December 13, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • ConnectED

Student News

  • In Photos: NASA Astronaut returns to WBLAHS!
  • Innovative partnerships
  • Endless possibilities
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

Staff News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

Upcoming Events

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Behind the Headlines

Elsewhere in today's newsletter you will read the story about our school district receiving an innovation award from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

This award reflects the innovative and persistent work of high school teachers, administrators and our partners from Century College who developed dual enrollment math and reading courses at our high school. These allow students to enter college confident that they can immediately take credit-bearing classes. 

But there is more to the story.

So often high schools, including ours, properly highlight the accomplishments of those students who earn a semester, a full year or more of college credit while still in high school. These students are taking advantage of more than thirty college credit offerings available through our high school program. 

For other students, college has been more of a struggle. In fact, almost a quarter of those students going on to state colleges and universities in recent years have needed to take remedial classes in mathematics, reading or both before they can take college credit courses.

White Bear statistics have been similar to those of the state as a whole.

What is different about White Bear Lake Area High School is that our principals, teachers and our partners at Century College agreed that this is unacceptable and were determined to do something about it.

This week's award recognizes a specific program that enrolled 145 students this year. These students are highly motivated. In addition to financial savings, they know they can succeed in college because they are doing college courses at the high school. 

When we shared the news at a PTO meeting this week, one parent spoke up:

"I wish this program had been in place when I was in high school. I went back to college in my mid-thirties, and I am one of those students who needed to take remedial courses."

We congratulate all of those teachers and administrators who have been part of this story. And we honor the students who take on the challenge of college credit courses while yet in high school. 

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

In Photos: Matoska kindergarten service project!

The sandwich making service project was also featured in this 62.4-second video update!

Student News 

Spreading holiday cheer

Every day WBLAS students are demonstrating the district's Core Values of Compassion, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Service - and this time of year is undoubtedly a time when those values really shine. Students of all ages are lending a helping hand during the holiday season, in more ways than one. An example can be found in the recent work of our high school students. Every year around this time, WBLAHS - South Campus students and staff join together with the Spanish department and volunteer to help families at Casa de Esperanza, a local shelter that serves Latina women and children who need refuge from domestic violence. For the last 20 years, the school has maintained this spirit of hope in honor of Marcia Wellstone Markuson, a Spanish teacher who started and embraced this project. First hour classes can "adopt a family" for the holidays by fulfilling their wish lists which often include winter clothes, basic necessities and toys for the children. This year, 25 families will have a brighter holiday season thanks to students and staff. The Casa de Esperanza project is one great way our school community gives back during the holidays. 

White Bear Lake Area Learning Center students channeled their core values toward another cause called the 2015 Warm & Fed Challenge, which benefits Salvation Army locations across the Twin Cities. This year, the ALC raised 355 items of clothing and 49 items of food. Though they did not take first place in the competition, they did very well for a school of their size. When comparing school size and how much raised, the ALC ranked in second place! The collected food and clothing will be distributed among the Salvation Army centers across the Twin Cities, helping families and individuals who are most in need. One of the largest groups of people to receive support from the Salvation Army, are teenagers - another reason why this was a meaningful cause for our students to be a part of. The entire 2015 Warm & Fed Challenge raised 9,568 items in all.

Another service project aimed to help our neighbors in the Twin Cities was completed by some of our youngest Bears. All 102 Matoska kindergarten students packed the cafeteria to make sandwiches for the "Sandwich Man." His name is Allan Law. He's the founder of Minneapolis Recreation Development Incorporated, an organization dedicated to serving the homeless, poor, disadvantaged youth and their families in the Twin Cities. There are three programs within the organization - but it's the 363 Days of Food Program where Mr. Law got his name. The program aims to feed the homeless and hungry virtually every night out of the year (often by providing sandwiches made by volunteers). Our Matoska kindergarten students made 750 sandwiches in one morning for the Sandwich Man, with help from staff and parent volunteers. Photos from this activity were featured in our "In Photos" section above and video footage can be found in this recent 62.4-second video update.

Others involved with the school district helped to feed the hungry right here in our community this holiday season, by donating to the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf. The White Bear Lake Teachers' Association, for instance, collected $3,220 during American Education Week. White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services and Recreation also collected donations for the local food shelf during an open ice skating event December 13. If you were unable to attend that event and would still like to contribute to this food drive, you can! The Hippodrome Ice Arena Food Drive will be accepting donations from now through December 20. Help stuff the Zamboni full of food for this good cause! For more information, see this flyer. (Other White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf drives, including the WBLAHS Students Council Fall Food Drive and the Hugo Elementary Movember Challenge, were featured in previous newsletters.)

Certainly our schools have proven they go above and beyond when it comes to service, but this time of year is also filled with celebration, too! Many of our schools are taking this time to learn about the many holidays that surround this time of year. Our Vadnais Heights first grade students, for instance, recently celebrated the Hmong New Year. They did art projects, studied Hmong heritage and sampled authentic food. Also at Vadnais, third grade students celebrated and learned about Hanukkah. The kids traveled to three different stations to learn about the history and traditions of Hanukkah, even getting the chance to light the menorah and play the dreidel game. The students also ate potato latkes and heard the story of "The Hanukkah Guest" in preparation for a school field trip to see the play. Vadnais also welcomed parent visitors to share information about other family holiday traditions. 

