Fun and games
Whether they're in it to win it, or are just having fun with teammates, Bears always give it their all when it comes to athletics. Fifth grade students across the district laid it all out on the field for the annual spring track meets, something our high school students tell us is an activity that stands out vividly in their minds even years later. The students participated in a wide range of traditional track and field activities; from sprints, relays, hurdles and more. While fifth grade students took turns participating in the games, their peers, parents and district staff packed the sidelines to cheer them on. Though there is some friendly competition during field day, it's also a wonderful opportunity for our fifth grade students to get to know one another as they will soon be joining forces and heading off to middle school together in the fall. (This event was also highlighted in the Dr. Lovett's message above.)
White Bear Lake Area Schools' first-ever middle school Girls' Golf Team just wrapped up a historical season, playing recently against Stillwater's JV team. The six-person roster lost by only three strokes to the seasoned Stillwater team - a huge accomplishment for a brand new program! Golfer Abby Maahs was a medalist with a 47 and placed second overall. She also had a blind chip-in on the sixth hole for a birdie. Her playing partner was on the other side watching the ball roll on to the green and right into the hole. This inaugural eight-week season was a huge success and the girls and coaches are looking forward to continuing the program for many years to come.
The White Bear Lake Adapted Softball CI (Cognitive Impairment) team is having their best season in history! After joining the CI division back in 2011, the team has often found themselves as one of the bottom teams in the state. Now in 2016, the Bears have clawed their way to their best record yet (7-6) and earned a spot in the State Tournament after a recent home victory! The team is a tight group of friends who are continuously there for each other. The players have grown into a team with positive attitudes, caring hearts and great sportsmanship. Leadership comes from a strong group of captains, Julie Nelson, Nathon Phan and Debbie Leo. They have been with the program for many years and powered through a few bumps in the road, but head coach Joe Dustin says, "this year, it's our year!"
Vadnais Heights students also worked up a sweat recently, but there was no competition involved - just fun! The entire school was moving and grooving during a school-wide Koo Koo Kanga Roo concert.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo is a motivational performing group that emphasizes physical fitness in a fun, non-competitive way. There was singing, dancing and lots of fun and laughter (which you can see for yourself in this video a staff member shared of the event). This event was made possible by a BEAR Grant from the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation and the school PTO's environmental initiatives.
White Bear Lake Area Schools partner with many organizations to further students' education and to serve the community. District students have been heavily involved with one organization in particular - H2O for Life and its Race to Reduce project. For the past 12 years, the water level in White Bear Lake has been declining. While several causes have been identified, the pace of residential development inspired a diverse collaboration of community members to address the challenge. White Bear Lake Area Schools joined forces in this unique effort that educates students and the community about the critical need to conserve water now and for future generations. Our students' dedicated work with this project, and the work of many others involved, just recently received very high honors. H2O for Life along with its partners were selected as a winner for the Race 2 Reduce project at the recent Environmental Initiative Awards (sponsored by Houston Engineering, Inc.). This program annually honors projects that have achieved extraordinary outcomes by harnessing the power of partnership. Over the past year, Race 2 Reduce engaged more than 2,100 students (from both WBLAS and Mahtomedi) to learn about where their water comes from and how they can take action to conserve water resources.
Oneka students have taken on their own environmental project, with contributions from the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation's E3 Grant. Through this grant, Oneka Elementary now has six new container gardens. The idea was proposed by teachers Abbi Case and Amy Corner, who wanted to create an outdoor learning area where students could enjoy interacting with the food they grow. The Summer Extended Day students will maintain the gardens by watering, weeding and trellising the vegetables, then come September, Oneka students will enjoy harvesting and tasting the vegetables during snack breaks and at the Oneka salad bar. Any extra harvest will be donated to the Hugo Food Shelf. And while on the topic of gardens, the author of "The Cookie Garden
" book recently visited Otter Lake second grade students to read her story to them in person. Linda Henry (the author of the book) is the mother of a former Otter student. As a culminating activity for the second grade plant unit, Linda read her book to the students and they created their own "Cookie Garden" stories and pictures. The book also includes a do-it-yourself cookie-seed packet and instructions on growing your own cookie garden.
