Hug a Heart, Helping a Stranger and Other Lessons
"Well, sometimes a heart gets wrinkled," explains the third grader.
"Wrinkled?" I ask.
"Yes, when a heart gets wrinkled we can help it get better by an act of kindness."
Over a lunch of chicken nuggets, sweet potatoes, and fresh fruit and veggies, I am in the midst of a dozen boys and girls at Lincoln Elementary School. This stop is one of several school lunches with students this fall, always fertile ground for learning what students think about the issues of the day.
After the usual warm-up questions about what they like about school, I ask whether any of them have participated in "Hug a Heart," a school-based service initiative.
All have participated and are eager to tell me about their projects, including making blankets for families in need.
"I like to help. I like to know that I am helping someone else," explains another student before adding "I think about what would be like not to have enough food, or to be cold and then receive something from someone I do not even know... I want to show kindness to others."
On another day, children in the Otter Lake Elementary after school program make sandwiches in cooperation with a local non-profit serving families in need. In addition to making the sandwiches, elementary boys and girls and middle school students help out decorating paper bags with color markers. These bags became easels of color with messages of comfort and kindness.
The next week, after filling my tray at the salad bar, I join a table of seventh graders at Sunrise Park Middle School.
"Are you involved in service at school or in the community?" I ask. All are, and all are eager to give me details.
"Why is service important to you?" Students describe school activities where service is just part of what they do, such as a food drive for the food shelf. But other stories are personal.
"I remember one time I was with my mom at a store and we saw a man who was having a hard time communicating. My mom helped translate for him, and then she gave him money for food... Seeing what she did made an impression on me."
This October and November, our high school students hosted one of the most successful food drives in the state by collecting nearly 20,000 pounds of food and raising almost $4000. On the first Monday of November, a teacher workshop day but not a school day for students, a dozen students showed up to sort and organize the food for transport to the food shelf.
High school ambassador clubs at White Bear Lake Area High School North and South Campuses are organized to serve; each Friday morning, for example, 60 or more South Campus students come to school up to an hour early to plan all manner of service activities, aiding our schools, community, and local and national non-profits.
"When I was in middle school, I had a serious illness, and this organization made it possible for our family to take a trip together... I just need a few students to help collating materials."
The room is quiet as students explain their service projects and pass around sign-up sheets.
Why has service become such an integral part of the school community? The answer may be very simple: this is a community which cares. From the beginning of European immigration and American migration to the shores of White Bear Lake in the mid- nineteenth century, there is much evidence of community support for the newcomers by those who were already here.
Our churches and communities of faith have strong traditions of outreach which continue today. Service clubs were established in the twentieth century and are organizations of givers and workers, generous in their investments of time and resources. The YMCA has been a part of the community for more than a century.
Within our communities nonprofits work together, understanding that community and family support is a point at which their missions overlap.
The schools reflect our communities; children may learn service first from home, but everywhere they go in our community, students have ample opportunities to practice service.
Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools
(Article was originally published in Town Life Magazine's Winter Issue)
In the last few weeks, five stories highlight how our schools have been collaborating with each other and local businesses to create an engaging learning environment. First, Molly Vadnais's WBLAHS - North Campus multimedia art and design class recently collaborated with Shannon Nicholas's first grade Lincoln Elementary class to create Monster toys and packaging.
After Lincoln students drew pictures of fun monsters, North Campus students designed how the monsters would be recreated into three dimensional toys. North Campus students then made the miniature 3D monster models and built the packaging that the toys would be placed in.
Our middle schools have been collaborating with our elementary schools as well. Sunrise Park Middle School reading intervention students now have buddies at Lakeaires Elementary! When the weather cooperated, the middle schoolers would walk over to Lakeaires to read with their buddies. Thanks to the innovative technology provided at our schools, the winter weather has not hindered this project. Now, participating students use Google Hangouts to have reading time together!
Next, who said collaboration couldn't be delicious? For the second year in a row, WBLAS parent Katie Jenkins has brought cake decorating to Central and Sunrise Park Middle School's FACS classes. Through Jenkins's WBL Area Education Foundation Bear Legacy Grant as well as donations from local grocery stores, each FACS student had the opportunity to create and design their own personal sized cake using icing and decorating tools. In addition, after they were finished decorating they had the chance to share their fun creations through Instagram! Decorative dessert lessons will continue with a ginger bread cookie decorating contest this month.
Another example of our student and staff dedication to community collaboration was White Bear Lake Area Schools' participation in the recent TIES Technology Conference. Ten staff members and three students (Alex Hassel, Shannon Herzog, and Lexi Ward) were selected and presented at the TIES (Technology and Information Educational Services) conference, representing the innovative technology work happening in White Bear Nation!
