February 22, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Why We Read

Student News

  • In Photos: Valentine's Day Fun!
  • I LOVE to read month
  • Go team!
  • 100 days of kindergarten
  • Vietnamese and Chinese New Year celebrations
  • Making headlines
  • 62.4-second video update
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • Community Forum scheduled
  • School Board Recognitions
  • Board approves revised budget, approves string orchestra program, invites community to Feb. 24 forum
  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors

Upcoming Events

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Why We Read

Children are nestled around the rocking chair at the front of the classroom as the guest reader begins. 

"Today I will read to you from a favorite book from my childhood," the reader begins... Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.

February is "I love to read month," a pursuit especially suited to Minnesota's long winters. Each elementary school features fun activities to inspire, encourage, and celebrate reading. Children develop habits that will last a lifetime.

What of the guest readers? This month many of you may enjoy a few minutes sharing a book you love. Parents, grandparents, mayors, teachers, older brothers and sisters, administrators, and many a faithful volunteer enjoy this magical responsibility.

If you listen at the doorway, you will hear the readers begin....

"I am in my mountain in a tree home that people have passed without ever knowing I am here."

"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin."

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

Reader, can you identify any of these four books based on the opening lines? *

Stories bring life to our imaginations, laughter, sometimes tears. We are encouraged, inspired, and given hope.


Reading out loud affects children and also affects us as readers.

Author E. B. White was asked to read his masterpiece, Charlotte's Web, for an audio recording. He consented to read his story of friendships among the farmyard animals, and about a wise spider, Charlotte.

But when E. B. White arrived at the point in the story where Charlotte dies, he was filled with emotion, and needed to stop to regain his composure. The second time, he again stopped. And again and again. It took this famous author 17 attempts before he could read through this emotional section.

Take time this month to read to a child. You will enter their world. Be prepared for the unexpected.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

* Books referenced above:
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White

In Photos: Valentine's Day Fun!


Student News

I LOVE to Read month 


Walking from one classroom to the next, you'll likely see students occupied with some good page-turners. That's because February is "I LOVE to read month!" Across the district, there have been special reading activities and visits from guest readers.

This past week at Birch Lake Elementary, Minnesota-native and famous author John Coy spent two full days reading and working with students. He is one of dozens of guest readers who have visited our schools throughout the month.


Over at Lincoln Elementary, students are in the final stages of a fun reading event called "Read-a-thon- Camping Out with Good Book." The goal of this is to promote reading while raising funds for Lincoln and its students. The competition wrapped up February 18th, but the fun is far from over! The main event takes place on Tuesday. Results will be tallied and there are prizes in store, but there's also a far more entertaining incentive - if Lincoln students collectively read a total of 175,000 minutes, Principal Schmidt has promised to camp out on Lincoln's roof that same night!


Go team!

After a section win last weekend, our high school wrestling team is heading to state on Thursday! This will be the team's fourth trip to the state tournament for the team portion of the contest, and they go into the experience with a record of 20-7. 

This weekend, the wrestlers competed in the individual contests for a chance to compete at state as individuals. All 14 WBLAHS wrestlers made it through prelims and quarter-final rounds on Friday to be able to compete on Saturday. The end result of the day was that all of the wrestlers placed at state, and that seven wrestlers are moving on to compete at the state level in the individual competition. Go Bears!


Though this next sport won't get a shot at a state title, it too requires a lot of teamwork! WBLAS Special Olympics Unified Bears Team is challenging other school teams to take part in the "Cool School Plunge." It's a great opportunity to learn more about Special Olympics Minnesota. 

Students and their teams of classmates can sign up to participate and brave the icy waters of Lake Calhoun on Friday, March 6th! Click here for more information about how to get involved.

100 days of kindergarten

Gray wigs, hair curlers, and walkers for kindergarteners? No, it's not a new fashion trend - students at Birch Lake Elementary were just celebrating their 100th day of kindergarten! It is an annual tradition at some of the district's elementary schools that on the 100th day, kindergarteners dress as if they were 100 years old! As you can see by the pictures, there were some creative getups too!


Vietnamese and Chinese New Year celebrations 

Vadnais Heights Elementary kindergarten students in Mrs. Lane's English Language Learners Classroom participated in celebrating the Vietnamese New Year last year! Two students from South Campus, Lilly Nguyen and Melanie Yang, attended the celebration along with Hmong Liaison Malia Yang-Xiong. The guests shared information about Vietnamese traditions that are common when the New Year or Spring Festival is celebrated. A special treat for the classroom was that Yang was visiting her old stomping ground, as she is a Vadnais alumna.


All Vadnais students have been learning and celebrating the Chinese New Year as well in their Elementary World Language Program classes. Their teacher, Mrs. Lau, has been teaching them about the Lantern Festival and how families gather on this holiday for reunion dinners and decorate in red with themes to bring good fortune and happiness. Mrs. Girard's 5th grade students made red lanterns to line the hallway in celebration of the Chinese New Year, or year of the sheep.


