March 8, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Democracy in Action

Student News

  • In Photos: Willow Lane Students Take Over Donatelli's
  • Exceeding goals
  • Standing out
  • ExploraDome
  • Special Events
  • 62.4-second video update
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Recognitions
  • Board approves solicitation of bids to begin work on artificial turf field
  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors

Upcoming Events

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Democracy in Action

"You are the youngest person ever to testify before this committee, and ( your testimony) one of the best..." (From the Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, to a sixth grade Sunrise Park student, March, 2015)

"The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools." (Constitution of the State of Minnesota, Article XIII, Section 1)

This month our Minnesota Legislature is midway through their 2015 session. Based on our Constitution, education is a state responsibility, and education policy issues and funding discussions are regularly featured in the media.


While the federal government sometimes casts a policy shadow over the states, the Tenth Amendment, in what is generally called the "Reserved Powers clause", reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."


On this constitutional basis, most would agree that education is not a federal issue but reserved for the states.

All this means that what is discussed and decided at the Minnesota Legislature has profound implications on our school policies, organization, offerings, and resources.


Thus, working through our elected representatives, we are attentive to what is being considered, and are grateful for the three members of the Minnesota Senate and four members of the Minnesota House who represent portions of the White Bear Lake Area Schools. Each has personally visited our District this winter, either attending a Legislative breakfast we hosted in January, or meeting with us separately.

And these legislators listen to what is important to our schools and our community. This week we were invited to testify on two education bills, one before the Senate and the other in the House.

In both cases, we invited students to help tell the story about what happens in our schools. Legislation can make a difference in giving all students opportunities to be challenged, to thrive, and ultimately live out the noble aspirations of our Constitution.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In Photos: Willow Lane Students Take Over Donatelli's!


Student News


Exceeding goalsThere have been dozens of reading events across the district in celebration of "I LOVE to read month," right down to the final days of February. Needless to say, many of those activities went out with a bang! Our students at Hugo and Oneka were busy bringing in books to donate to the non-profit organization Read Indeed. It was started by a 4th grader who was passionate about getting books in the hands of people who do not have access to them. 

Hugo and Oneka donated 2,000 books to the organization last year. This year, more than 3,000 books were donated. The students personally delivered the books during a class field trip, where they also helped count and sort the books while learning about Read Indeed.


Meanwhile, students over at Lincoln Elementary were busy donating their time for the fun event "Read-a-thon Camping Out with Good Book." The goal was for Lincoln students to collectively read a total of 175,000 minutes, and if they did, Principal Schmidt promised to camp out on Lincoln's roof that same night. 

It was a bit of a chilly night for Principal Schmidt, as the students read for a whopping 235,281 minutes! See a White Bear Press story highlighting the rooftop adventure here. This creative reading challenge was organized by the Lincoln PTA, which provided additional incentive by funding a limousine ride and Keys Cafe breakfast for the top readers in each grade. 


Standing out 

Students throughout the district have been busy finding ways to stand out in various ways recently. 

Two of our students were selected as winners of the H2O for Life/Race 2 Reduce water conservation poster contest. Cami Bachmeier at Willow Lane Elementary was selected in the Elementary (3-5) category. Noelle Knutson from South Campus was selected in the High School (9-12) category. Students were asked to create a poster depicting why water conservation is important and ways in which we can save water in our communities. The students' posters were chosen from more than 200 submissions in all.

Plus two students took places at the Youth Art Month competition. Central Middle School student Jessica Person placed second and White Bear Lake Area High School - North Campus student Emma Corcoran took third.

In the art of the written word, Sunrise Park Middle School student Madeline Lamwers qualified to compete in the state level competition of the National Geographic Bee! 

And the art of critical thinking has seen its day in the sun as well. A Vadnais Heights Elementary team, led by twin brothers Graham and Martin Hennig, finished second and third in their division at the Osseo Open Chess tournament! They each scored five out of six possible points. Joey Wolf added four and a half points and finished fourth in the same division and Toby Hagen and Michael Jacobson each contributed three points. 

