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 Afton 2008 Comprehensive Plan is still at a standstill as the Afton City Council waits on city planner Chuck Marohn. "It's not our fault we haven't finished the comp plan yet," Mayor Pat Snyder said during the City Council's June 15 meeting. Council members discussed how to proceed with the city's comp plan that the Metropolitan Council has deemed incomplete.
Over the last year, East Ridge High School received considerable attention as the new kid on the block, but it wasn't the only new horizon in District 833. This school year saw the switch from a junior high school model to a middle school. Woodbury Middle School (formerly Woodbury Junior High) has been on board from day one, said principal Kari Lopez. "It's been a great experience, it's been absolutely fabulous," Woodbury Middle School principal Kari Lopez said.
The South Washington County School District went through a number of shifts and transitions this year -- a new high school, new start times, new boundaries, shifting from a junior high model to a middle school model and adding freshmen to the high schools -- but the changes aren't quite finished yet. District 833 high schools will be undergoing one more change, albeit a minimal change, next year by switching from a four-period block schedule to a six-period day.
Moms are frequent staples at elementary school events and classroom visits. But what about the other important member of the family -- the dads? A recent initiative at Woodbury Elementary is giving fathers a chance to get involved at their children's schools. It's called "All Pro Dad." The group recently held a breakfast at the school. "It's a chance for dads to get involved with the school," said John Flavin, a Woodbury Elementary first grade teacher.
After about a year, Afton's wind energy ordinance has finally come into reality. The Afton City Council approved the ordinance with a 3-2 vote, Mayor Pat Snyder and council member Joe Richter dissenting, at Tuesday's meeting. The Afton Planning Commission recommended approval of the ordinance. "We believe we've put together a pretty good package," planning commission vice chair Tom Nolz said. The ordinance will regulate residential-style wind turbines based on height, noise levels, zone and setback.
The Raptors have landed. East Ridge High School celebrated the end of its first year Thursday, June 9 with an assembly commemorating all that has transpired during the school year. "This has been an amazing year -- a year of firsts," junior Vincent Bedard said.
Two Woodbury high schools may have some future teachers waiting in the wings. More than two dozen students at Woodbury and East Ridge high schools just completed the first ever "Teacher Cadet" program. The program held a reception June 1 at Woodbury High School for outgoing cadets and new cadets. "For piloting the program, these students are phenomenal," said teacher Regina Seabrook, who organized the Teacher Cadet program at Woodbury High School.
After teaching for 40 years in South Washington County schools, Mary Wellman has seen a lot of changes transpire. She has seen everything from female teachers being forbidden from wearing pants to no outdoor recess to not having specialist teachers. "I've seen a lot of changes, but the thing that has remained constant is the 8- and 9-year olds," said Wellman, who will wrap up her career this month with her third graders at Liberty Ridge Elementary. "I'm young enough where I can still do a lot of other things," Wellman, 62, said.
It may have a rainy day last Tuesday, but that didn't dampen the spirits of Woodbury High School seniors when they celebrated the end of their high school careers with Senior Service Day on June 8. Students volunteered at various community service project sites and closed out the day with a picnic. "It gives them an activity that is fun for most of them," WHS teacher and Senior Service Day coordinator Bobby Nunn said.
After several months of hard work, the Afton Planning Commission passed its wind energy ordinance on to the Afton City Council. The planning commission held its regular meeting Monday where it held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance. The planning commission intends to recommend approval of the ordinance to the city council. The ordinance will allow for wind turbines in the city. The ordinance identifies turbine restrictions based on height, noise and setbacks.