September 6, 2013

Starting out strong, supported

White Bear Lake Area Schools students started the 2013-14 academic year out on a strong note. The largest kindergarten class in recent history was welcomed into the fold with their first official day of school yesterday, bringing a lot of new energy to the already-energized elementary buildings. Many of those youngest students will attend all day kindergarten, which is offered for free at each of the district’s eight elementary sites starting this fall. 

An offering that benefits older students are mentoring programs that have been established at the secondary level. Sixth graders are mentored by eighth grade WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) volunteers, a program that is proudly displayed at Sunrise Park middle school with eight variations of the t-shirt that have been worn by WEB leaders over the years. At the high school level, new traditions are being formed. New this year is LINK Crew, a program through which ninth grade students are led by senior leaders. Both mentoring activities offer upperclassmen leadership opportunities while offering sixth grade and ninth grade students a smooth transition and a warm welcome.

Our students are also feeling the strong support on the competitive fields - or pools, as it may be. The start to the fall athletics season has been an exciting one, with a midnight football practice to kick off the first day of the season and a sea of orange being present to support other fall activities. See a video describing this sea of orange - otherwise known as "White Bear Nation" above (in Dr. Lovett's message). You have the opportunity to experience White Bear Nation for yourself at tonight's football game - we hope to see you there!

Photos from last night's boys' soccer, swim and dive, and girls' soccer team competitions can be seen on the District's Facebook page.

Serving at home and abroad

This summer, WBLAHS Student Council members traveled to Sauk Rapids High School to attend the Minnesota Association of Student Councils' Summer Leadership Academy. The six students who participated received active and practical leadership training from student council advisors, athletic directors, and leadership professors, including renowned educators Dr. Tex Ostvig from the University of Minnesota and Dr. Kathi Tuneheim from Gustavus Adolphus College. 

Beyond leadership training, Student Council has been busy at work in other ways as well. During several times summertime meetings, members brainstormed fundraising activities as part of WBLAHS We Act Initiative. We Act is an organization that helps students conceptualize their influence in a local and global scope. Teaming up with National Honor Society and Ambassadors, the three student groups hope to raise a record-setting amount of food for this year's District Wide Food Drive. They also have lofty global aspirations working with H2O for Life to raise funds for a well and sanitation needs for a school in Africa. In serving those closer to home, Student Council members helped WBLAHS - South Campus teachers move furniture, organize rooms, and perform other tasks and warmly greeted their fellow students in a welcome initiative on the first day of schools with back-to-school pencils and mints. 

Up next, the group is excited to host the second annual Homecoming talent show: "South's Got Talent" at 7 p.m. September 24 in the WBLAHS - South Campus Mariner Theater. Tickets are $3 and all are welcome to attend. For those interested in showcasing their talents (limited to current students at South), auditions will be September 12th, 13th, 16th, and 17th after school in room 506 at South Campus. The Student Council welcomes all talents -- from musical acts, jugglers, contortionists, athletic displays, intellectual displays, to even stupid human tricks. 

New initiatives underway for 2012-13

A variety of new initiatives are underway starting this fall. Read below for a quick synopsis of the exciting innovations happening in our schools:

  • Free all-day, every-day kindergarten - Free all-day, every-day kindergarten is available at each of the district’s eight elementary sites this fall. Students benefit from low class sizes, innovative programming and award-winning partnerships for which our schools are known. The all-day program allows greater access to specialists formerly available only for grades 1-5.
  • Elementary World Language - Our elementary schools offer a world language kindergarten through fifth grade. Lincoln and Vadnais students learn Chinese. Students at Birch, Hugo, Lakeiares, Matoska, Oneka, Otter Lake and Willow learn Spanish.
  • Gifted & Talented - As part of our commitment to challenge all students, beginning this year we offer Gifted and Talented cluster groupings to help inspire, challenge and motivate intellectually gifted elementary students to reach new levels of academic success.
  • IB Candidate Schools - Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools are in their second year as International Baccalaureate Candidate Schools for the Middle Years Program (MYP). Building on an already rigorous curriculum, this internationally recognized program offers our students stronger connections between subject areas.
  • Guidance Office changes - The district has aligned our 6-12 guidance program with national standards. Students receive comprehensive academic and college planning starting in middle school. High school counselors stay with students for four years, moving with them from North Campus to South Campus.
  • College credits - WBLAHS students have the opportunity to earn college credit in more than 30 courses. The total value of credits earned by WBLAHS students in College in the Schools (CIS) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses during 2012-13 was almost $1.6 million at University of Minnesota tuition rates.
  • Student safety - Each of our buildings has a secure or supervised entrance. Front-line employees completed safety training this summer. During the 2013-14 school year, the district will update its Emergency Response Plan in partnership with the White Bear Lake and regional Public Safety Departments.
  • Technology - At every level, innovative technologies improve communications with families and strengthen student engagement, personalizing and accelerating learning.
  • Strategic Plan - Beginning in 2010-11, engaged citizens and staff helped the district formulate a strategic plan. Implementation began in 2011-12 and continues in 2013-14.

Capital Projects Levy Update

In August, the White Bear Lake Area School Board unanimously approved a Capital Projects Levy to be placed on the ballot on November 5 to replace that which was approved in 2003 and just expired, giving our community the opportunity to consider another ten year investment in library books and materials, textbooks and instructional materials, science equipment, technology to support teachers and students, and for repairing and replacing large musical instruments.

Find an informational video about the Capital Projects Levy below.

Find an informational web page about the Capital Projects Levy here. This site will be updated as additional information becomes available about the Capital Projects Levy.

Activities Updates

The fall activities season is underway. Join us for a competition or two!

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, Sept. 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 
Monday, Sept. 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m District Center 
Monday, Oct. 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
Monday, Oct. 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center