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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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.
It was standing room only at the June 1 meeting of the Afton Planning Commission for the public hearing on the conditional use permit for the proposed Afton Center. By meeting's end, the commission decided to recommend denial of the CUP to the Afton City Council. The hearing had plenty of people scratching their heads because the project is presently in court with the city. "Currently being in litigation, do we really need to spend time on this?" Afton resident Rich Meyers asked.
The Afton City Council has to wait a little longer before its lawsuit with FOC, LLC and Atomic Properties fades from the horizon. At the June 1 meeting of the Afton Planning Commission, commissioners reviewed ordinances that had to be approved in order for the settlement agreement with FOC, LLC and Atomic Properties to go into effect. Ultimately, the planning commission decided to recommend denial of the amendments to the city council.
Third grade classes at Woodbury Elementary showed off their acting and music skills, as well as their cooking skills, during the productions of the mini-musical "Stone Soup" May 28 to June 2. Stone Soup tells the tale of three travelers who are tired and hungry, and who happen upon an old woman and her grandchildren. The travelers ask the woman for some food, but she is hesitant at first to share her food.
The Cedar's Bluff saga in Afton has finally come to an end. On May 26 the Afton City Council directed staff to revise the development agreement for approval at their June meeting. "My goal all along here was to do what is right and not push beyond what is allowable," Cedar's Bluff developer Len Pratt said. "I'm concerned with the preservation of Afton's historic character." The Cedar's Bluff Homestead, Afton's first housing development, was approved in 2006. Over the last two years, the development has hit a few road blocks.
After a year's worth of assignments, tests and activities, students will be racing out the doors this week for that much-anticipated time of year -- summer. Instead of a classroom, there will be the local beach. Instead of cafeteria food there will be barbeques and ice cream. Instead of school buses, there will be boats and bicycles. And for the graduating seniors, summer will mark the next chapter of their lives. The end of the school year also marks the end of the familiar since District 833 will be undergoing a series of changes next year.
Afton city attorney Fritz Knaak may have his work cut out for him in Afton, but there is another case currently commanding his attention -- Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount. Knaak, of the law firm Knaak and Kantrud PA, and a Vadnais Heights resident, is one of several attorneys working on Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's case against Democratic contender Al Franken. Both Coleman's and Franken's points of view are scheduled to be heard in the Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday, June 1. "It's about as important of a case that will be heard in the Supreme Court," Knaak said.