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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Memories of the circus: Eating a lot of sweet and sticky cotton candy. Watching the aerial acrobatics fly over head. Pretty much just enjoying the "happiest place on earth." For Jillian Messina, though, memories about the circus are created from a different perspective. Messina is a contortionist for Circus Juventas, a St. Paul-based youth circus school. "Contortion is just so different from anything I'd ever done -- I just thought it would be fun to try," said Messina, a junior at Woodbury High School.
If you mention boundary changes, or the new East Ridge High School, anywhere within District 833, you may get some frustration and disapproving glances, but one change that is hoping to prove to be more beneficial than controversial is the new grade configurations -- particularly moving from the junior high system to the middle school system.
The Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) brought a little fringe and flare to Stafford Library on July 22 with a Minnesota Fringe Festival kids showcase preview. The Fringe Festival, which runs from July 30 through Aug. 9 and includes more than 160 performances, allows people who dream of writing and producing plays and performances an outlet to bring their talents to the world at various venues, in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. During the July 22 kids showcase preview at the R.H. Stafford Library, visitors were able to see a taste of three different Fringe Festival performances.
A new, but familiar face, will be seen around Liberty Ridge Elementary this fall now that Mike Moore has taken his seat as the new principal. Moore started as the Liberty Ridge principal July 1. "Over this last month I've been moving in, learning everything about Liberty Ridge and how we do things here," he said. Moore is replacing former Liberty Ridge principal Kari Lopez who has moved on to become Woodbury Middle School principal. "I'm feeling really good about it and I'm looking forward to it," he said.
The newest member of the city of Afton, assistant city administrator Sara Irvine, comes with both gains and losses. Irvine will be bringing a wealth of experience in city administration and zoning and variance enforcement to her to position. Previously, Irvine was employed as a city administrator for the cities of Tonka Bay and Minnetonka Beach. Most recently, Irvine worked as a business administrator for a Lutheran church in the city of Mound. At the Tuesday, July 21 meeting of the Afton City Council, the council approved the job description for the assistant city administrator position.
Melanie Anderson's childhood was surrounded by music, since her father, Mark Shepperd, is the music minister at Woodbury Lutheran Church. "I grew up in a musical family," she said. "I just grew up singing as a little girl." It was singing in the church choirs that really opened Anderson's eyes to singing and performing. "The more I trained, the more I wanted, and the more I wanted to develop my voice." So it came as no surprise to anyone that music was something that Anderson, a Woodbury resident, wanted to pursue professionally in hopes of making it to the mainstream.
Wind turbines could possibly be blowing into Afton in the near future. During the July 21 meeting of the Afton City Council, it was discussed whether or not the council should look into writing an ordinance that would deal with wind turbines.
Afton Hills may soon be getting the road that it needs, but where the money comes from is still a question that needs to be answered. At the Tuesday, July 21 meeting of the Afton City Council, the council directed the city engineer, Diane Hankee, to start advertising for bids for the project. During the meeting Hankee was not in attendance due to vacation, but a substitute engineer would pass on the decision. The proposed reconstruction of Afton Hills Court would cost $286,000 for the first 2 1/2 inches of improvement.
[Editor's Note: This is the fourth and final in a series chronicling some of the more interesting plans local teachers have planned for their summer break] Current Lake Middle School and future East Ridge High School science teacher Nancy Berg and her husband Ryan set a goal for themselves nearly 31 years ago to visit 100 countries in their lifetime. They will reach that goal by the end of this summer. "This is just a crazy goal that we set for ourselves 31 years ago, but we're almost there," Nancy said.
Walking down the halls of the still unfinished East Ridge High School, it's hard to imagine that in just a few short months the halls will be alive with students running to class, teachers offering an encouraging smile and the morning bells marking the first chapter in a new story. "Everything is so detail-oriented that it's hard to focus on the big things right now like the first day of school," ERHS principal Aaron Harper said.