solved that problem for them. The answer is no. Plus we are right smack in the middle of a commercial area whereas a lot of schools are not. Our students don't have to go miles before they find a restaurant. Deal with the drug issue, and deal with inept security. Closing campus does neither

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:44 PM

Again, for those who moved to OP after 1975...the open campus arose from the baby boom in 1970, when OP had 65000 residents (vs 52000 today). OPRFHS had 4400 students at its peak in the early 70's. They wont ask for money to build a new cafeteria because the building can already handle the current population with ease. Open campus was a policy for a different time. It is NOT a useful educational tool, it's simply a bad policy changed to reflect current reality. It is NOT a punishment.

Former Student now taxpayer  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:35 PM

When OPRF asks for money to build a larger cafeteria to house all the students during lunch, I assume all in favor of a closed campus will be the first in line to vote yes on the property tax increase.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:37 PM

Every member high school in West Suburban conference has a closed campus. OP-RF was the lone exception.

Mind Your Own Knitting, Johnson from OP  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:06 PM

@Jim Coughlin: Seriously? Why is Ray Johnson even spending his time on this issue? There's a whole school board and administration to deal with it. Ray should stay focused on the other pressing issues of this community rather than commenting on EVERYTHING. Just do you own job, Ray.

Parent of 2 OPRF students from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 9:33 PM

My own experience in high school was of a closed campus, and I survived. But there was a difference- the campus was open air ( Florida style), which means I got fresh air and sunshine between classes. How about making sure the students have a place to go and eat lunch outside during the nice days? Everyone benefits, the kids get to blow off steam and they are more attentive after lunch in their classes. I thought there was a great place on the west side already. Spring fever may find a cure!


Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:55 AM

People seem to be saying it's time for the kids to sack up and act like adults. Maybe I have an unusual job, but I can usually take a walk for lunch. I find adults expect much better behavior from children than they do from adults.

(2010 Alumni) from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 2:40 AM

I hope everyone realizes that this is not going to help ANYTHING at all. High school students will be high school students and do what they want. I wonder what the consequences for leaving the campus during lunch will be...

OP Guy  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 2:06 AM

It's funny, when exactly did "lunch time" magically become the prison sentence time, as oppose to say "class time" where you have to stay in school? This is how it will go: People will moan about it the first semester back, then it will become the norm, then in a couple of years it will be like it was always a closed campus, and no body will think of it as a loss of freedom.

Two Kids at OPRFHS from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 2:53 PM

Closing the campus is not a punishment. The vast majority of conference schools manage with the kids on campus all day long. It can be done. I think a lot fewer people will be climbing out of windows than you imagine. If the other administrations, faculties, and students can make this work, so can OPRFHS. Are they that much more capable than you are?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 2:51 PM

Village trustee Ray Johnson is in your corner, OPRF Sophomore. He spoke against closing the campus during the 5/16/11 Village Board meeting. I'm not sure where the rest of the board or Village Hall adminstration stands on the issue.


Posted: May 22nd, 2011 2:37 PM

It's unfair that students who don't do anything wrong are being punished. Honestly, do you think this will work? People will find ways out even if they have to climb out of windows. It won't work, just like "restricting" the freshman from leaving doesn't work. People who don't light up at lunch go out to get a break/just have some fun with their friends at Tasty Dog. Plus there are kids who have no friends who go home, putting them in an overcrowded lunchroom won't do them any good.

OP Guy  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 10:28 PM

Wow, by the way some people are talking about needing to control students, and students are going to rebel in masses... you'd get the impression that the teens at OPRF are a bunch of irresponsible, immature animals that need to be "managed". Do you people have such little faith in our teen that you think they can't function in a civilized manner when grouped together? Sad!

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 5:45 PM

@Two Kids: LOL!!! I thought your handle meant that two kids from OPRF were posting that message. I stand corrected.

Two Kids at OPRF from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 5:31 PM

I HAVE two kids at OPRF. I'm extremely middle-aged.

Michael from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 4:22 PM


Violet Aura  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 2:46 PM

Methinks that "Two Kids at OPRF" is a middle-aged person. Wayyy too concise a post. Although there may still be plenty of model students at OPRF these days, my spidey sense tells me this ain't one example of 2011 honor roll writing...

