December 14, 2012

District News

What Are We Doing Well?

The media center buzzes with conversations. Parents talk about their children and adjusting to the school year.

"When we first came to visit our school, everyone stopped what they were doing to welcome us. From that day forward, I knew my children would be happy and secure here."

This fall I met with parents in school PTA and PTO meetings and asked them what we are doing well and what they would like us to do better. Today is "chapter one" from what parents tell us we are doing well.

"Our teachers know my child, even in ways that surprise me... our older children still want to visit their elementary school... They want to see their teachers again..."

When I ask the same questions of teachers and other staff at faculty meetings, a pattern is clear..

"We all work together to support our children. We feel responsibility for every child, even when the child is assigned to another class..."

"Colleagues support one another without being asked... Sometimes my teammate will recognize what I need without my asking..."

After reviewing pages of notes and reflections from 20 meetings this fall, a common theme emerges: relationships. Parents and students know that White Bear Lake Area Schools staff are here to teach, listen and support all students and families... and staff can count on one another for support.

During the coming holidays, most of us try to slow the pace of life and value our time with family, friends and colleagues. In some cases, valuing takes the form of a gift or a note, but can be as simple as a meal together, a conversation or just being present.

We have a busy week ahead and much to be grateful for - beginning with our families, students and all the staff of the White Bear Lake Area Schools.

Our thanks to you for your trust in one another, your commitment to all children and families, and your unwavering support of our school community.

Dr. Michael Lovett


Responding to Tragedy

This afternoon we learned about a tragic school shooting that occurred at an elementary school in Connecticut. There is extensive news coverage and is likely to be much discussion in our communities in the coming days. We have a deep sense of grief for the families and community dealing with the immediate tragedy, but this loss touches us all.

We want to assure you that safety of our students is our top priority and that our schools have a comprehensive crisis plan to help avoid tragedies such as this. We will also be prepared to provide support for our students as they return to school on Monday.

To help you support your own children, consider this advice from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping us cope with tragedy.

General Information

Did You Know?


Annual Report to the Community

The White Bear Lake Area Schools Annual Report to the Community is available online. This report includes a variety of student achievement data, information on new initiatives, financial reporting and other important information on District 624.

The report was mailed to all District residents during the first week of December. Community members can also download the report here or contact the Superintendent's Office at (651) 407-7563 to request a copy.

Find additional information about White Bear Lake Area Schools here

Community Services

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.

The Community Services and Recreation Winter 2013 Catalog is now available online and will be mailed at the end of December. 

Check out all of the new adult and youth programs available starting this January. 

Parent Notices:

  • Early Childhood Kindergarten Info Night - Learn about Kindergarten opportunities at two different information sessions:
    • 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 18 at Hugo Elementary 
    • 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 18 at Normandy Park Education Center
  • Early Childhood Special Event - Join us as we discuss challenging behaviors of young children and positive strategies you can use successfully at home at 6:15 p.m. on January 10 at Normandy Park. More information here.
  • Tech Talk - Find the latest Assistive Technology Newsletter here.
  • Early Childhood Mini-Sessions - Families with children ages 2 - 4 are invited to check out the District's Early Childhood Program through daytime "mini sessions" offered throughout the academic year. Find information about the 3-week sessions.
  • Holiday Gift Guide - When the holidays arrive, all children anxiously await opening the perfect gift. But finding that gift for a child with disabilities can be intimidating. By taking a minute to consider the child's abilities and developmental age, you can make an informed choice and provide the child(ren) in your life with pure delight as they open that special toy!

Senior Program Updates:

The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department.

  • 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.
  • Senior Activity Passes - Free Activity Passes are currently available for senior community members ages 65 and up. Those who would like a free pass and a 2012-13 Activities Calendar can contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 to request an application.
  • New/Used Audio Book DVD Library - The White Bear Area Senior Center (located at Normandy Park Education Center in White Bear Lake) is starting an Audio Book DVD Library. If you would like to pass your favorite audio book DVDs forward, please consider our Lending Library. Everyone also is welcome to utilize our library for your listening pleasure. Library & Audio Book DVD Drop Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

In Every Issue:

