Civics Service Learning Fair | Courtesy of OPRF

Last week a number of prominent local politicians and leaders of local non-profit groups stopped by Oak Park and River Forest High School for the school’s first Civics Service Learning Fair.

 Congressman Danny Davis, State Senate President Don Harmon, State Representatives Camille Lilly and La Shawn Ford, and Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman all attended the event. About 550 OPRF juniors and seniors are taking civics this semester.

“You don’t have to have gray hair before you engage,” Congressman Davis told the students, according to a news release from OPRF. “There are many places in history where very young people got things changed, made things happen. You’re that group today.”

The purpose of the fair was to give students ideas about how they could fulfill the five hours of community service that is required of each student for graduation from OPRF and to inspire them to become involved in civic life.

Civics education has been mandated by state law for high school students starting with ninth graders who began high school in the 2016-17 school year. 

After some panel discussions, the representatives of the community organizations sat down at tables and talked about their organization and how to volunteer. 

Senior Skyy Cast said that her visit to the League of Women Voters table made the biggest impression on her. 

“I’ll be 18 and able to vote soon,” Cast said, according to a news release from OPRF. “I’ll be able to have my say instead of leaving it to someone else.”

The fair was organized by OPRF civics teachers Matt Maloney and Steve Schwartz, as well as pre-vocational education co-coordinator Brian Dubina.

At last week’s OPRF school board meeting, Schwartz told the school board about the civics fair.

“It’s a great jump start to the year because the kids are already engaged,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz added that in the past, some students struggled to find meaningful service hours and often ultimately just did something that didn’t have a great deal of meaning to them. He said that the fair gave students the opportunity to learn about various organizations and gave them ideas of how they could fulfill their community service requirement. Schwartz also said that the representatives from the community organizations were excited to meet with students.

“It’s really a win-win for everyone,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said that the school plans to hold another civics fair at the start of the second semester because civics is a semester-long class.

Civics Service Learning Fair | Courtesy of OPRF

Join the discussion on social media!