Striving for greatness

Inspiration plays a huge role in the educational experience, and often times this is enhanced with some assistance from guest speakers. That was the purpose behind the Heart of a Hall of Famer Series, which brought in Former Minnesota Viking and Hall of Fame football star, Carl Eller. Mr. Eller paid a visit to our WBLAHS football team to share with them what it takes to make it into the Hall of Fame. Though our students were lucky to meet with Mr. Eller face-to-face, three other high schools took part in the event via videoconference. Students from all four schools were able to ask questions for the football star, learning more about his personal accomplishments and what it takes to succeed. Beyond being impressed with Mr. Eller's successes, this workshop worked to define the Gold Standards of Character, which were defined as Commitment, Integrity, Courage, Respect and Excellence. This event was also featured in this 62.4-second video update.

Three of our ALC students are writing their way to the top, getting their written work published on a nationally known organization's website. Michele Norcross's Women's Literature class culminated their unit on Media Literacy and Criticism this past quarter, by writing articles about a chosen media message and submitting these articles to The Emily Program's Media Monday series for the chance to be published. The Emily Program is a national leader for eating disorder treatment, and their Media Monday series is an online blog where volunteers use their media literacy skills in order to critique and analyze media that may potentially send harmful messages to consumers. The ALC Women's Literature students have learned to recognize images that portray unattainable beauty ideals as well as the objectification and over sexualization of women. They also understand how harmful some media messages can be when consumed by an uniformed and impressionable audience, and their work is definitely a testimony to all that they have learned. These students worked diligently to draft, edit, revise and finalize these articles before submitting them for publication. Three of their articles were chosen by The Emily Program's volunteer coordinator to be published as part of the Media Monday series. The students whose work will be featured are Savanah Burg-Hellar, Zach Hallet-Arnold and Alicia Schaefer. You can read their remarkable work by clicking here.

The WBLAS District also just recently received some high honors from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a Local Government Innovation Award. This award recognizes the creative ways in which counties, cities and schools are making Minnesota better and doing things differently. The initiative for which the district has been recognized in this 9th annual award process is Courses that Count: Partnering to Reduce Remedial Coursework, facilitated in partnership with Century College. 

The program is a collaborative response to state and national trends that reveal three out of four students who enter two-year colleges must complete remedial work in language arts, mathematics, or both before enrolling in college level courses that count toward their degrees. White Bear Lake Area Schools and Century College partner to offer dual enrollment math and reading courses at WBLAHS so students can enter college without the need to take remedial courses. The new math and reading courses, which began in the fall of 2015, have a total enrollment of 145 students. The partnership was formally recognized at a ceremony and reception on Thursday, December 10, at the Humphrey School. For the entire press release on this partnership and award, click here. (This award was also referenced above in the Superintendent's Message.)

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. 

Student News

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
January 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 25 Work-study 5:30 p.m.  District Center
February 8 Regular 7 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.

  • Hippodrome Ice Arena Food Drive - Community Services is hosting a food drive benefiting the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf from now through December 20. See this flyer for more information.
  • Seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.

Parent Notices

  • Emergency School Closings - For school closings, early dismissals and late starts, visit the district's Emergency School Closings page. 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. They've provided a tool kit for parents as well as some school guidelines.
  • NAMI Minnesota Parent Resource Program - 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.
  • 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 - During the summer months, the district transitioned to 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 new system replaces 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 calendar here.
  • 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, 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!
  • 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.

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. For more information on this partnership, click here.
  • 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, 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.
    • The Glasrud Family Fellowship Grant Application was sent to all principals during the week of December 7 to forward to all certified teachers in WBLAS. Glasrud Applications for up to $3,000 are due February 3. Please e-mail your applications to info@wblaeforg. You can also find the application form here. There will also be a teachers' Grant Writing Workshop on January 8 between 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. in room 201 at District Center.
    • The 2015 Brosious Grants have been awarded to several WBLAS educators. For the list of 2015 award recipients, click here.
    • Barnes & Noble Bookfair: The WBLAEF has partnered with Barnes & Noble to host a bookfair from November 27 through December 15 at the Maplewood Mall location. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit our school and the organization. For more information, click here.
    • The Ryan Family Elementary Grant awards $500 to help provide art education to elementary schools in the WBLAS District. A total of five Art Grants were awarded to elementary teachers in October. Here are this year's recipients.
    • The new E3 Grant (Enhancing Environmental Experiences) will roll out in the spring of 2016. Each school year, a total of up to $20,000 will be awarded to educators, groups of educators, buildings and administrators in the WBLAS District. This new environmental grant will help to further WBLAS students' understanding and attitudes toward science, the outdoors, our community and the world. For the application, click here.
    • Teachers: Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 school year. Click here for the list and when to apply.
    • The 2015 Holiday Angels Program gives our community an opportunity to share with those in need in our school district while honoring a school district staff person. To learn more, click here.
    • 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:

  • Attend an event or two during this upcoming year! The 2015-16 Activities Calendar were mailed to all District families in August. If you do not have a child in school, but you would like a copy of the district-wide activity listing, contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 and request to be added to the Activities Calendar mailing list.

Awards and Honors

  • White Bear Lake Area Schools received the Local Government Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. For the entire press release, click here.

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