July 12, 2015

In this issue


Superintendent's Message

  • The Importance of Grit

Student News

  • In Photos: Football stars at Lil' Cubs Football Camp!
  • Learning from the experts
  • Outdoor endeavors
  • Manitou Days and Marketfest
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors

Upcoming Events

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The Importance of Grit
White Bear Press Article 
June 2015

Scanning the courtyard wall of a junior high school on the outskirts of a West African town, American visitors study a list showing the academic ranking of all the students attending the school. Nearby an eighth grade girl watches shyly.

"Is your name on the list?" a visitor asks.

"Yes. My name is Victoria," she replies in a quiet voice.

The visitor finds her name. "Your name is near the top of the list. Victoria, you have done well."

Victoria nods and smiles.

"To have done so well in all of your subjects, you must study hard. How much time do you study each night after school?"

"Three hours."

More questions -- and then a surprising discovery. Victoria does indeed study three hours each day outside of school, the visitor learns, one hour late each evening after she has cared for her younger brothers and sisters, helped with dinner, and completed laundry. For the other two hours she rises at 3 a.m., and studies for two hours until 5 a.m. Studying completed, she begins her two hour walk from her village to school.

"Victoria, do you have a big dream of what you would like to do with your education?"

Eyes downcast but with a faint smile, she replies, "Yes... but I do not want to say."

Victoria has grit, a combination of perseverance, stamina, and courage that allows some to continue to drive towards a goal when others would give in or give up.

In our schools, students demonstrate grit: consider the high school boy who gets early up to take an extra class during "zero hour" to increase his prospects for college. Because the class meets before the buses pick up, he walks the four miles to school, but tells no one.

Consider the many teachers who are tireless in personalizing classes for each student, and make a point to get to their outside activities.

Consider the principal who studies achievement data for every child in the school, regularly coaches staff, checks on individual students and families, and never gives up.

Consider the custodian, secretary, bus driver, kitchen staff, and paraprofessional who inspire everyone with a commitment to giving the best every day, most often out of the spotlight.

Consider our class of 2015, who I have watched through middle and high school, each with their personal and sometimes private dreams to improve, to achieve, and to prepare for college and career.

What does grit look like? What difference does it make?

Grit includes three dimensions: a goal; motivation or sense of purpose to achieve the goal; and perseverance and persistence to reach the goal, no matter what impediments or challenges we face.

In the examples above, student and staff goals are personal, and often bold and compelling. Such goals often require an extra measure of courage.

What about Victoria? What of her goal?

As the American visitors finish their tour and walk toward their car, a group of students runs across the dusty field, Victoria is in the lead, head up and smiling.

Almost out of breath, she asks with utmost politeness: "Please, sir, might we have your address?"

We might learn about Victoria's big dream after all.

What about the big dreams of our graduates? This summer most will be eager to tell. Ask and be inspired.

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



In Photos: Football stars at Lil' Cubs Football Camp!


Student news

Learning from the experts
When signing up for Lil' Cubs Football Camp, our young students and their families knew they'd be in for a treat - playing football and having fun outside with 75 of their peers from across the district. Our coaches from Community Services certainly taught the young players a thing or two about football and did their best to keep the energy high. Though, they may have been upstaged by some big names in the sport. EJ Henderson, a former long-time linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, spent the afternoon with our students - giving them encouragement on and off the field. He signed autographs and answered their questions, then played alongside our Lil' Cubs. Two days later, several Minnesota Gopher Football Players came to teach our young football stars a thing or two. The Gophers also spent time with the kids, talking strategy and enjoying the game.


Those with experience can be some of the most influential people. Several of our seniors in the Senior Program demonstrated this after volunteering their time for a writing exercise at Century College. Seven White Bear seniors agreed to be interviewed by Century College Upward Bound students for the writing project. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income and first-generation households who have the ability and interest in going to college. This year, the learning theme was "Environmental Leaders." Our seniors played a key role in this, as they were invited to share their stories and give these students a new perspective on life. This exercise proved to be beneficial not only for the students in the program, but to our volunteers as well. One of the seniors responded by saying:

"I really want to tell the instructor how important I think connecting youngsters to older folks is, particularly in an academic setting, and how neat I think that interview was. The senior interview was a hoot. It was so much fun to talk to the young folks and answer their questions."


Outdoor endeavors
Our Birch Lake Extended Day students enjoyed the outdoors during their recent "Garden Party." Students participated in lawn games like Bocce Ball, bean bag toss, ladder ball and mini croquet. They also spent time socializing with their peers over snacks and refreshments. The District's Extended Day program provides before and after school care and full-day programming on school release days and throughout the summer. Elementary students in the program are actively engaged in a structured environment to expand and develop their skills during their out of school time. To learn more, head to the Extended Day School Age Care website.


