OPRF Presents 2018 Tradition of Excellence Awards

OPRF Presents 2018 Tradition of Excellence Awards

Nov. 13, 2018 – On Friday, Nov. 9, Oak Park and River Forest High School presented the 2018 Tradition of Excellence awards to three alumni. Established by the class of 1982, the award is presented annually to alumni or former students who have distinguished themselves professionally and who, through their accomplishments, have brought great credit to their alma mater. These distinguished alumni are honored at a brunch following the awards presentation at a student assembly. This year’s honorees are:


Nationally Recognized Architect, Class of 1954
Growing up in Oak Park, Alvin Holm was heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s modernist work and Chicago’s classical architecture. After graduating from Yale in 1958 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1962, Mr. Holm spent 10 years as a project designer in Philadelphia, while teaching at both the Philadelphia College of Art and Drexel University. In 1976, he opened his own office, focusing heavily on restoration work and historical architecture. Several years later, he turned to traditional design styles, which is what he practices to this day. 

As a founding member of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, Mr. Holm is acknowledged as an early leader in the rising movement toward a New American Renaissance. He has received several honors and awards throughout his career, including the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for the design of galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Arthur Ross Award from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.


Writer and Journalist, Class of 1988
Michelle McNamara knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. At OPRF, she was named editor-in-chief of Trapeze, the high school’s student newspaper. She went on the major in English at the University of Notre Dame and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. 

After moving to Los Angeles to write for television and films, Ms. McNamara developed a growing interest in an unsolved Oak Park murder from her teenage years. This led to the creation of a website dedicated to solving cold cases, True Crime Diary. Ms. McNamara’s particular interest in the crimes of an unidentified serial rapist and killer in California, whom she named the “Golden State Killer,” led to an LA Magazine article and a subsequent book deal from HarperCollins. Before her book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” was completed, Ms. McNamara died on April 21, 2016. Her husband, actor Patton Oswalt; her researcher, Paul Haynes; and Billy Jensen, an investigative journalist, completed it posthumously. Just over two years after Ms. McNamara’s death, on April 25, 2018, the Golden State Killer was identified and arrested. Ms. McNamara is credited with igniting a renewed interest in the case. 


United States Naval Medical Officer, Class of 1985
Following his graduation from OPRF, Paul Roach attended Loyola University Chicago and Rush Medical College. He continued to pursue a career in medicine as a surgical intern at Oakland Naval Hospital in 1995, and completed his residency in General Surgery at the University of Maryland in 2003. A fellowship in Complex Surgical Oncology at the University of Chicago followed. 

Mr. Roach served two tours as a U.S. Naval Flight Surgeon, the first in Okinawa, Japan, and the second at Naval Air Station Washington D.C. He also served one overseas tour as a general surgeon in Sicily, and three tours as a combat surgeon in Afghanistan and Iraq. Stateside, he has worked at two Navy hospitals as a general and oncologic surgeon, the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Vir., and Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. 

Mr. Roach is married with three daughters and is the author of one novel, The End, and one nonfiction memoir, Citizen-Surgeon.