An Olympic gold medalist, a Hollywood comedy writer and an armed forces officer were among those honored at Oak Park and River Forest High School’s 31st annual Tradition of Excellence award ceremony Nov. 1.

This year’s honorees included Maj. Javin Peterson, who graduated from the school in 1995 and writer Kevin Biggins from the class of 1997. Olympian Charles M. Hoag was honored with the posthumous award, which was received by his wife Karen Kosbab and son Chuck Hoag. The elder Hoag died in March.

Peterson was moved to tears during his acceptance speech as he thanked his wife, family and friends. The mood, however, shifted quickly when the theme song to FOX’s Family Guy began playing accidentally during Peterson’s speech, resulted in laughs from everyone in the audience, including Peterson himself.

The song was likely meant for Biggins, a writer on the popular animated show. He’s also written for The Cleveland Show and Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, as well as done some voice acting.

The students enjoyed Briggins’ speech. He noted that his father worked for the school as a girl’s basketball coach; his mother is retiring from the school this year. Biggins also gave a sneak peak at a new Family Guy episode. He recalled wanting to attend Fenwick High School at one point but decided that he wanted to “be cool,” so he came to OPRF.

“If you’re good at something, you’re cool,” he said. “This place gives you the freedom to figure that out; and once you figure it out, put the time and effort into it.

“While you’re here, don’t be afraid to go out and try it — or just walk fast with some paper in your hand to look busy,” Biggins joked.

After the award ceremony, the honorees were treated to a brunch in the school board room for them and their guest.

The Tradition of Excellence award began in 1982 by OPRF’s Student Council and the District 200 Board of Education to honor alumni who’ve excelled in such fields as business, politics, sports and the arts.

This year’s Tradition of Excellence honorees:

  • Kevin Biggins, writer for the TV series, Family Guy. He recently sold a pilot to Fox slated to debut this year. Biggins, a 1997 OPRF grad, was also recognized by Comedy Central as one of 2012’s top comedians to watch.
  • Javin Peterson, U.S. military pilot for Air Force Two, which carries presidential cabinet members, including the secretaries of State and Defense. Peterson graduated from OPRF in 1995.
  • Posthumous Tradition of Excellence winner: Charles Hoag, 1952 Olympic Gold medalist in basketball. The 1949 OPRF grad went on to become a football and basketball coach for the University of Kansas.

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