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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The Catholic community of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park held their annual 50th anniversary celebration June 13. The anniversary had its own anniversary, so to speak. This marked the 25th year for the annual mass and luncheon, which honors parish members who have been married 50 years or more. Lori Edelyn came from Grand Rapids, Mich., with children Kira, 9, Leland, 12, and Lucas, 11, to celebrate with her parents, Sal and Lorraine Mischke of St. Paul Park. They've been married 58 years.
Averi Bednar, 11, of Cottage Grove won first place in the Strawberry Fest Talent Show June 15 at Kingston Park. She sang "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile." Singer Desiree Robles, 16, took second with her performance of "I Found a Boy" by Adele. Miracle Etuakwu, also 16, won third for her cover of "Burn" from the hip hop musical "Hamilton." They performed for an audience of about 100, who sat in lawn chairs or parked themselves on the blacktop, sheltering from the sun in the shadow of the main stage on opening night of the 2017 Strawberry Fest.
South Washington County School Board members and District 833 staff honored Joe Slavin with a moment of silence at their June 8 meeting. The death of Slavin, the South Washington County School board member and Oakdale principal found dead in a Woodbury park June 7, was ruled a suicide. "Joe was a colleague and a friend," board Chairwoman Katy McElwee-Stevens said in prepared remarks. Slavin offered the board great insight by having been a teacher, principal and a board member, McElwee-Stevens said. She also recalled his "amazing sense of timing" and clever humor.
They may have taken the road less traveled, but the senior class of South Washington County Alternative High School made it to the finish line. The June 7 graduation ceremony at the District Program Center included 25 students receiving their diplomas. Six others could not attend. Each student who stepped up to the lectern to receive a diploma heard a warts-and-all testimonial from a member of the teaching staff.
Live music acts at this year's Strawberry Fest offer a variety of sounds. Friday, June 16 Darlene and the Boys, 5-7 p.m. Friday evening's double-country music bill kicks off with Darlene and the Boys from 5-7 p.m.
Daryl Timmer has a particular reason for looking forward to September. Not because that's when students return to class and he resumes his role as director of choir at Woodbury High School. Come September, Timmer will find out if he's one the semifinalists for the national 2018 Music Educator Award.
The breast cancer had already spread through her lymph nodes and liver when Jennifer Hauk was diagnosed. "So not only did I have cancer at 34 years old, but I had to wrap my head around having stage 4 cancer, which is considered not curable," she said. An intensive care unit nurse at United Hospital in downtown St. Paul, Hauk knew the odds. "They usually talk about five-year survival rates," she said, rattling off the latest American Cancer Society statistics. Only 22 percent of stage 4 patients make it that far.
Following a period of uncertainty, Wolfpack Air Force JROTC MN-871 ended their year at Park High School on a higher note. Cadets and staff welcomed a new commander, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Darrell Lockhart, during a change of command ceremony May 30 in the school lecture hall. Lockhart and his family moved to Cottage Grove from Florida. “This is a tremendous opportunity,” Lockhart said. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”
Friends, family and faculty turned out to honor the Park High School Class of 2017 at Aldrich Arena. Park Principal Ginger Garski and District 833 Superintendent Keith Jacobus handed out diplomas at the June 4 commencement. "The culture of Park High School is wonderful, and whenever I walk the halls I can feel the energy you bring every day," Jacobus said. "When you go to bed tonight, thank your parents or guardian and those who helped you reach this day."
Ashley Holton of Woodbury said she owes her perfect ACT score to three things: preparation, preparation and preparation. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about kids who score pretty high on these tests, that they’re naturally talented,” Holton, 17, said. “There’s actually a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”