February 8, 2015

In this issue

- Best Day Ever
- In Photos: Race to Reduce activity at Birch Lake Elementary

Student News
- Heartwarming accomplishments
- Frozen fun
- Global connections
- 62.4-second video update
- Activities Updates

School Board News
- School Board Meetings

District News
- General Information
- Opportunities
- Awards and Honors

Upcoming Events

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Best Day Ever
"Thank you for getting me into ....(my school from last year)... It was probably my Best Day Ever....thanks for making me feel included."

These words come from a handwritten note I received this month from a middle school student whose family moved away last summer. Like so many families in which a parent serves in the military, it was time to move to a new part of the country.

For this middle school student, the move meant leaving friends, teachers, and a school she loved - for the unknown.

In late December her family returned for a visit, and above all else, the girl dreamed of going back to see her friends and teachers from last year.


Thirteen year olds hope and dream. ("Most of the time", teachers and parents might add). But thirteen year olds do not often share what they hope for. In this case, she did, and her principal, staff, and our students warmly welcomed her back for a special day.

Her words "Best Day Ever" stayed with me.

With all the opportunities and experiences we offer our students and children, why is reconnecting with teachers and friends so powerful?

We all have thoughts on the matter, I expect, but for now let's just be grateful that our staff and schools are so welcoming and supportive.

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

In Photos: Race to Reduce activity at Birch Lake Elementary


Student News

Heartwarming accomplishments

Nothing warms the heart like good story, especially when it involves White Bear Lake Area School students giving back and accomplishing their goals. At Sunrise Park Middle School, special education students teamed up with paraprofessionals to continue one of their oldest traditions - making Valentine's Day cards. 

The Valentine's Day card-making program started in the mid-1990s. After purchasing Ellison DieCut machine, two dedicated paraprofessionals at the school, Leila Horazdovsky and Colleen Young, took the lead in bringing the project to the next level. In May 2004, the "Sunrise Creations" card-making program received the Ellison Exceptional Award, amounting to $5,000. This money helped the program buy many scrap booking supplies and higher quality paper. They also make their own paper from recycled lunch menus as well.


"This program has helped our students learn and practice job skills to become more successful, independent, and confident during class and later in a job setting," said Horazdovsky. In many ways, the program is intended to mimic a job environment. Students are interviewed for positions and are required to check in and out every time they work. They also have a "pay day" and a "store" in which they can purchase small items.

District families can purchase cards at Sunrise Park or at District Center. The program offers cards for many occasions and can even make special orders. Donations from the cards are used to support the special education program and the needs of its students. 

Two weeks ago was Paraprofessional Recognition Week and through this story it is clear how great of an impact our paraprofessionals here at White Bear Lake Area Schools have as they work in collaboration with our students. "We are a team that works together getting to the final product," said Horazdovsky.


Also at the middle school level, students at Central held a fundraiser competition last week - The Souperbowl Food Drive! Teams led by student counsel representatives and home base teachers brought in food items each day last week. For each food item the team donated, they gained two yards and for every 100 yards, they earned a touchdown. 

This fundraiser gained so much popularity throughout the week that they more than doubled the number of touchdowns within the last two days, leading to a grand total of 49 touchdowns, 2471 food items and $479! Donations will go directly to the White Bear Area Food Shelf. With 9 touchdowns, the winning team was led by Central student Ryan Krall.


While the stories above may make you want to stand up and cheer for our students and staff, you might want to first think about the competition...the cheerleading competition, that is! Our White Bear Lake Competitive Cheerleading Teams had fantastic performances at the Minnesota Cheerleading Coaches Association state competition on Sat. Jan. 31! The varsity team earned second place in tumbling (AA Class) and the middle school team took first place in the largest division in the state. Go Bears!

Frozen fun

The winter season allows for so many fun activities - ice skating, ice fishing and, of course, the St. Paul Winter Carnival! First, on Jan. 31, students, staff, families and the White Bear mascot came together for a Bundle Up Bears ice skating event. Hosted at the WBLAHS - North Campus outdoor rink, the afternoon included a DJ, fire pit, warming house and a food truck! The event was a huge success with many district families who enjoyed joining together with the community and racing one another around the rink.

