January 4, 2013

District News


On the first day of the New Year, the sun dawns over White Bear Lake. Ice crystals sparkle on the chill morning. With a temperature at zero how comfortable it would be to stay in bed. But no, not this year! 

Along the lake bundled friends and family members walk and engage in earnest conversation. Amid long shadows of icehouses are skinny shadows, tracing the movements of the denizens of the winter lake surface, emerging from their places of rest and work.

Most of us would admit to setting goals or resolutions at the beginning of the year. The evidence is all around us. Early morning walks. Crowds turn out for a New Year's morning 5K run. At health clubs the exercise room is more crowded than the smoothie bar. 

We resolve to accomplish goals during the year: friends to contact, a trip long delayed, a dream, a hope. We are determined to make priorities and stick to them.

We also resolve to be better not just for ourselves but also for those around us: to become a more attentive parent and spouse, a more obedient son or daughter, and a more caring neighbor. We are determined to live out what we value.

One way of living out what we value is helping our youngest generation. During recent months we have seen a surge of interest in our elementary school "reading buddies" program - an opportunity for community adults to invest as little as 30 minutes or an hour a week to listen to a child read. There is more to it, of course, but this is the start. We've been asked to present information about this program to our local ministerial association, a service club, and a political party. Other programs in the schools are likewise looking for committed volunteers, some asking for as little as one commitment a month. 

In addition to our personal resolutions, we set goals for our schools and community, and particularly for our children.

We want them to be safe and secure, a commitment we are reviewing with added scrutiny.

We want them to be challenged to be their best, and to develop a work ethic that helps them make the best of their talents and opportunities.

We want them to be inspired by what they can become, including clear long-range goals to motivate and aspirations that will foster determination and self-discipline.

In words from our District's strategic plan, we are leading minds to learning, hearts to compassion, and lives to community service. We want all children to see and demonstrate our community core values of compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility and service.

So where do you come in? If you've read this far you may as well stay to get the full invitation. This year as you are setting your resolutions, we ask you to consider learning more about the reading buddies program or another of the mentoring or student support programs in the schools. 

Whether you live in one of the ten communities we serve in the White Bear Lake Area Schools, in a neighboring community, or read this message online half a world away, you can make a difference in schools close to you.  What can you do?  Contact the principal of a school near you, or contact me and I will help connect you with a school. 

Actually, you'll find helping a young student at least as fulfilling as an early morning walk along the lake. And your heart will always be warm - guaranteed.

Dr. Michael Lovett


Note: This article was prepared for and will appear in local and regional newspapers this month.

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.

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

Parent Notices:

  • Open Houses & Registration Events - Want to learn more about White Bear Lake Area Schools or registration for the 2013-14 school year? Check out all of the events happening this January.
  • Ensuring Safety - With student safety as our priority, we want to update you on the below steps we have begun in response to the tragedy that occurred in Newtown Connecticut. For more information, please see last week's Update on School Security message. 
    • Review security protocols
    • Update the school security audit
    • Enact additional, temporary security measures
    • Support our students and families
  • School Closings - When the snow starts to fall, listen for a call!  If severe weather is occurring or predicted, the superintendent may continue school as scheduled, start school late, dismiss school early, cancel extracurricular activities or cancel school for the next day. Visit our School Closing Page to learn about ways you will be notified.
  • WBLAS Mobile App - iPhone and iPad users can visit the App Store to download the free WBLAS App. A Droid version is being developed and will be available soon!
  • 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.
  • Community Food Drive - On January 19-20, the White Bear Lake Food Shelf and community members will be holding a food drive at six of the major grocery stores around the White Bear Lake area. All the proceeds will go directly to the White Bear Lake Area Food Shelf's Backpack Program, a program which gives student access to healthy meals during the weekends when food options can be scarce. The team is looking for volunteers to help with facilitating the food drive at all six locations as well as food donations. Please sign up to be a volunteer, tell a friend to volunteer and send us your contact details for more information here. For more information contact community members Jill Engwer and Lori Swanson, or visit the White Bear Lake Emergency Food Shelf website.
  • Save $100 Off Music Lessons - Save with music lessons at MacPhail Center for Music's locations at WBLAHS - North Campus or Birch Lake Elementary when you register by March 31. Mention WBL100-SPRING13. Valid for new students only. Call 612-321-0100 or go to macphail.org, flyer available by clicking here.
  • Weight Watchers At Work - Staff members and parents are welcome to attend an informational open house on a District Weight Watchers at Work program at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday, January 15 at Oneka Elementary School. Email Nancy Krocak for more information.
  • 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.
  • ADHD Support Group - The District 622 ADD/ADHD Support Group will hold its next meeting at 6.30 p.m. January 14 at the District Education Center in St. Paul. with special guest Dr. Michael Bloomquist discussing Skills Training for Struggling Kids. All District 624 families are welcome to attend. Click here for more information.

