January 26, 2014

Learning and "The Coldest Winter"

During the winter of 1880-81,  fourteen year old Laura Ingalls lived with her family on the South Dakota prairie. Many years later, her recollections and memories were published in her story "The Long Winter," familiar to many school children, parents, and grandparents.

There came a time during that winter that Laura and her younger sister could not get to school, but learning continued at home.

So far our winter has been more cold than long, but the effect is similar: despite White Bear Lake Area Schools' reputation  for "staying open no matter what," we have joined other metro schools in recent closings. When we miss a day of school, we look for ways of making up the institutional time. More to the point, we look for ways of assuring our students learn, despite the challenges of wind and weather.

But students and families can do much to help. If we have other days off, encourage your children to:

First,  have "school" at home. During the usual hours of school, keep to the discipline of reading, mathematics, and the other subjects that your child normally would have during that time;

Second,  check on-line teacher Schoology pages for class assignments, missed or incomplete work, and future assignments. If you need help or direction, email your child's teacher for help. While some teachers may be able to respond promptly, for others your emails will help the teacher know your questions and be prepared when the children return to school.

Third, let our teachers, principals or me know your thoughts on how we can make up for lost learning time.

Finally, encourage our students to journal about "The Coldest Winter." We'll plan on publishing excerpts of student, staff, and parent reflections.

But we may wait until it warms up.

Dr. Michael Lovett

Student News - Two enriching cafes

On January 17, South Campus officially opened the student-led "Bear Café" Paige Pinnow and other staff members from the special education department helped special education students to work on planning, shopping, hosting, and interacting with staff "customers" during a reserved lunch period. Thanks to a generous donation from Flicker Meat, The Bear Café was able to make hot beef for their grand opening.

"With the proceeds that we make on the cafe, we plan on becoming self-sustaining and not having to rely so heavily upon donations each month," Pinnow said.

The restaurant has allowed for students to focus upon work readiness skills, social skills, and applying techniques taught in the classroom in a "real life" situation. The café is open once every month to staff who reserve a spot. Donatelli's has donated for next month's Bear Café, which will be open on February 21. Click here to watch a video on the project!

A very different café setting occurred at Central Middle School on January 16 - the school's monthly Career Café. On Thursday morning, students gathered during their home base period to hear Matt Nohr, software engineer at SmartThings, speak about his career and have the opportunity to engage in a conversation about his fascinating field. Nohr is the husband of Katie Nohr, a seventh grade language arts teacher at Central.

Previous guest speakers this year have included Officer Tuma from law enforcement and Andy LaCasse who presented on his career in music. If parents or community members would like to share their career journey with students at Central, please contact the counseling department to learn how to get involved in the Career Café.

Honors in art, music

Dozens of White Bear Lake students have been honored in the past few weeks for their achievements in the visual arts and music. First, 11 of Molly Vadnais and Brian Perry's Central Middle School students received 14 Scholastic Art Awards - the highest number of works recognized of any middle school in the state. Three of her students, Tony Ferraro, Matthew Johnson (x2), and Kami Kendall, received four of the seventeen Gold Key Awards - more Gold Keys than any other middle school in the state. 

In addition, two of Shawn Gritzmacher's South Campus students, Amber Dunlap and Andie Chapin, won Silver Key Awards. 

Another one of Central's great visual artists, Olivia Schwintek, won the Lions District 5M6 Peace Poster Contest and was recognized on January 12 at the 5M6 awards brunch at the Airport Mariott Hotel in Bloomington. In addition to the honor, Olivia received a plaque and a $100 check. 

The honors do not stop there. On January 18 at the UMD campus, three Central Middle School eighth-graders participated in the 9-10th grade Northeast Minnesota Band Directors Association (NEMBDA) Honor Band and 17 seventh-graders participated in the 6-8th grade Honor Band. The young musicians rehearsed and performed a concert with other students selected from the northeast region of the state. 

