Good News Sunday: First babies of 2024 make their appearance

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

Andrea and Matthew Hodge greeted another year where they rang in 2021: the hospital maternity wing.

Their first daughter, Esther, now 3, was born on New Year’s Eve. The Batavia couple was due to welcome their third child on Jan. 1. Sure enough, the newest member of the Hodge family will celebrate back-to-back birthdays with her big sister.

“We have a New Year’s Eve baby and now a New Year’s Day baby,” Andrea Hodge said with her husband by her side at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

Pearl Noelle Hodge, a 7.5-pound bundle of cuteness, came into the world at 5:28 a.m., making her one of the first babies of 2024 and leaving her parents filled with “immense pride.”

Other suburban hospitals were busy delivering New Year’s babies and future members of the high school Class of 2042, including Kennedi James Madsen at Endeavor Health Edward Hospital in Naperville, girl/boy twins at Endeavor Health Elmhurst Hospital, and Ocean Ortman at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

For the full story, click here.

  The Lutzke family, from left, Tina, Kyla, 14; Susan, 17; Jacob, 18; Ryan, 12; front left, and Josh, at St. Bede School. The Ingleside school is at risk of closure next year unless the community raises $400,000. Susan Lutzke has started a GoFundMe for the school. Brian Hill/

Ingleside teen starts GoFundMe to save her Catholic grade school

Seventeen-year-old Susan Lutzke says her quest to save St. Bede School in Ingleside is about family.

The senior at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein and a 2020 St. Bede graduate has started the “Saving St. Bede School” GoFundMe page in response to the threat that the Archdiocese of Chicago will close the parish school next year unless it can raise $400,000 cash in hand by Jan. 26.

The shutdown would affect 194 students, including Susan’s brother, Ryan, who is expected to graduate in 2025.

So far, the GoFundMe account has raised more than $167,000, an impressive amount for a short time, but still far from the goal.

“It’s hard,” Susan said. “It’s different when you have siblings that are still there, especially with my brother who would have been graduating next year. I feel like it’s just like a big family, and everyone’s super close. If you come to basketball games now, there are still people that graduated years ago coming and watching.”

For the full story, click here.

West Aurora High senior Erik Longo poses with one of eight handmade Viking shield replicas he helped create for his Eagle Scout rank award. These shields will become permanent displays on the sides of the famous 130-year-old 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Viking ship on display at Good Templar Park in Geneva. Courtesy of Al Benson

Eagle Scout gives handmade Viking shield replicas to Geneva History Museum

West Aurora High School student Erik Longo of Aurora presented Geneva History Museum with an early Christmas present on Dec. 21.

For his Eagle Scout project, Longo, a West senior, presented eight handmade Viking replica shields to the museum’s Viking’s Voyage exhibit.

Longo’s project culminated 437 hours of labor by 23 volunteers over the past two years. For his project, Longo mobilized eight friends and 15 Scouts from Blackhawk Troop 11, which meets at Wesley United Methodist Church in Aurora.

The museum celebrated with “Freya’s Farewell,” a sendoff for the museum’s popular gallery exhibit, which ended Dec. 23.

The shields will become permanent displays on the sides of the famous 130-year-old Viking, a replica ship sailed from Norway to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The ship has been on display under a shelter at Good Templar Park in Geneva since 1995. A dragon head and tail framed the original Viking.

Terry Emma, museum director, said the Viking is the largest surviving display artifact of the World Columbian Exposition.

For the full story, click here.

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