September 21, 2012

District News

What does innovation look like?

Generations of school children know that cooler nights and waning hours of daylight foretell the end of summer and beginning of school.

Do you remember those days? The relative freedom of summer gives way to routines of school. On the Tuesday after Labor Day, parents take photos by the front door, smiles overcome nervousness, and optimism overcomes fear of the unknown.

What greeted students this fall when they returned to school? The familiar curriculum is still the foundation of learning: reading, writing, mathematics, history and other social studies, science, physical education, music and art. But while school buildings may look much the same on the outside, dramatic innovations are reshaping what and how our students learn.

First, students are expected to meet proficiency targets consistent with federal, state and local standards. With state testing and a high level of public accountability, our schools are employing innovative strategies to assure that all students exceed proficiency. In White Bear Lake Area Schools, technology is used to strengthen student engagement, personalizing and accelerating student learning. 

Second, world languages are now offered at every level, and help students better learn all subject areas. In elementary schools, students study Chinese or Spanish; at grades 6, 7, and 8, students choose from four languages (the addition of French and German), and at the high school American Sign Language is added as a fifth choice. 

Third, innovative programs at every level challenge students. Our elementary students participate in “Engineering is Elementary.” At grades 7 and 8, all of our students now study robotics, design and modeling. Most of our high school students take college level courses while still in high school, choosing from 30 college credit courses, including five STEM and 10 College in the Schools classes in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, and 15 Advanced Placement offerings.

Fourth, communications between staff and families is enhanced by innovative technology. Families and community members receive our Community e-Newsletter twice a month. Other recent innovations include district-wide use of a learning management system that allows teachers to post lessons and assignments and encourages students to engage more actively than ever before. This summer we launched a user-friendly website and added a District presence on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Fifth, partnerships between our schools and communities have helped dissolve barriers that in ages past have separated schools and cities, non-profits, businesses, and universities. Among partnerships yielding remarkable opportunities and benefits, without increasing the budget, are those with the YMCA, Vadnais Sports Center, MacPhail Center for Music, White Bear Center for the Arts (we were recognized by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute with an Innovation Award), Lakeshore Players and Tamarack Nature Center. The District’s academic partnerships include those with the University of Minnesota, Century College, and schools in Meaux, France; Leipzig, Germany; and Hangzhou, China. 

Finally, face-to-face engagement is still in style. We may use new technologies to communicate with our students, families, and community, but old-fashioned listening to you is more important than ever!

Dr. Michael Lovett

General Information


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.

Find a listing of the many, varied Community Services offerings in the Community Services Catalog, recently mailed to District residents. Find an electronic version of the catalog here.

Take an online class, from anywhere and at any time! Sample courses include: 

  • How to Get Into College and Pay for it-Without Unmanageable Debt
    Tuesday, October 23, 6:30-8:30 pm, District Center Community Room
    $19/2 family members
  • 30 Ways to Get Other People to Pay for College
    Ages 15 and up
    Thursday, November 1, 6:30-9 pm, South Campus 210
    $39/person $10/additional family member
  • How to Study Brilliantly in College-Part A
    Ages 13 and up
    Saturday, November 17, 8-10 am, South Campus 210
    $39/person $10/additional family member
  • How to be Brilliant in College-Part B
    Ages 13 and Up
    Saturday, November 17, 10:15 am-12:15 pm, South Campus 210
    $39/person $10/additional family member
  • How to Create Brilliant College and Scholarship Applications
    Ages 15 and up
    Saturday, November 17, 1-3 pm, South Campus 210
    $39/person $10/additional family member
  • Health and Wellness 101: Help for Parents of Pre-Teens, Teens, and 20 Somethings
    Wednesday, October 17, 6-7:30 pm, South Campus 302

For full descriptions and to register, visit or

Featured Class:
Becoming a Love and Logic Parent - Kids don't come with an owner's manual. This parenting program is designed to give you practical skills that can be used immediately! 