Two Kids at OPRF from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 12:28 PM

No amount of time, energy, or money will enable the administration to "manage" 3,000 completely unsupervised teenagers. The only way they can be "managed" is if they are supervised, and they can only be supervised if they are in one place. If you have a way to provide adult supervision for thousands of kids without closing the campus, I'm listening.

reasonable OPRF parent from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 9:05 AM

If the admisitration invested as much time, energy, and money managing the open campus as they will managing the "certain logistical issues this new policy creates", the campus could remain open and the neighbors, students and concerned parents would be satisfied.


Posted: May 21st, 2011 6:31 AM

The issue that has a lot of us het up is that relatively few parents were able to pressure a clueless school board to do something very stupid that will achieve very little. This town isn't full of exceptionalists, so much as it is reactionary, "baby with the bathwater"ish. Wait til you find out how many FTEs have to be in place to man all the doors to keep the inmates in.

Where All of the Children are Above Average from Oak Park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 6:17 AM

The idea that some are complaining about this decision and calling it "un-Oak Park" is a signal to me that we in this village have for too long been wearing our "exceptionalism" on our sleeves. Guess what...just like other communities, we have problems too. And just like other communities, actions need to be taken. And the solutions other communities have had in place FOR YEARS are a good place to start. So stop whining "but we're different"....


Posted: May 20th, 2011 10:41 PM

Can we just call a spade a spade? We have a principal who never should have been hired in the first place Exactly what has he done in the past 3 years? Other than preside over the list fiasco (twice), "earn" a 10K raise, and never respond to emails. Let's not rip the Board of Ed for taking action. They seem to possess the kahones that the principal and his overpaid figureheads lack.

OP Guy  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 9:50 PM

It's funny, only students in America think of schools like a prison, while attending school is considered an honor in the majority of other countries. Try going to school in China where you're there from 8am - 6pm, when you have night school after dinner, and then school on Saturday mornings... I'm sure many students at OPRF would be crying about their freedoms and the evil admin. No wonder why the US is falling behind by world standards, so many students being imprisoned during lunch!

OP Guy  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 9:35 PM

Oh no, your freedoms have been taken away from you by the oppressive powers of the evil administration, just like how Mao oppressed millions of his own people, how Hitler oppressed the Jews, how general Franco oppressed... Oh wait, it's NOTHING like that! All the students who think their freedoms are being taken away should trying living in countries where people ACTUALLY have no freedoms.


Posted: May 20th, 2011 7:17 PM

How will this affect Jimmy John's, Tasty Dog, etc?

OPRF Junior  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 6:08 PM

I'm not happy that we will have a closed campus next year because I do go out for Jimmy Johns but I have to say if closed campus reduces pot smoking at lunch it will be worth it. I don't' know about the rest of you but I hate smelling pot on the people in my class.

Debbie from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 5:08 PM

Dumb idea.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 12:13 PM

Good reporting, Luke. I wondered how many other area schools have implemented a closed campus policy. I'm sure they have seen positive results by not allowing students to leave the grounds during school hours. The administration and board should be closely monitoring the OP-RF plan and have a good idea of it's effectiveness by next year at this time. I'm not convinced that this action is being taken only in response to a small group of students using drugs or misbehaving.

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 11:40 AM

OP Resident...I'll counter. Who does an open campus benefit? An honest view of the issue reveals the answer to be no one, save Tasty Dog. You sarcastically invoke Proviso...what are you saying? I'll counter that New Trier, Lake Forest, York, Hinsdale Central, etc also have closed campuses. You know those schools, the ones OPRF used to compare itself to in terms of achievement 20 years ago. Again, admin & teachers are well paid by us to work through how to implement this. Deal with it.

Another Oak Parker  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 9:57 AM

If the cafeteria won't hold everyone for a 48 minute lunch, consider reducing the lunch period time to allow for smaller groups in each, and more time in class. Being at school shouldn't be viewed as punishment...a sad commentary on OPRF if it is.

Class of 2011  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 9:01 AM

Although this won't effect me, I herein take pains to express my feelings of resentment against the school board for their resounding decision that affects everyone for a very, very very very very small portion of the school that abuses drugs at lunch. Good luck on keeping the kids under control, you're going to need it.

