Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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Life's a stage for Woodbury resident Peggy O'Connell who has spent her life bringing characters to stages from Minnesota to Seattle to Broadway. "You never fully disappear or you'd go insane, but it's great fun to pretend," she said. "It's fun to get into someone else's skin." Currently, O'Connell is appearing in "Always...Patsy Cline" at the Chanhassen Dinner Theaters as Louise Seger, Patsy's friend and fan. "This part is pretty dang fun," she said.
With the new season of "American Idol" already singing its way to the top of the ratings, Woodbury Junior High is getting in on the phenomena by bringing the singing competition to its halls for the first Woodbury Junior High Idol competition. "Students can show off their singing ability, which is a great accomplishment for them," student council advisor Richard Saintey said.
Dozens of young artists and scientists came out for Middleton Elementary's Science and Art Fair March 20. Whether a student is a left brain thinker or a right brain thinker, the science and art fair allowed students to express their creativity and knowledge. This event was initially just a science fair. Dana Misner, PTA volunteer coordinator, however, brought the idea of incorporating the two subject three years ago because art is such a popular activity among students.
How often do kids hear the "myth" that eating right can make them stronger and faster? Well, kids got a taste of that reality on March 20 at Woodbury Elementary through the Dairy Fully Fueled Tour, sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Council. "We want kids to realize that eating right can be fun," Lisa McCann, program manager for the MDC, said. "We're teaching beneficial lessons in a fun way." This is the first year for the Dairy Fully Fueled Tour and Woodbury is only one of 55 stops. Between 300 and 400 third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students participated in the event.
The Cedar's Bluff Homestead development agreement remains at a standstill after the Afton City Council extended the contract for another 60 days, at its March 17 meeting. Meanwhile, the developer looks for ways to revise the agreement to better appease the council. The Cedar's Bluff Homestead, Afton's first housing development, was approved in 2006. The developer, Len Pratt, returned to the council on Jan.
The cancer fighters will be out in full force again this year for the Relay for Life of Woodbury on June 19 and 20. "We call it the reason to relay," said Relay for Life co-chair, referring to cancer. "What is your Relay story? Everybody has one. It might not be a first degree of separation, but everybody is drawn to giving their time, giving their money and camping out in the middle of the night in a park." Relay for Life is an annual event.
It was just a little off the top for Woodwinds Health Campus acupuncturist Ian Johnson and emergency room medical director Dr. David Hale on March 17. Both men volunteered to have their heads shaved that day to help raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. "We're gonna raise what we can and have fun doing it," Johnson said. "Every dollar we get is a dollar going to them and we're happy with anything." The St. Baldrick's Foundation, based out of North Dakota, is the world's largest volunteer-driven fundraising event for childhood cancer research.
For all those undiscovered musicians at Woodbury High School, there may be hope. Dan West of Woodbury and his brother Matt of Eagan are currently in the process of launching a website similar to YouTube or Hulu that will air online shows about motorcycles. They are looking for a talented band to record the music for their shows. The website, motorcycleunderground.com will feature motorcycle safety gear, new products, trip documentaries, motorcycle maintenance and event overviews.
Standing 40 feet in the trees with nothing but your partner to trust. This is what went through the minds of 95 sixth-graders from Royal Oaks Elementary during their three-day team-building trip March 11-13. Four sixth grade teachers -- Laurie Beebe, Andy Larson, Louise Hinz and Katie Ward -- accompanied their students to Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, Minn. where students participated in a variety of team building and self discovery activities and tasks. "It's challenge by choice," Hinz said.
During its March 17 meeting, the Afton City Council ratified a recommendation to dissolve the Lower St. Croix Water Management Organization. Afton's representative to the Lower St. Croix board of managers, which includes representatives from Afton, Cottage Grove and Denmark Township, informed the council that the recommendation to dissolve the LSCWMO had been approved. The agency is a product of a joint powers agreement among the three cities, as well as Hastings, and will now merge Afton into both the South Washington Watershed and Valley Branch Watershed districts.