What's in your Backpack? White Bear Lake Graduation
June 5, 2015
Long ago, in preparation for your first day of kindergarten you laid out treasures you'd collected and carefully packed your backpack. According to the list from your elementary school, these included: a new pencil box, pencils, crayons, colored markers, facial tissues, glue stick, scissors (little kid style), watercolor paints, glitter glue, and somewhat puzzling to you, baby wipes.
Your backpack still had room, so you added stuffed animals, a picture postcard from your grandparents, and as a final touch, treasures from your rock collection.
Perfect, you thought. Until you couldn't lift the backpack off the floor.
In elementary school you found friends, loved your teachers, learned reading, writing, singing and math, ran under the parachute in gym, checked out books from the library, and loved being together at lunch and recess.
By the last day of fifth grade your backpack was overflowing with memories: unfinished assignments, notes from teachers and friends, ribbons from track and field day, and the remains of unfinished snacks.
But for some of you who lived in the path of the Hugo tornado, even the backpack was missing. Your teachers remember one of you giving a pair of her shoes to a friend --here tonight-- so she could go on a field trip the last week of school. We admired the way you supported one another.
Middle school started with a bigger backpack and a longer list of school supplies, which included: notebooks, folders, three hole punched pencil pouch, number 2 pencils (no mechanical pencils, please), color pencils, highlighter, ruler, calculator, glue sticks, index cards, Ziplock bag, and three ring binder. You made it to the big time: no baby wipes.
You arrived at Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools hunched over, looking prepared for a three-year-long wilderness expedition. You were shy and a little scared until you found friends, and realized the teachers were pretty cool and understood what it was like to be new.
You carried all your books because your locker was a half-mile from your classes and you worried about being late. I met one of you my first week when your books came crashing down outside the office-- I helped you pick them up and we both found a new friend. You are here tonight - the first in your family to graduate and go on to college.
During middle school you became less awkward and more confident. You had the courage to try something new even though success was not guaranteed. I met another of you halfway through Central's mile run-- you faltered, but persevered through the end of the race. You, too, are here tonight, having excelled in high school sports, and helped teammates and younger athletes face and overcome adversity.
On the last day of middle school you remember your teachers were sad to see you leave. One teacher, proudly here with you tonight, told you the class of 2015 would be the best yet.
Before your ninth grade year, you attended orientation at North Campus. You left your backpack at home. What you really needed was a parent. You especially wanted a parent with a checkbook who could sign you up for driver's' training.
At the end of your tenth grade year you grieved the loss of a classmate. We grieved with you and admired the way you supported one another.
You showed up at South Campus with a half-empty backpack and expected your cell phone to do the heavy work. We were impressed by your attitude during your junior year; you never complained even when I called five snow days.
You have led our schools in community service, been impressive in academics, thrilled us with your music performances and award-winning musicals, won national awards in art, inspired us with your athletic performances and sportsmanship, and mentored and encouraged younger students.
What of the future? What will you carry in your backpack on the next stage of your life journey?
Tonight, as you listen to your classmates, consider what memories, values, and lessons you will carry with you from your schools days.
Tonight, as you walk to the stage, look around and be grateful for all who have helped you get this far.
And after the ceremony and the celebrations, live your life to honor those who have given their time, resources, and love to see you on your way.
Congratulations, Class of 2015. Go, Bears!
Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools
This is always a bittersweet time of year as we congratulate and say goodbye to another memorable class. On Friday, June 5 almost 600 WBLAHS graduates took the stage at Alrich Arena to receive their Diploma. District staff and classmates addressed the graduates during this celebration, sharing memories and best wishes on their journey beyond White Bear. While receiving their diploma is already a notable accomplishment, some students were individually recognized. Principal Tim Wald personally handed out this year's Bear Awards to three students: Peder Solberg received the 2015 Academics Award, Julia Hamburger was given the 2015 Leadership Award, and Tapan Jasthi was awarded the 2015 Service Award. Find photos of the ceremony here. Also in the stands were 17 Maplewood Police officers, who were there to support Alexandra and Samantha Bergeron, the daughters of a fallen officer. You can read more about this tribute here.