Also on the ice recently were White Bear Lake Area High School students who once again had the opportunity to go ice fishing with science teacher Jacob Montgomery on Jan. 17. For the third consecutive year, Mr. Montgomery has hosted a Bears on Ice fishing event at Bellaire Beach on White Bear Lake. 


The event has been growing each year. This year, 27 students attended the fishing outing, most of whom had never fished before. "Thank goodness we were afforded weather that allowed us to be outside most of the time for learning and socializing," said Montgomery. With the assistance and sponsorship of Brad Yaritz from Catch It Outdoors, Evan Pheneger from I MN Fishing, Doug Stahly from Joe's Sporting Goods and Stephen Nelson (fellow WBL Science teacher), the event was very successful. The group is committed to making next year even bigger and getting more sponsors and activities for the students.

In another fun and frozen tradition, students in our schools had the chance to participate in St. Paul Winter Carnival festivities. Nicole Wrona, a ninth grader at WBLAHS - North Campus was recently chosen to be the 2015 Queen of the Snowflakes for the St. Paul Winter Carnival Jr Royalty. She will make more than 85 appearances serving as a good will ambassador for the St. Paul Winter Carnival. 


Nicole will participate in many parades and activities to benefit the communities around the Twin Cities Metro Area. As an active North Campus ambassador, she entered the carnival to help pursue her commitment to volunteerism. She will have a fun year meeting lots of interesting people and will proudly represent our schools! 

Also in Winter Carnival news, Matoska IB World School had a visit from the 2015 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Royal Family on Jan. 29. In the school's new gymnasium, several people were knighted by King Boreas in a school-wide assembly! Watch the Jan. 30 edition of the 62.4-second update to see photos from the visit.

Global connections

With our middle schools getting accepted as IB World Schools last month, it is easy to see how as a district, we are dedicated to fostering and maintaining a global perspective both in and out of the classroom. A few other recent stories highlight our global connections as well.


First, two separate White Bear Lake school programs have a connection to a K-12 school in Costa Rica, Cedes Don Bosco. Students from the Costa Rican school recently visited Central Middle School through a "Week Without Walls" exchange program. The group's band performed music for Central and together they will work on an interdisciplinary project involving the St. Croix National Park Service and a sister park in Costa Rica.

The exchange partnership grew out of connections between Fred Treiber at the White Bear Lake Rotary and Noel Schmidt, the Principal at Central. Treiber has worked with Cedes Don Bosco for more than 20 years and Principal Schmidt visited the school in August.

Interestingly enough, our schools had another connection to this school. Last year, two young men from Cedes Don Bosco were a part of the Junior Author's Association book exchange. Together with White Bear students, they created translation books in Spanish and English and shared facts about life, school and family. A couple of these books won prizes at the Minnesota State Fair Education competition. 


It came as a great surprise to Richard Chakolis, one of the coordinators of the book exchange process, when he saw these two students at Central Middle School two weeks ago. The visiting Costa Rican instructor, Gonzalo Pazos, who also participated in the book exchange, was very happy to see the ribbons from the State Fair Competition. Chakolis even gave a few of the award-winning books to Pazos to bring back to Costa Rica to show some of his other students!

In March during spring break, about 20 middle school students from White Bear Lake will visit Cedes Don Bosco during a "Week Without Walls," making this global experience come full circle. 

Another global connection comes from the other side of the world - Korea. Gwanggaeto Samulnori, a Korean traditional drumming and dance group will perform at North Campus on March 5. The visiting artists are touring the USA and making a special stop in Minnesota to perform. 

Gwanggaeto Samulnori's lead, Jun-Sung Kwon, wants to help Korean adoptees and their communities, embrace and experience some of the wonderful performing arts from Korea. Mr. Kwon was a guest teacher and performer a few years ago, at the Forest Lake based Korean summer culture camp, Camp Choson. He fell in love with Minnesota and promised to return - and this March he will! 

Jeremy Rockford's WBLAHS - North Campus band classes will have Korean music and percussion workshops during the day on March 5, followed by the performance that evening. Our district has provided space for Korean Cultural performances and events since 1985. Join us and see some of the beautiful traditions of Korea, and will celebrate together with music and dance!

