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posted: 1/12/2013 5:00 AM

The Soapbox

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Salute to nerdy pursuits:

Stevenson High School graduate Rachel Cliburn was doing research at Baylor University when she looked at a scientific journal and thought, "It's someone's job to actually do this, just to find stuff out?" Yes, it's among many behind-the-scenes jobs we need people to be interested in. Now she's among them as a Fulbright Scholar studying addiction.

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Teacher at heart:

Heidi Wennstrom seems a fitting choice for new superintendent of Oak Brook's Butler Elementary District 53. An assistant superintendent in Highland Park, she cut her teeth as a principal and administrator in Antioch. But we like the way she hasn't forgotten her roots. "I think I wanted to be a teacher when I was 6 years old," Wennstrom said,

Be inspired:

If your life is seeming less than perfect, head out to Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic Church in Arlington Heights at 3 p.m. Sunday. Don Grossnickle and co-founders of the Gridiron Alliance, which assists paralyzed athletes, will share life stories in their new book "Unbreakable Resiliance." They'll reflect on "the blessings and grace of an imperfect life." You'll be inspired.

Way to go, Gary:

The Oscar nominations Thursday generated all sorts of chatter about who was snubbed. Below the radar, however, Elmhurst native Gary Rydstrom snagged his 17th Oscar nomination for his sound mixing work on "Lincoln." It's an impressive record and reminds all of us that, with talent and drive, dreams do come true.

Coming together:

As a youth sports official, Bill Spicer has had to make some tough calls, and he always answered the call when a team needed his help. Now that he's battling a rare form of leukemia, his friends and neighbors are answering as well. Many organizations combined for a Jan. 15 fundraiser at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights to help with his medical bills. Great call.

Going the extra mile:

Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery is breaking new ground with a list of head-coaching candidates that is longer than most NFL scoring drives. Whether he picks the right person or not, he's certainly thorough. With more than 13 reported candidates, and possibly more than that, let's hope he finds what he wants.

Farewell to community servants:

Lake County residents said a final goodbye this week to two longtime community boosters. William Madole, 86, a former Libertyville trustee, was the force behind the veterans memorial at Lakeside Cemetery. Frank Beelow, 78, of Fremont Township, was a veteran of the county Farm Bureau and the Fair Association board. They will be missed.

Congrats, ECC:

Elgin Community College's Alliance for College Readiness is a finalist for a national award for its efforts to ensure that kids in its feeder districts are college ready when they graduate high school. College faculty work with educators at middle and high schools to make that happen. Good luck! (But the program's already a winner).

Congratulations, but ...

We couldn't be happier for Wladyslaw Krawlec of Cary, whose prayer for "a little bit of help" after he lost his job seemed to be answered with a $175,000 winning Quick Pick ticket. Oh, but the odds. For millions of other lottery players, including thousands who may be down on their luck, the dollar for that ticket would be better spent at the gas pump or grocery counter.

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