May 3, 2013

District News

Honoring Educators

"Every day I walked in to the kitchen, her warm smile and bubbly personality made me feel welcomed..."

"Elementary school was a rough time for me: I was a bit of an awkward kid, and had trouble making friends. But he believed in me despite these things...he was kind and patient with me..."

"He makes me feel talking to me often, being genuinely kind..."

"Showed me the intrinsic values that will help me succeed..."

"She has been both a positive role model and a good friend..."

At this week's Excellence Event, 62 high-achieving high school seniors were honored by our community, along with 62 educators. Each student chose one special guest: a teacher, coach, counselor, and in one case, her elementary school "lunch lady."

The quotations above are words from our students, describing an educator who made a big difference in their young lives and has contributed to their success. All 62 stories are available to the world. The program makes better reading than anything on the New York Times bestseller list.

During the event, John Kriesel, a member of the White Bear Lake Area High School Class of 2000, gave a moving message about the importance of attitude. Reflecting on the words of our students, it seems clear that for each of these 62 students, the attitude of one adult in our schools made a big difference for that student's confidence and dreams.

This week we encourage each of you to recall an educator who you would choose as your "honored guest" - and why. We will plan on sharing some of those stories in a future article!

Dr. Michael Lovett


Share your "honored guest" story here.

General Information

Did You Know?


WBLAS Early Childhood Program Receives 4-Star Rating

Each of the three White Bear Lake Area Schools Early Childhood Program locations - Hugo Elementary, Tamarack Nature Center and Normandy Park Education Center - recently received a 4 star rating from Parent Aware, an initiative led by the Minnesota Department of Human Services in coordination with the Minnesota Office of Early Learning.

To be considered for the rating, the District went through an application process to prove the program implements particular assessment and curricular items deemed to be of high quality. Training and credentials of staff also were evaluated during the application process. Only five other programs in our area are 4-star rated from Parent Aware.

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 is now available online. Zumba and yoga classes begin next week. Click here to register for these and other upcoming courses.

Parent Notices:

  • Summer Extended Day Program - The District will offer a summer Extended Day Program from June 10 through August 16. This childcare program, for children entering kindergarten through those entering 6th grade, offers a variety of activities including camps, service projects and weekly field trips. Program locations are Willow Lane, Otter Lake and Oneka Elementary Schools. 
  • Good News Bears Contest - All students in kindergarten through eighth grade are encouraged to enter the "Good News Bears" Writing Contest. Students can use this form to submit their entries by May 20.
  • Tech Talk - Find the latest Assistive Technology Newsletter here.
  • Fidgety Fairy Tales - The Minnesota Association for Children's Health Museum proudly presents performances of "Fidgety Fairy Tales" featuring positive portrayals of children with mental health disorders this May. Click hereto learn more about upcoming shows.

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 - It's not too late for spring activities 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.
  • Fraud and Scam Prevention Event - Learn how to protect yourself against Fraud and Scams at this informational session 2-3:30 p.m. May 23 at the White Bear Lake Area Senior Center.

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.
    • 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.
    • Let's Make Music fundraiser - Find photos of the WBLAEF's 2013 gala 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. As the school year is rapidly coming to an end, find the latest update here to learn about saving energy during the summer months.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • 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.
  • Musicworks Minnesota Fundraiser - A fundraiser to support Musicworks Minnesota's work with White Bear Lake Area Schools will take place May 18 at WBLAHS - South Campus. Find a flyer here.
  • Summer Workers - Are you an employer looking to hire summer workers? Consider a hard-working WBLAHS student. Send your job postings to and we will post your position on the WBLAHS job board.

