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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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of a series of stories leading up to the Relay for Life of South Washington County, which will be held June 4-5 at East Ridge High School. Local musician Matthew Griswold was scheduled to perform at last year's Woodbury Relay for Life, but at the last minute the U.S. Army soldier was recalled to duty. "I felt really bad about that," he said. Although Griswold returned from his recall much sooner than he anticipated, he didn't make it back in time for last year's event. "I got back the day after the Relay, so I just missed it," he said.
The entire District 833 elementary community joined in song during the first ever "Great American Sing-A-Long" May 13 at East Ridge High School. Third-graders from all 15 District 833 elementary schools came together to perform great American folk classics such as, "America," "This Land is Your Land," "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "America the Beautiful" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." "These are songs that we would like students to know before they go out into the world," Liberty Ridge music teacher Jennifer Fiedor said.
With Afton's Mayfair quickly approaching, and summer soon to follow, a longtime institution is noticeably absent from town -- Selma's Ice Cream Parlour. For the last several months one of the revered landmarks of the St. Croix River Valley has remained quiet and empty. Selma's traditionally shuts down for the winter months, but when springtime rolled around and the historic ice cream parlor remained closed, many residents began to wonder what happened.
One person's junk is another person's treasure. East Ridge High School will be getting in the garage sale spirit on May 15 when the National Honor Society holds a garage sale in conjunction with the annual Woodbury Lions Club Garage Sale. "I'm pretty sure we've had a guest in our household during the Lions Garage Sale every single year," National Honor Society vice president Joaquin Valdes said.
Valley Crossing Community School has finalized plans for its school calendar after the elimination of the alternate calendar option in March. Principal Mary Anderson notified families via a letter sent out Thursday. Whereas the alternate calendar had two three week vacations, and went year round, the new calendar will be very much a traditional calendar, Anderson said The calendar will start after labor day, include the traditional holiday breaks. However, instead of the traditional one week spring break, Valley Crossing will have a two week break.
Simon guards the halls at all of the South Washington County middle and high schools armed with nothing but his nose. Simon is a narcotics dog with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Officer Keith Anderson, of the investigations division, takes Simon into the schools to perform random narcotics sniffs of lockers, classrooms and even the parking lot. "The way it works is that the school has to request our services," Anderson said.
The Afton House Inn has embarked on a new endeavor with the opening of the new combination wine shop and wine bar Swirl. The store will be located in the area across from the Afton Bean coffee shop. The concept of Swirl is that it will house around 70 or so wines for sale by the bottle, and it will sell six different wines by the glass which will change every week. Every Friday there will be a wine tasting of the "wines of the week." In addition to the wines, Swirl will also sell tapas, small plates and homemade desserts.
In 2006, District 833's orchestra program started with 250 fourth- and fifth-grade students. Four years later the program has grown to 750 fourth- through eighth-grade students, and continues to grow. Next fall, for the first time ever, District 833 high schools will offer orchestra. "It's going to be very exciting that this small group of students who originally started in this program will enter the high school for the first time next year," said Nancy Wiessner, District 833 fine arts coordinator. The community will come together to celebrate the orchestra program on Feb.
There are plenty of knowledge competitions where students need to use their brains to answer test questions, but the Brain Bee takes it one step further. They must use their brains to answer questions about the brain. East Ridge High School sophomore Kevin Ig-Izevekhai has qualified for the state Brain Bee competition on Feb. 10 at the University of Minnesota. "I've always kind of been interested in the body, first of all, and especially the brain," he said.
Before Ellery Case was even born, she was fighting for her life. "She was born fighting," Ellery's mother Heidi Case of Woodbury said.