October 4, 2013

District News

Sea of Orange and More Good News
On Friday of Homecoming a sea of orange spread out in every direction. Not wanting to miss the action, I joined a table of middle school students for lunch. While nibbling on fresh vegetables, I asked sixth graders about their favorite subjects. Of the six boys and girls sitting around me, each nominated a different favorite class.

After hearing from one another, one girl reflected, "I like all my classes... I really like school!"

"What about your classes do you like?" I asked.

As students describe their fun teachers and excitement in learning, I also hear about innovative uses of technology.

"For art class, our teacher makes a video about our new lesson we can watch at home the night before. When we get to class we can start working on our project right away."

I reflect on how instructional technology affects every class. In the art class example, students view class instructions and demonstrations in advance. Students enter the classroom immediately engaged in learning.

Such use of instructional videos is but one example of how technology allows teachers and students engage in learning both in class and outside of class.

With support from new technologies, our student performance results keep getting better.

This week the Minnesota Department of Education released new school ratings and made public which districts made AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) - the high and rising threshold of student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

White Bear Lake Area Schools are one of only two East Metro school districts that has made AYP four consecutive years.

All eight of our elementary schools, our two middle schools, and our high school once again made AYP.

Further, under Minnesota's Multiple Measures Ratings (MMR), which takes into account proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rate-- our South Campus ranks in the top 1% percentile of high schools in the state. This means we are ranked in the top four high schools of more than 400 high schools in Minnesota.

As you likely know, our School Board is asking our community to consider continuing important investments for the next decade which help us achieve these results. A Capital Projects Levy question will be placed on the November 5 ballot.

If you want to see for yourself how Capital Projects Levy investments are being used for "textbooks, test tubes, technology and tubas," consider "coming back to school" to tour, observe, and ask questions next month at these scheduled School Community Open Houses:

  • Tuesday, October 22, 8:30-10 a.m., White Bear Lake Area High School - North Campus
  • Wednesday, October 23, 8:30-10 a.m., Sunrise Middle School
  • Thursday, October 24, 9:30-11 a.m., Otter Lake

Dr. Michael Lovett


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 Fall 2013 Catalog is now available online. Click here to register for upcoming courses.

Parent Notices:

  • Stay connected! Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Calling all baby models - We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us at communications@isd624.org and you may find your little one featured in District publications! See an example of a "Born to be a Bear" photo here.
  • Public Safety Open House - Community members are invited to a White Bear Lake Fire and Police Public Safety Open House from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at Station 2 (at the corner of McKnight Road and County Road E). Find a flyer here.
  • October is Dyslexia Awareness Month - Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed that October, 2013, shall be Dyslexia Awareness Month. See the proclamation here.
  • Internet Safety Resources - Valuable resources that are designed to protect our children are available online here. The items available include teaching materials, presentations, safety pledges and safety tips on topics such as cyberbullying, gaming and smartphone safety, sexting, and protecting children online.
  • For parents only - White Bear Lake Area Schools and the White Bear Lake Police Department will host a Safety Information Night from 6-8:15 p.m. on November 19, 2013 at District Center, with a free dinner being served from 5:30-6 p.m. See a flyer here.
  • Capital Projects Levy updates - The "Capital Projects Levy information" page on the District website is the place you will find all factual information about the levy. We will continue to add to the page as additional pieces are created and additional information becomes available to share, and we will provide links to this page in our internal and community e-newsletters until the November 5 vote. Please look over the information closely, paying particular attention to the Staff Participation in the Capital Projects Levy document.
  • White Bear Lake Archery meeting - Parent/Player meeting Monday, October 7, 2013 in the North Campus Cafeteria from 7-8:30 pm - All grade levels. Any questions contact Coach Becky Lassila.

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.

In Every Issue:

  • 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.
    • Staff Appeal - White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation is excited to celebrate more than 20 years of partnership with the school district. Please watch for the annual Staff Appeal forms that will arrive in your mailbox during the last two weeks of October. Your contributions make a difference in our community and in the lives of our children. We are better together!
    • Student Activities Scholarships - The Jim Honsa, Sr. Memorial Student Activities Endowment and thePeter E. Palm Memorial Student Activities Fund both provide access to co-curricular activities for students who may not otherwise have access due to financial need. The scholarships, administered by the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, each provide up to $200 per applicant.
    • 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 www.wblaef.org. 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. The Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant Applications is due October 4, 2013. The Brosious Teaching Grant Applications are due October 24, 2013. The Glasrud Family Fellowship Applications are due February 13, 2014. We hope that having these grant applications available year around on our web site will allow teachers more time to plan & they can fill out their application forms at their own convenience. If you have any questions, please e-mail Lisa Lindvall.
  • 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 the October tip sheet, and change a light bulb for National Energy Awareness Month, here.
  • MacPhail Center for Music - Save $25 on music lessons at MacPhail Center for Music's location at Birch Lake Elementary when you register by December 31. Mention WBLDIST-FALL14. Valid for new students only. Call 612-321-0100 or go to macphail.org, flyer available by clicking here.
  • BearPower - The White Bear Lake Area Schools elementary schools are getting BearPowered! BearPower is a community-wide movement helping families eat well and be active. The White Bear Lake Area Schools, White Bear Area YMCA, parents and community and business leaders are joining with HealthPartners and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to build healthier kids and a stronger community. Every elementary school in the district is pledging commitment to the principles of BearPower! Over the course of the year, schools will be doing exciting things to help make eating well and being active fun for all of our students. It will mean making some changes to what we eat, drink and do - but all of those changes will help our kids reach their full potential. So keep an eye out in your child's classroom, at school events, and in the school and district newsletters to see all the ways schools are getting BearPowered.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Get into the Oct. 11 football game for free - Next Friday, Oct. 11 is the "Harvest Bowl" / Hall of Fame Football game. Bring 3 non-perishable food items to the game to be donated to the Food Shelf and receive free admission! See the flyer here.
  • Support the White Bear Lake Area High School Band Program - The WBLAHS Band Program is in competition to win $3000 from MazdaEdu. Find information about the competition here.
  • Sunrise Fundraiser - Sunrise Park Middle School is selling Metro Dining Club (DMC) cards this fall. The North/Northeast Metro card set has 166 restaurants. Each card may be used once a month October 2013 - October 2014. A few of the local restaurants include Roadside Pizza, Blue Heron, C. G. Hooks, Carbone's Pizza, Mad Jacks, & Running Aces.Cost is $22 (savings of $6) per set. Contact Linda Adams at 651-653-2701 if interested.
  • WBLAHS - South Campus Sunshine Fundraiser - The WBLAHS - South Campus Sunshine Fund is once again selling DMC (Metro Dining Club) cards. Cost is $22. Each set has 166 cards that may be used once a month October 2013 - October 2014. Local restaurants include Blue Heron, C.G. Hooks, Cafe Cravings, Dairy Queen, Don Julio, Kelly's Korner, Mad Jacks, Olive Joes, Roadside Pizza & Running Aces. Contact Cathy Ackerknecht 651-653-6204 or Karen Larson 651-653-6206 to request a set.
  • Mark your calendar for WBLAHS Fall Musical! - The WBLAHS 2013 Fall musical is Once Upon A Mattress. A parody on the story of Princess and the Pea, this fun-for-all-ages musical is sure to entertain! This rated PG spoof of a potential marriage between the prince and the princess (from the swamp) has many fun twists and turns. A cross between Shrek and Cirque Du Soleil, this high energy show will be sure to wow the audience and tickle the funny bone! The show will be performed at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8,9,14,15 and 16. A 2 p.m. matinee will be performed on Nov. 9 (matinee free for senior citizens). All performances will take place at the WBLAHS - North Campus Theater.

Awards and Honors

  • October Recognitions (as listed in the 2013-14 Activities Calendar):
    • October is National Principals Month
    • On October 2, the district celebrated National Custodial Worker Day.
    • October 5 is the United Nation's World Teachers Day.
    • October 14-18 is National School Lunch Week.
    • October 16 is National Boss's Day.
    • October 21-25 is National Safe Schools Week and National School Bus Safety Week.

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.

Donations support students

District students are benefiting these days from generous donations made on their behalf. Mrs. Gripentrog's third grade students at Willow Lane Elementary are enjoying using the new Chromebooks the teacher purchased out of her own pocket to put into the hands of students. The purchase of the "classroom supplies" certainly goes above-and-beyond, and was featured on FOX 9 News this week after reporter Scott Wasserman and a cameraman visited the classroom to to cover the story. See the video here.

High school students also have the opportunity to benefit from generosity by applying for student activities scholarships. The Jim Honsa, Sr. Memorial Student Activities Endowment and the Peter E. Palm Memorial Student Activities Fund both provide access to co-curricular activities for students who may not otherwise have access due to financial need. The scholarships, administered by the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, each provide up to $200 per applicant. Find applications for the two scholarships linked earlier in the paragraph.

Very important visits

Sisters Lily and Kaeli Harris, Birch Lake Elementary and Central Middle School students respectively, were chosen as the Minnesota family to meet with the President and the First Lady for the Children's Miracle Network's "Champions Across America" program. In addition to meeting the Obamas, the family will meet with congressional leaders and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals corporate partners to share their inspiring stories.

The sisters were celebrated with a send-off earlier this week and will make a stop at Disney World before going to Washington, D.C. for their meeting with the country's leader. Part of the celebration included the showing of a video about the girls and their special bond, which can be seen here.

