May 11, 2014


Eight years out of high school, and four years from college, the young women was in her dream job. 

Driving to work, focused on the challenges of the day, an announcement on the radio brought her back to the moment. 

"This is teacher appreciation week. Think about a teacher who was influential in your life.... and make time to telephone or send a note."

* * * * 

Late Friday afternoon, I listened as a high school teacher with more then 25 years of teaching related this story. 

"She told me I was her favorite teacher, and how she gained confidence in a subject she had always feared and detested before." 

"I was touched that she would take the time to call. I have been wondering, what did I do that made the difference?" 

* * * * 

To our students, we are all teachers: teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, secretaries, child nutrition, custodial and maintenance, administrators and all support staff. 

Who has made a difference in you life? This week consider calling or sending a note to one you remember. 

Pass it on.

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

In Pictures: Matoska Water Walk

Student News - Global and local compassion

It is difficult to think of water as a scarcity in a school district with "lake" in its name, especially after the last week in April when we saw a lot of water in the form of rain. However, many communities across the globe still struggle with access to clean drinking water. This spring, our schools have partnered with the nonprofit, H2O for life, in order to help people get access to clean water one community at a time.

Starting in April, student groups at the high schools and secondary schools as well as ALC students have worked together to raise money to build a well in Kenya to serve a school and community. Each group creatively organized fundraisers for the cause.

For example, ALC Leadership/MAAP Stars students placed collection boxes throughout their building and took in as much loose change as they could scrounge. They also sold cookies, brownies, and bars during lunches on Wednesday afternoons, which quickly became known as "Cookie Wednesdays." In addition, the students sold coffee and treats during conferences. They raised a grand total of $387.01 to be donated to H2O for Life.

Matoska International set out to raise $4,000 for H2O for Life this year and ended up raising more than $5,500 for a well in Uganda. Students did chores around the house to earn money and asked friends and family for a small donation to the project. 

All money earned and/or donated went into the water bottle they received during the kick-off celebration. They brought the water bottle back on May 1 or May 2 (PE day) and dumped the money in the "big bucket." 

Also on that day, students participated in a Water Walk, connecting the water crisis in the world to our local water issues with White Bear Lake. Students filled empty two-liter pop bottles with water and carried them in their backpack down Bellaire Ave to White Bear Lake. White Bear Police department cruised the street and high school volunteers assisted at the crossings.

Local community outreach

Other than reaching out to the global community, our schools have also focused on our local community in recognition and service.

The Transition Education Center had their community partner celebration on April 17 where they recognized 14 community partners and 15 students who participated in their Work Based Learning Program. These community partners helped maintain this learning program that supports students preparing for independent employment, career exploration, and collaboration between our schools and the community.

At Lincoln Elementary, the Hug-A-Heart Club organized 40 groups, each with 3-5 kids in a group that were lead by 1-2 parent/staff volunteers and made May Day baskets and cards to be delivered to residents of Cerenity Care Center. 

On May 1, the 4th Grade Spring Hug-A-Heart Members walked over to Cerenity to deliver the baskets. Read more and see pictures from this May Day surprise in this White Bear Press article!

In addition to the work our high school Ambassadors students have put into the H2O for Life cause, they also have been working on service projects throughout the year. On May 6, these students had the opportunity to showcase their work before the North Campus Awards Night.

Collectively the group has already logged more than 3,000 hours of service this school year!

Student success

Our students have had many successes to celebrate this spring. First, immediately after the Ambassadors Service Fair, hundreds of North Campus students were honored at their annual Awards Night. Awards included achievements in academics, art, band, language arts, business education, world language and much more!

Also at North Campus, Ben Kirkham, language arts teacher and Teacher of the Year nominee, had eight of his students (and one who moved out of district) win or become runners-up for the National Center for Fathering essay contest for Father of the Year

That's right - nine out of all ten winners at the 9th grade level were Kirkham's students. This is his second year with the contest and last year he had one winner for 10th grade and one runner-up for 9th grade. Kirkham and the winners (and their fathers) are invited to the Father of the Year award ceremony on June 7. After the ceremony they will be given tickets to a Twins game.

Central Middle School student Stella Cotner won the regional competition and is moving on to the state competition for the VFW Patriotic Art Competition. In her artwork, she depicted the image of the American flag reflected in an iris.

On May 4, high school athletes at White Bear Lake Schools were honored at North and East Metro FCA banquet. There were more than 100 students from local schools who attended the banquet. Charlie Wachtler and Cassidy Hammel from North Campus as well as Trey Anderson and Katie Zoborowski from South Campus were Influence Award winners. Former Mr. Hockey, Brian Bonin was our keynote speaker for the ceremony.

