December 8, 2013

District News

What Comes Next?
On a chill morning eighth graders eagerly board the bus for a day-long field trip. Their destination? A college visit.

Before heading out, students were thinking ahead.

"I'll be visiting the same college my mom attended," said one boy, paging through materials to prepare for the day. "She thinks that will be cool..."

What? A college visit for eighth graders? Yes, for eighth graders-- one day in the life of a middle schooler to tour a college, experience a group tour, and think though the steps each student needs to take to be successful for high school and life beyond.

Between Thanksgiving week and the end of December, hundreds of our 2013 graduates return home to our community for the first time since heading off to college late last summer.

Is it too early for eighth graders to plan for college? Ask any parent of a college freshman. The time between eighth grade and the first year of college goes by in the blink of an eye.

Or ask a member of the class of 2013. They are eager to reconnect!

Dr. Michael Lovett


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 2013-14 Winter Catalog will be available soon. The current Fall 2013 Catalog is available online. Click here to register for upcoming courses.

Parent Notices:

  • 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 homepage of
    • 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.
  • Tot Time and Family Fun Time opportunities - Families who live in or attend the White Bear Lake Area School District or who live in the City of Hugo are invited to participate in Oneka Tot Time and Family Fun Time activities at Oneka Elementary School. Tot Time, offered for children ages 0-6 with a parent or guardian, runs November 3 through March 30 on Tuesdays from 4-7:30 p.m., Thursdays from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. Family Fun Time, offered for children ages 7-12 with a parent or guardian, runs November 3 through March 30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. Cost is $2 per child or a maximum of $5 per family with photo identification. For questions or information, call 651-407-7501.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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.
    • 2013 Holiday Angels - The Holiday Angels program gives our community an opportunity to share with those in need in our own school district while honoring a school district staff person. Find information about this unique program 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.
    • 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 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.
    • Nominations for the 2014 J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award are now being accepted through the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation (WBLAEF), the Century College Foundation (CCF) and the Mahtomedi Area Educational Foundation (MAEF). These three area foundations, in which Stan and Doris Hill were involved, joined forces in 2006 to spread the word about the importance of volunteering within our communities.
      In an effort to celebrate the Hills' legacy of volunteerism, the award was created to annually honor an outstanding community volunteer.
      If you know of a friend or colleague who has given many years of volunteer service and is extremely committed to the WBL/Mahtomedi area, please consider nominating this individual for the award.
      Nomination forms are available through any of the three foundation offices, websites, and board members.
      Completed forms are due by Friday, February 21, 2014. For further information, call the WBLAEF office at 651-407-7696 or go online.
    • Visit our website - Visit our website to see all of the grants the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation has available for teachers:
      • 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.
    • Supporting art initiatives - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation awarded five separate art initiatives to four elementary schools in the district. Recipients are Matoska I.B School (Lori Felton, Pam Winkler, & Julie Stonehouse), Willow Elementary (Tracy Gripentrog, Tammy Reed, & Deb Bleymeyer), Birch Lake Elementary (Greg Hjelm & Paula Perron), and Otter Lake Elementary (LuAnneOklobzija).
    • 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
  • 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 a December info sheet about water conservation here.
  • MacPhail Center for Music - Save $25 on music lessons at MacPhail Center for Music's location at Birch Lake Elementary when you register by December 31. Mention WBLDIST-FALL14. Valid for new students only. Call 612-321-0100 or go to, flyer available by clicking here.
  • BearPower - BearPower is hosting its quarterly community meeting from 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19 at White Bear Lake City Hall. All interested community members are invited to attend. Join us to learn more about the movement and share your input. Find the invitation here.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Support students by making a 2013 Holiday Angel donation - The Holiday Angels program gives our community an opportunity to share with those in need in our own school district while honoring a school district staff person. Find information about this unique program here.

Awards and Honors

  • Congratulations to the following White Bear Lake Area Schools teachers, who received grants from HB Fuller: Chris LyonsJoe DimeglioCarol HultmanJulie Hopkins and Lindsay Lamwers. Send these team members a congratulatory message at the email links above!
  • Central Middle School music teacher Kristina Kuehn recently was named the Director for the Regional Honor Band that will convene in Cloquet, Minn. in May. Send Kristina a congratulatory email here.
  • 2014 Teacher of the Year - Call for Nominations - Please consider nominating an educator who will represent all of the dedicated teachers in our district and compete in the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program. You may use this form to nominate a teacher or you may download an electronic copy from the White Bear Lake Area School District website. Nominations are due by January 17, 2014.

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 - A busy Tuesday

Fourth graders at Lakeaires Elementary are undertaking a service project next week that will keep kids warm on these very cold days. The students all donated money to purchase fleece, which they will use to make blankets for Project Linus, a non-profit that donates blankets to children in need. 

The class reports being very excited to help other kids. And they're helping to spread the good feelings that come along with serving others as well. Their first grade buddies will also be helping when the blankets are made this Tuesday.

White Bear Lake Area High School students are also in the giving spirit. The students are currently in the middle of their annual Casa de Esperanza Proyecto Navidad project. A total of 24 first-hour classes have adopted a total of 28 women, 24 of whom have multiple children, for the holidays and will fulfill the families' Christmas wish lists. 

