June 8, 2014

The Path to Your Future

This spring local media reported spotting our high school seniors wearing orange bracelets. "I'll bet this is a fashion trend," speculates one commentator. Another, a regular at athletic events, counters, "No, I think it's about Bear Pride... students around here wear orange to everything." 

Finally, one of your grandfathers suggests, "why don't we just ask the students?" 

And so they did. The orange bracelets, like those many of you wear tonight, are printed with the words "I'm going places." At the beginning of May you received a bracelet when you marked a wall map at South Campus with where you expect be next year in college, career, military, or travel. Some of you admit you are not sure exactly where you are going, but you know you are "going places." 

Over the past months you have been asked hundreds of times: what are your plans for next year? Just where is it you are going? 

I have asked many of you: "Is there anything you want to tell me about your future plans?" As your school superintendent, I eagerly anticipate inspiring stories about how the White Bear Lake Area Schools will launch you into a career to change the world. 

However, you prefer to tell me how great it was to have five days off this past winter because of cold and snow. You ask, "That was just for us, the class of 2014, right?" 

But then you tell me inspiring stories about how the White Bear Lake Area Schools are launching you into a career that will change the world. 

Where will you be going? What path might you take? Will your path be straight and predictable? Will you encounter curves and detours? Will you feel you are going in circles? 
I thought about your 13 years in school and how these years have prepared you for the path to your future. Listen closely tonight. I will remind you of lessons you have already learned, and why you can be confident about the future no matter what your path. 

Class of 2014, you began kindergarten in the year 2001. Only weeks into your school career, tragedy hit our nation. We watched as flames engulfed the World Trade Center. You were puzzled and sometimes frightened. You responded by trying always to do what was right. You walked in straight lines, quietly and respectfully. 

Even though you may not have realized it at the time, by learning to act properly even when no one was watching you practiced our core value of integrity.

In years following, our nation grew together and became more confident. In elementary school, you grew together as a class and became more confident. By your fifth grade track and field day, you were downright bold. You practiced relay baton hand-offs during recess. It turns out that when you recall the all-school fifth grade relay, every one of you remembers your school won. 

Even though you may not have realized it at the time, taking your turn carrying the baton was one of many times you practiced our core value of responsibility.

While you were in middle school, our county plunged into deep recession. Parents faced job loss or lower pay. You learned to be self-sufficient and not ask for much. When you walked down the hallway you zig-zagged back and forth looking for friends. 

Even though you may not have realized it at the time, in the halls of Sunrise Park and Central you practiced our core value of respect.

At North Campus the path between two classes was almost always a curve. You learned that when you are with a friend, even walking in circles has meaning. 

Even though you may not have realized it at the time, by reaching out and welcoming others you practiced our core value of compassion.

You arrived at South Campus as our country emerged from the recession. You felt self-sufficient and determined. 

Because you realized our tradition of service, you practiced our core value of service through teams, clubs, student organizations, and on your own.

After tonight you will begin the next stage of your life journey. On your journey you may carry the latest technology, apps that allow you to know exactly where you are and communicate with the world. 

But as a graduate of the White Bear Lake Area Schools, you will carry in your hearts and minds a gift from your schools and community: a permanent app that will never need updating. 

On the path to your future, when you are faced with a question of: 

Integrity... you will hear the quiet voice of your elementary teacher; 

Responsibility... you will remember how you carried the baton with unwavering determination; 

Respect... you will recall a story your middle school teacher told in class; 

Compassion... you will remember when you gathered the courage to reach out to a classmate; 

Service... you will relive the moment you knew it was your turn to take initiative and be a leader. 

Graduates, whatever your path from this point on, we will all be there with you. Our congratulations.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

This was Dr. Lovett's speech at the 2014 WBLAHS Commencement Ceremony

In Pictures: 2014 WBLAHS Graduation

Student News

New beginnings

It is the time of year for that bittersweet moment for students who graduated from South Campus, the Area Learning Center, and Transition Plus as well as teachers retiring this year - missing the schools with which they have grown and looking forward to a world of possibilities.

Five hundred and sixty seniors from South Campus, about 60 students from the ALC, and seven students from Transition Plus graduated last week. First, the district's Transition Plus program, which provides a set of coordinated activities to assist 18-21-year-old students with disabilities as they begin to transition into post-graduation life, kicked off the commencement activities on Tuesday, June 3. Click here for photos!

While seven students graduated from the program, one student, Brian Hoveland, passed away last October. His mother, Meghan, walked in honor of her son during the ceremony to accept his diploma. 

On Thursday night, the White Bear Lake ALC commencement ceremony took place at the South Campus theatre. Some ALC students decided to walk in the South Campus ceremony but most opted for the more intimate setting on Thursday where advisers had the opportunity to highlight the students' many accomplishments in the program. Browse photos from the evening here!

Finally, Aldrich Arena hosted the 560 WBLAHS seniors participating in commencement ceremonies on Friday. Band and choir groups provided music for the evening and students gave moving speeches to a large audience of family and friends. 

