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From the Editor’s Desk - page 7

Guest editorial: Celebrating the First Amendment

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by Ken Paulson, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University

The hardest line to sing in the “Star-Spangled Banner” is also the most important. “O’er the land of the free …” with its character-building high note, has been the bane of even professional singers.

That’s probably appropriate. Becoming “the land of the free” wasn’t all that easy, either.

On Dec. 15, America will commemorate the 221st birthday of the Bill of Rights, the most extraordinary and influential guarantee of individual freedoms in world history.

Every school kid knows that this nation was founded on freedom, but sometimes we lose sight of the details. Building a nation from scratch, promising a democracy and ensuring certain inalienable rights were all both ambitious and unprecedented. And though we declared our liberty in 1776, it wasn’t until the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 and the commitment to specific individual freedoms in the Bill of Rights in 1791 that we were truly on our way to a more perfect union.

Over time, the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, press, religion, petition and assembly helped abolish slavery, secure the vote for women and establish equal protection for all. Yet surveys show that only 4 percent of Americans can identify all of these core freedoms. A majority, when asked, can come up with only freedom of speech. That is particularly disappointing when you realize how rare these guarantees are globally.

In recent weeks:

• In China, a tweeted joke about a popular horror-movie series and an upcoming Communist Party Congress led to an arrest on charges of supporting terrorism.

• In India, the Information Technology Act criminalizes the posting of “any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character.” The restriction was applied last month to two women for a post and “Like” on Facebook.

Repression, censorship and attacks on minority faiths are commonplace worldwide. Even nations that regard themselves as free and open societies often fail to protect controversial ideas and viewpoints.

In the U.S., our guarantees are so vibrant and effective that we tend to take them for granted. Unfortunately, complacency isn’t good for a democracy.

In an effort to build greater appreciation for First Amendment freedoms, a coalition of educators, journalists, artists and others have come together to form “1 for All,” an educational campaign. The First Amendment Center, Knight Foundation, American Society of News Editors, McCormick Foundation and the Newseum have teamed up to help a new generation of citizens more fully appreciate these freedoms.

Part of that effort is a scholarship competition which began on Saturday and will continue through Saturday, Dec. 15 (the First Amendment’s birthday). Students are encouraged to tweet about their favorite of the five freedoms, becoming eligible to compete for a $5,000 scholarship. Details can be found at 1forall.us.

The next time you hear the national anthem wind down to that final line, and before you restore your cap and pick up the beer cup, you might want to say a quiet thanks for the many who made “land of the free” more than a hard line to sing.

Whether fighting on our front lines or taking a stand for equality and justice, whether carrying a rifle on a foreign shore or a protest sign on Main Street, millions have made this land of freedom possible through their sacrifices and commitment.

Now that’s something worth singing about.

The right way to ring in the Christmas season

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Of all the great debate topics in this country (Pepsi or Coke, Bears or Packers, G.I. Joe or Transformers, etc.), perhaps the most underrated is the question of when the Christmas season should officially commence.

Some people believe Christmas becomes a priority the moment they begin putting away Halloween decorations; others wait until the day after Thanksgiving to tee off on all things Christmastime. Neither date is technically wrong (though it’s certifiably weird to hear Christmas music in McDonald’s on Nov. 1). However, we believe November should belong to turkeys and autumn colors, not snowmen and mistletoe.

And that means the Christmas season should officially dawn in early December, which just so happens to be the time when Elburn and Sugar Grove host their Christmas Stroll and Holiday in the Grove festivities, respectively.

Holiday in the Grove will kick off on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 a.m., and offer plenty of family-friendly activities at the Sugar Grove Community House and John Shields Elementary School.

Santa will be on hand at the Community House to have breakfast with children and adults alike at 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m. Games and crafts will also be available. Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, meanwhile, will feature fun crafts and a Holiday Shoppe where kids can stealthily get their Christmas shopping done.

The Sugar Grove Public Library will get in on the holiday action at 9 a.m. with teen-approved crafts, face-painting, pizza and holiday movies, a chance to read to therapy dogs, and afternoon performances by Western Lights and Kaneland Madrigals.

Six days after Holiday in the Grove, Elburn will get a chance to spread some holiday cheer with its annual Christmas Stroll on Friday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. throughout downtown Elburn.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will appear at the Town and Country Public Library and have their picture taken with children in attendance. Elburn Fire Protection District will offer a safety house and tree-burning demonstrations. Conley’s annual “Blessing of the Manger” dedication will take place at Route 47 and Pierce Street. Elburn Hill Church will present a Christmas Cafe, and the Citizen Emergency Response Team Trailer will be on the Main Street in front of American Bank & Trust, offering up balloon creations. Participants can also head over to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, where Jewel-Osco employees will be on-hand to enjoy some cookie and wreath decorating for the kids.

Plenty of fun will be had at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, with a Holiday Craft Bazaar presented by the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, as well as our own life-sized Kandyland game for children, adults and everyone in between. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to travel to dwell in Kandyland and feel dwarfed by giant-size decorative candy bars, this is absolutely the game for you. Best part: every participant is a winner.

