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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Very few times are high school students given their say, but one instance is the tri-annual Minnesota Student Survey. "The survey lets kids have a voice," said senior community health specialist Cathy Mackiewicz, with the Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment. "This attempts to capture what these kids are experiencing, what's going on in their lives, what's going on in their world.
Even though the annual one-act plays typically go under attended, East Ridge High School one act director Katie Carlson said it is the educational value of the shows that makes them worth it. "There is such a learning curve with one acts," she said.
Students at two Woodbury elementary schools will be able to start their summer vacation a day early this school year. The District 833 School Board had granted approval for an early dismissal request for both Royal Oaks and Woodbury elementary schools. The last day of school will be June 7 rather than June 8. The reason for the early release date is because of the district's intentions to update the heating, ventilating and air circulation systems at both schools. Royal Oaks and Woodbury elementary schools will be the fifth and sixth district schools to receive HVAC upgrades.
District 834 boundary discussions are slowly coming to a close. It's been nearly four months since the Stillwater Area School District began work on redrawing its attendance boundaries. Now, since the district has developed five possible options and has held three public hearings on the options, the process is slowly coming to a close. The District 834 School Board held a public hearing Jan. 18 to discuss the options. "I was impressed with how respectful the hearings were," Interim Superintendent Tom Nelson said.
When East Ridge High School junior Isabel Cuddihy decided to participate in an acting event this month, she only hoped for feedback on her performances. Little did she know she was going to be judged. "I originally thought you perform and get feedback, I didn't know it was a competition," she said.
Erma Juhl started volunteering three days per week at Woodwinds Health Campus in 2007 and she hasn't missed a day since -- not even last week when temperatures dropped to 15 below zero. Juhl, of south Maplewood, celebrated her 90th birthday, as well as her 1,000th volunteer hour on Jan. 21. Woodwinds staff threw the longtime-volunteer a surprise birthday party. "Everything about her everybody loves," Woodwinds employee Lisa Somerville said. Public relations coordinator Jodi Ritaca said Juhl is Woodwinds' oldest volunteer.
The Afton staffing plan is still in its planning stages, at least for a little while longer. Afton City Council was scheduled to make a motion on the proposed salary increases and the proposal to move Assistant City Administrator Sara Irvine up to the administrator position during its Jan. 18 meeting, however more kinks still need to be worked out. Earlier this month, City Council reached a consensus that Irvine would be promoted to the city administrator position and Interim City Administrator Ron Moorse would stay on as a consultant for the Old Village infrastructure projects.
A new Woodbury business is looking to turn negatives surrounding mathematics into a positive. "I don't think the subject itself is intimidating, I think the fact that the students are frustrated, it's those feelings that are intimidating," Mathnasium owner and director Deb Guertin said. "Once you have confidence, once you understand math, once the world of math opens up, then there isn't a stigma." Mathnasium, a one-on-one math tutoring learning center, will hold a grand opening on Jan. 27.
Liberty Ridge Elementary's brightest minds were out in full force on Thursday for the school's annual science fair. On Jan. 20, dozens of students came out with their science projects which ranged from volcanoes to crystals to cookies to bubbles to slime. Third grader Aiman Aamer switched science fair projects halfway through the research process. She had originally thought of doing her project on the solar system, but she decided the project wasn't "sciency" enough. Aamer eventually decided to microscopes for her project.
For many of Karen Seashore's students, art has been a part of their life for a long time. "I've been doing art since I was scribbling with crayons when I was little," WHS student Chloe Philion said. The hard work and dedication of Seashore's art students has been recognized by the Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards. A total of eight art students have received awards for their artistic talents. The Scholastic Art Awards is Minnesota's largest statewide opportunity to recognize creative and artistic teenagers.