January 12, 2014

District News

Bring Warm Clothes
In her book "Bring Warm Clothes," Minnesota author Peg Meier tell stories of the waves of immigrants arriving in Minnesota during the past 150 years. In their letters to families and friends, a frequent theme was the admonition to "bring warm clothes."

New immigrants quickly learned that Minnesota just gets colder than many of the places from which they had come.

Our weather this week reminds us that it is young children who may need the most attention as families are adjusting to our climate.

The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, through "The Closet," has an ample supply of jackets, mittens, hats and scarves. Should you know any families who could benefit from the generosity of our community, please contact "The Closet" at closetwblaef@gmail.com.

Members of our Foundation and other volunteers will then contact the family and make confidential arrangements to help those who do not already have warm clothes.

Dr. Michael Lovett


For an additional message on "Cold Weather Cool," please see the Superintendent's Message published in February of 2013 here.

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.

Parent Notices:

  • ADD/ADHD Support Group - Learn more about this opportunity here.
  • 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 Family Fun Day - Participate in a Family Fun Day that is sure to hit the spot. On Saturday, January 25 BearPower will be at two local grocery stores exploring tasty foods with a store-wide scavenger hunt, taste testing and more. Free fun for the whole family. Visit the BearPower Facebook page for more info.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 January info sheet about light usage 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 January 31. Mention WBLDIST-SCHOOL14. Valid for new students only. Call 612-321-0100 or go to macphail.org, flyer available by clicking here.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Support students at Willow Lane Elementary - Take the plunge into a frozen lake during the second annual Willow Lane Plunging Bears event. Only adults can plunge! More information and sign up here.

Awards and Honors

  • Best High School Teacher - White Bear Lake Magazine has tallied the votes and found Shannon Anderson (WBLAHS South), Cameron Mahlum (WBLAHS South), and Wendy Suoja (WBLAHS North) are the top three finalists for the 2014 Best High School Teacher. Find the complete "Best of" listing of here. Congratulate them at the email links above!

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 - Getting a glimpse

District schools will spend January welcoming families into their buildings to get a glimpse of what is offered to students at the early childhood, elementary, middle and high school levels. 

Find information about the January events here and watch the videos below to "get a glimpse" of what is happening in our elementary, middle school and high school classrooms.

Check out additional District videos here.

BearPowering up for the New Year

Last week, students at Birch Lake Elementary, Otter Lake Elementary, and Matoska International IB World School kicked off their four-week BearPower school challenge to eat healthier. With a special visit from Radio Disney, the students gathering in each school gymnasiums and had the opportunity to participate in a dance-filled, educational assembly that rallied students to eat colorful, new fruits and vegetables. Next week, the Radio Disney crew will visit students at Vadnais Heights, Lincoln, Hugo, and Oneka elementary schools to kick off similar initiatives.

During the four-week challenge, students will mark what they eat, noting the number of fruits and vegetables each day. They will track their progress and strive for five fruits and veggies each day. The information will then be sent to yumPower and students will receive a small gift. Parents will also receive a Power Pack, which has fun activities, recipes, and ideas for bringing the fun of fruits and veggies into the home. 

Interested in learning more about BearPower and getting healthy tips? Click here for the BearPower Facebook page.  

A new look

Students at Matoska International were welcomed back from winter break with a bit more usable square footage, as contractors used the time to put finishing touches on a school addition and redesign.

Families and guests are now welcomed into the school through the a new secure entrance, which brings visitors directly into the new office area. The shiny floors, clerestory windows, and new basketball hoops now foster an exciting atmosphere in the new orange-and-black gymnasium space. The projects stem from the District's Strategic Plan and the School Board Superintendent Goals.

Another exciting change is that of the new pick-up and drop-off procedure allowed by the new entrance location. Starting Monday, January 13, buses at Matoska will also be picking up and dropping off at the new front entry on Bellaire Avenue. Find additional information about the rerouting of buses or about what could be different about picking up or dropping off your child here.

Parents, family, and community members will have the opportunity to see all of the new building additions, including the new office at Matoska, during an open house event from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 28. Additional information will be available soon on Matoska's website.


Theatre excellence

For the fifth consecutive year, the White Bear Lake Area High School Theatre Department received accolades from the Hennepin Theatre Trust's SpotLight Music Theatre Program, which honors high school musicals and students by recognizing their extraordinary achievements and working to develop young talent in Minnesota's high school musical theatre programs.

This year's honors for the high school's fall musical "Once Upon a Mattress" have once again set school records. The production received more SpotLight awards than any previous WBLAHS Theatre Department production and the highest number of awards in the state. WBLAHS was one of only seven shows in the state to receive Outstanding Production, which evaluates all production elements. Learn more about the awards here.

Setting the stage for 2014 will be the one act play, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," adapted by Frederick Gaines. The WBLAHS North Campus Theater will host three free performances on January 22. See a performance flyer here.

