March 15, 2013

District News 

March surprises

Before dawn on Tuesday, March 5, snow fell softly on White Bear Lake, on Bald Eagle Lake, Vadnais Lake in Vadnais Heights, and Egg Lake in Hugo. Birds announced the coming of morning with spirited spring melodies.

By 6 a.m. the high school early risers were up and ready to head for student council meetings, study groups, and "zero hour" classes. But wait! "Facebook says school is closed! Check the TV. Yes, a snow day! I can't believe it!"

Yes, readers, last week we really did have a snow day. Along with nearly every other East Metro school district, we were closed.

White Bear Lake Area Schools rarely close for weather (a point regularly made to me by high school students who are convinced our last snow day occurred when Woodrow Wilson was president.) This record is a credit to our dedicated staff and cooperation from the ten cities and municipalities we serve. On many occasions some area schools do close, we remain open, but only if we are confident about safety of students and staff.

On March 5, we concurred with colleagues in surrounding districts and made the call to close for safety reasons.

Since then, students and staff have told us their "snow day stories," all the more memorable because it happens so rarely. Do you have a story you'd be willing to share? We would enjoying hearing from you! Please email your stories or post them on the District's Facebook page.

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. Find 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 Spring/Summer 2013 Catalog will be mailed on Monday. An online version of the catalog is available here.

Parent Notices:

  • 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 22 or April 5.
  • 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.
  • Tech Talk - Find the latest Assistive Technology Newsletter here.
  • Winter Weather - Visit our school closings page to learn about winter weather procedures.

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.
    • Oneka Elementary School: 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 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. 
  • 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.
  • Music Performances - Join us for our free community concerts happening this March:
    • 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
  • Aviation Program Fundraiser - The Patrick Marzitelli Science and Aviation Scholarship Fund Memorial Golf Tournament will take place May 18 at Manitou Ridge. Find a flyer here.

Awards and Honors

  • Student Council Adviser of the Year, Capitol Division - Congratulations to WBLAHS - South Campus Student Council adviser John Forestell, who recently was named Student Council Adviser of the Year, Capitol Division.

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

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