March 6, 2016

Only 47 More to Learn! 

Sitting cross-legged on the classroom carpet, eighteen boys and girls look eagerly to their smiling teacher for instructions to start the day.

"Good morning, children, we have a guest this morning. Shall we sing our morning greeting?"

"Yes!" the children respond in unison, or at least what passes for unison with five- and six- year-olds.

"Which language should we use?" asks the teacher, as she ignores the bewildered expression on the face of the class guest.

Quickly the children respond, "let's do all of the them!"

The song begins....

"Hello, how are you, how are you my friend?"

With delight and expression the children sing and nod to one another,

Verse two is Spanish, not surprising because the children learn Spanish in school,

Verse three is Swahili, without missing a beat,

Verse four is Portuguese, led by a student,

Verse five is French, led by the same,

Verse six is Hmong, led by another,

Verse seven is Arabic, led by still another,

Verse eight is in sign language, tiny hands in unison.

Caught in the spirit, the guest adds another language, the children perfectly mimicking sounds.

"Time to go" the guest explains....

"Wait," a child laments, "We know nine languages. We need to learn one more so we have ten!"

And so they do.

This scene from one of our kindergarten classrooms is a testimony to how open and eager children are to learn. This class also reflects the rich language fluency our children bring to school.

By last count, in addition to English, children in the White Bear Public Schools speak 56 home languages.

"Ready, children? Only 47 languages more to learn!"

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


In Photos: Lincoln Read-a-Thon assembly!

Student News

Core Values in the community

The Core Values of Compassion, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Service are not only what bind us as a district, but as a community. Our students have proven this as they continue to embody these values outside of the classroom. An example comes from the Ambassadors and National Honor Society students who recently prepared a meal for others at WBLAHS - South Campus. Several of them then attended the Cooking for Kids event at the Ronald McDonald House within St. Paul Children's Hospital to serve roughly 30 people. This is the first time this group has volunteered for this type of activity and all involved say it was an incredible experience. 

Several Business Education students from WBLAHS - South Campus demonstrated their Core Values of Compassion and Respect (among others) when they attended the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce Inaugural 2016 Luncheon at Dellwood Country Club. The students had the opportunity to meet guest speaker Holly Hoffman, a former Survivor - Nicaragua contestant, author and motivational speaker. Ms. Hoffman shared her personal experiences and inspirational story. She has traveled across the country, speaking to community leaders and business professionals, inspiring audiences to take opportunities.

Central Middle School eighth grade students practiced similar values during recent Enriched Language and Literature classes as they Skyped with their Peace Corps pen pal Katie Leusink. Students respectfully listened as Leusink shared her experiences working in the Rubirizi District in southwest Uganda, with women farms and youth in record keeping, farm practices and business schools. She is also working with students in a secondary school on leadership, teamwork and goal-setting. White Bear students will write back and forth with her students in the coming weeks.

Matoska International students participated in a similar experience, with six in-person Peace Corps visitors. The idea came from one of the special guests, who attended Matoska years ago. She and the other Peace Corps alumni parted into individual classrooms to share with our young students what life is like in communities across the world. Students of all grade levels were able to engage with the visitors. This activity was also featured in our most recent 62.4-second video update.

Middle School AVID students demonstrated the district's Core Values when creating community boxes for the special education department at Otter Lake Elementary. The boxes were created to help teach the students how to do activities of daily living such as; going grocery shopping, caring for pets and hygiene. At the high school level, ninth and tenth grade AVID students went to Otter Lake Elementary to work with some of the students in special education and to show the teachers how to use each individual box to help the students take part in community activities. 

There are also times when our Core Values are expressed not with words, but with actions - like jumping into ice cold waters dressed in throwback 70's gear. Willow students, staff, parents and district staff members demonstrated their commitment to service by taking the "Freezing to the Oldies" themed Polar Plunge. By leaping out of their comfort zone and into frigid waters, participants raised more than $4,000 for Willow Lane Elementary.

Reading recap

The month of February has come and gone, with another fantastic I Love to Read Month on the books. Though, for Lakeaires students, one could say it's only just begun. During the month of February, the entire student body collaborated to make two "all school stories." Essentially, this is a documented game of telephone - where the story gets passed from one classroom to the next and students contribute different elements to the story. Though students worked on them all month, the big reveal took place just recently during the school's morning news segment. Fifth grade teacher Stacy Brodt polished the stories with some final touches before handing them off to be read over the intercom this past week. Needless to say, the final products didn't disappoint. Rather than attempting to summarize one the of very complex and creative masterpieces, we thought we'd share it with you. Click here to read one of the all school stories! Lakeaires also participated in their annual Camp Read a Lot activity, where an indoor "camp" is set up in the atrium of the school and students can curl up and enjoy a good book (pictured above).

