January 25, 2015

In this issue

- Spotlight on innovation

- In Photos: Middle School Tours
Student News
- Middle Schools authorized as IB World Schools
- Students in the spotlight

- Leaders in education and technology

- Exceptional elementary experiences

- 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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Spotlight on innovation
"When I was in elementary school I thought what I learned was only for me...but in middle school I realized that what I learn makes a difference to others. It matters in our community and matters even for others around the world." 

You wonder, are these the words of a famous diplomat? Or perhaps an excerpt from memoirs of a president? 

Perhaps the speaker will be one or both some day. But right now the student is in middle school in the White Bear Lake Area Schools. These reflections came at a meeting of the superintendent's middle school student advisory committee this fall, in response to being asked, "How does studying in an International Baccalaureate school affect how you learn and see the world?" 

This month both Sunrise Park and Central Middle School were notified they officially meet IB high standards and are designated International Baccalaureate World Schools. Outside teams praised both schools and acknowledged the excellent work of staff, students, and leaders. 


Central and Sunrise Park become the first IB World School middle level programs in our Northeast Metro Area. 

The good news continues: Matoska International World School, our K-5 elementary IB school, received reauthorization of their status as an IB primary years program. 

You will have many opportunities in the coming weeks to learn more about the significance of these designations. We congratulate our staff, students, and parents, and look forward to their time in the spotlight. 

Also in the spotlight this year, as a component of the District's innovative technology plan, is a one to one initiative. All Sunrise Park and Central eighth grade students were issued Chromebook computers last fall, and teachers and students are actively engaged using technology in learning. This past week members of our community were invited to tour and see these innovations firsthand. 

Next shine the spotlight on our elementary programs designed to challenge every student. In addition to personalizing learning for children within each classroom and our REACH program for students achieving at a high level, 2015-16 completes a three-year phase-in of a cluster program for students who show particular achievement or potential. For 2015-16, a district-wide program for highly gifted children begins, located in Lincoln Elementary School, with bussing available from anywhere in the District for qualifying students. 

At the high school, new programming for 2015-16 includes college level courses in Chinese and American Sign Language, in additional to college level language classes already offered in French, German, and Spanish. And in addition to more than 30 existing college credit classes across a wide rage of subjects, this month high school students are registering for innovative new classes in manufacturing which lead to professional certification. 

We are now registering students for 2015-16 in preschool through high school. Whether families live in our community or are simply shopping for the best program for their children, we encourage them to visit! Open enrollment is available for all our programs on a space available basis. 

Before we end this column, shine the spotlight on our high school musical, "The Addams Family", winner of the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Award. For the fifth straight year our high school musicals have received top awards, firmly establishing our program at the highest level in the State of Minnesota. 

Finally, shine the spotlight on our staff, students, and families in all of our schools. They have earned our applause! 

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

In Photos: Middle School Tours


Student News

Central Middle School and Sunrise Park Middle School authorized as International Baccalaureate World Schools

Central Middle School and Sunrise Park Middle School recently became authorized as International Baccalaureate World Schools. The schools are now part of a network of more than 3,000 schools in 140 countries with a similar vision and emphasis on best educational practices.

The authorizations to offer the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) create a continuous flow from the district's elementary IB World School, Matoska International, and provide students and families the opportunity for rigorous International Baccalaureate K-8 programming.

The MYP emphasizes intellectual challenge, encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement - essential qualities for young people who are becoming global leaders.

Having both district middle schools go through the process on the same track is unique. "The hard work of the staff members at both schools allowed us to complete the rigorous process at the two sites simultaneously so we can offer IB opportunities to all district students at the middle school level," said Jill Pearson, the district's IB MYP coordinator. 


In order to become authorized, schools engage in a four-phase process of consideration, request for candidacy, candidate phase and trial, and request for authorization. The completion of the steps typically takes at least three years, and oftentimes requires multiple attempts of phases. Both Central and Sunrise were approved in a minimum amount of time and on the first request.

Although the two middle schools completed the IB MYP certification process relatively quickly in the minimal three years, the International Baccalaureate initiative is one that has been a topic of discussion in the district for some time. Matoska International became authorized as an IB World School in 2010 and has implemented the rigorous Primary Years Program since that time. In 2011, a sub-committee of parents and school leaders recommended the expansion of IB into the middle school level. The initiative was accepted by the School Board as a component of the district's Strategic Plan, and Central and Sunrise have been working toward certification since that time.

Additional information about International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program can be found on the school websites at Central Middle School and Sunrise Park Middle School.

Students in the spotlight

Throughout the past few weeks, our students' dedication has landed them in the spotlight on many occasions. First, White Bear Lake Area High School theatre students have been rehearsing for several weeks in order to get the standing ovation they deserve for their performance of their One Act Play, The Taming of the Shrew. Their time to shine will be Jan. 28 with three shows at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. Admission is free and tickets will be available one hour prior to the showtime. 