Finally, WBLAHS - South Campus has collaborated with a dozen businesses to bring students a Manufacturing and Engineering Showcase that will take place on Tuesday, December 16 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in the South Campus theater. Career sessions will give students the chance to learn more about two of the fastest growing, high demand career fields. A panel of speakers from local manufacturing and engineering businesses will discuss opportunities available in these areas, as well as the skills students need to get hired in these sectors. Other opportunities will include: an open house in lab areas, a display/demonstration of student work and a look at the FIRST Robotics Team 2207.
Our community, students and administration have recently received recognition for their achievements. First, Vadnais Heights Elementary School won the Regional School of Hope Award for raising a substantial amount of money for elementary students and incorporating the American Cancer Society's mission into their Relay Recess event. As the award winner, the school was presented with a banner to proudly display.
Vadnais Heights Elementary has hosted a Relay Recess event for the past four years with the dollar amounts collected growing each year. In 2014, the school raised $1,287.75 and it all went towards the American Cancer Society's cancer fighting mission. As part of the Relay Recess program, VHES asks a survivor to share their experience and how the American Cancer Society has benefitted them personally. Over the course of a week students are educated on sun safety, physcial activity and nutrition. The final event includes an all school assembly and a walk lined with luminaria bags.
Also at Vadnais Heights Elementary, K-5 students finished fourth out of 46 teams at a local chess tournament. It was a true team effort lead by the first grade brothers Martin and Graham Hennings. Teammates Joey Wolfe and Jack Dahler gave Vadnais Heights the extra push they needed to finish fourth among some of the most dominant chess schools in the state of Minnesota. This was an excellent showing for this group and shows a lot of promise for future tournaments. Congratulations to Vadnais Heights students and their highly dedicated coach, Pavel Jany!
Finally, our Superintendent Dr. Lovett was one of this year's recipients of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development's Distinguished Alumni Awards. His award reads "In recognition of your career as a distinguished educator, administrator and passionate advocate for students."
Throughout our school programs, students and staff express their generosity in creative ways. First, our Senior Program participated in the Walk to End Hunger for Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving. Through their efforts, they raised $1,127 for our Meals on Wheels Program!
In this case, it seems as though generosity has come full circle. The Meals on Wheels program, through the White Bear Lake Area Schools Senior Program, has been receiving a monthly donation from Olive Garden of a spaghetti lunch for each participant. The Olive Garden has been generously donating these meals one Monday each month since September and will continue into the future. This donation will save the the program more than $3,000 a year!
Next, the White Bear Lake High School Hockey team recently donated 500 teddy bears to the White Bear Lions. The bears were donated by Polar Chev as a fundraiser and sold by the White Bear Lake Cheerleaders to students who threw them out on the ice during a hockey game. On Saturday, December 13, the White Bear Lions gave toys away to more than 500 children from ages birth to 18 at the White Bear Armory. Qualifying parents completed an application for the free toys with the White Bear Lake Food Shelf.
Finally, our North Campus Ambassadors have been hard at work creatively raising money for H2O for Life. They have had eight events supporting H2O for Life including coordinating and hosting: a photo booth, a water wall, a bingo in the lunchroom event, a hot cocoa sale, a bake sale, a potluck for staff, teacher dress-down days and a gift-wrapping presents fundraiser. They also worked at the recent PJs with Santa event at the Vadnais Community Center on December 5. Through volunteering all over the community, our Ambassadors program strives to help people globally.
Get to know White Bear Lake Area Schools
January will be a busy month as we provide several opportunities for families to join us and get to know our schools. At the early childhood level, we will host White Bear Lake Area Preschool Open Houses. Open Houses are an opportunity for you and your preschool child to visit the preschool sites, observe classes in session, gather information about classes and programs, meet staff and ask any questions. Classes will be in session, so we encourage you to spend some time in a classroom observing the activities. Children are welcome and may join in the class activities if they choose.
At the kindergarten level, there will be a district-wide Kindergarten Registration Night on January 15 at all elementary schools. This in-depth session offers parents of future kindergartners an opportunity to learn more about the district's kindergarten curriculum and programs, ask questions, visit a kindergarten classroom and register their child for kindergarten.
At the elementary level, our elementary schools will participate in Welcome to White Bear Week (January 5-9) where all elementary schools will have tours available for families who want to explore our schools. Simply go to any elementary school office during tour times to join a tour!
For middle school families, parent information nights will be held on January 22. These information nights are especially helpful for current White Bear Lake Area Schools 5th grade families and families new to the White Bear Lake Area Schools with students entering grades 6-8 in fall 2015.
