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, Leipzip, 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.

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