March 16, 2014

Seeing neighbors again

The Old Farmers Almanac and our local meteorologists assure us that spring begins this year on March 20, right at 12:57 p.m., about the time fifth graders are finishing lunch.

While scientists can predict the exact time of the vernal equinox, predicting when it will feel like spring is quite another matter. For this information, we can observe the fifth graders. After lunch on March 20 will they rush out to recess with baseball gloves and four square balls, eager to play spring activities after a long winter?

Phenologists are scientists who observe changes in the seasons by observing subtle changes in nature such as bird migration, tree-budding, and presumably by watching fifth graders play at recess.

For the rest of us, here are sure signs that spring is coming:

1. Spring sports begin this week, including baseball and softball, lacrosse, track and field, boy's tennis, sailing, and sports that carry over from winter such as archery.

2. Music fills the air, including elementary and middle school musicals, elementary school concerts, and middle school and high school band and choir concerts.

3. We attend school five days a week without fear that the governor (or someone else) might call off school because of cold or snow (yes, we know it could happen again).

4. State tests begin in March, including Minnesota MCA's at all levels and in May, Advanced Placement Exams for high school students.

5. We return eager to finish the last quarter together and all the exciting learning activities in the classroom, field trips, and service learning in the community.

Finally, we start seeing neighbors again in our neighborhoods and at school events. Ah, spring is arriving!

Dr. Michael Lovett

In Pictures: Willow Lane Elementary Takes Over Donatelli's 2014

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.
  • 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.
  • Vadnais Heights Carnival - Spring is in the air, which can only mean one thing - school carnivals! Vadnais Heights Elementary will be hosting their Annual Spring Carnival Fundraiser on April 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The carnival will include a silent auction, a raffle with cash prizes, games, delicious food, and bouncy houses. Proceeds from the carnival will go directly to benefiting the school.
  • 28th Annual ECFE Garage Sale - The 28th Annual ECFE Garage Sale will take place from 9 a.m. - noon on Saturday, April 12 at Otter Lake Elementary. Find items such as children's clothing (newborn-size 16), children's toys and books, baby equipment, maternity clothing. Those who wish to sell items at the sale can purchase tags at Normandy Park for $7 for the first 50 tags and $1 for each additional set of 50. You keep the proceeds, minus 15% that goes to the ECFE Program PTA to cover expenses of the sale. Find additional information here.
  • School-Within-a-School for the Exceptionally Gifted Advisory Group - If you would like to be a part of an advisory group focused on looking at the possibility of creating a School-Within-a-School for the Exceptionally Gifted, please contact Jo Tate by March 28. Work will include studying what is being offered for exceptionally gifted learners throughout the metro area and discussing what could be offered in White Bear Lake Area School. Click here for more information.
  • 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!
  • Love arts and crafts? - The Area Learning Center will be hosting a craft and scrapbook retreat as a fundraiser for art supplies on April 5. Details here.
  • Assistive Technology in Math - Learn more about how your child could benefit from assistive technology in math here.
  • ADD/ADHD Support Group - If you have any questions about this group please call Sarah Lilja, school social worker, 651-748-7585.
  • 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 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 - Do you have some spare time? On April 6, the BearPower Family Fun Day will include bowling at PINZ in Oakdale for only $2.50 - the price of shoe rental! For more details and to sign up, click here. Check out the newest edition of Bear Press here! Stay up to date on all BearPower events on the BearPower Facebook page.
  • BearPower spring community meeting - The BearPower spring community meeting will be held Thursday, March 20 from 3:30 - 5 p.m. All community members are invited to discuss the BearPower movement's progress, hear from community members in action, provide feedback and enjoy some tasty BearPowered refreshments! More information here.
  • 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.
    • Lynn Mielke Award - Applications are now being accepted for the Lynn Mielke Award are now being accepted. To learn more about the award or to nominated an exceptional employee who uses his or her talents to enrich the lives of others, please click here.
    • 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 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 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:

  • 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!
  • Middle School Musical tickets available March 25 - Tickets for the middle school musical will be available for purchase online on March 25. Ticket information will be posted on the District's website and Facebook pages.

Awards and Honors

  • Congratulations to the following teachers who have received a grant from the Glasrud Family Fellowship: Sarah SwobodaSara MartinAmy CanniffHui XuKendall RutherfordAbbe EikenbaryPaul MeuwissenLindsay Lamwers, and Elizabeth Werner. Grants will allow teachers to pursue innovative experiences and expand personal and professional growth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Huy Nguyen, social studies teacher at Sunrise Park Middle School, was honored as 2014 Minnesota Council for Social Studies (MCSS) Middle School Teacher of the Year at the annual MCSS gala on March 2 at the Bloomington Sheraton.

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 - Section titles in basketball, hockey

The White Bear Lake girls' basketball team and the boys' hockey team both claimed conference section titles in February. 

The girls' basketball team finished with only three losses overall during the regular season and shared the conference title with Park-Cottage Grove with a tied Suburban East Conference record. With their outstanding regular season performance, the team earned the top seed for the Section 4A Tournament. On March 13, the team took second place in the tournament after a tough 53-47 loss to St. Paul Central in the finals.

On the ice, the boys' hockey team finished with an outstanding 18-6-1 overall season record, 14-3-1 in Suburban East play, and were seeded second for the section tournament. Unfortunately, during the Section 4 semifinals, the Bears fell 2-1 to Stillwater.

In other boys' hockey news, the Pioneer Press recently named Jake Wahlin, the Bears' junior forward, boys' hockey player of the year. Wahlin's record-breaking season and prep career contributed to this distinction.

