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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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A note to readers: After 3½ years of meeting weekly deadlines, I have decided to take a break from column writing. So my column next week will be the final one. I have appreciated the chance to interact with so many readers, and I hope to return to writing after taking some time off.

Quick note on showing appreciation

By Barry Schrader.................................May 17, 2011

A former DeKalb resident has started a movement to make “the world a million times better” by inspiring people such as you and me to write a note of appreciation to someone you know.
Mike O’Mary lived in DeKalb from 1988-2000, much of that time working for DeKalb Genetics. He told me his boss was Robert Pritchard, then in public relations at the Ag but now a state representative. O’Mary also did commentaries on WNIJ for a few years.
How did this idea come about? O’Mary had been separated from some of his siblings during childhood, and many years later he received a thank you note from his younger sister for something long forgotten by him.
“The note was a wake-up call for me. I had not been a very appreciative person up to then. So I decided to send some long overdue thank yous to others in my life,” he explained.
Next he had an article about his note writing published in the

Mike O'Mary

Peoria Journal Star, and that got him some positive feedback. A friend then suggested he expand the newspaper piece into a book, and he did. The little hardbound book is called “The Note,” and it can also be found on his website, www.noteproject.com.
In the book he talks about why appreciation is important in our lives and why people don’t take the time to do it. So he provides a step-by-step process to get started. In addition to that, he has prepared a lesson plan that teachers can use in the classroom.
Asked if new technology such as email is acceptable, he said that is OK, but the old-fashioned, handwritten note is his preference. Since kicking off the project he has presented more than 50 seminars throughout the state on the subject. These sessions are conducted at no charge, and he encourages people to contact him via the website for more information.
I am a firm believer in notes of appreciation or even a letter that says we have been out of touch for a while, so let’s reconnect. However, I must confess that email is so much easier, though less impressive. I can count on one hand the number of people who have used pen and paper to write me in the last year; computer-composed letters are the most popular method. There was a time when people jotted a few sentences on the back of their Christmas cards, but now we get photocopied annual reports instead. This is not a criticism of those, as we send them out ourselves. But what is really special is when someone reads that Christmas letter and writes back to comment on something in it.
So I hope O’Mary’s attempt to make “the world a million times better” spawns a whole new generation of letter writers.

Another subject: Many DeKalb schools’ alumni remember Will Widerberg, the former DeKalb teacher who was named National Teacher of the Year in 1954. Now a Florida resident, Widerberg gets invited to the annual awards ceremony at the White House and has attended eight times in the past. This month his daughter, Dawn, and her husband, Brad Sauer, of Sugar Grove, accompanied him, and they got to meet President Barack Obama at the ceremony. Dawn said at age 92, her father was the oldest honoree present and got an ovation when introduced.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115