November 15, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Lessons in Gratitude

Student News

  • In Photos: We Day Minnesota!
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Food for thought
  • A coaches influence
  • Upcoming: Parent Safety Night
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates


School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

Upcoming Events

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Lessons in Gratitude

After school buses drop off the children in front of the elementary school, a procession of visitors arrive. First the mayor, then the chief of police. Next a firefighter, and then the chair of the school board. A man in an orange safety vest climbs out of a city works vehicle and heads for the front door.

Inside the school, boys and girls welcome each guest.

"Hello, my name is...I will be introducing you this morning...thank you for coming. Please come with me to the gym."

Four hundred children wait in the gymnasium. Small hosts lead tall guests to their chairs, then sit quietly beside them waiting for the program to begin.

This is an elementary school student-led summit. This month's theme is gratitude. Each guest is a community leader. One by one the children express gratitude and then offer a handshake, a note, a drawing, or a hug.

During the summit, students express appreciation for their teachers, paraprofessionals, nutrition staff, secretaries, custodial and maintenance staff, bus drivers, parents and principal. Each introduction is personal and genuine. As the morning goes on, hugs become infectious.

We sit and watch, my diminutive third grade host and I. After her part is finished she relaxes and chatters away. She provides ongoing commentary worthy of a television emcee.

Finally she looks up and asks, "Will you be my friend?"

After the program, she introduces me to her teacher and her friends. I introduce her to my friends the mayor and the police chief. 

We are each grateful - for more than we know how to say.

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

In Photos: We Day Minnesota!

Our students who attended We Day Minnesota were featured in this recent 62.4-second video update and Oneka students at the event were interviewed live on Fox 9 News

Student News 

Expressing gratitude

The month of November is a great time for students and staff to express their gratitude, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner, but there's another holiday this month that had all of us saying thank you. On November 11, our nation celebrated Veterans Day. In honor of our service men and women, many of our schools hosted guest speakers and events.
At Otter Lake Elementary, Principal Tim Schochenmaier traveled from one classroom to the next, speaking to fifth grade students about his experience in Iraq. Over at Vadnais Heights Elementary, students brought home stars which they decorated in honor of a veteran. These hand-crafted stars were then displayed in the gymnasium where a Veterans Day program was held. This event was open to family and friends who served/serve in the Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines or National Guard. They were introduced and honored during the program. 

As annual tradition, Central and Sunrise Park Middle Schools had local veteran Barry Hendriksen speak to the seventh grade students. He currently works with the White Bear Lake VFW and is also the Department Chairman of the National Citizenship Education Award. Each year, he speaks about his experiences as a veteran and announces the winner of the essay contest near the end of the presentation. This year, several seventh grade students wrote and participated in the Patriot's Pen essay contest for the White Bear Lake VFW. Additionally, two students from Central were chosen as winners of the White Bear Lions Peace Poster Contest - first place went to Angel Lumbo, second place went to Alec Rautenberg. At the high school level, social studies classes watched a video on the Medal of Honor and discussed the leadership, courage and heroism it takes to receive such an award.  

Our students have been extending their gratitude beyond veterans this month, to those who serve the White Bear Lake Area Community, too. Willow Lane Elementary recently hosted a summit on gratitude where students invited well-known stewards of the White Bear Lake Area Community including White Bear Lake Police Chief Julie Swanson, White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson and important members of the fire department and public works department, just to name a few. A student escorted each honored guest to the gymnasium, which was jam-packed with the entire Willow student body. Students shared their gratitude to these honored guests by writing them letters and offering-up hugs and handshakes. (This summit is also referenced above in Dr. Lovett's message.) 

Willow Lane also invited the community to their most recent fundraising event featuring Ms. Annie Mack, a blues singer out of Minneapolis. Annie has overcome many challenges in her lifetime and uses her music to share the message of courage and hope to inspire others to face their challenges with integrity. Over 150 people attended this first-time event. Children and families danced the evening away with a meal from Donatelli's and music by Ms. Mack. The Annie Mack Band has headlined in many major blues festivals around the country and has just been signed to play at the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair this summer. 

Lincoln Elementary students expressed their gratitude toward another group of important members of our community, while learning a thing or two about giving back. For the third year in a row, Lincoln students participated in the Fall Yard Cleanup, where they rake leaves and tidy-up the yards of our elderly community members. Each student is asked to bring one adult with them, and this year there were a total of 160 kids who took part. The number of participants has grown each year, with this year being the biggest group to participate yet! The cleanup crew split into eight sets of teams, each with a Lincoln staff member leading the way to nearby homes. Though the students do a wonderful job, Matt Ryan from Clean Cut donates his time to come around and suck up the leaves when it's all done. The winter cleanup event is set to take place December 17.

Food for thought

The Student Council Fall Food Drive is an annual event that gets students across the district to come together to support those in need as we prepare for winter, and boy did they ever! This year, the food drive brought in an estimated 16,000 pounds of food and a separate monetary donation of $4,000 (which is capable of purchasing just over another 10,000 pounds of food). WBLAHS - South Campus alone raised 7,650 pounds of food. The Fall Food Drive is an effort led by WBLAHS Student Council members. The students set up collections for a week in all of the homerooms, then Student Council members pick up the food from each classroom during the week. They then sort, pack and deliver the food to the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf. The food shelf typically serves around 500 families a month and this food drive is one of its largest contributors.

