May 25, 2014

Finishing Strong

In the final weeks of the school year, a long-time community member casually asks the superintendent, "Well, I suppose schools are winding down, right?" 

"Thank you for asking, but, schools really do not 'wind down' at the end of the year. Actually, the final weeks of the year 'build up,' more like a Beethoven Symphony. Or the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky". 

"Oh, is that the one with all the cannons?" 

"Yes, the 1812 Overture is the overture with the cannons. But I don't mean we have cannons in school." 

"You mean school is pretty loud and it keeps getting louder toward the end?" 

"Well, not exactly that either. What I mean is teachers teach and students learn through the last day. And, there are celebrations, recognitions, and special events to cap the year..."

As our school year comes to a close, we are grateful to all who helped make this an exceptional year! Our thanks and best wishes for the summer! 

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

In Pictures: Vadnais Heights Elementary Rain Garden

Student News

Creative contributions 

A few recent service projects at White Bear Lake Area schools have not only proven to be helpful but they also have engaged the community in a unique way. At Willow Lane Elementary, the Extended Day program helped raise more than $1,200 for one of their classmates, Zach, who will walks in memory of his father, who passed away from a stroke, in the American Heart Association's Twin Cities Heart Walk later this month. 

How did they raise all of that money? Through their second annual bake and craft sale! "We were humbly amazed by the result our sale," said Carrie Trotsky, program leader of Willow Lane Elementary Extended Day. 

To bring the project full circle, Extended Day students, other elementary school students, program leaders and supporters participated in the second annual Willow Lane Heart Walk on the morning of May 15. The 1.5 mile route began at the school, continued through the Willow Marsh neighborhood and looped back to Willow Lane Elementary. Along with the theme of being heart-healthy, this event also tied in the district's BearPower partnership. 

In addition to Zach walking with Walgreens in the AHA's Twin Cities Heart Walk, Walgreens also donated t-shirts to those who participated in the Willow Lane Heart Walk! Click here to see photos of the walk and click here to watch a video with Zach and his mother! 

Another creative way students have raised money for good causes recently was through teacher Cassidy Wegwerth's North Campus language arts public service announcements. Earlier this spring, Wegwerth's students created video public service announcements for specific causes to show to their classmates. After a vote, the best video presentation was chosen and the money raised during the project was allocated to that cause. 

As Wegwerth is new to the district this year, this is the first year students participated in this project. This year, the winner's cause was the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center. Click here to watch the winning public service announcement video! 

On Monday, May 12, Hazelden representative William Moyer came to Wegwerth's fourth hour class to collect the raised money. He spoke about the treatment center and read a few passages from his book, which describes his own struggles with addiction. 

1:1 Launch

We are pleased to announce that White Bear Lake Area Schools' 1:1 initiative will launch with next year's eighth grade class. Accordingly, each eighth grader will receive a Chromebook to use throughout the 2014-15 school year. This initiative is part of White Bear Lake Area Schools' overall K-12 technology integration plan and will expand as students progress throughout their school experience. 

Teachers will receive further training this summer and throughout next year as they leverage the power of technology to help students communicate, collaborate, think critically and express their creativity. Students and parents will also have training opportunities in the fall. 

We are dividing the rollouts to ensure successful implementation at each school. Therefore, Sunrise Park Middle School's 1:1 will launch in September and Central Middle School's 1:1 will launch two to three months later. We will also provide increased access to technology for grades six and seven. 

You will receive additional information in the coming weeks and months. We look forward to this exciting new learning opportunity at our school! 

Environmental activities

As the leaves on the trees begin to grow again, we are reminded here at White Bear Lake Area Schools of the beauty nature can provide. Three stories at the elementary school level showcase how our students are committed to maintaining that beauty around our buildings. 

First, at Vadnais Heights Elementary School, students participated in planting their new rain garden. Through a $15,000 grant from Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization, the school installed a rain garden adjacent to the building. 

