January 24, 2016

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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February is fondly known as " I Love to Read Month" to elementary school children. Perhaps you too have memories of curling up under your desk absorbed in your favorite chapter book.

This annual celebration of reading is an encouragement for children to experience the joy of reading. As classroom guests or "mystery readers," high school students and community members share favorite books with the children.

Recognizing our national priority for every child to learn and thrive in an environment rich in literature, two years ago President Obama announced ConnectED, an initiative focused on ensuring every school-age child has easy access to a library card and learns to use the rich resources available in our public libraries. 

Our Suburban Ramsey County library system, which serves our school district, invited us to partner with them as pioneers in this new initiative.

Through the work of our staff, and eager responses of students, we are well on our way. Already nearly all middle school students have a new library card that serves as their school library card and gives them access to the print and digital collections of the county library systems. 

This week the White House convened the "ConnectED Library Challenge," held in the Executive Office Building adjoining the White House. School superintendents, library directors and political leaders from around the nation were invited to share their stories, and help expand this initiative nation-wide.

We figured our students would tell the story the best. To prepare for our trip to Washington, we asked middle school students to describe how this initiative is opening up opportunities. 

You can view the same video leaders from around the nation watched at the White House conference here. You can see our same video and learn more of the story at The White House Blog here and at the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the federal agency which supports our nation's libraries, here.

Finally, just imagine how our world would be different if all our leaders took some time each day in February to read to a child. For for that matter, what if all of us would do so?

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

In Photos: NASA Astronaut returns to WBLAHS!


This special visit was also covered in a recent 62.4-second video update

Student News

Innovative partnerships

White Bear Lake Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Lovett recently joined Ramsey County Library Director Susan Nemitz and Ramsey County Commissioner MaryJo McQuire for a one-day White House conference to discuss the ConnectED Library Challenge, part of an initiative announced last April by U.S. President Barack Obama. The conference was attended by approximately 100 state and national representatives.

The ConnectED Library Challenge is a way for communities throughout the country to create or strengthen partnerships so that every child enrolled in school can receive a library card. White Bear Lake Area Schools has collaborated with Ramsey County since 2015 on a digital access initiative that provides White Bear students with Ramsey County library cards to be used at school district and county libraries. Nearly all White Bear middle school students currently have library cards that grant them access to their school's media center resources and the Ramsey County Library system. This videoexplanation, featuring White Bear middle schools students, was shown at the conference and has been shared by others, including in this article by the Institute of Museum and Library Services! The initiative and the trip to Washington, D.C. will be highlighted in a report to the School Board on February 8, 2016.

Meanwhile, our Otter Lake third grade students are diving into another great partnership - with the ANA School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It began when WBLAS Technology Support Manager Steve Asper traveled to the Port-au-Prince school and connected with Otter third graders in Luanne Oklobzija's class via Google Hangout - an avenue that allows people to communicate face- to-face with others from around the world. Since Asper's return, he's been in the classroom with the students helping them to reconnect with the students they met from the ANA School. Currently, our students are chatting with these students in large groups, as well as breaking off into small groups with their Chromebooks to get to know one another. The goal is to eventually have our students chatting one-on-one with ANA students so they can really connect and engage with a particular student over there. Otter Lake teacher Luanne Oklobzija says she hopes the students will continue to chat with their Haitian friends over the summer and into fourth grade. 

Endless possibilities

In an effort to bring the universe closer to Minnesotans, the Bell Museum hosted Dr. Josh Cassada, NASA Astronaut and Lt. Commander for the U.S. Navy, on January 14 to present "The Road from Minnesota to the Space Station and Beyond" - but before this presentation, Dr. Cassada made a special trip back to his stomping grounds. Dr. Cassada is a White Bear native and visited White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus with the Bell Museum's ExploraDome team to discuss his experience working for NASA, space and science. He shared with current WBLAHS students his fond memories of White Bear and how his high school experience helped build the foundation to where he is now. Though, during his visit it was learned that the now NASA Astronaut had yet to pick up his high school diploma. As Dr. Cassada was saying goodbye to our students and wrapping up his time here, WBLAS staff members dusted off his diploma and presented it to him as a last-minute surprise. Dr. Cassasa opened a blank mysterious envelope to find his shiny, untouched diploma from 1991 and shared laugh with WBLAS staff. Dr. Cassada's visit was also covered in this 62.4-second video update.

 Though becoming an astronaut for NASA may be an aspiration for some of our students, others are exploring jobs here on Earth. A great opportunity for some hands-on job exploration was at the recent Construct Tomorrow event. The White Bear Lake Area Learning Center was honored to be the first East Metro school to host a Construct Tomorrow event. The event offered not only our students, but students from around the Twin Cities a chance for hands-on exploration of careers in the construction trades. Students had the opportunity to visit approximately 15 workshop stations, experiencing different trade simulations and learning about careers and apprenticeships available within that trade. The event was sponsored by the Construct Tomorrow Team, a construction-industry program dedicated to educating Minnesota's youth about careers in the construction industry.

"What I really like is White Bear's dedication to bringing students information about the possibilities for the future. It is so helpful for the future of the students," said Kyra Renner, White Bear Lake Area High School senior and student liaison to the White Bear Lake Area School Board. "This Construct Tomorrow event really gave students a hands-on experience of what they could be building in their lives."


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

Three White Bear Lake Area High School students were recognized individually - swimmer Blake Burnau was named the Male Athlete of the Month, Girls' Basketball player Alison Hinck was named the Female Athlete of the Month and Kelsey Westveer was named the Fine Arts Student of the Month for her role in the One Act Play.

WBLAHS -South Campus Wind Ensemble, Mariners and select students will perform at the Suburban East Conference Music Festival at Park High school on Monday, February 1.

Click here for a schedule of all White Bear 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 agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
January 25 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center
February 8 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
February 22 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center

Highlights from the most recent School Board meeting can be found here ( LINK!)