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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It's art festival season again and Afton is gearing up for the first one of the year that celebrates spring -- May Fair. Afton May Fair, sponsored by the Afton Area Business Association, will be May 21 and May 22 in Town Square Park. "It should be another fun event," said Kathy Jarvis, a member of the Afton Area Business Association. Last year's event, which suffered from a lot of rain, drew between 4,000 and 5,000 people. "We could easily double that if we had good weather," said Deb Larson, of the Afton Area Business Association.
When Lake Middle School seventh grader Sarah Masood was in kindergarten a classmate picked on her. "There was a kid in my class who would just call me names for no reason," she said. "I don't know why he made fun of me." It was because of that experience that Masood decided to enter the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) 2011 No Name-Calling Week Creative Expression Contest.
Woodbury High School has taken the first step to adding a Spanish Immersion program. WHS held a public meeting with Spanish Immersion parents on May 12 to discuss the process and receive any feedback from parents. "Right now these discussions are going to feel kind of funny because the program is not fleshed out yet," WHS principal Linda Plante said. Spanish Immersion is a program that serves non-Spanish speaking families that live within District 833 boundaries. Currently Spanish Immersion goes through sixth grade.
The GJ&M saga in Afton has come to a close. Daniel J. Cragg, one of GJ&M's attorneys, said the developer has opted to not appeal the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court. In April the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled against the Afton developer fronted by Afton House Inn owner Gordy Jarvis. The Minnesota Court of Appeals heard arguments from both Afton and GJ&M in January. The three-judge panel upheld rulings made in 2009 by Washington County District Judge Mary Hannon. During the initial jury trial, which concluded Dec.
Lake Middle School will follow both the Yellow Brick Road and explore the world of William Shakespeare at the same time with its spring play opening May 20. This year's show, "Romeo, Juliet and Toto Too," is a mash-up of the "Wizard of Oz" and Shakespeare classics. The premise for "Romeo, Juliet and Toto Too" is that a movie mogul is trying to make a cheap blockbuster with the help of a writer whose specialty is combining styles.
Woodbury High School is Broadway bound this spring with its 2011 Cabaret. The WHS cabaret will run May 24 to May 26. This year's show, "Give My Regards to Broadway," is a compilation of Broadway favorites. The cabaret is a song and dance concert performed by all WHS choirs. "I typically pick shows that fit the personalities of the choir and Broadway seemed to work with this group," WHS choir director Daryl Timmer said.
After three years and countless revisions, Afton's 2008 Comprehensive Plan has finally received approval from the Metropolitan Council. Afton Planning Commission was notified of the approval at its May 3 meeting. "Receiving Met Council approval was a big hurdle and I am happy to be moving forward with the plan," Mayor Pat Snyder said. "I am confident that we now have a comprehensive plan that reflects the values of this community and it should serve us well in the future." Planning Commission Chairwoman Barb Ronningen said she was pleased, but not surprised, with the development.
Earlier this fall Stillwater Area High School joined forces with Woodbury and East Ridge high school football teams, cheerleaders and fans to film a public service announcement with the message of "don't text and drive." The PSA was entered into a Minnesota Department of Public Safety and AAA Auto Club Don't Drive Distracted video contest. The video, titled "Football" has made it into the final five entries to win $1,000 and a chance for their commercial to air during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28.
Historically, science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, careers have been a predominantly male-centric field. However, over the past five to 10 years more and more women are starting to explore STEM careers as an option. "Today's society is trying to get more girls involved because they can succeed just as well as everyone else," Woodbury High School STEM teacher Mark Roesler said.
In past years, Relay for Life never really hit home with the youth in the community, Mary LaPrairie said. Something changed this year. Youth participation has jumped to a total of 60 teams, up from 36 last year - now comprising roughly half of the 123 teams registered. "There's finally been an 'a-ha' moment among the youth this year," said LaPrairie, chair of the Rely for Life of South Washington County Luminaria Committee.