When it comes to I Love to Read Month, it can be difficult to tell who enjoys it more, our students or staff. Matoska International staff members had a blast dressing up as iconic storybook characters, so much so that we couldn't get them all in one group photo (pictured).Birch Lake students and staff also dressed as some well-known characters during their Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad reading events. Otter Lake staff and students went all-out for their Robo Reading Day event, a literacy activity centered around the school's STEM initiatives. There is a particular district staff member, though, who takes I Love to Read Month to a whole new level. Each year, Lincoln Principal Dan Schmidt promises to do something a bit ridiculous at an all-school assembly if the entire student body hits a combined number of minutes read goal. Once again, Lincoln's readers exceeded the challenge, which put Principal Schmidt in a very "sticky" situation. As promised, students poured banana split toppings all over Principal Schmidt( who was dressed the character Gru from Despicable Me to fit this year's Minions theme.) Photos from this assembly can be found in the "In Photos" section above and in this 62.4-second video update.

This is only a sample of the many fun and creative ways our schools participated in this year's I Love to Read Month. Thank you to all of our students, staff and volunteers for helping our schools celebrate reading to the fullest. We hope you'll keep that momentum going!

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 Team Two Unified Bears team took a third place win at the Regional Basketball Tournament February 28. Boys' Swimteam member Abe Townley qualified for the state swim meet. Josh Franz was named Section Assistant Swim Coach of the Year. Wrestling team members J.J. Andrus, Thomas Adair and Joe Dittel recently competed in the State tournament. WBLAHS senior Madisyn Kephart was a distinguished finalist for The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for her service related to her volunteer work centered around the Special Olympics Unified Team. Nordic Skiers Olivia Schwintek and Keely Nistler earned spots at the state competition.Alpine Ski team member Kate Cox earned a spot at the state competition. WBLAHS student athlete alumna Tarah Hobbs recently was highlighted in a Faces of the Big Ten video.


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 Meetings

School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
March 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
March 28 Work-study 5:30 p.m.  District Center
April 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

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

Superintendent's Message

  • Only 47 More to Learn!

Student News

  • In Photos: Lincoln Read-a-Thon assembly!
  • Core Values in the community
  • Reading recap
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

Staff 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.

  • Winter Fitness and Wellness - WBLAS Community Services and Recreation presents a variety of fitness/wellness classes this winter. Register with your district email and receive $5 off! For class information, dates and fees, click here.
  • 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 presented to the School Board as first readings at the February 8, 2016 meeting and will be acted upon at the March 14 School Board meeting. The proposed 2016-17 calendar can be found here. The proposed 2017-18 calendar can be found here. Results of a calendar survey that was recently conducted can be found here.
  • Assistive Technology Newsletter - This latest edition focuses on assistive technology and transitioning to college. These publications are made possible with a grant from the the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • National Fix-a-Leak Week is part of the Race 2 Reduce grant initiative in which all White Bear elementary schools and some middle school students or advisory groups will take part in during the week of March 14-18. There will be activities each morning and a class from each school will earn a prize. This Family Fact Sheet contains more information on Fix-a-Leak Week and how families can get involved.
  • 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.
  • Engineering Scholarship - Hallberg Engineering is offering a $1,500 scholarship that will be awarded to a graduating WBLAHS student, who has the intent to pursue a 4-year Bachelor's degree in ether mechanical or electrical engineering. For more information, click here.
  • 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.
  • 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 events. For more information, click here.
  • Autism Society of Minnesota presents dating workshops for teens with autism and their caregivers. The workshop is on March 12 from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church. Click here for details.
  • 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.

  • The Minnesota Food Share Campaign is Thursday, March 10 at Culver's in Vadnais Heights. Ten percent of sales will be donated to Meals on Wheels. Click for 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.
    • National Fix-a-Leak Week is part of the Race 2 Reduce grant initiative in which all White Bear elementary schools and some middle school students or advisory groups will take part in during the week of March 14-18. There will be activities each morning and a class from each school will earn a prize. The Family Fact Sheet contains more information on Fix-a -Leak Week.
  • 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.
    • Glasrud Family Fellowship Grants were awarded to nine teachers from WBLAHS (North and South Campuses), Central Middle School and Sunrise Park Middle School on February 18, 2016. A grand sum of $15,946 was awarded to these nine educators. Find a White Bear Press article about the award 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:

  • Matoska International, Oneka and Otter Lake Elementary Schools have students performing in the Ashland Production of We Are Monsters at the Maplewood Community Center. For show dates and times, and to buy your tickets, click here.
  • Plan to attend the Middle School Musical's performance of Shrek, Jr. on April 21, 22 or 23. Tickets will be available for sale on the district's website April 1.
  • 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

  • Central Middle School Social Studies Teacher Kari Janzen was named the White Bear Lake VFW Teacher of the Year for 2015.
  • The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation awarded Glasrud Family Fellowship Grants to nine teachers from WBLAHS (North and South Campuses), Central Middle School and Sunrise Park Middle School on February 18, 2016. A grand sum of $15,946 was awarded to these nine educators. Find a White Bear Press article about the award here.
  • The following recognitions will take place in March:
    • Music in Our School Month
    • National Nutrition Month
    • Employee Appreciation Day
    • National School Breakfast Week - March 7-11
    • Spring Break - March 21-25

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