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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A year ago, East Ridge High School wasn't a reality. Now District 833's newest high school is finishing up its inaugural year. The Woodbury Bulletin sat down with ERHS principal Aaron Harper to discuss the high school's inaugural year and its challenges and accomplishments heading into the 2010-2011 school year. Woodbury Bulletin: Have you felt that the community has grown to accept East Ridge over the last year? Aaron Harper: No, and I don't anticipate that East Ridge will be accepted anytime soon.
Think back to your kindergarten days. Maybe you remember the games or art projects. Maybe you remember sharing time. Maybe you remember your teacher. For three Woodbury High School seniors -- Ellie Ryan, Natalie Pascutoi and Bethany Duffey -- they get to relive their kindergarten days in Jodi Weinfurter's class at Royal Oaks Elementary on a regular basis. The three girls frequently come back to Royal Oaks to help out Weinfurter in the classroom. "The classroom hasn't changed at all," Duffey said. The girls remember how their teacher hasn't changed at all either.
First graders may not necessarily do the grocery shopping in their homes, but it is still important for them to know about healthy foods. At least that's how teachers at Royals Oaks Elementary feel. First-grade students at Royal Oaks took a field trip to Rainbow Foods twice in the last two weeks, to learn about healthy nutritional choices. "Be a Smart Shopper," which is part of the Field Trip Factory programming, teaches students the importance of health and wellness, how to plan healthy meals and how to make good food choices.
Rocket scientist. Computer scientist. Civil engineer. Machinist. Those are just a few of the many career paths that are available in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. District 833 Community Education held a STEM Career Day May 25 for Woodbury and East Ridge high schools and Five Oaks Community Church in Woodbury. "We want to encourage kids more and more to get involved in the STEM careers and learn more about it," Sue McKeown, of Community Education, said.
New Life Academy principal Nancy Wetsel will be retiring this year after 30 years at the private Christian school in Woodbury. Wetsel's last day will be June 30. "I love education, but I think I need to kind of transition out of it," said Wetsel, 60. "I've been here half my life, so it's time for someone new to come in." Wetsel's husband, Curt, is also a longtime member of New Life Academy as its activities director. He started at NLA the same time as his wife. "We wanted the children to love learning," Wetsel said.
Clint and Bobbi Elston of Afton believe they have set the bar high when it comes to sustainable living. They are hoping to take it one step further with their sewage system. They want the city of Afton to consider adopting their "green" ways. "It's like the green revolution right now -- everybody wants to be green --but what shade of green are you?" Bobbi Elston asked rhetorically. "There's so many ways to be sustainable, it just takes a little imagination." The Elstons have done just that.
Local musician Matthew Griswold was scheduled to perform at last year's Woodbury Relay for Life, but at the last minute the U.S. Army soldier was recalled to duty. "I felt really bad about that," he said. Although Griswold returned from his recall much sooner than he anticipated, he didn't make it back in time for last year's event. "I got back the day after the Relay so I just missed it," he said.
Leah Williams will be heading to the Nation's Capitol this summer, but not for a summer vacation. The Woodbury High School freshman will heading to Washington D.C. June 17 for the opening of the 2010 Congressional Art Competition exhibit, where her painting, "Footprints," will be on display. Williams' painting will be housed in the tunnel between the Canon House Office building and the U.S. Capitol. "I've heard that thousands of people pass through the tunnel every day," she said. Williams' piece will be on display for one year.
The Lake Middle School gym was transformed into a food packing facility Monday. LMS eighth graders came together to pack 70,000 packaged meals for the organization Impact Lives. The majority of the meals will be delivered to Haiti.
A local musical trio has made waves recently with their appearance at the Woodbury Prayer Breakfast. Not bad for a band that formed less than a year ago. Brohan is comprised of Woodbury resident Josh Putman and Stillwater residents Dale and Luke Gruber. Luke Gruber plays the mandolin, Dale Gruber plays the bass cello, fiddle, among other instruments, and Josh Putman is lead vocals and acoustic guitar.