A visit to either (or both) of these village events should be enough to convince anyone that December is the right month to commence dreams of a winter wonderland. And with the turkey and Black Friday super-doorbuster deals in the rear view mirror, it’s officially time to focus on ringing in the Christmas season.

Editorial: Many reasons to give thanks on Thanksgiving

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It’s funny how one’s perception of Thanksgiving will develop during their life.

For many children, the Thanksgiving holiday represents a nice, long break from school, as well as the opportunity to consume some pretty tasty food in honor of the pilgrims who dined in Plymouth almost 400 years ago. Maybe these kids will get a chance to see a movie and do some shopping with their parents on Black Friday; maybe they’re excited to see the holiday parades that typically take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For teens and young adults, Thanksgiving can take on an entirely different life. There’s still a mighty long break from school, but with the great food comes the opportunity to watch a Detroit Lions loss (in horrific fashion, typically; sometimes to the extent that their players have no choice but to repeatedly stomp on players from the opposing team), and a flavor-of-the-week act performance during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys game. If these teens and young adults are hardcore football fans, they’ll resist post-dinner sleepiness just enough to watch the third game of the day. Otherwise, they’re either off with friends for the night or planning out an unbeatable Black Friday shopping strategy with family members.

At some point, however, a person will realize that, while it’s nice to spend Thanksgiving overdosing on football, turkey and ‘80s film marathons (no truth to the rumor that TBS is legally obligated to air “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Adventures in Babysitting” on the fourth Tuesday in November each year), the true meaning of Thanksgiving lay in the company we keep on that day.

Thanksgiving, stripped to its core, is about more than simply giving thanks for what we have; rather, it’s about giving thanks for those who we have in our lives—the people who help us keep perspective and understand that friendship is indeed the richest currency in existence. This was what the pilgrims celebrated when they dined on that fateful day in 1621, and it’s an example that still carries validity centuries later.

Friends and family make it possible to endure a heavily edited airing of “The Breakfast Club.” Most important, they make it OK to overeat and then overeat some more.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to appreciate the most important people in your life, and revel in the fact that your loved ones appreciate your presence in their life, as well.

After all, your friends and family aren’t coming over to watch the Detroit Lions lose, they’re coming over to spend the holiday with you.

Guest Editorial: November is National Diabetes Month

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by Julie West, West Physical Therapy
Did you know that here are 23.6 million children and adults living with diabetes in the U.S.? Of these, an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed, and 5.7 million are unaware they have the disease.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into the energy necessary for daily life. While the cause of diabetes is unknown, factors such as obesity and lack of exercise play important roles. Diabetes can result in conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease (neuropathy), amputations and problems with the skin, including ulcers and infections.

Managing your diabetes can lower your risk of resulting health issues. Management includes controlling your blood sugar (glucose), lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. Physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving human motion, and can play an integral role in the management of diabetes by establishing and, as needed, supervising exercise programs and providing treatment of complications.

Diabetes that is not well controlled leads to problems in blood vessels and nerves, often in the legs. Low blood flow to the legs can create cramping pain when walking or lead to sores on the legs or feet.

Diabetes can affect the nerves, which can result in tingling in the feet and may progress to complete numbness. This numbness can cause damage to the skin or joints because of the lack of pain sensation. These problems can lead to difficulty with daily activities, limit the ability to exercise, and also result in very serious consequences to one’s health. It is best to take action to prevent complications, but if these problems occur, physical therapists can help restore your quality of life.
Physical therapists can:
• Use special tests to check the sensation in your feet
• Help decrease cramping pain during walking
• Evaluate and care for skin ulcers and sores that are slow to heal
• Improve your walking ability by adapting shoes or orthotics
• Show you how to protect your feet if they have lost sensation
• Recommend shoe wear or assistive devices if needed

A physical therapist can create an exercise program to help you achieve better health safety. You should see a physical therapist to help you with physical activity if you have:
• Pain in your joints or muscles
• Numbness or tingling in your feet
• Calluses or sores on your feet
• Pain or limping with walking
• Used an assistive device such as a cane or crutches
• Had a stroke
• Questions about what type of exercise is best for you

For more information, go to www.apta.org, or www.moveforwardpt.com.

Editorial: Kaneland District, community make strides toward bully-free environment

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At the Kaneland School Board meeting on Sept. 24, Kaneland parent and Elburn resident Leigh Ann Reusche read a letter on behalf of Knights Against Bullying (KAB), a self-described “group of concerned parents, teachers, former students, and community members coming together for the purpose of addressing the issue of bullying in our schools, and in our communities.”

In the letter, Reusche asked the School Board to implement five recommendations: make bullying prevention a priority; assign a prevention coordinator; form a task force; develop or adopt a comprehensive, multi-faceted district-wide plan; and implement, maintain and evaluate the plan.

It appears Kaneland was listening.

After meeting with KAB on Oct. 9, the school administration on Oct. 29 unveiled a district-distributed work update and response identifying bullying prevention as a goal in the Superintendent Plan of Work.

The plan also designates assignment of a prevention coordinator and gathering of a task force. Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of educational services K-5, and Erika Schlichter, director of educational services 6-12, will coordinate the work group revising the district’s current bullying prevention plan. Once revisions are finalized, focus will move to student services.

