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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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.
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Woodbury Elementary third grader Natalie Mercill will have a front-row seat to find out. Mercill, 9, will be appearing March 29 on "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader" on the CW network. Mercill will read the extra credit question. "It was so much fun just being on TV and going to the studio," she said. Mercill was able to appear on the show thanks to her mother Dawn, who had heard that you could "nominate you exceptional reader" to read the extra credit question.
Hill Murray School social studies teacher Shane Rose, of Woodbury, never really intended on being a social studies teacher. In fact, he wanted to be a coach. "Eventually I realized how much I liked social studies," he said. "I like all of the challenging ideas. "You can spend so much time trying to explore a concept, but there's always room to re-explore and re-examine things." It appears that Rose, 36, chose the right path.
After 45 years as a downtown Afton staple, the Catfish Saloon is getting a facelift and a new name. Dave and Dan Jarvis, sons of Afton House Inn owners Gordy and Kathy Jarvis, have taken over the restaurant from their parents and made the Catfish much more, well, current. "There was an opportunity for us to take it over from my parents and we really wanted to bring a new energy to Afton," Dave Jarvis said of the new restaurant, named Current. "Although it was bittersweet." Current, located adjacent to the Afton House Inn,will be open for business March 29.
The fourth time was the charm for Woodbury resident Mary Swenson. After previous attempts at the crown in the Miss Minnesota International pageant, Swenson, 22, was finally named this year's queen March 13. The judges saw my passion," she said, "They knew that I obviously wanted this since I was willing to come back and keep doing this." A total of eight women competed in the Miss Minnesota International pageant. Swenson was crowned Miss Washington County earlier in the year.
Afton City Council declared a state of emergency in advance of anticipated spring flooding at its March 15 meeting. Afton is anticipating a major flood based on National Weather Service projections, Public Works Director Ken Johnson said. The NWS is projecting that this year the St. Croix River has a 90 percent chance of reaching major flood stage at 89 feet and there is a 20 percent chance the St.
The Stillwater Area School District is on its way to having a new, permanent, superintendent. District 834 School Board members on Thursday named the top three finalists for the position. The finalists, chosen from seven, are Dr. Corey Lunn, superintendent for Montgomery Lonsdale, Minn.; Dr. Brad Meeks, superintendent for Farmington Minn.; and Dr. Rod Thompson, superintendent for St. Anthony- New Brighton, Minn.
The story has been told time and time again -- the oldest child is trying to break away from the family and gain independence. But one story, "Cheaper by the Dozen" tells it in a unique way. "It's kind of an age old story," Woodbury Community Theatre director Shawn McWhorter said, "but it's told in a very different way. It's a remarkable story told about a remarkable family." The Woodbury Community Theatre's production of "Cheaper by the Dozen" runs March 26 to March 27 and April 1 to April 2 on the Loft Stage.