October 4, 2013

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