Another week of school for Oak Park and River Forest High School, the second week students dealt with the plethora of changes enacted this year. Students remain burdened by hallway congestion, lunchroom overcrowding, and other ramifications of the many adjustments that fail to address the very real problems at OPRF. The changes have stifled the once intellectually stimulating and liberal environment that provoked thousands of budding families to flock to Oak Park.
Valuable class time has become stymied with bombasts regarding IDs and the condescending recitation of "I can" statements. However, the condescension is not a product of the teachers' delivery of such discussions. They are the results of the reactionary manner in which the administration proctored these changes.
The problems at Oak Park and River Forest High School are problems prevalent and, in some instances, embedded in most major cities. They require years of open dialogue, analysis, and the consensus of the entire community, not the inexorable bang of a gavel. While there was some effort to include a more diverse crowd in the discussion of these issues, the many repercussions of such changes were not fully expanded upon in an accurate light. The same goes for the changes occurring in the classroom (I can statements).
Thankfully, the students at Oak Park and River Forest High School are voicing their opinions. This week, hundreds of students donned bright orange shirts which read "OPRF Penitentiary" on the front and "Inmate Number" on the back, with their ID number written under it. Hundreds, if not thousands, of students are also awaiting a new shipment of shirts, which will hopefully convey to the administration the student body's disdain for the changes. It is abundantly clear that no consensus has been reached, despite the administration's attempt to work out the "kinks" in the modifications, which were detailed in a message posted on the school's website.
Without immediate action from the administration, more challenges will undoubtedly arise and the effects of these changes will inevitably creep into all aspects of the town. Students, parents, teachers and other concerned members of the community cannot let certain changes demean the highly esteemed high school that many families are fighting to put their children into. The administration must be flexible and willing to significantly alter these changes to better suit the diverse needs of this community.
The principle of a democracy that allows the minority to make decisions sets the stage for much greater issues, ones beyond an open or closed campus. It is time to preserve the aspects of this town that continue to attract an exuberant mix of young families.
Connor McIlwain is a resident of Oak Park and a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School, as well as an active member of his community. He participates in local athletic teams, school clubs and a myriad of volunteer activities.
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