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posted: 11/28/2013 5:00 AM

Good news stories abound throughout the year

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It seems as though there is something in human nature that draws us to bad news, to the sensational, the terrifying. As a result, we often most remember those kinds of news stories and develop an impression that they are what define "the news."

Each Thanksgiving Day, I like to contradict that impression with mention of just a few of the bright stories that made news just from the previous week, emphasizing that if these stories emerge in a single week, you can imagine how much good news abounds year-round. In that spirit, consider these from among a host of good-news stories we carried this week:

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• It's a little unfair to highlight Wednesday's front-page centerpiece about suburbanites who have headed to Washington, Ill., because it involves such a major breaking-news event, but that high-profile reminder of people's natural inclination to rush to the aid of neighbors in trouble can't be overlooked. As our Sunday editorial said, "It's funny how a story of so much destruction can become a story of so much inspiration."

• Somewhat less prominent but equally inspirational was the story Wednesday of Dan Rich, winner of the Daily Herald's Cook of the Year contest, donating his prizes to the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin. It was no small act. The winnings included a dishwasher, a Foreman grill, a knife set and gift cards.

• And just a few pages farther into Wednesday's front section came the report that Kane County's health department has won national accreditation, a rare achievement recognizing excellence in, among other things, health education, chronic disease prevention and access to critical services.

• Speaking of recognizing excellence, we reported Tuesday that three Northwest suburban schools -- St. Peter Lutheran in Arlington Heights, Roslyn Road Elementary in Barrington, and Twin Groves Middle School in Buffalo Grove -- are among just 21 Illinois schools identified as "Blue Ribbon" schools by the U.S. Department of Education. The standard is high student performance, but other factors add to the uplifting nature of this story. At St. Peter's, for example, administrators stressed the importance of teaching kids to be active in the community.

• The good-news/bad-news nature of sports is so dependent on outcomes, but how can you avoid noticing the achievements of Northern Illinois University's football Huskies, a mid-major school apparently headed for an appearance in a major bowl, college football's biggest stage.

• For those worried that America is turning its back on religion, our Monday story on the thousand-strong throng that packed a Long Grove temple for an interfaith service involving eight Christian and Jewish congregations should have lifted some spirits.

And there was so much more: a suburban opera singer who made it to the Met, a sixth-grade teacher featured as part of our ongoing series on top teachers in the suburbs, an Oak Brook man named a Rhodes Scholar, the principal of an Arlington Heights school nominated for a prestigious national award for Catholic educators and many more, not to mention a host of stories reflecting good deeds done in the spirit of the holiday season.

All in one week.

There is no denying that tragedy, trauma and terror get attention, and such stories certainly have their place. But honor, happiness and hope also have theirs. That's an important thing to remember on Thanksgiving Day, and every day.

• Jim Slusher, jslusher@dailyherald.com, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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