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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East Ridge High School senior Kate Sawyer recently took home a TWIST EPIC award, which stands for Target Women in Science and Technology and Engagement, Passion, Innovation, and Curiosity. Sawyer, of Woodbury, is one of 25 women in Minnesota to earn the honor, which recognizes those who demonstrate their dedication to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She received the award Oct. 13 at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis. At right is her Target engineering mentor Janell Hibbard.
Cooper Swenson, 6, is a photogenic little guy with blond hair and a sweet smile. He’s mad about trains and likes to wrestle with his younger brother Sawyer, 4. The elder son of Kate and Jamie Swenson of Cottage Grove was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 3. He’s non-verbal and may never speak. He creates his own weather: he can be a sunbeam one moment, a category 5 the next.
Students at Lake Middle School took a running jump Oct. 17 when they tried out a concept called Vault Safe. The pee-wee version of pole vaulting was created by Olympic pole vaulter and gold medalist Stacy Dragila and her former trainer Steve Thomas. Thomas stopped at Lake as part of a national tour to promote the sport, bringing his cargo of cut-down bamboo poles and a Johnny Appleseed's enthusiasm — not only for the sport of pole vaulting, but for its confidence-building potential.
They didn't get to see snow, but they sure packed a lot of Minnesota into one week. St. Ambrose of Woodbury Catholic Community hosted two members from their sister parish in the village of Esmeralda Cuba last week. On their first trip to the United States, Fr. Yosbel Puentes Dousac and Sister Leticia Ortiz Alonso dined at the home of a parishioner, attended Mass, visited St. Ambrose school's Spanish immersion class, saw the new St. Croix Crossing bridge in Oak Park Heights and toured the Cathedral of St. Paul. They also dined at Sole Mio restaurant in Woodbury.
Eugenia Popa is proud of her Romanian origins. Her home in Woodbury is decorated with ceramic plates and traditional folk masks, bearded and horned, that hearken back to ritualistic pagan times. She considers her homeland to be unique among its neighbors in Eastern Europe. It owes its name and romantic language to the Romans, who made Dacia, as it was known, part of their empire from 106-274 A.D. "It's the only country of a Latin origin surrounded by Slavic people," she said.
Valerie Wick has a few stories to share with her classmates at Cottage Grove Middle School. The 12-year-old singer and actor just finished a four-week run in "The Abominables," the youth hockey musical at Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis. "I was actually doing online school for a while (because) the school stuff was more portable and the schedule is more flexible," she said. "I'm going back to the brick and mortar school."
They may own bragging rights as the city with the largest inclusive playground in Minnesota — a 21,500-square-foot climb and swing venue that accommodates able-bodied and disabled children alike. But even should it be eclipsed by newer, larger facilities, the Woodridge Park Inclusive Playground will still represent the collective heart of Cottage Grove, whose residents, elected officials, city staff and business owners worked four years to bring it into being.
Lisa Horn of the Minnesota Run Series met with members of Cottage Grove Random Runners Sept. 28 during one of their regular runs at Woodridge Park. Horn is visiting running clubs around the region to promote their Series Participation Award, a seven-race challenge where groups compete to register the most members for each event. Clubs can follow the standings online. The meet-ups also provide the chance for Minnesota Run Series to become more involved with the running community they serve. "We realized that more and more runners are deciding to run with clubs," Horn said.