March 1, 2013

District News

Another step toward success for all students

This week in a celebration of "I Love to Read Month," teachers at one of our elementary schools held a "Minute to Win It" competition among colleagues to the delight of giggling kindergartens. After the competition a thoughtful little girl remarked, "Even though my teacher was the first one out, I still love her."

In the fall we will welcome more than 600 children to kindergarten. Children will fall in love with an outstanding teacher and be secure and challenged in a nurturing classroom. Our schools have among the lowest class sizes in the Twin Cities area at the kindergarten level, part of our community's commitment to help each child start strong.

The White Bear Lake Area School Board is considering a proposal to offer families free all-day, every-day kindergarten, beginning this fall. We currently offer free half-day kindergarten and two fee-based all-day options, Kindergarten Plus and Kindergarten Extended Day. We anticipate a final decision about free all-day kindergarten will be made on March 11, 2013.

We encourage you to learn more about our latest step towards success for all students by visiting our new kindergarten webpage.

Dr. Michael Lovett



General Information

Did You Know?

2013-15 Academic Calendars

The White Bear Lake Area School Board approved a 2-year calendar covering the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years at a regular meeting on Monday, February 11. Download the full 2013-15 academic calendars 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 available online. Here's a sample of what's included:

  • Zumba: 6:45 - 7:45 p.m. on Tuesdays, March 5 - April 16 at Sunrise Park Middle School
  • Glass Fusing Bits Bowl: 9 - 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 9 at WBLAHS - South Campus
  • Kickboxing Fitness: 6:15 - 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, March 12 - April 15 at Lincoln Elementary

Parent Notices:

  • WBLAHS Survey - All White Bear Lake Area High School students, parents and staff are encouraged to take a survey evaluating programs at the high school. Please click the links below for the appropriate version:
  • Growing Healthy Families - Join the Early Childhood program from 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 to explore a variety of health, wellness and nutritional resources from the community. You will learn helpful tips on making healthy meals on a budget and have a chance to talk with local health and wellness experts. Children 2-5 will participate in gym activities with childcare available for children under 2 years old. The cost is $5 per family. Please pre-register by March 11 by calling 651-653-3100 or visiting us in person at Normandy Park.
  • Early Childhood Screening - All 3 to 5 year old children in Minnesota are required to complete early childhood screening before entrance into kindergarten. Early screening is recommended and available throughout the year at no cost through the White Bear Lake Area Schools. Click here to schedule an appointment at an upcoming session on March 15, 22 or April 5.
  • Community Dinner - Sunrise Park Middle School will host their annual Community Dinner from 5 - 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19. The event will feature talent contest finalists, musical and dance performances, and more. Tickets are $5 and available at Sunrise Park Middle School
  • 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. The next session, "Rain, Rain, Go Away" begins in March.
  • Tech Talk - Find the latest Assistive Technology Newsletter here.
  • ADHD Support Group - The District 622 ADD/ADHD Support Group will hold its next meeting at 6.30 p.m. on March 4 at the District Education Center in St. Paul with special guest Lauren Braswell, Ph.D discussing Parent Stress Management: Thoughts and Behaviors That Matter.
  • "The Good Old Black and Blue" - Mark your calendars for the Annual Lions Club Show - a musical comedy, "The Good Old Black and Blue" showing at the Community Theater this March. The proceeds of this show benefit local community organizations, including the White Bear Lake Area School District. This year, approximately $5,000 will be donated to WBLAS to purchase wireless headsets for future musical, theater and art performances. Get your tickets online.
  • Winter Weather - Visit our school closings page to learn about winter weather procedures.


Please click here to take the survey.