We recently asked a number of our 2015 graduates to describe what it means to be a "White Bear Graduate" and they had some very heartwarming remarks to share. Click here to watch that video!
Prior to the WBLAHS graduation celebration, our Area Learning Center celebrated the graduation of 65 of its students. These graduates were from the ALC Program, Insight Recovery School and the ALC's Independent Study Program. Students were awarded their diplomas by their advisers, who shared a little about the students' strengths, successes and future plans. Some of the graduates received individual honors as well. Taylor Coenen was named the 2015 Academic Achiever; she, along with Damian Gooch and Landon Peterson, were also honored at the district's Excellence Event for their excelling academically. Scholarships were also awarded during the graduation celebration; the STRIVE Century College Scholarship went to Carla Franzen, the STRIVE Book Scholarship Recipient was Taylor Coenen and the STRIVE Book Scholarship Recipient was Kristina Tavernier. The Lion's Club also awarded scholarships to Amir Anderson, Landon Peterson and Esperanza Rabell. Find photos of the ceremony here.
Also during the final days of the school year was the Transition Plus commencement, where three students celebrated graduation. There were five students total who graduated from the program this spring; Andrew Moore, Armando Cruz, Carrie Ridgway, Drew Schmitz and Forest Senske. Each student was highlighted individually during the ceremony for their accomplishments and future aspirations. The keynote speaker, Nancy Spring, is a familiar face to all of the students who participate in the Community Volunteering and Work Based Learning Opportunities. Transition Plus students have been volunteering twice monthly in the warehouse and on the line at 2nd Harvest for at least ten years. These students are just some of the volunteers who continuously help to pack and distribute food throughout their Midwest facilities. Transition Plus students have been provided an innovative education to build quality lives and strong communities through the WBLAS District's Core Values of compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility and service. Find photos of the ceremony here.
Though our elementary students have a long career at White Bear ahead of them before they receive their diplomas, they too celebrated graduations of a different sort. All of the elementary schools in the WBLAS District hosted graduation ceremonies for their fifth grade students as a send-off to middle school. Parents and friends were invited to these events, as there were many fun performances and accomplishments to share. Oneka Elementary and Otter Lake Elementary also hosted separate graduation ceremonies for students in their Bear Fundamentals program. Parents were invited to these as well to watch their little ones celebrate all they've learned during their first year as all-day, every-day students in White Bear Lake Area Schools.
Seniors who took part in the high school's AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Program are ready to take their education to the next level. This year's AVID seniors were all challenged to take courses above their general level, including AP Statistics, AP Calculus, AP Macroeconomics, eCIS Writer's Workshop and CIS Literature. They received emotional and academic support in the AVID elective every day, and we're proud to report that they are all attending college in the fall! This video highlights the students' achievements.
AVID is a college readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges. Although AVID serves all students, it focuses on the students in the academic middle. The formula is to raise expectations of students and, with the AVID support system in place, they will rise to the challenge.
White Bear Lake Area Schools and Century College have begun a new stage of partnership which is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015, offering both Critical Reading and Algebra 3 to White Bear Lake Area High School juniors and seniors. Students who enroll in either of the courses will have the opportunity to earn credits at both high school and college levels.
A total of 160 White Bear Lake Area High School students are already enrolled in the two classes for the 2015-16 school year; 75 students are enrolled in the math course and 85 students have registered for the reading course. Students who complete the course with a grade of "C" or better will receive credit for the Century course and will be able to enroll in college-level courses. Successful course completion will be listed on each student's White Bear Lake Area High School transcript and Century College transcript.
The district and Century College have a long history of successfully working together to ensure students are ready for college-level courses upon high school graduation.
Going out on an eco-friendly note
While students cleared out their lockers for the end of another great year, Sunrise eighth graders gave that messy task new meaning. They took part in a new recycling initiative with Ramsey County. Eight graders took piles of schoolwork they no longer needed and sorted out what could be recycled. Turns out, 84 percent of those materials were reusable or recyclable. In all, there were 175 pounds of single-sort recycling, 68 pounds of reusable items and more. Attached is the amount, in weight, that they kept out of the landfill. Otter Lake Elementary did something similar as well. Building Operations Supervisor Dan Roeser says the district will expand this effort for future locker clean-out days.
