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!

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