Following the tradition of the WBLAHS theatre department, student performers have included a service component into the play - this time it is a book drive. Play-goers are encouraged to bring new and gently used children's books to the show to be donated to WBLAS elementary schools. Donated books will be placed in a bookshelf set up outside the high school theater so students and attendees can watch the progress of the book drive.

White Bear Lake Area High School's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" will also compete in the 2014 One Act Play State Tournament, starting with the preliminary round on January 23.

Later in the school year, the Theatre Department will host "The Odyssey," adapted by Don Fleming as the Spring Play. 

A world of technology

White Bear Lake Area Schools offer a variety of ways students can begin exploring a passion for technology. On Jan. 4, the White Bear Lake Robotics team, Bright Bears, began work on the development of the 2014 For Inspiration and Recognition for Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition challenge. The team is supported by Medtronic as well as donations and volunteers from local industries, companies, and individuals.

The challenge involves a detailed game called Aerial Assist, in which robots must throw a ball over a wall and into a goal. The regional competition will be held at the University of Minnesota's Mariucci Arena at the end of March. Click here to watch a video on the 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition, which ends with a demonstration of Aerial Assist.

At the middle school level, students at Central Middle school will have the opportunity to watch and question a computer science engineer at the school's upcoming Career Cafe on January 16. Students will learn from a professional what it takes to create and develop computer software and programs.

Early Childhood Book Talk

Nearly 95% of parents feel like they are overindulging their children, but feel powerless to stop themselves. Luckily, WBLAS Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) will offer families a unique book talk class on Richard Bromfield's "How to Unspoil Your Child Fast." The semester-long class will meet on Tuesday evenings at Hugo Elementary starting February 4. Open to children from age one to first grade (and their parents of course), the class will be half child-parent playtime and half book discussion. 

The fee for the class is based on income level - not too expensive considering the value of having an unspoiled child is priceless! Click here to register for the class. 

ECFE registration information and materials will be mailed to district residents with children who are early childhood-aged in late April or early May.

Activities Updates

The Girls' Hockey team took second place and the JV team took third place in the recent Centennial Holiday tournament. In the process, the varsity beat two ranked teams (Elk River and North Wright County) and lost to the number two ranked team (Wayzata) in a close game with a final score of 4 to 1. On Saturday, January 5th the Boys' Swim and Dive team participated in the Tiger Division at the Maroon and Gold Invite and finished 4th out of 11 teams. The 200 Medley Relay of Dan Johnson, Quinn Johnson, Caleb Odmark, and Abe Townley started out the meet with a 7th place finish followed by the relays of Matt Pham, Nick Pasqualini, Chris Jenkins, and Jordan Johnson finished 11th, and David O'Neill, Lucas Dinh, Alex Barton, and Amael Ramand finished 21st. Jordan Johnson, Alex Thiele, and Matt Pham finished 7th, 9th, and 11th place in the 200 freestyle. Quinn Johnson, Dan Johnson, Chris Jenkins finished 6th, 9th, and 10th place in the 200 Individual Medley. Abe Townley, Nick Pasqualini, and Amael Ramand finished 11th, 23rd, and 26th in the 50 freestyle. Harry Baden, Eric Delmonico, and Hobie Baden finished 1st, 7th, and 14th place in diving. Caleb Odmark, Chris Jenkins, and Alex Thiele finished 6th, 14th, and 18th place in the 100 butterfly. Abe Townley, Jordan Johnson, and Amael Ramand finished 17th, 18th, and 28th place in the 100 freestyle. Matt Pham, Lucas Dinh, and David O'Neill finished 10th, 16th, and 23rd place in the 500 freestyle. The 200 free relays finished in 11th, 13th, and 25th place. The top relay was Jordan Johnson, Quinn Johnson, Alex Thiele, and Abe Townley. Nick Pasqualini, Alex Barton, Amael Ramand, and Chris Jenkins were in the relay the finished 13th, and Ian Westman, Blake Burnau, Nathan Thalhuber, and Drew Rassett were in the relay that finished 25th. Caleb Odmark, Dan Johnson, and David O'Neill finished 2nd, 4th, and 19th in the 100 backstroke. Quinn Johnson, Nick Pasqualini, and Lucas Dinh finished 7th, 15th, and 26thin the 100 Breaststroke. The 400 freestyle relays finished in 9th, 23rd, and 28th places. Caleb Odmark, Alex Thiele, Dan Johnson, and Matt Pham were in the relay that finished 9th. Blake Burnau, David O'Neil, Erik Suchy, and Drew Rassett were in the relay that finished 23rd. Nick Langevin, Erik Olson, Tim Walsh, and Ian Westman were in the relay that finished 28th. The boys' next home meet is Tuesday, January 14th against Cretin-Derham Hall. The Boys' Hockey team played Cretin-Derham Hall on Saturday, Jan. 11 in one of five hockey games played at TCF Bank Stadium as part of the High School Hockey Faceoff.


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
January 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
February 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center