Some of you may still have that holiday candy sitting around the house from trick-or-treating, but most Otter Lake kids have already emptied out their buckets. No, they did not scarf it all down in a matter of days - they handed over their candy to Signature Orthodontics and White Bear Smiles for their Candy Buy Back. As an incentive, both businesses offered one dollar for each pound donated to the elementary school that turned in the most candy. Otter Lake, however, had an additional incentive. Principal Tim Schochenmaier promised the students that if they won the contest, he would take a pie to the face in front of the entire student body. Whether it was the money, or the pies, Otter students pulled it off. Otter donated a whopping 463 pounds of candy! As promised, Mr Schochenmaier and a few Otter teachers took pies to the face in front of the crowd of roaring students. The 2015 Candy Buy Back collected more candy than ever before. White Bear Smiles and Signature Orthodontics collected a total of 758.5 pounds of candy! The candy will be donated to the Children's Hospitals of Minnesota. 

A coaches influence

Three Bears are taking their athletic talents to the next level, officially signing on to college teams for next year. During the early National Letter of Intent Signing, WBLAHS student BriAnna Karg signed-on to play Women's Basketball at Bemidji State University and Alison Hinck will be playing Women's Basketball for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. One WBLAHS Boys' Golf player also signed-on to play at the college level, Mason Fiddle will be playing Men's Golf at the University of Minnesota. 

The early National Letter of Intent signing event took place before school on November 11. Our Activities Department held a short ceremony to recognize these students' accomplishments. Then the coaches, who've spent countless hours getting to know and train these students, shared a few words about each individual player. Family and friends were invited to cheer on these three athletes as they picked up the pen to sign. Congratulations to all three WBLAHS students!

Birch Lake Elementary Principal Tami VanOverbeke recently played reading coach to students throughout an entire school day. In honor of National Young Readers Week (November 9-13), Birch Lake Elementary took part in an event called the Principal Challenge, where Principal VanOverbeke read with students from the first bell to the last for an entire school day. This event is intended to challenge principals across the United States to become shining examples for literacy by choosing one day to read their heart out. This event is put-on by the organization BOOK IT! Many principals have risen to this challenge over the last several years, reading everywhere from hallways, playgrounds and rooftops on their chosen school day. Besides enjoying a good book or two, Birch will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win 101 copies of the tenth book in the Wimpy Kid series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School, for the school library. 

Upcoming: Parent Safety Night

The White Bear Lake Police Department will be hosting a Safety Information Night for Parents on Thursday, November 19 at WBLAHS - South Campus. From 5:30 to 6 p.m. there will be a free dinner, then breakout sessions from 6 - 8 p.m.. Choose to attend two breakout sessions on topics including internet safety, teen driving laws and safety, and youth drug trends and awareness. This free information night is for adults only. Student sessions will be hosted separately in various schools. There will be free childcare available for those in need. 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

The Boy's and Girls' Cross Country Teams just wrapped up the Minnesota State High School Meet at Saint Olaf College. During the early National Letter of Intent signing, BriAnna Karg signed-on to play Women's Basketball at Bemidji State University, Alison Hinck signed-on to play Women's Basketball for the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Mason Fiddle signed-on to play Men's Golf at the University of Minnesota. 

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 Board News

School Board Recognitions

Before the November 9 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the following students and staff:

  • Girls' Cross Country
  • Boys' Cross Country
  • Middle School Cheerleading
  • High School Cheerleading



School Board Meetings">School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
November 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
December 14 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
January 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

Please note that the December School Board meeting is scheduled for December 14.
(Rather than Dec. 7 as printed in this year's calendar.)

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

  • Safety Information Night for parents will take place Thursday, November 19 at WBLAHS - South Campus. Learn about issues concerning internet safety, teen driving laws and safety, and youth drug trends and awareness. This free information night is for adults only. For more information, click here.
  • Calendar Correction - Please note that the December School Board meeting will take place December 14 (rather than December 7 as printed in this year's calendar).
  • The FREE Community Baby Shower will be taking place Monday, November 23 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at the Normandy Park Education Center. Click here for the flyer.
  • 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 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.
    • Barnes & Noble Bookfair: The WBLAEF has partnered with Barnes & Noble to host a bookfair from November 27 through December 15 at the Maplewood Mall location. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit our school and the organization. For more information, click here.
    • The Ryan Family Elementary Grant awards $500 to help provide art education to elementary schools in the WBLAS District. A total of five Art Grants were awarded to elementary teachers in October. Here are this year's recipients.
    • The new E3 Grant (Enhancing Environmental Experiences) will roll out in the spring of 2016. Each school year, a total of up to $20,000 will be awarded to educators, groups of educators, buildings and administrators in the WBLAS District. This new environmental grant will help to further WBLAS students' understanding and attitudes toward science, the outdoors, our community and the world. For the application, click here.
    • Teachers: Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 school year. Click here for the list and when to apply.
    • The 2015 Holiday Angels Program gives our community an opportunity to share with those in need in our school district while honoring a school district staff person. To learn more, click here.
    • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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

  • Patti Percival was selected as the Section Girls' Cross Country Coach of the Year and Sue Wurl was selected as the Section Girls' Cross Country Assistant Coach 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.