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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Residents at Stonecrest Senior Living brought their memories to life last week. The senior citizens participated in the Talking Suitcases project, which involves suitcases filled with handmade items that encourage them to tell stories. Talking Suitcases are essentially three-dimensional scrapbooks, said project director Susan Armington. For three days last week Armington, who is an artist in residency, worked with residents. "It really brings to life people's memories," she said of the project.
Woodbury's Puppet Wagon made its annual debut last week. Every summer the Puppet Wagon travels to Woodbury's parks for morning puppet shows. Each week has a different show. Last week's involved a young boy who hopped into famous paintings. Visit the city of Woodbury's website for puppet show times and locations.
Afton Planning Commission made a few more tweaks to the 2008 Comprehensive Plan during its June 6 meeting. Last month commissioners presented several changes to the document to Afton City Council. A city's comprehensive plan represents its vision of how the community should grow and how it will develop or redevelop.
Back in the late 1950s, former General Mill CEO Charlie Bell was looking for some open land to preserve. Bell found that perfect spot in Afton on the site of the current Belwin Conservancy. "Charlie Bell came out here to really just buy land as a family retreat," Belwin Conservancy Executive Director Steve Hobbs said. "Over time he accumulated a few acres here, a few acres there, that he eventually got up to about 350 acres or so." Bell's vision was always to preserve the land.
Afton's government affairs consultant, Ron Moorse, could be leaving the city for Farmington. Farming City Council has tapped Moorse to be interviewed for the city administrator position there. Other candidates include Lake Elmo City Administrator Bruce Messelt, Newport City Administrator Brian Anderson and city administrators from Minnesota cities of Chaska, Mendota Heights and Dayton.
Teachers often go unrecognized for the amount of time and work they put into educating children. However, three teachers at Valley Crossing Community School -- Mike Wallus, Kari Pidde and Janet McDowell -- received that recognition last week when they were presented the Tribute to Teacher award by RBC Wealth Management. "It was very overwhelming," Pidde said. "You don't go into teaching to be recognized." On June 1 Martha Baumbach, the director of Community Affairs with RBC Wealth Management, presented the teachers with a $500 check for classroom materials.
East Ridge High School junior Lauren Yonkoski listens attentively to her French 3 teacher, however Lauren isn't sitting in a classroom. She's sitting at the computer listening to her teacher online. Yonkoski is currently enrolled in French at Insight School of Minnesota, a virtual high school. Yonkoski said Insight has given her the flexibility to fit French into her schedule when it wasn't feasible at East Ridge. "It was either online or nothing," she said.
If you sit down to watch the evening news in the month of June, you may see a familiar face flash across screen. Throughout the month of June, Woodbury High School social studies teacher Regina Seabrook, and her Teacher Cadet class, will be featured in a commercial as part of Education Minnesota's "I Raise my Hand" campaign. "It was a lot of fun," Seabrook said of the commercial. "It was exciting." Seabrook was picked for her unique Teacher Cadet program. "We wanted to bring out some of the cool stories we have heard about," he said.
East Ridge High School held its first-ever graduation Saturday in the school's gymnasium. The East Ridge senior class included 345 students. United States Sen. Amy Klobuchar served as a special guest speaker during the graduation ceremony. "You leave here with everything you need to have an extraordinary life," Klobuchar said during her speech. "They have put the world in the palm of your hand." Another special guest during Saturday's graduation ceremony was a red tailed hawk, a physical representation of the school's mascot, from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.
Just two short years ago, freshmen were coming into the high schools for the first time. The first-timers were trying to find their place in school, all the while trying not to get lost and transitioning into high school. However, they weren't alone. 2009 was the first year Woodbury High School had Link Crew, a program where upperclassman act as mentors and friends. "When you're a little freshman it's hard to get around and everything because you kind of feel like you're by yourself," WHS sophomore Alex Hinze said.