April 13, 2014

History Alive!

On a Saturday morning in March, the halls and gymnasium at South Campus filled early with eager middle and high school students dressed in their best.

Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and friends checked time schedules and together walked briskly to the next competition site.

In one classroom, a poised seventh grade girl confidently answered probing questions from a panel about her website entitled "Schooling the First Amendment". Her research analyzed a Vietnam War Era Supreme Court decision affecting schools.

Other students were questioned on their research papers and professional quality displays set up in the gymnasium. Another group used drama to highlight the life of celebrated singer Marian Anderson. Other students confidently explained ramifications of the WWII bombing of Hiroshima; described key landmarks in the development of American public schools; expanded on the basis for Miranda rights, and articulately responded to questions about dozens of other topics.

This event was part of the National History Day competition. Beginning with school level displays honoring the work of all participants, a second level of regional competition was held that morning at South. The next step is State History Day, held the first weekend in May.

We congratulate all our students participating in History Day. We offer our special congratulations to the 42 students who qualify for State History Day. These students and their teachers will be honored at this week's School Board meeting.

Yes, there is a National History Day, too, held in Washington, D.C. in June. For a full decade, students from our White Bear Lake Area Schools have been honored to represent us at the national event, a credit to our teachers, students, families, and all in the community who give students support.

While our students qualify as individuals or small teams, this is very much a reason for us all to celebrate!


Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In Pictures: Chicks hatch in Melissa Gaddini's first grade class!

General Information

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 2014 Spring-Summer Catalog was recently mailed to District residents. Click here to register for upcoming courses.
  • Interested in joining an adult softball league? We offer a wide variety of options. Click here to learn more.

Parent Notices:

  • Jang-mi Korean Dance & Drum group - It's Jang-mi Korean Dance & Drum group's 30th Anniversary and they will be celebrating with White Bear Lake Area Schools! On May 17, North Campus will host the celebration, which includes a special recognition of alumni as well as the annual program and recital. Click here for more details.
  • How to talk to your kids about safety - Teachable Safety Skills: Replacing Myths with Fact, a new class offered through community services, will take place on Monday, April 21 from 6 - 8 p.m. Click here to register!
  • NCAA clearinghouse - Is your child a college-bound student athlete? If so, you should consider registering him/her for NCAA eligibility here.
  • East Metro Miracle League (EMML) - This baseball league is designed specifically for youth age 3-18 with cognitive and/or physical challenges. Click here for more information on how to sign up!
  • Assistive Technology in Math - Learn more about how your child could benefit from assistive technology in math here.
  • ADD/ADHD Support Group - Join us for our April meeting!
  • Interested in TV Production? - Volunteers and interns are needed for White Bear Lake Cable Public Access television. Click here for more information.
  • Thank teachers - Thank your teachers and help them win a grant through the Farmers Insurance Thank a Million Teachers initiative. Simply go to this website and write a thank you message to a teacher. Then, that teacher can submit a proposal for a chance to win a $2500 grant for use in their classroom.
  • Emergency School Closings - For school closings, early dismissals and late starts, call the School Closing Hotline at (651) 407-7540 or watch/listen for information on these media outlets:
    • KARE-TV 11
    • KMSP-TV 9
    • KSTP-TV 5
    • WCCO-TV 4
    • WCCO-AM 830
    If winter weather is so severe that schools need to close, parents will also be alerted in three ways as soon as a decision is made:
    • A SchoolMessenger phone message and email will be sent to all parents.
    • A message will be posted on the District's homepage.
    • Messages will be posted on the District's Facebook and Twitter pages.
    We know that closing schools can be disruptive, especially for working families. Student and staff safety are our primary concern. Ultimately, the decision to send children to school remains with families. The District supports those decisions that are made for the safety and health of students. There are no negative consequences, and our schools work with families to assure that work is made up when an absence is safety-related.
  • Stay connected! - Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - FacebookTwitter and YouTube.
  • Do you like working with children and other volunteers? - The White Bear Lake Area Schools Early Childhood Screening program at Normandy Park Education Center is looking for volunteers to help at screenings on Fridays. Click here to learn more about this opportunity!
  • Calling all baby models - We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us at communications@isd624.org and you may find your little one featured in District publications! See an example of a "Born to be a Bear" photo here.

Senior Program Updates:

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

  • FREE Activity Pass for Senior Community members (age 65+) - White Bear Lake Area Schools offer a variety of activities - home athletic contests, concerts, and theater productions to name a few. Join us! Call the Superintendent's Office at 651-407-7563 to request a FREE Activity Pass for home athletics events and a 2013-14 District Activities Calendar. The Activities Pass is available to residents of the White Bear Lake Area School District who are age 65 and older.
  • 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.

