William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.
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If the idea was to light a "Firebird" under the seats of District 833 students, the Minnesota Orchestra hit the mark. An invited audience at East Ridge High School on Sept. 15 heard a stratospheric performance of Stravinsky's "Firebird" by the full orchestra, led by musical director Osmo Vanksa. Band and orchestra students from East Ridge, Park and Woodbury high schools and Lake Middle School also heard "Roman Carnival Overture" by Berlioz and "Pavane pour une infante défunte" by Ravel.
Robots invaded East Ridge High School Saturday, Sept. 16, during the East Metro Collaborative Competition, which included 26 visiting robotics teams from around the state. The offseason tournament was hosted by Woodbury, East Ridge, Park high schools and Woodbury Math & Science Academy. It was inspired by the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) program, which encourages kids to apply science, technology, engineering and math to build their own remote controlled robot. High school teams squared off two by two on a special playing field.
You don't have to be a martial arts champion in order to be a Marvel superhero. But it helps. Woodbury High School graduate Mike Moh will unleash his fists of fury in "Marvel's Inhumans," a fall series that debuts Sept. 29 on ABC. "I've definitely been a fan of the movies and that whole cinematic universe every since I saw the first 'Iron Man,'" said Moh, who holds a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. "That was a game-changing movie."
Newport Elementary School will get a much-needed upgrade to its playground, thanks to a donation from MidWestOne Bank. Barbara Lacher, second vice president retail managing officer at the bank's Newport office, presented principal Rich Romano with a $15,000 check at the school's open house Aug. 30. Bailey Nurseries will donate $1,000, Lacher said. "It's just been a school in need, and being in the community we are in a position to be able to help," she said. "We're just thrilled," Romano said.
Drivers, you may exhale now. Washington County project planners are reopening two key roads in Cottage Grove ahead of schedule. September 9, the barriers will come down at the intersection of Hinton Avenue and 70th Street, restoring access to and from Hwy 61.
Planning is set to begin later this year for construction of a roundabout at Hinton Avenue and 70th Street in Cottage Grove.
The enthusiasms of the late Scott Pengelly were nearly as numerous as his friends. Pengelly, who died Dec. 29, received a sitting ovation Aug. 23, when a wrought-iron "Tree of Life" bench was dedicated in his honor at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Friends, family and former colleagues at the Department of Natural Resources gathered to celebrate the man described on the bench inscription as "dedicated DNR spokesman, outdoorsman, conservationist, State Fair enthusiast and friend."
The Rev. John Magee is now a member of the pancreatic cancer survivors club. He hopes it's a lifetime membership. "I'm humbled," Magee said. "Some may call it a miracle, I call it a blessing. I'm just grateful." Last year, the pastor of Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, the most common form of pancreatic cancer. "My wife was told by one clinician that I would die from this. He said, 'You will die within 18 months.' That was hard for her to hear."
It's not too late to submit an entry to the Films in 5 Festival, but it's getting close. Aug. 31 is the deadline for submitting an original film or video. The competition is open to the public. Entries must be 5 minutes or less in length. All genres and formats are welcome, from animation to expressionist to cute kitten vignettes. But entries must not contain graphic violence, profanity, sexual content, nudity or copyrighted material. Entry fee is $5.
Call it a 200-mile, very sweaty parade.