The celebrations were not limited to elementary buildings. Classrooms in the middle schools and high school campuses celebrated as well. At Sunrise Park Middle School, students celebrated both the Chinese Year of the Sheep and the Vietnamese Year of the Goat in their history class. 


Making headlines


His goofy hats and bright smile are just some of the many things our local Meals on Wheels team will miss about long-time volunteer Don Rooney, who announced his retirement on the heels of his 92nd birthday. Before Don's final delivery route, fellow volunteers pulled together balloons and treats as they shared a tearful goodbye. Fox9 News paid tribute to the local Meals on Wheels legend, Find their story here!


Also in the news this week was the district's BearPower partnership initiative! KARE11 featured the initiative during their "Cool in School" segment. The story gives a glimpse of what goes on inside the school, from the classroom to the lunchroom, and demonstrates how our elementary educators are incorporating healthy habits at White Bear Lake Area Schools. That fun story about this partnership, which is making positive change in all elementary schools in the district, is available here.

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



Activities updates
The White Bear Lake Wrestling Team will compete at the state competition next weekend. The White Bear Lake Area Schools Special Olympics Unified Bears Team is challenging other sports/academic/school teams to take the Cool School Plunge. White Bear Lake Athletics will host a second annual lift-a-thon on Thursday, March 5th. Boys hockey recently won 6-0 and will play on Wednesday. Girls' basketball won 53 to 41 last week, on the night of their Teacher Appreciation Night. WBLAHS has an opening next fall for a head Boys' Soccer coach. Any inquiries you wish to make can be directed to Tim Hermann.

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

Community Forum scheduled for Feb. 24

The White Bear Lake Area School Board will host a community forum to inform the public about projects under consideration for Phase I of the District's Secondary Program and Facilities Review from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the District Center Community Room (112). Find a flyer for the forum here.

School Board Recognitions


Before the February 9 School Board Meeting, the school board recognized the following state- and national-level student award winners:

  • Patriot's Pen Essay Award state winner
  • All-State and Honor Band participants
  • All-State and Honor Choir participants


Board approves revised budget, approves string orchestra program, invites community to Feb. 24 forum

The White Bear Lake Area School Board approved a revised budget for the Fiscal 2014-15 at the February 9, 2015 School Board meeting. Additional action on the agenda included approving a string orchestra program and inviting community members to a Feb. 24 Community Forum.

Improved financial picture for 2014-15
At the January Work-Study session, the School Board reviewed a proposed revised 2014-15 budget. Revisions were based upon a complete review of the line-by-line budget. In addition, the revised budget reflects a new method of accounting for transportation expenses; the school district will generate nearly $300,000 more in state transportation aid annually beginning with the 2013-14 school year. 

The presentation also identified potential improvements in transportation efficiency to reduce transportation costs for the school years 2015-16, 2016-17 and beyond. These findings contributed to an improvement in the district's financial condition for 2014-15. 

On Monday night, the School Board approved a revised 2014-15 budget that anticipates revenue will exceed expenditures by approximately $750,000.

"I would like our community to know how lucky we are that we have you and Controller Mary Vaske, who has been going through the budget and all items of our expenditures in great detail," said Chair Newberg to Director of Finance and Operations Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak. "You identified that we will be receiving $300,000 a year this year and going forward due to the work you and Mary did. Thank you." 

Dr. Kazmierczak identified budgeted amounts to start a string orchestra program beginning in 2015-16. The budget also reserves funds for phase one of the Secondary Program and Facilities Task Force recommendations. The initiatives under consideration would be funded with money already set aside and not result in a tax increase.

String Orchestra Approved
The School Board voted unanimously to add an Orchestral Strings Program to begin in 2015-16 at the fifth grade level, and expand one grade each year until the District offers a full 5-12 Comprehensive Program. The middle schools will begin offering orchestra in 2016-17 and high school will offer the class in 2019-2020.

"This is an opportunity for our children," said John Leininger, principal at Matoska International. "Research shows that these kinds of music programs build capacity in kids academically, so it's not about the music alone. It is about building the mind and building the soul, which is good for our kids."

The orchestral strings program has been studied by the district since 2011. Acceptance of the program makes White Bear Lake Area Schools the eighth of our nine conference schools to offer orchestra.

"We have a lot to be proud of in the district, and this is an additional offering for our students," said School Board Clerk Lori Swanson. "It has been a long road, and this has been carefully studied. I am confident in the work that has been done and am particularly excited for the families."

Community invited to Community Forum
Dr. Kazmierczak identified funds in the revised budget for projects under consideration for Phase I of the District's Secondary Program and Facilities Review. The four areas of focus of the Secondary Program and Facilities Task Force are: 4Cs learning environment enhancements (collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking); music and performing arts; security and general site improvement,;and field and gymnasiums, including priorities from the 2013 White Bear Lake Area Athletic Facilities Needs Assessment. 

The facility needs assessment was conducted in partnership with municipalities and the township originally in 1998 and updated in 2008 and 2013. One facility priority that will be discussed, and has long been a consideration, is a turf field at WBLAHS - South Campus. The potential turf field would be funded with identified resources in the revised budget, and taxes would not be increased to fund the project. 

