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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Spend a typical afternoon inside the halls of Woodbury High School and you'll likely witness the usual buzz of athletic teams, marching band, student council, mock trial, theatre and speech team activities. But recently a few other student groups have been making some noise at WHS. Several students participate in two distinct after-school clubs - Dungeons and Dragons and chainmail. "These are two very unique groups," said WHS ceramics teachers Tricia Schmidt, who acts as advisor for both groups. Dungeons and Dragons meets every Tuesday, chainmail meets every Wednesday.
Daryl Wahl may be a familiar face around Woodbury since he is the director of the Woodbury Ambassador program, and he goes anywhere the Woodbury Royalty goes. "I have had the opportunity to take the Ambassadors to all parts of this state and we are literally the face of Woodbury to many communities," he said. "They have told me that they like the way that Woodbury has grown and the way that Woodbury has progressed with that growth." However, Wahl said he is hoping to increase is community involvement and give back even more, which is he is running for Woodbury City Council.
Jeremy Jenkins, 34, has spent much of professional career working in public service in one form or another. "I've always been very aware that I'm working with other people's money and it's not something that I'm entitled to," he said. "The idea of stewardship is something I try to practice every day." Jenkins said he decided to run for the open seat on the Woodbury City Council because he thought his experience and skills would help him do a good job.
Jane Green might be one of the newer residents to Woodbury, but she said she thinks she can make a difference on the City Council. Green, 56, moved to Woodbury in 2007 with her husband, having previously lived in Highland Park, after being attracted to the community. Green said she decided to run for a seat on the Woodbury City Council because she felt that it was a chance for her to give back to the community. "I would like to see the quality of life in Woodbury continue," she said.
For many, running for a seat on the Woodbury City Council might be a chance to make a difference. For David Dobson, he just wants to help keep Woodbury on its current path. "In a lot of cases people are running because they want to change something, but I don't think there's anything broken in Woodbury -- don't fix something that's not broken," Dobson said. "We need to continue to grow in the direction we've been going." Dobson, 64, moved to Woodbury two years ago after having lived out of state for several years.
The shift to the six-period day isn't the only change facing East Ridge High School; the school is also dealing with having an added 500 students in the school. This is the first year that East Ridge has its full student population, including seniors. "You can definitely tell that there's more students in the building," East Ridge principal Aaron Harper said.
Even though school is almost a month in, students and staff at District 833 high schools are still trying to adjust to their new day. District 833 moved to the six-period day, from the four-period block schedule, this year. Previously on the block schedule, students in the high schools took four classes every day at 84 minutes each for one quarter or half-semester at 18 weeks. Currently, on the six-period day, students take six 56-minute classes everyday for a trimester at 36 weeks.
Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School has named current interim principal, Bryan Bass, as its new permanent principal. Bass, who was previously the principal of Brooklyn Center High School, was hired as the interim principal early last month at Crosswinds after former principal Anne Andersen notified The East Metro Integration District 6067, which oversees Crosswinds, that she will be leaving the school for a job in Washington.
TThe talk of the town down in Afton right now is the possibility of becoming a charter city. On the one side you have the Afton Charter Commission who was responsible for drafting the charter. On the other side you have the Concerned Afton Citizens group who adamantly opposes the document and the prospect of Afton becoming a charter city. "Naturally there's always going to be two sides," Charter Commission vice chair Kate McGinn said. "We knew a group would come out of the woodwork to defeat the charter." The proposed Afton City Charter was approved earlier this summer.
Brenda Stanton is busy during the work week as a paraprofessional at Pine Hill Elementary in Cottage Grove. But when away from the school, Stanton can be found experimenting in her kitchen. The Woodbury resident runs a business, Driving Force Energy Co., that sells all-natural energy bars and gourmet popcorn. This isn't your ordinary butter lover's special or kettle corn. Stanton's flavors are what some might call eclectic, for popcorn anyway: blueberry, chocolate, peanut butter, peppermint, jalapeno, strawberry, rhubarb, caramel and even spicy habanera.