April 5, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Today, Tomorrow, and Forever

Student News

  • In Photos: Sunrise Community Dinner
  • A good sport
  • Show stoppers
  • Student initiatives
  • Artistic display
  • Early childhood reading
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors

Upcoming Events

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Today, Tomorrow, and Forever

As we enter the final quarter of the school year, most of us are focused on our next task or deadline. Ah, spring. So much to do!

But for high school seniors, immediate responsibilities may get lost in the distant haze of the future.

"Hello, do you have your assignment finished?"

"What? Oh, sorry... I was just thinking. What assignment?

Listening to high school seniors this week reminded me of their world. They face decisions that need to be made today, or perhaps can wait for tomorrow. But given the ramifications of the decisions, some seem to be "forever."

Have I met the deadlines for application for colleges and special programs?

What more do I need to do to apply for scholarships?

Have I completed all the forms for financial aid?

How soon do I need to make a decision?

No longer schoolchildren, in their own minds these young men and women feel they have become instant adults, facing decisions that will dramatically affect their life choices, friends, and careers.

During these next weeks and months, we will be called on to listen and sometimes to offer advice, but mostly to listen. These are "adult" decisions our seniors face. To be regarded by teachers, counselors, and other adults in their lives as worthy of these decisions means more than we can realize.

"Hello, do you have your assignment finished?"

"What? Sorry, I was just thinking. What assignment?"

"Say, I have some time later-- would you like time to talk about the decisions you're facing?"

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In Photos: Sunrise Community Dinner!


Studen news


A good sport
He's a big name in the State of Hockey and a local hero to our Bears. White Bear alumnus Ryan Carter from the Minnesota Wild visited Matoska this past week, not only to spend time with some fellow Bears but to play some floor hockey! 

Ryan won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and is a former White Bear Hockey player - Matoska's gym teacher Ben Butters even coached Ryan for three seasons when he was a Bear. So in an effort to bring the former student back to his hometown, Matoska students personally wrote Ryan essays sharing why they'd love for him to visit their school. There were 60 entries in all, including this neat video essay. Those efforts not only brought Ryan to Matoska, but the Wild Player hung around for an extended period time so that all of the students who wrote essays could be included.


On the basketball court, our Unified Bears team also played like the pros. At the Special Olympics State Basketball tournament this past weekend, Bears team 1 took home the silver medal, Bears team 2 took fourth place and Bears team 3 also took fourth place. 

Unified Sports provides an inclusive playing field for athletes with and without intellectual disables. The athletes practice and compete together which challenges their abilities, builds new friendships, helps them to overcome social barriers and allows them to play the sports they love!


Show stoppers
Kindergarten students at Otter Lake Elementary have been fine-tuning their acting skills and their many rehearsals certainly paid off. Their "Building Bridges" performances this past week were a huge hit! Teaching artist Matthew Jensen from the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis has been extending our literacy program through storytelling and creative drama. In the course of seventeen sessions, Otter kindergartners were transformed into storytellers and showcased their talents to a live audience of friends and family.


Meanwhile, students have been showcasing their talents through song at many of our elementary schools. Every spring we look forward to a number of music concerts put on by our elementary choir groups. If you couldn't make it to some of the latest performances, there are more plenty more coming up in April. You can find a whole list of shows by viewing the District's Activities Calendar

There will be a fun addition to next year's elementary music concerts, as they will include orchestra performances as well. We're excited to bring strings into the mix as we kick-off our District's first-ever orchestra program! The School Board voted unanimously to add an Orchestral Strings Program beginning in the 2015-16 school year at the fifth grade level. The plan is to expand one grade each year until the District offers a full 5-12 Comprehensive Program. For more information about the upcoming orchestra program click here.


WBLAHS students recently demonstrated their singing talents as well. The two high school campuses joined forces for their big choir concert last week. This performance is the one time of year when our 9-12 grade singers make music together. The180 students first sang music in their individual choirs, then as a whole.

There were two mass songs as well as a piece sung by all of the women and another by all of the men. It was a beautiful event sung in a space that savored the sounds of singing. St. Andrew's Church in Mahtomedi is the annual venue for the event.

Student initiatives
Hundreds of student-made buttons are circling around Matoska as part of the Action Team's school-wide inclusion project known as the "Buddy Bench." Action Ambassadors ran a "Make your own Buddy Button" booth during the lunch hour and it was a tremendous success!


Not only are hundreds of students sporting these creative, inspirational buttons, but the button sale raised more than $600 for the bench. Plus, the school's GoFundMe site raised $720. This, along with the money raised from button sales, will allow the school to purchase a lasting bench that they anticipate to arrive in May. Of course, the whole purpose of the Buddy Bench is to demonstrate inclusiveness towards peers, and the Action Team has been doing that in other ways too. They've been sharing "good friend" tips through crafts in the cafeteria and will be performing skits on how to include others.