We applaud KAB and community members for having the courage to stand up and speaking out against a difficult issue like school bullying. Likewise, we applaud the Kaneland administration for having the good sense to listen to the community and work with KAB in order to move forward and hopefully put an end to the bullying issue in District 302. As School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said following the Sept. 24 meeting, “One bullied child is too many.”

We also ask that School Board members stick together, communicate with the administration and realize that board unity is absolutely essential when taking on a stubborn issue such as school bullying. After all, it’s probably counterproductive to point fingers and stare down members of the administration in attendance—tactics that could be considered bullying in their own right—while working to make the School District a safer institution for students.

Emotions can run high when it comes to troubling topics like bullying, but if School Board trustees and administration can stay the course and continue to work with the community, Kaneland School District will be a better place for students and parents alike.

Editorial: Two ways to help

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Become informed, then vote
Because the state of Illinois is considered safe for President Obama for the presidential election, there may be some who do not feel the need to vote on Election Day because either their vote “won’t count” or their candidate is already certain to win the state.

However, there are many reasons why everyone eligible to vote should still do so by Tuesday, Nov. 6.

While the vast majority of news is focused on presidential politics, the reality is that the presidential race represents two positions (president and vice president) within the same branch of the federal government. It does not address U.S. House or Senate races; it does not deal with state-level races; it does not deal with local races.

It can be argued that local politics matter a lot more to the daily lives of citizens than do presidential politics. The more local one gets, the more direct impact one will feel from those elected to office.

If you need to deal with the local court system in any way, you are impacted by the actions of local elected officials. If you have a county zoning question, or need help with information about a local issue, that help is provided by either a local elected official directly, or someone working for that official.

Most of the situations in which you interact with the “government” in your day-to-day lives, you are interacting either directly or indirectly with local elected officials. Even the broader, federal policies that are passed require the votes of local, elected officials.

Given that, no matter what your view is in regards to presidential politics, the importance of your vote can not be over-stated. At the county level, there are a number of offices that will be filled by a newcomer, no matter which candidate wins. In other local races, there are newcomers with fresh perspectives facing incumbents who want the chance to finish the work they’ve started.

You owe your community your time to become informed, as well as your time to vote. You do not even have to dedicate a portion of Election Day to the process, there are still opportunities to vote at your convenience before then.

The early voting period ends Saturday, Nov. 3, and the absentee voting period ends Monday, Nov. 5. The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

We are warm and safe; millions are not
The devastation from Hurricane Sandy is mind-boggling. As of Wednesday morning, dozens passed away, an unknown amount suffered injuries, millions remain without power, and economic loss estimates range from $10 billion to $50 billion.

The worst part of the situation is that it is still not over. Weather.com reported Wednesday that the storm is weakening, but also lingering, in the northeast. Meanwhile, a winter storm is taking control of the atmosphere, with an estimated three feet of snow dumped in certain locations that had just been battered by the hurricane. Additionally, arctic temperatures are flowing into the ravaged areas, many of which continue without power.

It is an awful situation, and you can help.

According to the American Red Cross, there is an immediate need for blood donations. Due to the scope of the storm, the organization said that 300 blood drives have already been cancelled, with more to occur in the future. This will put a strain on already-strained resources. Additionally, blood continues to be needed to help those injured from the storm itself.

Additionally, the Red Cross is asking for monetary donations, as those are the best, fastest ways to provide assistance to those in the storm-ravaged areas.

To find out how and where to donate, or how else you can help, visit redcross.org.

The worst of the storm has past, but the disaster will continue for some time, and help from those of us not affected by the disaster will prove vital to the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Guest Editorial: Kaneland Hall of Fame nomination

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by Jeff Schuler, Kaneland Superintendent
To celebrate and commemorate the many accomplishments and achievements of Kaneland graduates, Kaneland District 302 has formed the Kaneland Hall of Fame. New Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted at the Academic Awards Ceremony in the auditorium on May 6, 2013.

All community members, staff and friends of Kaneland are encouraged to nominate individuals or groups for one of the Hall of Fame categories. The categories include:

1.) Service—Kaneland High School graduates who have contributed significantly to their community, state or country and have been out of school for at least ten (10) years.

2.) Personal Achievement—Kaneland graduates who have been honored or recognized by their college/university, profession or peers for their success and achievements and who have been out of school for at least 10 years.

3.) Extra Curriculars—Former extra-curricular participants in non-athletic or athletic activities who were recognized for excellence by their organization or team for at least two years. In addition, the participant(s) received honors in one or all of the following: All-Conference, District, Sectional, State or American. These nominees must have graduated from Kaneland High School and have been out of school for at least 10 years.

4.) Commitment—Past or present staff members who worked at Kaneland for a minimum of 10 years and who, through their employment at Kaneland, have demonstrated their deep commitment to Kaneland students, parents, and/or staff.

5.) Friend of Kaneland—Those who have given meritorious service to Kaneland and/or one or more of its schools for many years, or have been a loyal friend to Kaneland and/or one or more of its schools. Kaneland staff members are not excluded from this category. However, nominations of Kaneland staff members in this category shall be for something other than what they achieved as an employee.

