February is time for both Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day
By A. GEORGE PRADEL Mayor of Naperville February 2, 2013 10:34PM
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:08AM
Hello, residents and friends of Naperville!
February is truly an interesting, yet lovely, month for me. First we started off yesterday with Groundhog Day, when we all eagerly awaited the appearance of that cute little groundhog. If it was cloudy when the groundhog emerged, we’ll see an early spring, but if it was sunny, the groundhog will “see” its shadow and burrow back down for six more weeks of winter.
It seems so silly to me that we look to a small animal for a sign of what the remainder of winter will bring! The past few years have been so mild and snow-free that it seems like we’ve had a taste of spring all winter long.
In the middle of the month, February brings us St. Valentine’s Day. This is one of my favorite days, because it’s a chance to tell those around me that they are very special. I can recognize and honor my family, neighbors, work acquaintances, City Council members, community leaders, and of course, my dear wife Pat. Pat, Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Last month, in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I called for a roundtable discussion with our community leaders. The goal was to gather together and discuss what we’re doing to prevent a similar situation, or any tragedy of any type, in our schools or the city as a whole. I was so impressed with the work of our wonderful school districts — Naperville Community Unit School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204 — as well as Edward Hospital and Linden Oaks at Edward. Our schools educate and care for almost 47,000 students, and these children are part of our collective city family. Our schools are prepared for emergencies and are continually preparing to ready themselves should an event out of the ordinary occur.
This discussion got me thinking about my time years ago as a school bus driver. School bus drivers play an important role in keeping kids safe on the ride to and from school, and they serve as a representative of our school districts. Between practicing safe driving habits and maintaining order on the school bus, these individuals possess a tremendous amount of responsibility.
I’m reminded every day of what school bus drivers encounter because my daughter Carol is one and has been for 29 years. I think sometimes we take that job for granted, yet these are the people who we entrust to safely transport our most precious cargo to and from school every day. I know firsthand that the driver’s main concern is to get these precious children from Point A to Point B safely.
Our children learn in Safety Town about bus safety, and we teach them to remember and follow specific rules while getting on, riding and getting off the bus. As parents and caregivers, it’s important that you also encourage children to follow the rules.
When you see a big yellow school bus driving down the street, please obey all laws. In other words, do not try to pass the school bus when the stop arm is out, and please instruct your children to respect the bus driver, listen to him or her and follow any directions provided. Our children are so special to us! We can show our love for them during this Valentine’s Day month by making their safety our number one priority.
If you have a child who rides the school bus, make this the month you drop a little thank you note to the driver. Maybe your child could give him or her a valentine! There are many people in our city who could use a little extra love this month. Be it a police officer, firefighter, city employee, council member, school teacher or community partner, everyone deserves a reminder that they are special, cherished and appreciated.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Naperville!