Wahlin set a school record this season with 41 goals. Pairing those goals with his 36 assists also made him the Bears' single-season point leader. Throughout his prep career, Wahlin scored 89 goals and made 100 assists, breaking yet another school record for career scoring.

Talented students

Throughout the district, students are showcasing their talents and receiving acclaim for their achievements. On Feb. 27, Central Middle School hosted 15 performances for their annual talent show. Participating students created acts involving singing, dancing, clogging, gymnastics, and piano playing.

Students attributed inspiration for their talents from a variety of sources including singing in unusual situations, family clogging traditions, the work of South Korean pianist Yiruma, and even the television show The Voice. Central's own student council sponsored the event. 

Also at Central Middle School, eighth-grader Jayna Carpenter recently won the middle school division of Youth Art Month. This is the first year the middle school has participated in Youth Art Month. 

The contest received 80 total entries and 28 entries at the middle school level. Each level (elementary, middle, and high school) is awarded three honorable mentions and one first place prize. Jayna's artistic talents won her first place at the middle school level and her work will be displayed at the Hopkins Center for the Arts until March 30.

Throughout the past few weeks our high school students have shown their talents as musicians and fundraisers as well. At the 2014 region 4AA instrumental solo/ensemble music contest, White Bear Lake Area High School was represented by many great musicians. Fifty-nine students from North Campus and 71 students from South Campus all received either superior or excellent ratings, the two highest ratings, at the competition. Click here to learn more about the contest results.

High school students' talents even extended to philanthropy last weekend. On March 8, a group of South Campus Ambassadors led by student Kayla Foss participated in the Muscular Dystrophy Association Muscle Walk at the Mall of America. The team raised $3,346.85 for the MDA through their participation in this event. 

Our youngest bears

Our youngest bears have been very busy over the past few weeks. White Bear Lake preschool classes at Tamarack Nature Center had the unique opportunity to tap maple trees for syrup during the first week of March. With the assistance of a teacher, each child could take a turn using the manual drill and hammer.

After getting the sap from the trees, they helped make the maple syrup and tasted it during a special pancake snack. Creative learning activities like this are prevalent throughout the Early Childhood Program. For example, in January, this Tamarack class invited their family and friends to join them for a snowshoeing lesson. 

Preschool spots are still available for next year! Click here to learn more and click here to register online.

Also in preschool news, the Early Childhood Program PTA is planning their 28th annual ECFE garage sale. This sale brings the community together to help recycle items people may no longer need, such as children's used toys, clothing and equipment as well as maternity clothes. If you would like more information about this outreach program or if you would like to know how to sell goods at the sale, click here.

With more than 8,000 items for sale and a bake sale, this event is not only fun and community-oriented - but it also serves as an economical way to purchase quality items. All of the proceeds from the sale go to the school and the PTA outreach program. Also, keep in mind, the Early Childhood Family Education Spring Event is quickly approaching - mark your calendars early!

Parent leader groups are positively impacting our schools at the elementary level as well. The Willow Lane Elementary PTO raised more than $4,000 by forming a team during the 2014 Winter Plunge. The team, Willow Lane Plunging Bears, jumped in the frigid waters at Lakeside Beach in Forest Lake on Feb. 22.

Life-long readers

Even though "I Love to Read" February is over, the reading activities our schools participated in during the month have undoubtedly sparked a life-long interest for books in many of our students. A love for reading does not end on March 1.

Four activities at the elementary school level highlight how our schools instill a passion for reading in our young students. At Lakeaires Elementary, classes participated in a school-wide competition to win gold, silver, and bronze medals by reading enough minutes. 

Because the school as a whole received more than 190 gold medals, all students had the opportunity to go to the Vadnais Sports Dome as a special treat. At the dome, Principal Krusemark took a selfie with several students (at left) to mimic Ellen DeGeneres' selfie taken at the Oscars. Click here for more photos from the White Bear Press. Click here to congratulate the students on their reading accomplishments!

Otter Lake Elementary ended their reading and fitness-focused month of February with a staff Olympics. Click here to see some hilarious staff photos! At Lincoln Elementary, students read more than 190,000 minutes all together during the month of February. As a reward, they had the chance to see their principal, Dan Schmidt, stick his head in a giant bucket of whipped cream. Here are the pictures!

Finally, Hugo and Oneka Elementary had a lot to celebrate at their school assembly on Feb. 28. Not only did they read more than 200,000 minutes during February, but they also brought in more than 700 books for Cheer on Reading, sponsored by Cheerios. Also last month, the school raised more than $2,000 for Pennies for Patients, which supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Activities Updates

The WBLAHS boys' hockey team and the WBLAHS girls' basketball team both claimed conference section titles in February (see above article for more information). The WBLAHS boys' basketball team won the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Team Academic Section Championship. The team's academic accomplishment will be on display at the Target Center throughout the entire course of the state basketball tournament. The WBLAHS math team just finished their season. Sophomore Max Perron was the top scorer on the team and placed 9th in the conference overall. Seniors Taylor Krivanek and Michael Lee earned their century mark, meaning throughout their time on the math team they have earned more than 100 points - this is not an easy thing to do! Band students from WBLAHS competed in the 2014 region 4AA instrumental solo/ensemble music contest. Fifty-nine students from North Campus and 71 students from South Campus all received either superior or excellent ratings, the two highest ratings, at the competition. 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.

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 - Student Recognition

The School Board recently recognized students who have earned a place in honor and all-conference bands, orchestras, and choirs, as well as students who received Scholastic Art Awards, WBLAHS gymnasts, Nordic Ski team members, WBLAHS Swim and Dive team members, and the WBLAHS Wrestling team members, who all represented the district at their respective state meets. Say congratulations here!

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
March 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
April 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center