Faces of OPRF: Roberto Tucker


Oak Park and River Forest High School is celebrating Black History Month in a lot of different ways, such as the music over the intercoms, posters in the hallways and an organized assembly.

Security guard Roberto Tucker started his own tribute: screenings of important films in black history in  the Little Theater every Wednesday, starting Feb. 1. Some of the films include “The Wiz,” “42,” and “Selma.”

Tucker is also responsible for many posters hung around the school main lobby.  The posters contain the biographies and accomplishments of the people celebrated in black history, and also books with more information on the lives of these leaders. 

“I once had figures in my life in high school and my community that did the same for me,” Tucker said.”If I could influence one student in a positive way, I would have done at least some good.”

Tucker added, “I want students to know that I am so much more than a security officer. I plan to continue to positively impact them with clubs and events to make their high school experience the best.”

This mission makes Tucker a distinctive presence in the halls. Students who get to the school early enough can tell where Tucker is stationed by following the sound of his speaker, which is almost always playing jazz, funk and soul. 

The music has been a soundtrack for Tucker’s life, helping him through the death of his mother when he was young. “My grandma was listening to the blues channel one day,” he said. “I was in one of my moods, thinking about my mom. I listened to that blues channel all day, just sitting down with my grandmother. And I was like, wow, I really like this. And from then on, it’s been blues and jazz.” 

As a student at Englewood High School and later Marshall High School, Tucker pursued his love of music alongside football, student council and theater. “I actually did Second City (a Chicago-based comedy/improv program). I met a few guys from Saturday Night Live up there,” he said.

Tucker caught the acting bug and pursued theater at Malcolm X College. To make ends meet, he worked on the airfields at O’Hare Airport–a job so demanding that he eventually dropped out of school. “I came up thinking I was gonna be the next Eddie Murphy,” he said. “I ended up working and just taking care of myself.”

Once he decided to work in security, he went back to Malcolm X College to complete a program that allowed him to major in security and minor in law. The program was “really, really unique,” he said. “I had trained to use a weapon and carry a weapon for work and stuff like that.”

“Once I started security, I never looked back,” he said. “I really learned to respect security and to love it. Now I know every aspect of it.” 

Eight years ago, he started working security at OPRF. “You see these kids come in as freshmen, innocent green thumbs, and then you see them develop into something that’s a sophomore, they’re trying to find themselves, then junior year they kind of get a little bit more serious about things. And then and they’re seniors, they’re talking like diplomats in a meeting, and then they come back and they work here.” 

“It’s an amazing thing to see,” he added.

“As a security officer, I love to inspire positivity to all students at every color, every creed, every nationality. You guys are the future. I think we all have the potential…to be great. So I feel like I’m a part of that. Just by coming in everyday playing music, just by coming in and speaking to every student, asking them how they’re going, ‘how’s your grades?’ You know, I just love being a part of the atmosphere and doing my job to the best of my ability.”

Tucker once wanted to be Eddie Murphy; however many students might look up to a famous comedian, Murphy is not going to go up to them in the hallway and ask them how their day is, crack a joke, or encourage them to keep their grades up. Mr. Tucker is. To have sadness, or even just regular teenage apathy, interrupted is a gift. Eddie Murphy performs, but Roberto Tucker cares.