Go graduates and go Bears
It was a bittersweet and exciting time for graduates throughout the district, as they celebrated their accomplishments at graduation ceremonies, cherished memories and envisioned the next steps of their lives. Students in the Bear FUNdamentals program had fun celebrating their graduation from the year-before-kindergarten full-day program. The exciting celebrations continued, as fifth grade students also enjoyed a rewarding time together. At the fifth grade graduation ceremonies throughout the district, graduates were honored for their hard work. It was also a time for families and staff members to wish students well as they enter the next steps of their educational journey, middle school. Some students were even able to enjoy time signing classmates' yearbooks after the ceremony.
Graduates lined the stage and grabbed their diplomas at the Transition Education Center Graduation Ceremony. The ceremony was focused on the theme of the movie "The Greatest Showman," which encourages everyone to dream big and chase their goals. Director of Student Support Services Kathleen Daniels is soon retiring and was a speaker at the event and encouraged the 20 graduates, as they enter the next chapters of their lives. This year's student graduation speaker was Emily Eide who spoke in a video about fun memories from Transition Education Center and their dreams for the future, with one being wanting to travel to Hawaii. Emily's graduation speech can be seen in this video
. After the ceremony, graduates were able to take pictures together with their family members and loved ones to forever cherish the moment!
Area Learning Center graduates waited outside of the WBLAHS - South Campus auditorium, as their family members filled the room, awaiting for their students to walk onto the stage. Student speakers Mercedes Haglund and Tyler Salisbury spoke about their academic journeys and thanked others for contributing to their educational careers. Graduates were acknowledged for for receiving special recognitions such as MAAP Stars Participants, STRIVE Scholarship Recipients, Students of Excellence and Early Middle College Participants. Sydney Sather was recognized for being an Academic Achiever and the Lion's Club Scholarship Recipient. Each advisor called up graduates and shared stories about their positive characteristics and memories that each individual made during their time at the Area Learning Center. Congratulations to all 58 of the graduates from the Area Learning Center!
This year, the White Bear community celebrated 524 White Bear Lake Area High School graduates. The graduates had an opportunity to visit their former elementary schools for the Senior Walk, where they received high fives from current students and connected with their past teachers. Gowns were zipped, tassels were secured and hats were perfectly placed, as White Bear Lake Area High School graduates eagerly stood in line outside of Aldrich Arena, ready to grab their diplomas. Superintendent Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak congratulated the graduates and talked about the district's exciting future with the Strategic Planning process. Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak also wrote more about the Strategic Plan in this Town Life Magazine article
. At the ceremony, this year's student speakers were Leah Gebeke, Ryan Hall-Hunt and Yajaira Lansiquot. Each year, there are Bear Awards given to students who are selected by the White Bear Faculty and Administration. The 2018 Bear Award recipients were Connor Barton for academic achievement, Kaylie Rusler for leadership and Sydney Peterson for community service! Hear from the newest group of White Bear Nation Alumni exactly what being a White Bear grad means to them in this video
. View this video
to watch the entire White Bear Lake Area High School Graduation Ceremony. Also, check out the June 8 edition of The Week in 62.4 Seconds video
for more graduation ceremony coverage. Congratulations to all of the 2018 graduates throughout the district who finished one chapter of their lives, and are looking forward to their next journeys!
Pawsing for fun
Matoska International students recently had fun with furry friends, as they worked with four therapy dogs and their owners on a weekly basis. Every child received 15 minutes of independent reading time with the dogs each week. Both students and volunteers, Joan Phalen with their golden retriever, Cooper, and Laura Fruci, with their dog, Gioia, benefited greatly from the experience. The volunteers even donated Magic Tree House books about rescue dogs to each member of Erin Maas's class. Students were even writing their own book series with the therapy dogs as the main characters. In other fun animal news, other students were able to enjoy a fishing experience together before the end of the school year! Teacher Craig Nasvik took them out on a boat where one student even caught a Northern pike!
Lakeaires Elementary students experienced a rewarding opportunity, where they celebrated all of their hard work. Step Up Reward Day has been a Lakeaires Elementary Student Leadership tradition for more than 10 years. This event focuses on celebrating above the line behavior as the school year comes to a close. This year, it was a collaborative effort between student leadership's Step Up Reward Day and Physical Education Teacher Nancy Krocak's Field Day Frenzy. The two days of fun-filled activities were combined for this year's Step Up Field Day. Students had a multitude of outside activities to choose from such as kickball, Jumbo Jenga and Ladder Golf. The day ended with several games of all school BINGO for prizes. The fun outside continued, as other students in the Bears Track Camp enjoyed running around the track, exploring the hurdles and learning more about jumping during their first full week of summer.
