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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Guddu Chinta spent the month of August getting his feet wet in a tent in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The Woodbury High School sophomore joined 60 other students from around the world at Rising Sun Camp, an intensive four-week, leadership program. "Every morning it was humid so the ground would be completely wet," he said. "I went through 15 pairs of socks in four days because of ... all the dew."
COTTAGE GROVE — Our country's military veterans deserve more than just our thanks, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar told a capacity crowd in the Park High School gymnasium on Nov. 10. The senator spoke at the Wolfpack Air Force JROTC Veterans Day Ceremony. It was held on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in November 1918.
Newport Elementary School is overcoming one of the biggest obstacles to learning: poverty. The school's improved scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test earned them a spot on the annual "Beating the Odds" report that was published in September by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It was the school's second consecutive year on the list. "Newport has historically been one of the lowest performing schools," Principal Rich Romano said. "That's not the case anymore."
ST. PAUL PARK — A neighborhood Halloween attraction signed off Oct. 31 after more than 30 years. The Nelson family's tricked-out yard display in St. Paul Park attracted generations of costumed kids with its rows of tombstones, hanging skeletons and gallery of glowing jack o' lanterns. Family members would dress up as witches and vampires. "I've never been at my own home for 33 years to pass out candy," said Dawn Walker of Hastings. "'Cause I'm the head witch here."
Representatives from Old National Bank presented teachers, staff, students and parents with a $1,000 grant Oct. 24 at Pine Hill Elementary School. The grant was awarded thanks to the efforts of the school's parent teacher association. They collected the most online votes in the bank's Tools for Schools competition, which took place in September. One school from each of the bank's 17 regions in the Midwest received a $1,000 grant based on the number of votes they generated. Pine Hill was the only school in Minnesota to win.
TJ Maxx/Home Goods opened Sunday morning in Cottage Grove. The 40,000 square foot complex is the company's first dual site in Minnesota. The scene was skin to black friday, with some shoppers camping out overnight in order to get the best selection of Rae Dunn pottery, clothing, food, housewares and other items.
WOODBURY — Woodbury High School graduates and Marine Academy Midshipmen Gavin Bradley and Andrew French recently completed a journey around the world by ship.
COTTAGE GROVE — The public got a gander at the new Oltman Middle School at the Sept. 23 grand opening. A ceremony took place in the school's 400-seat theater, where South Washington County School Board chair Tracy Brunnette thanked the public for supporting the tax levy that paid for the $72 million school. "Your support has given us an amazing school," she said. Oltman Principal Joni Hagebock took the audience on a virtual tour of the building and its unique features.
WOODBURY — Come for the movie, stay for the discussion. The Grove United Methodist Church will host a screening of the film "Love, Simon" Sunday, Sept. 30 at the YMCA in Woodbury. Following the film, the public is invited to stay, share and learn with teen members of the LGBT community. The event, which runs 4 to 7 p.m., was organized by the church's LGBT + Pride Team.
ST. PAUL PARK— Live music and dance are on tap for this year's Stone Soup Fall Fashion and Variety Show. The annual fundraiser runs Thursday, Sept. 27, at John P. Furber Farm in Old Cottage Grove. Since it opened in 1997, the scrappy thrift store in St. Paul Park has sold or given away tons of gently used furniture, clothing and household items to the homeless and financially distressed. The shop has also attracted thrifters, those savvy fashionistas on the prowl for bargains on secondhand scarves, pants, tops and shoes.