The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

No SILCs for Leadership class next year

For the first time in its 10-year history, the leadership class at Oak Park and River Forest High School will have no teacher’s assistants next year, adding responsibilities to already busy teachers. 

The leadership class is an elective course that trains juniors and seniors as peer mentors for underclassmen. 

In a break from tradition, this year’s class only accepted seniors. Program leaders “decided to lean into that senior class since when they were freshmen, they were that COVID class. They didn’t have leaders in person,” said John Hoerster, one of the leadership teachers, who is also an English teacher and the head coach of the football program at OPRF.

With a 2023-2024 class full of seniors, Hoerster, along with leadership teachers Melinda Novotny and Rashad Singletary, said they’re unable to use the Senior Instructional Leadership Corps (SILC) program next year. 

The requirement for being a SILC for leadership is having a year of experience in the class. With an all-senior class and no juniors in the pipeline, next year’s program won’t have eligeble students.

“SILCs are a really good resource to kind of troubleshoot, provide ideas for activities and just kind of like do some odds and ends that are really helpful to the teachers,” said Hoerster. SILCS make a big difference in the program, and next year will be an interesting adjustment without them, he added.

Leadership runs through six periods of the day, in which leaders break out into four to five freshmen classes, either study halls or math spaces. This complex system relies on help from SILCs. 

Kiefer Shorr, a senior who SILCs for Novotny’s third period, explained how he “goes to each classroom and says ‘hi’ to all the students to make sure that everything’s OK. Sometimes Ms. Novotny will get us doing something like a project such as preparing for leadership interviews or sending out emails.”

While it will be challenging to run the class without the extra hands, Hoerster said that next year the leadership teachers will re-introduce the junior class. He explained that out of the 160 new members, 24 of them will be juniors.

Faye Homrok, a sophomore at OPRF and soon to be student in the leadership class, said how she felt proud of herself for being accepted into the program. “I wasn’t too sure that I was going to make it in because the past year they didn’t even accept juniors to the interview. So I was super excited to get in, especially because not many people do,” she said.

Applicants must send in a video describing something they just learned, be invited to an interview and go through a process of team building activities at the interview. Homrok decided to apply because in her freshman year study hall, she had leaders. “I really enjoyed having a connection with my leaders, and I want to have that same connection with incoming freshmen.”

Overall, Hoerster said he’s looking forward to a new year and having juniors back in the classroom. Over its 10 years, leadership has made the school feel much more intimate, Hoerster said, adding that he appreciates the community the class builds at OPRF. 

“You know, everyone thinks the school is so big,” Hoerster said. “And on paper it is. But when you go to school here and when you work here, it feels more like a family than it does this giant school.”

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