Oak Park and River Forest High School received an early Christmas present this past week — a piece of artwork that had been missing from the school since the late 1960s.
Sometime in the 1940s or ’50s, three ceramic crests of the school’s emblem were designed and created by an art department chair. In 1968, one of them went missing. Recently, that crest was returned to OPRF by an alum whom the school has opted not to identify.
Supt. Steven Isoye unveiled the missing crest at the Dec. 16 board of education meeting. The other two crests have been hanging in the school — one in the board room encased in glass just behind the superintendent’s chair. Isoye mentioned it while sharing history about the artwork during his superintendent’s report.
“Everybody I’ve been talking to who knows the history of this school knows there were three of them and one went missing, and nobody knows what happened to it,” he said. “This has not been seen in the building since 1968.
“This used to be in Room 107 because there’s a 107 on the back, and I’m going to put this down so I don’t drop it — wouldn’t that be a moment?” Isoye said to general laughter from the audience.
The school was undergoing renovations in ’68 and the crest was among some items lying around. A student spotted it and swiped it, Isoye explained.
“The student had it for a while and felt guilty about it, therefore, gave it to another student,” the superintendent explained.
That student kept the crest — which survived eight other moves through the years —until now. Isoye said the student contacted a former dean — “so guilt still works,” Isoye joked. The student met with and returned the crest to the former dean, asking that the dean return it to the high school.
“Luckily for that [former] student, they will not be faced with any detention,” Isoye said. “But we do thank the student for returning this to its home.”
One board member kidded that perhaps the anonymous student should be nominated for OPRF’s Traditional of Excellence award, given to distinguished alumni of various professions.
“Notice that I have not provided the name of the student,” Isoye replied to audience laughter.