March 20, 2016

Confidence and Poise

In the musical "Fiddler on the Roof", Tevye laments,

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember getting older.
When did they?

Before our eyes our children grow, learn and confront challenges with determination and purpose.

On some days we watch them audition and get rejected, practice but fail to make the team, or study hard only to be disappointed in the results.

But there are moments when our own children - or the students we teach and coach - excel. Watching from the audience or crowd we realize how far they have come.

This month elementary school boys and girls entertain us on stage. Seventh graders captivate us with reenactments of actual historical events in their History Day presentations. Talented high school students receive top honors in vocal and instrumental music contests. Others perform superbly at state athletic competitions.

We may be in the audience, but we're more than spectators. We are part of the story.

We know risks our children and students take even to be on stage or on the court. We've been there for disappointments and injuries. We've been there to encourage and hope they don't give up.

And when we see their confidence and poise, in an unguarded moment we are like Tevye.

I don't remember getting older.
When did they?

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


In Photos: Girls' Basketball at the State Tournament!

Student News

Go Bears!

The Varsity Girls' Basketball team just wrapped up an incredible season, placing fourth in the state! The first game of the tournament against St. Michael-Albertville Tuesday afternoon was a nail biter down to the last buzzer, but the Bears pulled off a win in overtime with a score of 72-69. Announcers at Tuesday's game had some great things to say about our players and loyal fans in orange. You can listen to their commentary and watch the entire game against STMA, by clickinghere. The Bears then brought that energy to their next two games in the tournament, facing off Minnetonka Thursday and Eastview - ultimately bringing home a fourth place trophy. Throughout the week, fans in orange showed up in force to support the team and gave the state a taste of the White Bear Nation.

The Bears were Conference and Section Champions with a record of 22-7 going into the State Tournament. Head Coach Jeremy Post said the girls did a great job of staying together and believing in each other throughout the entire season. Go Bears!

Meanwhile, their peers excelled in a competition of another sort - the Moody Mega Math Challenge. It's a one day, 14 hour competition in applied mathematics regarding a "real world problem." Students aren't told the problem's topic until it's download the morning of the challenge. This year's topic was about the relatively new act and impact of car sharing. Teams were asked to solve the problem using math and to submit an (up to) 20 paper by 9 p.m. that same evening. Over 1,500 teams nationwide competed in the challenge in that one weekend alone, and of those 1,500+, 174 were deemed "surviving" teams worthy of moving on to the next round where scholarships are prizes are awarded. This is the first year WBLAHS has had two teams move into the second round. The two teams practiced once per week together and worked individually every week since the beginning of December.

During the most recent School Board meeting, there were many Scholastic Art Award winners recognized, one in particular who received national honors. Central seventh grade student Alexandra Ohmann found out during the ceremony that she has earned a Gold Key national recognition in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards of 2016. She has been identified by panels of creative professionals as one of the most talented young artists and writers in the nation. This year, nearly 320,000 works of art and writing were submitted. Only the top one-percent were recognized at the national level. These students, including Alexandra, have been invited to attend a ceremony at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City on Thursday, June 2. The School Board Recognition Ceremony celebrating all of the District's Scholastic Art Award winners (among other honors) was covered in the most recent 62.4-second video update.

Students at the Transition Education Center recently celebrated a long-list of accomplishments at the Transition Education Center's Community Partner Event. Each year, this event is held to showcase the students' hard work on the job and to appreciate local businesses who provide working opportunities for WBLAHS - South Campus and Transition Education students. The students who participate in Work Based Learning as a part of their education are working towards their goals and independence in the area of employment. Students get trained in, receive job coach support as needed and work towards achieving their goals and becoming independent. Community partners, district staff, students and families are invited each year to attend this celebration. Each student is given a moment to share what job tasks they completed, what skills they learned and to say "thank you" to the community partners. Through this event, students are able to get to know more community employers, highlight their skills and practice social skills and public speaking. This annual event was covered in a recent recent 62.4-second video update.

Students on stage

It's officially spring, a time when you'll find students of all ages taking the stage for various performances. Spring plays are in full swing, with some students already wrapping up a round of performances. Elementary students from Oneka and one group of Matoska recently wrapped up their performances of "We Are Monsters" through Ashland Productions. The play will also be performed yet this spring by a second group from Matoska and an Otter Lake crew. Lincoln's rendition of "Wizard of Oz," pulled together by parent volunteers, will be performed right here in the Community Auditorium in early April. The Middle School Musical, "Shrek," will take place in late April. White Bear Lake Area High School Spring Play auditions for "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" are happening as we speak, the play will debut later this spring. Click here for more information and to get tickets to the many upcoming productions!

Kindergartners are also diving into the performing arts, through the Building Bridges Dramatic Arts and Creative Storytelling program developed by the Children's Theatre of Minneapolis. Children's Theatre staff have done extensive research to align Building Bridges with Minnesota State Art and Literacy standards. Building Bridges sessions include the storytelling of fables, fairy tales, myths and legends. All stories are first told to the students by professionals and teachers, then students help tell the stories and act them out. Throughout the 17 sessions, instructors gradually release control to the students as they create their own stories that eventually become the final performance. This opportunity was made possible six years ago when WBLAS teacher Jessica Hosmer applied for a Ryan Family Art Grant through the WBLAEF while working at Vadnais Heights Elementary. When she started at Otter Lake Elementary in 2013, the Children's Theatre received a MN Arts Board Grant and was able to expand. The program now has two classrooms, 17 sessions with a professional and students get to go on a trip to the Theatre to see a performance. See highlights from a recent Building Bridges performance in the most recent 62.4-second video update.