On Tuesday afternoon, a giant UHaul from Casa de Esperanza will stop by WBLAHS - South Campus to pick up the large load of items currently taking over the space at the World Language Center. In addition to loads of coats, toys and household items, in the piles of gifts are a mattress, a bike, a microwave and coffeemaker, and an iPod.

Little lessons

Kindergartners at Hugo Elementary enjoyed watching the snow fall this week from the comfort of a classroom igloo they're building as a recycling project. The students will use this igloo for math activities, during Daily 5, and as a learning center. It is made out of gallon size milk jugs that the children are saving and bringing in. The class will enjoy the igloo during the winter and then share the milk jugs with the school to make other projects out of them to keep the recycling going. Say congratulations to the group here.

The youngest students in the White Bear Lake Area Schools seem to be internalizing the service lessons they're seeing from their upper class members. Lincoln first graders participated in their fifth Operation Christmas Child donation drive recently. The students put together 15 boxes to go to children in more than 130 countries. The students also had tons of money donated also that they will give to the Lincoln Holiday drive. Send the students a "congratulations" message here.

Vadnais Heights Elementary enjoyed a visit from author Erin Soderberg in November. The writer of kids books spoke with the fourth and fifth graders, then took extra time to read with the second graders. The visit was extra special for the young students because Erin's aunt Nancy Przybylski teaches 2nd grade at Vadnais. Red Balloon Bookshop made the visit possible.

Soaring with science

Oneka Elementary is always a busy place, but it was especially "happening" the week of Thanksgiving. Tuesday evening of the week students and families enjoyed a science fair and music cafe event. On Wednesday, students benefited from relationships the school has built with area organizations. Representatives from the University of Minnesota Chemistry Department, Wargo Nature Center, 3M, YMCA, Xcel Energy and Rice Creek Watershed presented on a variety of science-related topics for the students.

White Bear Lake Area High School senior Charlie Anderson is also a science enthusiast, with an aviation lens attributing to his recent accomplishment. Charlie recently received his private pilot certificate. He participated in a course at WBLAHS that taught him the principles of flight, provided him an introduction to general aviation, and prepared him to pass the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam. The school also offers a full Cessna Flight Simulator, designed to give students the actual feel of piloting an airplane, that was donated by the Patrick Marzitelli Science and Aviation Foundation.

A new library

Birch Lake Elementary has "added on" to it's building - it now boasts of a little outdoor library book house.The free library is posted outside in front of Birch Lake Elementary. and is available for kids to donate and/or pick a free book, similar to a book exchange. Find additional information about the concept of the little free library here.

Kyle, the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts professional artist who teaches the district's elementary art experiences, worked with a Birch Lake family on the project. The wooden house was made with donated materials and donated time. The student council group painted the library with Kyle's guidance.

When passers-by see the external free little book house they will see similarities to the school's interior. The design of the book house came from the school's inside office. The team wanted to re-create the school's theme of birch trees that welcome visitors to the school just inside the front doors. 

Making tech connections

WBLAHS musical director Wendy Suoja recently shared this "behind the scenes" look at how technology played a part in "Once Upon a Mattress"... The theatre kids were all about keeping the alum connection. This is a fun photo of the kids Skyping during rehearsal. For the first time, the department used a streaming site and gave the pass code to alumni so they could watch the show. Sam Adamsson and Courtney Westveer enjoyed the show from their college dorm rooms. The choir room and band room also had a stream of the show on the SMART Board so students knew when their cues were to go on stage!

Last week, students at four of our elementary schools - Birch Lake, Lincoln, Oneka and Otter Lake - participated in an e-field trip with Amplatz Children's Hospital and the Minnesota Vikings. The students witnessed an online session with doctors, then students were given an opportunity to share how they felt about the activity and the way it improved their understanding of fitness. Students were congratulated on their efforts to stay active and fit, and the student who logged the most fitness minutes was recognized remotely. Way to go elementary students!

The Rotary Club of White Bear Lake recently heard from district teachers and elementary students about the district's use of technology. The crowd was "wowed" when Otter Lake Elementary third grade teacher LuAnne Oklobzija and a team of students took the mic and told of things happening within the district.

Celebrating culture

High school and middle school students who are in German class enjoyed a meal with classmates in "Germany" this week - or, more specifically, at Gasthaus German Restaurant in Stillwater. The students enjoyed practicing their language skills and picking up cultural lessons in an authentic Bavarian environment. The trek to the German restaurant is an annual one that the students and staff members alike look forward to enjoying. This year's experience included a few VIP guests, including a student from Germany!

White Bear Lake Area High School students in Koom Siab Culture Club visited Birch Lake Elementary and Lincoln Elementary classrooms recently. The students shared information with the young students about the Hmong New Year. One of the visits was covered by the White Bear Press photographer Paul Dols, who shot some great photos of the students. Find the photo gallery here. Photo at right courtesy of Press Publications. 

Activities Updates

The winter sports season is currently underway.

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 Meetings

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

Date Type Time Location
December 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center