August 30, 2013

Student News

Growth in science scores leads East Metro This week, the Minnesota Department of Education released student proficiency percentages in reading, mathematics, and science. These state tests, called Minnesota Comprehension Assessments (MCAs), are required annually of Minnesota students.

For White Bear Lake Area Schools, the news was especially good in science. Student proficiency rose 4.9 percent, the largest single-year rise in any of 16 East Metro school districts. The rise in scores occurred at elementary, middle school and high school. The district 2013 proficiency now stands at 63%, more than ten percentage points above the state average. Within the 16 school district comparison, the district now is tied for fourth, up from sixth place in 2012. Three elementary schools now are above 70% proficiency - Birch Lake at more than 78%, Otter at 76%, and Matoska International at 72%.

“When student scores rise, credit goes to our students, teachers, support staff, families and community,” said Dr. Michael Lovett, Superintendent of White Bear Lake Area Schools. “We are especially pleased with the progress our students are making in science, in high school mathematics, and significant improvements at individual schools.”

In mathematics, overall proficiency for 2013 remained at 68%, the same as in 2012, but up five points from 2011 when the current, more rigorous version of mathematics test was given to students in grades three through eight.

At the high school, the one-year change between 2012 and 2013 was a full ten percentage points. At the elementary level, the highest performing school was Birch Lake Elementary at 85%. There were some modest drops at the other elementary schools between 2012 and 2013. The district partially attributes this change in scores to the amount of testing required by the state in 2013, as many elementary students took the test as early as mid-March a month or more prior to the time the math test generally been given. This has the effect of reducing the time that students have to master the material and affects the overall proficiency rating. In the 16 East Metro district comparisons, White Bear Lake Area Schools is tied for fifth in math.

In reading for 2013, all Minnesota students received a new reading test aligned with national standards. MCA reading proficiency scores on the new tests are lower across the state and among the Northeast Metro than those in previous years. For example, in the past close to 80% of White Bear Lake Area Schools students have been meeting proficiency requirements and about 75% of the students state-wide. In the new test, White Bear proficiency is at 64%, with the state at 58%. White Bear Lake Area Schools scores ranked fifth out of the 16 East Metro school districts in reading. “We are confident we will continue to see growth in student scores,” said Lovett. “In line with our Strategic Plan, we are committed to assuring every student reaches proficiency in reading and mathematics by grade four and every grade thereafter.

Students steal the show

Students stepped onto the stage and "stole the show" at this week's Opening Convocation event. The annual celebration, a time during which District employees get together to kick off the new school year, has generally highlighted student performances. This year was no exception, with additional student acts being added to the agenda in line with the theme "We're Better Together!"

Student participants took the theme and ran with it, turning out performances by the drumline, members of the Mariners Choir singing the National Anthem, and WBLAHS cheerleaders displaying how it's better to have the entire team together to lead a cheer or two. The student entertainment continued when tap dancing students introduced Teacher of the Year Wendy Suoja.

Adults kept to the theme as well, with representatives from the district's partnerships, municipalities, business community and volunteer community joining District employees for the morning in recognition of their efforts to be "better together" with us. The event ended with an overview of the Capital Projects Levy and an address by Superintendent Lovett, but the students helped write us off the stage with a "White Bear Nation" video. 

See additional photos from Convocation here. See the full Convocation video here.

Great Minnesota "read" together?

The great Minnesota get together has White Bear representation this year. Five of our district's Junior Authors Association students placed in the State Fair Education Competition. Congratulations to the following students for their honors: Brittany Zine (3rd place Colored Pencils Bilingual Book), Anna Solomon (2nd Place Original Stories Bilingual Book), Sarah Krengel (3rd place Original Stories Bilingual Book), Ryan Thompson (2nd Place Group Writing Project Bilingual Book) and Abby Admaski (4th place Ink or Ball Point Bilingual Book).

The Junior Authors Association is a Community Education program that allows students to create their own books, with a focus on helping students become authors and experience the publication process. The program is available during the school year at Central Middle School and WBLAHS - North Campus. The students created books, decorated the book covers, and participated in a pen pal program with students in Roseville Public Schools.

The students' work is on display in the Education Building, so stop by if you'll be heading to St. Paul for the Fair this weekend!

Choir students mix it up

White Bear Lake Area High School choir members Luke Gion and Emma Perreira recently participated in a week-long choir camp at St. John's University in Collegeville as members Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Mixed Choir. The camp culminated in a choral performance in the Abbey of St. John's. 

Students from across the state of Minnesota were selected to participate in the All-State ensembles through a rigorous live audition that occurred during the spring of 2013. The All-State choirs will reconvene in February of 2014 to perform in the newly renovated Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

There are 3 All-State Choirs: one all male, one all female, and one mixed. Both Gion and Perreira were selected for membership in the Mixed Choir. They were directed by Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe from the University of Southern California. 

This was Gion’s second year as a member of the All-State Choirs. Both he and Perreira are members of the WBLAHS - South Campus Mariner's Choir for the coming 2013-14 school year.


Central Middle School students will be welcomed to lunch by IB Bears this year, as a sound tile installation project wrapped up just in time for the students to come back in September. The project is a technical one that will decrease the sound levels in the cafeteria by creating a buffer on the cement walls, but the Buildings Operations crew and Central Middle School administration worked together to create an innovative twist to the project.

Instead of being simple blank sound panels, each piece is a visual display of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner profiles, a set of attributes both middle schools strive to develop in their whole school community. These traits, which support students in growing academically, socially and emotionally, are: balanced, caring, communicators, knowledgeable, principled, risk-takers, inquirers, open-minded, reflective, and thinkers.

Both Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools are in their second year as International Baccalaureate Candidate Schools this year. As students at an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) candidate school, 6th-8th graders participate in the program through the eight subject areas: Language A -English, Language B -Spanish, French, German, or Chinese, Physical Education, Sciences, Arts, Math, Technology, and Humanities-Social Studies. 

Activities Updates

Choir members Luke Gion and Emma Perreira participated in a week-long choir camp this summer at St. John's University in Collegeville as members Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Mixed Choir. 

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 Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, Sept. 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 
Monday, Sept. 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m District Center 
Monday, Oct. 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
Monday, Oct. 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center