Students at Oak Park River Forest High School got to spend second period today with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Mayor Daley was invited by Anita North-Hamill, who teaches psychology and Chicago history at OPRF. This was Mayor Daley’s first visit to a suburban high school since he took office in 1989.

Mayor Daley mainly focused on discussing the importance of education in city school systems.

“Chicago is a city of immigrants. Therefore, teaching … the languages of the world is necessary in schools today.” He said that competition in the job world is going to be even tougher for the next generation because highly educated people are coming from other countries to America in the ever-constant search for the American dream.
When asked what his favorite part of Chicago is, Mr. Daley said, “The people. The citizens of Chicago are what I appreciate most. This is a city of heart and compassion.”

In a more serious question, the mayor was asked about the environment. He responded:  “Nuclear. We must not be afraid of the word ‘nuclear.’ America has no energy policy, and we may never have one. But we need to start talking about the idea of not being able to afford oil, like other countries such as France and India.”

Skyscrapers, Mayor Daley says, are our cities’ answer to helping preserve the environment. He said that with the Chicago Spire being built, the city will be better recognized throughout the world.

With the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune companies hurting, the Chicago mayor was asked whether he thought a major tradition in our city would soon cease to exist.  He responded lightly and optimistically, “Everything changes due to advances in technology. You can’t live in the past.”

After the questions-and-answer session, Supt. Atilla Weninger gave Mayor Daley a Huskies sweatshirt and the title of Honorary Huskie.

Wednesday Journal’s contributing writer and photographer for this Web post is Kati Pedersen, a senior at Oak ParkRiverForestHigh School.  Kati, who is 18, filed both the text and photo by e-mail during a free period.

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