Oak Park Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 8:34 AM

OPRF is a school. Decisions about closing the campus should be based upon creating and sustaining the best possible learning environment. These decisions should be evidence based. OPRFHS has, for years, maintained an open-campus policy despite the fact that it creates and exacerbates a lot of problems, and no other school in its conference has a similar policy. In general, if you're the only one doing something and it causes you a lot of problems, you should think about changing it.

OPRF Junior from oak park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 8:27 AM

Closing the campus will not help our school's drug and alcohol problem. They say it will help all the students grades and keep them more focused on there studies, but it really wont. Closing the campus wont help either way, all you gotta do is bake a few special goods or pour something into a water bottle, therefore they dont have to go out for lunch anymore.Why take it away from the students who dont go and light up at lunch? Those students use their lunch time for a mental break during school.

generic student  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 6:26 AM

Whoever came to this decision obviously didn't think it through very well. I mean, we're already restricted enough during the day, now we have this to deal with. It's like prison; you're stuck there, sometimes you don't even understand why, and you know deep down that it doesn't change you.

sam from OP  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 6:17 AM

The first and only step to stop drug abuse falls 100% on the parents. Its amazing to see these parents talk about drug abuse and they are the same parents who allow their children all the freedom to go out on the weekends and turn a blind eye to what their children are doing. No different than the parent who watches their children slack off and not do any homework and then cries that the school is failing their child. Keep passing the buck.

OPRF Sophomore  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 2:36 AM

Oh, man. How ever I am supposed to score some smack if I have to stay in school during lunch? It's impossible. I guess I'll just have to go straight and get good grades instead. Damn you, School Board!

John McCarthy from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 2:23 AM

All I can say is that I'm glad I graduated in '77. Take it from a dinosaur, kids: we had it made and I don't envy you. Jr & Sr years, I was an editor for Tabula, had classes in periods 1-4, 5-6 lunch/off campus, 7th gym and the rest of the day in the Tabula office doing my homework. Was there weed at lunch? Um, did I mention this was the 70s? There were no racial problems, disco sucked, and we all wondered what our lives would be like out in the world. We hated stupid rules too. Got over it.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 1:41 AM

I don't see enacting this policy as a futile attempt to curb drug use, drinking, truancy or bad behavior. Careful study will determine whether it proves to be effective. Student reaction is understandable. Some feel they are being "grounded" through no fault of their own. Others may be correct that these offenses do take place and will continue to inside the school itself. That's unacceptable and counterproductive in a learning environment. A complex issue for the school adminstrators and board.

OPRF Student from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 12:19 AM

Closing campus will, in my opinion, cause more issues that it will solve. First of all, theres a mater of space. The lunchroom simply cannot accommodate every upperclassman in that lunch period at once. With that many people crowded into one place, it'll be nigh impossible to police every student, and will only serve to aggravate the students. Also, what does the BOE really hope to gain from this? If lunch is closed, then those who want to smoke or drink will simply wait until after school.

OPRF Student  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 12:15 AM

I'll support closed campus when I hear a valid argument for its effectiveness. Concerned Parent said the goals were addressing substance abuse, learning environment, and achievement. As we've said before, the students who do drugs will still find a way to do drugs before and after school or in the bathrooms. They will get high before school, ruining the learning environment ALL DAY rather than after lunch. And if they want a smoke, they will just ditch class. So I really don't see the benefit.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:41 PM

Yes, Ruth we are all striving to be like the others. Why, Proviso has a closed campus and there are no drug, alcohol or gang problems there. Yes, let's be like Proviso. Duh! There is no evidence, it's a group of people who feel they are working hard and doing something "good." They cannot see the bigger picture that they are ignoring the real issues. Maybe this can solve the achievement gap as well? Closing the campus, well who does that benefit? The neighbors and this committee.

Ruth from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:35 PM

I appreciate that the people who support a closed campus believe this is an "important and courageous" step, but I don't see why. How can it be a good idea to put something in place that most students, and many parents and faculty do not support? Where is your evidence that closing a high school campus will have a positive impact on learning or drug use? I am tired of hearing that other schools situated west of Chicago have a closed campus and have less of a drug problem. Not useful info.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:34 PM

You people are hysterical. Closing the campus is the first step in getting rid of the drug problem. Really? How does an open campus negatively affect learning environment and achievement? I swear none of you people are ever in that school or ever TALK to your child. And my mistake, I thought our BOE was here to support ALL children, not just yours and the other perfect ones you know. Another step by the board to listen to the haves and not hear the continued falling of the have nots.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:31 PM

Whining? Why do people get breaks at work? Why are employees allowed to leave during their lunch hour? ELementary and middle school "kids" get to leave but don't let our almost-adults leave their building during the day. We can't control them that way, can we? Oh wait, good luck with that one. Now all the kiddies will come to school on time, stay in school and never do drugs or alcohol ever again. Yes, Ms. Lowry, you did it! Feel good about yourself?