The topics that will be covered include:

  • Two Rules of Love and Logic
  • Using Empathy and One Liners to Neutralize Arguing
  • Delayed or Anticipatory Consequence
  • How to get more information about Love and Logic

Registration is $15/pair in the same family. 

Kelli Klein is a Love and Logic independent facilitator with experience as a social worker, licensor, and mother that has trained countless people in Love and Logic. 

Parent Notices:

  • Parent Internet Safety Presentation - 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 26 at District Center. Find information here about a free Parent Internet Safety Presentation being hosted in partnership with the White Bear Lake Police Department.
  • Free and Reduced Meals - Families meeting federal household income guidelines may qualify for free or reduced priced meals. That means your child or children will be able to receive either free breakfast and lunch or reduced lunch and free breakfast by simply filling out the application. To request an application, please call 651-407-7523 or stop by your student's school to pick one up. You may also apply online. Please contact the District’s Nutrition Services Support Manager Debra Kelley at 651-407-7523 if you have any questions.
  • FREE Smoke Detectors for the hearing impaired - The White Bear Lake Fire Department has approximately two dozen strobe smoke detectors for the hearing impaired that they received through a FEMA grant. The detectors are available (for free) to residents who live in the school district. Please contact Mike Turnbull at 651-429-8568 if you would like to request a smoke detector. 
  • Special Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC) - White Bear Lake Area Schools is seeking parent volunteers to serve on the District’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC). The role of council members is to provide input and feedback on District procedures relating to the education of students with disabilities. The PAC meets three times each school year. The first meeting for the 2012-13 school year is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. October 23rd, 2012 at District Center Room 206. Future meetings will take place January 15 and April 2. 
    Parent Participation is essential in establishing and evaluating programs, services and policies affecting students with disabilities. If you are interested in learning more about joining the Special Education Parent Advisory Council, please contact Kathleen Daniels, Director of Special Services at 651-407-7553.
  • ADD/ADHD information - ADD/ADHD Support Group will meet Monday, October 8 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the District 622 Education Center at 2520 E. 12th Ave., N. St. Paul. Find information about the meeting here. Find information about the support group here.
  • Free Flue Shots - Find information about free flu shots available in the Twin Cities area here.
  • Explore Manufacturing event - Find information about a career exploration night being hosted by local Wilson Tool from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 4 here.

Senior Program Updates:

The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department

  • Flu Shot Clinic - The Senior Program is hosting a flu shot clinic from 9 - 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 25 at the White Bear Area Senior Center (2484 East County Road F, White Bear Lake). There is no cost if you have health insurance and there is a $29 cost without insurance.
  • Bake Sale & Palate Pleaser Cookbook Fundraiser - The Senior Program is looking for bakers to contribute to a fundraising event from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. October 4 at the Normandy Park Education Center Senior Program (2484 County Road F East). Proceeds will benefit the Senior Connection/Outreach Department offering Care Consultation and Caregiver Support. Find a flyer here.
  • 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
    • Going for Gold…WBLAEF Staff Appeal Campaign Kicks Offs - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation officially kicked off the annual staff appeal campaign at Convocation on August 28th. “Going for Gold” is our theme this year. WBLAEF board members joined the festivities of the day, handing out Olympic themed bookmarks and visiting with staff members. Our Board of Directors is always eager to talk about classroom and educator grant opportunities and other programs that help support the students in our district.
      The WBLAEF board members will be making staff appeal presentations at all of the building staff meetings this fall. This year’s campaign again includes a gift to all staff members who participate in the staff appeal, whether by payroll deduction or direct gift. We look forward to seeing you soon! 
    • Miscellaneous Updates:
      The foundation has new leadership: Jenny Nadeau - President, Dawn Hank - VP Development, Heidi Brophy- VP Community Relations. Connie Dickson continues to serve as VP Programs and Allocations.
      Retired WBLAHS teacher Mary Dahle is a new board member.
      Chris Hiniker is our new School Board Liaison. He will provide great community insight as well serve as a support from the School Board
      Holiday Angels will be back this year…a great way to honor your favorite staff person during the holidays!
      Planning is underway for the 2013 April event. Watch for details coming soon.
    • Year-round grant application forms - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation is delighted to announce that staff will now have access year-round to the application forms for the Brosious Teaching Grant, Glasrud Fellowship Grant, and the Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant on the Foundation website. Staff will also continue to receive grant information on-line through the District’s e-news.
    • Brosious Grant - The purpose of the Brosious Grant is to assist teachers in enhancing the rigor of the curriculum or instruction within their classrooms. The grant must be aligned with the District goals and objectives. The grant amount is $3,000 per individual or team. Completed application forms will be due at the WBLAEF office at District Center on or before Oct. 31, 2012.
    • 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 September update, covering ways to ENERGIZE our schools to be efficient, here


