School began at 8:20 a.m. each day, so I made certain I arrived by 8:00 so that I could deposit books, my lunch and my coat in my locker and pick up books for my morning classes.
The homeroom period started at 8:20, and the time was devoted to general announcements and for taking attendance. Classes started at 8:50.
Three of the four homeroom teachers I had while in high school were all business, but Mr. Rossiter, who was my homeroom teacher during my sophomore year, cracked jokes and talked about current events.
Every semester except the first two [four classes each], I took five classes and, because I wanted to go to college, I took four years of Latin, four years of math, the required two years of history, three and a half years of science, four years of English, and general business, a required course. I also took public speaking and expository writing, electives, during my senior year.
Even though I took many classes in the same field, I only had the same teacher more than once. I had Mrs. Baker for third- and fourth-year Latin.
The classroom routine was broken up daily with physical education and study hall.
To get to the gym, I would usually walk from the main building through the tunnel rather than outside.
The tunnel was dimly lit, and the shuffling of feet was often punctuated by yelling and the occasional scream. In wet weather, the tunnel floor was slushy.
When the boys got to the gym, we put our street clothes in our respective lockers and changed into our Huskie shorts and sleeveless shirts.
During the class, we played seasonal sports, and in good weather (as determined by the teacher) we would play outside.
When class was over, we would undress, take a shower, dress in our street clothes and return to the main building and gather our books from our lockers.
I always brought my lunch each day, which I kept in my locker and had to pick up before the 40-minute lunch period.
The lunchroom was noisy but not out of control because four male teachers patrolled the aisles.
Study hall could be a quiet place or it could be somewhat noisy, depending on how strict the supervising teacher was.
I remember one incident at the end of a study hall period when a guy named Rick threw a wad of paper at another guy, but he missed and instead the wad of airborne paper hit the supervising teacher on the forehead. Rick received a 10-day suspension.
When classes ended for the day at 3:30 p.m., I went to the locker I shared with Joe Stoklas to put on my jacket and deposit and pick up two or more books.
I walked toward home with Joe, who lived near Whittier School, but after he and his family moved to Wenonah Avenue, I walked the home route with either Roger Dempsey or Bob Guillemin both of whom lived near my home.
Even though the school routine was sometimes boring, I not only received a stellar education, but I also developed necessary social skills during my four years at OPRF High School.
John Stanger is a lifelong Oak Park resident, who taught English at Elmhurst College.