Soccer & surprises
Otter Lake Elementary students had fun being active and reading, all at the same time. Students were able to participate in a book walk where they read the story "Scoot" together along the Otter Trail. The book walk wasn't the only opportunity students had to get active at the school. Tony Sanneh, former professional soccer player, surprised fifth grade student Rayme Nyembwe and their fifth grade classmates by putting on a soccer clinic! Earlier this year, Rayme testified before the Minnesota Senate, serving as an advocate for water conservation. Sanneh is the President and CEO of the Sanneh Foundation, and wanted to recognize Rayme for all their hard work while also teaching other fifth graders soccer skills. The Sanneh Foundation is focused on providing positive environments for youth to flourish as productive adults. While visiting the school, Sanneh presented fifth grade student Rayme and their family an award! At the end of the clinic, Sanneh gave soccer balls to the students, which concluded an exciting experience.
From one exciting moment to the next, Matoska International has been making leaps and bounds in water conservation initiatives! The school received the first metro SWCD Campus Groundwater Conservation assessment, with the help of students and staff members. After the findings were presented early this spring, the school made 16 inexpensive water-saving improvements within a week, which has started to save 664,797 gallons of groundwater (during the water fixtures' lifespans that were used to cut down on unnecessary water usage) and $3,109 for the district! Students and staff will continue focusing on making water-saving improvements to conserve the natural resource, benefiting the environment. While Matoska International staff members and students focused on water-saving improvements, other students in the district took science to a whole new level, as they launched a bear into space before the end of the school year. This was an opportunity for students to learn more about high altitude ballooning and the logistics behind sending any object high into the sky! The bear was presented to Transition Education Center staff members to thank them for their contributions to the district and dedication to helping students achieve excellence. Speaking of excellence, Lincoln Elementary's "Hug-A-Heart" volunteer initiative was recently represented in the White Bear Lake Magazine.
Attendees at the Manitou Days Parade saw a parade float of district students who won the Manitou Days Writing Contest! The White Bear Lake Area Schools Manitou Days Writing Contest winners were Emma Bjornson, Isabella Femrite, Colin Greene, Vanessa Johnson, Jemal Jumayeva, Alexa Moser and Maisie Whitby. Lakeaires Elementary fifth grade students Kylie Schachtner and Jamie Herring both earned runner-up awards for the Manitou Days Button Contest! This summer, there will continue to be more exciting opportunities for students. There will be more than 100 White Bear Lake Area Schools students participating in paid experiential learning opportunities, internships, or summer camps related to Career Pathways. Read this press release
for more details. In other fun summer news, district representatives recently enjoyed the first evening of Marketfest in Downtown White Bear Lake. Visit the district's booth on Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. until the end of July to meet staff members, receive a Bear Paw decal, fun pencil and other district resources.
It was an unforgettable experience for Sunrise Park Middle School student Kajsa Hellmark who witnessed their History Day project come to life! Kajsa was able to meet Mary Beth Tinker, who was involved in the United States Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines, which Kajsa studied for their History Day project. The Tinker v. Des Moines case involved students who wanted to wear black armbands in opposition to the Vietnam War. They were told that they would be suspended for wearing the armbands and they wore them anyways. When the students were suspended, the families embarked on a court battle where the case was taken to the United States Supreme Court. The students won the case because it was agreed students' free rights should be protected when at school. Tinker and Kajsa met at the University of Maryland, as students were attending the 2018 National History Day Contest in Maryland! Congratulations to Kajsa for receiving third place at the 2018 National History Day Contest, which is Kajsa's second year in a row getting third place. It was also an exciting time as Tricia Dennis embraced a performance on Fannie Lou Hamer, where Tricia soaked in the History Day moment.
It was a rewarding time for Sunrise Park Middle School eighth grade student Sara Williams who raised money to support the special education program at Otter Lake Elementary. Sara recently presented Otter Lake Elementary Principal Cynthia Mueller and Special Education Teacher Theresa Stender with a check. Sunrise Park Middle School Principal Christina Pierre and Associate Principal Matt Menier were also at the presentation with Sara's family to celebrate the accomplishment and thank Sara for their dedication. Community members also showed their commitment to creative opportunities. Participants enjoyed free Rattle Making Classes offered to those interested, which were taught by Wayne Manthey. While some community members made rattles, others are participating in free Ribbon Skirt Making Classes. The Native American ribbon skirts are regalia items that are worn by Native American people of many tribes and traditions. It takes all three of the classes to complete a ribbon skirt. Community members also recently enjoyed the Seven Generations Teachings where participants could learn from James Vukelich, who works as an Indigenous language specialist, and has spent year working to record and preserve the Ojibwe language. This was an opportunity to learn more about the basic teachings of philosophy and way of life with the Ojibwe language, which the concept is also known as "The Seven Generations." Learn more about other upcoming opportunities in the June edition of the Native Times Newsletter
The creativity continued, as White Bear students who are in the Summer Academy had a chance to visit the White Bear Center for the Arts and explore their talents. The Summer Academy is an educational experience that inspires and challenges students for three weeks in the summer. They were able to pick a picture and then create their very own artwork by establishing characters and turning a story they came up with into a visual scene. They also learned about the concepts of overlapping, scale and placement. While some students learned more about art, others performed on the Hennepin Theatre Trust State Theatre stage. Students shined, as they showcased a medley of their songs from "Footloose," which they performed last fall. The fun was captured in this video
. Congratulations to Sisloob Lo who performed and competed for the 2017-18 Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award.