62.4-second video update

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




Activities Updates
White Bear Lake Area High School seniors Connor Hubbs and Andy Lockwood (pictured at right) signed National Letters of Intent on Feb. 4 during a ceremony at South Campus, showing their intent to attend North Dakota State University and Winona State University, respectively. White Bear Lake Competitive Cheerleading Teams had fantastic performances at the Minnesota Cheerleading Coaches Association competition on Sat. Jan. 31! Varsity earned second in tumbling (AA Class) and the middle school team took first place in the largest division in the state. The White Bear Lake Wrestling Teamwon three out of four of their matches on Jan. 30 and 31. The WBLAHS Speech Team competed at Eden Prairie HS and took the small school sweepstakes, meaning they were the best overall performing team that had fewer than 20 students competing. The One Act Play cast and crew finished first in a sub-district competition.

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
February 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
February 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
March 2 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

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 is looking for staffing for rink supervisors and rink maintenance workers. Please contact Jon Anderson at jon.anderson@isd624.org for more info.

Parent Notices:

  • Family Fitness Night - BearPower and the White Bear YMCA will host another Family Fitness Night on Feb. 13 - this time at Birch Lake Elementary. Last month's fitness night at Matoska drew about 250 family members who enjoyed many fun games and activities!
  • 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!
  • Bower Family Benefit and Silent Auction - Learn more about how you can help the Bower family after the unexpected loss of husband and father Al Bower.
  • Parent Workshops & Information Nights - NAMI is offering a parent workshop on Transitions your teen or young adult might be going through as well as an information night on Children's Challenging Behaviors.
  • ADHD support group newsletter - View the latest ADHD support group newsletter.
  • BearPower Blog - Read fun BearPower stories from the community in the BearPower Blog. Learn more about the power of Play in a recent blog post!
  • Get noticed by BearPower - BearPower wants to feature YOU in an upcoming edition of the BearPower press! Send an email to BearPower@HealthPartners.com 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!
  • 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
  • Early Childhood Screening - Learn more about our Early Childhood screening here.
  • Evening ECFE Parent-Child Classes - Join other parents and their young children (birth-5) to participate in Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) parent-child classes at Normandy Park Education Center, 2482 East County Road F. Register online at www.isd624.org/EarlyChildhood
  • Ebola fact sheet and FAQ - Click here for a fact sheet on Ebola. Click here for frequently asked questions about Ebola
  • NCAA clearinghouse - Is your child a college-bound student athlete? If so, you should consider registering him/her for NCAA eligibility here.
  • Interested in TV Production? - Volunteers and interns are needed for White Bear Lake Cable Public Access television. Click here for more information.
  • Thank teachers - Thank your teachers and help them win a grant through the Farmers Insurance Thank a Million Teachers initiative. Simply go to this website and write a thank you message to a teacher. Then, that teacher can submit a proposal for a chance to win a $2500 grant for use in their classroom.
  • 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.
  • Do you like working with children and other volunteers? - The White Bear Lake Area Schools Early Childhood Screening program at Normandy Park Education Center is looking for volunteers to help at screenings on Fridays. Click here to learn more about this opportunity!
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Alum Gathering - The Foundation will be hosting a February gathering for ISD 624 Staff who are White Bear or Mariner grads! Please contact our office to let us know if you are an alum and we'll send you information on our gathering. This is not a fundraiser. We are hoping to connect with alum to tell them about who we are and what we do.
    • J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award - Area residents are invited to nominate exceptional volunteers for the 2015 J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award. Established to honor the memory of J. Stanley and Doris Hill for their remarkable commitment to community service, this award has been created to acknowledge an individual(s) who has given many years of outstanding service to his or her community. Nomination forms are available at the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation office and website. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, February 20, 2015.
    • 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 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.
  • 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:

  • Support your student and family by attending a BearPower Family Fitness Night. BearPower and the White Bear YMCA will host another Family Fitness Night on Feb. 13 - this time at Birch Lake Elementary. Last month's fitness night at Matoska drew about 250 family members who enjoyed many fun games and activities!

Awards and Honors

  • Paraprofessional Recognition Week - Paraprofessional Recognition Week was January 25-31, 2015. The week recognized the contribution of the 20,000 paraprofessionals who provide services in multiple settings in Minnesota's schools.

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