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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Woodbury Middle School eighth graders earned an academic gold medal last week. The students grabbed the top spot on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) II science test in terms of its raw scale score. "I was really proud because we worked so hard all year," said former WMS eighth grader Jamie Koller. "I couldn't believe that we actually got it." WMS beat out fellow Woodbury-based school Math and Science Academy by .4 percent. "We don't typically compare ourselves to MSA," WMS eighth grade science teacher Nick George said.
Even though the school plays are still a few months away, students got a little taste of theater last week during East Ridge High School's theater workshop. The workshop, which was open to all students, ran Aug. 18 and Aug. 19 at the school. The workshop drew a total of 95 students from all three District 833 high schools, three of the four District 833 middle schools and even Math and Science Academy, East Ridge theater director Amanda Hestwood said. Hestwood started offering a summer theater workshop last year.
A group of Woodbury teens are exploring the moon -- through Legos. Team Just Ducky was named one of 20 finalists from around the world in the second-annual MoonBots Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorm Challenge. The team - comprised of Math and Science Academy students Steffan Brown, Reti Khandelwal and Anita Kalatoor, Woodbury High School student Mary Rose Brown and 10th-grader Lars Olson, of Eau Claire, Wis. -- was slated to be notified if they placed Thursday after the Woodbury Bulletin went to press.
Afton City Council took its first step toward approving slight increases to its 2012 budget and levy. City Council approved the 2012 preliminary budget and levy during its Aug. 16 meeting. The council approved the preliminary budget at $1,743,670 -- an increase of $665,047 or 3 percent, from 2011. City Council approved the 2012 preliminary tax levy at $1,607,661, which is an increase of $46,825, or 2.9 percent. The city's Truth in Taxation Hearing is set for Dec. 20 during the City Council meeting.
Come November, District 834 could see more money coming in if voters see fit. The Stillwater Area School District has identified three levy questions to be included on this November's ballot as the district looks to solve its roughly $10 million deficit. District 834 School Board is scheduled to vote on the ballot questions during Thursday's meeting. "We're looking at the really big picture," said Superintendent Corey Lunn.
A Lake Middle School sixth-grader has the unique distinction of being able to call herself an international ambassador. This summer Hannah Hasegawa participated in a 14-day trip to Australia with the People to People Ambassador Program. "You get to have an experience of a lifetime," the 11-year-old said. "You get to go to different countries and kind of make peace." The People to People Ambassador Program was founded in 1956 by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a means to foster international relations on a "people to people" level.
If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, the Afton Historical Society may have the solution. The Afton Historical Society's Afton Fest returns for its second year. Afton Fest will be from 3 to 10 p.m. Aug. 20 in Town Square Park and will include live music by Dan Perry and Ice Cream and the Backyard Band, food and a raffle. Admission is $5. All proceeds from the event will go toward the Afton Historical Museum's annual operating budget.
In January 2010 Woodbury resident Hong Spores detected a few lumps on her breast. She immediately headed to the doctor. The ultrasound and mammogram showed nothing. "Everyone felt it," Spores said. "I was lucky enough to have a really good doctor that took me seriously." After meeting with a radiologist and undergoing a biopsy Spores received the news -- she had breast cancer. Spores was 31years old. She survived the ordeal, and now looks to carry on the struggle against cancer by walking in this weekend's Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. The 3-Day for the Cure event is Aug.
Is your dog the next Lassie? A Woodbury dog obedience school is hoping to find out with its "Canine Acting Class." The class met last Thursday. AllBreed Obedience and Behavioral School for Dogs owner Debra Schneider has been offering her canine acting class -- a six-week specialty class -- for nearly the past 10 years as a way to prepare dogs for their future acting careers in commercials, advertisements and maybe even movies. Schneider said she started offering the class after her dogs appeared in a variety of advertisements including Target and Slumberland.
Do you know your family history? Do you know where you come from? Woodbury resident Alice Mergel Alme was one of the ones who didn't. About three years ago Mergel Alme began work on updating her family registry. However, as she worked she became increasingly interested in what she found -- particularly in regard to her great grandparents. "I just became fascinated with Henry and Georgeanna," she said. "That just inspired me to find out more." It was that fascination that inspired Mergel Alme to write a book based on the lives of her great grandparents, Henry and Georgeanna.