6.) Athletic Teamwork—A Kaneland High School team or organization that demonstrated outstanding achievement, which may include record status or state recognition, at least 10 years prior to selection.

7.) Individual Athletic Achievement– Former athletic participants who were recognized for excellence by their organization or team. In addition, the participant(s) received honors in one or all of the following: All-Conference, District, Sectional, State or American. These nominees must have graduated from Kaneland High School and have been out of school for at least 10 years.

8.) Special Recognition—Any member of the community, alumni or staff member can submit names for nomination to the committee. The submission deadline date is Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. A nomination form can be obtained from Beth Sterkel at (630) 365-5111, ext. 109, or at www.kaneland.org/d302/hof.

Individuals making nominations should send the nomination form, resume and/or biography of the individual or group and their achievements or contributions to: Hall of Fame Committee Kaneland CUSD No. 302 47W326 Keslinger Road Maple Park, IL 60151

Editorial: Celebrate Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31

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Looking for a great way to promote drug prevention in your community? Look no further than Red Ribbon Week, which will take place from Oct. 23-31.

This year will mark the 27th installment of Red Ribbon Week. The week-long celebration is the largest and longest-running drug prevention campaign in the United States, and urges teachers, parents, students and community members to wear red ribbons as a way to signify their commitment to raising awareness about the negative effects of drug use.

A contest in which kids promote awareness in neighborhoods and enter for a chance to win a $1,000 drug prevention grant for their schools or an iPad will also take place during Red Ribbon Week this year.

According to a Red Ribbon Week press release, this is how the contest works:
• Students must bring the Red Ribbon Week message home by working with parents to decorate their front door, mailbox, fence, etc., with this year’s theme, “The Best Me Is Drug Free.”
• Take a picture that includes both your family and the message, then upload the pic to www.redribbon.org/contest or www.facebook.com/RedRibbonWeek by Friday, Nov. 2 (must be over 18 years of age to upload photos).

• Let the voting begin. Feel free to ask family and friends to vote for your entry at www.redribbon.org/vote anytime from Nov. 2-16. There will be 10 winners from regions across the U.S. Winners will be announced in December.

“Students will once again take Red Ribbon Week’s message of prevention home to their neighborhoods with this national contest,” said Peggy Sapp, volunteer president of National Family Partnership. “By decorating their homes together with this year’s Red Ribbon theme, families carry the message to their communities.”

According to the press release, studies indicate that substance abuse risks lessen when parents talk to their children about the dangers of drugs, and that is the goal of this year’s contest: to encourage families to talk about prevention.

Red Ribbon Week is also in honor of former DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was abducted and murdered in Mexico in February 1985. In the words of DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, Camarena “made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe.”

The DEA will co-sponsor the national contest this year.

“Take the Red Ribbon Week pledge across America to help children grow up safe, healthy and drug free,” Sapp said.

Guest Editorial: Principal Appreciation Week is Oct. 22-26

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Do you want to tell a school principal that you appreciate them? If so, you’ll get your chance in a little under two weeks.

Oct. 22-26 this year will mark the 23rd annual Principal Appreciation Week in Illinois. The week-long celebration will culminate with Principal Appreciation Day on Friday, Oct. 26.

“Very few individuals have the ability to impact a student’s life like our educational leaders do every day,” said Aaron Hill, president of the Illinois Principals Association. “The overall operation, vision, and success of a school lies directly with the building administrator. All building administrators work tirelessly to ensure the success of our schools and to make sure our students are provided every opportunity to succeed. I encourage everyone to observe Principal Appreciation Day as our educational leaders deserve recognition for their dedication to our students.”

According to the Illinois Principals Association, Principal Appreciation Week provides school learning communities an opportunity to publicly recognize the work, commitment and importance of principals, assistant principals, and deans throughout the state.

“Research has proven that the building Principal’s impact on student achievement is second only to that of the classroom teacher when considering school based factors,” IPA Executive Director Jason Leahy said. “Principals and educational leaders impact students’ lives in a significant way. Speaking as a former principal and having visited dozens of schools throughout Illinois, the quality of a school’s learning environment and the ability of a school to do what is best for its students comes as a direct result of the leadership provided by the school’s principal and leadership team. Courageous leadership is essential to effectively educate students and work to provide the resources and support they need to be successful in the 21st Century. It is important that we recognize and encourage our schools’ leaders.”

Be sure to recognize and encourage your school’s leader the week of Oct. 22-26. After all, principals show their appreciation for students year-round by trying to make their school a better place, but Principal Appreciation Week only happens once a year.

Guest Editorial: Newspapers are community icons

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by David Porter, director of communications and marketing for the Illinois Press Association

Congratulations. By holding this newspaper in your hands [or reading online], you are participating in a strong community tradition that dates back hundreds of years. You are demonstrating that you don’t simply live or work in this community, but that you are a part of it.

The local newspaper is the cornerstone of a community. This is where the community congregates, so to speak. It’s where we record the daily history of the town, discuss the issues of the day, shop for new items and peddle our used items. It’s where we learn about what’s going on at the school, at city hall and in our neighborhoods. It’s where we track who was born, who passed on and who won the game last night.