At Otter Lake Elementary, additional environmental efforts are taking place even after school is out. Teacher Thom Greene received $3,200 from the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation to plant a 2.37 acres prairie in the school's "backyard." Additionally, the school has partnered with Pheasants Forever for an additional $2,500 as part of a Minnesota Legacy grant. Prairie Restoration from Scandia is doing the prep work, including the controlled burn which took place last week. Every Otter student will then play an important role in this process next November when they will help sprinkle seeds across the area. Once the seeds are in place, the entire student body will help by dancing on the field to help push the seeds into the soil.
Miles for the Military
On Friday, June 5th around 550 students from Oneka Elementary spent their last day of school honoring veterans, police officers, fire fighters and others who serve their communities. Oneka's BOSS (Bears Official Service Superheroes) and Student Council, both student groups, planned a walk for the school that they called "Miles for the Military." Invitations were sent to families and the community asking veterans, police officers and firefighters to join the students in the walk or to sit by the path to be greeted by passing walkers. More than 50 of our local heroes attended the walk!
This event was also a year-end celebration for the Student Council and BOSS groups who organized service opportunities throughout the school year for students at Oneka and sister school Hugo Elementary. Under their leadership, students donated more than 2,500 pounds of food to the Hugo Food Shelf. A November fundraiser raised enough money to buy 15 goats for families in Haiti. Students brought in roughly $3,215 for Pennies for Patients, which supports children battling Leukemia and Lymphoma. In a book drive for the Read Indeed organization, the two schools donated more than 3,000 books to be given to children who do not have access to reading materials. BOSS students even had the opportunity to deliver the books to Read Indeed and help organize the donations in their warehouse. Go Bears!
The White Bear Lake Area High School Boys' Lacrosse team took home the state championship last night, defeating an undefeated team for the title and defeating two-time state champions in the semi-final round. See an article about the win here. See an article about the semi-final win here.
Other notable accomplishments of the team: Conference Champions; Section Champions; Connar Dehnert - All-Section, 1st Team All-State, All-American, Finalist for 2015 Mr. Lacrosse, Pioneer Press East Metro Player of the Year, Star Tribune All-Metro Boys Lacrosse Team; Jonathan Arko - 2nd Team All-State, All-Section; Ethan Peterson - 3rd Team All-State, All-Section; Charles Bill - All-Section; Matt Swanson - All-Section, holds the Minnesota state record for most goals scored in a MSHSL Boys Lacrosse State Tournament Game (8 goals scored on 6/9/15 vs. Maple Grove, leading to a win of 19-2); Will Ramert - All-Section; Shane Olsen - All-Section; Tyler Peterson - All-Section.
Congratulations and Go Bears!
62.4-second video updates
Take a look at our 62.4-second video updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools.
The Boys' Golf Team took fourth place overall in the state. Boys' Lacrosse took home the state championship this weekend. During the tournament, WBLAHS senior Matt Swanson broke a state record for scoring eight goals during a state game. Also, Connar Dehnert was recently named East Metro Boys Lacrosse player of the year.
School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.
Highlights from the most recent School Board meeting can be found here.
Employee Health and Wellness - We're committed to be fit over the summer! Keep an eye on our website and register for our summer events here. Fit Bit (Zip and Flex only) can be purchased in HR for $51 and $85 until they run out.
The 2015-16 check printing schedule can be found here. Please remember that employees are reimbursed through direct deposit. It is submitted to the bank on the Tuesday before the check printing day.
Volunteers Needed for June 26 Emergency Preparedness Simulation - The district is working with Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health and Ramsey County Emergency Management in seeking volunteers to participate in an emergency preparedness simulation on Fri., June 26 from 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The simulation will take place at White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus and will test and improve the community's overall preparedness for a public health emergency. A light breakfast and box lunch will be provided to volunteers. Staff interested in participating will need to use personal time. Learn more and register here.
