August 2, 2013

District News

Summer Songs and Autumn Symphony

From the third week of June until the first week of August, the pace of school life slows from the crescendo of the final weeks of the school year.

Yes, the schools are still busy with engaged students in summer enrichment programs and camps. Sounds of laughter and delight come from children in community education programs. In buildings, polishing and cleaning equipment whirrs and hums. Noisy remodeling projects are the percussion section of summer. Such are the sounds of summer.

August begins with an overture to the new school year, gradually building to an autumn symphony. In cool early morning, the music begins with the low conversations of cross county runners along the lake. By mid-morning, tennis balls bounce from the rackets of dozens of tennis players preparing for the season. By late morning, soccer and football teams are on the fields kicking, passing, running and calling. By mid-day, in the high school auditorium a senior student teaches younger students to tap dance in preparation for fall musical auditions. In one gym, volleyballs explode off the court. In another, cheerleaders chant. In middle school band rooms, sixth graders squeak and oompah and for the first time make music.

By the third week of August, the hallways are crowded with teachers preparing classrooms, working side-by-side with maintenance staff to get the school ready. The decibel level increases at the high school campuses, where students tour and greet friends. Sixth grade students are at middle school WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) meeting their eighth grade mentors, by the end of the morning laughing and chatting confidently.

Younger children join friends at school to peek though windows at the magical transformation of classrooms. They dream and wonder about the new year - just as their parents and grandparents did in years past - and then run to the playground and loudly enjoy the last days of summer. In front of our elementary schools, families go by and kindergartners call out "That's my school!"

Days before school, the buses rev up and practice their routes. A familiar hum filters through  neighborhoods. The high school percussion team finishes their final practice before the first football game.

Staff, parents, and students, our autumn symphony is almost ready to begin. Please everyone, take your places!


Dr. Michael Lovett



General Information

Did You Know?

Board unanimously directs administration to develop resolution for capital projects levy

At the July School Board meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board directed District administration to develop a capital projects levy question to be brought to the August School Board meeting for action. The 10-year authority approved by voters in 2003 expired with the action taken by the School Board in setting the 2012 Payable 2013 tax levy last December.

Capital projects levy revenue is used to purchase technology equipment and software, for support of District media and textbook adoptions, and for the purchase and replacement of large musical instruments. Citing the District’s demonstration of financial stewardship and prudence in allocation of the funds, the Board vote was unanimous in directing administration to move forward in developing a capital projects levy question that would be brought to the community for a vote in November.

"We have to remember that this type of a capital investment is an efficient investment in the future. It is the ability to renew capital assets we’ll be using for a long time - our technology, our textbooks and our capabilities," said Bob Shevik, School Board member. "The support allows us the opportunity to invest in technology, automation and instructional materials to impact the classroom itself. The tools and techniques of Schoology and "flipped classroom" instruction don't just save money, but they also improve the performance of our students."

A survey commissioned by the Board in May showed strong community support for the capital projects levy. Past authority for this levy resulted in an annual property tax impact on a $200,000 home of $26.

“We are thankful for the strong community support that has been shown in the past, and we look to the voters to continue to support the technology, textbook and equipment initiatives that have been made possible by these capital projects levy funds,” said School Board Chair Janet Newberg.

In related financial news, the District was successful in refinancing current debt between December of 2011 and April of 2012, resulting in an anticipated savings to taxpayers of $1.5 million. Also, in May of 2013, the Hugo city manager and members of the Hugo City Council came before the school board with the good news that jointly-issued bonds were refinanced at a lower rate with an additional $150,000 savings to school district taxpayers.

This spring, the White Bear Lake Area School Board received awards for excellence in financial reporting from both the Minnesota Association of School Business Officials and the Government Finance Officers Association, the highest form of recognition given in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. White Bear Lake Area Schools is the only district in the state to receive both of these awards for 13 consecutive years.

In addition, the district has a bond rating of AA from Standard and Poor’s, making it one of only 12 districts of the approximately 330 districts in Minnesota to receive a rating of AA or higher.

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. Click here to register for upcoming courses. The Fall 2013 Catalog will be mailed out to District households soon.

