William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.
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South Washington County Schools seems to have scored well under a new, expanded set of accountability standards known as North Star. Fourteen schools in the district were recognized for significant improvements. But three schools also have been flagged for failure to measure up. They will receive varying levels of assistance. The North Star system replaces the Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR), which relied heavily on standardized test scores such as the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS).
District 833 will start the new school year with three assistant superintendents. Kristine Schaefer, who served as the district's Equity Coordinator, will fill that role alongside assistant superintendents Julie Nielsen and Mike Johnson. "I've been involved as an equity coordinator and a lot of the district initiatives with Julie and Mike," she said. "I'm really excited to start working at different a level." Her hiring was approved by the South Washington County School Board at the Aug. 23 meeting.
Like a traveling circus, 40th annual Woodbury Days Grande Parade Sunday Aug. 26 filled the streets and sidewalks around Ojibway Park with bands, costumed characters, gymnasts, dancers, cheerleaders and floats. This year's Community Grand Marshal was the family of the late Bill Hargis. Hargis, the longest-serving mayor of Woodbury, died in April. All 110 spots in the parade sold out, according to the Woodbury Days Council, who organize the event. The following groups earned awards from a panel of independent judges: Most Entertaining: Aspire Music Academy Most Outrageous: East Ridge Robotics Best Business Representation: Central + Priority Pediatrics Spirit of Woodbury: Woodbury Community Ed Gymnastics Best Creative Royalty: Woodbury Ambassadors Judges Choice: South Washington County Marching Band Resurrection Church (Honorable Mention) Woodbury Days was held Aug. 24-26.
If pub crawls aren't your thing, you could have gone on a lemonade crawl Aug. 25 in Cottage Grove. Ten lemonade stands sprang up throughout Cottage Grove, the first city in Minnesota to host a youth education and empowerment program called Lemonade Day. Each year, youngsters around the country are encouraged to learn financial fundamentals by opening their own lemonade stand. Each child who registers receives an Entrepreneur Workbook that addresses such topics as branding, creating a budget, controlling inventory and serving customers.
GREY CLOUD ISLAND — Local and county officials gathered for the Aug. 13 ribbon-cutting for the Grey Cloud Island channel restoration project. Monday's ceremony came a little more than a year after the groundbreaking. The 12-week, $1.8 million project was a collaboration between Washington County and the South Washington County Watershed District.
COTTAGE GROVE — Cullen Kiely, 9, couldn't figure out why everybody in Metropolitan Stadium was screaming their heads off and carrying on like their pants were on fire. All he knew was that his big sister had dragged him to see a group called the Beatles. It was Aug. 21, 1965. It would turn out to be the band's one and only concert in Minnesota. "I didn't think much of it at the time," Kiely said. "We knew they were big, but who knew their legacy 50 years later would be so enormous?"
SCHOOL DISTRICT 833 — Arthur Williams is the new principal at Middleton Elementary School in Woodbury. His hiring was approved by the South Washington County School Board at their Aug. 9 meeting. Williams spent the last five years as principal at Jefferson Elementary STEM School in the Winona Area School District.
Woodbury's most successful Night to Unite is now on the books. Teams of city police, firefighters and paramedics visited a record 65 neighborhood block parties and picnics during the statewide crime prevention celebration, formerly known as National Night Out. Public Safety spokeswoman Michelle Okada said the gatherings exceeded last year's record of 62. That number could be even higher, since there was a deadline for requests. "It's such a great opportunity to connect with people," she said. "We had parties all across the map."
WOODBURY — Crime pays. Particularly when your names are Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. In "Chicago," the two deliriously conniving murderesses scheme, vamp and dance their way from death row to fame and celebrity. The musical is set in 1926, when the windy city was awash in bootleg booze, political graft and the spilled blood of mob hits. Created by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, it killed 'em when it premiered on Broadway in 1975. A 2002 film version won six Academy Awards.