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

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

  • The General Election will be held Tuesday, November 3. There will be three at-large seats for School Board on the ballot. Voter and election information can be found here.
  • The Student Support Services Fall Flyer with upcoming events can be found here.
  • Recognition weeks/days:
    • American Education Week will take place from November 15 - 21
    • Education Support Professionals Day is November 18
    • National Parental Involvement Day is November 19
  • 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.
  • NAMI Minnesota Parent Resource Program - 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. Click here to learn more about the NAMI Minnesota Parent Resource Program. Parent Resources Referral forms can be found here.
  • 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 - During the summer months, the district transitioned to 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 new system replaces 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 calendar here.
  • 2015-15 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, Twitter and YouTube.
  • 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.

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.

Partnership Updates:

  • BearPower is in the midst of its month long Family Challenge. Join the challenge and encourage your family to eat well and be active! Plus, you can win BIG prizes! Here are some ideas to help you get started.
    • 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:

  • Willow Lane will be hosting a fundraising event with blues singer Annie Mack on Friday, November 6 at Willow Lane Elementary School. Doors open at 6 p.m., music starts at 6:45. Money raised at this event will support the STEAM Program at Willow Lane Elementary. For more information, click here.
  • Tickets for the WBLAHS Fall Musical, "Nice Work If You Can Get It," are available here. The show will be performed at 7 p.m. Nov. 13-14, 19-21 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 14 at the WBLAHS - North Campus Theater.
  • The WBLAHS - South Campus Sunshine Fund is selling Metro Dining Club cards again this year. There are more than 155 restaurants included and the cards are valid once per month through October 2016. A few local establishments included are; Blue Heron, Don Julio's, CG Hooks, Cafe Cravings, Dairy Queen, Taco John's, Running Aces, Wise Guys, new this year Jersey Mike's Subs, The Stadium and Fiesta Cancun. Group pricing $24; contact Karen at ext: 6206 in the South Campus Activities Office.
  • Sunrise Park Middle School will be selling Metro Dining Club (DMC) cards this fall as well. The North/Northeast Metro card set has 166 restaurants. Each card may be used once a month October 2015 - October 2016. A few of the local restaurants include Roadside Pizza, Blue Heron, C. G. Hooks, Carbone's Pizza, Mad Jacks, and Running Aces. Cost is $24 (savings of $6) per set. Contact Linda Adams at 651-653-2701 if interested.
  • Attend an event or two during this upcoming year! The 2015-16 Activities Calendar were mailed to all District families in August. If you do not have a child in school, but you would like a copy of the district-wide activity listing, contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 and request to be added to the Activities Calendar mailing list.

Awards and Honors

  • Vadnais Heights Elementary teacher Mark Theissen was awarded Teacher of the Week by radio station KS95. Listen to him on the radio show here!

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