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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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories on the recipients of the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce award for educators, business organizations and citizen of the year. For Lanka Liyanapathiranage teaching is a family trait. His mother was a teacher. His aunt was a teacher. And his stepmother had her teaching license. "I've actually always really liked school," he said.
Ugly sweaters anyone? In recent years the concept of the "ugly sweater" party has been a trendy theme among the 20-something and 30-something crowd. But last week some local teens and teachers got in on the act as the Woodbury High School Student Council hosted an "Ugly Sweater Day" on Dec. 21. "The concept of 'ugly sweater' days or parties seems to be a theme that many are doing around the country," student council adviser Hollie Radanke said.
On a cold day like those that have been plaguing Minnesota in recent weeks, why not warm up with a hot cup of tea at Woodbury's newest tea shop -- the Steepery Tea Bar. The Steepery Tea Bar, which is part of the Tea Garden franchise, opened Nov. 20 in the Seasons Market commercial development. The Steepery Tea Bar is owned by mother-son team, and Woodbury residents, Nick and Diana Nguyen. "We've always thought Woodbury would be a good place for a tea shop," Nick Nguyen said.
Afton resident Ross Sveback, who knows all things lifestyle, is branching out from his cooking classes and lifestyle tips with his business Kon-tent to actually sell what he preaches. Sveback has recently started selling a variety of handmade and self-designed items such as soaps, cookie cutters, dinnerware, dishtowels and jewelry. "It's one of those weird things where you throw something against the wall and see if it sticks," he said.
It is better to give than to receive. That's the message of Christmas that a group of confirmation students at King of Kings Lutheran Church have been working on for the last few weeks. The church's seventh and eighth graders put together and wrapped 261 "Shoeboxes of Love" for the Salvation Army in an event on Dec 15. "For kids, here in Woodbury especially, it's hard for them to understand that there is poverty not that far away from here," said Heather Hultgren, the confirmation coordinator at King of Kings.
Winter has more than arrived, but if you've already laced up those blades to hit the outdoor ice you'll have to keep those skate guards on for just a few more days. Woodbury's 12 ice rinks, at seven locations, will not officially open until Dec. 26 due to the heavy snowfall that took place earlier this month. "It is very disappointing that the rinks aren't open," Parks and Recreation specialist Reed Smidt said.
Third graders at Liberty Ridge Elementary are in the giving spirit this holiday season. "In terms of service learning, you should be doing things all year long instead of just at Christmas time," third grade teacher Diane Masloski said. Masloski's third graders, as well as the other classes, are in the process of knitting, on knitting looms, winter hats to donate to Sharing and Caring Hands homeless shelters. "We thought it would be a great idea to do more of a service learning project instead of always saying 'Mom and dad can you bring this to me,'" Masloski said.
For many actors portraying one of Shakespeare's great characters is a dream. For many musicians it's a dream to play one of Mozart's greatest. For many ballet dancers it's a dream to portray Clara in "The Nutcracker." Woodbury resident Olivia Verdick, who is an eighth grader at Woodbury Middle School, is currently living out her dreams of portraying Clara in Ballet Minnesota's production of the classic holiday ballet. "It's really exciting to be Clara, it's a huge honor," she said.
Family and friends of a 2009 Woodbury High School graduate are remembering the University of St. Thomas student who died in a St. Paul house fire early Saturday morning. Michael Adam Larson, 20, was an easy going, laid back person who was never judgmental, said his father Tom Larson. "I think he was the type of person we're supposed to be," he said. Larson and three other housemates were inside their Selby Avenue residence when fire broke out on the porch around 3 a.m. on Dec. 11, said St.
Conservation conversations are back in Afton -- sort of. The Afton Planning Commission discussed the topic of conservation easements with Sarah Strommen, the associate director of the Minnesota Land Trust, during it's meeting on Dec. 6. The topic of conservation easements is nothing new for Afton, since the recently approved Cedar Bluff development will contain an easement, however the topic gained new ground recently when the city began looking into drafting a conservation design ordinance.