Observational learning

Lakeaires students from Mary Osterlund's class experienced a unique opportunity recently, by heading to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory for a week of hands-on, interdisciplinary, real-world learning. During the week they focused on the rain forest and tundra. Using the Scientific method, the students observed animals, created enrichments for the animals, wrote a hypothesis predicting the animals' behavior with the enrichment and documented the actions of the animals after they were exposed to their creations. Students also used the engineering design process to build a rain forest tree and a windmill. This program was offered free of cost by Como, including transportation to and from the zoo, through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. One of the students' trips to Como, where they observed primates engaging with their creations, was featured in this 62.4-second video update.

Vadnais Heights Elementary students in grades 2-5 recently experienced the incredible opportunity to go on "Google Expeditions," where they traveled virtually to places across the globe - even the universe! Vadnais teachers received an Expedition Kit from Google and were taught how to take their students on virtual field trips using special goggles. The tours were virtual reality panoramas that were led by each students' classroom teacher. This incredible opportunity is a Pioneer Program that is currently available for free to select schools around the world including to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Denmark and Mexico. More than 100 engaging journeys have been created, with Vadnais Heights students exploring land forms in Turkey, Belize, Australia and the Philippines. Students also explored Pow Wow's, Syrian Refugees, U.S. Monuments, the Coral Reef and even took an expedition to the Moon! Vadnais Principal Sara Svir says the students and teachers alike would love to be able to access this technology on a regular basis, so as a result, Vadnais will be looking for grants and community partnerships to purchase the materials to permanently house Google Expeditions at Vadnais Heights Elementary.

Kind gestures

A club started by three middle school students last year, is now thriving in its second year.The club Knit Wits was first pioneered by (now freshman) Anika Dahl, Paige Fleming and Maddie Lamwers as a service project for Girls Scouts. It's a knitting club where students knit after school and donate their finished products to those in need. Since the three girls moved on to high school, they turned over the leadership to four students who wanted to keep it going this year. The group meets once a week to learn how to knit, crochet and practice various knitting techniques. They just wrapped up their last meeting of the year, completing all of the items you see pictured. Here are some fun articles about the Knit Wits published last year by the White Bear Press and White Bear Lake Magazine.

Vadnais Heights Elementary recently welcomed Ambassadors for Respect, which is part of Merrick Incorporated, a self-advocacy organization led by persons with intellectual disabilities. They visited Vadnais fourth grade students and presented an anti-bullying program. The Ambassadors shared personal stories of bullying situations and taught our students the importance of respecting everyone including people with disabilities. Their focus was around awareness of words that are hurtful, actions that aren't forgotten and behaviors that cause long-lasting pain. Vadnais students then made a pledge to maintain bully-free and respectful environments at school and in our community. 

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

The Girls' Basketball Team took home a fourth place trophy after Saturday's game vs. Eastview. The game was a culmination of a great appearance in the State Tournament!


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 Recognitions


Before the March 14 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the following students and staff:

  • Middle school and high school Scholastic Art Award Winners 
  • Middle School MBDA Honor Band students
  • The Prudential Spirit of Community Award finalist 
  • Alpine skier who went to state
  • Nordic skier who went to state
  • Boys' Swim and Dive Team member who went to state
  • Josh Franz, Section Assistant Swim Coach of the Year










School Board Meetings

School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
March 28 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center
April 11 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
April 25 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center

For highlights from the most recent School Board meeting, click here.

Superintendent's Message

  • Confidence and Poise

Student News

  • In Photos: Girls' Basketball at the State Tournament!
  • Go Bears!
  • Students on stage
  • Observational learning
  • Kind gestures
  • 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 themhere.

Parent Notices

  • 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 one month 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. They'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 March:
    • Music in Our Schools Month
    • National Nutrition Month
    • Employee Appreciation Day - March 4
    • National School Breakfast Week - March 7-11
    • Spring Break - March 21-25

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.
  • 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.
    • Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award nominations are currently being accepted from now through April 1. Please find the nomination form here.
    • The first round of E3 Grant (Enhancing Environmental Experiences) applications were due March 7. A total of seven applications were submitted from various schools in the WBLAS District. The winners of these grants will be published at a later date. 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.
    • 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:

  • 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!
  • 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
  • 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 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

  • Josh Franz was named the Assistant Swim Coach of the Year
  • The following have been selected as WBLTA 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalists:
    • Kelly Desmet - Kindergarten, Willow Lane Elementary
    • Hilary Ethen - Kindergarten, Hugo Elementary
    • Ben Kirkham - Language Arts, North Campus
    • Jamie Kovacs - 5th Grade, Lincoln Elementary
    • Ben Nakagaki - Mathematics, North Campus
    • Philip Wacker - Science, South Campus
  • 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.