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:30 PM

This decision is a good one, and has overwhelming support from the broader community...you know, the ones who actually pay for the school. The drug/drinking issue is one small part of it, as is the neighborhood concerns. The biggest reason to close the campus is that the open campus is simply a dumb policy. Just because it's been in place for a while doesn't make it a good idea. It will impact 2 classes of students. Some of the student posts here also reinforce what a good decision it was.

Concerned Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:26 PM

Congratulations to the Board of Education for taking an important and courageous step in addressing the problems created by the school's open campus. While several hundred concerned parents, teachers and neighbors have voiced concerns over the past year, the BOE first recognized and initiated action by including substance use/abuse in its 2009-2010 goals as well as addressing the learning environment and achievement. The open campus negatively affects all three issues. The BOE is responsible for creating, maintaining and supporting a safe, drug-free environment for learning. Closing the campus is only a first step, but it's an essential one.

What's the benefit of Open campus? Fast food?  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:12 PM

Please stop whining. I don't think our kids will be hurt by staying on campus. If it works for most other schools in our area, then what are we afraid of? I wish the kids who were getting in trouble had straightened out when Mr. Rouse warned them about this coming if they didn't stop loitering, littering and lighting up, but they DID NOT. In the real world consequences happen, now they do at school too.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:39 PM

OP Resident never checked with me prior to posting his/our latest declaration on this plan. I thought we had an agreement to talk among ourselves FIRST. Power grab!

Nick (2010 Alumni) from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:33 PM

I have to say that though this policy does not directly affect me, I am very much in opposition to what the board is doing. I will not repeat everything that others have said because it is all spelled out. However to neighbors of the school and to residents, many of these young men and women are responsible and will be going to college soon enough. In the meantime their families are also taxpayers and to say that citizens have won here is an ignorant statement. This WILL cause more problems.

oprf student  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:30 PM

closing campus is a short term solution to a cultural problem. the drug problem is not a result of open campus lunch, it was created by bad parenting, and is only perpetuated ignorant decisions such as this one. if administrators and board members really wanted to make a difference they should go to the source of the drug problem instead of implementing a shortsighted blanket solution.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 9:58 PM

@Jim -- I don't know about during the day but go to the 7-11 on Madison after Fenwick lets out. The kids walk right into the Madison Street traffic to run to their cars or to the 7-11 where they can be an obnoxious rude bunch (ever held a door for anyone, kids???). This is a ridiculous policy that the Board is implementing based on a small group of parents who feel they are making a difference. They are not. The Board and administration should be ashamed of themselves for this decision.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 9:52 PM

Does anyone know the policy at Fenwick, Trinity and member schools schools of the West Suburban conference? I cannot recall seeing Fenwick or Trinity students walking around town while classes are in session. It would interesting to hear about the policy at other area high schools. Has closing the campus been proven to be effective in addressing adminstration's concerns?

OPRF Junior  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 9:51 PM

Students already fill up water bottles with vodka and can easily eat baked goods (pot brownies, etc.) all within the confines of the school. Thanks school board for making the school SO much safer and drug free! Great job you guys really thought this one through!


Posted: May 19th, 2011 9:22 PM

I think there should be a one strike you're out policy for students who abuse outdoor lunch privleges. Besides, just because there are rules against leaving campus doesn't mean students won't break them. Especially students who abuse illegal substances, this policy won't accomplish anything and will just anger students who just want to eat not-so-crappy cafeteria food every day for an entire year.

A Teacher in the REAL World  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:37 PM

Good luck trying to enforce it. If you think you had problems with the new tardy policy... How many doors are there in the building?


Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:28 PM

Shelley lived a reserved and sheltered life. She was homeschooled and kept from the outside world. She knew nothing of drugs or alcohol. Shelley went to college. She overdosed on drugs and died.