The cast and crew is made up of 20 students from both North and South campuses. This production of The Taming of the Shrew is a large ensemble piece - of those 20 students, 15 are actors on stage. All of the students helped build the set, props, and puppets. Although the play was originally written by Shakespeare, they have cut the play down to 30 minutes to meet the requirements of the state's one act competition as well as updated the play with colorful, contemporary costumes and music. The production features puppets performed/manipulated by the students, and all of the sound effects are performed live by the students in sync with the physical action by the actors onstage.

"We feel the most important questions at the heart of this play deal with issues of identity and self-perception - issues that we deal with on a daily basis, in high school and beyond," stated David Hanzal, director, producer and production designer, in his director's note. Watch the video below to get a glimpse at the production of a White Bear Lake One Act Play.



Also in the spotlight were students from WBLAHS who had the opportunity to speak with to local legislators during a Legislative Breakfast. The district hosted five legislators who represent the school district, including Representative Matt Dean, Representative Peter Fischer, Representative Linda Runbeck, Senator Bev Scalze and Senator Chuck Wiger. District students, parents, principals, administrators, School Board members also attended the breakfast event. 

District team members (including administrators, principals and students) provided updates in the following areas: Early Childhood Program and School Readiness, Technology as an Accelerator of Learning and 21st Century Skills, College and Career Readiness, Innovation and the Lens of the World's Best Workforce. After that, polished and poised WBLAHS students had the chance to add to the discussion and provide terrific insight as legislators asked questions of them.

Next, our middle schools had a few days in the spotlight last week. Not only have Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools become authorized as International Baccalaureate World Schools, but they recently hosted middle school tours to showcase their exceptional students, staff and programs.

Visitors included elementary parents, partnership representatives, senior citizens and legislators. A few high school students also joined for the Central tour where they could speak to the positive aspects of the school as well as see the new changes in the building. Those who attended the tours had the opportunity to see our middle schools in action, including the implementation of our 1:1 initiative, diverse areas of language and science study, and improvements from our Capitol Projects Levy. Check out the "In Photos" section above to view pictures from the tours!


Finally, WBLAHS hockey captain Michael Johnson stepped into the spotlight recently and gave the "Let's Play Hockey" proclamation at a Minnesota Wild game. Johnson was selected for the honor after scoring seconds into the first game of his season - the day after his father passed away from cancer.

If this inspirational hockey story makes you want to step onto the ice yourself, our community services and recreation department will be hosting a free family skating event on Sat. Jan. 31 from noon to 2 p.m. They will have a food truck on site for the event with food and beverages available for purchase. Register at whitebearregistration.org by searching for "BUNDLE".

Leaders in education and technology 


Our staff dedicates much of their time to professional development in order to give our students the best education possible. Recently, they have not only demonstrated this, but they have also proven themselves to be leaders in education and technology.

First, WBLAS director of technology, Mark Garrison, as well as teachers Matt Skogen and Lindsay Lamwers gave national-level presentations at the Napa Institute at the New Technologies High School. The tech-centered summit showed educators from around the US how to connect with students with innovative technology tools. As WBLAS representatives acted as major contributors to this conference, it proves that our schools are on the cutting edge of integrating technology and education for our students. 

Next, on Jan. 14, our schools were featured in an Education Week webinar focused on how Google tools have transformed our classrooms in order to create a more innovative and collaborative learning environment. During the webinar, the story of how our schools implement technology to foster learning was highlighted. If you are curious to learn more about the history of technology at WBLAS as well as our recent successes, the webinar is available online!


Our technology initiatives were also featured during a legislative hearing within the E-12 Budget Division Committee. During the hearing, Mark Garrison had the opportunity to speak to legislative members about the importance of technology in schools as well as specific positive technology stories from White Bear Lake students and staff.

"Our work has drawn national attention. And indeed, our engagement puts us at about the 90th percentile when you look at Google Apps for Education schools nationally," Garrison told the committee. He went on to note that our technology is being used to help "our students communicate, collaborate, think critically, and express their creativity every single day." You can view the entire legislative hearing here.

Even though our staff participates in rigorous professional development activities throughout the school year, sometimes they have a few minutes for some fun and healthy exercise. Watch the most recent 62.4-second updateto see photos of staff members at Lakeaires playing a quick game of badminton before returning to professional development sessions!

Exceptional elementary experiences


Students in White Bear Lake Area Elementary Schools have some unique and engaging experiences in the works through fundraising for a camp adventure, working toward improving the environment and getting the chance to work with a published author.

First, Matoska IB World students have been raising money for a one night, two day trip to Camp St. Croix in the fall. Pictured at the right is a Birch Lake student illustrating the camp experience she is looking forward to. While many of their fundraising efforts have been successful, the newest idea this year is bound to be a hit - a Matoska Music Festival! The festival will include dinner from Donatelli's and performances from Katy Vernon, Billy McLaughlin, and Matoska third graders.

