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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East Ridge High School is hoping to emphasize the importance of community service to its students, so who better to hear from than a governor who made community service central to his inauguration speech. Gov. Mark Dayton visited East Ridge today to speak with students about community service. "Community involvement is the most meaningful part of anything I've done," Dayton said.
Literary fans will be getting a treat April 13 when acclaimed author Walter Mosley pays a visit for the Club Book author series. "It's always great to meet someone up close whose literature you have enjoyed," said Joe Manion, manager for public services with Washington County. "It's kind of a rare thing." Club Book, a program of the Metropolitan Library Services Agency, brings authors, both well-known and local, to libraries throughout the state. Club Book is funded by Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
When David LaRochelle was in second grade, he wrote his first-ever story. "I've always loved to write even when I was in elementary school," the White Bear Lake resident said. "I would always be writing stories." Now, LaRochelle, 50, has published nearly 30 children's books. LaRochelle spoke to students at Red Rock Elementary last week, through March 30. "I hope to teach children that they can be authors themselves -- books are created by ordinary people," he said.
The Afton House Inn will be turned into a comedy club for the night on Friday, April 8, when reigning Minnesota Comedian of the Year Scott Hansen is on hand for some standup. Dinner will also be served. "It's a different and fun type of entertainment while dining," Dan Jarvis, from the Afton House Inn, said. "Everybody loves to laugh so it'll be a really fun event." Born a comedian Hansen, who grew up in Fridley, Minn., said if the story his mother tells is true, he was born a comedian.
Woodbury residents Elisha and Justin Robson aren't your typical first-time house hunters. Justin is a construction worker and Elisha is an interior designer. "We weren't looking for this perfect dream house, we were looking for a house we could do something to," Elisha said. "We were looking for something that we could really remodel and do some work on -- finding something that we could see potential in." It was that unique outlook on home buying the caught the attention of Home and Garden Television's "House Hunters" program.
Woodbury resident Elizabeth England will be spending her last summer before college helping those in need. On June 16 England and eight other students will be traveling to Kenya for a two-week mission trip. "Going on a mission trip is always something I've wanted to do because I aspire to be a doctor someday," said England, a senior at Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Heights. "Plus, I've always wanted to travel the world." It was earlier this year when the mission group, Team Mutomo, was formed.
It was a weekend of robots at Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota, and three Woodbury teams were involved in it all. The Woodbury High School, East Ridge High School and Math and Science Academy all competed in the North Star Regional For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition March 31 to April 2. The teams' names are: the Woodbury High School Robo-sapians, the East Ridge Robotic Ominous Raptors (ERRORs) and the Math and Science Academy Fighting Calculators. The robotics teams build a functioning robot in a six-week period.
The possibility of flooding may be a worrisome thought for some people. Whether it's getting water in your basement or washing away property, floods have the potential to devastate. "It's Mother Nature working in harsh ways," said Dale Jarvis, owner of Current, a new restaurant in Afton. However, the threat of possibly rising St. Croix River floodwaters hasn't kept the businesses of downtown Afton from persevering.
Local residents watching the "60 Minutes" news program March 20 may have recognized some familiar Woodbury High School faces. The topic of the evening: Local discussion Mark Twain's classic novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and the debate surrounding the removal of all references to the so-called "N" word. "It was a chance of a lifetime for our students," said WHS principal Linda Plante. In current editions of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," the "N" word - a racist term for black people - is used a total of 219 times when referring to the character of Jim.
Both Woodbury and East Ridge high schools have given a large focus to their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses, primarily in the form of the Project Lead the Way curriculum. Project Lead the Way is an advanced set of courses aimed at preparing high school students for college-level classes and careers in the STEM field. "There's a high dropout rate in architecture and engineering because students going into those programs don't really have a clear idea what architecture and engineering entail," WHS principal Linda Plante said.