Awards and Honors

  • 2013 Teacher of the Year - Congratulations to the 55 nominees, 6 finalists and to Wendy Suoja, who was named the 2013 White Bear Lake Area Schools Teacher of the Year! Visit the District's Facebook page for photos of the event. Send Wendy a congratulations here.
  • Principal of the Year - Congratulations to Tim Wald from WBLAHS - South Campus on his recent selection as Principal of the Year for Capitol Division of the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. Tell him congratulations here.
  • Matoska International IB World School recently was recognized as a Sustained Exemplar PBIS School by the Minnesota Department of Education's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) State Leadership Team. Send Matoska a congratulations email here.
  • District Energy Accomplishment - White Bear Lake Area Schools has been recognized by Energy Star for our participation in a Low Carbon IT Campaign.
  • Teacher Innovation - Ben Kirkham, Communications Teacher at WBLAHS - North Campus, will be featured as an Innovative Chromebook Teacher during a Teacher Appreciation Week Google+ Hangout on Friday, May 10.
  • Early Childhood - Congratulations to the WBLAS Early Childhood on receiving a 4 star rating from the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Office of Early Learning. Click here to say congratulations to Early Childhood Coordinator, Danielle Mickelson.
  • Excellence Event - At this week's Excellence Event, 62 high-achieving high school seniors were honored by our community, along with 62 educators.
  • Best of White Bear - Congratulations to Matthew DanielsonRobert Hannigan and Cameron Mahlum from WBLAHS - South Campus on being nominated as "Best High School Teacher" finalists in the 2013 White Bear Lake Magazine Best of '13. The winner will be announced at a special event on June 25. See the flyer here.

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

Going places

As graduation rapidly approaches, the question of "What are your plans after graduation?" is familiar to members of the White Bear Lake Area High School senior class. To celebrate and share their postsecondary plans, the WBLAHS class of 2013 took part in a variety of fun activities May 1 in honor of National College and Career Decision Day.

The Counseling Department hosted the event with the support of senior class officers, Student Council and National Honor Society. Students gathered around large maps in the cafeteria to place their thumbprint on their new home starting next September. Seniors could also view each others' plans on a large screen TV by following along with a live Twitter feed. Other highlights included music, orange cupcakes, "I'm Going Places 2013" wristbands and a variety of college t-shirts as students showcased their chosen colleges.

WBLAHS seniors participated in MN College Application Week in November and a Century College: One-Stop Shop in March. Seminars were also took place throughout the year to promote postsecondary planning and a smooth transition process to college. "We're hoping to make this a senior class tradition," said WBLAHS Counselor, Lisa Horowicki. "The new looping counseling model allows for more personal connections between counselors and students, improving tracking of postsecondary plans."


Across the world

Last week, students at Central Middle School had a repeat visitor from Uganda, Africa. Okello Kello Sam is a long-time friend of Central Middle School who previously visited seven years ago.

On his most recent visit, Sam visited physical education classes and taught students about East African culture. He told stories of life growing up in Uganda and played music on his drums and harps. All students participated as he interacted with classes over the course of two days. The students were awed by his rhythmic combinations dance, music and storytelling - moving students and teachers to smiles and tears.

Some of the most engaging stories Sam shared revolved around the comparison between a student in East Africa and the East Metro. "We both have big dangers to learn as children. Here at Central, you learn how to cross a busy street and avoiding fast moving cars. In East Africa, we learn how to safely move among lions, hyenas, and wild dogs that look at us as their lunch!" He even showed examples of what do you do when you see a hyena or when you're in the presence of a silver back gorilla. Click here to view photos.

Central students had an additional opportunity to think about differences and similarities from across the world when participating in a Human Rights Commission student art contest recently. And just this week two students, Brad Capocasa and Kami Kendall, learned they placed first and fourth place respectively in the Grades 6-12 category. The students' entries were class assignments for a unit about culture and equality that answered the question "What do we still need to do today to promote equality for all?"

