The grand opening of the exhibit dedicated to the 150th Anniversary of OPRF High School will be held on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m., and the exhibit will be open until the end of 2025. The new exhibit will feature memorabilia, yearbooks, school spirit wear from throughout the decades, photos, dance bids, scrapbooks, and a wide range of other artifacts that will help tell the rich story of Oak Park and River Forest High School, which enrolled its first students in 1873 in a classroom at Lake and Forest and graduated its first three alumni in 1877.
The exhibit will curate milestones and moments along the way as the institution gradually grew from one classroom to its imposing campus, a diverse student body, its wide-ranging academic and co-curricular offerings, and its Tradition of Excellence.
The exhibit was developed with the generous support of a grant from the Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association and in partnership with the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, comprised of faculty, staff, residents, students and alumni.
Visitors will be invited to find out more about some of OPRF’s notable graduates and add their own stories to a card catalog that used to be located in the OPRF High School Library.
The exhibit will feature a large timeline of OPRF history and colorful banners which will break down the “big picture” of 150 years of tradition and innovation into smaller chunks. A large collection of memorabilia from the OPRF High School Archives (loaned to OPRF Museum in 2021) and from the Historical Society’s collection will show just how much the Huskies have changed through the decades and yet how entrenched traditions still echo from earlier decades and impact the students of the 2020s.
OPRF senior Anna Miller worked as a paid intern for the project thanks to the Alumni Association funding, which also supported graphic and design work by Museum Explorer, a Berwyn-based firm owned by a 1977 OPRF graduate.
“Ever Changing, Yet the Same …” is a line from the “Oak Park Hymn” (sometimes called the Alma Mater).
“We thought that line really captures the essence of an institution like OPRF High School,” said Frank Lipo, OPRF Museum Executive Director. “Continuity and change are interwoven through every school’s history, with core activities like sports and clubs and dances providing traditions, at the same time each new cohort of students brings their unique skills and perspectives to move the school in new directions.”
The celebratory grand opening event will take place Oct. 4 at 6 p.m., with a ribbon cutting and refreshments.
OPRF Museum, located in an 1898 former firehouse at the corner of Lake Street and Lombard Avenue a few blocks east of OPRF High School, is open Wednesdays through Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m. for drop-in visitors and other days and times by appointment, including group tours.