Parent Notices:

  • School Supply Lists - 2013-14 School Supply Lists are available on the White Bear Lake Area School District website here.
  • 2013-15 Academic Calendars - Calendars for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years are available here. Classes for the 2013-14 school year begin on September 3. The 2013-14 Activities Calendar will be mailed to District families in late-August.
  • "Audition for a Musical" Free Clinic - There will be a free audition clinic from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21st next to at the Community Auditorium (next to Central Middle School and District Center). This clinic will give students tools to help prepare for auditions. Middle School students are welcome as well! Participants will read through scripts/monologues, talk about the vocal component of auditions and spend some time on basic choreography.
  • Calling all baby models - We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us at and you may find your little one featured in District publications! See an example of a "Born to be a Bear" photo here.
  • Otter Lake All-Star Birthday Bash - Mark your calendars! Otter Lake Elementary will host an All-Star Birthday Bash from 5-8 p.m. on September 26 to celebrate the 25th birthday of the school. All current and former students, parents, teachers and staff are invited to attend.

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 to be mailed in late-August.
  • 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.

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.
    • NEW Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant DUE DATE is October 4, 2013 - The WBLAEF has changed the time of the year that applications for the Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant are due. To make it more convenient, teachers can complete their Application Form during the Summer or in the Fall because they are available at our web site year around! Also, applications are now due October 4th  and teachers have 12 months to use their art grant! Applications available now at If you have any questions, please e-mail Lisa Lindvall.
    • Visit our website -  Visit our website to see all of the grants the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation has available for teachers. The Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant Applications is due October 4, 2013. The Brosious Teaching Grant Applications are due October 24, 2013. The Glasrud Family Fellowship Applications are due February 13, 2014. We hope that having these grant applications available year around on our web site will allow teachers more time to plan & they can fill out their application forms at their own convenience. If you have any questions, please e-mail Lisa Lindvall.
  • 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. Throughout the year, detailed updates will be provided here.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Mark your calendar - WBLAHS Fall Musical selection and dates announced! - The WBLAHS 2013 Fall musical is Once Upon A Mattress. A parody on the story of Princess and the Pea, this fun-for-all-ages musical is sure to entertain! This rated PG spoof of a potential marriage between the prince and the princess (from the swamp) has many fun twists and turns. A cross between Shrek and Cirque Du Soleil, this high energy show will be sure to wow the audience and tickle the funny bone! The show will be performed at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8,9,14,15 and 16. A 2 p.m. matinee will be performed on Nov. 9 (matinee free for senior citizens). All performances will take place at the WBLAHS - North Campus Theater.
  • Host an international exchange student - There are terrific international exchange students approved to come to the East Metro area who do not yet have a host family for the 2013-14 school year. Please consider hosting a student so we can bring some of these international youth to White Bear. Learn more here. If you have ever considered hosting a student for 6 months, an academic year, or even 6-12 weeks as a welcome family, please let this be the time you step forward and say “yes.” If you or anyone you know is interested in hosting an AFS student this year or if you would like to know how you can help AFS at this time, please contact Tim Wald at 773-6205.
  • ALC Craft Sale - The ALC craft sale will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at ALC on September 28th. There is still space for vendors if they wish to rent a space for the day. Contact Tim at 651-773-6406 or for more information about becoming a vendor for the event. Proceeds from the sale will go toward funding ALC educational activities. The economics class will use the money to fund entrepreneurs on KIVA and the language arts class will use the money to attend Othello at the Guthrie theater in the spring.

Awards and Honors

  • Summer 2013 Featured School - Congratulations to the White Bear Lake ALC for being chosen as the Summer 2013 Featured School by the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs! See the link here. Send a note of congratulations to the ALC team here.
  • National Communications Awards - The District recently received nine awards from National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA): An Award of Honorable Mention for Legacy, Commitment and Promise videos; Awards of Merit for the District’s Community e-Newsletter, the “Anything Goes” Fall 2012 Musical Playbill, White Bear Bears Core Values Posters, and the 2012-13 Registration materials; and Awards of Excellence for the District and School Websites, the 2011-12 Annual Report, the 2012-13 Activities Calendar, and the 2012-13 Academic Planner and Student Handbooks. Send a note of congratulations to the Communications Department, to be shared with those who collaborated on the projects, here.

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

Extended service and learning

Students in the district's summertime Extended Day programs have had a summer jam-packed with fun, service and learning.

Last week, Oneka Elementary's Extended Day students challenged staff members to a food drive competition. The contest was close through Thursday evening, but the staff members pulled ahead to end on Friday with 633 pounds of food (vs. the students' 410 pounds). The winning prize was to be the pie-wielders today in a "pie in the face" activity.  A couple of good-spirited staff members also participated in wearing the pies, just for the fun of it. More important than the fun that was had, Oneka Extended Day donated more than one thousand pounds of food to the Hugo Food Shelf. See photos of the experience here.

