November 29, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • ConnectED

Student News

  • In Photos: NASA Astronaut returns to WBLAHS!
  • Innovative partnerships
  • Endless possibilities
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

Staff News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

Upcoming Events

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A New Generational Balance

"What are your plans for Thanksgiving?"

"Going to visit my grandparents!" comes the reply.

In my conversations this week with middle school students "going to see my grandparents" was the most frequent answer.

"Not surprising," you think... but here is a new twist.

More than fifty years ago demographers began observing that the number of children born during the decade following World War II (called the "Baby Boom") would have profound implications for our society - never before in the U.S. had so many children been born in a single decade.

By the year 2000, demographers estimated that the size of our population ages 65 or older would soon equal the school age population. Never before has this occurred.

But that is what is happening this year in our own White Bear Lake Area schools. We now have more than 63,000 residents in our community, about 10,000 of school age, and about 10,000 ages 65 and older.

How is our community changing?

For one, all of us see many new senior housing complexes appearing in our communities.

But the best news is the number of seniors who are around our children, as grandparents and great-grandparents, as reading buddies, as mentors, and as friends and volunteers.

This holiday season more seniors than ever before will be around our holiday tables and celebrations. And for that we are grateful.

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

In Photos: Community Baby Shower!

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

Student News 

Spirit of giving

Though the holiday season has only just begun, the spirit of giving has already made its way around our schools. The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation recently distributed eight grants to educators throughout the district. These are the Brosious Teaching Grants, which focus on enhancing the rigor of curriculum. In 1997, Mr. Rutherford Brosious gifted a $1,000,000 endowment to the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation (WBLAEF) in recognition of the high quality education he had received here. Because he felt very strongly about the positive impact teachers have on their students, he directed that the endowment be used to fund grants for individuals or groups of teachers. One grant this year, for instance, went to Sunrise Park Middle School educators Lindsey Lamwers and Matthew Skogen for something called the "Cardboard Project." It uses the new and innovative Google Expedition Application (which is a virtual reality application built for the classroom) and cardboard to take students on virtual journeys (using smartphones) around the world related to Earth Science. For the entire list of the 2015 Brosious Grant recipients, click here. Congratulations to all them!

The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation was one of three local organizations to benefit from the annual Movember Challenge at Hugo Elementary. The school just wrapped up this annual event, which generally benefits the Hugo Good Neighbors Food Shelf and the Lions Club Toy Drive. This year, however, they added the Winter Clothing Drive to provide support for the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation. Why is it called the "Movember" Challenge? First grade teacher Steve Bates and Associate Principal Jason Healy came up with the idea by asking their students a simple question: Who has a better mustache? In order to vote, students had to bring in non-perishable food items and assign them to the teacher with the best mustache. Bates thought of the idea after seeing a Movember report on television, and rather than donate to a distant charity, he wanted students to see the results of their service project within the local community. In one week, Hugo students and families brought in 1,492 pounds of food, one box of toys and nine big bags of winter clothing. 

Kindergarten students at Matoska Elementary will soon be taking part in a similar effort, gathering donations to make sandwiches for an organization known as "The Sandwich Man," which aims to feed the homeless community in the Twin Cities. These students have already been collecting donations in preparation for the action project, which is set to take place on Friday, December 4. This gesture is part of a service-learning project for Matoska's kindergartners.

On November 25, Oneka students celebrated their sixth annual Science Day, which is an entire school day dedicated to learning about science from real-life scientists. This year's presenters came from Wargo Nature Center, 3M, the University of Minnesota's Chemistry and Marine Biology departments and Xcel Energy. The main goal of this day is to showcase real world scientists and the work they do. The school also uses the event to get students excited about science and to help them make connections with science in our community. There were some really cool interactive opportunities this year - including a chance to touch real underwater sea creatures, brought in by the University of Minnesota's Marine Biology Department. This annual event is one students and staff look forward to each year. Science Day was also featured our most recent 62.4-second video update, which can be viewed here.

Another annual event just took place at Vadnais Heights Elementary called Donuts for Dads. On Friday, November 20, dad's and family members were invited to come have breakfast with their kids before school. Parents and students filed into the gymnasium for their choice of donut and beverage, then sat among other students and their families to get to know one another. It was packed house this year, with the entire gymnasium filled with Vadnais students from all grade levels and their guests. This event is put on every year by the school's PTO group as a way to bring the students and their dad's (and other family members) to the school to build relationships with its teachers and students. This event was also featured in a recent 62.4-second video update, which can be viewed here


Our Area Learning Center MAAP STAR students traveled up the map to Camp Ripley, near Little Falls, Minnesota recently to attend the annual MAAP STARS Fall Leadership Conference. In mid-November, six WBL ALC students headed north with two staff members to Camp Ripley, joining students from 30 other Minnesota alternative schools at this conference. There, the students attended breakout sessions regarding leadership skill building, and socialized with like-minded students from all over the state. They also listened to two motivational speakers: Derek Greenfield and Carl Olson. 

Kayla Hernandez, a senior at the ALC, spoke to more than 200 students and staff as she campaigned to be elected as a MAAP STARS state officer. Kayla unfortunately did not win, but gained an invaluable experience while running for public office. White Bear Lake ALC members were honored to be able to attend this event and explore the base and interact with military personnel, especially on Veterans Day.

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

  • Transition Resource Fair - The annual Transition Resource Fair will take place December 1, from 4 - 7 p.m. in the WBLAHS - South Campus cafeteria. The Transition Resource Fair features a variety of government agencies, supportive businesses and organizations that provide services for students grades nine and above with disabilities. This event will also take place in lieu of a formal Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meeting in December. For event details, see the flyer here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 2015-16 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:

  • 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. For more information on this partnership, click here.
  • 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 2015 Brosious Grants have been awarded to several WBLAS educators. For the list of 2015 award recipients, click here.
    • 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:

  • 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

  • WBLAHS social studies teacher Melissa Wickert was recently named Teacher of the Week by radio station KS95.

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