As graduation rapidly approaches, the question of "What are your plans after graduation?" is familiar to members of the White Bear Lake Area High School senior class. To celebrate and share their postsecondary plans, the WBLAHS class of 2013 took part in a variety of fun activities May 1 in honor of National College and Career Decision Day.
The Counseling Department hosted the event with the support of senior class officers, Student Council and National Honor Society. Students gathered around large maps in the cafeteria to place their thumbprint on their new home starting next September. Seniors could also view each others' plans on a large screen TV by following along with a live Twitter feed. Other highlights included music, orange cupcakes, "I'm Going Places 2013" wristbands and a variety of college t-shirts as students showcased their chosen colleges.
WBLAHS seniors participated in MN College Application Week in November and a Century College: One-Stop Shop in March. Seminars were also took place throughout the year to promote postsecondary planning and a smooth transition process to college. "We're hoping to make this a senior class tradition," said WBLAHS Counselor, Lisa Horowicki. "The new looping counseling model allows for more personal connections between counselors and students, improving tracking of postsecondary plans."
Across the world
Last week, students at Central Middle School had a repeat visitor from Uganda, Africa. Okello Kello Sam is a long-time friend of Central Middle School who previously visited seven years ago.
On his most recent visit, Sam visited physical education classes and taught students about East African culture. He told stories of life growing up in Uganda and played music on his drums and harps. All students participated as he interacted with classes over the course of two days. The students were awed by his rhythmic combinations dance, music and storytelling - moving students and teachers to smiles and tears.
Some of the most engaging stories Sam shared revolved around the comparison between a student in East Africa and the East Metro. "We both have big dangers to learn as children. Here at Central, you learn how to cross a busy street and avoiding fast moving cars. In East Africa, we learn how to safely move among lions, hyenas, and wild dogs that look at us as their lunch!" He even showed examples of what do you do when you see a hyena or when you're in the presence of a silver back gorilla. Click here to view photos
Central students had an additional opportunity to think about differences and similarities from across the world when participating in a Human Rights Commission student art contest recently. And just this week two students, Brad Capocasa and Kami Kendall, learned they placed first and fourth place respectively in the Grades 6-12 category. The students' entries were class assignments for a unit about culture and equality that answered the question "What do we still need to do today to promote equality for all?"
Alumni give back
Alumni are finding creative ways to give back to WBLAS this spring. Last week's White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation Gala, "Let's Make Music," featured a song from alumna Jourdan Rystrom. A 2008 graduate of WBLAHS, Jourdan has seen success in the music industry with the song "What's Left to Say." The track was played during dinner and featured in the background of a testimonial video
. Many current WBLAS students were also involved in the event, including the WBLAHS - North Campus choir group, Lakeaires, the WBLAHS Drumline, and other instrumentalists. Click here to view photos of the event.
At this week's WBLAHS Excellence Event, prominent alumnus, John Kriesel, was the guest speaker. Since graduating from WBLAHS in 2000, John has gained many accolades including serving as Director of Veteran Services for Anoka County, serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives, serving as a Staff Sargeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard, and authoring the book, " Standing Tall - A Soldier's Story."
Coming this summer, theater alumni are teaming up for a performance of: "White Bear Lake Musical Theatre Alum Show: Past, Present and Future" at 7 p.m. on June 15 at the Community Auditorium. Alumni from the past fifteen years' worth of shows (Grease, Hello Dolly!, 42nd Street, Aida, Guys and Dolls, Little Shop of Horrors, Anything Goes, West Side Story, How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Urinetown, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast, Oklahoma) will participate in the performance, which will raise funds for the WBLAHS theatre department. Tickets are on sale here
AVID in action
Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) students from WBLAHS - North Campus took part in a White Bear YMCA clean up event at the end of April. Over the course of four hours, students helped to clean the parking lot, skateboard park, pavilion, woods and ponds.
When asked what service project they would like to complete, the student selected the YMCA because of the strong district-community relationship. "It is a public attraction, so we are really helping a lot of people by doing this," said one student. "Lots of us have family memberships and work out there," said another.
Meaningful service to the community is a key component of the AVID program. Previous service learning projects this year have included Feed My Starving Children, H2O for Life, raising funds for the Harriet Tubman Center.
Hangzhou Foreign Languages School guests
Hangzhou Foreign Languages School's Fang Jianwen, Principal, and Wang Quanlin, Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs' Office, visited White Bear Lake Area Schools this week. They arrived just in time for Wednesday's Excellence Event and stayed through Friday morning, enjoying activities such as touring District programs at WBLAHS - South Campus, Sunrise Park Middle School, Lincoln Elementary and the Tamarack Nature Center Preschool program.
The District's teacher and cultural exchange partnership with Hangzhou Foreign Languages School began in the spring of 2010. Since that time, five HFLS teachers have traveled to WBLAS, serving residencies in our elementary programs and serving as a resource at the secondary level. Current exchange teacher Ms. Lei Zhang arrived in February and will return to China this summer.
WBLAS also has had two teachers serve as guest teachers for a semester in Hangzhou - Jessica Buchta, WBLAHS - South Campus teacher, and Lisa Brichacek, Sunrise Park Middle School teacher. This summer, a cohort of WBLAS teachers will travel to China to teach at Hangzhou Foreign Languages School.
Focusing on the positives
Matoska International IB World School recently was recognized as a Sustained Exemplar PBIS School by the Minnesota Department of Education's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) State Leadership Team.
Matoska is in the fourth year of implementing a PBIS program which focuses on: respect, integrity, cooperation and empathy. Teachers and staff teach these behaviors to students throughout the school year. Matoska has even defined what these behaviors should look like in all areas of school, such as on the playground, in the cafeteria, and even in hallways.
Other practices include acknowledgment of positive student behaviors, school-wide assemblies, an extensive data collection system and sharing PBIS program highlights with families and community members. Other district schools follow similar models for teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors.