March 30, 2014

Offering a World of Opportunity

Guten Tag!

In June of 2013, students from White Bear Lake Area High School traveled to Leipzig, Germany, hosted by those German families whose high school aged children traveled to Minnesota the prior October. Together with their German host brothers and sisters, our students traveled by train and streetcars, delighted in beauty of German landscapes and architecture and were sobered by sites of war and rebuilding. 

Bon jour!

In autumn of 2013, French high school students from Meaux, France, lived with White Bear Lake Area High School students and made lifelong friends while they experienced American football, homecoming, marshmallow-roasting over a campfire, high school classes, and political campaigns. In the spring of 2014, White Bear students rejoin these new friends at their school near Paris. With a combination of French and English, the students will navigate the world with new eyes. 

Ni hao! 

Also this spring, high school students will travel to China, stopping in Hangzhou to visit our partner school, Hangzhou Foreign Languages School. A teacher exchange that began in 2010 has given the opportunity for seven of our teachers to teach in China and as many Chinese teachers to join us for semester-long assignments. 


Our students who speak Spanish have opportunities to immerse in Spanish language and culture in the US and in travel experiences abroad. 

White Bear Lake has ongoing partnerships with high schools in Hangzhou, China, Leipzig, Germany, and Meaux, France. Students who learn a new language and travel internationally have life-changing experiences. In our schools, all who greet and welcome international students, teachers, and visitors, know we are part of an international community and learn from our guests. 

Elementary students in our schools learn Chinese or Spanish beginning in kindergarten through grade five. In grades 6, 7, and 8, students choose from Chinese, French, German, and Spanish. At the high school level, American Sign Language is added as a fifth option. Students take college level classes while gaining proficiency in a second or third language. 

Why is learning a second or third language so important for students today? 

First, we live in a world economy; our students will compete with students from other countries for whom learning a second or third language is an essential part of the curriculum. 

Secondly, in learning other languages we also grow to understand subtleties of communication and culture that contribute to healthy relationships within our communities and workplaces - and understanding among nations. 

Third, as Americans, we are a country of immigrants. Learning another language ties us to the experience of our own ancestors, who may have learned English as a second or third language, gradually adapting to a new culture while retaining customs still part of our families today. 

Fourth, learning another language helps us better understand, read, and write English, as children gain vocabulary and come to appreciate grammar (yes, really!). 

Five, many researchers find that learning another language correlates with creativity and better school performance. 

Finally, learning another language is fun. Watch our elementary students sing in Spanish or Chinese; middle school students engage in games or dialogues; and high school students acting out a social situation using another language. 

You'll want to join the class!

Dr. Michael Lovett

This article was originally published in "Town Life" Magazine, Spring 2014

In Pictures: Lincoln Elementary performs Dr. Dolittle Jr.

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.
  • How to talk to your kids about safety - Teachable Safety Skills: Replacing Myths with Fact, a new class offered through community services, will take place on Monday, April 21 from 6 - 8 p.m. Click here to register!
  • NCAA clearinghouse - Is your child a college-bound student athlete? If so, you should consider registering him/her for NCAA eligibility here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 - 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.
  • 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.
    • David M. Gehrenbeck has been selected as the 2014 J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award recipient! Learn more about Gehrenbeck's work 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.
    • 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:

  • 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!
  • Middle School Musical - Fiddler on the Roof - Purchase your tickets here!

Awards and Honors

  • Congratulations to Carol Hultman, sixth grade science teacher at Central Middle school, for getting accepted as a Siemens STEM Institute Fellow! Hultman will participate in a program in Washington, D.C. this summer, where she will be exposed to leading scientists, thought-leaders, personalities and innovators whose work across STEM disciplines shape and define our world today. Congratulate her here!
  • 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.

Student News - Excellence in language arts

Three events on the calendar during the last few weeks showcased White Bear Lake Area Schools' commitment to innovation and excellence in the language arts. At Otter Lake Elementary, students in grades 3-6 are preparing for their Poetry Cafe Event, which will take place on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. Students will write poems and read them at the event, which will be themed like a coffee house from the 1960s.

To get in the mindset of a poet, students had an opportunity to learn from the master Minnesotan poet, Bruce Lansky. On March 24, Lansky held a lesson about poetry at Otter Lake where he spoke about the different types of poems and fun techniques students can use when writing their own poems. The school's Brosious Grant made this Poetry Event possible.

At WBLAHS - North Campus, students in Cassidy Wegworth's 9th grade language arts class had the chance to learn how to make a YouTube video in order to present a 60-90 second public service announcement about their research paper topic. South Campus teacher Cassandra Knutson made a guest teaching appearance to help students create their great videos. 

For this assignment, students identified a problem in the world and chose an organization that worked towards fixing that problem. 

At the end of the project, students will vote for the best video. Going the extra mile, Wegworth started a fundraiser so the winning video's organization will benefit by receiving a donation. Through this creative process, students will see how their work can positively impact the larger community. Click here to donate to this class fundraiser!

Oneka Elementary recently got a wild treat for their February reading achievements. Abbi Case's 5th grade class participated in the Minnesota Wild's Wild About Reading program and won a visit from Breanna Tobias (Community Relations Coordinator for the Wild) and Nordy, the Wild's mascot last week!

Tobias read a short book to the students and talked to them about the importance of school and taking on responsibilities. The class received signatures from Nordy and asked Tobias questions about favorite Wild players. See photos of the visit here.

Family and community celebrations

Throughout the year, our district celebrates the importance of community by hosting many fun events in our schools. Last week, two events proved to be perfect examples of the importance of bringing families and the community together.

On March 25, Sunrise Park Middle School had their annual Community Dinner where students, educators, family members, and community members joined to eat some delicious food and celebrate their remarkable school.

Students as well as teachers sang and danced to provide entertainment for the evening. Attendees had the opportunity to support the school by donating to specific classrooms for creative class activities. 

A full house event, the Community Dinner is a favorite among students and family members and also serves as a fundraiser for the school.

Another popular event, Morning with Mom, at Vadnais Heights Elementary took place on March 28. During Morning with Mom, students at Vadnais brought in their moms, grandmothers, aunts, or guardians to join them for doughnuts and juice at school. Family members had the chance to meet and mingle with staff and other families in the school cafeteria. The event is similar to another one hosted by Vadnais earlier in the year - Donuts with Dad.

After breakfast, families were invited to stick around and tour their child's classroom. Even though it was not quite Mothers' Day, it is always a good time to celebrate moms! See a few photos of the morning here.

Moving forward

Our schools have been moving forward in a variety of ways recently. First, students at the middle school level had the opportunity to practice their dance moves. 

Moving to the beat of an African drum, middle school students received instruction from the Duniya Drum and Dance group. By the end of the class period, students learned the sinté dance from Guinea, West Africa.

Check out some of their moves here

At the elementary level, Otter Lake Elementary will kick off a school-wide move-a-thon with BearPower on Monday, March 31. The school will be spending the month tracking all of the minutes they spend being active. This exciting month will begin with a school-wide assembly where they will introduce the move-a-thon, do Zumba as a school, and get excited about the month ahead!

Finally, Lincoln Elementary students pulled together a very moving performance of Dr. Dolittle Jr. last weekend. Full of laughs as well as showcasing students' acting and memorization abilities, the show was a success. For photos, see the "In Pictures" graphic above or click here.

Compassion and innovation

Our schools and students have gone above and beyond with compassion and innovation, striving to be their best every day. One example of this is on March 27, White Bear Lake Area Schools hosted educational leaders from throughout the state at a Google Symposium at South Campus. 

Visitors had the chance to hear local and national perspectives in the morning, then they visited White Bear classrooms in the afternoon to see first hand how our students are using technology.

Our commitment to being innovative with technology recently extended to the table saws in our schools. White Bear Lakes Schools Health and Safety made it so our schools are on the "cutting edge" of safe and effective tools. 

During spring break there was a district wide install at the secondary level (middle schools and high schools) of new technology in table saws that will automatically stop if it senses danger to the user. Click here to see an example video.

A final example of compassion in our schools comes from Oneka Elementary. Fifth-grader, Jarron McFarlane, was on his way to school and found a laptop in the snow. He brought it to his teacher, Evan Weissman, and they figured out that it was from BNSF Railway. They called the number on the laptop and were transferred to the police.

When an appreciative Officer Mark Moody came into the class to retrieve the laptop, he brought many gifts for Jarron and his class. Jarron received a sweatshirt, hat, and water bottle for his responsible act!

Activities Updates

The White Bear Lake PeeWee B hockey team won the State Championship last weekend in Two Harbors. The victory capped off a great season - the team had a 35-10-4 overall record, their regular season included tournament championships in White Bear Lake and Rochester, and they took home 3rd place trophies in Cloquet and Maple Grove. Congratulations to our State Champs! Fourteen students from Central Middle School, 25 students from Sunrise Middle School, and two students from WBLAHS North Campus will represent the state at the History Day competition. A number of other students also represented the district recently at the regional competition. Jayna Carpenter received first place out of all middle school students who submitted art at the statewide Youth Art Month. 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

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
April 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
May 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center