February 23, 2014

Winter Memories in the Making

Generations from now, what will today's school children remember of the winter of 2013-14?

Well, children, in January of 2014, school was closed for four days because of bitter cold and strong winds. Then we came back on another day when it was just as cold and all the other schools around were still closed.

Grandma, was it really that cold? What did you do at home?

* * * * 

Friday, February 14 was a school "make-up" day, on the initial school calendar as a day off for students, set aside for teacher planning and professional development.

But because of the days missed, this day was converted to another student day. School attendance was at a winter high.

One kindergarten student seemed extra eager to go to school on February 14. She came down for breakfast and explained to her mother what was on her mind.

Mommy, today is make-up day at school!
I'm going to get dressed... then can you put make-up on me? 

* * * * 

This winter may also be remembered as the beginning of a new era for which school and learning continue even when weather or other circumstances prevent physical attendance in school.

Listening to students from my middle school and high school student advisory groups, technology - and especially our Schoology learning management system, gives them access to assignments, resources, and real-time help from their teachers.

While nothing can replace time learning with teacher and class, we want to acknowledge our staff and students for their determination and persistence in continuing to learn-despite the elements!

Dr. Michael Lovett

In Pictures: 2014 Jazz Night Club

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 was recently mailed to District residents. The catalog is available online. 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:

  • Student School Days added on Feb. 14 and April 4 - White Bear Lake Area Schools added student school days on Friday, February 14 and Friday, April 4. The district is committed to the success of every student. Recognizing learning time that was lost because four student days were cancelled in January, the District is moving quickly to alert students, families and staff of plans to hold school on February 14 and April 4. These two days were previously scheduled on the calendar as teacher professional development or planning days and will be converted to student days as part of a modification to this year's official school calendar. The administration is working closely with our employee group representatives on details of this mid-year change. Families will receive additional information from the district and from your school principal.
  • I Love to Read Month - February is "I Love to Read" month! - February is "I Love to Read" month! Send us photos of the reading activities you're doing at home here and we'll share them in a photo album on the District's Facebook page. The album (found here) currently features a photo of a book list started by one of our Early Childhood students, who has pledged to read 100 different books with his parents during the month of February! Let's get reading!
  • Boys Speak! Camp - A new youth camp, Boys Speak!: Voices Through A Lens, will focus on gender representation in media and media literacy in general. The camp will be open to boys ages 11-14. In October, Girls Speak! was very successful and now the same opportunity has been extended for boys. Click here for more information.
  • Love arts and crafts? - The Area Learning Center will be hosting a craft and scrapbook retreat as a fundraiser for art supplies. Details here.
  • Assistive Technology in Math - Learn more about how your child could benefit from assistive technology in math here.
  • ADD/ADHD Support Group - Learn more about this opportunity here.
  • 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.
  • 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.

In Every Issue:

  • BearPower - Interested in attending a March Madness free throw shooting contest at the YMCA? Click here for more details. 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.
    • 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 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 efficient lighting here.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Billy Bonkers and the Chocolate Factory - Students from WBLAS will be participating in this year's Lion's Club Show set to go on Central Middle School's stage March 6-8. For more information click here and to purchase tickets click here.
  • Donatelli's take-over experience - Stop by Donatelli's for lunch on February 25 or March 4 and experience the Willow Lane Elementary Fifth-Grader Takeover Experience! Find photos of the experience here. Find a video "commercial" for the experience at the District's Facebook video page.

Awards and Honors

  • Huy Nguyen, social studies teacher at Sunrise Park Middle School, has been named 2014 Minnesota Council for Social Studies (MCSS) Middle School Teacher of the Year. He will be honored at the annual MCSS gala on March 2 at the Bloomington Sheraton. Click here for more event details.
  • And the nominees are... - Click here for a full list of nominees for White Bear Lake Teacher of the Year.
  • WBLAHS performance of "Once Upon a Mattress" will be honored at this year's SpotLight Showcase on June 8th. Click here for more information or purchase tickets online here.
  • We just recently celebrated School Board Recognition Week. Send a "thank you" email to our School Board members for their work on behalf of our students and families here!

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 - Winter fun, past and present

In July, 1980 graduate of White Bear Mariner, Jeff Ryan, completed a chronology of the school's 11-year hockey program history. Now, he has distributed over 150 copies of the book as it has been well-received throughout the community. 

"I never thought the interest would be as high as it was," said Ryan. Among the copies he has distributed, over 35 have been to coaches and players. Tom Simpson, former head coach of the White Bear Mariner hockey program, contributed to the book by offering team statistics and general comments about the program. 

If you are a graduate of White Bear Mariner, have a family member who participated in the program, or simply have an interest in the hockey team's history and would like a copy, please contact Jeff Ryan.

In addition to the fascinating history of winter sports at White Bear Lake, our schools offer a wide variety of extracurricular winter activities. For example, on Feb. 9, WBLAHS science teacher, Jacob Montgomery, took a group of students ice fishing on Bellaire Beach on White Bear Lake. 

More than 30 people participated in the activity, including some students who volunteered to assist because of their ice fishing experience. This unique winter learning experience was made possible by the support of IMnFishing.com and Eco-Jig Fishing Lures. 