Soon, many of these talented students who are interested in jazz music will go on to WBLAHS - North Campus to perform in the jazz band and later, on to South to pursue even more advanced jazz endeavors. If you enjoy jazz music, this toe-tapping band of students from North and South Campuses will be performing at the 35th Annual Night Club event on February 8. Find a "commercial" for the event that was put together after stopping in one one of the North Campus practices here

Aspiring for greatness

On Martin Luther King Day, their day off, 16 motivated students from the North Campus Ambassadors woke up early to help honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his mission. These ninth and tenth graders spent time organizing and volunteering at an organization called "Dressed for Success" which helps get low-income women back into the workforce through interview training and clothes donations. 

Students then took part in the MLK march and rally at the Minnesota History Center and listened to speakers discuss Dr. King's legacy and motivate us to keep up the fight for equality. Governor Dayton even had students stand up to be given a round of applause for their work in the community.

Also at the high school level, students in Amy Canniff's career class and Rachel Clark's marketing class recently finished up their e-mentorship program in December. Canniff's class exchanged weekly emails with Assurant employees, while Clark's class did so with Carlson employees. Topics discussed ranged from career and college experience, workplace values, role models, workplace communications, technology, paying for a post-secondary education, college life, managing time, teamwork, conflict resolution, role models, marketing, lifelong learning and work/life balance. The program ended with a meet and greet where students had the opportunity to visit their e-mentors in their workplaces. 

Food lessons

Willow Lane Elementary will once again take over Donatelli's! This year, all 5th grade students will learn about the job application process and will be working at the restaurant. Students will be "applying" for either the host/hostess, server, or cook positions. They will be writing resumes and cover letters, as well as participating in formal interviews. 

Mark your calendars and join us for lunch to see the kids in action. Work days are spread out over five different Tuesday dates this year: February 4, 11, 18, 25 and March 4th. Students will be working from 11:00-1:00. Donatelli's is located at 2692 County Road E in White Bear Lake.

Vadnais Heights, Lincoln, Hugo, and Oneka Elementary Schools had their yumPower kick-off celebrations with Radio Disney during the last few weeks. The students gathered in their gymnasiums and had the opportunity to participate in a dance-filled, educational assembly that rallied students to eat colorful, new fruits and vegetables. 

During the four-week challenge, students will track their progress in eating colorful fruits and vegetables. While students will receive a small prize at the end of the challenge, parents received a Power Pack, which includes healthy recipes and creative ways to make fruits and veggies fun. 

Well-rounded education

On January 22, WBLAHS had a great turnout for their three free showings of the One Act Play, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The play is a "unique spin to this adaptation of Washington Irving's classic story," stated David Hanzal in his director's note. The group will also compete in the 2014 One Act Play State Tournament, starting with the preliminary round on January 23.

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 brought new and gently used children's books to the show to be donated to WBLAS elementary schools. In February, student performers will deliver the books to the elementary schools and read to students in honor of "I Love to Read Month." 

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

While some students enjoy live-acting, others might prefer digital media. Journey students from the WBLAHS campuses and Sunrise Middle School had the unique opportunity to take classes at the Suburban Community Channels (SCC). 

During two Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., students took classes that included "Introduction to Community Television," "Introduction to Digital Camcorder," "Introduction to Studio Production," and "Introduction to Non-Linear Editing."

Students have another opportunity to learn at "China Night," a Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration Show coming up from 7-8:30 p.m. on Friday, February 7th, 2014 in the WBLAHS - South Campus Theater. Dragon and lion professional dancers will be on stage alongside students, who will do performances such as singing, Chinese square dance, skits, rapping, Kung Fu, and more. The students will celebrate the most important Chinese holiday while showcasing what they have learned in their Chinese World Language classrooms at WBLAHS and Sunrise Park and Central Middle Schools. Chinese is also taught in grades K-5 at Lincoln and Vadnais Heights Elementary Schools. 

Activities Updates

Allison Ternes won her discipline at the Mesabi Invitational on Saturday. She out skied over 350 skiers from all over Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan to win the Girls Classic race by 30 seconds. The White Bear Area High School and Middle School cheerleading teams both took first at the Coon Rapids Cardinal Classic Saturday, Jan. 18. With a record of 14-1, the White Bear Lake girls basketball team is ranked sixth in the 4A division. 

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