The Non-Student Center at OPRF

Opinion: Editorials

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By Editorial

We don't understand. Why has Oak Park and River Forest High School required thousands more of its students to remain in the school building throughout the day and simultaneously blocked student access to the now-ironically-named Student Center — one of the only large, casual gathering places in the building?

You know the space. Inside the main Scoville Avenue entrance. Between the Auditorium and the Little Theatre. The place where, since its construction in the mid-1960s, kids have mingled and kibitzed and played out the drama of being 16.

Nathaniel Rouse, OPRF's principal, has never liked how this space is used. When he first visited the school as a prospective principal four years ago, he thought the sight of kids sitting around, hanging around, napping, eating, sent the wrong message to visitors. The use of the space was too unstructured in his opinion.

He told the Journal last week that the enormous cavern should be considered the school's lobby. That is some gigantic, purposeless lobby. Truth be told, without our kids happily loitering about, this is one of the coldest, least welcoming public spaces we can envision. It makes the main library's lobby look like home.

Principal Rouse has thoughts on how the vast wasteland ought to be used in the future — study area, tutoring area, something structured and educationally oriented. Perhaps. But high school kids, especially high school kids on a newly closed campus, need some space to be kids. They need space to be social.

To its credit, the school administration is taking the opportunity of the quasi-closed campus to impose some necessary structure on this school. Stricter policies on IDs, consequences for tardies all make sense to us. But turning the Student Center into The Rotunda before you have a plan for its new uses, before you have alternative plans for spaces where kids can just chill, seems like overreaching to us.

Reader Comments

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OP Guy  

Posted: September 27th, 2011 2:44 AM

I agree, it's easy to get carried away sometimes, and is certainly not worth the time. I always enjoy reading the insightful comments, and engaging in some "healthy" debate. And yes, it's always interesting to see which hot button issue gets the most posts.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2011 1:06 AM

OP Guy, glad you realize it's not worth your time to try and explain things to others who start to get mixed up with insulting, etc.. Just doesn't make a posting forum an enjoyable place. Lots of good stuff on here to post opinions about, and it's always fun to try and guess how many posts a story will get. Ken Trainor with his opinions on guns may be the winner on the most number of posts.

OP Guy  

Posted: September 27th, 2011 12:43 AM

Good points, Q. I do find myself having fun here, so thanks WJ.

Q from Oak Park.   

Posted: September 27th, 2011 12:22 AM

OP Guy, don't engage with others who oppose you. Trying to slam back is not effective and don't think someone is trying to shut you down. This type of rhetoric is useless. Just have fun and thank the W.J. for your freedom to express yourself. That goes for you too, Jerk.

OP Guy  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 10:45 PM

'Jerk', after back tracking a few topics, and seeing that you're following me around, it looks like YOU'RE the one with some sort of "campaign" to shut me down. This type of thing typically happens when an opposition doesn't like one's rhetoric. Maybe you're a student at OPRF, or even a group of students... it really would be no surprise.

OP Guy  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 10:31 PM

cont. See, the great thing about the WJ is that is allows for FREEDOM of speech, and all opinions to be expressed, something which you obviously have no value for... This is of course ironic considering you're probably one of the people opposed to the new rules based on some misguided ideology that the rules oppress FREEDOM. I guess, in your mind (is this where I insert "deranged fool"?), it all comes down to what FREEDOMS YOU deem worthy of up holding.

OP Guy  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 10:25 PM

"Jerk", That's funny! Accusing me of being insulting and then going on to try to insult me. I have no idea who here is a minor... for all I know the people claiming to be students are adults, or they're 18... Your "terms of service" comment is also funny, especially when you go on to do the same things you accuse me of doing... Your lashing out makes me more concerned for YOUR mental state, you've shown that I'm obviously not the one who should be on watch here. I hope you own no fire arms.

Get rid of the jerk  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 8:22 PM

And OP Guy continues his campaign of insulting, harassing, and bullying minors on this forum. WJ obviously does not take its terms of service seriously, but I'm putting them on notice that if they allow this mentally deranged fool to continue his abuse, and (god forbid) something tragic happens, they'll be held responsible.

Jellyman from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 7:32 PM

How about an analogy? You're in Downtown Oak Park. As you are pulling into a parking lot, you are almost hit by another car leaving the lot which failed to stop at the stop sign. Then you notice a person parking, but not paying the meter and another car which is parked at an angle taking up two spaces. So, you decide the best thing to do is close the parking lots! Don't enforce the rules on the very small percentage who ignore them, but instead take away from all.

eheck from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 12:54 PM

Um...cause I don't have any kids? But unlike most posters...I actually attended OPRF...and don't believe kids are any different today than they were 20 years ago when we were allowed to hang out in the student center after lunch. (Mind you...we couldn't bring FOOD into the Student Center...even then.) Punishing everyone for the misbehavior of a few...is just as immature as behaving crazy is. (And lazy.) Make the teachers...who I support with my taxes...buck up and monitor lunch.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2011 3:41 PM

Why isnt the school using the mall between the school and the playing fields for a place for the kids to go? An employee on each end to watch for kids leaving the school grounds should work.

OP Guy  

Posted: September 20th, 2011 11:42 PM

eheck, the school created the rules BECAUSE some students were acting like animals, not the other way around. I hear a lot of talk about how our poor little fragile children are being oppressed by the bad, bad dictators... Question: What makes you think your poor little babies are so innocent?

eheck  

Posted: September 20th, 2011 12:36 PM

The student center has always been intended as a social gathering place for kids. How many people actually "visit" OPRF during lunch anyway? Aren't there teachers monitoring lunch periods anymore? Stop treating kids like animals...and maybe they'll stop acting like them. Let them chill during lunch. Or make more library space and study hall space available as an alternative. YOu can go deaf in the lunchroom...and it's certainly no place to read a book...or study.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 19th, 2011 6:40 PM

Editorial: "before you have alternative plans for spaces where kids can just chill, seems like overreaching to us." That's the same no sense thinking about the village buying a building on westgate not knowing if it will be used as existing and build on, torn down or made a street.

Parent  

Posted: September 19th, 2011 5:16 PM

Have any of you been to the student center during the lunch periods before the closed campus? I bet not. I have.YOUR students were trashing the student center. Bringing food out and leaving it all over the center with no regard. Using foul language to others and at whomever.Sitting any which way. Would you want your family from out of town come for a visit to the school and see that. I would not. That is what potential student families saw. The school is finally taking a stand. Kudos to them.

OPRFHS parent  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 10:09 PM

Well said! What is so awful about kids using their lunch break to . . . take a break? Being attentive and focused during class is important, but it may be just as important to have a little time during the day to relax.

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