When a school board member, who is also a former Oak Park cop, uses the word “epidemic” to describe drug use at Oak Park and River Forest High School it gets our attention.

When a panel of active and caring parents and community members at the school says they’re planning a course of action to take on the problem it gets our respect.

It is no surprise that alcohol and drugs, especially marijuana, have some hold on our high school-age kids. The question that seems to be getting an answer though is whether such abuse is on the rise.

There was the notable upturn in expulsions from the school in the first semester of this year, several of which are for what the school candidly acknowledges are drug-tied issues. Further, and still to its credit, the school is admitting that there are drug problems at OPRF that the disciplinary system is currently missing.

That the Citizen’s Council, an OPRF community group with a good pulse for the school, is ready to take on this issue is both laudatory and revealing. Getting a grip on drug and alcohol abuse at OPRF is never going to be simple. But it doesn’t have a chance if only the school and the police are charged with the task. This is going to need to be a multi-pronged effort that actively includes parents, students, churches, social agencies, the local press, as well as the school and police.

That the Citizen’s Council plans to host a wide-ranging forum on the subject this spring is a worthy start. More critically, the group’s spokesperson hopes an early effort will allow actual initiatives to be in place by the time school reconvenes in the fall.

Jacques Conway, a school board member and, only several years ago, an Oak Park police officer assigned to the high school, rightly calls this situation “a family secret.”

He talks about parents who are publicly silent and privately defeated by the drug use of their kids. Moving past such useless angst and into a shared fight to reclaim our children from the predatory ways of drug suppliers and the sweet and unyielding stupidity of youth is a task we can all readily embrace.


Traditions of youth

Speaking of our youth, we come round again to OPRF and the choices kids make. They’re not all bad choices though mostly they are curious ones. In another wise move, the school’s administrators have shifted the annual discussion of what seniors may wear for graduation to the graduates.

And again, by a large majority, the graduates have opted for tradition. Long white dresses. Dark suits. No flip flops. And it’s the girls in the dresses and the boys in the suits. Ah, continuity. As it was for generations long gone it will be for the Class of 2010.

We’re suckers for tradition and, to us, this is a good one.


Paging Ade Onayemi

The Corruption Wheel has spun once more, most recently claiming the Chicago alderman who served himself at the expense of the Austin community. And when that wheel goes spinning it always creates opportunities for upward mobility among our political set.

So Ike Carothers is headed to the hoosegow. Good riddance to bad trash. Deborah Graham, the state rep from Oak Park, River Forest and the West Side, has already moved up to alderman courtesy of the mayor. Decent woman. Let’s see some leadership.

That leaves the state rep seat wide open, at least until voters choose come November. Is Oak Park’s very own Ade Onayemi interested?

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