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!)

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.

  • Bundle Up Bears - Come celebrate winter and the great outdoors with free ice skating for the family, and meet our WBL Mascot! This event takes place during the afternoon of Saturday, January 30. Click here for details.
  • Intergenerational Storytelling: Dreaming of Summer - Professional actor and storyteller Charles Numrich will lead this workshop, where family youth and elders share favorite stories of warm weather. This workshops takes place Friday, January 29 from 1 - 3 p.m. Click here for details.
  • Meals on Wheels Fundraiser - Celebrate an early Valentine's Day with dinner and a show! This event takes place Thursday, February 11 with dinner beginning at 5:30. Click here for details.
  • Family Dance Party - Join us for our annual dance party designed for families with children up through sixth grade. There will be family friendly music, a photo booth and light refreshments. The event takes place Friday, February 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. See this flyer for details.
  • Living with Chronic Conditions - The Wilder Foundation Caregiver Services Team has teamed up with Community Services to provide an engaging six-week workshop teaching practical tips on a variety of health and wellness topics. Click here for dates and details. The Wilder Foundation will also be hosting a Powerful Tools for Caregivers workshop. Those details can be found here.
  • Seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.

Parent Notices

  • Calendar - Parent Survey - The district is currently designing academic calendars for 2016-17 and 2017-18, which we anticipate will be presented to the School Board as preliminary calendars in February and acted upon as final calendars in March. Many competing elements affect the final result, so we appreciate having your input as we work to design the best calendars. Please take 2-3 minutes to provide your feedback regarding our academic calendars in this survey.
  • Welcome to White Bear - While parents are welcome to visit our schools at any time, there are several special opportunities in January for parents to learn more about our schools and programs. Find a list of events here.
  • 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.
  • Family-to-Family Education - This class is for family members who have a loved one living with mental illness. Learn about mental illness, identify resources, build communication skills, reduce stress and find support at an upcoming event February 3. For more information, click here.
  • 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 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 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.

Senior Program Updates:

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

  • Chat Cafe - Join in on a three-part conversation on Aging with Gusto provided by the Vital Aging Network. Click here for dates and details.
  • 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. Find information about the "Use Water Wisely Poster Contest 2016" 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. BearPower is currently hosting Open Gym family night events on certain Fridays throughout the winter. Click here for the dates and details.
  • 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@wblaef.org. You can also find the application form here.
    • 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.
    • 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 this winter and 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

  • WBLAS 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. (Find further details on this initiative in the Superintendent's Message at the top or in the Students News section above.)
  • The following recognitions will take place in February:
    • I Love to Read month - Feb. 1-29
    • Black History month - Feb. 1-29
    • National School Counseling Week - Feb. 1-5)
    • National School Board Recognition Week - Feb. 15-19
    • President's Day - Feb. 15
    • National PTA Founder's Day - Feb. 17

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