Good News Sunday: On its 100th trip, Honor Flight Chicago still 'amazing' to veterans

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

Honor Flight Chicago started in 2008 as an ambitious project that transported 60 World War II veterans to Washington to see the national monument in their honor. Exceeding expectations and broadening the scope, the nonprofit agency recently celebrated its 100th Honor Flight on a special charter flight packed with 102 veterans from the Vietnam War, 11 from the Korean War and three from World War II.

Vietnam veterans and brothers John and Bob Runtz of Park Ridge took part in the most recent flight.

"This is amazing," both Runtz brothers marvel at some point during the trip that includes a ceremony at the World War II Memorial, visits to the Air Force Memorial, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial featuring a statue of the iconic flag-raising on the island of Iwo Jima, a performance by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Women's Memorial and the haunting Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.

Funded entirely by donations, each flight costs about $1,250 per veteran. Because of the pandemic, there were no flights in 2020. Last year, they changed the once-a-month schedule to squeeze in four trips in 10 weeks. This year is back on schedule, with the next flight set for May 11, but there are 2,700 Vietnam veterans still on the waiting list.

For the full story, click here.

Lisle teacher the only one in Illinois selected for NASA program

One of the reasons Tanya Anderson became a teacher was to tap into her love of science.

Now she'll get to fulfill a dream.

Tanya Anderson

Anderson, a junior high school science teacher for 14 years at St. Joan of Arc School in Lisle, has been selected as a 2022 NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador. She's one of only 24 teachers in 13 states chosen for the program and the lone teacher from Illinois.

The goal of the program is to expand Anderson's knowledge of astronomy and pass along that knowledge to her students to enhance science, technology, engineering and math engagement.

Shocked that she received the honor, Anderson can't wait to dive in.

"I was never confident about it but always hopeful," Anderson said. "It was one of those things where I knew I was putting everything I had into the application. I was just kind of crossing my fingers and saying a prayer that it was going to be good enough to be what they were looking for."

Anderson still doesn't know when or where she'll be participating. But at some point next school year, she'll head to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy in California or the Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii for a weeklong STEM immersion experience.

For the full story, click here.

Lake Villa music teacher named one of the top educators in Illinois

His work ethic, passion and dedication to his students earned Elliott Hile, a music teacher at Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa, one of the state's top teacher awards this year.

Hile found out he had been named the top teacher of the North suburbs region - including Lake, McHenry and Kane counties - during what he thought was a normal Monday faculty meeting in February.

  Elliott Hile, a music teacher at Lakes Community High School in Antioch-Lake Villa Area High School District 117, was named the top teacher of the North suburbs region, which includes Lake, McHenry and Kane counties. Brian Hill/

"It was a total surprise," Hile said. "The principal made an announcement, and that's when I found out, too."

Matthew Kastor, chair of the fine arts department and Hile's boss, nominated him for the recognition bestowed by the Illinois State Board of Education. Kastor said one thing that impresses him most about Hile is the dedication he has for his students and how much effort he puts into their experience.

"The kids identify that and enjoy working with him," Kastor said. "They are willing to work with him and for him."

For the full story, click here.

Fermilab's bison herd welcomes newborn, first baby bison of 2022

Fermilab in Batavia announced that its first baby bison of 2022 was born April 13.

A name for the baby bison was not released. But up to 20 more calves are expected throughout the spring.

Fermilab in Batavia announced that its first baby bison of 2022 was born April 13. Courtesy of Ryan Postel/Fermilab

All this may come as a surprise to folks who know of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory only as America's premier national lab for particle physics research.

Fermilab's surrounding grounds are also home to a herd of nearly three dozen American plains bison as part of an officially designated National Environmental Research Park set up by the U.S. Department of Energy. According to spokesperson Tracy Marc, the herd currently comprises 32 bison - 30 cows and two bulls.

For the full story, click here.

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