  •  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. Find the WBLAEF website here.
    •  Holiday Angels - 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.
      • Click here to see a recent story on the Holiday Angels program featured on Kare 11 News.
      • Thank you the Willow Elementary Extended Day Program for their donation of $1270.24 to the Angel Fund. The money was raised through their annual bake and craft sale.
    • Honor Your Student Campaign - The WBLAEF would like to give you the opportunity to honor your senior student for all the hard work that has gone into obtaining a high school diploma. With a donation of $25 or more, a personalized bookplate will be placed on the inside cover of a new White Bear Lake Area High School library book in honor of your child. Your generous donation will benefit the WBLAEF's Legacy Endowment Fund. Complete the donation form on the website and provide information on what you would like the bookplate to read. You may also honor any other past WBLAHS graduate.
    • J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award - The WBLAEF is seeking nominations for the 2013 Hill Legacy Award to acknowledge an area citizen who has given a lifetime of volunteer service to his or her community. Click here to earn more about the award and how to submit nominations.
    • End of the Year Donations - Giving to worthy causes knows no season. Donating to a qualifying non-profit organization can be especially appealing at the end of the year. Please consider giving to the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation before the new year! Your gift will be recognized in our newsletter and will help us enhance education for all students. To donate, visit us online at or call 651-407-7696.
    • WBLAEF Newsletter - Find the most recent White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation's newsletter here. To sign-up for the electronic newsletter, please send a request to or call 651-407-7696.
    • Reunions - The WBLAEF sponsors the White Bear Lake Area Alumni Association. Find information about the Alumni Association, including scheduled reunions, here.
  • 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. Find the December update here to learn how to lower your heating costs this winter. The Year 2 report is also available online.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Feed My Starving Children MobilePack - On December 20, White Bear Lake High School - North Campus will rally together to help solve world hunger in a very real way, by partnering with Feed My Starving Children to pack 100,000 meals throughout the school day. These meals will be sent worldwide to those in need. Each meal costs 22 cents to produce, and in order to reach their meal-packing goal, students are seeking to raise $22,000. All monetary donations go directly to the meals and their production. Donate cash or checks (made out to Feed My Starving Children-WBL MobilePack) to John Kovacs or Katelin Held (teachers at North Campus) or contribute online. Parent volunteers are also needed.
  • Otter Lake STEM Fair - Otter Lake is looking for parent "Coaches" to assist in the upcoming STEM Fair from 5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 24. Coaches will visit 3-5 booths to discuss the project with the student presenters. Contact Lee McGrath to volunteer. No experience is required. 
  • Excellence Event 2013 - Please consider a year-end financial contribution to support Excellence Event 2013! The Excellence Event is a yearly celebration held each May recognizing the academic achievements of the top graduating seniors at White Bear Lake Area High School and the Area Learning Center, and the educators selected by each of the honored students. Both students and educators selected for recognition at this event say that it is one of the most meaningful events of the year! Funding for the Excellence Event is provided solely by charitable donations and not District funds. To make a donation and support this year's Excellence Event, please send a check made payable to "White Bear Lake Area Schools" with "Excellence Event" in the memo line to Jody Reber at District Center. Thanks in advance for your support!

Awards and Honors

  • Soccer All-American - Congratulations to WBLAHS student, Tarah Hobbs, a senior player on our girls soccer team who was recently named to the 2012 NSCAA High School Girls All America team.
  • Teacher of the Year Nominations - All staff, students and community members are invited to nominate an outstanding educator for the 2013 White Bear Lake Area Teacher of the Year Award. Please consider nominating an educator who will represent all of the dedicated teachers in our district and compete in the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program. To nominate a teacher, download and complete the nomination form by January 18.

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.

Student News

Encore, Encore!

For the fourth consecutive year, the White Bear Lake Area High School Theatre Department received accolades from the Hennepin Theatre Trust's SpotLight Music Theatre Program. The program honors high school musicals and students by recognizing their extraordinary achievements and works to develop young talent in Minnesota's high school musical theatre programs.

This year's cast and crew members are honored with 10 awards - a new school record - for their fall musical "Anything Goes." Overall awards include Outstanding Overall Production and Outstanding Overall Performance for chorus and choreography. The department also earned many individual awards: Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role: Emily Nies as 'Reno Sweeney' and Jon Woodruff as 'Billy Crocker'; Honorable Mention Performance in a Leading Role: Sarah Nelson as 'Hope Harcourt'; Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role: Sam Adamsson as 'Moonface Martin' and Maddy McLevish-Hughes as 'Erma'; Honorable Mention Performance in a Supporting Role: Noelle Rivard as 'Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt', Seaver Holter as 'Mr. Elisha J. Whitney' and Tommy Self as 'Lord Evelyn Oakleigh'.

Additionally, the four WBLAHS students who received an Outstanding honor (Nies, Woodruff, Adamsson and McLevish-Hughes) are eligible to compete for the Triple Threat Award. This vigorous process takes a well-rounded approach to discovering the two students that not only sing, dance and act well, but also encompass the spirit of SpotLight. In 2012, the Triple Threat Award was won by current White Bear Lake Area High School senior, Emily Nies. The full cast will perform a medley of the musical's numbers at the Orpheum Theatre this summer on June 3, 2013 as part of the SpotLight Showcase. All of the individual honorable mention and outstanding performance will perform group numbers with other students from around the state who received a similar award.