Ruth from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:26 PM

How sad that our best idea is so divisive. The parent and teacher community has been so split on this issue, and I wish the handful of parents who pushed for this would have considered how much energy will get wasted on this argument. Instead, we could involve the STUDENTS we claim to be so concerned about, and try something meaningful.

OPRF Student  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:14 PM

Closing Campus is silly. If something will change the students' drug and alcohol habits, it is not closing the campus during lunch. People will still find ways to get outside or just use substances in the washrooms. Did we not learn from the failures of the Tardy and ID policy? No one will take this seriously because no one enforces it.

Alex from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:06 PM

In response to op mom from oak park's comment.: For starters, I think the OPRF Student was trying to say that teenagers don;t always make the best choices. Second, "What a self entitled brat!" I don't think that was the best thing to say to express your emotions. Nor do I think that name calling is a appropriate thing to do when commenting on an issue that pertains to an education building.

OPRFHS Mom from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:01 PM

So...instead of a kids smoking, drinking and doing drugs out in the school neighborhood they'll just be doing it in the bathrooms where the majority of rule following kids will have it right in their face providing more temptation. I'm glad my kids are strong and confident young men. Too bad they'll be punished for being good kids.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 7:57 PM

In response to HS Neighbor from Oak Park's comment. "Perhaps parents should patrol the halls during lunch lock-down to get a better idea of how their kids really behave." Parents taking time out of their busy days to monitor children in high school? Do you personally have time to do that? At some point the adults have to let the students decide for themselves what to do, and how to behave. The school and other adults cannot hold people's hands and make choices for them until the child reaches 18

:l from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 7:49 PM

Have these debates included the thoughts of what may happen to the stores around OPRF that profit from having an open campus lunch? Jimmy Johns, TastyDog, Starbucks and Seven-Eleven's profits are going to take a nose dive.

OPRF Alphabet Person from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 7:46 PM

As a junior at OPRF, I don't like the idea of closed campus. I do agree however that students shouldn't be smoking on people's lawns, or sitting on private property. (=/ Although security does little to stop this. You can see the students doing it if you walk out the front entrance) During the colder months of school when more students opt not to go outside, seating become a problem. The current cafeteria cannot seat all of the students.

OPRF junior from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 7:42 PM

The majority of kids going out to lunch are smart, well-educated kids with good manners. administrators think closing campus will somehow end our drug and alchohal problems, but it wont do anything. no one comes to school drunk, and people will smoke around the school during non-lunch periods. the real problem is police do nothing to the few stupid kids that do. oprf should not punish the majority of well-educated kids that bring such a great reputation to the school.

Eric from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 7:36 PM

I knew Oak Park would eventually cave and become another stereotypical suburban, rich-white-soccer-mom community, and I'm so glad that I'll be out of here by August, living in a community where I'm treated like a real human being.

Pee pee  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:51 PM

Hi poopy


Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:50 PM

Hi everyone. Hope youre having a good time

Soon-to-be Huskie Parent from River Forest  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:47 PM

Why not discipline the students who are using illegal drugs? Are we not doing not? If not, why not? If someone sees a student using drugs on the street, call the cops, and call the school. Lunch is not a magical 4th dimension world where mysterious things happen. It's a few minutes out of a whole day. Closing the campus not only punishes the whole for the few, but it also doesn't solve any individual student's drug problems. Closing the campus avoids the real issue.

OPRF Student  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:46 PM

As a student at OPRF, I am naturally going to be opposed to the closure of campus. I have a couple of issues with it. One is that the cafeterias at the school are not big enough to hold all the students. Also, closing campus punishes everyone while a large number of students that are safe and don't leave campus to do drugs or drink alcohol. However, I do agree that open campus is a privilege, so I hope the board passes the modified option allowing those of us who haven't done anything wrong.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:37 PM

Such a bad idea. I hope they realize the short-sightedness of this, but I am not counting on it.

Huskie Mom from OP  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:34 PM

Is closing the campus really about the drug issue? If so then parents your children can never leave your side what about after school and weekends.THE STUDENTS THAT DO DRUGS WILL FIND A WAY CLOSED CAMPUS OR NOT!!!

