November 1, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Listening to the Grown-ups

Student News

  • In Photos: Early Childhood apple cider activity!
  • Beware of the Bears
  • Cause driven activities
  • Engaging in history
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

Upcoming Events

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Listening to the Grown-ups

A fourth grade boy peeked shyly around the classroom door. In the distant front of the room, his father and his teacher were deep in conversation. They were so far away, and so hard to hear.

What would his teacher say?

The boy always worried a little when his parents came in for parent-teacher conferences. Would his parents be pleased?

His father noticed him standing by the door. He did not look pleased at all. This was not going well. Finally, the conference was over and his father said, "I need to have a word with my son about what you just told me - he is at the back of the room."

The teacher, seated with her back to the door, turned around, and with a surprised look said, "Oh, dear...I am so sorry, but I made a terrible mistake. I was telling you about the wrong child! Your son is doing well!"

As we approach parent-teacher conference time, I am reminded of this story from long ago. (Yes, I was the fourth grader.)

At the center of every parent-teacher conference is a student. Sometimes we include students in conferences and ask them about their goals, successes and challenges. Other times the "grown-ups" talk together, and try to figure out how to help the child thrive.

In an era where so much achievement data is available on-line, parents and educators may wonder whether a face-to-face conversation is still important. We land on the side of the affirmative - there is great value for parents and teachers listening to one another and understanding the differences and similarities between the child's school and home worlds. And the greatest value is for the child - peeking around the door.

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

In Photos: Early Childhood apple cider activity!

The Community Baby Shower was also featured in the most recent 62.4-second video update.

Student News 

Spirit of giving

Beware of the Bears

Though we're just wrapping up a season of spooky events, others should still fear the Bears this month as our cross country teams head to state! The Varsity Girls' Cross Country Team just wrapped up a successful Section qualifying meet. The chilly temperatures, rain, snow and muddy course didn't stop the athletes from competing at a high level. The top two runners on the varsity team finished in fourth and fifth place out of 93 athletes. Both the junior varsity and varsity girls brought home the victory finishing in first place overall. Our Varsity Boys' Cross Country Team qualified for State as well. The team's number one runner finished fifth at Sections and two sophomores finished in the top 16. The top two teams out of each section qualify for the Minnesota State High School Meet, which takes place on November 7 at Saint Olaf College. A total of 16 teams from around the state will be competing.

Meanwhile, our cheer teams have already taken the state title! That's right, both high school and middle school cheer teams finished first in state competitions which occurred the Saturday of Homecoming weekend. The high school team just performed this past weekend in a competition which will determine which national competition they will be invited to.

Other Bears are singing their way to state recognition. Three singers from Central and one from Sunrise Park Middle School are headed to Minnesota State Honor Choir this year. Julia Thomalla, Abigail Weidt and Lucas Fahie from Central and Jack Berends from Sunrise received the honor. This was a competitive audition group and it's a great honor to have these kids representing our district.

Those singing talents extend to the high school level, as WBLAHS Musical Theatre students are well known across the state for their acting, invested vocals and fierce dancing. Theatre students have been preparing since last May for this year's Fall Musical, "Nice Work If You Can Get It." This fun 1920's show incorporates tap dance, classic music composed by George and Ira Gershwin and funny slap stick humor. Students have been rehearsing the show six hours a day for six days a week since the first day of school. There are 39 cast members and 60 crew members involved in the show. Parent volunteers and directors are working all hours on technology, building the set and costumes. Get your tickets in advance to laugh-out-loud with this year's toe-tapping Fall Musical, by clicking here. You can also watch this video for an inside look at rehearsals and a preview of what to expect.

Cause driven activities

Despite the cooler temperatures we've been having, National Junior Honor Society students at Central Middle School organized a walk to raise money for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. During homebase on Friday, October 30, all Central students headed outside bright and early to walk the one-mile loop from Central to North Campus. The goal was to have each student pitch in at least one dollar for the cause, and the homebase with the most money raised would get a prize. Of course, prizes weren't the primary reason the entire student body hopped on board. The purpose of this initiative was to raise money for the hospital so it can purchase games, videos, iPads and other gadgets to entertain children during their hospital stay. Central has many students and staff members who are connected to Gillette in some way. Some Central students have been and are still patients at Gillette, while some teachers at Central have children who go to Gillette for various purposes. The NJHS students agree that if they were in the hospital for any period of time, they would like to have something to help pass the time, which is why they wanted to raise money for this hospital in particular. Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare provides specialized health care for people who have short-term or long-term disabilities that began during childhood.

Vadnais Heights Elementary students participated in a similar activity, raising money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. This was part of their annual Relay Recess event, which took place a week prior to Central's walk. Each year, the school dedicates its Relay Recess event to someone closely connected to the school who has battled cancer. This time around, it was dedicated to Grandma Phyllis Kedl who recently succumbed to cancer. She was a long-time volunteer who worked and read with many Vadnais Heights students. Grandma Kedl had presented during the 2014 Relay Recess and encouraged students to lead a healthy life as she promoted five goals to educate and encourage students to live by daily. Those were to eat healthy, exercise, wear sunscreen, don't use tobacco and volunteer to support your community. While the entire student body packed the gymnasium, high-energy super heroes stormed in to spread the message of these five goals. The super heroes then lead the students on their walk as part of the program. Students received a badge for each lap they completed and the badges represented the five goals of Relay Recess. Relay Recess is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and Vadnais Heights raises money, through school initiatives, to give to the community and the American Cancer Society.

While our students have been busy raising money for those causes, the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation recently hosted a fundraising event to benefit our students. The idea behind the Beyond Our Shores E3 (Enhancing Environmental Experiences) event was to raise funds for a new environmental grant program. The WBLAEF established the E3 Grant to further WBLAS students' understanding and attitudes toward science, the outdoors, our community and the world. The Foundation feels environmental learning opportunities can transform our students by endowing them with increased academic skills, civic and community leadership, environmental stewardship and global awareness. The Foundation's goal is to provide opportunities for students in our district to become inspired and responsible environmental leaders.

Several students and school administrators attended and even took part in this event. WBLAHS - North Campus students TJ Turinske and Maddie Lamwers spoke about how the WBLAEF has had an impact on them and their classmates in the classroom and on their Costa Rica trip last school year. Plus, several individual schools had booths at the event, displaying specific initiatives that were made possible because of the Foundation.

Engaging in history

White Bear Lake Area Learning Center students just finished a unit focusing on the themes of human morality and war, using The Things They Carried as their primary text. This novel consists of several short vignettes written by Minnesota native and Vietnam War veteran, Tim O'Brien. Before reading, Michele Norcross's Language Arts Classes collaborated with Julee Ellefsen's American History class to learn about the Vietnam War and how it affected our country and our veterans. (Which comes on the heels of Veteran's Day which is Nov. 11.) They were able to really see the physical, emotional and psychological effects that this war had on our soldiers both through actual historical accounts provided by Julee Ellefsen, and the poignant words of Tim O'Brien. The students wrapped up this unit by attending a stage adaptation of The Things They Carried at the Minnesota History Theater in St. Paul. After the performance, the kids were fortunate enough to have a conversation a local with veteran who shared the story of receiving his draft notice as well as some of his experiences in Vietnam

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

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. 

Student News

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
January 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 25 Work-study 5:30 p.m.  District Center
February 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center