Support WBLAS students

  • ALC craft sale/flea market Sept. 22 - Community members are invited to attend a flea market, service learning fundraiser hosted by White Bear Lake Area Learning Center economic class students. The event, with more than 30 vendor booths, will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. September 22 at ALC (2449 Orchard Lane, White Bear Lake). The event will raise money for Kiva, a non-profit organization that facilitates entrepreneurial loans to individuals around the world. Those who are interested in participating as a vendor may contact ALC teacher Tim McGraw at 651-773-6406 or 
  • Sunrise Park Middle School Metro Dining Club sale- Sunrise is selling Metro Dining Club (DMC) cards this fall. The North/Northeast Metro card set has 166 restaurants, each card may be used once a month October 2012 - October 2013. A few of the local restaurants include Roadside Pizza (50% or up to $7 off), Blue Heron ($12), C.G. Hooks ($7), Casa Lupita ($6), DQ ( 2 for 1), Gulden's ($9), Mad Jack's ($12), Taco John's ( 2 for 1), and Running Aces ($20). Cost is $22 (savings of $6) per set. Contact Linda Adams at 651-653-2701 if interested.
  • WBLAHS Metro Dining Club sale - WBLAHS - South Campus will be selling the Metro Dining Club (DMC) cards again this year. $22 buys over 150 restaurant discount cards, good once a month October 2012 - October 2013. Local establishments include: Blue Heron, C.G. Hooks, Casa Lupita, DQ, Domino's Pizza, Don Julio, Green Mill, Kelly's Korner, Mad Jacks, Olive Joe's, Roadside Pizza, Running Aces, Taco John's, Ursula's. Contact Karen Larson 651-773-6206 or Cathy Ackerknecht 651-773-6204 if interested.
  • Early Childhood Screening Volunteer Opportunity - We are seeking volunteers to help greet families, register children and collect information during our Early Childhood Screening clinics. This is a fun way to meet families in our district and spend time with preschool age children. The time commitment is dependent on your schedule as we have many clinics scheduled throughout the school year on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Becki Kvitrud, Volunteer Coordinator at 651-429-1504. 

Partner Opportunities

  • MacPhail Center for Music discount - Save $100 off music lessons at MacPhail Center for Music's locations at White Bear Lake Area High School North Campus or Birch Lake Elementary when you register by November 1. Mention WBL100-FALL13. Valid for new students only. Call 612-321-0100 or go to Flyer available by clicking here.

Awards and Honors

  • Excellence in Financial Reporting Awards - The White Bear Lake Area School Board recently accepted Excellence in Financial Reporting awards from both the Association of School Business Officials and the Government Finance Office's Association. The awards are the highest form of recognition given in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. ISD 624 is the only school district in Minnesota to receive both of these awards for twelve consecutive years.

    "These awards are a result of efforts we have made in being a good steward of the community's support," said Pete Willcoxon, Sr. executive director of business services. "The community can be proud of its district's track record for solid financial reporting and a AA bond rating that puts us in the top 3% of districts in the state. Through continued efforts to increase our efficiency, we have maintained programs during the past three years by trimming $2 million in costs outside the classroom."

