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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If you're an aspiring musician with dreams of being a famous guitarist and songwriter, then East Ridge High School's "Guitar and Songwriting Club" is a good place to start. English teacher Bill Barr, a professional songwriter, said he founded the club because he thinks students should have the opportunity to be exposed to the guitar and songwriting since it can be such a valuable experience. "I just wanted to get students interested in just learning the guitar, and just get them interested and motivated to start up with that," Barr said.
A group of students at Woodbury Middle School are trying to prove the term "going green" is for all ages. The new after-school "Eco Club" introduces students to service learning and the environmental stewardship through a variety of projects and activities.
District 833 school buses became victims of frigid temperatures Monday morning, Jan. 4, when 12 of its school buses failed to start after sitting dormant since Dec. 22. However, the district was only short five buses since the district has seven backup buses. As a result of the start up failures, 11 bus routes were affected.
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? That's the question that Teresa Campbell's fifth grade Gateway students at Bailey Elementary want to know. Campbell's fifth grade students were chosen to film commercials for the local CW Twin Cities network where they asked the bonus question for the television show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" on Dec. 15. Campbell said she had heard from a friend about the opportunity to nominate a student, or a whole class, to film a commercial that would air during the game show, so Campbell decided to nominate her 23-student class.
The Afton City Council approved its 2010 budget and tax levy at its Dec. 15 meeting after receiving few comments during the public hearing. The budget was approved at $1,652,519, an increase of 1.2 percent over the 2009 budget. The tax levy was approved at $1,516,258, a 3.9 percent increase over the 2009 levy. The biggest increase to the budget came from adding $178,000 to the Audit Legal Reserve Fund to aid the city in covering its legal fees.
The proposed Afton infrastructure study is slowly taking steps forward. During the Afton City Council's Dec. 15 meeting, it discussed with its city engineer possible funding opportunities for the study. The city's discussions regarding a proposed infrastructure study date back to last summer when the city had initially sent out a request for proposals.
If the Afton Charter Commission has its way, Afton will become a charter city come November. During the Afton City Council's Dec. 15 meeting, Charter Commission members requested approval from the city council to submit their final working draft charter to the League of Minnesota Cities for approval. The council approved the request. A charter city is a city in which the governing system is defined by the city's own charter document rather than by state, provincial, regional or national laws.
Whether you believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day, District 833 does and it will continue to serve breakfast to its students. Even though students have the option to participate in breakfast, Nutrition Services director Barb Osthus said very few students are participating. "If you look at breakfast district wide, our participation is very, very low and I don't know why that is except that parents have said that it is their responsibility to make sure their kids have a healthy breakfast before school," she said.
The Woodbury High School Link Crew is trying to help freshmen transition and adjust during their first year in high school, but they also need some help. The Link Crew started with a no budget and after the many events and activities the group has organized -- including a dance, after school studying help and others -- they are trying to recoup some of those costs. "We started with zero budget and right now we're kind of in the hole," said Link Crew coordinator Chris Dease, a teacher at Woodbury High School.
So maybe there was no snow. But all the other winter wonderland elements were in effect as Afton's downtown district held a holiday celebration over the weekend. The Afton Area Business Association sponsored the "Afton Village Holiday," which included a variety of holiday activities for every age. Some of the activities included during the weekend were horse and wagon rides, holiday crafts, breakfast with Santa Claus, holiday shopping and holiday treats.