The newspaper starts out as a large, blank roll of paper. While reporters, photographers and editors do the work of writing the news and placing it on the pages, it’s the community itself that fills these pages. As the pages are printed, the newspapers are sliced and folded and prepared for delivery.

Then an amazing thing happens.

It’s as if the paper becomes one giant roll again, wrapping the community together. From customers in the salons and barbershops to the diners in the restaurants to the students in the classrooms, everyone has access to the entire community through the pages of the newspaper.

That’s not to say we all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” While there is great joy within these pages, the newspaper also serves as a forum for dissent. It’s a resource for discussion and a catalyst for debate.

The newspaper is as much a community icon as the local schools, the banks, the parks and the library. Any time a community loses one of these institutions, it loses a part of its identity. So, thank you for reading the newspaper today and preserving this rich and rewarding tradition.

Next week is National Newspaper Week in America, and we are proud to be here representing and recording our community.

Editorial: Time for a change

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As of Monday, Oct. 1, the Elburn Herald/Kaneland Publications Inc. will have a new home: the Elburn and Countryside Community Center.

Our new address will be 525 N. Main St., Suite 2, Elburn, IL 60119.

It is bittersweet to leave our home in the middle of downtown Elburn. We have been here since the 1950s—longer than most of us have been alive, and far longer than any of us have been a member of the Elburn Herald/Kaneland Publications family.

Over the decades, those of us who have worked from our soon-to-be former location have had a first-hand view of the many changes that have gone on, in and around Elburn. From the front window looking out over the center of downtown Elburn, we’ve been witness to all the joys, heartaches, successes and struggles of a community growing its way through the years.

Like the community around us, we have evolved over the years, as well. It is due to our desire to continue to grow into a stronger, local community newspaper and general media company that led to the need to move into our new location inside the community center.

This gives us room to grow and creates a partnership with a cornerstone of the community. The Elburn and Countryside Community Center is a nonprofit organization that presents a perfect fit for a company like us, whose mission is to serve our community through everything we do.

Our new location gives us more space, more flexibility, and more potential to forge partnerships with more groups and local businesses.

So, while we are sad to leave our longtime home in the center of downtown Elburn, we look forward to the new friendships and opportunities that await us just a few blocks to the north.

We hope you stop by and check us out at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, and while you’re there, you might want to see who else calls the community center home, as well.

Editorial: Learn ways to help fund a college education

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College tuition costs continue to remain high, and in many cases, continue to climb, despite the strugling economy.

That combination means that people are struggling even more than usual to either pay their own tuition, or the tuition of their children.

That is why events like Thursday’s Scholarship Fair are so important. The fair is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Sugar Grove Township Community Building, 141 Main St., Sugar Grove.

There will be representatives from numerous organizations and schools who will provide information on scholarships that are available for Kaneland students.

In addition, there will be multiple mini-sessions on various aspects of obtaining help in funding a college education.

The first mini-session is from 6:30 to 7 p.m., and is titled “How to fill out a FAFSA Form,” sponsored by Lighthouse College Planning. A similar session will be presented and sponsored by Waubonsee Community College from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

“How to do an Internet search for scholarships” will be the topic from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., and “How to complete a scholarship application and essay” will conclude the information sessions.

These types of events can prove invaluable for those trying to determine how to help pay for such a vital thing—an education.

For example, we here at the Elburn Herald offer two different scholarships every year. Some years we are inundated with scholarship applicants, and some years the number is much smaller. Based purely on word of mouth with some of the other local groups that also offer scholarships, that ebb and flow in the number of applicants is not unique to us.

We admit surprise to that fact, since given the high cost of secondary education combined with the struggling economy, it is clear that every dollar counts, and a tough job market means every educational opportunity should be pursued by those either entering college for the first time or those re-entering college to try and find a new path in the professional world.

We hope to see a large turnout tonight (Thursday), and we also hope to have the good problem of being overwhelmed with the number of scholarship applicants this year.

For information about the scholarship fair itself, contact Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry Executive Director Shari Baum at (630) 466-7895.

For anyone who would like information about either of the Elburn Herald scholarships, call Ryan Wells or Carly Shaw at (630) 365-6446.

We hope to see you tonight!

Editorial: Inflexible AYP standards cast unfair spotlight on Kaneland, other school districts

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It was during Secretariat’s legendary performance in the 1973 Belmont Stakes that a reporter in attendance allegedly wept at the sheer display of perfection the horse exhibited en route to a 31-length victory and subsequent procurement of the elusive Triple Crown.

Indeed, the sight of Secretariat’s perfect race reduced a grown man to tears, and it was because “perfection” is an occurance rarely experienced in any walk of life. To witness it would be akin to viewing Hailey’s Comet or the career of Michael Jordan—enjoy it, because it almost certainly will not happen again in your lifetime.

The ultra-scarce and seldom-felt nature of perfection, however, didn’t occur to those who created the No Child Left Behind Act 10 years ago, when they put forth a graduated academic plan that, if realized, would be the equivalent of the perfection displayed by Secretariat at the ‘73 Belmont Stakes: an achievement that bordered on the impossible and the unthinkable.