A world of culture

Throughout the White Bear Lake Area School District, students are exposed to a world of cultural knowledge, highlighted in the past few weeks by special cultural performances and activities. 

For Chinese New Year, two events, China Night hosted by Sunrise Park Middle School and WBLAHS and a New Year celebration hosted by Lincoln Elementary, showcased students' language skills and knowledge of Chinese culture. Both events included students who are taking Chinese lessons performing songs, dancing, and demonstrating Kung Fu. Click here and here to view photo albums from the nights celebrating the new year of the horse. 

Our students also explored the culture of Germany, a country roughly 4,000 miles from China, in recent events. First, sixth grade German students at Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools participated in St. Martin's Day activities. The holiday is named after Martin of Tours - a soldier known for his kindness. It is said that he cut his coat in half and shared it with a beggar on an extremely cold and snowy winter night (We know how those can be!). In celebration, students made lanterns and sang about St. Martin and how the lanterns show him the way. 

At the high school , German students participated in German Day at the Minnesota Zoo. Students from all over the state interpreted exhibitions of 40 animals. Two groups of students from WBLAHS - South Campus used their advanced German language skills to create a display and creatively present on sea stars and sea otters. The students who presented at the sea star station even received an honorable mention from University of Minnesota German professors.

In addition to the ten students who presented on German Day, 24 students in German classes from North Campus attended the event and enjoyed watching the variety of presentations throughout the zoo. 

Unique learning experiences

Willow Lane Elementary School's "takeover" of Donatelli's is continuing to teach groups of fifth-graders valuable life skills. Over the past four Tuesdays, students have been working hands-on as hosts, servers, and cooks at Donatelli's from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you would like to witness these young workers experience their first restaurant jobs, the takeover will continue Feb. 25 and March 4 during lunch. Watch a video here to see the highlights from the first week of students working at the White Bear Lake Italian food restaurant. 

As Willow Lane fifth-graders cooked a hearty lunch of life skills, students involved in the robotics team recently completed building their robot for the regional competition on March 27-29 at Mariucci Arena. After six weeks of building, their project is officially hands-off until the competition takes place. This year, the team has two new alumni mentors - Joey Viavattine (2013) and Erik Weigel (2008). Also, thanks to Medtronic's involvement in White Bear Lake's robotics team, students will have the opportunity to get training and certification in robotics in order to strengthen their team and give them a leg up when applying for scholarships and university admittance. 

Dancing like a bear

Two events, the 35th Annual Night Club Event and Hugo/Oneka Elementary Schools' Daddy Daughter Dance, proved that WBLAS students, parents, and community members can really cut a rug! 

The long-standing tradition of Jazz Night Club at South Campus continued on Feb. 8, with featured guest trombonist Jeff Renier, jazz ensemble director at the University of St. Thomas. The event also offered a silent auction including creative lamps made from old (unusable) WBLAHS band instruments, a dessert table, and of course a night of toe-tapping jazz favorites played by our 9-12 graders and alumni band. 

Our youngest dance-enthusiasts had the opportunity to participate in the Daddy Daughter Dance on Feb. 7 at Oneka Elementary School. With about 370 participants, the night was a huge success. The dance, one of the many activities offered by the district's Community Services and Recreation Department, is a favorite "look-up" activity when the Community Education course catalog is published! As a fun twist, the dance was also BearPowered - encouraging dancing with a healthy amount of exercise.  

The significance of February

With February being "I Love to Read" month and Black History Month, students have been engaging in a wide range of activities and lessons focused on these topics. 

At the high school, the social studies department has focused many lessons on the history of the Civil Rights movement in the US in order to highlight this important facet of history during Black History Month. Although the social studies department incorporates Black History lessons throughout the year-long curriculum, they place a particular importance on teaching in-depth lessons and assigning projects so students have a greater understanding of this major strand of history during the month of February. 

At Lakeaires Elementary, students have been going for the gold in their Reading Olympics. Each class at Lakeaires represents a different country and strives to read for enough minutes each day to receive a bronze, silver, or gold medal. If the school as a whole reaches 190 gold medals by the end of the month, they will be rewarded with a trip to the Vadnais Sports Dome. View the photo album here!

Also in February Olympic news, Hugo and Oneka Elementary Schools are having a school-wide passing of the Olympic torch. When the torch arrives in each classroom, the students discuss and decided on one main accomplishment their class has had during the school year.

After the torch has been in each classroom, there will be a school assembly where students will celebrate minutes they have read, books they brought for the Cheer on Reading Book Drive, and food they brought for a food drive. Finally, classes will have their accomplishments read to the entire school.

Activities Updates

The White Bear Lake girls basketball team is currently ranked fourth in the Class 4A division with a record of 21-2. The White Bear Lake High School JV boys swim and dive team finished its season on Saturday by getting third-place at the Suburban East JV Conference Championship meet. Allison Ternes finished in eighth place at the state meet for Nordic Skiing. The WBL boys hockey team won the East Suburban Conference Championship 4-2 over Cretin-Durham Hall.

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 - Recognition Week

We just recently celebrated School Board Recognition Week. Send a "thank you" email to our School Board members for their work on behalf of our students and families here!


School Board Meetings

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

Date Type Time Location
February 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
March 3 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
March 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center