Editor’s Note: This article includes a correction. Tyrone Garland is the football and track & field Coach at OPRF, not wrestling coach as previously reported.

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 will be hosting its annual National African American Parent Involvement Dinner next week to promote parent involvement, especially amongst OPRF families of color. 

Tyrone Garland, community outreach coordinator and football and track & field coach at OPRF, said this year’s theme, “Bridging the Gap,” was chosen in hopes of embracing what is going on in the community and working to create a student to parent to school pipeline. 

Having come to OPRF with a background in college admissions, Garland said he was familiar with the importance of students building a resume to attract college interest. However, once he started at OPRF, Garland said he noticed a lack of involvement from students of color in after-school programs.

“Being a minority myself, having two kids here right now and a younger one at Julian [middle school], just being here in the community and seeing what I see so far, that a lot of students, African American or whoever, don’t take advantage of all the different things this school has to offer,” Garland said. 

Usually held in February as part of Black History Month, Garland said they opted to host this year’s event as a standalone in hopes of increasing attendance. The event will feature performances by local African and Caribbean Dance Company, Kuumba Kids as well as keynote speaker, local author and professor of accounting at DePaul University, Dr. Kelly Richmond Pope. 

The National African American Parent Involvement Dinner (NAAPID) and celebration is a yearly effort hosted by the Office of Equity and Student Success at OPRF.

Director and producer of the award-winning documentary, “All the Queen’s Horses,” Pope will be speaking on the theme of the night: the importance of having parents be involved in their students’ lives as well as having a relationship with the school, both working together to give students a better overall educational experience. According to Garland, Pope is a community member, with children both at Percy Julian Middle School and OPRF High School. 

Running a similar program at the beginning of the school year as part of Welcome Week, the Office of Equity and Student Success sees Tuesday night’s “Bridging the Gap” event as a continuation of those efforts and part of the OPRF strive for equity. 

The event will be hosted in the South Cafeteria at OPRF High School on Tuesday, April 25 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. with dinner being served from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free to the public and no registration is required.

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