The act’s Academic Yearly Progress (AYP) standards are based on Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) for grades 3-8 and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) for grade 11, and mandate that a specific percentage of students at those grade levels in every state school meet or exceed the reading and mathematics requirement in place for the year. According to the Illinois Interactive Report Card website, the AYP target was set at 40 percent for 2003 and 2004, 47.5 percent for 2005 and 2006, 55 percent for 2007, 62.5 percent for 2008, 70 percent for 2009, 77.5 percent for 2010 and 88.5 percent for 2011. The AYP target number for 2012 and 2013 is 92.5 percent.

The AYP target number for 2014 is … (wait for it) … 100 percent meets and exceeds.

Simply put, NCLB is a well-meaning academic accountability tool that was fueled by unchecked ambition, not reality. The results, as you can imagine, have left much to be desired.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said Kaneland High School has been on the fails-to-meet-and-exceed list for several years (since 2007, to be exact) and remains there, as does almost every high school in the state. Harter Middle School and Kaneland John Stewart Elementary also recently failed to make the cut, both due to the performance of a subgroup in those respective buildings.

AYP requires 77.5 percent of every subgroup to meet and exceed reading and mathematics requirements. Subgroups are defined by racial demographics, limited English proficiency (LEP), special needs students involved in individualized educational program (IEP), and low income.

John Stewart met AYP standards with the entire student population, but did not meet the standard in reading with the economically disadvantaged subgroup.

Despite three Kaneland schools failing to satisfy AYP requirements, only John Stewart, which receives Title 1 funds, will be designated as a “choice” school. That means students who attend John Stewart now have the option to transfer to another Kaneland elementary school. The School Board on Monday designated John Shields, McDole and Blackberry Creek as schools that will accept choice students

For what it’s worth, Harter Middle School‘s meets-and-exceeds rate was 91 percent in 2011—9 percent higher than the state average. John Stewart last year scored an 87 percent meets-and-exceeds rate, which was 5 percent higher than the state mark.

Even the high school, at 57 percent, was six points higher than the state average in 2011.

“We’re still paying the price for a policy passed in 2002,” School Board trustee Tony Valente said on Monday.

Schuler last winter said he hoped the state would issue a waiver to provide Illinois school districts with some much-needed relief from AYP standards.

Kaneland may have to wait a while for that waiver to materialize, as Schuler said his understanding from the state superintendent is that a waiver this year is unlikely. However, a waiver in 2013 isn’t out of the question.

“While I applaud the desire to build accountability for the learning of all students, the system has to be realistic and fair. The current system does not meet either of those criteria, and I am hopeful a waiver will change that for next school year.”

Let’s hope so, because NCLB and its AYP requirement of 92.5 (soon to be 100 percent) meets and exceeds is a standard that few, if any, state schools can realistically hope to achieve.

In fact, those are numbers even the mighty Secretariat couldn’t have outrun.

Editorial: Farewell to the 2012 summer festival season

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The close of Labor Day weekend each year signals the start of many good things in this area: pumpkin and apple picking, cooler weather (hopefully) and Sunday football. However, Labor Day’s exit also means that we must say goodbye to summer festival season.

Summer festival season around these parts is a fleeting one—just six weeks long—but what it lacks in duration, it more than makes up for in bombast, high-end musical entertainment, great food and family-friendly fun. More importantly, local summer festivals, such as Sugar Grove Corn Boil, Elburn Days, Kaneville Fest and Maple Park Fun Fest, provide the perfect opportunity for members of the community to join together on a selected weekend and celebrate the things that make their respective town so wonderful and unique. Whether it’s a celebration of corn, truck pulls and mud volleyball, horse-drawn carriage rides, or softball and town-wide get-togethers, village spirit can be seen and heard practically everywhere from late Julyto early September.

And while these festivals are all very different in structure and presentation, they all represent the same idea: this village is a better place because of its residents.

That message was in full effect this summer when 48-year Sugar Grove resident Helen Jorgensen was named Citizen of the Year thanks to her countless (and we mean countless) contributions to the Sugar Grove community. Jorgensen has done it all: founded a hand-typed publication, served as a volunteer firefighter, drove a school bus, carried mail, etc. When the Corn Boil reconvenes every July, it’s to celebrate the caring contributions of citizens like Jorgensen, and we all can learn a little something about community involvement and pride from her.

Last but not least, these festivals can also help us put aside, for a short time, the small stuff that weighs down our daily lives, and instead serve as a reminder to all of us that life is only as good as the relationships we keep with our neighbors, friends and loved ones. Whether you’re devouring delicious corn with your family, touring through a maze of Elburn Days games with your children, enjoying Kaneville’s fireworks show with your neighbors or partaking in Monday morning breakfast with good friends at the outfield hayracks in Maple Park, you’d be hard pressed to find time better spent.

Here’s to what was a tremendous 2012 summer festival season. Next year’s season certainly has its work cut out for itself.

Guest Editorial: Start of school requires extra precautions while driving

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by Lt. Pat Gengler
Kane County Sheriff’s Office

With the start of school comes the need to remind drivers to be aware of school buses, school bus stops and children waiting for school buses.