Alumni give bac

Alumni are finding creative ways to give back to WBLAS this spring. Last week's White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation Gala, "Let's Make Music," featured a song from alumna Jourdan Rystrom. A 2008 graduate of WBLAHS, Jourdan has seen success in the music industry with the song "What's Left to Say." The track was played during dinner and featured in the background of a testimonial video. Many current WBLAS students were also involved in the event, including the WBLAHS - North Campus choir group, Lakeaires, the WBLAHS Drumline, and other instrumentalists. Click here to view photos of the event.

At this week's WBLAHS Excellence Event, prominent alumnus, John Kriesel, was the guest speaker. Since graduating from WBLAHS in 2000, John has gained many accolades including serving as Director of Veteran Services for Anoka County, serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives, serving as a Staff Sargeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard, and authoring the book, " Standing Tall - A Soldier's Story."

Coming this summer, theater alumni are teaming up for a performance of: "White Bear Lake Musical Theatre Alum Show: Past, Present and Future" at 7 p.m. on June 15 at the Community Auditorium. Alumni from the past fifteen years' worth of shows (Grease, Hello Dolly!, 42nd Street, Aida, Guys and Dolls, Little Shop of Horrors, Anything Goes, West Side Story, How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Urinetown, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast, Oklahoma) will participate in the performance, which will raise funds for the WBLAHS theatre department. Tickets are on sale here.

AVID in action

Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) students from WBLAHS - North Campus took part in a White Bear YMCA clean up event at the end of April. Over the course of four hours, students helped to clean the parking lot, skateboard park, pavilion, woods and ponds.

When asked what service project they would like to complete, the student selected the YMCA because of the strong district-community relationship. "It is a public attraction, so we are really helping a lot of people by doing this," said one student. "Lots of us have family memberships and work out there," said another.

Meaningful service to the community is a key component of the AVID program. Previous service learning projects this year have included Feed My Starving Children, H2O for Life, raising funds for the Harriet Tubman Center.

Hangzhou Foreign Languages School guests

Hangzhou Foreign Languages School's Fang Jianwen, Principal, and Wang Quanlin, Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs' Office, visited White Bear Lake Area Schools this week. They arrived just in time for Wednesday's Excellence Event and stayed through Friday morning, enjoying activities such as touring District programs at WBLAHS - South Campus, Sunrise Park Middle School, Lincoln Elementary and the Tamarack Nature Center Preschool program.

The District's teacher and cultural exchange partnership with Hangzhou Foreign Languages School began in the spring of 2010. Since that time, five HFLS teachers have traveled to WBLAS, serving residencies in our elementary programs and serving as a resource at the secondary level. Current exchange teacher Ms. Lei Zhang arrived in February and will return to China this summer.

WBLAS also has had two teachers serve as guest teachers for a semester in Hangzhou - Jessica Buchta, WBLAHS - South Campus teacher, and Lisa Brichacek, Sunrise Park Middle School teacher. This summer, a cohort of WBLAS teachers will travel to China to teach at Hangzhou Foreign Languages School.

Focusing on the positives

Matoska International IB World School recently was recognized as a Sustained Exemplar PBIS School by the Minnesota Department of Education's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) State Leadership Team.

Matoska is in the fourth year of implementing a PBIS program which focuses on: respect, integrity, cooperation and empathy. Teachers and staff teach these behaviors to students throughout the school year. Matoska has even defined what these behaviors should look like in all areas of school, such as on the playground, in the cafeteria, and even in hallways.

Other practices include acknowledgment of positive student behaviors, school-wide assemblies, an extensive data collection system and sharing PBIS program highlights with families and community members. Other district schools follow similar models for teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors.

Activities Updates

Congratulations to the Boys Lacrosse Team on recent victories over Moundsview, Park, Roseville and Mahtomedi High Schools. The Girls Lacrosse Team won a recent match against Park High School. The Bears Tennis Teamhas begun with a record of 4-3 and many signs of improvement in early season matches. The Boys Track Teamtook second place the the recent St. Thomas Invitational with 86.5 points.

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 Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, May 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, May 20 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, June 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, July 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112