Partnership Updates:

  • BearPower - Check out the newest edition of Bear Press here! Stay up to date on all BearPower events on the BearPower Facebook page.
  • 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.
    • David M. Gehrenbeck has been selected as the 2014 J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award recipient! Learn more about Gehrenbeck's work here.
    • Student Activities Scholarship - The Jim Honsa, Sr. Memorial Student Activities Endowment provides access to co-curricular activities for students who may not otherwise have access due to financial need. The scholarship, administered by the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, provides up to $200 per applicant and is available for students in grades 9-12.
    • Lynn Mielke Award - Applications are now being accepted for the Lynn Mielke Award are now being accepted. To learn more about the award or to nominated an exceptional employee who uses his or her talents to enrich the lives of others, please click here.
    • Attention 6th - 12th Grade Teachers - The Eugene & Kathleen Johnson Student Enrichment Scholarship is available for any WBLAS 6th - 12th student who would like to participate in enrichment activities such as writing, speaking, journalism, musical performance, and composition. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide opportunities for students that extend beyond the classroom and encourage higher level thinking skills. If you would like a flier to post in your classroom, please contact Lisa Lindvall and she will send you one! Students will be awarded up to $1,000 per individual, with a total amount of $2,000 in grants to be awarded per year. The application is on line for your students to apply at www.wblaef.org. Completed Grant Applications should be sent to WBLAEF at the District Office, 4855 Bloom Ave. Once the $2,000 amount has been reached for the 2013-2014 school year, I will send a note to teachers through the e-newsletter that we are no longer taking applications.
    • Visit our website - Visit our website to see all of the grants the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation has available for teachers.
    • Bleed Orange and Black - Foundation board members also handed out team spirit shirts reading, "Bleed Orange and Black". To find out how to get a team spirit shirt contact the Foundation office at www.wblaef.org. Check out the WBL U-12A girls' hockey team sporting these shirts 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 an info sheet about Earth Day here.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Golf team fundraiser - The WBLAHS golf team is selling 2014 PGA "two for one" golf card once again this year. Please consider helping the golf program. The cost is only $35.00 dollars - if you use the card once, it is paid for! If you have any questions or would like to purchase a card, contact Craig Nasvik.
  • 9th Annual Spotlight Showcase - White Bear Lake Area High School's production of "Once Upon a Mattress" will be honored at the Ninth Annual Spotlight Showcase at the Orpheum Theatre on June 8 and 9. Click here for more information and purchase tickets here!
  • Middle School Musical - Fiddler on the Roof - Purchase your tickets here!

Awards and Honors

  • Congratulations to Willow Lane Elementary teacher Debra Hibbard, who was named a Fox 9 Top Teacher this week! Click here to watch the video!
  • Congratulations to Kari Janzen for being selected for the one-week Teacher's Workshop in Illinois on Abraham Lincoln and the Forging of Modern America! The program is selective and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture.
  • White Bear Lake Area High School is seeking nominations for its Athletic Hall of Fame. If you have an interest in nominating a former athlete, coach, or community member connected with Bears athletics, please contact Karen Larson, Activities Secretary at South Campus (651-773-6206) for information about the requirements, as well as the nomination form.

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

Student News - Spring stories

Something about the warm weather seems to give us all an extra spring in our step. Nearly 600 students grooved to the beat as Otter Lake Elementary School showed that they know how to move it. 

With the help of the student council, a few brave teachers, and an instructor from the White Bear Area YMCA, Otter Lake kicked off their month-long BearPower Move-a-thon on Monday, March 31. The goal is for students to be active every day - hop, skip, jump, play, whatever way they want to move.

They will keep track of their activity minutes and collect pledges to support the school. At the end of the month, if the entire school has reached the goal of moving for more than 900,000 minutes, Principal DeRaad has promised to rise to the challenge and spend an entire day on the school roof!

Spring also signifies new life - something students in Melissa Gaddini's first grade class witnessed first-hand. That's right - the class has been busy for the last three weeks waiting for their chick eggs to hatch. During the wait, they learned about the life cycle of the chicken and kept busy by reading to the eggs.

This past Monday and Tuesday students experienced the chick's hatching. Now the class has 24 chicks in their room. The students still read to the chicks daily and have had the chance to play with them as well. Take a look at the "In Pictures" collage above for more photos!

Gaddini has been teaching this lesson for six years and she continues to receive positive feedback from her former students!

Spring break opportunities

Over spring break, many student groups had the opportunity to travel together in pursuit of immersing themselves in a hands-on learning experience. Their travels took them to China, Texas, and Costa Rica. For an inside look at the trip to China, click here to view the photo album!

