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