We are residents of Oak Park with a current OPRF student and one starting in 2024. We strongly support Imagine OPRF Project 2: upgrading the athletic and PE facilities in the southeast corner of the school.

We believe that PE spaces are classrooms and curricular spaces, deserving the same investment as any other classroom space at OPRF High School. PE is mandatory in Illinois for six semesters in high school; 3,400 students pass through these old and dilapidated facilities every day. The pools are far beyond their lifespan, the locker rooms are inadequate and have a host of issues, the dance space has safety issues, and the spaces are not accessible for students with disabilities.

Exterior schematic design for Imagine OPRF Project 2. | PROVIDED

These spaces are also used by the 29 athletic teams at the school; there is a proven correlation between academic success and athletic participation that should be supported by our towns. Having visited other area schools, we can say that ours are clearly among the oldest PE and athletic facilities.

We urge the school board to look at the larger picture, rather than only listening to a vocal opposition group.

The pools are of particular concern; the ability to swim is a critical life-saving skill, the teaching of which is being cut short starting this year due to the continued closure of the West pool. Units in PE have been cut down by weeks to address the lack of space, impacting students and their ability to learn to swim.

This is also an equity issue, as parents with limited swimming skills often have children who are not proficient swimmers. Providing swim units in PE means providing an equitable education that may save lives.

We need to bring the athletic and PE facilities and curriculum spaces into the 21st century, as we have other parts of the building that have already been successfully updated in Project 1.

Our students in Oak Park and River Forest are losing out on valuable instruction and athletics with the current PE and athletic facilities, and it’s time to remedy that.

Becky & John Fuller
Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!