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By Terry Dean
Oak Park and River Forest High School students with off-campus lunch privileges will have an architectural additional to their East Avenue Mall outside the high school next summer.
OPRF will build an outdoor portico in the mall area located at East Avenue just north of Lake Street. Construction is slated for summer 2013. The school's architectural firm, Legat Architects, will oversee the project. The school hasn't said yet how much the portico will cost but the school did allocate $1.8 million for this past school year's closed campus budget, including a new door-locking and monitoring system, additional furniture for student use, as well as for upgrades to the mall. The band shell slated for next summer will be located in the mall just outside of the South Cafeteria. The area has benches and green space landscaping already.
The school wrapped up the first year of its modified closed campus policy at the close of the current school year, with seniors and juniors allowed off campus under strict conditions, including parental approval. The school touts a decrease in disciplinary infractions and an increase in students' grades resulting from the new policy. Some students in the sophomore class, however, did show an increase in absences and falling grades this past school year.
Until now, sophomores also enjoyed off-campus lunch privileges before the new policy went into effect last fall.