    The White Bear Lake Area School District received a bond rating of AA from Standard and Poor's in the 2008, 2011 and 2012. The District is one of only 12 districts of the approximately 340 districts in Minnesota to receive a rating of AA or higher.

Please contact Marisa Vette (651-407-7695) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.

Student News

District science scores rise

According to data recently released by the Minnesota Department of Education, White Bear Lake Area Schools students showed growth in science proficiency based on Spring 2012 MCA tests administered to students in grades five, eight and at the high school level. 

The most significant rise was at the fifth grade level, where student scores improved by six percentage points, from 58 percent proficient in 2011 to 64 percent proficient in 2012. District elementary schools now best the state average by 13 percentage points. This is the fourth consecutive year the district has seen a rise in elementary science scores, which are up 20 percentage points since 2009.

The district attributes the elementary improvements to tighter alignment between the new science curriculum and state standards for science. Two important innovations, the use of scientific notebooks and the new “Engineering is Elementary” program, are contributing to the gains, especially as individual schools are moving beyond the pilot stage. Otter Lake Elementary maintained its top score at 73% for the second year in a row and six of the eight elementary schools in the district showed gains.

On the eighth grade test, science scores are up an additional one percent from 52 percent in 2011 to 53 percent in 2012, and are ten points above the state average. At the high school level, the test is taken after the student has completed life sciences or biology, normally in the spring after the tenth grade year. Proficiency percentage dipped slightly from 59 to 57 percent, mirroring a two percentage state dip at the state level, but district scores for high school remain four points above the state average. 

Overall, the district’s combined score rose from 56 to 58 percent proficient and is seven percentage points above the state average.


In a welcoming way

More than 70 Sunrise Park Middle School students who were new to the district this year got together last week for an after-school party hosted by the school’s counseling office. Students enjoyed treats and goodies such as a free dance ticket, pass to the "front of the lunch line," free Carbone's pizza, and district pencils and tattoos.

The event is an annual one for students new to Sunrise, or for those sixth graders who didn't attend one of the district’s four feeder elementary schools. Due to the generosity of district and community members, all of the party-goers walked away with free Bears gear and a feeling of community in knowing they were not alone in being new.

A highlight for staff members was hearing the students talk about how welcoming the Sunrise community feels already while they introduced themselves and explained what they like to do for fun - an activity during which they found they had some commonalities in that area as well!

Call to order

Birch Lake Elementary second graders had their very own meet and greet with White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson this morning, when they took a field trip to City Hall and learned all there is to know about how the mayor runs a city. The activity is a fun part of the students' lessons on living in a democratic society and studies of communities and how problems are solved at city hall.


Questions ranged from "Is it easy to be a mayor?" to "What did you want to be when you were growing up?" to "Why is the level of White Bear Lake going down?" Mayor Emerson had a great response to all inquiries, noting that she always has to be ready for any questions because local officials never know when they'll be approached by residents - whether it's in City Hall, at church, or at the grocery store.


After the Q&A session, students were allowed to go up to the City Council table to experience what it would be like to be a member of the five-council member board. The students were impressed with the swivel chairs, the microphones, and the brick Bear mural behind the table. They were even more impressed when Mayor Emerson told them a secret about the artwork - and pointed out a mouse that had been hidden in the mural by the artist who designed it.


A new kind of camping

White Bear Lake Area High School is standing up against genocide with a three-day event promoting education and action, Tuesday, October 2 through Thursday, October 4, at WBLAHS - South Campus, 3551 McKnight Road North in White Bear Lake. The high school is partnering with World Without Genocide, a local human rights organization headquartered at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, to bring the exhibit “Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict” to the campus.

The exhibit has 8’ x 10’ canvas tents similar to those used in some refugee camps and uses multimedia illustrations to engage viewers in the stories of genocide worldwide. The tents highlight each group’s culture prior to the conflict, the violence endured, and the consequences of genocide. White Bear Lake Area High School will feature the Darfur, Congo, and Rwanda tents. 