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.
    • Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award - The WBLAEF is seeking nominations for the 2013 Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award. Staff, parents, students and community members are encouraged to nominate an educator who fulfills the spirit and legacy of former educator, Lynn Mielke. Click here for the nomination form and to learn more about the award. Nominations are due on or before March 22.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 latest update here to learn how you can efficiently light a room during the darker winter months.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Pirates! The Musical - Elementary students at Otter Lake, Oneka and Matoska International are teaming up with Ashland Productions this March to present performances of "Pirates! The Musical". Set sail with the cast for a mighty adventure on the high seas! Tickets are $10.00 each and on sale now by visiting the Ashland Productions website.
    • Otter Lake Elementary School: 7 p.m. on March 8, 2 p.m. on March 9 and 2 p.m. on March 10
    • Oneka Elementary School: 7 p.m. on March 14, 7 p.m. on March 16 and 2 p.m. on March 17
    • Matoska International IB World School: 7 p.m. on March 15, 2 p.m. on March 16 and 7 p.m. on March 17
  • Donatelli's Takeover - Fifth grade students from Willow Lane Elementary School will be taking over Donatelli's Restaurant in White Bear Lake by working as cooks, servers and hosts this spring. Stop in on March 12 & 19 and April 2 & 9 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. for service with a smile and excellent food! All tips above and beyond 15% will go to Hope Kids, a charity that supports children with cancer.
  • Music Performances - Join us for our free community concerts happening this March:
    • Birch Lake Music Program (3rd-5th Grade Students) - 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on March 14
    • Vadnais Heights 2nd and 3rd Grade Music Program - 2:30 and 6 p.m. on March 14
    • Lincoln 4th and 5th Grade Music Program - 6:30 p.m. on March 14
    • Otter Lake 2nd and 3rd Grade Concert - 7 p.m. on March 14 
    • WBLAHS - North Campus Choir Concert - 7 p.m. on March 18
    • WBLAHS Choir Concert - 7 p.m. on March 19
    • Matoska 4th and 5th Grade Music Program - 6 p.m. on March 28
  • Growing Healthy Families - Join the Early Childhood program from 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 to explore a variety of health, wellness and nutritional resources from the community. You will learn helpful tips on making healthy meals on a budget and have a chance to talk with local health and wellness experts. Children 2-5 will participate in gym activities with childcare available for children under 2 years old. The cost is $5 per family. Please pre-register by March 11 by calling 651-653-3100 or visiting us in person at Normandy Park

Awards and Honors

  • Academic Achievers - Congratulations to Isaac Maruyama, 5th grade student at Otter Lake Elementary, and Lily Ahles, 5th grade student at Birch Lake Elementary, who have been selected as White Bear Lake Rotary Academic Achievers. Isaac is involved in many activities including Student Council, School Safety Patrol, school plays, and a variety of athletics. Lily excels in the classroom by consistently putting forth her best effort and encouraging others to do the same. Outside of school she enjoys playing with friends, reading, art and painting.
  • LEGO Robotics - The Sunrise Park Middle School LEGO Robotics Club recently participated in the Minnesota LEGO League regional competition and was awarded the Team Spirit Award for their enthusiasm and sportsmanship.

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

Book Worms

At the end of " I Love to Read Month," schools across the district took time to celebrate their reading accomplishments. Lincoln Elementary students had something to "get wild about" after achieving their reading objective. Although they set a goal of reaching 130,000 minutes in February, the students far surpassed this number by reading 177,283 minutes (nearly 124 days)! As a reward for their hard work, the top three student readers from each grade led Principal Dan Schmidt on a messy jungle safari in the school gym. Students used spaghetti (snakes), chocolate pudding (mud), water (rain), cereal and gummy worms (bugs), silly string (vines) and whipped cream (bird droppings) to give him a jungle makeover.

Motived by a unique "Minutes for the Mustache" challenge, Lakeaires Elementary students were relentless in pursing their goal. If all students increased their weekly independent reading minutes by at least 50%, Principal Cary Krusemark volunteered to shave his winter beard. Despite Mr. Krusemark's efforts to avoid losing his moustache, Lakeaires students rose to the challenge, meaning Mr. Krusemark is now sporting a new look in preparation for spring.

Principal John Leininger from Matoska International also got engaged in the celebratory events by turning himself into a platter paint canvas after students reached their read-a-thon goal. From kindergarten students to teachers and even special guest readers, February brought out the book worms at White Bear Lake Area Schools!


