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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Mike Thissen Age: 39 Residence: Woodbury Family: Married with three sons and one daughter Occupation: Health inspector Why he's running: He wants to be more involved with the decisions the school board makes involving his kids. Mike Thissen is clear on why he believes he would make a good school board member. "What separates me is that I kind of tell it how it is, I respond to people and I listen to people," said Thissen, a Woodbury resident.
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With about a week to go before the election, one more candidate is throwing her hat back in the ring for District 833 School Board. Current school board member Denise Kapler has started a write-in campaign for re-election. Kapler, a Woodbury resident who was first elected to the school board in 2001, said she chose not to file for re-election this fall because of some instances of retaliation her daughters had been getting due to school board decisions. "That really caught me off guard," she said.
Running out of pizza, misplaced Personal Identification Numbers and oven malfunctions are just a few of the challenges that face school food service workers in the first days of school. "People in nutrition services are the hardest working people in the district when you think about it, who else has a time schedule that they have to meet like food services? When the kids come here, the food has to be ready," Nutrition Services director Barbara Osthus said.
The long-awaited opening of East Ridge High School has finally arrived, and everyone is wondering how did it go? The Bulletin recently sat down with principal Aaron Harper to discuss the first week of school. Q: What was the first day of school like? A: It was just running around being crazy and all the emotion attached to it -- kind of all that rolled up into one. It was emotional, it was draining, super exciting, energizing, crazy. But also trying to take a moment to live in the moment and realize that it's a special day. Q: What was it like for the kids on first day school?
District 833 has been working hard to manage its budget and keep costs down, and this includes the heads of Community Education's Kindergarten Plus all-day kindergarten program. The Kindergarten Plus program's supply budget is dropping from $1,000 per classroom to $250 per classroom. There are currently 35 sections, housing nearly 700 students, at all 16 elementary schools in the district. "Because this is a fee-based program, we try really hard to keep the costs down as best we can for parents," said Ernie Pines, Community Education director.
When School District 833's junior high schools become middle schools this fall, much more than the schools' grade configurations will change. Students in grades six through eight will be part of a middle school system, which emphasizes relationships among students and staff. Teams of teachers will work with the same group of students, and they'll meet daily to discuss students to learn what is working, and what areas a student may need help in. "The teachers will be discussing those kids Monday through Friday all year," said Kari Lopez, principal at Woodbury Middle School.
Wind turbines could possibly be blowing into Afton in the near future. During the July 21 meeting of the Afton City Council, it was discussed whether or not the council should look into writing an ordinance that would deal with wind turbines.
Walking down the halls of the still unfinished East Ridge High School, it's hard to imagine that in just a few short months they'll be alive with students running to class, teachers offering an encouraging smile and the morning bells marking the first chapter in a new story. "Everything is so detail-oriented that it's hard to focus on the big things right now like the first day of school," East Ridge principal Aaron Harper said.
Spc. Dan Drevnick, of Woodbury, was laid to rest on Saturday July 25 when friends and family came out to say their goodbyes at the fallen soldiers' funeral at King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury. "We come here today with humble and grateful hearts," Pastor Timothy Hackbarth said. "Dan faced his life head on and fearless -- and he will forever be remembered." Drevnick, 22, died on July 16 in Basra, Iraq, while serving as part of the National Guard Red Bull 34th Infantry Division, when there unit was attacked by indirect fire. Two other soldiers from Minnesota, Carlos E.