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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