Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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It's an impressive record and when the competition got tougher in a new section, the Park High School Drama Department actors stepped it up to give a starred performance this year. Park won the Section 3AA One-Act Play competition against Eagan two weeks ago, earning them a spot in the eight-section state tournament. But unlike other state tournaments in sports, there is no first or second place. The best performances get "starred" and Park was one of four schools who were awarded that honor on Thursday, Feb.
There will be at least one more summer of stagnant water in Grey Cloud Channel before bridge construction begins, but a funding gap is close to being bridged. Washington County officials told the township last week that it would contribute $500,000 as its share of the $1.6 million project slated to get started this fall or in the spring of 2014. The channel is south of First Fill on County Road 75 that links the township to the mainland.
When District 833 School Board members gather for their only meeting in July, it will be marked by a change in start times for board meetings. All meetings in 2013-14 will start at 6:30 p.m. Now, the start time for the first meeting of the month is 6 p.m. The meeting includes a workshop session in casual setting. The second meeting of each month starts at 7 p.m. The board decided to change the policy to have a uniform start time. Board meeting dates for the next academic year will be Aug. 8 and 22; Sept. 12 and 26; Oct. 10 and 24; Nov. 7 and 21; Dec. 5 and 19; Jan. 9 and 23; Feb.
Dance line is not for the faint of heart. Practices are three hours long and they do it four days a week, all to dance a routine that's a lot like a three-minute, all-out sprint, according to Amanda Hemmingsen-Jaeger, Park High Dance Line head coach. But the 15 Park dance line members love their sport. They aren't quick to get in line for a rigorous practice, but five minutes in, listening to work out music, they are energized and ready to do more. Maggie Katzenmaier has been dancing since she was 9 years old.
Unlike the mild weather of 2012, this year's Park High School Snow Week happened in the middle of a normal Minnesota winter. Last week's celebration was filled with special dress days and a dodgeball tournament in the activity center. The students were in eye-popping colors on Friday for "neon day." The coronation, traditionally held during a dance on Saturday night, was moved to a pep fest on Friday afternoon and drew a larger audience.
The Park High School Drama Department's production of "Antigone" in One-Act Play competition carried its Section 3AA win over Eagan High School to a strong state tournament showing Feb. 7. Park's entry, directed by Steve Estenson and Denise Atkinson, was among four that were "starred" as great performances at the state competition. Park earned another trophy, bringing its total to nine since 1994. Trophies and team pictures are located in the trophy case by the west building door at Park. --Judy Spoon
"Did you throw the newspaper away?" asked husband Gary. I told him I put it in the recycle bin but offered to retrieve it. We have gotten a daily morning newspaper since the day we married. Gary, a St. Paul boy, wouldn't be without it. "I've tried to figure out how you know that the one and only day this month that I recycled the newspaper before 10 p.m. is the day you want to read something in it that you didn't read this morning," I said. "I don't know what you mean," he said.
Joining an exclusive group, Pullman Elementary School was recently designated a "celebration school." The honor, from the Minnesota Department of Education, recognizes Pullman for growth its students made on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests given last spring. Pullman teachers and support staff members are very proud of how they sparked student achievement, but it was only a pause, according to Principal Ed Ross, before returning to the focus of keeping up the effort. The motto is "no excuses," he said.
Spending cuts and other changes are likely in South Washington County Schools' budget for next year. Superintendent Keith Jacobus said last week that $900,000 in spending cuts or "budget adjustments" must be found if the district wants to keep the equivalent of at least 5 percent of the total budget in reserves as it puts together its preliminary budget for 2013-14. But if the district acquires Crosswinds School in Woodbury -- a possibility if the Perpich Center for the Arts doesn't receive additional state aid by April 1 to take over Crosswinds -- there will be additions to the District 833
Many of the students at Grey Cloud Elementary School had seen fried rice before, but hadn't tasted it. When it was served Friday as part of school lunch to celebrate the Chinese New Year, students such as Kylie Jones declared it "good." The rest of the menu was chicken nuggets, oranges, chopped apples and fortune cookies. The kids tried to use chopsticks. They weren't being used efficiently enough to eat the rice, but they made great nugget stabbers. The meal was served with carrots and pea pods.