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

District News

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 2014 Spring-Summer Catalog was recently mailed to District residents. Click here to register for upcoming courses.

A Special Thank You to WBL:

"Dear all,

I'm an exchange teacher (2013-2014) from Hangzhou Foreign Languages School, China. You may or may not know me. I came here to support Chinese teaching in WBL and I'm leaving this weekend as school ends.

I'm very grateful I got the chance to meet many of you and thank you very much for being so friendly and helpful. I had a wonderful time visiting your schools and classes. I learned a lot from you. Thanks a million!

Take care and have a fabulous summer!

Sincerely, Jane Jin"

Parent Notices:

  • Energy Heroes - Read about our schools' energy heroes here!
  • NCAA clearinghouse - Is your child a college-bound student athlete? If so, you should consider registering him/her for NCAA eligibility here.
  • East Metro Miracle League (EMML) - This baseball league is designed specifically for youth age 3-18 with cognitive and/or physical challenges. Click here for more information on how to sign up!
  • Assistive Technology in Math - Learn more about how your child could benefit from assistive technology in math 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.
  • Do you like working with children and other volunteers? - The White Bear Lake Area Schools Early Childhood Screening program at Normandy Park Education Center is looking for volunteers to help at screenings on Fridays. Click here to learn more about this opportunity!
  • 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.

Partnership Updates:

  • BearPower - 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.
    • Manitou Days Grande Parade News! “BEARS ON WHEELS” - The WBLAEF will be participating in this year’s Manitou Days Grande Parade on Friday, June 20. Community members (individuals and/or families) are invited to join the Foundation in one of our community’s key summertime events. In addition to greeting parade goers, walkers will distribute hand-outs along the route. Please contact Nancy Roth (nancycroth@gmail.com or 651-429-8399) by Monday, June 16 if you are interested in being a part of this enjoyable event!
    • Reminder to teachers - WBLAEF Grants are available online so that you can access during the summer.
    • Teachers - There's something NEW at the WBLAEF website! It's the BEAR LEGACY GRANT! This summer come to wblaef.org to learn more about this exciting new grant.
    • Ryan Family Elementary Art Grants - This grant awards elementary teachers up to $500 per person or team. These funds are available to purchase art supplies, instructional materials, or to assist with the expenses of an Artist-in-Residence. The Application Form will be available on the WBLAEF website. Completed Application Forms will be due October 2, 2014 at the Foundation office in District Center. This grant will be awarded in late October, and teachers have 12 months to complete usage of this grant.
    • Brosious Teaching Grants - The purpose of the Brosious Grants is to assist WBL professional personnel working directly with children in our schools. The goal of the Brosious Teaching Grant is to enhance the rigor of the curriculum or instruction within the classroom. This grant must be aligned with the District's goals and objectives. The Application Form is available on the WBLAEF website. Completed Application Forms will be due Oct. 22, 2014. This grant will be awarded in November, for use during the following 12 months.
    • Glasrud Family Fellowship Grants - The Glasrud Fellowship Grants are different from the Brosious Grants. They are directed at personal and/or professional growth of the individual educator or team of educators. They are intended to provide funds for educators to assist them in pursuing an opportunity or experience that would not otherwise be possible. The Application Form is available on the WBLAEF website. Completed Application Forms will be due on March 22, 2015. This grant will be awarded in April, for use during the following 12 months.
    • The Eugene & Kathleen Johnson Student Enrichment Scholarship is available to all students in grades 6-12 in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 who would like to participate in enrichment activities such as writing, speaking, journalism, musical performance, and composition. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide opportunities for students that extend beyond the classroom and encourage higher level thinking skills. Scholarships up to $1,000 per individual, with a total amount of $2,000 in grants, will be awarded per year.
      • The WBLAEF is accepting applications for the 2013-2014 school year for enhancement activities for students completed by September 1, 2014.
      • Applications will be reviewed on a continual basis throughout the year, until the $2,000 maximum per year has been awarded.
      • Grant applications should be sent to: White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, 4855 Bloom Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
    • The winner this year of the the Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award is Evelyn Swenson - a social worker at Central Middle School. "Lynn Mielke was a speech clinician and Special Education Coordinator in the WBL District. Her compassion and love for children was at the forefront of all she did. She was known as a warm and loving person who worked to create a positive environment for everyone around her. This award was established to recognize an individual who has exemplified Lynn's dedication and care for the students and staff in our district."
    • 15th Annual WBLAEF Golf Tournament - The WBLAEF will be hosting its 15th Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, June 30 at Indian Hills Golf Club. Cost is $150 per golfer. Lunch and dinner are included. All proceeds will benefit the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation. If you are interested in registering and joining in on the fun, please contact Lisa at 651-407-7696 or click 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 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. Learn about our energy heroes here!


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Golf team fundraiser - The WBLAHS golf team is selling 2014 PGA "two for one" golf card once again this year. Please consider helping the golf program. The cost is only $35.00 dollars - if you use the card once, it is paid for! If you have any questions or would like to purchase a card, contact Craig Nasvik.
  • 9th Annual Spotlight Showcase - White Bear Lake Area High School's production of "Once Upon a Mattress" will be honored at the Ninth Annual Spotlight Showcase at the Orpheum Theatre on June 8 and 9. Click here for more information and purchase tickets here!

Awards and Honors

  • White Bear Lake Area High School is seeking nominations for its Athletic Hall of Fame. If you have an interest in nominating a former athlete, coach, or community member connected with Bears athletics, please contact Karen Larson, Activities Secretary at South Campus (651-773-6206) for information about the requirements, as well as the nomination form.

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.