May 29, 2016

Finish Strong

Ask high school seniors what they remember about elementary school, and almost inevitably memories land on the magnificent intra- district fifth grade field day.

For fifth graders, field days represent a final opportunity to excel before teachers, parents and peers, and a first chance to measure up to future middle school classmates.

On field day this spring, the stuff of memories covers the green field behind the school; running and field events marked off by ropes and cones; athletes of all sizes in brightly colored team tee shirts; cheering crowds of parents, teachers and classmates; and even kindergartners with handmade signs of encouragement. It's the Olympics with a purity to which the Ancient Greek may have aspired.

Watch the young athletes compete. It's clear none are holding back. Boys and girls compete in groups of four. Places are judged. On the children run to the next event. And so on as the day washes over them. 

Watch closely, all. What do the high school seniors remember? Every race, every event, give your best. And finish strong.

At this time of year this lesson of fifth grade field day can inspire each of us, whatever our role or responsibility. Finish strong.


Michael Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In Photos: Annual WBLAHS Senior Breakfast!

Student News

Fun and games

Whether they're in it to win it, or are just having fun with teammates, Bears always give it their all when it comes to athletics. Fifth grade students across the district laid it all out on the field for the annual spring track meets, something our high school students tell us is an activity that stands out vividly in their minds even years later. The students participated in a wide range of traditional track and field activities; from sprints, relays, hurdles and more. While fifth grade students took turns participating in the games, their peers, parents and district staff packed the sidelines to cheer them on. Though there is some friendly competition during field day, it's also a wonderful opportunity for our fifth grade students to get to know one another as they will soon be joining forces and heading off to middle school together in the fall. (This event was also highlighted in the Dr. Lovett's message above.)


White Bear Lake Area Schools' first-ever middle school Girls' Golf Team just wrapped up a historical season, playing recently against Stillwater's JV team. The six-person roster lost by only three strokes to the seasoned Stillwater team - a huge accomplishment for a brand new program! Golfer Abby Maahs was a medalist with a 47 and placed second overall. She also had a blind chip-in on the sixth hole for a birdie. Her playing partner was on the other side watching the ball roll on to the green and right into the hole. This inaugural eight-week season was a huge success and the girls and coaches are looking forward to continuing the program for many years to come.


The White Bear Lake Adapted Softball CI (Cognitive Impairment) team is having their best season in history! After joining the CI division back in 2011, the team has often found themselves as one of the bottom teams in the state. Now in 2016, the Bears have clawed their way to their best record yet (7-6) and earned a spot in the State Tournament after a recent home victory! The team is a tight group of friends who are continuously there for each other. The players have grown into a team with positive attitudes, caring hearts and great sportsmanship. Leadership comes from a strong group of captains, Julie Nelson, Nathon Phan and Debbie Leo. They have been with the program for many years and powered through a few bumps in the road, but head coach Joe Dustin says, "this year, it's our year!"

Vadnais Heights students also worked up a sweat recently, but there was no competition involved - just fun! The entire school was moving and grooving during a school-wide Koo Koo Kanga Roo concert. Koo Koo Kanga Roo is a motivational performing group that emphasizes physical fitness in a fun, non-competitive way. There was singing, dancing and lots of fun and laughter (which you can see for yourself in this video a staff member shared of the event). This event was made possible by a BEAR Grant from the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation and the school PTO's environmental initiatives.


Environmental endeavors

White Bear Lake Area Schools partner with many organizations to further students' education and to serve the community. District students have been heavily involved with one organization in particular - H2O for Life and its Race to Reduce project. For the past 12 years, the water level in White Bear Lake has been declining. While several causes have been identified, the pace of residential development inspired a diverse collaboration of community members to address the challenge. White Bear Lake Area Schools joined forces in this unique effort that educates students and the community about the critical need to conserve water now and for future generations. Our students' dedicated work with this project, and the work of many others involved, just recently received very high honors. H2O for Life along with its partners were selected as a winner for the Race 2 Reduce project at the recent Environmental Initiative Awards (sponsored by Houston Engineering, Inc.). This program annually honors projects that have achieved extraordinary outcomes by harnessing the power of partnership. Over the past year, Race 2 Reduce engaged more than 2,100 students (from both WBLAS and Mahtomedi) to learn about where their water comes from and how they can take action to conserve water resources.


Oneka students have taken on their own environmental project, with contributions from the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation's E3 Grant. Through this grant, Oneka Elementary now has six new container gardens. The idea was proposed by teachers Abbi Case and Amy Corner, who wanted to create an outdoor learning area where students could enjoy interacting with the food they grow. The Summer Extended Day students will maintain the gardens by watering, weeding and trellising the vegetables, then come September, Oneka students will enjoy harvesting and tasting the vegetables during snack breaks and at the Oneka salad bar. Any extra harvest will be donated to the Hugo Food Shelf. And while on the topic of gardens, the author of "The Cookie Garden" book recently visited Otter Lake second grade students to read her story to them in person. Linda Henry (the author of the book) is the mother of a former Otter student. As a culminating activity for the second grade plant unit, Linda read her book to the students and they created their own "Cookie Garden" stories and pictures. The book also includes a do-it-yourself cookie-seed packet and instructions on growing your own cookie garden.

Artists in the making

Students at the Transition Education Center worked together on a very unique art project, where they learned how to SAORI Weave from a Japanese teaching artist. Over a three-day period, Transition Education Center students had the opportunity to work with artist Chiaki O'Brien, who is an Artist-in-Resident through VSA Minnesota - the state organization on arts and disability. On the first day, students spent time learning about the culture and origin behind Japanese SAORI Weaving - which is contemporary hand weaving that was founded more than a century ago. After soaking in some knowledge of its history, students were then broken into smaller groups to work on individual projects. Students not only experienced the joy and relaxation that comes along with SAORI Weaving, but also had the opportunity to do some self discovery along the way.