The committee's recommendations will be presented at the School Board Work-Study meeting on Feb. 23. On the next day, Feb. 24, a Community Forum will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the District Center Community Room (112). Community members are invited to attend and learn additional details, discuss the initiatives with School Board members and administration through small-group discussions, and ask questions. Find a flyer for the Community Forum here

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
February 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
March 2 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
March 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center

Find a Board highlight document from the Feb. 9 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.

  • The Community Services and Recreation 2015 Winter-Spring Catalog was recently mailed to District residents. Click here to register for upcoming courses.
  • Community Services and Recreation will be giving out free T-shirts to the first five people who register using the laptop at the registration center. Stop in to register today!

Parent Notices:

  • Korean Drum and Dance Performance - Gwanggaeto Samulnori Korean drum & dance ensemble will be performing a FREE concert at the White Bear Lake High School North Campus on March 5. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets!
  • Lift-a-thon fundraiser - White Bear Lake Athletics will be hosting the 2nd Annual Lift-a-thon at WBLAHS - South Campus on March 5 at 7 p.m. and you are invited to attend. Our athletes have done a tremendous job during the off-season and their hard work is what will make this Lift-a-thon a success. The Lift-a-thon is open to all athletes, all sports from 8th grade through 2015 seniors. This competition will fulfill the following goals: Host a weight lifting competition at White Bear Lake Area High School for all athletes, serve as the post-testing for winter session of Bear Power & Pride, raise awareness of the WBLAHS strength program and raise funds to support the athletic department and for equipment maintenance and/or replacement. Click here to download a Lift-a-thon form!
  • ADHD support group newsletter - View the latest ADHD support group newsletter.
  • Habitat for Humanity Housing in Hugo - Habitat for Humanity housing will be built in Hugo thanks to a generous donationRead more about the new development!
  • Weatherization - You may be eligible for free weatherization home improvements through the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties. Read more
  • Emergency School Closings - For school closings, early dismissals and late starts, call the School Closing Hotline at (651) 407-7540 or watch/listen for information on these media outlets:
    • KARE-TV 11
    • KMSP-TV 9
    • KSTP-TV 5
    • WCCO-TV 4
    • WCCO-AM 830
    If winter weather is so severe that schools need to close, parents will also be alerted in three ways as soon as a decision is made:
    • A SchoolMessenger phone message and email will be sent to all parents.
    • A message will be posted on the District's homepage.
    • Messages will be posted on the District's Facebook and Twitter pages.
    We know that closing schools can be disruptive, especially for working families. Student and staff safety are our primary concern. Ultimately, the decision to send children to school remains with families. The District supports those decisions that are made for the safety and health of students. There are no negative consequences, and our schools work with families to assure that work is made up when an absence is safety-related.
  • Stay connected! - Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - FacebookTwitter 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Partnership Updates:

  • BearPower - Check out the newest edition of BearPower Press here! Stay up to date on all BearPower events on the BearPower Facebook page. The BearPower initiative we recently featured on KARE11during their "What's Cool in School" segment. BearPower wants to feature YOU in an upcoming edition of the BearPower press! Send an email to explaining how your family, your classroom, or your program gets BearPowered and they will feature it in an upcoming issue of their newsletter and blog. Pictures of course are welcome!
  • 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.
    • 2015 Glasrud Fellowship Grant Recipients have been announced. Here is the list of recipients.
    • Lynn Mielke Award - The WBLAEF is seeking nominations for the 201​5 Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award. Staff, parents, students and community members are encouraged to nominate an educator who fulfills the spirit and legacy of former educator, Lynn Mielke. Click here for the nomination form and to learn more about the award. Nominations are due on or before April 3.
    • Reminder to teachers - WBLAEF Grants are available online.
    • Teachers - There's something NEW at the WBLAEF website! It's the BEAR LEGACY GRANT! This summer come to wblaef.org to learn more about this exciting new grant.
    • The Eugene & Kathleen Johnson Student Enrichment Scholarship is available to all students in grades 6-12 in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 who would like to participate in enrichment activities such as writing, speaking, journalism, musical performance, and composition. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide opportunities for students that extend beyond the classroom and encourage higher level thinking skills. Scholarships up to $1,000 per individual, with a total amount of $2,000 in grants, will be awarded per year.
      • The WBLAEF is accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year for enhancement activities for students completed by September 1, 2015.
      • Applications will be reviewed on a continual basis throughout the year, until the $2,000 maximum per year has been awarded.
      • Grant applications should be sent to: White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, 4855 Bloom Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
    • 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.
    • 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 2014-15 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.
  • 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. Learn more about earth-conscious resolutions here!


Support WBLAS Students:

  • White Bear Lake Athletics will be hosting the 2nd Annual Lift-a-thon at WBLAHS - South Campus on March 5 at 7 p.m.

Awards and Honors

  • School Board Recognition Week - The District celebrated School Board Recognition Week last week. Continue the celebration and make sure you thank our school board members next time you see them!
  • 2015 Glasrud Fellowship Grant Recipients have been announced. Here is the list of recipients.

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