Tag Archives: Laura McPhee


A feast fit for the arts

Photo: The Kaneland Arts Initiative on Friday celebrated the arts with its fifth annual Fine Arts Feast at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove. KHS art teacher Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield plays the accordion for guests in attendance. Photo courtesy Sally Jane Photography

SUGAR GROVE—Rebecca Aimone is an Elburn resident and Kaneland parent who regularly attends the annual Fine Arts Feast.

Aimone believes it’s important to attend the event.

“We need art,” she said. “And we need music. And everybody should support this. It’s a part of life.”

This year marked the fifth annual fundraiser feast at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove. The event took place on Friday evening in the Pine Room, a space adorned with white lights and covered in smooth wood from the ceiling to the walls.

Nearly 100 supporters attended the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s (KAI) Fine Arts Feast. According to Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of KAI, $3,000 was raised at the event.

Dripps-Paulson said that KAI wants people to be “arts minded.” KAI offers the Fine Arts Festival, scholarships and performance series, and also puts money into the Kaneland School District.

“Everybody can be a sports fan,” Dripps-Paulson said. “But not everybody is an art lover. And we want to create more people who are art lovers. And by art, I mean all of the arts—fine arts, dance, all of those things.”

Laura McPhee, Board of Directors secretary and volunteer coordinator for KAI, said that the arts initiative is about community.

“It’s truly bringing the arts to every single person that is interested and wants to share that,” she said.

During the event, attendees had the opportunity to browse a variety of silent auction items ranging from Chicago Blackhawks tickets to a “Golfer’s Survival Kit.”

Raffle prizes included bookstore gift card, glass jewelry and orchestra tickets.

People dined on pasta, pizza and Ceasar salad.

Kaneland High School art teacher Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield played “Love Me Tender” on an accordion while many attendees flocked to grab desserts, including big, crisp chocolate chip cookies and tiny powdered sugar brownies.

The event also offered lots of live entertainment, as KAI representatives sang behind microphones. Dripps-Paulson had been part of the singing group she dubbed as Two and a Half Filipina. The group included her daughter Clara, 6, and Sugar Grove resident Estrellita Uzarraga.

Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School, is also the artistic director of KAI. She sang for attendees during the event while Deanna Cates, president of the Board of Directors, accompanied on a keyboard.

McFarlin concluded her bit with the announcement that the KAI’s summer theatre production will be “Once Upon a Mattress.”

Uzarraga’s sons Matthew, 11, and Zachary, 8, stole the show as they bounded up on top of big boxes, stood behind tall mic stands and sang songs from “Les Miserables.”

The brothers are professional actors and have acted on Kaneland’s community stage.

“I like that you get to pretend to be someone whose life is cooler than life that could be in real life,” Matthew said of acting. “And more extraordinary.”

Matthew’s acting career has allowed him to be a different person, as well as a bear and an ogre.

“You can pretend you’re a different person and you can have a different life,” Zachary said.

The boys also know what it’s like to be on stage with the audience applauding.

“It felt like I was bringing joy into their lives,” Matthew said.

Students say moms are best in town

SG contest sponsors select three winners
by Paula Coughlan
SUGAR GROVE—Three local mothers received a special honor just before Mother’s Day, winning the Best Moms in Town contest.

They were among 28 moms who were nominated for the award, through essays their Kaneland middle- and high-school students wrote. The contest was sponsored by Audrey Ritchey of Tastefully Simple home parties, the Sugar Grove Public Library and the Elburn Herald.

Winner Veronica Price was nominated by her daughter Kailah. Kailah wrote that her mother is very involved with home-schooling and church activities, as well as Kailah’s soccer games and violin lessons.

“My mom gives a hug even when the person has done something bad. She gives up so many things for me,” she said.

Veronica said she felt humbled when she heard she had won.

“You never really feel you’re the best mother,” she said. “You always feel you could do better.”

The second winning mom, Pattie Pattermann, a Kaneland teacher for eighth-grade language arts, was nominated by her daughter Kylen. Kylen wrote that her mom always finds time to listen to her problems and said, “My mother’s wisdom always shines through. When I don’t want to ‘hear about it’ because I think I’m smarter than her, I get hugs. I know my mom loves me. What more can I ask for?”

Pattie said she was pleased and surprised when she won, especially since she didn’t know her daughter had submitted an essay. Besides Kylen, she has two sons, one a junior in college and one graduating this month. She said she appreciates the sponsors and their gifts and the middle school for announcing the contest every morning.

“I’m hoping that more students will participate in next year’s contest,” Pattie said.

The third winning mom, Sherri Gura of Montgomery, was nominated by her daughter Starla. Starla expressed admiration for her mother’s strength during a divorce, and the loss of her own mother, brother and her five-year-old son from cancer. Starla said that when so many other people would have fallen apart, her mother was a source of strength that kept everyone else going.

In addition to Starla, she has two college-age sons.

“I knew that they were feeling what I was feeling,” Sherri said.

The day Sherri found out she’d won a Best Mom award, she was feeling down and then got the phone call.

“I don’t feel strong, but I’m glad my daughter sees me that way,” she said.

Each winner received a beach bag worth $350 with prizes that included oil change coupons, massages, olive oil, movie tickets, chocolate, coffee, automatic toothbrushes and other gifts from local businesses, the Elburn Herald, Tastefully Simple, Longaburger Baskets and Mary Kay cosmetics. The Friends of the Sugar Grove Library chose the winners.

“It was so difficult for them to choose,” Ritchey said. “Each one of the essays brought tears to our eyes for how thoughtful and heart-warming they were. They showed that these students really appreciated their mothers.”

Beverly Holmes Hughes, library director, said, “All three of the students (of the winning moms) said they wanted to be like their mothers—that they knew being a mom was a sacrifice.”

Other nominees

In addition to winners Veronica Price, Pattie Patermann and Sherri Gura, the other mothers whose children nominated them for the Best Mom in Town were Lisa Albrechs-Legorreoa, Julie Crabb, Margarette Darst, Laura Long, Annmarie Martons, Laura McPhee, Mrs. Packard, Marybridget Prince, Laura Remes, Jenny Reuland, Juanita Singh, Becky Staley, Kim Emmanouil, Tina Goodacre, Michelle Jurcenko, Cindy Prost, Judy Van Bogaert, Kim Wendling, Sally Alef, Kelly Rosenwinke, Cindi Strobel, Terry Lamb, Lynn McHenry and Angela Orr.

Photo: Veronica Price, Pattie Patermann and Sheri Gura. Courtesy photos