Thumbs up: To responsible teens. Thirty-five students at DeKalb High School are participating in a program to spread awareness of driving safety. The teens have pledged to practice safe driving behaviors and to limit distractions while driving, such as texting, phone conversations and loud music. Better yet, they are working to get their peers to take the same pledge. Sure, there is grant money and a Kelly Clarkson concert at stake, but if the teens are serious about sticking to their pledge, roads will be safer for everyone.
Thumbs down: To a not-so-independent review of the National Security Agency spying programs. President Barack Obama appointed a panel that he described as independent experts to conduct a review, but the panel is effectively operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees the NSA. Any report the “independent” panel submits must be approved by the White House before it can be released, and it has been exempted from rules requiring that it meet in public. That will bear noting when their report has been vetted and released to the public.
Thumbs up: To an in-state college football matchup we’re eager to see, between Northern Illinois and Northwestern on Sept. 6, 2014. The game, which will be played at Northwestern’s Ryan Field in Evanston, should be a big draw for fans of the Huskies and Wildcats alike, given how many alumni of both schools live in the area. Some programs seem scared to schedule a quality non-conference opponent such as NIU, but they’re also finding out that out-of-state pushovers don’t exactly draw big crowds. It would be great if this game were the start of a running series between the Huskies and Wildcats.
Thumbs up: To this year’s Penguin Project production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” and the community support it has received. The Penguin Project pairs young people with disabilities with those without disabilities for a theatrical production. The cast of dozens has been working together on lines, songs and dance numbers for months. The show opened Thursday at Sycamore High School and has only two remaining performances. The Sunday show already is sold out. This project is a great lesson in friendship and accepting others.
Thumbs up: To DeKalb earning a rating of three out of five from judges in the America in Bloom program, which evaluates municipalities’ landscaping, environmental efforts and heritage preservation. Judges visited DeKalb for two days earlier this year and provided a detailed critique, and hopefully, plenty of suggestions for local programs. It was the first time the city participated in the program. The program offers valuable outside perspectives, but local leaders should get the most out of the $1,099 entry fee by carefully reviewing the suggestions and publicizing what the jugdes enjoyed, as well as their future visits.