Citing budget concerns, St. Francis Area Schools officials have reaffirmed their earlier decision to hold this year’s graduation inside the high school gymnasium.

The school board’s 4-3 vote April 8 on the graduation venue followed weeks of debate, with some pushing for commencement exercises on the football field instead.

Students in favor of an outdoor ceremony launched a petition and a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost difference, estimated at $7,000.

Commencement in St. Francis typically has been indoors in recent years, but proponents of the outdoor venue have raised concerns about seating constraints in the gym, with students limited to four tickets each.

Hannah Covington


County studying trail along Mill Street

Hennepin County is studying the potential design and cost of a pedestrian and bike trail along Hwy. 82, also known as Mill Street, from Holly Lane in Shorewood to 2nd Street in Excelsior.

Residents southeast of Excelsior have requested a safer way to walk or bike on that stretch of road, which does not have a sidewalk, said Dan Patterson, a county transportation planner.

“It’s been a known need for a long time, 10 to 15 years, and there’s a lot of demand to get into Excelsior for the destination that it is,” he said.

Officials from the county and neighboring communities are seeking public input through focus groups and an online survey. An open house on the issue is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. April 30 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 680 Mill St., Excelsior.

Katy Read


Zephyr Theatre gets renovation grant

The Royal Credit Union Foundation has granted $150,000 to the Zephyr Theatre for renovations to the theater building on Stillwater’s Main Street.

The Zephyr, a nonprofit organization, is seeking $4 million for renovations and a new 330-seat auditorium on the building’s north end.

The organization — which offers theater, concerts, film and arts events — purchased the building, the site of the former Zephyr train depot and restaurant, in 2018.

The Royal Credit Union Foundation, which has 23 branches in Minnesota and Wisconsin, helps fund large-scale, capital projects to create community spaces.

Mara Klecker


Teacher wins music room makeover

The makeover of a music room at Lake Marion Elementary School in Lakeville will be revealed Monday, the result of a $50,000 prize the music teacher won in a contest to have her classroom redone.

Victoria Sundberg worked with designers from Atmosphere Commercial Interiors, the office furniture company sponsoring the contest, to decide on the makeover. One update will be new chairs for 30 students and other furniture, according to a release.

“I have the best job in the world and I want my classroom to reflect that,” Sundberg said in her application video, adding that her room could benefit from more storage space along with tables and seating.

The reveal will take place at 7:45 a.m. Monday at Lake Marion Elementary, 19875 Dodd Blvd.

Erin Adler