Though it's summer, things are not quiet in the schoolyard. Our early childhood Playground Programs have been in full swing! Preschool Playground is a fun and educational opportunity for children in a safe, supportive learning environment. Each day includes activities such as story time, games, arts and crafts and supervised play on the playground. Preschool Playground is for children who turn three by January 1, 2015; up through children who are age five years old and have not completed kindergarten. There's also a jump start program for children heading off to kindergarten. Classes will continue throughout the summer, for details click here. All of the Playground Programs are provided through our Community Services Department. Their summer catalog can be found here.

Our WBLAHS students are getting a new "playground" this fall - a first-ever turf field! As of now, the project is moving along on schedule. All of the digging and "earth work" is complete, meaning turf installation could happen any day now. The project is anticipated to wrap-up during mid-August, right in time for our fall activities. The Hippodrome construction has also come a long way. This facility went through several upgrades, the most notable being new concrete flooring. More than seven miles of plastic tubing was installed to cool the rink floor, and 175 yards of concrete were used to pour the floor. Here's a sneak peak at some of the construction. Once it's ready to go, professional hockey banners of WBLAHS graduates Ryan Carter and Justin Braun will be on display.


Manitou Days and Marketfest
The WBLAS District is heavily involved in the community and its much-anticipated summer activities. Students and staff walked proudly in the Manitou Days Parade. Among that group were the Manitou Button Contest winners, the Writing Contest winners and this year's Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award winner Terry Hayes, just to name a few! Though another successful Manitou Days celebration has come and gone, you'll continue to see District staff in downtown White Bear at the weekly Marketfest celebrations. There's never a dull moment at the District booth - from White Bear decals, early childhood activities and greetings from District staff. Come by every Thursday through the end of July and say hi to some familiar faces!


Many of the WBLAS District's partners take part in these summer events as well, including BearPower. During Manitou Days, BearPower hosted an annual event called Family Fun Night. It was a free event full of fun games, prizes and food. This year, the event took place at Lion's Park and there were roughly 300 people in attendance. The event was centered around BearPower's mission, which is to encourage families in the White Bear Area to eat well and be active. This video highlights Family Fun Night and BearPower's overall mission.

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



Activities updates

The annual Fall Sports Meeting for all WBLAHS athletes involved in a fall sport will be taking place on Wednesday, July 29 at District Center. Details can be found here.
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications. 

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
July 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
August 10 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
August 24 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center

Highlights from the most recent School Board meeting can be found here.

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.

  • Three of our seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here.

Parent Notices

  • 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. Click here to learn more about the NAMI Minnesota Parent Resource Program. Parent Resources Referral forms can be found here.
  • Summer Meals for Children - During the school year, many Minnesota families depend on the free or reduced-price meals their children receive at school to provide nourishment. When school is out, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) bridges the "nutrition gap."
    To find summer meal program locations near you:
    • Enter your address in the new Summer Meal Site Finder online tool just released by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.
    • Call the 2-1-1 Hotline or from your mobile phone in the Twin Cities metro area, call 651-291-0211. In greater Minnesota, call 1-800-543-7709, or TTY at 651-291-8440.
    • Text Second Harvest Heartland at 612-516-3663.
    • Enter your address in the Summer Meal Map online tool.
    • Call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-348-6479 or in Spanish 1-877-842-6273.
    To learn more, please visit the Summer Food Service Program website.
  • Willow and Central to participate in Summer Food Service Program - Willow Lane Elementary and Central Middle School will be sites this summer for the Food and Nutrition Service Summer Food Service Program. As such, breakfast and lunch meals will open and free-of-charge to White Bear Lake Area School District community children under 18 years old at Willow and Central schools. Find the full details here.
  • One-stop online payments - During the summer months, the district is transitioning to a "one-stop" online payment system that will enable families to make payments for food services, school activities and Community Education activities. The system will also serve as the registration hub for middle school and high school activities. The new system will replace multiple systems that are currently used for these purposes, including RevTrak, PayPams and ActiveNet. Watch for additional communication to be coming out from the schools later this summer regarding this exciting change!
  • 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. We hope you'll pass this valuable information along to your staff and the families you serve.
  • 2015-16 Academic Calendar - See the approved calendar 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:

  • BearPower recently held their Family Fun Night event which takes place during the annual Manitou Days celebration and released this video which highlights the event and their overall mission.
  • The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation is an independent, non-profit corporation promoting excellence in education in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 schools. Click here to visit their website.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Attend an event or two during this upcoming year! The 2015-16 Activities Calendar will be mailed to all District families in August. If you do not have a child in school, but you'd 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

  • Sunrise band teacher Mike Snell was named the WCCO/Popp Communications "Good Neighbor" of the day.
  • The WBLAS Communications Department received several honors from the National School Public Relations Association:
    • Award of Honorable Mention for: Elementary Guide, Elementary World language video
    • Award of Merit for: Community e-Newsletter, International Baccalaureate - MYP video
    • Award of Excellence for: Activities Calendar (1 of 7 in the nation), New principals video series (1 in 20 in the nation)

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