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updated: 8/1/2011 6:24 AM

The suburbs teem with incredible young people

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

What amazing young people live in our midst.

You've read some of the stories.

There's Lexi Youngberg, an incredible 18-year-old from St. Charles who survived a horrific boating accident in Michigan two years ago that severed her leg. Today, with the aid of prosthetic legs, she walks without crutches, plays soccer for her Wheaton Academy team and participates in a variety of other sports. She is blessed with an indomitable spirit that is infectious. "Before my accident, I had no idea what I wanted to be," she says. "Now, it's like my faith has grown, and I have purpose and meaning to live it out."

There's Svilena Bochukova, another 18-year-old. She's from Des Plaines. She emigrated with her family from Bulgaria to the United States in the fourth grade without understanding a bit of English. Her resume of academic and extracurricular achievement at Maine West High School is extraordinary. This fall, she'll enroll at Harvard University. Her parents' "selflessness is inspiring to me," she says, "and I always have their sacrifice in the back of my head. I've met a lot of kids who don't know how good they have it here, but I can't afford to be that way."

There's Nolan Maloney, a 17-year-old from Naperville whose science skills are so advanced that he's co-authored a research paper that was presented to the American Association for Cancer Research. An instructor at an exclusive chemistry camp he attended described him as a future Einstein. "Disappointment," Nolan says, "is all about how you view it. You can choose to see something as a minor setback or as a source of new motivation."

Certainly, on the pages of our newspaper, we report stories of crime, scandal, wrongheadedness. We have an obligation to do so.

But we always have believed a newspaper should be more than just what's wrong with the world. Good ones reflect the community, and an accurate reflection presents the best of the community too, not just the worst.

And we've always tried to do that. Since May, Elena Ferrarin and Kimberly Pohl have taken that idea and hung a star on it. You'll find their weekly column, Suburban Standouts, on Thursdays.

It has included the stories of Lexi, Svilena and Nolan and a number of others too. And they just represent the first handful. There are huge numbers of other Standouts out there. The suburbs are teeming with them. That likely even fits the description of someone you know; if so, call it to our attention by emailing at

Incessantly, it seems, we're all inundated with negativity. Almost everywhere we look. In our conversations and our gossip, any of us may fall into it, some more often than others. But life isn't all negative.

As Nolan points out, how good life is really comes down to the point of view you bring to it.