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 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.
The earthquake in Haiti has touched a lot of people locally. And many are reaching out to the Haitians. Several students at East Ridge High School have organized a new fundraising group called "Hearts for Haiti." "It seemed like we're really powerless here," said Hearts for Haiti co-founder Shua Bhattacharya. "But, we all realized that since we're so sad about it, we should do something." Bhattacharya started Hearts for Haiti with four other ERHS students -- Erin Yockey, Melanie Rabina, Vincent Bedard and Joaqum Valdes.
When 11 volunteers from Five Oaks Community Church landed in Haiti Jan. 9 for a mission trip to assist with the construction of All of God's Children orphanage in Fedja -- it was business as usual. Five Oaks Community Church has been sending its members to help construct the orphanage in the rural community on an ongoing basis since 2005. The volunteers were tasked with finishing construction of the kitchen in the orphanage building and begin planning for vacation bible school for its students. But on Jan.
A parent of a student in Michelle Kiesel's class took it upon herself to get Kiesel named "Elementary Teacher of the Year" by the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce. The mother, who had three of her children in Kiesel's kindergarten class, nominated the Woodbury Elementary teacher for the annual award. Kiesel said the parent who wrote the letter received input from other parents and interviewed past students. "She showed me the letter and I told her that it's really great that she thinks that -- just knowing that is all I need to know," Kiesel said.
Woodbury may be a suburban community, but a bit of urban cultural influence can be found in the halls of one of its high schools. A group of Woodbury High School students recently formed the hip-hop group "Urban Venture." The group, which focuses on dance associated with the musical genre, was formed about a month ago by WHS students Brittnii Hodge and Deslyn Golden as a way for their group of friends to come together and dance to express themselves.