OPRF candidate doesn't fall far from the tree

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I am pleased and excited to see John Phelan is running for District 200 school board. I am a 33-year resident of Oak Park and a former Oak Park and River Forest High School employee — school social worker, freshman and varsity football coach, girls freshman and boys sophomore basketball coach, and parent of three student athletes.

I have known John since 1980. He was an active member and significant contributor to the OPRF Fellowship of Christian Athletes club, which Gary Olson and I volunteered with as faculty facilitators. The student athletes met at 7 a.m. once a week with the goal of discussing how their Christian commitment could affect their challenges, and help them be more accountable, caring and supportive of their peers. An outstanding student, hardworking, goal-oriented player, John was well liked and highly respected — already reflecting leadership qualities as a teenager.

Two adages come to mind: "An apple doesn't fall far from the tree," and, "It takes a village to raise a child." As a coach, I was privileged to receive support and encouragement from John's parents, and to be able to coach three of their five student athlete children. As a parent and coach, I was pleased and blessed to know that a large number of our athletes were welcomed into the Phelan home each Friday evening for a drug and alcohol safe haven.

To see John at this point commit to serve our school community is wonderful. I have talked to both Rich Arcieri and Ron Anderson, former faculty coaches who have the same and or similar feelings, and who unequivocally add their endorsement to this letter. I'm sure John's recent experience as a labor relations attorney and negotiator, and his knowledge of the OPRF community, will bring significant skills to the board.

Jim Chesney
Oak Park

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