Oak Park and River Forest High School has one well-known alumnus attached to its annual Tradition of Excellence ceremony in November.

Actor Thomas Lennon, best known as eccentric cop Lt. Jim Dangle – who has a penchant for wearing the shortest of shorts in Comedy Central’s Reno 911! – is confirmed for the 27th annual ceremony honoring distinguished OPRF alums. Lennon is a 1988 OPRF graduate and an Oak Park native. So far, he’s the only confirmed honoree for the dinner and student assembly on Nov. 19 and 20. The Tradition of Excellence typically honors three to four alums each year.

“We’re really excited and we think he’ll bring a lot of positive energy to the assembly,” said Liz Turcza, student council rep on the District 200 Board of Education, making the announcement at last Thursday’s school board meeting.

Board member Ralph Lee, a retired OPRF teacher, also remarked that Lennon was a student in his chemistry class.

Lennon has appeared in several films, including this year’s I Love You Man and 17 Again. He’s also a screenwriter, penning such movies as Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) and Night at the Museum (2006). Lennon had starred on Reno 911!, a spoof of police reality shows, beginning with its debut in 2003. Comedy Central cancelled the show this year.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Recent Tradition of Excellence honorees


  • Paul Broucek, film music producer
  • Joe Cantafio, musician


  • Charles Carey, chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade
  • John Register, Paralympics athlete, motivational speaker


  • Jayne Carr Thompson, former first lady of Illinois
  • Sara Giddings Bode, former Oak Park trustee and president
  • Terry Isaacson, author and educator
  • George Trafton, former Chicago Bear and NFL Hall of Famer (posthumously awarded)

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