Taking a Stand

When facing an uncomfortable situation, what makes the difference between being a restrained bystander and standing up for what you believe? Seventh grade students from Central Middle School learned that the answer is courage.

For the second year, Central Middle School partnered with Youth Frontiers to teach students how to take a stance against bullying. Students spent the day at a special retreat that empowered students to act with moral courage and identify the social fears and peer pressures that prevent responsible decision-making. The retreat encouraged them to take positive risks that make a healthy difference for themselves, their peers and their school.

The all-day retreat combined music, games, dancing, small and large group discussions, engaging presentations and individual reflection. One of the highlights was a large group jump roping activity involving everyone - even the teachers. The day ended with an impactful exercise where students shared their own stories and experiences with bullying and acts of courage. After hearing some of the hardships faced by other students, many attendees vowed to make a change and take a stand for what is right.


High School After Dark

When the classrooms go dark, the day's activities are completed and the last cars pull out of the parking lot, many students are intrigued by the question: What would it be like to spend a night in the school?Recently, members of the WBLAHS Student Council participated in a Custodian Overnight Project to get the answer to this very question.

Over 80 students from WBLAHS teamed up to give the custodians a night off and complete a few school improvement projects at each campus. Instead of complete their usual list of tasks, custodians were fed as students tackled the cleaning. Senior Shoryeah Yang said, "I've realized that their job is really demanding and how much I take a clean school for granted."

Once the classrooms and common areas were cleaned, students at North Campus hung holiday trees with ornaments bearing each students' name. South Campus did a similar project using over 1,200 mittens. They also worked on other projects such as painting new bear paw logos around the building. Student Council members are looking forward to a busy winter of activities including: Holiday Grams, "Lunchtime Lounge" open-mic events, and Sno-Daze Week events.


A Good Deed

Just in time for the arrival of our recent snowfall, two retired Minnesota teachers knitted 250 hats for the students at Birch Lake Elementary School. For the past 10 years, Bob and Mavis Schwanke have been knitting hats for students simply because they still love using their talents to benefit students.

The hats seem to be the latest fashion trend for Birch Lake Elementary students. Walking through the halls, one can spot a sea of vibrant colors and fun patterns. Many students even ask for additional hats to share with their younger and older siblings. The Schwankes also knit hats and blankets for "People Serving People" in Minneapolis. This year alone they made over 250 blankets for a local Twin Cities shelter.


Up, Up and Away

White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus Aviation and Aerospace students joined forces with the University of Minnesota's Department of Aerospace Sciences to launch a high altitude balloon on December 6. The 5-foot wide latex balloon contained a payload of several high definitions cameras, tracking devices, radios and a suite of weather and other science-related instruments.

On the day of the big launch, the class welcomed ideal conditions as they made their final preparations. According to student Charlie Anderson,"the most intense point was the final five seconds before takeoff." Twenty minutes after launch, the balloon disappeared from sight and began its journey, reaching heights of 74,000 feet. The balloon traveled approximately 18 miles before exploding and sending the payload back down to earth with a parachute.

Students in the class were able to monitor the balloon movements and predict an approximate landing zone. Their models were accurate enough to be within a five mile range on the actual location. To see balloon in action, watch this video and explore the White Bear Lake area from the skies.

Activities Updates

The Boys Swim & Dive Team placed ninth and sixth in the first two meets of the season. The WBLAHS Football Team had a successful season tying for third in the Suburban East Conference with seven players making the All Conference roster. Seven additional athletes were awarded Honorable Mention. The tenth ranked WBLAHS Wrestling Team will host their next home meet at 5:30 p.m. for Junior Varsity and 7 p.m. for Varsity on December 20.


White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.

A comprehensive 2012-13 District Activities schedule can be found here.

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.

School Board News

School Board Student Recognition

Before the December 10, 2012 Regular Meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board Recognized the following students:

  • Bowling Team state meet participants
  • Mountain Biking Team state meet participants
  • 2011-2012 AP Scholars
  • 2011-2012 National Merit Scholars


School Board Meetings

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, January 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, January 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, February 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, February 11 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201

District News

  • What Are We Doing Well?
  • Responding to Tragedy
  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors

Student News

  • Encore, Encore!
  • Taking a Stand
  • High School After Dark
  • A Good Deed
  • Up, Up and Away
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • Student Recognition
  •  School Board Meetings


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