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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Updated at 12:40 p.m. on Feb. 11. Kevin Ig-Izevekhai placed seventh out of 30 contestants in the state Brain Bee competition on Feb. 10 at the University of Minnesota. There's plenty of knowledge competitions where students need to use their brain to answer test questions. But the "Brain Bee" takes it one step further - students must answer questions about the brain. East Ridge High School sophomore Kevin at the University of Minnesota Ig-Izevekhai placed seventh out of 30 participants.
When Tartan High School graduate Dave Barrus made it to Broadway he was like many of his peers -- struggling to get the parts. Now, Barrus has appeared in such shows as "Les Miserables," "Chess," "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Barrus is also trying to give back with the Broadway Dreams Foundation -- a theater workshop for teens who have their own Broadway aspirations. "For me, since I'm still performing and I still act, it's great for me to come back to a situation like this and remember why I'm doing it," Barrus said.
In 2006, District 833 pulled some strings and was able to get orchestra in the schools for 250 fourth and fifth grade students. Four years later the program has grown to 750 students for fourth through eighth grade students. Next fall, for the first time ever, District 833 high schools will have orchestra. "It's going to be very exciting that this small group of students who originally started in this program will enter the high school for the first time next year," said Nancy Wiessner, the District 833 fine arts coordinator.
Lake Middle School crowned its new "Lake Idol" champion. After three weeks of competition, and 16 contestants, seventh grader Abby Winston was named champion for her performance of the song "You belong with me," by Taylor Swift. "I'm so excited and so surprised," Abby said, who walked away with a $100 gift certificate to any Woodbury store of her choice. Abby said she isn't sure what store she wants to shop at yet.
The Afton Planning Commission discussed several goals that it has for 2010 during its Feb. 1 meeting. Read more at Beyond the Beat, the Woodbury Bulletin's news blog: www.areavoices.com/WB/
Nicole Turner and Sara Steigauf went to the same high school. They also both grew up celebrating the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Vulcan style. Each woman had family members become involved with the infamous nemesis of winter (according to carnival legend). Turner had a cousin don the iconic red jumpsuits, and Steigauf's uncles had the honor of wielding the charcoal. But the pair of Woodbury High School graduates never came to know each other until the last few weeks at the Winter Carnival. The women serve in King Boreas' court as the North and South Wind princesses.
Before Ellery Case was even born, she was fighting for her life. "She was born fighting," Ellery's mother Heidi Case of Woodbury said. "She is the reason she is here today -- she fought; she really put up a battle." As a result of their fight, Ellery and her parents have recently been named ambassadors for the area March of Dimes organization, which raises money to help families with infants born prematurely. After a whirlwind few months of doctor visits and diagnoses Ellery's family became actively involved with the March for Babies, which is put on by the March of Dimes Foundation.
The upcoming Broadway Dreams workshop at East Ridge High School has announced the three guest instructors -- Craig Burns, Paul Canaan and Dave Barrus. Broadway Dreams is a non-profit organization that offers theater workshops to aspiring actors in the forms of acting, dancing and singing with the help of professional Broadway performers who will provide feedback and lessons.
Afton held an open house on Jan. 27 where they asked residents what concerns they have in relation to the Old Village's infrastructure. Read more at Beyond the Beat, the Woodbury Bulletin's news blog: www.areavoices.com/WB/
Nikki Robbins came to Woodbury a little more than 16 years ago, fresh out of college, with a plan - Start a educational-based daycare and develop it into a private school that could serve the needs of a growing population. It's a plan that has resulted in Peace of Mind Early Education Center and Footprints Academy, a kindergarten through sixth grade school that serves nearly 100 students from around the community. But along with the plan came something Robbins didn't expect at the outset. She became heavily involved in the community she worked in.