The contest was an open event with 109 students from 29 different schools. It was hosted by Osseo Com Ed and Youth Enrichment League. Youth Enrichment League partners with White Bear Lake Com Ed to bring chess, LEGO and other classes to your after school programs.


Thanks to a scholarship, Sunrise Park Middle School was able to bring University of Minnesota's ExploraDome to the school. The fun, interactive virtual voyage took students from the surface of the Earth to the edge of the universe! 

Throughout the two-day period, all eighth grade students at Sunrise Park participated. Elementary schools have had a similar experience called the Star Lab. This experience was made possible through that special grant provided by Xcel Energy. 


Special events

The South Campus Special Education Department's Bear Cafe was open for business this past week. During that lunch period the students served 56 customers! Each month, staff can stop by the apartment-style restaurant and be greeted by hardworking students serving great food. Students take turns with different roles at the cafe, from waiting on the customers to running the cash register. The experience allows students to develop important work habits in a real-life setting.


Students from both White Bear Lake High School - South Campus and the Transition Education Center celebrated another year of success at their work sites at the annual Community Partner Event. 

The annual event gives students a chance to share how they've grown from their individual work experiences, and gives the district staff members and parents a chance to show appreciation for the businesses that have supported the program.
62.4-second video update
Take a look at our 62.4-second updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools!

Activities updates

The Girls' Basketball team moves on to the section final next Thursday after a recent win vs. Mahtomedi (69-52). Caleb Odmark of the Boys' Swim team represented WBLAHS at the State Swim prelims contest. Grant Bolduan of the Wrestling team took home an individual fifth place finish in the State Wrestling meet; six additional WBLAHS wrestlers also competed in the individual tournament. The following student organizations were recognized by the School Board in early March for competing at state and/or national levels: Wrestling Team, Middle School Cheerleaders, High School Cheerleaders, individual Nordic Ski team members. 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

School Board Recognitions

Before the March 2 School Board Meeting, the school board recognized the following state- and national-level student award winners:

  • Wrestling Team and Individual competitors
  • Middle School Cheerleading Team
  • High School Cheerleading Team
  • Nordic Ski state-level competitors


Board approves solicitation of bids to begin work on artificial turf field

At the March 2, 2015 meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board unanimously approved solicitation of bids to begin work for an artificial turf field at White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus, making the district the seventh out of nine conference schools to have artificial turf this fall.

The project is the result of a task force that convened to work on Strategic Plan priorities, including a 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 a White Bear Lake Area Athletic Facilities Needs Assessment that was conducted in partnership with municipalities and the township originally in 1998 and was updated in 2008 and 2013.

"I want to thank the community, the community groups and the various representatives of the municipalities involved in this study," said Board member Lori Swanson. "The project has been a long time coming and discussed for many years, and I feel it was carefully studied before it was brought back to the School Board for consideration. I am glad we are having conversation about it now because it continues to be an item of interest to the community."

The turf project, which is estimated to cost a total of $1.3 million, has been built into the district's budget and will not result in a tax increase.

Benefits of Artificial Turf Field

The district expects the artificial turf field project will yield many advantages over the current grass field, but the primary advantage will be that of unlimited and diverse use. With the current grass field, usage is limited to varsity football, soccer and lacrosse games. After the artificial turf is installed, with permanent striping for multiple sports, the field will be available for constant use by many groups as long as the field is not covered in snow.

It is expected that daytime physical education classes will extensively use outdoor space during expanded fall and spring months. Additionally, the number of school teams that use the field will increase dramatically and the Community Services and Recreations Department will expand its use of the field. The turf will also be available to youth sports leagues and other community users.