Willow Lane Elementary Extended Day students have taken part in the Willow Walking Club throughout the summer. Staff members mapped out assorted routes from the school, created a chart so walkers can record distances, and provided incentives (cool items donated by assorted community members). Participants choose from the shorter walk (generally our younger kids) or the longer walk (generally the older kids). They've set themselves the goal of walking a cumulative 26 miles - so they will have walked the length of a full marathon by the end of the summer. One third grader has already met and surpassed this goal. The activity is related to the district’s "Bear Power" initiative, a partnership with Health Partners and the White Bear Area YMCA.

And last but not least, in an effort to "beat the heat" that was upon us a couple of weeks ago, students at both schools participated in an experiment that was first described on the radio that morning. The young bakers mixed cookies and placed them on a cookie sheet in a very creative oven - a back window of a sealed automobile. As temperatures soared to more than 90 degrees, students watched their cookies go from dough to doughy-cookies. Find photos of the fun experiment here

Cultural connections

Students from White Bear Lake Area High School students who are studying German spent two weeks in Germany this summer as part of the Intercultural Student Experiences program. The program is part of an ongoing partnership the District has with a school in Leipzig, Germany.

The students had many opportunities to practice their German during a family stay and throughout their visit through the two countries.

Teachers Fay Kotilinek and Karla Booth accompanied the group. Superintendent Dr. Michael Lovett also joined in the fun, meeting the students in Leipzig and participating in activities that included touring Dresden, experiencing German schools in Leipzig, and visiting Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Last fall, White Bear Lake Area Schools played host to 16 students and two teachers from Leipzig, Germany. The District's partnership with Brockhaus Gymnasium is part of the German-American Partnership Program (GAPP). 

Photos of the trip can be found here.


In the market

District representatives joined in the Marketfest fun again this summer, sharing information, pencils, bear decals and fun with community members who stopped by. Student booth participants this year included American Sign Language class members, one of the winners of the "Good News Bears" writing contest that took place earlier this summer in conjunction with Manitou Days, and Homecoming committee members made sure information about the upcoming festivities was available. 

Photos of the District's Marketfest booth can be found at our Facebook page.

Summer fun and stories

Vadnais Heights Elementary hosted "Summer Fun and Stories" for three weeks in June. Under the direction of six teachers, 65 students had the opportunity to participate in literacy projects that were aligned with three field trips. The East Metro Integration District made this opportunity possible through a grant that was available to support extended instruction.

The first week was focused on caves and our students read about rocks, animals, history and all kinds of things that have to do with caves. The field trip brought our students to the Crystal Cave in Wisconsin and they experienced a wonderful, underground adventure.

Week two provided our students the opportunity to talk about living in the state of 10,000 lakes. Water is everywhere in MN and our students especially enjoyed visiting Bunker Beach in Anoka on a hot summer day.

The third and final week focused on grains, flour, and bread and the field trip brought them to Mill City Museum in Minneapolis.

These rich experiences will be memories that will be with our students for a lifetime. Who would have thought that the students would have been so excited to attend summer school yet their learning was brought to life through the field trip experiences and many hands-on activities in the classrooms.

Activities Updates

Congratulations to the WBLHS Archery Team! 17 members of the high school team competed in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) World Championship in St. Louis, Mo. The team placed 12th out of 48 high school teams, with 53% of the team placing in the top 10% of the world. Congratulations to WBLAHS student Kate Cox, who was named Top Female Skipper and earned top spots in boat races earlier this month! See the story here. Fall Musical Auditions update - Auditions for the WBLAHS 2013 Fall Musical, Once Upon A Mattress, will take place at the WBLAHS - North Campus Theatre. Please attend one of the following times: Tuesday, Sept. 3 from 3:30-6 p.m. or 7-9 p.m., or Wednesday, Sept. 4 from 3:30-6 p.m. Please wear shoes/attire that allow you to move comfortably on stage and have approx. 1 minute of a musical selection prepared (please bring your music/accompaniment with you to auditions). Call backs will take place from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5. Read through will take place from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. Any questions can be directed to Wendy Suoja (at WBLAHS - North Campus) or office phone 651-402-7622. Leadership Academy - This July, in a continuing effort to develop leadership qualities within our student-participants, the first annual Leadership Academy was created. The Academy is designed to be a cooperative venture with White Bear Lake Area High School and North Branch Area High School and will consist of a purposefully developed approach involving seven classes constructed to deliver the curriculum in an interactive fashion and facilitate discussion for each of the leadership concepts that will be presented throughout the year.

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

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.

School Board Student Recognitions


Before its July 8 regular meeting, the School Board recognized the WBLAHS Lacrosse Team members for competing in the state tournament.

Also honored that evening were members of the varsity trapshooting team, which finished with a score of 427 out of 500 targets at the state competition.

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.
Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, August 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, August 26 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201