Welcome to Oak Park and River Forest High School. Our school is located nine miles west of downtown Chicago and has a spirited student population of approximately 3200 students. We are proud of our academic achievements, our athletic accomplishments and our diverse school community. Founded in 1873, we are rich in history and tradition. "Those Things That Are Best" has been our school motto since 1908. Please explore this site to learn more about what's ‘Best’ at OPRFHS. You are welcome to begin your exploration by reading more about our communities and high school below.
OAK PARK & RIVER FOREST – DYNAMIC & DIVERSE COMMUNITIES & SCHOOL
For more than a 125 years, Oak Park and River Forest High School/District 200 has worked to provide “those things that are best” to the students, faculty and staff who comprise this dynamic and diverse community.
During the last half of the 20th century, the Villages of Oak Park and River Forest have grown racially, culturally and economically diverse. Along with these communities, the school has embraced diversity as a core value and has adopted programs to ensure that all students have the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential. Because of this commitment, both villages continue to attract new arrivals seeking an excellent education for their children in a culturally and racially diverse environment.
Situated just 20 minutes (9 miles) from a vibrant Chicago Loop and beautiful Lake Michigan, the villages of Oak Park and River Forest boast some of the fastest growing real estate values in the metropolitan area. The communities continue to attract and retain residents committed to civic involvement and principles of inclusion. Pride in – and painstaking restoration of -- treasures such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio and his first public building, Unity Temple, have made these communities an international mecca for tourists interested in Prairie School architecture and the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. The restored homestead of Ernest Hemingway, a 1917 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, and a museum in his honor attract visitors of a literary bent.
EXCELLENCE - OUR TRADITION
Today, more than 3,200 students from the diverse communities of Oak Park and River Forest are enrolled in this single-site high school district that offers more than 200 academically rigorous courses in nine academic divisions at transition, college preparatory, honors and Advanced Placement levels. Committed to a belief that involvement in co-curricular activities further engages and supports students in their academic pursuits, OPRFHS also offers an enriching array of 75 clubs and activities and 28 competitive athletic teams named the Huskies after our school mascot, the Siberian Husky.
A comprehensive public high school, we prepare our students for post-secondary success, with a graduation rate of more than 90%. Nearly 90% of our Class of 2007 graduates pursued post-secondary education at universities, colleges, community colleges and trade or technical schools after high school. We are regularly recognized by national educational consulting and relocation firms as a top public high school, recently earning U.S. News and World Report’s designation as one of the top 500 of the United States’ more than 18,700 public high schools. Our students consistently rank among the top 10 Illinois high schools in numbers of National Merit, National Achievement, and National Hispanic Recognition Program honorees. More than 85 % of our students who take Advanced Placement tests obtain scores qualifying them for college credit.
OPRF’s current vibrancy is deeply rooted in its long legacy of excellence. In 1873, the first high school students from Oak Park attended classes in space at Central School, an elementary school at Lake Street and Forest Avenue where a high rise now stands. Enrollment grew steadily, receiving a special boost in 1879 when the communities of Oak Park and River Forest joined together to create a consolidated high school district. The first separate high school was built in 1892 on the southwest corner of Lake Street and East Avenue.
The school staked out its present location in 1905 with the first purchase of land between East and Scoville avenues on Ontario Street and the construction of a building for 800 students. When the north wing was completed in 1913, the building stretched from Ontario to Erie streets. Construction boomed in the ‘20s, with the completion of the west side of the building quadrangle. Additional construction included a field house – the first in the nation for a high school – and the most complete facilities for girls’ physical education.
During the ‘40s, World War II touched the school in many ways. Several thousand students left to join the armed forced, and more than 100 alumni died in combat. Their legacy, and that of all veterans who have served in armed conflicts, continues to be honored each year in a solemn Memorial Day Assembly that all students attend.
Continued infusions of generous community support have allowed OPRFHS to maintain an exceptional physical plant to complement its comprehensive, challenging and innovative academic and extra-curricular offerings. OPRFHS was among the first secondary schools in the country to build science labs (1890), a school library (1899), a field house and extensive athletic facilities for girls (1928), drivers education facilities (1940) and computer-assisted instructional opportunities.
Today, the campus is comprised of 1 million square feet of facilities on 4-square blocks. The main classroom building offers state-of-the-art science and computer laboratories, an extensive technology component, a digital imaging lab, television studio, art studios, and a music and drama wing with a 1,700-seat auditorium, a 350-seat Little Theatre and a studio theater. Playing fields were purchased on land south of Lake Street across from the high school to augment existing athletic fields, the 5,000-seat stadium, the field house and two swimming pools.
Generations of alumni have maintained strong ties to the school and continue to support special programs, activities, and scholarships that directly benefit new generations of students. Graduates have made their marks in all walks of life, exemplified by the annual Tradition of Excellence Awards that acknowledge outstanding contributions by the likes of four Pulitzer Prize winners, including Ernest Hemingway ’17; Dan Castellaneta,’75 (the voice of Homer Simpson); McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc ’20; Danielle (Dani) Tyler, ’92 – U.S. Olympic Gold medalist, on first women’s softball team in Olympic history to be included as an Olympic event; 1991 Miss America Marjorie Judith Vincent ’83; Charles Carey ’71 – Chairman, Chicago Board of Trade, and John Register ’85, silver medalist/;long-jump record holder, Paralympic Games.
“THOSE THINGS THAT ARE BEST”
As it continues to build upon the tradition of excellence in the new century, OPRFHS has taken a leadership role in addressing national concerns about disparities in academic achievement between African-American and non-minority students. As part of the Minority Student Achievement Network -- a national consortium of 22 high-profile school districts -- the high school is working with eminent educational researchers nationwide to analyze and implement practices that affect, and eventually will help close gaps in, minority student academic achievement.
Ever mindful of its illustrious past, OPRFHS has entered the new millennium focused on meeting the needs of students who will live most of their lives in the 21st century, committed to helping each one of them reach his/her full human potential.