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