High school families will also have the opportunity to attend parent and student information nights on January 12 for next year's 9th and 10th graders as well as January 8 for next year's 11th and 12th graders. This is a great opportunity for parents and students to learn about course selection opportunities and registration for fall 2015.
62.4-second video update
Take a look at our 62.4-second update that highlights weekly activity throughout our schools!
Activities Updates Read about the White Bear Lake girls soccer team season in this White Bear Press article. The boys' basketball team defeated Forest Lake 75-62 in the Suburban Conference opener. The White Bear Lake boys hockey team also won their Suburban Conference opener 5-2 against Mounds View. The boys wrestling team took third against Mounds View, Coon Rapids and Centennial at recent invitational at Coon Rapids High School. Earlier this month, the girls basketball team defeated Rogers 56-50 at the Hopkins Tip-off Classic. The White Bear Lake girls swim and dive team recently wrapped up a competitive season and sent 22 swimmers and divers to the Section 4AA meet.
White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.
Hmong New Year - Are you looking for something to do on Friday night, Dec. 19th? Come out and support the students in Koom Siab Culture Club. They will have a short program to celebrate Hmong New Year at South Campus Theater. The program is from 6-7 pm. Entrance fee is $2 for ages 13 and older.
An energy-efficient holiday - Learn more about "greening" up your holiday plans here!
Get noticed by BearPower - BearPower wants to feature YOU in an upcoming edition of the BearPower press! Send an email to BearPower@HealthPartners.com explaining how your family, your classroom, or your program gets BearPowered and they will feature it in an upcoming issue of their newsletter and blog. Pictures of course are welcome!
Journalism, video and television scholarships - The NATAS-Upper Midwest Chapter/Foundation is giving away $3,000 scholarships to high school seniors and college juniors and seniors interested in careers in journalism, video and television. Anyone who lives in or attends college in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, most of Iowa, and western Wisconsin can apply. Some of the scholarships are targeted to journalism, others to leadership, others to Public Media. All the information is here.
Habitat for Humanity Housing in Hugo - Habitat for Humanity housing will be built in Hugo thanks to a generous donation. Read more about the new development!
Community Forum: United We Stand and Prescription Pill Take Back Night - Read about the upcoming local community forums that include a prescription pill take-back night.
Assistive Technology - Read the latest parent newsletter on assistive technology!
Weatherization - You may be eligible for free weatherization home improvements through the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties. Read more
Early Childhood Screening - Learn more about our Early Childhood screening here.
Evening ECFE Parent-Child Classes - Join other parents and their young children (birth-5) to participate in Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) parent-child classes at Normandy Park Education Center, 2482 East County Road F. Family Play Group: Tuesdays, 6:15-7:45 p.m. Parenting on Your Own: Tuesdays, 6:15-7:45 p.m. Call the Early Childhood office at 651-653-3100 for more information. Register online at www.isd624.org/EarlyChildhood
Music Lessons - Save $25 on music lessons at MacPhail Center for Music's location at Birch lake Elementary when you register by December 31. Mention WBLDIST-SCHOOL15. Valid for new students only. Call 612-321-0100 or go to macphail.org, or download the fall flyer.
Ebola fact sheet and FAQ - Click here for a fact sheet on Ebola. Click here for frequently asked questions about Ebola
NCAA clearinghouse - Is your child a college-bound student athlete? If so, you should consider registering him/her for NCAA eligibility here.
Assistive Technology in Math - Learn more about how your child could benefit from assistive technology in math here.
Interested in TV Production? - Volunteers and interns are needed for White Bear Lake Cable Public Access television. Click here for more information.
Thank teachers - Thank your teachers and help them win a grant through the Farmers Insurance Thank a Million Teachers initiative. Simply go to this website and write a thank you message to a teacher. Then, that teacher can submit a proposal for a chance to win a $2500 grant for use in their classroom.
Emergency School Closings - For school closings, early dismissals and late starts, call the School Closing Hotline at (651) 407-7540 or watch/listen for information on these media outlets:
If winter weather is so severe that schools need to close, parents will also be alerted in three ways as soon as a decision is made:
A SchoolMessenger phone message and email will be sent to all parents.
A message will be posted on the District's homepage.
We know that closing schools can be disruptive, especially for working families. Student and staff safety are our primary concern. Ultimately, the decision to send children to school remains with families. The District supports those decisions that are made for the safety and health of students. There are no negative consequences, and our schools work with families to assure that work is made up when an absence is safety-related.
Do you like working with children and other volunteers? - The White Bear Lake Area Schools Early Childhood Screening program at Normandy Park Education Center is looking for volunteers to help at screenings on Fridays. Click here to learn more about this opportunity!
Calling all baby models - We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you may find your little one featured in District publications! See an example of a "Born to be a Bear" photo 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 2013-14 District Activities Calendar. The Activities Pass is available to residents of the White Bear Lake Area School District who are age 65 and older.