OPRF Parent  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:23 PM

Perhaps it would be nice of the board not to hold their policy meeting during the day. It's great for the parents who don't work but the majority of us do. What time is this meeting on the 26th?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:11 PM

I know that one of the parents who was involved in getting the campus closed has a child with drug problems. Does that mean because she has problems with her kid that all students should have to stay inside at lunchtime? There are major issues facing students and closing the campus does nothing to solve any of it. The students who break the rules now will still break the rules. I hope the handful of parents are happy that they were so influential. Now see how it helps their kids....NOT!

colin b from river forest  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:10 PM

I find the fact that closed campus is being debated like this. There are more pressing needs to talk about within the school than closed campus. 10 parents of 3000 something kids is unfair. Lets face it, there are a few bad decisions that students make having been given the privelage of open campus. Id rather have those bad decisions take place outside of the school environment than inside of it. I would expect things to get worse than better once this goes into place.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 5:44 PM

This is an insane decision. You have 10 parents of 4000 some children at OPRF to decide this? I believe this will cause even MORE problems, the kids that want to go outside to smoke and create havoc, are going to sneak out, or do worse things within the school. This decision makes absolutely no sense, stop trying to baby students. The ability to have an open campus school is something that makes OPRF BETTER then the other high schools. It shows the maturity of students.

OPRF student  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 5:33 PM

I find this decision extremely annoying. In the real world, the individuals who cause problems get punished, not the entire population. How about instead of grouping all 3,600 of us together as trouble-makers, the adminstration takes some initiative to investigate who these alleged vandals and druggies are and punish them specifically? Also there is no way that all of the students will fit in the cafeteria. Has anyone considered the effect this will have on food businesses nearby?

L from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 5:30 PM

I don't want to cause any drama surrounding this decision, but I would just like to say that the board of decision-makers should really consider a lunch program where students without disciplinary issues are allowed to go out to eat. Honestly, I don't see anyone causing a lot of trouble, but I am aware of the severity of drug use and trespassing surrounding the school. I do believe that some students cross boundaries that should not be crossed.

Oak Park Student  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 5:12 PM

To all those that are ignorant enough to say our school has twice the drug and alcohol use as the national average I would like to point out one thing; the only reason the numbers skew that way is because all the students in the school were honest. Now because of our honesty we are punished. Not a very good lesson to teach thousands of young adults. Remember kids, honesty is always punished!

Oak Parker with a problem  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:57 PM

Idiots. Stupid is the only word I can use to describe this decision. If the administration really thinks this will help the drug/alcohol problem at the high school they are morons. Vandalism will not stop, smoking will not stop, and drinking will not stop. Students will still be on other people's properties before and after school, just like they always have been. Every morning on my drive to school I see them smoking on neighbor's properties.Closed campus will not help at all. How un-Oak Park.

OPRF Mom from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:47 PM

Thank goodness the Board is closing the campus. Now they need to start enforcing rules and regulations, as well. Students need to learn how to behave in the world of work. Street talk and street walk belong on the street, not in the school.

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:40 PM

The one-question final exam is this: Is is a good idea to allow up to 2500 teens to roam free in the neighborhood during school hours? The only correct answer is NO. It's not a punishment, it's one of several progressive solutions to a current problem. The well-paid admins & teachers will figure out how to arrange the cafeteria for the new reality. There are 1300 LESS students in the bldg now than in 1973 when campus was opened. Good job BOE, and the silent majority favoring this good move.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:35 PM

I'd tell all students to pick up litter while I walk animals. See what I mean?


Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:34 PM

He rode upon a cherub. Such is my learned opinion.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:14 PM

I am beyond annoyed that a small group of very vocal parents were able to sway the board with this decision. I am also appalled that the current students are not grandfathered in. I think it is a logistical nightmare for having more students in the lunchroom as well as how the privilege might be earned. Grades? I hope not. Juniors and seniors should be allowed to leave the building. I am extremely disappointed with the Board of Education on this decision.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:12 PM

Mark, This is your lesson. Closed campus. Now learn from it.

formerstudent-currentparent from OP  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:02 PM

In the 70's and 80's students had to get outside for a cigarette on the mall. Teachers were smoking in their lunchroom and that wasn't fair, either. I hope the final decision is to allow students to earn this freedom by behaving appropriately at school and during lunch break.

