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's that time of year again, when District 833 families get the chance to taste a bit of everything South Washington County has to offer. The South Washington County Schools Education Foundation's Taste of South Washington County Extravaganza will come to Woodbury High School on May 5. "We really want to not only raise funds for the Education Foundation, but also be an opportunity to build a sense of community," foundation executive director Patti Bitney Starke said. The Taste of South Washington County Extravaganza was started in 1998 when the education foundation was born.
In addition the numerous changes already facing School District 833 this year -- a new high school, new school boundaries, a new superintendent and a transition to a middle school system -- yet another change is looming on the horizon. Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) has brought a bill to the Minnesota House of Representatives that would dramatically change the way districts are funded by the state. "We should be funding those things that are improving a student's education," he said.
A Woodbury family frustrated by the edicts of a District 833 school boundary decision are taking a stand in court. Kendra and Tim Goertzen have filed a lawsuit with the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 over issues stemming from the school boundary decision District 833's school board made in April 2008. "Filing a lawsuit was the last thing we wanted to do, but we couldn't get them to listen to reason," Kendra Goertzen said. The Goertzens live in the Wedgewood Point neighborhood of Woodbury, a little over a mile from Middleton Elementary.
Greg and Heidi Case of Woodbury were like any expectant parents -- thrilled and excited for their bundle of joy to arrive. But when Heidi was 30 weeks into her pregnancy, she had a premonition something was wrong. "I just felt like something's not right and 'I just don't feel comfortable,'" she said. Heidi was right. Their baby girl, Ellery, had too much fluid in her chest cavity. There could have been a number of reasons for this, but one thing for sure was that it was serious and it needed to be addressed immediately.
Little girls are often told that they're princesses by their fathers, and on Feb. 19 they all had a chance to prove this true at District 833 Community Education's "Cinderella Swing" -- the daddy-daughter dance -- at Woodbury Junior High School. "It is one of the few special dress-up opportunities for dads and their daughters. It is a great way to create special memories," youth programs coordinator Sue McKeown said. "And the little girls love the opportunity to dress up and be a princess." The dancing and the live band The Dweebs drew 1,000 daddies and daughters.
Students who graduate from Woodbury Junior High this year and move on to East Ridge High will see a familiar administrator at their new school next year. Current WJHS principal Dennis Roos is joining the ERHS team as the second assistant principal. He will join Matt Kraft, the other East Ridge assistant principal, starting July 1. "I look at this position as a head coach job," he said. "But I don't necessarily want to leave Woodbury." Roos said his decision to move to East Ridge was influenced by District 833's plan to transform Woodbury Junior High into a middle school.
For three Woodbury High School students the 2008 election is going to be extra memorable -- despite the fact that they didn't have the opportunity to vote -- because they will be attending the 2009 Inauguration and an inaugural ball for President Barack Obama on Jan. 20. Sophomore Kiera Eaton, freshman Ben Gotz and junior Heather Mohr will be in Washington, D.C. to be part of the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference as members of the National Youth Leadership Forum. "I'm hoping to come away from this with a bit more understanding of politics.
The District 833 Kids Club program has cleared a major hurtle now that it has received accreditation from the National AfterSchool Association. Kids Club is a child care program before or after school in each elementary building and provides care to children k-6. Children can participate in a variety of activities such as arts, crafts, games, science, computers, physical activities and quiet time. Currently there are 1,500 students enrolled in the Kids Club program at all district elementary schools.
After spending five years as a member of the United States Army, Woodbury resident and musician Mathew Griswold, 26, made his triumphant return to the stage on Dec. 29 at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis. Griswold's performance is a pre-release party for his newest album release, Lets Do It, which will be officially released on Jan. 20. "Every time I get up I really strive to make that personal connection and I hope they can use an experience that I've been through, or any insight that I have gained," he said.
Afton's "stealth" tower -- one that masquerades as a pine tree -- has finally taken root in Afton. The radio communications tower, which hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms in Afton, is located at 15326 Afton Hills Court. A work crew endured a frigid blast of winter weather to begin installation of the main portion of the tower on Dec. 15.