Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.
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Every morning St. Croix Central Elementary students get off the buses and gather around the flagpole, standing in a field near the third and fourth grade cabins. All of the more than 600 students recite the Pledge of Allegiance together.
Roberts residents are getting ready to celebrate this year's Roberts Good Neighbor Days May 30 - June 2. Roberts Lions Club First Vice President Ronda Bierbrauer said this year's theme, "Roberts around the world," is a celebration of the diversity found in Roberts, as well as the international reach of the Lions organization. The festivities will start off Thursday with the community appreciation dinner, sponsored by Citizens State Bank, and the Pie and Ice Cream Social put on by the Hazel Mackin Community Library Fundraising committee at 5:30 p.m. in the village park.
In this day of computers and emails, receiving a handwritten, personal letter can be a special thing. Patty Schachtner, Somerset school nurse, helped organize the letter-writing campaign in the schools with Gina Knutson, Carol Jones, Gail Buell and Randy Calleja as a part of the Leadership Trust Initiative, a course sponsored by the New Richmond Area Community Foundation. The group organized community letters for New Richmond eighth-graders one week before the Somerset eighth-graders received theirs.
The smell permeating the entire St. Croix Central Elementary building is a reminder of the smoke damage that has rendered many of the school's classroom items unusable. This, combined with the fact that teachers have not been able to retrieve many items from their classrooms, put the school in need of supplies for its students. However, thanks to an outpouring of community and area support, SCC Elementary does not need school supplies any longer. "It's overwhelming, it really is," school district Superintendent David Bradley said.
On Friday afternoon, May 3, teachers in white face masks and blue rubber gloves walked through the dim halls of St. Croix Central Elementary School. Tears fell, even as water dripped from the ceiling of what was left of the office area. The staff, stepping over soggy ceiling tiles, were allowed to enter the building and view the damage, as well as retrieve some personal items from their classrooms. Some staff had not yet seen their classrooms. Adrianne Lemberg, Title I reading teacher, saw her classroom, for the first time since the fire, on Friday.
Fifth-graders are usually not excited about writing poetry, said Katie Tate, St. Croix Central Middle School fifth grade teacher. But this year, Tate's class was very excited about their poetry project. "They sat every afternoon for an hour with a laptop on their desk," Tate said. "It didn't get old for them." Instead of approximately 40-page poetry books, Tate's 26 students created poetry websites this year. "It just makes an ordinary project more fun," Tate said. The idea for the websites was suggested to Tate by SCCMS media specialist Amanda Olson.
Dr. Heidi Weisert-Peatow has been hired as the new St. Croix Central Elementary School principal, following current principal Steve Sanders's retirement, effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year. "I'm very excited to come and I'm very excited to meet everybody," Weisert-Peatow said. Weisert-Peatow is a graduate of Concordia College is St. Paul, Minn. and completed her education master's coursework at Oregon State University. She then moved to Washington to teach in the Seattle area for many years.
On April 12, the SCC eighth grade choir had a new performance experience. The group performed "The Star Spangled Banner" at the start of a Harlem Globetrotters game in the Target Center in Minneapolis. "I thought it went very well," Schmitt said. "The kids were really excited and had a fun time and I thought they sang very well." Schmitt said Target Center representatives sent her a letter two years ago to invite one of the middle school choirs to perform the national anthem for a Harlem Globetrotters game, but the group was unable to go at the time.
Hammond musician Mike Murtha of Trigger Happy has become a published author. Murtha's book, "Stranger in a Small Town," is the story of a high school boy named Chris whose family moves to a fictional small town in Iowa from New York. Chris, Murtha said, is a very creative boy. "He's into the arts, guitar, vocal, taken voice lessons, theater," Murtha said.
On Tuesday, April 2, and Friday, April 5, the Autism Awareness Committee for the Somerset School District held two events in honor of Autism Awareness Month, which is celebrated nationally every April. Beckah Whitlock began the committee in the fall of 2012 as a way to increase autism awareness in Somerset, to which she and her husband moved because they felt Somerset School District's special education accommodations would help their three autistic sons. The Autism Awareness committee's efforts are a way of giving back to the community and the district, Whitlock said. The first event, Tues