Community Resources - The White Bear Lake Area offers many resources for older adults in the community. Click here to view a comprehensive list of programs and services.
Meals on Wheels update - Read about the Senior Program's recent work with our Meals on Wheels Program in the "Creative Generosity" story above!
BearPower - Check out the newest edition of BearPower Press here! Stay up to date on all BearPower events on the BearPower Facebook page.
White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation - 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.
Special thanks - Thank you to everyone for an incredible Staff Appeal Campaign this fall. You make a difference in the lives of our students!
Holiday donations - As the new year fast approaches, please remember the Foundation in your year-end giving!
Brosious winners have been announced - View all 12 of the Brosious Teaching Grant winners here!
Reminder to teachers - WBLAEF Grants are available online.
Ryan Family Art Grant Winners - Read all about the five elementary teachers who won Ryan Family Art Grants in October!
New Board Members - Congratulations to the newly elected board members: WBL Alum Jim Berry, Paul Fettinger, William Fleming, and Andrea Loppnow.
Holiday Angels - Kicking off this month, the Holiday Angels program gives our community an opportunity to share with those in need right in our own school district while honoring a school district staff person during the holiday season. View the flyer for more information.
Teachers - There's something NEW at the WBLAEF website! It's the BEAR LEGACY GRANT! This summer come to wblaef.org to learn more about this exciting new grant.
Glasrud Family Fellowship Grants - Glasrud Fellowship Grant applications will be due on February 4, 2015. These grants are available to all certified teachers in the WBLAS district. This grant will be awarded at the end of February, for use during the following 12 months. Also, there will be a teachers' Grant Writing Workshop at the District Center on January 9 at the District Center in room 206, where you can come for help with your grant anytime between 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Glasrud Family Fellows will receive grants of up to $3,000 (awarded at the end of February) to be used by a teacher or group of teachers for innovative experiences that will provide personal and professional growth. This grant provides a unique opportunity for teachers to "dream big" and have experiences beyond the classroom.
The Eugene & Kathleen Johnson Student Enrichment Scholarship is available to all students in grades 6-12 in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 who would like to participate in enrichment activities such as writing, speaking, journalism, musical performance, and composition. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide opportunities for students that extend beyond the classroom and encourage higher level thinking skills. Scholarships up to $1,000 per individual, with a total amount of $2,000 in grants, will be awarded per year.
The WBLAEF is accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year for enhancement activities for students completed by September 1, 2015.
Applications will be reviewed on a continual basis throughout the year, until the $2,000 maximum per year has been awarded.
Grant applications should be sent to: White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, 4855 Bloom Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
Student Activities Scholarship - The Jim Honsa, Sr. Memorial Student Activities Endowment provides access to co-curricular activities for students who may not otherwise have access due to financial need. The scholarship, administered by the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, provides up to $200 per applicant and is available for students in grades 6-12.
Attention 6th - 12th Grade Teachers - The Eugene & Kathleen Johnson Student Enrichment Scholarship is available for any WBLAS 6th - 12th student who would like to participate in enrichment activities such as writing, speaking, journalism, musical performance, and composition. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide opportunities for students that extend beyond the classroom and encourage higher level thinking skills. If you would like a flier to post in your classroom, please contact Lisa Lindvall and she will send you one! Students will be awarded up to $1,000 per individual, with a total amount of $2,000 in grants to be awarded per year. The application is on line for your students to apply at www.wblaef.org. Completed Grant Applications should be sent to WBLAEF at the District Office, 4855 Bloom Ave. Once the $2,000 amount has been reached for the 2013-2014 school year, I will send a note to teachers through the e-newsletter that we are no longer taking applications.
Visit our website - Visit our website to see all of the grants the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation has available for teachers.
Energy Efficiency Program - The Schools for Energy Efficiency® (SEE) is a comprehensive program for K-12 schools to save energy and money by changing behavior throughout the district. Learn more about "greening" up your holiday plans here!
Are you looking for something to do on Friday night, Dec. 19th? Come out and support the students in Koom Siab Culture Club. They will have a short program to celebrate Hmong New Year at South Campus Theater. The program is from 6-7 pm. Entrance fee is $2 for ages 13 and older.
Support your high school student who is interested in a career in manufacturing and engineering by taking him or her to the Manufacturing and Engineering Showcase Event! Career sessions will give students the chance to learn more about two of the fastest growing, high demand career fields.
Congratulations to Superintendent Dr. Lovett for being one of this year's recipients of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development's Distinguished Alumni Awards. His award reads, "In recognition of your career as a distinguished educator, administrator and passionate advocate for students."
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.