April 3, 2016

Watching from the back row

Instruments tuned and in position, one hundred still musicians intently watch for the conductor to drop the baton.


Throughout the crowded theater, families and friends wait expectantly. Bright bouquets of flowers signal the importance of this inauguratory concert.


Down comes the baton. One hundred bows dance across the strings, fingers pluck and music flows.


The audience witnesses the first orchestral concert of recent years in White Bear Lake Area Schools. All eyes are on the conductor and the fifth graders, pioneers of the new program.


But in the back row, far from the lighted stage, champions watch. Teachers who nurtured the vision. Community members who raised funds. Principals who designed and built a schedule. Fifth grade teachers who tried their hands at playing a violin, viola, cello, or bass, to support and encourage.


We may think of champions being on stage or in the spotlight. But in schools the champions are more often in back row or on the sidelines. These champions are watching the concert, the play, the athletic contest, History Day, mock trial, robotics competition, speeches, or any of the opportunities students have to shine.


This message is for all our champion teachers, coaches, advisers and mentors behind the scenes. We'll try to remember to turn around next time and discretely wave or nod - and if you quietly slip out before bouquets are presented and photos taken, we want you to know how grateful we are for your vision, inspiration and encouragement.

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


In Photos: Week Without Walls middle school service trip!

Student News

Middle school adventures

Whether it was during spring break, or as a classroom field trip, our middle school students have been doing a lot of traveling to expand their knowledge. This past spring break, sixteen students from both Central and Sunrise Park traveled to Costa Rica as part of the White Bear Week Without Walls program. Week Without Walls is a week-long trip to a foreign country during which middle school students serve, connect and gain understanding from their global community. For many of these sixteen students, this trip included a first flight, first time on top of a volcano, first walk through a rain forest, first sighting of a monkey in the wild, first time zip-lining, first time rafting and first time in the ocean. As students traveled the country, soaking in the culture, eating the cuisine and making new Costa Rican friends, they grew in ways they never thought possible. 

"This was a trip of a lifetime for our daughter," said one of the students' parents. "We watched as she spread her wings ... Some of the most beautiful moments of her life."

Though a lot can be learned from traveling abroad, another group of middle school students traveled to a number of historic sites in northern Minnesota for an array of leaning experiences. Thanks to the school district's partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, 46 middle-school students (23 from both Sunrise Park and Central) took part in these recent adventures. The students began their trip at the North West Company Fur Post, learning how English fur traders and Ojibwe Native Americans traded furs for goods. Students then went on to tours of the University of Minnesota at Duluth, Gooseberry Falls and capped off the day with a stop at Grand Rapids. The following morning, students visited the Forest History Center, which staff say was a highlight of the trip. There, costumed guides took the students back in time to a logging camp of the early 1900's. Students toured all the different buildings and learned about the different jobs in the camp, even trying some of the jobs out for themselves. After that, it was on to the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post where students were able to trade using their Moose coins from History Day.

H2O for Life

Our partner H2O for Life recently sponsored a "Use Water Wisely" themed poster contest for students (in conjunction with the MN Department of Health, AWWA, Elkay and Xcel Energy) and two WBLAS students took home the prize. More than 1,600 posters from K-12 students throughout the state of Minnesota were turned in for the contest. As part of the Race 2 Reduce educational programs, which seek to educate students about local water resources, three winners were chosen in the White Bear Lake/Mahtomedi area (in addition to state-wide winners). WBLAHS - South Campus student Taylor Potts and Sunrise Park student and Jacob Grann were the winners of the High School and Middle School categories. They were surprised in class with a check and congratulations from both H2O for Life representatives and district leaders. 

Though on spring break, more than 20 Extended Day students continued their learning by hosting a Water Warrior Service Day, inspired by H2O for Life. The Extended Day students spent the day at Birch Lake Elementary learning all about water and the ways in which we can protect this precious resource for the future. In the morning, they discussed conservation and created a wall of water drops with messages for saving water. Midday, they utilized their creative talent to paint two rain barrels, learning how the barrels can collect water runoff to re-use water. One barrel will be placed at Birch Lake Elementary and one at Otter Lake Elementary, each near the school gardens. In the afternoon, students took a walk to nearby Birch Lake to collect water samples. They brought the water back and tested the water quality through a number of different tests, including dissolved oxygen and pH. They tested water from Birch Lake, White Bear Lake and Lily Lake Pond to compare the results. The hope is to continue this project by doing Storm Sewer Stenciling in the Lincoln Elementary neighborhood on the upcoming non-school day (April 8) and to also carry the Water Warrior experience to Extended Day summer programming.

The Race 2 Reduce initiative at H2O for Life is a collaboration of stakeholders working to educate the community on local water resources and water conservation. White Bear Lake Area Schools is a partner in this effort and is working to align curriculum to integrate these important topics into school.

Artists of all ages

Monsters invaded four elementary classrooms this week as Central Middle School's eighth grade art students brought in the results of a very unique collaborative project. First grade students in Hugo, Lincoln and Birch Lake Elementary were tasked to design their own monster and create individual backstories for them. These imaginative characters were then brought to life when handed off to the eighth grade students, who sculpted the monsters out of Crayola Model Magic, painted them and created their packaging. As an additional fun surprise for the elementary students, the Central students wrote and illustrated a comic using the monster characters. The elementary students were very excited to see their visions brought to life and too see what other classmates had thought up as well. After the monsters were handed out and pictures were taken, the eighth grade students got to spend some time reading with the first graders and building connections. 

A WBLAHS student's artwork can soon be seen on billboards across the Twin Cities. Savannah Farrell has been chosen as one of the 2016 Clear Channel Outdoor Billboard Artists. Her work was chosen as part of the Ordway's annual Art Walk which takes place in downtown St. Paul and features work from area student artists. Savannah's artwork will be projected across the metro area on the Clear Channel Outdoor Billboards during the month of May. Congratulations Savannah!

Spring is also a busy time for performing arts in the district. Spring plays are in full swing, with some students already wrapping up a round of performances. Lincoln's rendition of "Wizard of Oz," pulled together by parent volunteers, was just performed this past weekend here in the Community Auditorium. The Middle School Musical, "Shrek Jr.," will take place April 21-23 and tickets can be purchased here. White Bear Lake Area High School Spring Play auditions for "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" are just wrapping up with the play will debuting later this spring. Click here for more information and to get tickets to the many upcoming productions!

62.4-second video updates

Take a look at our 62.4-second video updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools during the school year.


Activities updates

Click here for a schedule of all fall sports contests. Find a complete list of all WBLAHS Activities, Athletics and Fine Arts here.


Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications. 

School Board News

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
April 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 25 Work-study 5:30 p.m.  District Center
May 9 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

For highlights from the most recent School Board meeting, click here.

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