Standing up for a cause is something Sunrise Middle School student Sophie Davis and Matoska teacher Ben Butters have been doing for weeks at the Minnesota State Capitol. They, along with Superintendent Dr. Micheal Lovett, have been at the legislature on multiple occasions giving testimony for a bill that promotes water conservation efforts. You can watch their latest testimonies in this Senate Media Services Webcast.

At the high school level, the student outreach group Big Ideas is bringing attention to a global issue. They will be hosting an event where our community can watch a screening of the documentary Honor Diaries.


Honor Diaries brings to light the issue of honor violence. Honor violence are acts of vengeance against women who are accused of bringing shame or dishonor to their family. Big Ideas has also invited Raheel Raza, one of the women from the documentary, to speak after the showing. The documentary will take place at WBLAHS - South Campus on April 11 at 1:00 p.m. The showing will be followed by an open-forum discussion with Mrs. Raza. There have only been four screenings of this documentary in the Twin Cities. WCCO featured this upcoming event, which can be found here.


Artistic Display
Nine silhouettes line the halls of WBLAHS- South Campus - artwork that is not only beautiful, but meaningful. Art students first viewed the work of African American Artist Kara Walker as part of Black History Month. They then were asked to look at their histories, both culturally and nationally, and execute a silhouette depicting a benchmark event in their history through the use of silhouettes in the style of Kara Walker. The events depict Hmong Migration, Women's roles during WWII, the American Revolution, and the influence of St. Paul Artist Charles Schultz (creator of Charlie Brown) just to name a few!

This week, elementary students will be showcasing their artwork at the Matoska Art Show. The open house event is coming this Thursday. There, you will find more than 1,626 pieces of student artwork on display created by 542 students. The creations demonstrate a range of talent from kindergarten students all the way up to fifth grade. There will also be a silent auction. Details can be found here.


Early childhood reading
An upcoming event will be a grand one, quite literally, for the district's Early Childhood Program, which serves children age birth through five. The Book Fair Grand Event recognizes the important role grandparents can play in a child's education. At this upcoming event, there will be scheduled reading time for grandparents and their loved ones. The event takes place at Normandy Park on April 7 from 6-8 p.m. Also this month is the Scholastic Book Fair.

62.4-second video updates
Take a look at our 62.4-second update that highlights weekly activity throughout our schools! 



Activities updates

Three of our Special Olympics Unified Bears teams placed at the State Basketball tournament.

  • Bears team 1 took home the silver medal
  • Bears team 2 took fourth place
  • Bears team 3 took fourth place

WBLAHS band students participated in Region 4AA Large Group Instrumental Competitions on April 1.

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 Meetings 

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
April 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
May 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

Find a Board highlight document from the March 23 Board meeting here.

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.

  • Three of our seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.

Parent Notices

  • Manitou Days Contests - Find information about the Manitou Days Button Contest here. Find information about the Manitou Days Writing Contest here.
  • ADD/ADHD Support Group meeting - Monday, April 13 from 6:30 -8:30 p.m. at the District Education Center. More information can be found here.
  • 2015-16 Academic Calendar Approved - See the approved calendar here.
  • 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 here and you may find your little one featured in District publications!
  • Additional resources:
    • Resources to help with our limited English speaking families can be found here.
    • Washington County Child and Teen Checkups newsletter can be found here.

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. Find the application here. The Activities Pass is available to residents of the White Bear Lake Area School District who are age 65 and older.
  • Winter Senior Voice - The latest Senior Voice Newsletter is now available!
  • Craft Corner Gift Shop at the Senior Center - Open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the gift shop is the perfect place to shop for a variety of beautiful, handcrafted items. With more than 100 consignees selling their personal crafts, there is much to choose from for purchase. If anyone, over the age of 55, has any love of creating crafts, we are in need of consignees to further our inventory. The Craft Corner Gift Shop is located at Normandy Park Education Center, 2484 County Road F East.

Partnership Updates:

  • 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.
    • WBLAEF 16th Annual Golf Tournament - Monday, June 29, 2015 at Indian Hills Golf Course. Registration and other information is on the website.
    • 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 6-12.
    • Visit our website - Visit our website to see all of the grants the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation has available for teachers.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • April is Autism Awareness Month - contact individual schools and programs for information about activities planned to highlight the month.

Awards and Honors

  • The 2015 Teacher of the Year will be named at Teacher of the Year Extravaganza event on April 16 at 4:15 p.m. at WBLAHS - South Campus auditorium.

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