In the aftermath of a rough several weeks in November at Oak Park and River Forest High School — with incidents involving racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and air-dropped swastikas dominating local and national headlines — students and employees are doubling down on love.
Last week, students involved with various extracurricular groups, such as Students Advocating for Equity (SAFE) and Black Leaders Union (BLU), teamed up with OPRF staffer Shoneice Reynolds to carry out a Lockers of Love initiative. The goal? Students plan to stick encouraging Post-it notes on every locker in the school.
The notes contain affirming messages such as “Love always wins,” and “You are awesome.”
During a regular school board meeting on Nov. 15, OPRF senior Grace Gunn, a member of SAFE, lauded Reynolds for the idea.
“The initial idea came from Ms. Reynolds and [me]. I want to recognize her and everything she does for every student,” Gunn said, before urging those in attendance to show Reynolds “the love, gratitude, appreciation and respect she deserves.”
The Lockers of Love initiative comes after OPRF was rocked with cases of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti that were discovered on campus on Nov. 2 and Nov. 6.
On Nov. 9, a student used Apple’s AirDrop feature to send the image of a swastika to students’ cellphones during a Tradition of Excellence assembly. School officials and Oak Park police eventually identified a 14-year-old OPRF student as the culprit and charged him with dissemination of an obscene message. During a Nov. 14 juvenile court hearing, a judge scolded the student before releasing him to the custody of his parents.
“Our students and staff members took a wonderful step forward today with spreading love,” Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said on Nov. 15, referencing the Post-its.