A MUST READ for all District employees - "The Bear Essentials" is your bi-weekly link to important District information. We will be sending the e-newsletters out on a revised scheduled during the summer. Any information and/or announcements you are responsible to know as a staff member will be included in this communication piece, so it is important that you read through the e-newsletter each time you receive it. Find staff updates, human resources information, highlights of student and staff successes, and updates on School Board proceedings. Contact Stephanie Crock to submit information for inclusion in the e-newsletters and other District publications.
The WBLAS Community Services and Recreation Department provides a wide range of services and opportunities that enhance the quality of life for all members of ISD 624.
Three of our seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.
Summer Meals for Children
During the school year, many Minnesota families depend on the free or reduced-price meals their children receive at school to provide nourishment. When school is out, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) bridges the "nutrition gap."
To find summer meal program locations near you:
Willow and Central to participate in Summer Food Service Program - Willow Lane Elementary and Central Middle School will be sites this summer for the Food and Nutrition Service Summer Food Service Program. As such, breakfast and lunch meals will open and free-of-charge to White Bear Lake Area School District community children under 18 years old at Willow and Central schools. Find the full details here.
One-stop online payments - During the summer months, the district is transitioning to a "one-stop" online payment system that will enable families to make payments for food services, school activities and Community Education activities. The system will also serve as the registration hub for middle school and high school activities. The new system will replace multiple systems that are currently used for these purposes, including RevTrak, PayPams and ActiveNet. Watch for additional communication to be coming out from the schools later this summer regarding this exciting change!
Volunteers Needed for June 26 Emergency Preparedness Simulation - The district is working with Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health and Ramsey County Emergency Management in seeking volunteers to participate in an emergency preparedness simulation on Fri., June 26 from 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. The simulation will take place at White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus and will test and improve the community's overall preparedness for a public health emergency. A light breakfast and box lunch will be provided to volunteers. Staff interested in participating will need to use personal time. Learn more and register here.
PACER Center recently launched its National Parent Center on Transition and Employment website, which offers innovative tools, reliable research, and interactive training to support families who are going through the transition process. We hope you'll pass this valuable information along to your staff and the families you serve.
2015-16 Academic Calendar - See the approved calendar here.
Stay connected! - Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Calling all baby models - We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us here and you may find your little one featured in District publications!
Resources to help with our limited English speaking families can be found here.
Washington County Child and Teen Checkups newsletter can be found here.
Senior Program Updates:
The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department.
FREE Activity Pass for Senior Community members (age 65+) - White Bear Lake Area Schools offer a variety of activities - home athletic contests, concerts, and theater productions to name a few. Join us! Call the Superintendent's Office at 651-407-7563 to request a FREE Activity Pass for home athletics events and a District Activities Calendar. Find the application here. The Activities Pass is available to residents of the White Bear Lake Area School District who are age 65 and older.
Craft Corner Gift Shop at the Senior Center - Open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the gift shop is the perfect place to shop for a variety of beautiful, handcrafted items. With more than 100 consignees selling their personal crafts, there is much to choose from for purchase. If anyone, over the age of 55, has any love of creating crafts, we are in need of consignees to further our inventory. The Craft Corner Gift Shop is located at Normandy Park Education Center, 2484 County Road F East.
The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation is pleased to announce one of our newest Bear Grant recipients is WBLAHS junior Juliette Schroeder. The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, Inc. (WBLAEF) is an independent, non-profit corporation promoting excellence in education in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 schools.
WBLAEF 16th Annual Golf Tournament - Monday, June 29, 2015 at Indian Hills Golf Course. Registration and other information is on the website.
Visit our website - Visit our website to see all of the grants the WBLAEF has available for teachers and students.
Congratulations to all of our staff members for your part in making 2014-15 a great year!
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.
e-Newsletter Published By:
Office of Communications - 4855 Bloom Avenue - White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Tel: 651-407-7695 - Fax: 651-407-7566 - www.whitebear.k12.mn.us
Please contact Marisa Vette (651-407-7695) to submit information for inclusion in publications.