On May 22 Vadnais students took part in planting and learning about plants and soil throughout the school day. They rotated through learning stations focused on roots, soil, and the planting process. Every student had the opportunity to plant. 

In the rain garden, the school will place a stone in memory of Keith Warner, co-founder of the White Bear Lake Relay for Life, during this year's opening of the school's Relay Recess (an annual event that was spearheaded in partnership with Warner a few years ago) on May 30.

At Hugo Elementary, students had the opportunity to take part in two activities to improve the natural environment around their school. 

A group of young adults from Conservation Corps came to the Hugo forest on May 21 and helped restore the school's forest to its natural state. They removed invasive species like buckthorn and helped plant new seedlings like crabapple trees, white spruce, plum, and gray dogwood. 

Students came out and the conservation corps talked to them about restoring the grounds and what plants need to survive. As a fun reward, all kindergartners and first graders were then given a tree seedling to plant! 

In addition, for the second year in a row Hugo Elementary has teamed up with the neighboring church to allow students to plant vegetables in two plots at a community garden. Vegetables are planted in the spring by all classes and then harvested in the fall and donated to the Hugo-area food shelf. 

Finally, Stephen Gravley's second grade students at Otter Lake Elementary wrote reports about trees that grow out on Otter Lake Trail. They rehearsed and videotaped these informational messages to teach those who walk down the trail a little bit about each tree! See photos from this project and congratulate participating students here.

Partnering with the community

Our schools partner with the community in countless ways throughout the year. Here are just a few recent stories of how the community reaches back in appreciation and guidance. 

On May 13, Hundreds of fifth grade patrols from White Bear Lake Elementary Schools located in Ramsey County attended the annual Ramsey County Sheriff's School Safety Picnic at Aldrich Arena. Students received lunch and won awards and prizes, such as new bikes, in appreciation for their service as school patrols. 

Click here for a fun photo from White Bear Press! 

On May 15, Peace Officer Day, State Trooper Chris Edstrom came to Joe Christensen's North Campus Criminology class. Sgt. Edstrom spoke about the role state troopers play in law enforcement as well as driver safety tips and strategies, as most of the students in the class will soon be new drivers. 

Many students in the class are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement so hearing Trooper Edstrom speak helped them get an idea of paths to take as they work through high school. 

The health community also recently reached out to our schools in appreciation for our district partnership. HealthPartners hosted a BearPower School Awards and Celebration at Rudy's Redeye Grill on May 12 to recognize schools and individuals who have made the BearPower movement (no pun intended) such a rewarding experience!

High school success

At the end of each school year, our high schools have many students to recognize for their outstanding achievements. Two awards nights proved that our students are continuing to achieve high rates of excellence. 

Thirty three percent of ninth graders and 31 percent of tenth graders were honored at the North Campus Awards night. In addition, South Campus recognized 29 percent of juniors and 33 percent of seniors at their awards night. South also recognized a total of 91 seniors and 79 juniors at their Breakfast of Champions events throughout the year! 

Also at the high school level, our theater students celebrated an incredible season during their banquet recently. Click here to watch a video recapping the year of theater performances! 

One of the district's community partners, the White Bear Center for the Arts, also recognized some of our high school students recently. The local non-profit's Write Now event featured WBLAHS students from both North and South Campus who submitted poetry, short stories, essays and one-act plays. During the event, students pieces were shared. Superintendent Lovett also spoke at the event, sharing some original writing of his own!

Achieving so much excellence is exhausting! At some school districts, students participate in a senior skip day. As a school-oriented alternative at WBLAHS, our seniors have the annual Senior Breakfast followed by a trip to Valley Fair! 

On May 23, WBLAHS seniors gathered at the Prom Event Center in Oakdale for a big breakfast as well as entertainment from a magician/comedian. After the breakfast, many students took the opportunity to join in the Valley Fair trip to bond with friends before they get ready to leave for college or career opportunities. Find a few photos from the day as a status update on the WBLAHS Facebook page.