After the ceremony, several students attended the traditional all-night party lock-in where they could bond with friends while playing games and winning prizes. Click here for photos from the Aldrich Arena ceremony!

As we bid the class of 2014 farewell, we also also celebrate staff who will be retiring this year. On May 28, the district held the annual retirement dinner at Manitou Station. More than 30 teachers and staff were honored at the event. Click here to watch a video of the honored retirees!

Community Connections 

As the school year drew to a close, three events showcased the positive connections our schools have made with the community. First, on May 27, Willow Lane Elementary held a Reading Buddy "thank you" gathering where students and their reading buddies could meet for a final time before summer break.

Throughout the school year, friendly members of the community volunteer their time to help students build a strong foundation of reading skills. Students, who have benefited from hours of these one-on-one lessons, took the time that Tuesday morning to say "thank you" to their buddies.

Fifth-grade students going into middle school next year took it a step further and read their "thank you" messages aloud to the group to emphasize their gratitude and show off their superb reading abilities!

Also at the elementary school level, students in Paula Perron's fourth-grade class at Birch Lake had the opportunity to learn about fish from the Minnesota DNR as well as water safety from the Ramsey County Water Patrol on May 30.

The DNR arrived with interns to teach a class titled "Fish Sense" and the Water Patrol brought a boat, life jackets, and dive equipment. As the lakes become ready for summer recreation, these lessons allowed students to learn about safety and the wildlife that live under the water. Students had the chance to speak to experts and ask important questions related to these representatives' jobs.

Another community connection through the state of Minnesota occurred on Friday, May 30 when the Minnesota Education Commissioner, Brenda Cassellius, visited our Early Childhood Program at Normandy Park.

Commissioner Cassellius is currently traveling the state to visit early learning programs and to discuss what is working and what could be done better, with a particular focus on the scholarship program. Parents and staff had the chance to ask questions and personally speak with the Commissioner at a roundtable discussion following a tour of the center.

Finally on May 29, the White Bear Lake Area Schools AARP Driver Safety Course had a special visitor. Richard Murray, Zone Coordinator for Minnesota AARP, presented the district with a "Top 100 Host" Award.

During 2013, 1,118 participants attended 41 courses - which ranked the White Bear Lake Area Schools Senior Center SECOND IN THE NATION. Send congratulations to seniors here for in keeping our roads and our residents safe!

Final Push

The last few weeks of school are usually pretty busy - packed with fun and fundraising. The end of this school year was no different. In fact, students found ways to raise a lot of money for a few good causes, while having a lot of fun, too!

First, the district-wide H2O for Life fundraiser came to a successful end last week. The goal was to raise $9,350 for the Nachu School in Kenya to provide safe water, sanitation, hygiene education and hand washing stations. The school has 404 students and staff members. 

In total, schools that contributed to the district's goal raised nearly $11,000!

Two schools, Sunrise Park and the ALC, held celebrations recently to thank students who were involved in fundraising. At Sunrise Park, which raised $2,250 (surpassing its goal by more than $500), students had the opportunity to throw water balloons at teachers they had chosen during the fundraiser as well as shave Principal McDowell's head!

On May 30, at the Area Learning Center, Insight and ALC students gathered for their annual picnic to celebrate a successful year. Students worked together to plan service projects and coordinate H2O for Life efforts, and presented a check for $387 to a representative from the organization. 

Also on May 30, Vadnais Heights Elementary held their fourth annual Relay Recess to raise money for the American Cancer Society. This year, the relay was held in honor of Keith Warner, co-founder of the White Bear Lake Relay for Life, who passed away in December from brain cancer.

At the event, Vadnais Heights Elementary presented Patty Warner, Keith's wife, with a stone created in memory of Keith at the opening ceremonies, along with the donations the school had raised. The stone was placed in the elementary school's new rain garden.

At the high school level, seniors participated in this year's Senior Service Day on June 4, their first day of summer vacation. More than 180 seniors worked on service projects around the community.

Here are a few pictures of students landscaping and making blankets for children in the hospital. After finishing their service projects, students had a grilled lunch outside at the football stadium!

Aside from year-end fundraising efforts and service projects, elementary students around the district also took part in final projects and fun traditions as part of the busy final push of the last few weeks of school.

Below are photos of Matoska International's May 29th Exhibition Day where students presented the projects they had been working on for eight weeks, Oneka Elementary students' history projects where they dressed up as historical figures, Field Day events from our elementary schools, and the last day of preschool celebrated at Tamarack!

62.4-second video update

Take a look at our 62.4-second update that highlights weekly activity throughout our schools!


Activities Updates

The White Bear Lake girls' track and field team won the Section 4 title and the boys' track and field team took second place. The boys' golf team received top honors at the Section 4 AAA golf tournament and qualified to compete at the state tournament. The boys' lacrosse team will compete in the state championship. White Bear Lake Area High School sophomores Kate Cox and Olivia Staruck won the girls division at 2014 Minnesota State High School Sailing Championships on Lake Minnetonka the weekend of May 17.

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

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
June 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
July 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
August 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center