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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Three years ago Kiersten Holine was a college freshman enduring the rigors of student life: early morning lectures and late-night study sessions. But between all the school-day rigors, Holine also found time to share her musical talent on YouTube. As a result, the Woodbury resident was included in Rolling Stone's annual Hot List issue as part of the "Hot Trend: The YouTube Folk Revival." Not bad for a first-year college student. Holine has been posting YouTube videos of her folksy, acoustic music since 2005 when she was a junior at Woodbury High School.
A group of Woodbury High School students are scheduled to spend time in court this month. Again. The school's Mock Trial team is currently 3-0 in its ongoing regional competition. They will compete in the regional finals on Feb. 18 and Feb. 24 at the Hennepin County Courthouse. "As you go forward in competition, the teams get more and more competitive," said Gwender Sterling, the Mock Trial coach, whose son Ian Taylor is one of about a dozen team members.
Come this August, a number of high school students will be trading in the beach for the classroom earlier than usual when the newly-developed "August Academy" takes shape at Woodbury High School. The August Academy, which will run from Aug. 2-13, will offer students a variety of classes that they may not be able to take during the school year. Some of the classes include "Preparing for the Advanced Placement Experience," "Preparation for High School and Beyond," "Robotics," "Survival: Survive and Return" and "Marching Band." The decision to offer the classes was announced in January.
Woodbury High School recently began offering live video feeds of its morning announcements in its classrooms. And in case you missed it, you can watch them on the World Wide Web. Previously, the school's morning announcements were delivered over loud speaker. Now they are being broadcast to the classroom via video and on YouTube a short while later. The first video school announcements aired live and later on YouTube last month. "What I've heard from staff members is that for the first time they are actually paying attention to announcements," WHS media specialist Brian Peters said.
East Ridge High School kicked prom off early Sunday, Feb. 7 with a prom fashion show at Bella Bridal in Woodbury. Heather Sward, of Bella Bridal, went to the high schools with the idea of partnering up for a fun pre-prom fashion show so the girls have a chance to see the spring styles. "We've been wanting to do this for a while," Sward said. "It's something for the girls to do to get excited about prom -- the hope is that the girls will come back and find their dresses." All of the models in the fashion show were students from ERHS and New Life Academy.
East Ridge High School Link crew leaders thought of a good way to bond with their freshmen: a little snow tubing action at nearby Afton Alps. The Link Crew leaders and their ninth grade counterparts took a field trip to the ski area Thursday, Feb. 4. "We thought this would be a great way for the students to build a connection with the upper classmen," said Link Crew advisor and East Ridge Social Studies teacher Kelly Reagan.
Updated at 12:40 p.m. on Feb. 11. Kevin Ig-Izevekhai placed seventh out of 30 contestants in the state Brain Bee competition on Feb. 10 at the University of Minnesota. There's plenty of knowledge competitions where students need to use their brain to answer test questions. But the "Brain Bee" takes it one step further - students must answer questions about the brain. East Ridge High School sophomore Kevin at the University of Minnesota Ig-Izevekhai placed seventh out of 30 participants.
When Tartan High School graduate Dave Barrus made it to Broadway he was like many of his peers -- struggling to get the parts. Now, Barrus has appeared in such shows as "Les Miserables," "Chess," "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Barrus is also trying to give back with the Broadway Dreams Foundation -- a theater workshop for teens who have their own Broadway aspirations. "For me, since I'm still performing and I still act, it's great for me to come back to a situation like this and remember why I'm doing it," Barrus said.
In 2006, District 833 pulled some strings and was able to get orchestra in the schools for 250 fourth and fifth grade students. Four years later the program has grown to 750 students for fourth through eighth grade students. Next fall, for the first time ever, District 833 high schools will have orchestra. "It's going to be very exciting that this small group of students who originally started in this program will enter the high school for the first time next year," said Nancy Wiessner, the District 833 fine arts coordinator.
Lake Middle School crowned its new "Lake Idol" champion. After three weeks of competition, and 16 contestants, seventh grader Abby Winston was named champion for her performance of the song "You belong with me," by Taylor Swift. "I'm so excited and so surprised," Abby said, who walked away with a $100 gift certificate to any Woodbury store of her choice. Abby said she isn't sure what store she wants to shop at yet.