In another area of the district, Vadnais Heights Elementary students enjoyed a visit from Annie Barrows, author of the Ivy + Bean series and The Magic Half and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society books. Her book, The Magic Half was nominated for the Maud Hart Lovelace book award, the Minnesota Youth Reading Award student choice award which has existed since 1980. More than 25,000 students participate in that award every year.

The students were busy preparing for Barrows' visit, as all classes read the first story in the Ivy + Bean series to get ready for her visit. First, second and third grade students got a chance to meet the author, who signed books for students too.

Recap of a celebratory week

Last week's calendar, under the overarching theme of Homecoming, was chock-full of exciting activities for students, families and community members alike. Monday kicked off the festivities with a Coronation event that saw Queen Phoebe Worthly and King Chris Wodicka crowned as Homecoming royalty. Throughout the week, students and staff members dressed appropriately for festively-themed days, including super hero day, hippie day and school spirit day to name a few.

Tuesday saw our WBLAHS - South Campus World Language students taking advantage of the beautiful fall day as they celebrated spirit with a World Cup soccer (football?!?) tournament. Each team cheered in their respective world language, some team members went all-out in dressing the part, and there was some flag-waving as well! Find photos of the energetic activity here.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of guests celebrated Otter Lake Elementary's 25th birthday. The cafeteria and hallways were filled with activities, including a large-scale "timeline" that highlighted memorabilia and photos of students and staff members from each of the years of the school's quarter-of-a-century history. Classrooms were filled with engaging activities led by magicians, the White Bear Center for the Arts and Tamarack Nature Center to name a few. The evening ended with an assembly at which teams of current students and former staff members "lit" the candles of a giant birthday cake. It was a celebration to be remembered!

The week ended with a Homecoming picnic and softball game at ALC. Later in the day, the traditional Homecoming Parade took place and orange-clad crowds lined the streets of Downtown White Bear Lake to cheer for floats that snaked their way through the route. The crowd unofficially made its way over to Cup and Cone to enjoy one last taste of summer before heading to the football game that night, cheering the Bears on to a victory after a back-and-forth game. The next morning, hundreds of runners got together for the BearPower Homecoming Celebration Family fun Run. See a photo of the morning's event here

District makes AYP for fourth consecutive year, high school in top 1% in state

Based on data released by the Minnesota Department of Education, White Bear Lake Area Schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the fourth consecutive year. Under the Federal 2002 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, school district students are tested by the state in both reading and math. The scores are used to determine whether the district makes AYP after the state analyzes district data as a whole and by student groups by race, ethnicity, free and reduced lunch, and special education. White Bear Lake Area Schools is one of only two districts of 13 in the East Metro area to make AYP for the past four consecutive years.

Earlier this month, school-by-school results of the 2013 state testing data were published. For the fourth straight year, the District had a strong showing. White Bear students' state science proficiency results are up another five percentage points, the greatest improvement in the East Metro area.

Another analysis of data received this week uses a method of measurement developed by the State of Minnesota, called Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR). This measurement is a combination of proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates from the 2012-13 year. In addition to being highly successful already, ten of the 13 district schools improved their MMR from 2012 to 2013. All district sites - eight elementary schools, two middle schools, and the two campuses of the high school - scored in the 99th percentile for proficiency. 

Of special note, White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus is now rated in the top 1% of the Minnesota's 413 high schools. "This strong showing is a cumulative effect of our challenging curriculum and our committed teachers and support staff throughout the White Bear Lake Area School District. To be in the top 1% in the state, our students are accepting the challenge and know they are supported from elementary school through graduation and beyond," said Superintendent Michael Lovett.

Both Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools rank in the top 20% of all middle schools in the state. Each of the district's five Title I schools received a special designation, available only to Title I schools. Birch Lake Elementary received the Reward designation, which puts the school in the top 10% in the state; schools that were in the top 25% of the state and therefore designated Celebration Eligible are Lakeaires Elementary, Matoska International, Vadnais Heights Elementary and Willow Lane Elementary.

Activities Updates

Vote here for WBLAHS Girls' Cross Country runner Bethany Kozak for ASPIRE Athlete of the Week. Voting ends at 9 p.m. today (Friday, Oct. 4). Next Friday, Oct. 11 is the "Harvest Bowl" / Hall of Fame Football game. Bring 3 non-perishable food items to the game to be donated to the Food Shelf and receive free admission! See the flyer here. White Bear Lake Archery will host a Parent/Player meeting Monday, October 7, 2013 in the North Campus Cafeteria from 7-8:30 pm - All grade levels. Any questions contact Coach Becky Lassila.

White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.

Please contact the Communications Department(651-407-7578) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, Oct. 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
Monday, Oct. 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
Monday, Nov. 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
Monday, Nov. 25 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center