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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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.
On June 16 the Bailey Elementary choir will sing the National Anthem at the Minnesota Twins game at Target Field. "Its an honor to do that because not everyone gets to do that," Bailey choir teacher Karen DeRuyscher said. "It's something they'll always remember -- it's just a special moment in their lives." Roughly 85 students, in grades 4 and 5, will be descending on Target Field. This is the 10th year that Bailey has sung at a Twins game. "I still get excited when I go," DeRuyscher said.
All year long, East Ridge High School senior Lisa Fan knew she was at the top of her class. Each grade report included her rank. So when Fan, who has a GPA of 4.377, was officially named the 2011 East Ridge High School Valedictorian - making her the school's top student - it wasn't much of a surprise, she said. But it was still exciting. "It's pretty awesome to be the first valedictorian," she said. Fan will be attending the University of Chicago next year to study economics.
At the start of his high school career, East Ridge High School senior Thomas Bearrood made a goal for himself to do his best. Bearrood's hard work has paid off. His 4.28 GPA has earned him the title of East Ridge High School's 2011 salutatorian, the second-ranked student. "I just wanted to get as good of grades as I possibly could," he said. "I guess it worked out. I didn't ever feel like I'm competing because I just wanted to do the very best I could." Bearrood will next attend St. Olaf College to study chemistry. "It's exciting to be able to start a new chapter in my life," he said.
Lindsay Geyen's kindergarten class at Bailey Elementary celebrated its graduation June 3. During the kindergarten graduation, students sang songs about kindergarten, and first grade, and explained what their favorite part of kindergarten was during the past year.
It has been five years in the making but East Ridge High School's first group of seniors will take their final walk on June 11 in the Perch, the school's gymnasium. "It's both scary and exhilarating," East Ridge Principal Aaron Harper said. "It's all of the anxiety and all of the different emotions that come with doing something for the first time." Harper said this year's graduation is very dear to his heart because of everything he and this year's 345 seniors have been through together.
Bailey Elementary School students waved goodbye school, and hello to summer, Wednesday, the last day of school.
Middleton Elementary showed off its talent June 2 at its annual variety show. During the annual event students, and teachers, showcased their many talents with acts including dancers, pianists, comedians, singers and hula hoopists. Two special acts, the Black Tied Peas and the Middleton Superhero Dance Team, featured Middleton teachers. The annual variety show is one of the last events that Middleton Elementary holds to celebrate the end of the school year.
After 40 years of directing school bands, Middleton and Liberty Ridge band director Jim Baldrica will be playing his final note this week for District 833. "Teaching has been my best friend for 40 years," said Baldrica, who retires at the end of the school year. "I like seeing students find the joy in showing you something they've learned." A career as a band director wasn't always the career path for Baldrica; in fact, he tried to avoid it as much as he could. "I kind of avoided that whole thing because my dad was a band director," he said.
East Ridge High School held its first senior picnic Tuesday at the Raptor's Nest, the school's football stadium. During the picnic, seniors were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, pop and several games were available including an obstacle course and a rock climbing wall. East Ridge well celebrate graduation June 11 at the Perch, the school's gym.