On April 30, more than 60 White Bear Lake Area High School seniors were recognized at the annual Excellence Event. Each student selected an educator they wanted to honor for their guidance in their academic achievements. The alumni speaker for the evening was screenwriter and Hollywood TV producer, Janae Bakken. Click here to view a photo album from the night and congratulate the students and educators for their accomplishments!

At the elementary level, 14 students from Otter Lake Elementary School participated in the regional Math Masters of Minnesota Challenge April 26. The problem-solving competition for fifth- and sixth-graders included both individual and team components. Zack Kueppers earned 6th place in the individual fact-drill portion of the competition. There were 27 teams in attendance and 136 individuals in the competition.

Traditions, transitions, and new projects

One of the greatest community-oriented traditions at our elementary schools is the spring carnival. Matoska International recently had their carnival but this year was a little different. This year the carnival was BearPowered and featured creative yard games focused on getting families moving!

One of the most common traditions throughout most schools is the tradition of transition. That is, each year one grade of students must leave their current building to a higher level building. It is a tough transition for many but here at White Bear Lake, our students aim to make it smooth and easily adaptable for newcomers.

In fact, below is a video that North Campus students created to guide middle school students through the high school building and "show them the ropes.

Sometimes, we transition into developing a new program that teaches students at White Bear Lake Area Schools unique lessons. For example, for the first time all third, fourth and fifth grade students at Otter Lake hosted a Poetry Cafe for friends and family on May 1. 

Students showcased their original poetry and the technology they used to create it. Third grade students hiked to Tamarack, took photos of a nature subject that inspired them and then they composed haikus. After learning about free verse, cinquains and triplets, fourth grade students wrote a poem, and created a slide for a Google presentation. The fifth grade students wrote diamantes and limericks which were presented with Prezi. In true Poetry Cafe fashion, the audience snapped their appreciation for the students' terrific work. The poetry unit and the Poetry Cafe were made possible with funding from a Brosious Grant.

Another cafe that made its debut this year was the South Campus Bear Cafe. In this project, Paige Pinnow and other staff members from the special education department helped special education students to work on planning, shopping, hosting, and interacting with staff "customers" during a reserved lunch period.

The Bear Cafe ran for four days throughout the winter and spring and served 128 customers, raising $640 from donations of those eating in the cafe. The department has used $400 of that money to put back into the cafe to become self sustaining. 

Local businesses helped in providing some of the food and supplies for the Bear Cafe. Walmart and Target donated gift cards, Flicker Meats gave a 15 pound donation of meat for shredded beefs, Donatelli's donated of a large pan of mostaciolli, and Perkins gave two bags of chicken noodle soup. The Bear Cafe had its final day this school year on May 9. Pinnow and the department are looking forward to continuing the Bear Cafe next year.

Another new project White Bear Lake Area Schools explored over lunch was a diplomatic symposium. South Campus students, faculty, and district leaders attended a symposium featuring career diplomat Thomas Hanson. The event, sponsored by Wells Fargo and held at the University of St. Thomas, gave students the opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation with Mr. Hanson about international relations, American foreign policy, and their individual college and career plans.

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 boys track team won the annual Ron Sass Invitational. The White Bear Lake girls track team came in second of seven teams at the Border Battle meet in River Falls, Wis. WBLAHS vocalists competed in the Region 4AA Vocal Contest. Thirty-five students from North Campus and 21 from South Campus performed and all received superior or excellent ratings! The White Bear Lake Adapted Softball Team attended the Twins vs Tigers game on Friday, April 25. It was their fourth year cheering on their hometown favorites. The MN Twins offer ticket packages to the Minnesota adapted softball organizations, which includes a game ticket and access to the field before the game.

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

Financial Stewardship and Budget Management

As part of the district's ongoing goal of financial stewardship and budget management, the district is continuing to identify greater efficiencies in operations that will help maintain financial stability and continue improvement in program quality and student success.

While overall revenue is increasing at a rate of less than 1%, major categories of expenditures (e.g., employment, energy, technology, materials and supplies) rise at a rate higher than new district revenue. Without annual budget adjustments, the cost of the same level of goods and services will exceed our new revenue. Based on January 2014 budget forecast, in 2013-14 expenditures will exceed revenues by $2.7 million. By making budget adjustments of approximately $500,000 each year for FY 2015-18, the budget will be balanced no later than the 2017-18 academic year. Expenditure management will include controlling our costs in every area and improving efficiencies.


See the full information that was presented to the School Board on April 28 here.

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
May 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
May 19 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
June 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center