Central Middle School student Mya Smith was recognized for her artwork regionally. She recently received first place in the local and second place in the regional Patriotic Art Explorers contest. She was honored at an awards ceremony at the VFW. Student Alex Ohmann placed third locally.

Senior send-offs

The end of the year can be bittersweet for our seniors, saying goodbye to a memorable experience at White Bear, while embracing an exciting future ahead. As one of the many official send-offs here at the district, our seniors had a chance to gather with one another for Senior Day. This began with the annual senior breakfast where students enjoyed some laughs from guest speaker Tim Gabrielson. Gabrielson is a magician, comedian and entertainer who travels around the world to entertain and inspire. His brand of keynote entertainments is used to guide audiences to focus on their own abilities and to overcome obstacles in life. Though he had our senior class laughing for a majority of the time, he also left them with an inspiring message as they embark on their next journey beyond high school. Following Gabrielson's words of encouragement, students carried that energy to Valleyfair for an adventure-filled day with their classmates.

That same day, the Area Learning Center held its All School Picnic - an annual event that started roughly two decades ago. Though typically the fun happens outside with softball and yard games, the event was brought indoors this year due to rain. Students and staff continued to enjoy fun games and lunch together in the cafeteria, nonetheless. The celebration concluded with a school-wide awards ceremony, where individual staff members handed out awards to students who've stood out to them throughout the school year. While most ALC students were at the picnic, students in the Insight Program attended the annual Recovery in the Park event. Recovery in the Park is a state-wide gathering of roughly 250 young people in recovery. The event includes a recovery speaker, music, volleyball and other games. The day before those activities, a group of ALC students went on a boat ride down the Mississippi River from Harriet Island in St. Paul. They earned this reward for doing a fabulous job as student leaders in the ALC all year. Students learned about the Mississippi River and the history of St. Paul while cruising with their fellow students leaders.


Though preschoolers have a long career at White Bear ahead of them, My Nature Preschool students at Tamarack Nature Center wrapped up their "senior year" as preschoolers with this fun slideshowhighlighting a great year of learning!

Excellent educators

Behind every student's success story, are excellent educators who've helped them along the way. Recently, WBLAHS and ALC work experience and business education teacher Amy Canniff was honored at the BestPrep luncheon as a Teacher of Excellence for her work with Bestpreps' eMentors, Classroom Plus and Financial Matters programs. Amy Canniff has enhanced her Marketing and Career Exploration curriculum through those programs for more than a decade. Over this time, her students have enjoyed business correspondence with their eMentors and the onsite meet and greet events. Under her guidance, White Bear students have gained great insight into the field of marketing. The district is also fortunate to have been paired up with General Mills, Carlson, KMPS and many great companies to make this happen.

The annual White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation's Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award was presented on May 18 to Oneka Elementary paraprofessional Annie McGlynn. McGlynn was nominated by a few of her colleagues who shared their appreciation for her dedicated work ethic and love for her students. Lynn Mielke was a speech clinician and Special Education Coordinator. Her compassion and love for children was at the forefront of all she did. She was a warm and loving person who created a positive environment for everyone around her. This award was established to recognize someone who exemplifies Lynn's dedication and care for students and staff in our district. 

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 White Bear Lake Adapted Softball Team won their most recent playoff game and is now headed to the State Tournament, which takes place June 3-4. WBLAHS recently wrapped up successful performances of this year's Spring Play, "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood."

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 meetings minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
June 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
July 11 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
August 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

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

Superintendent's Message

  • Finish Strong

Student News

  • In Photos: Annual WBLAHS Senior Breakfast!
  • Fun and games
  • Environmental endeavors
  • Artists in the making
  • Senior send-offs
  • Excellent educators
  • 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

  • Jang-mi Korean Dance & Drum Recital - Head to WBLAHS - North Campus June 11 for a lunch, raffle, bake sale and free performance! The fun begins at 11 a.m. with the performance beginning at 1 p.m. See this flyer for details.
  • 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 pagehere.
  • 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. Clickhere 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.
  • 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 calendarhere. 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 pagehere.

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.
    • H2O for Life along with its partners were selected as a winner for the Race 2 Reduce project at the Environmental Initiative Awards on Thursday, May 26.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • The 2016 Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Awardwas presented on May 18 to Oneka paraprofessional Annie McGlynn.
    • Save the Date! The Bear Legacy fundraising event will be held on Friday, October 14 at the North Oaks Country Club. More details to come.
    • Marketfest and Manitou Days - WBLAEF will again be participating in the following community events this summer. The Manitou Days Grande Parade is Friday, June 17. If you would like to participate, contact Nancy Roth.
    • 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!
    • 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:

  • 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

  • WBLAHS - North Campus and Area Learning Center teacher Amy Canniff was honored at the BestPrep luncheon as a Teacher of Excellence for her work with BestPreps' eMentors, Classroom Plus and the Financial Matters program.
  • This 2016 WBLAEF Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award was presented to Oneka paraprofessional Annie McGlynn on May 18.
  • White Bear Lake Area Schools received a Silver Award for "Room at the Table" in the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators' Northern Lights Awards program on Thursday, May 19. The Northern Lights Awards contest recognizes outstanding work in Minnesota's government, educational and nonprofit communications, and provide valuable feedback for all entries from the communications professionals who judge the contest.

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