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.
    • 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.
    • The Closet - With the cold weather outside, The Closet is seeking winter clothing and outerwear. Donations can be dropped off at the District Center or at the ALC building at 2449 Orchard Lane in White Bear Lake. Jeans of all shapes and sizes are also greatly needed.
    • Holiday Angels Thank You - Thank you to all community members who participated in the Holiday Angels Program this year. In case you missed it, the program was recently featured on Kare 11 News.
    • 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 lisa.lindvall@isd624.org 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 January update hereto learn about saving energy with your computer.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Otter Lake STEM Fair - Otter Lake is looking for parent "Coaches" to assist in the upcoming STEM Fair from 5 - 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.
  • Upcoming Concerts - The White Bear Lake Area Schools will be hosting the following concerts in the month of January. All are free to attend and open to the public:
    • Central Middle School: 7th Grade Band Concert - 7 p.m. on January 7 at the Community Auditorium
    • Middle School & High School Jazz & Winds Concert - 7 p.m. on January 10 at the  Community Auditorium
    • Central Middle School: 6th Grade Concert - 7 p.m. on January 14 at the Community Auditorium
    • Sunrise Park Middle School: 6th/7th Grade Concert - 6:30 p.m. & 8 p.m. on January 15 at the  Community Auditorium
    • Otter Lake Elementary: 4th & 5th Grade Concert - 7 p.m. on January 31 at Otter Lake Elementary

Awards and Honors

  • 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.
  • Eugene & Kathleen Johnson Student Enrichment Scholarship - This scholarship is available to all WBLAS students in grades 6-12 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. Applications are reviewed on a running basis.

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

Chicken, Veggies, Soy, Rice...

At the end of December, hundreds of students and community volunteers rallied together to pack over 100,000 meals for children in need. Under the direction of teachers John Kovacs and Katelin Held, White Bear Lake Area High School - North Campus hosted a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event to combat world hunger. The gymnasium was transformed into dozens of mini-assembly lines fueled by the passion and energy of the White Bear Lake Area community.

The project began in a WBLAHS civics class when students were asked to propose laws for a model legislature. After brainstorming several ideas, the students chose to propose a law that would actually make a difference in the world. Then, they took action. 

"Chicken, veggies, soy, rice!" is the familiar chant that reminds volunteers of the ingredients contained in each package of food. The packets are specially formulated to provide malnourished children with the essential nutrients they need. At a production cost of only 22 cents per meal, Feed My Starving Children is able to impact the lives of individuals in over 70 countries across the globe.  


With the start of a new year, White Bear Lake Area Schools launched a new partnership with the YMCA, Health Partners and Children's Hospital called the yumPower School Challenge. The yumPower program is designed to encourage elementary school students and teachers to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables by tracking how many servings of fruits and veggies they eat each day.

The first kickoff event was recently held at Otter Lake Elementary School complete with a school assembly featuring Radio Disney. The assembly brought the students to their feet as they sang and danced along with the music. The event also included interactive games, competitions and information on how to become more healthy eaters. All students were given a lime green sling backpack full of parent information, healthy kid-approved recipes, and tracking sheets. 

For the next four weeks students at Otter Lake Elementary will be tracking their progress and competing for fun prizes. Kickoff events will also be held at Vadnais Heights, Birch Lake, Hugo and Oneka Elementary Schools this winter.

Giving at Matoska

Matoska International IB World School's Action Team Leaders saw a need within the community and took action. Last month, the group introduced an adopt a family program to provide holiday gifts to those in need. Led by Action Team members Cora Donoghue, Berit Menier and Piper VanHouten, the project was a perfect reminder of the old saying, "it's better to give than receive."

Over the course of three weeks, each classroom collected spare change donations totaling $1,200 - far exceeding expectations. Members of the Matoska Action Team used the money to purchase and wrap holiday gifts for three local families. Students were excited to participate in the activity and contribute to Matoska's spirit of giving and community involvement. The Action Team is comprised of two student leaders from each class in grades 3-5. 

Write on!

Although it may appear modest from the outside, one of the newest additions to the White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus is truly something to brag about. In December, WBLAHS opened the doors to the east metro's first high school writing center. The new Writing Center is a resource for all high school students to receive guidance, feedback and support on their writing skills as a supplement to what is learned in the classroom. Led by Coordinator Carolyn Youngbauer, the helpful staff can assist with proofreading and revision, improving flow and structure, clarifying a thesis topic and much more! Students have the opportunity to schedule a private conference, use computers and ask questions as they work.

Since its opening, the Writing Center has already helped many students, and more of them seem to be stopping in every day. In the coming months, the center will also begin to offer before and after school workshops on courses such as how to properly use citations, getting started with writing, and how to prepare for the writing portion of the ACT. A secondary location at WBLAHS - North Campus will also be introduced in the near future.

The Writing Center is a combined effort of the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, the District and a generous gift from the Glasrud family who continues to fuel innovative projects within the District. If you are interested in volunteering at the Writing Center, watch for opportunities to come soon!

Activities Updates

Bears Boys Hockey recently competed in the Iron Range Classic tournament and are looking forward to their next game on February 5 against Forest Lake. The Girl's Basketball Team recently locked in a 65-28 victory over Rochester Century High School. Congratulations to the Boy's Basketball Team on their recent 72-61 win over Logan High School.

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.

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 25 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201