It wasn’t until the 2002-03 school year that Oak Lawn Community High School began competing in the Illinois High School Association’s Drama/Group Interpretation State series. A major force behind that move was Oak Lawn Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Riordan, who was the Assistant Principal for Student Activities at the time.
Since beginning competitive action, the Spartans have achieved 15 IHSA State Championship titles in Drama, Group Interpretation, and Speech; and countless music awards during Riordan’s tenure as Principal and Superintendent. In addition, Riordan helped lead the OLCHS Board of Education and community in constructing the OLCHS Performing Arts Center, the school’s first academic addition since 1970, that allows the school’s fine arts programs a state-of-the-art facility to flourish and to build on the school’s strong history of success.
On Wednesday, April 5, 2023, the BOE dedicated the auditorium in his name. The dedication marks one of the grandest achievements by Dr. Riordan in his 31 years at the school. Dr. Riordan, who is the school’s 10th Superintendent and the longest- tenured Superintendent since opening its doors in 1952, is retiring at the end of this school year.
According to Board of Education President Robert Loehr, the Board wanted to memorialize Dr. Riordan’s long-term commitment to the District and dedicating the Auditorium in his name aligned with Riordan’s service and accomplishments. Through Riordan’s leadership over the years, the District has implemented several successful school improvement initiatives, embraced a 1:1 technology program, stewarded a strong financial position, and developed a 10-year capital improvement plan.
“There are so many favorite memories, but the grand opening of the Performing Arts Center was incredibly memorable event,” Dr. Riordan said. “The place was packed with staff, students, alumni, and community members. Our incredible performing arts students, along with many alumni, provided wonderful entertainment that was enjoyed by all. So much work was dedicated by so many people to make the PAC a reality, and the grand opening brought all of those people together to celebrate.”
Before the 2002 school year, Dr. Riordan asked Tom Dzurison, the OLCHS Drama Director at the time, why the school wasn’t competing in the IHSA Drama competitions. Dzurison explained that lack of financial resources, sub-standard facilities, and a lack of past interest caused the school to never pursue this competitive activity. Together, Dzurison and Dr. Riordan found the funding, and they made improvements to the school’s existing Little Theater that would open the door to this endeavor. The rest is history.
“Any time our students compete and achieve at a high level, I am incredibly proud of those kids and the adults that coach and train them to bring about their success,” Dr. Riordan said. “This includes our state championships in drama and speech, of course. But it also includes very memorable victories on the athletic fields and courts, and even in the e-Sports arena.”
Wednesday, April 5, 2023’s dedication event will most certainly be yet another in the long line of memorable moments for Dr. Riordan.