Artists in the making
Students at the Transition Education Center worked together on a very unique art project, where they learned how to SAORI Weave from a Japanese teaching artist. Over a three-day period, Transition Education Center students had the opportunity to work with artist Chiaki O'Brien, who is an Artist-in-Resident through VSA Minnesota - the state organization on arts and disability. On the first day, students spent time learning about the culture and origin behind Japanese SAORI Weaving - which is contemporary hand weaving that was founded more than a century ago. After soaking in some knowledge of its history, students were then broken into smaller groups to work on individual projects. Students not only experienced the joy and relaxation that comes along with SAORI Weaving, but also had the opportunity to do some self discovery along the way.
Central Middle School student Mya Smith was recognized for her artwork regionally. She recently received first place in the local and second place in the regional Patriotic Art Explorers contest. She was honored at an awards ceremony at the VFW. Student Alex Ohmann placed third locally.
The end of the year can be bittersweet for our seniors, saying goodbye to a memorable experience at White Bear, while embracing an exciting future ahead. As one of the many official send-offs here at the district, our seniors had a chance to gather with one another for Senior Day. This began with the annual senior breakfast where students enjoyed some laughs from guest speaker Tim Gabrielson. Gabrielson is a magician, comedian and entertainer who travels around the world to entertain and inspire. His brand of keynote entertainments is used to guide audiences to focus on their own abilities and to overcome obstacles in life. Though he had our senior class laughing for a majority of the time, he also left them with an inspiring message as they embark on their next journey beyond high school. Following Gabrielson's words of encouragement, students carried that energy to Valleyfair for an adventure-filled day with their classmates.
That same day, the Area Learning Center held its All School Picnic - an annual event that started roughly two decades ago. Though typically the fun happens outside with softball and yard games, the event was brought indoors this year due to rain. Students and staff continued to enjoy fun games and lunch together in the cafeteria, nonetheless. The celebration concluded with a school-wide awards ceremony, where individual staff members handed out awards to students who've stood out to them throughout the school year. While most ALC students were at the picnic, students in the Insight Program attended the annual Recovery in the Park event. Recovery in the Park is a state-wide gathering of roughly 250 young people in recovery. The event includes a recovery speaker, music, volleyball and other games. The day before those activities, a group of ALC students went on a boat ride down the Mississippi River from Harriet Island in St. Paul. They earned this reward for doing a fabulous job as student leaders in the ALC all year. Students learned about the Mississippi River and the history of St. Paul while cruising with their fellow students leaders.
Though preschoolers have a long career at White Bear ahead of them, My Nature Preschool students at Tamarack Nature Center wrapped up their "senior year" as preschoolers with this fun slideshow
highlighting a great year of learning!
Behind every student's success story, are excellent educators who've helped them along the way. Recently, WBLAHS and ALC work experience and business education teacher Amy Canniff was honored at the BestPrep luncheon as a Teacher of Excellence for her work with Bestpreps' eMentors, Classroom Plus and Financial Matters programs. Amy Canniff has enhanced her Marketing and Career Exploration curriculum through those programs for more than a decade. Over this time, her students have enjoyed business correspondence with their eMentors and the onsite meet and greet events. Under her guidance, White Bear students have gained great insight into the field of marketing. The district is also fortunate to have been paired up with General Mills, Carlson, KMPS and many great companies to make this happen.
The annual White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation's Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award was presented on May 18 to Oneka Elementary paraprofessional Annie McGlynn. McGlynn was nominated by a few of her colleagues who shared their appreciation for her dedicated work ethic and love for her students. Lynn Mielke was a speech clinician and Special Education Coordinator. Her compassion and love for children was at the forefront of all she did. She was a warm and loving person who created a positive environment for everyone around her. This award was established to recognize someone who exemplifies Lynn's dedication and care for students and staff in our district.
62.4-second video updates
Take a look at our 62.4-second video updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools during the school year.
The White Bear Lake Adapted Softball Team won their most recent playoff game and is now headed to the State Tournament, which takes place June 3-4. WBLAHS recently wrapped up successful performances of this year's Spring Play, "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood."