May 15, 2016

Imagination and Reality

From remarks to new inductees to the White Bear Lake Area High School National Honor Society in April, 2016


As a first-time grandfather, I look forward to regular updates from my daughter on the latest antics of two-and-one-half year-old Iris.


She attends preschool a couple of mornings a week, and school stories provide some of the best entertainment.


Last week was "big truck" week at her preschool. As one of the activities, the children were herded onto the big yellow school bus for a tour. Her teachers noticed that Iris was not quite as appreciative of the tour as they expected. In fact, she began sobbing, almost hysterically.


It was not until nearly bedtime that her parents discovered the cause. Little Iris thought the bus was going to take off into the sky - as happens in the Magic School Bus videos - and she wanted no part of it!


For a child not yet three, the boundaries between reality and imagination are fluid. What is real might feel imaginary and what is imaginary can feel remarkably real. Do you remember favorite books from your childhood? Which made you feel happy and which were scary?


Even as high school students, we exist comfortably on the borders of imagination and reality. Facing a difficult assignment, we are drawn to daydreaming, reading a novel or watching a movie. And what makes prom so enticing?


Tonight you really will be inducted into the National Honor Society - this is not your imagination!


Let's consider what honor means.


To honor means to "regard with great respect" as in "we will honor you tonight." You respond by dressing in your best and sit with your parents and remember your manners.


To honor also means to "fulfill or keep an obligation," as in "we challenge you to honor your pledge to the principles of the National Honor Society."


How does tonight fit with imagination and reality?


You really are here, after all, eating dinner.


You are here because you have been judged by your teacher advisers as real:


Real in scholarship, leadership, service and character.


When you think about it, honors say a lot about what we value. Would you rather be honored with an Oscar for best actor or actress, or for the Nobel Peace Prize? Or perhaps more to the point in this room, recognized for being a good father or mother, a good teacher or leader, or a good son or daughter?


This would be a good time for you to look around your table to nod in thanks to your parents for the example they have set. Look to the head table to remember the teachers and administrators who have encouraged you. Look to the seniors here tonight who have led you in service.


This whole business of honor comes down to standards of what we value. Tonight you will be inducted into the National Honor Society, which has held to high standards for nearly 100 years.


But this is one organization where your obligation does not end with tonight's honor. In fact, you are pledging to continue to demonstrate scholarship even when you get tired, step up to leadership even when you would rather blend into the crowd, serve even when it is inconvenient and exemplify character even when nobody is watching.


So enjoy your dinner. We will then invite you to climb aboard the Magic School Bus, so you can be whisked away to the ceremony at an undisclosed location!




Michael Lovett

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools


In Photos: Early Childhood Car Wash!

Workforce ready

White Bear Lake Area Schools are committed to preparing students for the future, and partner with many community organizations to help students hit the ground running when they graduate. Most recently, the district partnered with Northern Tool + Equipment as part of its inaugural scholarship program. With an imbalance of employees available for skilled trade jobs across the nation, the Nurturing Trade Excellence Program was started out of what Northern Tool + Equipment saw as a gap that had to be filled in the job sector. The program is designed to encourage and support the next generation of skilled trade professionals. It's broken into two parts, a $2,500 scholarship for a high school senior planning to attend a trade or vocational school, and a tool donation worth $2,000 for the high school's industrial technology program. WBLAHS senior Marco Gambino was the first student to ever be awarded the scholarship and White Bear Lake High School was the first school in the nation to be part of the program. 

Though Otter Lake Elementary students have some time before they dive into their adult career, they recently got a taste of what the "real world" is all about. Otter third grade students recently participated in their annual Town Simulation activity. The students build a house, buy a lot, have a job and even conquer daily adult responsibilities. The activity starts with a "business kickoff" event, where students meet with consultants from around our community. This year's visitors included an editor from Press Publications, a local banker, a former veterinarian technician and nurse, and even WBLAHS student Aaron Wang, whose family owns Amian Restaurant in Hugo. What's even more special about having Aaron as a consultant, is that he was once an Otter student, too! The business consultants shared their expertise with the students and helped them create a business plan in which they will use for the next three weeks during the town simulation.

Even our youngest Bears are learning a thing or two about responsibilities. Families were invited to Normandy Park recently for the Early Childhood Family Education Car Wash event where children under five were encouraged to bring their toy vehicles or bikes to the kid-friendly car wash. Some of the kids scrubbed their hot rods and decorated them with streamers, while others just enjoyed zipping around the parking lot. Though the kids had a blast, the main purpose of this event was to kick-of registration for ECFE and preschool classes in the fall. To register for classes, click here

Cause driven activities

Whether it's in the classroom or out in the community, WBLAS students of all ages are continuously engaging in cause driven activities. Recently, Alli Bries ninth grade Honors Language Arts students participated in a charity-based research project (piloted by Cassidy Wegwerth, whose efforts were featured in a previous issue of the e-newsletter). For this project, each student identified a problem that he or she felt a connection to (or a concern for), then selected a local charity or organization that works towards fixing that problem. Once they selected a charity, students wrote a persuasive research paper to try and convince their readers to donate time or money to the charity they selected. After they finished writing their papers, each student created a public service announcement for his or her organization. While students worked on the projects and papers, they also held a fundraiser. The winning videos from each class were viewed and students voted for the overall winner. Since there was a tie between two PSAs this year, both were given the opportunity to donate the fund-raised dollars to the charity they selected. Bries's second hour class raised $114.63 and decided to give the money to College Possible and her sixth hour raised $215.08, and that money will be going to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.


Eighth grade students at Central and Sunrise Park Middle School just wrapped up a similar assignment called the Community Project. It's a new requirement for completion of International Baccalaureate - Middle Years Program (IB-MYP) schools that end at year three (eighth grade). Since both middle schools are authorized IB-MYP schools, the eighth grade students were required to complete this new capstone project. Students, either in groups or individually, identified a need in their community and a way to help support the need through direct service, indirect service, advocacy or research. They then researched the needs and designed a project so they could take action. When students completed the "action" they then were asked to reflect and present their work to the sixth and seventh grade students in their school. This project took between four and five months to complete. Students did a tremendous job for the first go-around, raising money, resources and awareness for a number of organizations.

Spreading awareness can be very powerful when fighting for a cause, which was the purpose behind the "Spreading the Word" assembly held at WBLAHS - North Campus recently. The assembly was a chance for our high school students and staff to stand up to the R-wordand defend those who have a disability. This powerful video was shared of WBLAHS students expressing their frustration with the word and why they've joined the movement to stop its use. This event also received praise from a coordinator of Special Olympics Minnesota, who shared this message:


"On behalf of SOMN, I wanted to extend a huge thank you for hosting a 'Spread the Word' campaign at White Bear Lake. I have only heard great things about the event and how it will affect the school culture at White Bear Lake High School. White Bear Lake students are leading the way for inclusion in the state of Minnesota and we are beyond excited to see what the future holds for the White Bear Lake community. We hope that the unified movement continues to grow with every incoming class to the school!"


That same week, was also the fifth annual "Fill The Heart" community event. More than 60 community members gathered at the Vadnais Heights Sports Dome to honor and celebrate individuals in our community with intellectual disabilities. It was a chance for others to speak up to the R-word and stand behind this anti-bullying campaign.

Setting the stage

Though it's normally an outdoor event, jazz band students didn't miss a beat when performing at this year's District Night of Jazz, which was held in the Community Auditorium due to rain. The evening of music was a collaboration between all seven jazz bands in the district from seventh grade all the way up to twelfth. This concert gives students an opportunity to hear one another and play together. Each year, the event culminates with a mass blues song at the end of the show, where students embrace the spontaneity of the Jazz genre and invite individuals to improvise a solo. In other words, they do not pre-plan the number of solos, the order or who plays them. Each year, more middle school students are inspired to solo, which takes a lot of courage. Middle school students also learn from this experience by playing alongside our high school musicians. 

Another show you don't want to miss is this year's Spring Play! The High School Theatre Program will soon be presenting the comedy, "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood," which begins Thursday, May 19 with performances through Saturday, May 21. The show starts at 7 p.m. each night in the WBLAHS - North Campus Theater. Tickets are seven-dollars for students and seniors and ten-dollars for adults. Tickets will be sold one hour before show time in the auditorium lobby. For the event flyer, click here!

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
Student artists from around the Northeast Metro area participated in the High School Visual Arts Contest sponsored by the White Bear Center for the Arts. Three WBLAHS students received the following honors: Abraham Townley - Best in Show ($200), Kevin Tran - Award of Excellence ($100) and Katy Shevik - Honorable Mention.
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 May 9 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the following students and staff:

  • Speech Team members
  • SkillsUSA National Competition
  • WBLAHS - South Campus Student Council
  • History Day students
  • Kari Jansen, VFW Teacher of the Year




















School Board Meetings

School Board meetings minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
May 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
June 13 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
July 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

Superintendent's Message

  • Imagination and Reality

Student News

  • In Photos: Early Childhood Car Wash!
  • Workforce ready
  • Cause driven activities
  • Setting the stage
  • 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 them here.

Parent Notices

  • Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.
  • Summer Food Service Program - White Bear Lake Area Schools will be participating in the Summer Food Service Program where breakfast and lunch will be provided free of charge throughout the summer. Dates, times and locations can be found here.
  • Food Care Program - Willow Lane Elementary is now participating in the Food Care Program where children under the age of 18 can eat a free meal after school. The meals will be available at no separate charge to all enrolled children from 3:45-4:15 p.m. on school days. The goal of the program is to increase the opportunity for children to eat a variety of nutritious foods. For more information on this state-wide initiative, click here.
  • 2016 Lice Procedures - In line with most Metro districts, WBLAS has updated our lice procedures. Find information about the changes here.
  • Marketfest for students - Marketfest is around the corner! Organizers would like to share and encourage WBLAS students to participate in its many opportunities. Click here to get involved
  • Employees Wanted! - The district currently has a variety of open positions. Please go here to see a list of exciting opportunities!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Free Parent Education Night - Ramsey County Children's Crisis Resources (in partnership with NAMI Minnesota) will be hosting a Free Parent Education Night on Thursday, May 19. See this flyer for details.
  • Mental Health Crisis Planning for Families - Learn the role of county crisis teams, de-escalation techniques and how to create an effective crisis plan at the Mental Health Crisis Planning for Families workshop on Tuesday, June 15. See this flyer for details.
  • 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
  • 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 Calendars - See the academic calendar here. See the activities 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 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.

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.
  • Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.

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.
    • WBLAHS students are collaborating on a research project focused on water use. Residents in White Bear Lake are invited to take the survey!
  • 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 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.
    • Annual WBLAEF Golf Tournament - The WBLAEF will be hosting its 17th annual golf tournament on Monday, June 27 at Indian Hills Golf Club. Click here to register!
    • 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

  • The High School Theatre Program presents the comedy, "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood," playing Thursday May 19 through Saturday 21 at 7 p.m. in the North Campus Theatre. Tickets are $7 for students and seniors and $10 for adults and will be sold one hour before show time in the auditorium lobby. For the event flyer, click here. Call (651) 653-2967 for further information.
  • WBLAHS students are collaborating on a research project focused on water use. Residents in White Bear Lake are invited to take the survey!
  • 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
  • Attend an event or two this 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.
  • Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.

Awards and Honors

  • Central Middle School social studies teacher Kari Janzen was named the VFW Minnesota Teacher of the Year

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