Last year, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office fielded countless complaints of reckless driving and speeding near school bus stops in residential neighborhoods and on county roads while children were waiting to go to school. These complaints often came from residents who live in subdivisions near Randall Road and involved drivers in search of a short cut.

This school year, in an aggressive effort to promote safety for school children, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office will enforce school zone traffic regulations by encouraging drivers to follow the law relative to school buses, and to stay on the main roads and avoid neighborhoods where children are waiting for school buses.

Enforcement details will be established near schools and bus stops in unincorporated Kane County. Specific areas will be along Crane Road, Burr Road, Route 30 in Big Rock, the Mill Creek subdivision, the Red Gate Ridge subdivision, and the county roads near Kaneland and Burlington Central high schools.

Last year, the majority of drivers who were stopped by deputies in these areas were parents who were taking their children to school or driving to work. The question deputies posed to them was, “What if that was your child at that bus stop that you just sped past?”

An added reminder that cell phone usage in school and construction zones is unlawful.

Guest Editorial: Farmers markets offer more than food

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by Kathie Starkweather,
kathies@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs

Farmers markets are popping up in small towns across rural America. Increasingly, farmers and ranchers realize there is interest in fresh, locally-grown food. And while it may not be their only source of income, it puts local dollars in local pockets and impacts the health of local folks.

Savvy local grocers who see the farmers market as a complement to their own business benefit as well. Some advertise a “farmers market special” on ingredients needed to turn that just-purchased fresh zucchini into bread, or showcase farmers market growers in their stores.

But farmers markets provide more than economic and health benefits. They are community builders.
They bring people together in a relaxed atmosphere where they can talk with neighbors and take a few minutes to slow down and catch up.

I recently attended a new farmers market where tables were overflowing with fresh vegetables, fruit and baked goods and the town was overflowing with customers. I noticed that people were happy about being there—selling, buying or just enjoying and talking with neighbors.

The community came together to enjoy the experience. Important conversations were taking place, people were getting to know each other a little bit better, and relationships were being formed.

Communities develop when relationships are developed, connections are made and trust is built. And that’s what can happen at a Farmers market—it can be the catalyst for community building. And they aren’t a bad place to pick up some fresh, good-tasting food either.

Editorial: We hope to see you at Elburn Days this weekend

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The annual Elburn Days festival, a three-day festival and series of community events that runs from Friday through Sunday, Aug. 17-19, is technically an Elburn Lions event, but in reality it demonstrates what can happen when all manner of groups and individuals work together for the good of the community.

Virtually every event and activity associated with Elburn Days is some form of a fundraiser for a local group, so while the public benefits from having three days full of activities to choose from, the groups benefit from the public’s participation as well.

Starting even before the parade officially kicks off the festival at 6 p.m. on Friday, a day of activities can be found throughout town.

The first event is at St. Gall Church—a rummage and bake sale that begins at 8 a.m. on Friday. The Town and Country Library’s book sale starts at 9 a.m., and then the annual sidewalk sale and flea market spreads throughout downtown Elburn from 10 a.m. throughout the day.

As evening approaches, Lions Park opens, and the event launches full steam ahead and doesn’t let up until Sunday.

The Elburn Lions host the festival and coordinate the majority of the events. They organize the parade, the main stage and secondary stage entertainment, and much of the goings on throughout Lions Park. For them, this is their biggest fundraiser of the year, and we urge Elburn Days festival-goers to both thank a Lion when you see a Lion, as well as support the group with your patronage during the festival.

At the same time, there are a number of various organizations and individuals who also help make Elburn Days what it has become—a place for the community to come together, enjoy their time together, and help out local groups while having fun doing so.

We hope to see you at Lions Park and around town throughout the three-day festival. We especially hope to see you there during our part of the festivities—the Sunday afternoon Mud Volleyball Tournament that we co-host with the Elburn Chamber of Commerce.

This is the event’s fourth year, and it has grown significantly. Currently, there are approximately 350 people playing in the tournament, and if past years are any indication, another 200 to 300 will be on hand spectating.

We urge you to be one of them.

Guest Editorial: Elburn Station negotiations a ‘good chess game’

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by Ron Rosecky, Elburn resident
For those of us who appreciate a good chess game, a beauty has been going on here in Elburn for quite a while now.

On one side, we have the Village Board, consisting of seven men trying to negotiate terms and conditions for the future of Elburn after the Anderson Road bridge is built and completed. On the other side is a very successful and quality-focused builder (ShoDeen) who wants to build a subdivision near the Elburn Train Station and see Elburn grow.

Each side has been involved in strategic moves and counter moves in hopes of arriving at an agreeable conclusion of what they feel would be an acceptable victory for each side.

The Village Board absolutely needs your feedback and input. To those of you who have attended Planning Commission hearings, I applaud you. But do not presume the Planning Commission and Village Board are identical and/or similar. In order to let the Village Board know how you feel, it is imperative you come to the possibly final open meeting on this subject. Monday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. at Village Hall, 301 E. North St., is your chance.

The work and negotiations that have been going on have been unparalleled. I commend both sides on their steadfastness and dedication. Let’s hope we both win.

Consider this as an invitation to a wedding. Will you sit on the bride’s (Elburn village) side or the groom’s (ShoDeen) side?

