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 nothing new to say that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes are getting a big push within the classroom at the high school and middle school level, but at the elementary level? "It's starting to be the new trend," said Shannon Comisar, a teacher at Valley Crossing Community School. Valley Crossing is trying to get ahead of the STEM trend with its curriculum. From May 16 to May 20 Valley Crossing will host Works on Wheels, a traveling engineering program. The program is a non-profit educational organization focused on science and engineering.
It's fair to say it -- wedding season is finally upon us. Springtime has frequently been the most popular season for weddings, but in recent years fall has begun to take the lead. Whatever wedding month couples prefer, one element remains the same -- money. Whether you're having a small backyard garden wedding or a large, lavish wedding at a ballroom or hotel, cost is always a factor. Afton resident and local party planner Lisa Damon has taken it upon herself to help couples cut costs without cutting corners.
With the abundance of quiz shows out there these days -- "Jeopardy!," "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" it's easy to get swept away in the excitement and play at home by trying to answer the questions first. For a group of four St. Ambrose Catholic School eighth graders, answering trivia questions is more than a pastime. The team -- made up of Austin Petronack, David Peterson, Emily Clark and Alaina Anderson -- has qualified for the national tournament May 6 to May 8 in Chicago. Roughly 30 to 50 teams from around the United States will compete.
Woodbury High School has of programs for its top students - such as advanced placement - and for struggling students who receive interventions, but what about the students who find themselves in the middle of the pack? Up until now there wasn't much, but starting next year WHS will be giving support to those students with the Advancement Via Individualized Determination (AVID) program.
Woodbury resident Brian Wright isn't your typical teacher. Wright, a student teacher at Liberty Ridge Elementary, has a prosthetic right eye, is partially deaf and stands just over five feet tall. When Wright was 3 years old he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, which resulted in a tumor on his right eye and the subsequent loss of his eye. Three years later, Wright was again diagnosed with cancer in the form of medulloblastoma where his brain met his spinal chord. This resulted in his hearing loss and the radiation treatment associated with the cancer resulted in his shorter stature.
When Nancy Robertson was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 she had up days and she had down days but the one constant was her cocker spaniel Chloe. "My little dog never left my side," she said. "She would lay right next to me." Robertson said she and Chloe got into a routine where every morning after her husband Mike left for work, Chloe would come lay in bed with her. "She would lay her little head on my pillow and look at me with her beautiful brown eyes," she said.
Just as the dust has begun to settle over expansion of the Spanish immersion program, the topic is once again on the minds of District 833 leaders. Earlier this school year, District 833 School Board initiated discussions on how to expand the elementary Spanish immersion at Nuevas Fronteras, housed in Crestview Elementary. Options included moving students out of their home school so Spanish immersion could have a freestanding building. Discussions fizzled in December 2010 after parents and schools expressed their severe frustration with the options.
Primrose School of Woodbury will be adding a little color to the new CityWalk Apartments development. The early education center will be building a community garden when the housing development opens this fall. "We wanted to have something that would tie the community of CityWalk together and that would invite the neighbors," Primrose owner Tonya Holt said. "We wanted to make sure we had something pretty and pleasing and friendly for all of Woodbury to enjoy." Primrose will be raising money for the community garden during its Spring Fling from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In today's society, students come in contact with many different cultures whether it's in the classroom, on the field or out in the community. But more often than not, students don't necessarily get the chance to take the time to understand these diverse cultures. Woodbury Middle School is hoping to change that with its new after-school group, Culture Club. Social studies teacher Laurie Beebe and specialist Shelly Fessler said they decided to start Culture Club, which meets from 2:30 to 4 p.m. every Monday, because it was a chance for students to be exposed to different cultures.
It's a common question for anyone who has adopted a child: "Mommy, did I grow in your tummy?" For some parents that may be among the hardest questions to answer, but Cameron and Vachelle Johnston think they've found the perfect answer: "No honey, you grew in our hearts." "Just because you didn't come from my tummy, that doesn't mean I am not your mom," Vachelle said. The Johnstons, who are members of King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury, have released their first book, "You Grew in Our Hearts," a children's book to help talk to children about their adoption.