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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School's out for East Ridge High School English teacher Sheila Tschida. Tschida will retire at the end of the year after having spent the past 40 years as a teacher, 33 years of that spent in District 833. "I'm going to miss all the interaction with kids," Tschida said. "It gives me a lot of positives and it makes me have a lot of faith -- there's a lot of good stories coming from here. "I will not miss the papers and the bells, though." Tschida's road to becoming a teacher began at a young age. "I probably knew at age 5 that I wanted to be a teacher," she said.
Early on in his high school career, East Ridge High School senior Kyutae "Alex" Kim set a goal for himself of beating his older brother's class ranking. Well, Kim has done more than that by earning the rank of No. 2 in his graduating class. "I wanted to rank higher than my brother," he said. "I don't even remember where he ranked, but it wasn't two." Kim will graduate June 1 with a GPA of 4.45. He said setting a goal to earn a high ranking helped to push himself further.
East Ridge High School's top student will be trading in her black and gold for maroon and gold when she attends the University of Minnesota next fall. Allie Kobe will graduate June 1 with a GPA of 4.429. Kobe maintained her No. 1 ranking throughout high school. "My mom always said it's good to get to the top and stay there rather than try and fight your way up," she said. Kobe said being ranked at the top of her graduating class was a goal that she set for herself early on since she had a sister who maintained the top spot until her senior year when she slipped from the top.
Both Math and Science Academy and East Ridge High School have proven their robotic skills. The two schools' robotics teams competed April 26-28 in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition World Championship in St. Louis, Mo. The MSA Fighting Calculators placed second in the division finals and the East Ridge Robotic Ominous Raptors (ERRORs) placed 20th out of 100 teams in their division. "It was absolutely amazing," said Will Preska, adviser for the Fighting Calculators.
Cottage Grove resident Bob Beskar has made Royal Oaks Elementary his home for the past 12 years as the school's custodian, but something seemed to be missing. At the end of every day Beskar, who works as the school's night cleaner, takes down the school's American flag. "People see it during the day, but the older elementary schools don't have the lighted flags so it comes down every night," said Beskar, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
It's finally here. After nearly 10 years, several starts and stops and a reshaped vision, the Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center is a reality. Arts Connection held a grand opening for the Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center-East Ridge High School campus Feb. 22. The East Ridge campus includes the new Black Box Theater. "It's so exciting," said Michelle Witte, executive director for Arts Connection. The East Ridge campus joins the already established Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center-Rivertown campus.
While many Americans watched President Barack Obama's second inauguration on TV or via the Web, two East Ridge High School students found themselves in the heart of the historic occasion. Freshman Grant Feuer and sophomore Lynnae Boe traveled to Washington, D.C., Jan. 19-23 for the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference. "I never saw myself actually getting this experience to be on the mall that day," Boe said of the Jan. 21 event.
It's the time of year when many people find themselves fighting the common cold, but last week a case of whooping cough, or pertussis, was confirmed at District 833's Lake Middle School. Since January of last year a total of 160 whooping cough cases have been reported, according to Fred Anderson, an epidemiologist with the Washington County Public Health & Environment Department. Whooping cough is a respiratory illness that is caused by bacteria. The incubation period for the bacteria is about 7-10 days, Anderson said.
Gary and Lori Swanson's farm in Afton embodies the "family farm." Gary Swanson spent his childhood on the farm, which his family bought in 1942, and he has since raised his own family there. "I never got far in life," Gary Swanson joked about staying on the same property all his life. The Swanson family was named the 2012 Washington County Farm Family through the University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program.
The 34th-annual Art in the Park, sponsored by the Afton Area Business Association, will be Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22.-23, in Afton's Old Village. Roughly 70 to 80 art vendors will set up around Afton's Town Square Park selling a variety of items including jewelry, stained glass, photography, lawn art, painting, clothing, purses, doll clothes, hair accessories and garden art. "We've a got a few really unique photographers," said Kathy Jarvis, one of the event organizers.