When brainstorming ideas for how to raise money for the camp experience, the school ultimately wanted to also bring the community together. If you'd like to attend this fun event and help students raise money for a fantastic camp experience, visit matoskacamp.com.


Another great story comes from our students raising awareness about reducing our water footprint. Students and staff at Matoska IB World School, Otter Lake Elementary and Willow Lane Elementary (as well as Sunrise Park Middle School and WBLAHS) are involved in Race to Reduce and H2O for Life. Through these groups, our students have opportunities to learn more about water usage, aquifers, watersheds and the water cycle through targeted lesson plans. 

In addition, students will track their own water usage, take field trips and engage in hands-on projects to help them learn more about water in White Bear Lake.

Finally, during "I Love to Read" month in February, students at Birch Lake Elementary will have the unique experience of working side-by-side with a published author. Thanks to a generous Brosious Grant, young adult fiction and children's book author John Coy will visit Birch Lake for two days. 

Coy will host an interactive assembly with grades K‐2 on Day One and with grades 3‐5 on Day Two. Each day following the assembly, he will make individual classroom visits for hands on writing lessons with students and writing activities to teach the connection between reading and writing, ultimately empowering young Birch Lake writers.

62.4-second video update

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



Activities Updates
The White Bear Lake Area High School wrestling team won against the Stillwater Ponies Jan. 8 and defeated Harding and North St. Paul at a triangular meet on Jan. 9. Junior Joe Dittel earned his 75th varsity win Jan. 9 against Harding! The White Bear Lake boys swim team recently swam in four meets in nine days. At Park Cottage Grove, senior captain Caleb Odmark got first place in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events. Sophomore Quinn Johnson received first and second place finishes in the 100 yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley races, respectively. Senior Alex Thiele received second place in the 200 and 500 freestyle races. The relay team of Senior Chris Jenkins, Quinn Johnson, Alex Thiele and sophomore Abe Townley got first place in the 200 relay.

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
January 26 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
February 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
February 23 Work-Study 5:30 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:

  • Bundle Up Bears - Our community services and recreation department will host a free family skating event on Sat. Jan. 31 from noon to 2 p.m.! We will have a food truck on site for the event with food and beverages available for purchase. Register at whitebearregistration.org by searching for "BUNDLE".
  • 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.
  • ADHD support group newsletter - View the latest ADHD support group newsletter.
  • Free Dental Care - The Furey Dental Group is once again participating in the Minnesota Dental Association sponsored Give Kids A Smile day on Friday, February 6. Dr. Michael Furey and staff at the Furey Dental Group will be joining with other dental professionals across the state to provide free dental care to children whose families may not have access to dental care. The Furey Dental Group will be serving patients under the age of 16 on Friday, February 6. Services provided may include exams, radiographs, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, extractions, and oral hygiene instructions. On a typical Give Kids a Smile day they will provide care to 25 children and deliver over $5500 in free dental services. Patients seeking an appointment or anyone wishing to refer a patient for care may contact the Furey Dental Group at 651-490-9011. The office is located at 700 Village Center Drive, Suite 120 in North Oaks. Learn more at www.mndental.org.
  • BearPower Blog - Read fun BearPower stories from the community in the BearPower Blog. Check out how the Bergers get BearPowered in the kitchen!
  • 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!
  • Journalism, video and television scholarships - The NATAS-Upper Midwest Chapter/Foundation is giving away $3,000 scholarships to high school seniors and college juniors and seniors interested in careers in journalism, video and television. Anyone who lives in or attends college in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, most of Iowa, and western Wisconsin can apply. Some of the scholarships are targeted to journalism, others to leadership, others to Public Media. All the information is here.
  • 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.
    • Glasrud Family Fellowship Grants - Glasrud Fellowship Grant applications will be due on February 4, 2015. These grants are available to all certified teachers in the WBLAS district. You can find the Application Form at www.wblaef.org. Completed Applications can be turned into the Foundation office at District Center-Room 116 or by e-mail to lisa.lindvall@isd624.org or faxed to 651-407-7643.
    • 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.
    • Brosious winners have been announced - View all 12 of the Brosious Teaching Grant winners here!
    • Reminder to teachers - WBLAEF Grants are available online.
    • Ryan Family Art Grant Winners - Read all about the five elementary teachers who won Ryan Family Art Grants in October!
    • 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 WBLAHS theatre students by attending one of the three One Act Play showings on Jan. 28!
  • Support Matoska IB World students in their fundraiser for a camp experience by attending the Matoska Music Festival.

Awards and Honors

  • Paraprofessional Recognition Week - Governor Dayton has issued a proclamation naming the week of January 25-31, 2015, Paraprofessional Recognition Week. The week recognizes 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