Attendees will also participate in the Red Hands project, which raises awareness about the use of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide; the 1-800-GENOCIDE campaign, which gives people toll-free phone access to their members of Congress to advocate for an end to genocide; and the Conflict-Free Initiative, which seeks to reduce the use of minerals coming from the conflict areas in Congo. 

Rental of the exhibit is provided free of charge through a Minnesota Idea Open grant. The exhibit is available for display at schools, faith communities, and civic organizations and was made possible through the generosity of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, St. Joan of Arc Church, the Minnesota Interfaith Darfur Coalition, the Laura Jane Musser Family Foundation, and Friends of World Without Genocide.

World Without Genocide at William Mitchell College of Law promotes education and action to protect innocent people, prevent genocide, prosecute perpetrators, and remember those whose lives and cultures have been destroyed by genocide.


Lincoln partners with the U of M's Children's Hospital

Next week, two Lincoln Elementary classrooms - one second and one third grade classroom - will participate in a video conference focused on childhood obesity with U of MN Amplatz Children's Hospital. Lincoln is one of only three schools in the Twin Cities to participate in this activity on Wednesday. The rare opportunity has been organized through a parent of Lincoln students.

The parents and students have prepared for next week's session through materials that were sent to the school last week. The video conference will consist of a lesson that will cover obesity, how the body works, exercise, healthy choices, and a health challenge will be made by a Minnesota Vikings player. At the end of the conference, students will have the opportunity to ask questions.

In a couple of months, a follow-up session will be hosted in which all three participating schools will “get together” in a single call and class champions will report on their progress. The Vikings player will also be present in the call to help the children celebrate their learning and progress.

Parent Internet Safety Presentation next week

The White Bear Lake Area School District and the White Bear Lake Police Department have partnered to offer an informational session to community members.

Parent Internet Safety Presentation
7 - 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 26
District Center
4855 Bloom Avenue, White Bear Lake

During this session, you will learn how to know whether your children are using technology responsibly. You will have the opportunity to ask about your specific concerns and learn from other parents.

Topics include:
• Social networking sites and their role in kids’ lives
• How to find out if your kids are accessing inappropriate websites
• How kids can get into trouble with cell phones
• How kids can use the Internet for bullying
• Preventing on-line stalking, predators, etc.
• What’s next on the technology horizon

This free session is only for adults. Student sessions have been hosted separately in various schools.

Questions? Contact White Bear Lake Area Schools Jody Reber (651-407-7563) or White Bear Lake Police Captain Julie Swanson (651-429-8552). 


Activities Updates

WBLAHS senior and Theatre participant Emily Nies, who won a MN Spotlight Award and the chance to travel to New York City this summer to participate in the prestigious Jimmy Awards process, is one of 60 high school musical performers included in a PBS miniseries on the Broadway boot camp. The three-episode show will conclude this Sunday. September 23. Find additional details - and past episodes - at the PBS "Broadway or Bust" website. Girls' Cross Country athletes are having an outstanding season. Bethany Kozak, junior, won the first 4 invitationals she has competed in this season (the St. Paul Central Open, the Marshfield Invite, the Faribault Invite and the Rum River Invite) and is ranked #6 in the state coaches poll. Allison Ternes, junior, has been a top 10 finisher in all 4 invites and Ari Adams, senior captain, has been a top 15 finishers in all 4 invites


White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.

A comprehensive 2012-13 District Activities schedule can be found here. The 2012-13 Activities Calendar will be mailed to District families later this month.

Please contact Marisa Vette (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.

School Board News

School Board meetings

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, September 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, October 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, October 22 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, November 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112

Regular School Board meetings are re-broadcast on Cable Channel 20 in the local viewing area after regular business meeting as follows:

  • Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Thursdays at 10 a.m.

District News

  • What does innovation look like?
  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors 

Student News

  • District science scores rise
  • In a welcoming way
  • Call to order
  • A new kind of camping
  • Lincoln partners with U of M's Children's Hospital
  • Parent Internet Safety Presentation next week
  • Activities updates 

School Board News

  • Upcoming meetings


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