Good News Sunday: Libertyville High environmental science teacher's hands-on approach inspires students

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

This past summer, Libertyville High School science teacher Dr. Jennifer Kahn attended a weeklong workshop aboard a research vessel on Lake Ontario.

Known for hands-on lessons with real-world implications, Kahn was working and learning alongside scientists on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ship Lake Guardian.

The focus on the ecological systems of the Great Lakes aligns well with her AP Environmental Science curriculum, which deals with local topics and issues, such as Lake Michigan as a drinking water source.

A passionate conservationist, Kahn strives to relate how scientists approach and try to solve real-world problems in lessons that extend beyond the classroom.

"It's science with context. It's science with real-world applications," Kahn said.

"We talk about climate change throughout the year. You have to understand how all systems relate to understand how changing systems affect components of the environment."

Kahn had been a systems analyst but changed careers to teaching. She began teaching chemistry at Libertyville nine years ago, and became the first to teach environmental science when it became a new offering about five years ago.

LHS Principal Tom Koulentes described AP Environmental Science as a "phenomenal class" because it asks students to draw on biology, chemistry, physics and ecology to understand the complexities of the natural world and propose solutions to many issues we face.

For the full story, click here.

Veterans honored at observances throughout the suburbs

It's about the stories, the U.S. Army veteran said.

"To me, it's just about celebrating veterans and people that have served," said Timothy Stroh of Glen Ellyn, a retired staff sergeant with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. "It's meaningful to me to share stories," he said.

Stroh was among about 150 people gathered in the Glen Ellyn Civic Center gymnasium on Nov. 11 for the Veterans Day Ceremony presented Saturday by Glen Ellyn American Legion Post 3 and The Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Glen Ellyn ceremony was one of many held throughout the suburbs.

St. Charles' annual ceremony included special recognition of World War II veteran Duane Stevenson, who turned 100 years old on Nov. 11.

Buffalo Grove welcomed Larry Kosiek of Mount Prospect as keynote speaker at its Nov. 11 ceremony.

Kosiek's father, Army Sgt. Albert Kosiek, led a platoon of 23 men who liberated 40,000 prisoners from Nazi concentration camps in Austria in 1945.

"History is important," said Buffalo Grove Board of Commissioners President Scott Jacobson. "For younger generations, observing Veterans Day is not only an act of respect, it's also an opportunity to learn about the sacrifices of those who served."

For the full story, click here.

Batavia pediatrician/ cookie artist appears on Food Network show

If all you knew about Priscilla Sarmiento-Gupana of Batavia is that Ted Lasso "freaked out" about cookies she made, that would be pretty impressive.

Oh, and she's also a pediatrician. And the hobbyist cookie artist recently appeared on Food Network's "Christmas Cookie Challenge." For the second time.

"I call myself a doctor by day and baker by night," she said. "It's really fun to come home at the end of the day and do something that's completely different."

Gupana said she's baked since she was a child, but really started focusing on the decorative aspect about a dozen years ago, just after she and her husband lost their firstborn son Maxwell at childbirth.

"It was really terrible," she said. "I started using baking then as a form of therapy. Baking is comforting. It's very measured, it's scientific. And there's comfort in knowing that there's something that's going to be produced at the end that will be enjoyed by everybody."

Since then she's used her hobby as a fun way to deal with the daily stress of being a doctor.

That hobby has garnered nearly 35,000 Instagram followers for @sarmiesistersweets and a second appearance on the Food Network show that aired Nov. 9.

She first appeared on season five in 2021.

"I didn't win, unfortunately, but I came pretty close," she said. "They loved my flavors and actually had nothing bad to say. It just wasn't my day, and that was OK."

Spoiler alert for those who haven't seen the Nov. 9 appearance: She came in second, which is still an impressive finish.

For the full story, click here.

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  World War II veteran Duane Stevenson, who turned 100 on Veterans Day, is recognized during a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 in St. Charles. Brian Hill/
  Batavia resident Priscilla Sarmiento-Gupana competed for the second time on Food Network's "Christmas Cookie Challenge." She's a pediatrician by day and hobbyist baker by night who has a sizable Instagram following and has made numerous cookies for celebrity events, including the "Ted Lasso" wrap party. Rick West/
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