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.

Superintendent's Message

  • A Reader's Guide to Understanding High School Seniors

Student News

  • In Photos: Lil' Cubs K-5 Football Camp!
  • Summer activities
  • Technology experts
  • Construction projects
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities


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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.

  • Seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.

Parent Notices

  • Employees Wanted! - The district currently has a variety of open positions. Please go here to see a list of exciting opportunities!
  • Every Kid Health Week - Is your school hosting an event in April that promotes healthy eating, nutrition education or physical activity? Register at here by April 15 for a chance to win health and activity related prize-packs for your school. Following the event, send a photo and description of what you did to Ann Kisch at akisch@actionforhealthykids.org. One lucky school will win its choice of a smoothie machine, set of classroom stability balls or classroom physical activity kit (valued at $750). Submitted stories may be posted via social media.
  • Earth Day Community Cleanup - The Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment is promoting a county-wide Earth Day Community Cleanup the week of Earth Day, April 17-23. For more information, click here.
  • 2016-17 and 2017-18 Academic Calendars - The 2016-17 and 2017-18 Academic Calendars were approved at the March 14 School Board meeting. The approved 2016-17 calendar can be found here. The approved 2017-18 calendar can be found here.
  • High School Yearbooks - There's only about two weeks left to order your student's 2015-2016 high school yearbook at the price of $80. On April 15, the cost will increase for a final time to $85. Supply is going down, so if you want to guarantee your child has access to a year's worth of memories, act soon! Books can be purchased conveniently through Feepay. Once the books are delivered in early June, they will be sold on a first-come-first served basis, cash-only sales.
  • Assistive Technology Newsletter - This latest editionfocuses on assistive technology and transitioning to college. These publications are made possible with a grant from the the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • Digital Fabrication and Engineering workshops for students entering grades 8-12 will be available through Century College this June. For more information, click here. To register, click here. You may also contact David Mekala with questions.
  • Emergency School Closings - For school closings, early dismissals and late starts, visit the district's Emergency School Closings page here. You may also watch this student video, which includes information regarding winter weather closings.
  • ADD/ADHD Support Groups will be meeting in North St. Paul to have a conversation with parents, caregivers, providers and professionals about ADD and ADHD. These events are intended to give families the opportunity to have an open conversation, show support and to share resources. Event details can be found here.
  • Mental health services - Anoka County has contracted with Canvas Health to provide mental health crisis services. Th
  • ey've provided a tool kit for parents as well as some school guidelines.
  • Parent Resource Support - NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) provides support groups to help parents discover resources to meet the challenges of raising a child with mental illness, learn coping skills and develop problem solving skills. Support groups are facilitated by a parent who has a child with a mental illness and who has received specialized training. White Bear Lake meets on then 2nd and fourth Monday of each from, 6:30 - 8 p.m. at Eagle Brook Church. Contact Jody Lyons: 651-645-2948 Ext:109
  • Special Education Parent/Staff Advisory Council- Updated information and meeting dates for the 2015-16 school year can be can be found here.
  • One-stop online payments - The district offers a "one-stop" online payment system that enables families to make payments for food services, school activities and Community Education activities. The system also serves as the registration hub for middle school and high school activities. The system, new this summer, replaced multiple systems that are currently used for these purposes, including RevTrak, PayPams and ActiveNet.
  • PACER Center recently launched its National Parent Center on Transition and Employment website, which offers innovative tools, reliable research, and interactive training to support families who are going through the transition process.
  • 2015-16 Academic Calendar - See the approved calendarhere.
  • 2015-16 Activities Calendar - The 2015-16 Activities Calendar was mailed to all district families and is available online here.
  • Stay connected! - Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - Facebook and Twitter.
  • 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!
  • Additional resources:
    • Resources to help with our limited English speaking families can be found here.
    • Washington County Child and Teen Checkups newsletter can be found here.
  • The following recognitions will take place in April
    • Paraprofessional Appreciation Day - April 2
    • National Library Week - April 11-15
    • Assistant Principals' Week - April 11-15
    • National Library Workers' Day - April 12
    • Public School Volunteer Week - April 18-22
    • Administrative Professionals' Week - April 25-29
    • Administrative Professionals' Day - April 27

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 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.
  • 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:

  • H2O for Life - The Race 2 Reduce initiative at H2O for Life is a collaboration of stakeholders working to educate about 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.
    • WBLAHS students are collaborating on a research project focused on water use. Residents in White Bear Lake are invited to take the survey!
  • BearPower is a community-wide movement helping White Bear Lake area families eat well and be active. For more on this community partner and its upcoming events, clickhere.
    • Open Gym Nights - BearPower is currently hosting Open Gym family night events on certain Fridays throughout the winter. Click here for the dates and details.
    • BearPower Family Breakaway Bike Ride - Families and community members are invited to join BearPower for its second annual free bike ride event Saturday, May 21. All ages and abilities are welcome. For further details, click here.
  • The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation (WBLAEF) is an independent, non-profit corporation promoting excellence in education in White Bear Area School District 624 schools.
    • Teachers: Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 school year. Click here for the list and when to apply.
    • Bleed Orange and Black T-shirts - find out how to get one by contacting the Foundation Office (651-407-7696). Cost is $10.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • The WBLAHS Writing Center is getting ready for its fourth annual celebration event, Sips and Swallows. In conjunction with the publication of Sensicality, the student literary and art journal, the Writing Center hosts an evening of student readings, artwork and local guest authors. This year's guests are young adult writer Brian Farrey and fiction writer and memoirist Kate St. Vincent Vogl. Everyone is welcome to attend and appreciate and applaud the talent of WBLAHS students. Sips and Swallows is a free event, held at 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 14 in the theater at South Campus. For a preview of the students' work, visit the journal "Loud and Clear." For more information contact Carolyn Youngbauer at carolyn.youngbauer@isd624.org.
  • Sunrise Park Middle School's Annual Community Dinner will be Tuesday, April 5th from 5 - 8 p.m. Dinner will be served by Donatelli's during the first hour of the event. Advance dinner tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased in the office at Sunrise Park Middle School by April 1st or for $7.00 at the door. Enjoy a Donatelli's catered meal, ice cream, live entertainment by students and more!
  • WBLAHS students are collaborating on a research project focused on water use. Residents in White Bear Lake are invited to take the survey!
  • Minnesota PGA Golf Cards are once again being sold by the WBLAHS Boys' Golf Team. The card is good for 2 for 1 golf at more than 160 golf courses throughout the state and western Wisconsin. The cost is $35 and you can use it throughout the summer. Please contact Coach Nasvik if you would like to purchase a card at craig.nasvik@isd624.org.
  • Want to see a theater production? There are student performances happening all spring! Click here for dates and details!
  • Attend an event or two this spring by finding the event schedule in the 2015-16 Activities Calendar! If you do not have a child in school but you would like a copy of the district-wide activity listing, please contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 to request a mailed copy and request to be added to the Activities Calendar annual mailing list.

Awards and Honors

    The following recognitions will take place in April:
    • Paraprofessional Appreciation Day - April 2
    • National Library Week - April 11-15
    • Assistant Principals' Week - April 11-15
    • National Library Workers' Day - April 12
    • Public School Volunteer Week - April 18-22
    • Administrative Professionals' Week - April 25-29
    • Administrative Professionals' Day - April 27

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