Editorial: Examples of ‘community’ abound

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This part of the summer—when our local communities are on display to their residents, as well as those who live nearby through their festivals —are a perfect time to reflect on what it means to be a “community,” what it means to turn a place in which one lives into their hometown.

This week, we get to reflect on the village of Sugar Grove, and while there were countless examples of “community” on display at the village’s three-day festival, the Sugar Grove Corn Boil, there are two related examples that really stand out.

The first is longtime Sugar Grove resident Helen Jorgensen, who earned her designation as the Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year during Friday’s festival opening ceremonies.

Her reaction to the recognition demonstrating true community spirit; the type of spirit in which one gives of their time and energy with no desire for recognition or accolades.

“It’s an honor, it’s an honor, but I really don’t think I deserve it,” she said in Elburn Herald reporter Cheryl Borrowdale’s story on page 1. “What I did, I did because I wanted to. It wasn’t ‘oh, look at me, look what I did for the village.’ I like to be in the background, instead of out front.”

Her 48-year connection to the community is so full of examples of community that it was impossible for those who nominated her for the award to list them all, and likewise, it is impossible to list them all here. That being said, her involvement encompasses just about every phase of community life, ranging from church involvement to school, from American Legion volunteerism to community fundraising, from serving as an election judge to an event organizer.

The list goes on and on, and the point is, she did it all with her sole motivation to serve her community and get to know it, and its members, better.

She told Cheryl how she first began to get involved in the community, and why:

“I was tired of not knowing anybody, so when we got here, I joined the PTA,” she said. “I’m happy to talk to everybody. I don’t ever meet a stranger; if I see someone, I go out and talk to them.”

Our second example of community in Sugar Grove comes from the man who introduced Helen as the 2012 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year on Friday, Village President Sean Michels.

Last week, he announced his intention to run for re-election in 2013.

Making the decision to serve on as a local elected official is not something to be taken lightly; it requires a significant amount of time and energy just to win an election, and even moreso once seated. The pay is negligable, and trying to do your best to serve is often met with anger and frustration from constituents who want answers to their questions and completion of their needs yesterday. In addition, the media (this specific space included), can sometimes seem like an unfriendly entity if things don’t go smoothly all of the time.

That being said, for someone to still pursue such a service role, knowing in advance the challenges that must be overcome, truly requires a desire to serve the community for the sake of the community’s benefit and not their own.

As Elburn Herald Editor Keith Beebe noted on page 1, Sean’s tenure as village president spans so much time that the face of the community—not to mention the nation overall—has changed dramatically.

When he began, the primary focus was how to deal with the looming residential growth that was making Sugar Grove—as well as Kane County—among the fastest-growing in the nation. It required ensuring that infrastructure was in place, negotiations with the various governmental entities plus developers advanced in as beneficial a way as possible, and as he put it to Keith, “… and make sure we had (everything) dialed into place.”

Now that the residential growth boom has subsided, the focus has shifted to bringing in business to diversify the community’s tax base, and as he explained, “… make this more of a place where people live, work and dine.”

Both recent examples of community—Helen Jorgensen and Sean Michels—demonstrate a willingness to serve their fellow residents with no expectation of thanks in return. Helen told us that she prefers to remain in the background and admitted to being a bit embarassed by her recognition. For Sean, there is no way to serve as village president and remain in the background, but that also means he often has a target for criticism drawn on his back.

That is why each presents a perfect example of community spirit—a willingness to serve, even if it means doing so with no thanks at all, or even in some cases, criticism of their efforts. In either case, their efforts should be applauded, and their motivations duplicated by us all.

Editorial: Enjoy the Corn Boil

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Every year, countless man hours from dozens of people representing numerous organizations culminate in a three-day festival celebrating community—the Sugar Grove Corn Boil.

This year, that effort will come together this Friday through Sunday, July 27-29.

There are so many things for people of all ages to see and do during the three days, we dedicated two full sections to previewing it—the final section is in this week’s edition.

The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, although Volunteer Park will open two hours earlier. From that moment until the festival concludes Sunday evening, residents from throughout the area will be treated to a fun-filled, family event that demonstrates what a dedicated group of individuals can do with limited funds, community support and a ton of community spirit.

From live music to a car show, Bingo to the annual water fights, there is definitely something there during the three days to entertain anyone of any age and virtually any interest.

Most importantly, though, the event draws together the community, because it truly is the community that organizes the festival.

We urge everyone to attend at least a portion of the Corn Boil festivities, and as you stroll through the grounds, pay attention to the different individuals and groups who put it together. Pay attention to those who spent their time and/or money to help make sure that for three days, the community comes together to both entertain and be entertained, to share in laughter and joy, and of course, to eat a lot of corn.

As each of you enjoy your portion of the Corn Boil, we ask that you thank those who helped put it on, and as you leave, we ask that you think how you might be able to help during next year’s preparation.

Maybe it’s a few hours of your time to check IDs at the beer garden or sell raffle tickets; maybe it’s a monetary donation to help ensure the fireworks continue. Whatever it is, just know that, as much community spirit you may feel as a festival-goer, the effect is ten-fold when you know you played a part in helping it come together.

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