"An artificial turf field will allow us to hold hundreds of events, not only school district events but also community events," said Finance Director Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak. "This is the district's largest classroom and a true community asset. We are excited that this project will allow us to open up this learning and athletic space to additional students and community members."

Additional benefits of artificial turf include reduced maintenance costs and the elimination of water consumption for irrigation. The district may also realize additional revenue from field rentals by athletic associations and other organizations.

District chooses Mondo field

The district team has chosen to install a Mondo-brand field with an encapsulated pad and Ecofill, a thermoplastic elastomer-based product made using a combination of raw materials and recycled pop bottles and plastic bags.

This particular product was chosen after carefully studying safety and environmental impacts. The base pad provides cushioning that makes this field safer than earlier generations of artificial turf. The pad also allows for using less of the recyclable infill, which decreases the replacement costs. Because of its green color, the product is 30% cooler than the often-used black crumb rubber fields.

Timeline for the project

The artificial turf project, which has been discussed since 2009, has more recently been a discussion item at meetings of the Secondary Facilities Task Force since October, 2014. Updates were provided to the School Board in January and February, 2015. Also, in February, the district hosted a Community Forum and invited community members to attend to learn additional details, discuss the initiatives with School Board members and administration through small-group discussions, and ask questions

The solicitation for bids is currently being advertised. The bid will be brought to the Board for action in April and the project is tentatively scheduled to begin on May 15. Student activities will be moved to alternate locations as necessary at the end of the spring season, a detail that is already being discussed with coaches and activities leaders.

Construction will take place throughout the summer so the stadium will not be available during the summer months with one exception: District and White Bear Lake Relay for Life leaders have worked closely to create a plan that will allow the longstanding event to be hosted at the site on Friday, July 31 and Saturday, August 1 while the site is still under construction.

The artificial turf field is scheduled to be completed in mid-August before the first White Bear Lake Area High School home football game of the season.

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
March 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
April 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center

Find a Board highlight document from the March 2 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.
  • The Spring-Summer Catalog will be distributed soon - and it will has an upgraded look, so keep an eye out for it!

Parent Notices

  • 2015-16 Academic Calendar Approved - See the approved calendar here.
  • 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 - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Calling all baby models - We're looking for "Born to be a Bear" photos! Email photos to us here and you may find your little one featured in District publications!

Senior Program Updates:

The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department.

  • FREE Activity Pass for Senior Community members (age 65+) - White Bear Lake Area Schools offer a variety of activities - home athletic contests, concerts, and theater productions to name a few. Join us! Call the Superintendent's Office at 651-407-7563 to request a FREE Activity Pass for home athletics events and a 2013-14 District Activities Calendar. Find the application here. The Activities Pass is available to residents of the White Bear Lake Area School District who are age 65 and older.
  • Winter Senior Voice - The latest Senior Voice Newsletter is now available!
  • Craft Corner Gift Shop at the Senior Center - Open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the gift shop is the perfect place to shop for a variety of beautiful, handcrafted items. With more than 100 consignees selling their personal crafts, there is much to choose from for purchase. If anyone, over the age of 55, has any love of creating crafts, we are in need of consignees to further our inventory. The Craft Corner Gift Shop is located at Normandy Park Education Center, 2484 County Road F East.

Partnership Updates:

  • White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation- The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, Inc. (WBLAEF) is an independent, non-profit corporation promoting excellence in education in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 schools.
    • 2015 Glasrud Fellowship Grant Recipients have been announced. Here is the list of recipients.
    • Lynn Mielke Award - The WBLAEF is seeking nominations for the 2015 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.
    • 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 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:

  • Mark your calendar for the SPMS Community Dinner from 5-8 p.m. on March 24. Tickets are $6 and are available in the Sunrise Main Office or online.

Awards and Honors

  • Jacob Mueller, named Boys Swim Coach of the Year for our section.
  • Craig Nasvik, Wrestling Section Coach of the Year
  • Dave Meuwissen, Wrestling Section Assistant Coach of the Year

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