HS Neighbor  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:48 PM

Hey JTR, thanks for pointing that out. Nice to see that, for once, the needs of the community are being put ahead of the wants of the high school kids. Personally, I love living here, AND I have seen vandalism and violence increase dramatically in the last 10 years. I do expect safety and that my property be respected. Grow up kids and maybe you'll get your privileges back.

OPRF parent in support of BOE  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:27 PM

Fabulous work BOE! You have all worked hard to reach a reasonable solution that solves some safety concerns and will prevent drug use during the school day! And many thanks to all the teachers who supported closing the campus. Many kids come back from lunch high and are not in a position to learn. That alone will make a difference with some kids. If you don't like this outcome, put yourself in the teachers' shoes: how would you like to teach to kids who come back high and can't pay attention?

Mark from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:24 PM

Gosh, OPRFHS neighbors, if don't like kids, why did you buy a home next to large high school? Hey School Board, why would you punish mainly hard-working kids for a few bad apples? And Parents, are your memories so distorted by the passing years that you forget how things were for you back then? Let kids be kids, make mistakes, and then learn from them.

Huskie mom of 2 from OP  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:16 PM

I am grateful that the board is showing the courage to embrace necessary change. A closed campus is the norm throughout the country, and 11 out of 12 high schools in our conference have it. It is working for all those other schools and there is good chance that their students don't almost double the national average in drug/alc. use. This is a good first step in keeping our kids safer.

op mom from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:15 PM

@ OPRF Student: "you live by a high school, what do you expect?" seriously?? It is NOT an unreasonable expectation that your home/yard be left free from litter/vandalization, especially at the hands of kids of the community. What a self entitled brat!

JTR in OP  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:06 PM

Hmm, the teachers don't like it and the students don't like it. Only the citizens that provide for them both seem to have a wish granted here. How positively Un-Oak Park! Power to the payer. The rest should stop whining and start behaving.

Borat Aktuliatbi  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:04 PM

I'M VERY excite! U S and A! This is what you call freedom!

Barack obama from Washington DC  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:03 PM

I disagree with this action


Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:03 PM

Yeah HS neigbor from Oak Park lets blame the parenting...you live by a highschool what do you expect? Were you not once a kid? Did you have a school full of angels and goody two-shoes? i think not. On another note, ther eis not enough space in the lunchroom to hold all of the students in there at one time. Whatever is being done out at lunch jsut might be brought back into the school. If anything this will spring more rebellion to the school. Thanks school baord! not...

disgruntled youth from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:03 PM

it is truly a shame that my freedom to go out has been determined by misbehaving kids and school administrators. One would like to believe that, in an institution founded upon the principle of equal opportunity, and earning rewards based on merit, students wouldnt have their priviledges recinded based upon others' actions. This is not a matter of parenting; it is a matter of personal freedom. Students will have these freedoms and many more in as few as 5 months for seniors. im just sayin...

Happy Student. from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:01 PM

This is awesome.Thank you so much school board. NOT!

Disfugured Student from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:00 PM

I can't feel my legs.

HS Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:55 PM

I am relieved that this decision has been reached. As a neighbor to the high school, I will appreciate being able to walk safely at lunchtime without fear of violence or destruction of our property. Students ARE different than they were in previous years because PARENTING is different. Perhaps parents should patrol the halls during lunch lock-down to get a better idea of how their kids really behave.

OPRF Student  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:53 PM

The school already saw how the tardy policy and the ID policy didn't work. Why is this any different? It won't do anything to stop the drug problem in Oak Park. There are some serious holes in the logic behidn it. Really, what is it going to fix? We are high school students, not prisoners, not babies. Soon we will be going off to college and/or living on our own, and we can learn to deal with the consequences of our actions on our own as well, thank you.

Marge Moskos from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:53 PM

Three cheers for the board. For years many schools have had closed campus. It is another step towards good discipline. In today's world if you learn there are rules to follow it will be a better place to live.

H S educator 40 yrs. from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:45 PM

What will be accomplished by legislating teenage behavior in a biased scheme. Privilege will be earned. Whose call? When are we going to make parents responsible for the actions of their offspring? In loco parentis doesn't mean lock down for lunch. What about making the kids accountable for their behavior. Has OPRF deteriorated so much that we now have to control kids by forcing them to stay in the building? Are these kids so much worse than the classes of the 70's and 80's?

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