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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It was home on the range in Afton last weekend when the buffaloes roamed at the Belwin Conservancy near Afton. A herd of bison was released into the Belwin Conservancy's prairies on June 13 while hundreds of onlookers watched as buffalo stampeded out of their trailers onto the open land. The bison are part of a unique partnership between NorthStar Bison and Kowalski's Markets. Belwin first hosted a herd of bison last summer when nearly 300 people came out to view the animals. New this year is an observation tower erected for spectators.
Kevin P. O'Hara has been an artist for 36 years, ever since he was a freshman in high school. "In high school they have the different groups, the jocks, the freaks, the nerds and I didn't really hang out with any of them, I just hung out in the art room," he said.
Most college students plan trips to Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico or Florida for their summer vacations. Woodbury resident Joy McBrien and her best friend Kaitlin Durkin from Oakdale, however, have other summer plans -- they will be spending a month, from July 15 to Aug. 15, in Chimbote, Peru to help start up a battered women's shelter. "I feel like we're both so gifted with what we have that we need to give back somehow and now it's the perfect opportunity," Durkin said.
The lawsuit against Afton resident Jeffrey Walker and his allegedly illegal airstrip will be stuck on the runway for a bit longer. A jury trial was set for June 15 at 8:30 a.m., but prior to the trial, Walker's attorney made a motion to be removed from the case. The motion was granted.
It was a day to honor both school accomplishments and students' secret talents at the Awards Ceremony and Talent Show on June 3 Minnesota Math and Science Academy. During the lengthy program, students were first recognized for their accomplishments in various activities and academics, followed by students showcasing their talents in a variety of ways. During the Talent Show, MSA students performed their routines for a panel of judges who judged them on different categories. The acts during the Talent Show includes singing, dancing, the Seussical cast, instruments and even sword fighting.
Summer has officially started for the students of New Life Academy who had their last day of school on June 4, and for the seniors it was the last day before they embark on their futures. What better way to celebrate the end of the year than by celebrating the students who have achieved so much over the year. This year's secondary awards ceremony awarded numerous awards to New Life students grades eight through 12.
Denise Minea grew up around music, as her family was a very musical one. Ever since she was a young girl, she has been singing in church choirs, too. Now Minea, a Woodbury resident, is hoping to reach others with her debut album of Christian folk music, "In This Life: Reflections on Birch Point." "It won't be everybody's cup of tea, but it will definitely speak to some people," Minea said.
For the last time, Woodbury Junior High eighth and ninth grade students came together to honor each other at the annual Awards Night on June 2 at the Woodbury High School auditorium, since WJHS will become Woodbury Middle School next year. This was a unique ceremony for the students this year since both eighth and ninth grade students will be moving on to high school next year, rather than just the ninth grade students like previous years. During the ceremony, students were honored for their participation in various clubs and activities. Students were asked to stand and be recognized.
Middleton Elementary students bounced and danced their way into summer at the "Last Day of School Carnival" on June 5. The children got a send-off to summer from the Middleton PTA in the form of various inflatable bouncers, a disco and other treats. Rather than worrying about tests and projects like the older students, the last day of school was a time for elementary students to simply reminisce with friends and teachers about the last year and generally just start the summer off right.
It was a day of mixed emotions June 7 for the Class of 2009 seniors bidding farewell to Woodbury High School. The WHS commencement ceremony at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood celebrated the seniors, the past four years and their futures. One theme -- the future -- was at the heart of the addresses delivered by WHS principal Linda Plante, Gina Carbone, the class valedictorian and the elected student speakers. For many students, the future will be college. For others, the future will lead to the workplace. For everyone, however, the future will hopefully hold success.