March 15, 2013

WBLAS to offer free all-day kindergarten beginning fall 2013

The White Bear Lake Area Schools will offer families free all-day, every-day kindergarten beginning in fall 2013. The School Board approved the proposal at its March 11 regular school board meeting.

"Providing free all-day kindergarten to our families is something we as a Board have wanted to do for a number of years" said School Board member Lori Swanson. "Administration has diligently worked to build a sustainable financial plan that will support the rich curricular opportunities for our students."

Free all-day, every-day kindergarten will be available at each of the district's eight elementary sites. Half-day kindergarten will also be available at Hugo Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Matoska International IB World School and Otter Lake Elementary. Half-day sites were selected based on data from a survey sent to all families with incoming kindergarten students.

All-day and half-day options will both have low class sizes, innovative programming and award-winning partnerships for which our schools are known. Students in the all-day program will have greater access to specialists currently available for grades 1-5, including music, media, physical education and world language.

For nearly a decade, the District has considered offering free all-day kindergarten to our families as one strategy to help all students thrive from the beginning of their time with the district. This strategy aligns with the White Bear Lake Area Schools Strategic Plan goal for all children to reach proficiency in reading and math by grade four. Making all-day kindergarten free for all families assures it is equally available, regardless of ability to pay.

"There has been a significant amount of planning that has gone into putting this initiative together" said School Board member Cathy Storey. "I am very excited. I have heard very positive comments from the community."

Find additional information here.

Making history

Last weekend, students from Central and Sunrise Park Middle School participated in Minnesota's East Metro Regional History Day competition that took place at our very own at White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus. The diverse list of student projects included research on Title IX, morse code, and Gideon v. Wainwright among others. Student information boards were colorful, creative, and chock-full of historical and factual information. 

National History Day is an inter-disciplinary research project for students in grades 6-12. History Day teaches students to conduct in-depth research, use primary and secondary sources, read a variety of texts, analyze and synthesize information, and write and present historical content. Students choose a topic that relates to an annual theme, research that topic, and develop their research into one of five presentation categories: research paper, exhibit, documentary, performance, or website. Students may then enter their projects into History Day competitions at school, regional, state and national levels.

Several district students advanced further in the competition and thus qualified for State History Day on Saturday, May 4th at the University of Minnesota.

A good story to tell

A "little bit" of snow was no deterrent for White Bear Lake Area High School - North Campus students in Language Arts 101, who made the trek to Lincoln Elementary for a culmination of the class's month-long celebration of reading and storytelling. 

The high school students enjoyed their younger counterparts' enthusiasm. "This trip brought me back. It was like I was in first grade again," said on North Campus student. "Reading to them was a lot of fun. When they read to me it was even better. The students seemed ready and excited to see us all."

Added another: "Whenever there was a word they knew they would tell me what it was. When they read they would try to help each other out with words. One time one my girls yelled 'Stop!' because she wanted to do it herself. I will remember how they wanted to read more and more books. They asked if i was coming again and I sure hope we do!"

The service-learning activity had a direct tie to the high school course curriculum. The students have been discussing the importance of reading and developing those skills at an early age. Also, the high school students' children's book choices have been a part of a storytelling speech that students deliver to the class.

The unique experience seems likely to be replicated in the future. "Before I even mentioned returning, my students were asking if we could," reported teacher Tiffany Dietrich. 

Alumnae efforts

Two Central Middle School students recently "gave back" to their alma mater, Lincoln Elementary. Carrie Hunner and Abbey Morin, who both attended Lincoln their entire elementary career, joined Girl Scouts as kindergarteners and they now are eighth graders working on their Silver Award project, the highest award that a Cadette (grade 6-8) Girl Scout can earn. 

As a part of their project, the students identified their community concern to be that teachers spend too much of their own money on classroom supplies. The duo organized a book drive at Lincoln Elementary, sorted and organized the books with the help of recruited volunteers, and allowed the teachers to "shop" for books for their classroom libraries. Leftover books were donated to Keystone Community Services in Roseville. 

The book drive was a huge success, as the girls collected and sorted over 1,800 books and accurred more than 50 hours of work planning and implementing their project. MaryEllen Mieure, retired Lincoln teacher, volunteered her time as adviser to the girls for their project.

Capitol investments

White Bear Lake Area Learning Center's Traci Bowermaster, Amy Johnson, and students and parents from the district's Insight Program attended the Recovery Works Day on the Hill at the Capitol yesterday. Students prepared statements about their lives have been positively impacted by recovery schools and the importance of investing in this vital component of the education system. Senator Chris Eaton, the author of a bill supporting recovery schools (SF 366), praised the students for their academic, civic, and personal leadership.

Activities Updates

Vocal Solo/Ensemble results from the March 7th event: WBLAHS - North Campus had 28 entries total and earned 18 Excellent and 10 Superior ratings; WBLAHS - South Campus had 26 entries total and earned 13 Excellent and 13 Superior ratings.

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 Recognitions

Before its March 11 regular meeting, the School Board recognized the following students who recently competed at state or national competitions:

  • Wrestling - State
  • Alpine Ski - State
  • Nordic Ski - State
  • Boys Diving - State
  • Cheer - Nationals





School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
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
Monday, May 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112