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Pulse: Books, pianos and reasons to shine

Celeste Giles of the 95th Street Library reads “Otis” to children at Kensington School of South Naperville on Oct. 3 as part of the 2013 Read for the Record event sponsored by Jumpstart.  |  Submitted
(From left) Gordan McNelly, Barbara Yokom, Joni Wiltz-Berkley, Mary Ann Covone and Judith Brodhead pose for a picture during the official Steinway & Sons presentation Sept. 15. McNelly, Covone and Brodhead are from Steinway & sons. Yokom is the executive director and founder of The School of Performing Arts. And Wiltz-Berkley is the managing director of The School of Performing Arts.  |  Submitted
Tribute Park on the grounds of the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Mich.  |  Submitted
Scott Holley, former Naperville VFW Post 3873 commander and current trustee, said that the first Saturday of October is set aside as “Illinois Day” for the VFW and that a bus load contingency of about 35 people made the trip this year.  |  Submitted

Read for the Record

Kensington students help break record

Now here’s one for the record books — literally.

Last week, students from Kensington School of south Naperville participated in Read for the Record, a national campaign designed by Jumpstart to celebrate literacy and promote early childhood education. On Oct. 3, they joined others from around the country to read the children’s book “Otis,” by Loren Long, and broke a record doing so.

“Kensington School is committed to reading with this Read for The Record event,” said Amy Baker, school director at Kensington. “Events like this allow our students, parents and teachers to come together; through creative programming we can encourage families to read and grow together.”

This is the second year Kensington children have participated in the reading event, which has engaged almost 9 million early readers since it began in 2006.

Baker said they will participate again next year.

“It is Kensington’s goal to encourage our students to read for a lifetime,” Baker said. “Reading is one of the most valuable gifts a family can share. At Kensington, we hope their participation leads to a lifetime of reading.”

A perfect 10

Steinway donates pianos to school

The School of Performing Arts in Naperville ushered in a new era of music distinction when it accepted delivery of eight upright pianos and two grand pianos designed specifically for the school by Steinway & Sons in New York.

“A partnership with Steinway allows our students access to amazing master class teachers and concerts in the Chicago area,” said Barbara Yokom, executive director and founder of The School of Performing Arts. “This is very exciting.”

The welcome additions earned the Naperville studio an All-Steinway School designation, a distinction shared by just more than 150 universities, conservatories and schools worldwide.

“We are thrilled to become an All-Steinway School of distinction and join the ranks of some of the most prestigious schools in the world,” Yokom said. “I am personally excited for our distinguished faculty and students who will have the privilege of performing and practicing on the Steinways for years to come.”

Keep the lights on

City earns utility management award

The city of Naperville recently received the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency’s president and CEO’s Municipality of the Year award.

The award recognizes Naperville’s commitment to reliable and innovative service to its electric customers, which includes more than 57,000 homes and businesses in the community. The IMEA, of which Naperville is a member, is a joint action agency made up of 32 municipal electric systems and one rural electric cooperative. Its primary function is to provide wholesale electricity to its members, which they, in turn, supply to their communities’ homes and businesses.

IMEA Chairman and CEO Kevin Gaden praised the utility for being at the cutting edge of technology and development. The city’s most recent and visible achievement has been the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative. The $22 million initiative is funded partly by a federal matching grant, with other funding coming from the Electric Department’s enterprise fund.

“The installation of more than 57,000 smart meters in every home and business in the city, along with automation and upgrade of the electric grid backbone, will improve service to the city’s customers,” Gaden said.

Gaden also pointed out that the IMEA is not alone in recognizing Naperville’s commitment to its customers. This past June, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory named Naperville to its Top 10 List of Utility Green Power Programs for customer participation in 2012, ranking fifth overall.

Tribute

VFW helps National Home for Children

Naperville resident Mike McGrath, who serves as the state director of Illinois for the VFW National Home for Children, recently was involved in the dedication of Tribute Park on the grounds of the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Mich.

The home serves active duty service men and women from around the country and includes two properties that are sponsored and maintained by the Department of Illinois VFW.

Scott Holley, former Naperville VFW Post 3873 commander and current trustee, said that the first Saturday of October is set aside as “Illinois Day” for the VFW and that a contingency of about 45 people made the trip this year, including McGrath.

“I’ve gone the last four or five years, and there is always a tour, a show put on by the youngsters and a luncheon,” Holley said. “Mike McGrath does an inspection of our homes to make sure repairs or others issues have been addressed, and it’s a just a great opportunity to see the homes that are providing services for all types of families.”

Holley said a total of 42 homes are on the property, including the two maintained by Illinois. The Tribute Park dedication was in honor of a new project at the entrance of the facility that includes fountains along with benches and flowers and pathways with stones for future honors and dedications. A statue of a little girl and boy climbing a hill and holding an American flag will soon be added.

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