National Cheer Champions

Members of the White Bear Lake Area High School Cheerleading Team have done it again!  For the second consecutive year, the team has won the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) High School Open National Championship.

At the end of February, the 30-member squad traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete against 20 other top teams from around the nation. The competition consisted of a "time-out" style cheer and a performance of the WBLAHS song. Competition was fierce, but the team was satisfied when their hard work and dedication resulted in a national championship. Cheerleading Head Coach, Heather Leaf, said that her team was very humble. "They know the importance of sportsmanship and congratulated the other teams on a job well done."

This latest accomplishment adds to an already impressive season.  The team has achieved eight other top three finishes, including third place at the state competition and first place at the Minnesota Cheerleading Coaches Association State Cheer-Off for the third consecutive year.


Skill Building

For students in the Birch Lake Elementary School Special Education program, learning in a classroom is beneficial, but true progress comes from engaging in the local community. Last month, five students in the Community Based Instruction (CBI) program made visits to both a local retail store and restaurant to put their skills to the test. At Target, students were in charge of their own cart, locating items from a shopping list of hygiene products.

Later in the month, students set to work preparing for a lunch outing where they were responsible for ordering their own meals and paying in the correct amount. Students placed their orders using assistive technologies provided by the school district, including augmentative communication devices - such as an iPad and Dynavox - as well as picture symbols. Students demonstrated good manners continue to build upon their independent skills.

Students involved in the CBI program develop their living skills by engaging in test run scenarios in a classroom, then applying what they have learned to real life situations. The students have already begun to prepare for their next activities: grocery shopping at Cub Foods and swimming at the Maplewood Community Center.

Learning on Ice

Although winter conditions might not be considered ideal by everyone, for one White Bear Lake Area High School class, the cold has presented a unique opportunity to take learning outdoors.  Realizing that few students in her outdoor education class had ventured onto our community lakes in the winter, physical education teacher Michelle Shelp decided it was time for a change.  Juniors and seniors in the elective class at WBLAHS strapped on their winter gear and headed out onto White Bear Lake to experience the sport of ice fishing. 

With a focus on promoting life-long recreation, the outdoor education class introduces students to the wealth activities that exist in nature. The class blends indoor sessions with outdoor experiential learning to put each lesson into practice.  As a part of their ice fishing activity, students also learned about ice safety, preparing for cold weather elements and basic fishing etiquette. The class also made their own jiggle stick fish polls and ice claws for safety on the lake.

Students were joined by three retired teachers and White Bear Lake area ice fishing experts, Jed Knuttila, Fred Dressler and Bruce Goldhammer.  Although no trophy fish were caught, the students enjoyed their time on the ice and are looking forward to a fly fishing excursion this spring.

Activities Updates Band

WBLAHS - South Campus Band students received 64 Superior ratings, 17 Excellent ratings and 3 'Best at Sites' awards at the Solo/Ensemble Contest on February 23. North campus students received 23 Superior ratings and 23 Excellent ratings. Congratulations! The Boys Basketball Team came out on top in recent games against Hastings, Cretin-Derham Hall and Park High Schools. The team takes on Forest Lake on Friday, March 1 in their last regular game of the season. Members of the Bears' Girls Basketball Team won recent regular season victories against Hastings, Cretin-Derham Hall and Park. After defeating Stillwater in the first round of Section 4AAA playoffs, the team will advance to face Woodbury on March 2. The Boys Hockey Team defeated North St. Paul in Quarterfinals and Roseville in Semifinals to advance to the Section 4AA Championship Game. Best of luck to the team as they face off against Hill-Murray on March 1! Congratulations to six members of the Wrestling Team advancing to the state tournament on March 1: Andy Andress, Grant Bolduan, Elijah Muedeking, Tommy Longendyke, Tyler Hubman  and Jeremy Seed.

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, March 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, March 18 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, April 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, April 22 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201