On March 8-14, 16 African American high school students from WBLAS and students from the Change Equals Opportunity (CEO) group in Minneapolis went on a college tour road trip to Texas.

Under the leadership of George Shannon, an African American mentor who works at North Campus, and Jamil Jackson, another African American mentor in WBLAS and overseer of the Minneapolis CEO program, the group toured several historically African American colleges and universities such as Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, and the University of Houston.

Shannon, who initially came up with the idea, created the itinerary for where students should go. Aligned with the district's college and career-readiness focus, the trip was funded by WBLAS Integration and Equity budget.

On March 7, 13 students and Spanish teachers, Sarah Swoboda and Don Hedges departed for Costa Rica on a ten-day educational Spanish immersion trip. 

After landing in Liberia, the group traveled to San José for a family stay. Each student was welcomed with open arms by a Costa Rican family, which ended up being a big highlight of the trip. Students were able to practice their Spanish and experience a typical Costa Rican weekend and a day at a Costa Rican school. 

The group also had the opportunity to hike up to the Arenal Volcano and swim in the lagoon inside the crater. In addition, they went zip-lining, ate authentic Costa Rican food, parasailed, enjoyed the beach, surfed, explored nature preserves, and much more! 

All of the students said the short trip helped them make great strides in their Spanish studies and gave them renewed motivation to continue learning more. Next year's trip will be to beautiful Spain! The Spanish department will hold an information meeting on May 6, 2014 for all interested parents and travelers.

A leader in innovation

White Bear Lake Area Schools recently hosted educational leaders from throughout the state for a Google Leadership Symposium, one of only 20 events being hosted throughout the country this year.

The session allowed participants to explore how districts in Minnesota are applying Google's concepts, applications and technology to provide for anywhere/anytime and differentiated learning, understand best practices for implementing technology initiatives from both the curriculum and technology perspectives, and implement a successful pilot and/or device rollout including device selection, professional development, or other criteria that is useful. 

Presentations and group discussions combined local and national perspectives focused on applying Google X-Lab design thinking to make substantial leaps forward in educational innovation and achievement. School visits allowed participants to see first-hand how White Bear Lake Area students are using innovative technology in the classroom. 

"I was delighted that our school district was one of a very few in the nation to host a Google Leadership Symposium, and particularly delighted that I was allowed to attend this day- long event," said White Bear Lake Area School Board Chair Janet Newberg. "Our classroom visits during the afternoon session showed clearly that we are using technology to teach our students in ways we couldn't have imagined just a few short years ago. And, as how we teach our children and how they learn continues to change, I'm confident that White Bear Lake Area Schools will stay ahead of the technology curve and continually adapt to the future of education."


Along with striving for their own excellence, students in White Bear Lake Area Schools act as ambassadors of compassion in many capacities and in every building. 

Vadnais Heights Elementary 4th graders enjoyed a fabulous presentation titled, "Ambassadors for Respect." This anti-bullying presentation was prepared to help students learn and better understand individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

The session was facilitated by adults with disabilities and they shared their stories, their information and interactive activities. The goal of the program is for the students to become Ambassadors for Respect in the classroom, playground, lunchroom and outside the school.

The Vadnais students were very engaged and their message was positively received. Merrick, Inc., and Day Training Program helped bring this opportunity to the school.

White Bear Lake students even travel to other buildings to extend a helpful hand to younger students who will soon transition to a new school. Sunrise Park 8th grade Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) leaders have started to make their rounds to 5th grade classrooms.

The student leaders initially work with their sixth grade advisory students to make posters for the 5th graders and then go to each classroom and talk about the great things that take place at the middle school level.

This is one of the ways our middle school students try to make connections early and ease the transition for students moving from 5th to 6th grade! 

Activities Updates

North Campus student, Hannah Schulz, won "Special Recognition" for Youth Art Month, a state competition, at the high school level. Central students Stella Cotner, Grace Johnson, and Ben Kroll placed first, second, and third respectively in the auxiliary Patriotic Art Explorers Contest by designing images of the American Flag. First place winner, Stella Cotner will move on to the district competition. Central Middle School's Knowledge Bowl Teamqualified and was invited to compete at the National Level. This is the first year the school has participated in the Knowledge Bowl and students from Central competed in two different invitational meets placing second and eighth. The team, coached by science teacher Dave Lamwers, also competed in the Metro area finals and came in sixth overall out 49 teams. The students who competed for the team at the Metro final's were Isaac Maruyama, Sammie Ogata, Samantha Burkett and Maddie Lamwers (Sunrise student). The spring sports season is underway - look for more updates in upcoming newsletters as the season progresses!

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

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.

School Board News - School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
April 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
May 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center