The seniors will meet again as a large group when they celebrate commencement on the evening of Friday, June 6. Other graduation ceremonies to mark on your calendar are the Transition Plus graduation event happening at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3 at the Community Auditorium and the White Bear Lake Area Learning Center graduation ceremony on the evening of Thursday, June 5 at the WBLAHS - South Campus Auditorium. Congratulations, graduates - and GO BEARS!

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 Athletes of the Month are: Wyatt Lemon, Boys Track, Male Athlete of the Month; Avery Pothoff, Girls Track, Female Athlete of the Month; and Sam Denker, Band, Fine Arts Student of the Month. The White Bear Lake boys lacrosse team won its third consecutive Suburban East Conference title after defeating Roseville last Friday. The WBLAHS Archery Team competed in Louisville National Championship and many qualified for the World Championship. The top four high school archers are Maddie Chaplin, Calvin Denker, Corey Lendway, and Charlie Bass. Other high school members of the World Championship qualifying team are Carrie Hunner, Jenna Amey, Lexi Ward, Tori Ward, Julia Isberner, Stephanie Lassila, Matt Vincent, Lindsay Buhl, Brady Ballis, Sarah Hirsch, Kelly Herzog, Autumn Zaudtke, Katie Wilke, Evan Chaplin, Sammy Johnson, Alex Einck. 

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

The School Board recently recognized Youth Art Month winners, the VFW Patriotic Art Competition winner, ALC MAAP Stars participants, the WBLAHS - South Campus Student Council (named Outstanding Student Council of the Year), as well as student council liaisons Kidus Ketema and Ryan Burke. Congratulations to all! 

Last week, School Board members visited each school in the district to serve ice cream to staff as a "thank you" social! 

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.

Parent Notices:

  • The White Bear Lake Area School District is pleased to announce the following:
    • The Otter Lake Elementary principal position has been accepted by Tim Schochenmaier, who currently serves as principal in the Big Lake School District. The Otter Lake position is open at the end of the year due to the retirement of current Principal Max DeRaad. Schochenmaier will officially join White Bear Lake Area Schools July 1.
    • The Extended Day Coordinator position has been accepted by Christina Thayer-Marmitt, who currently oversees the school age child care program along with targeted services programming at Roseville Public Schools. The position has been open this academic year due to the retirement of longtime coordinator Pat Riebau. Thayer-Marmitt will officially join White Bear Lake Area Schools May 28.
    • The Special Services Supervisor position has been accepted by Lisa Ouren, who currently serves in the Centennial School District. The position is open due to a retirement of Marilyn Hanson. Ouren will officially begin June 23 but will participate in CLASS training and leadership activities earlier in June.
    • The Assistant Principal position at WBLAHS - North Campus. Angela currently serves as the Q-comp. coordinator in the Forest Lake School District. The position was open due to the resignation of Katie Baskin. Angela will officially start in August.
      Thank you parents and staff members, who provided important input during this successful search process!
  • Vadnais Heights Elementary 4th Annual Relay Recess - Join Vadnais Heights Elementary on May 30 from 1:45 - 3:30 p.m. for this fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. This year, the event will be held in honor of Keith Warner. More information here.
  • Shut down for savings - Read about how shutting down your computer monitor can save so much energy 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 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.

  • AARP Award - AARP Driver Safety has selected the White Bear Area Senior Center for one of its Top 100 Host Awards. Nationwide, hosts were ranked based on number of courses offered and number of participants attending classes during 2013. Congratulations are in order for you and your staff for coming in number two in the country!
  • 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 - The BearPower family dinner is June 1 - click here for more details. 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.
    • 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 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 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. Learn the importance of shutting your computer monitor down 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

  • WBLAHS graduate Sarah Seifert recently received Creighton University's Spirit of Creighton Award. The Spirit of Creighton Award is given annually to graduates who exemplify the best qualities of the University founders. Recipients are honored for their initiative, enterprise, academic achievement and outstanding character traits.
  • 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.