October 18, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Lasting Influence

Student News

  • In Photos: Homecoming Football Game!
  • Homecoming wrap-up
  • Tools for learning
  • Prairie projects
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

Upcoming Events

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Lasting Influence

Mr. Edwin Nakasone taught high school students at White Bear Lake High School from 1956 through 1970.

But to watch the gathered alumni on Saturday morning of Homecoming weekend, his former students were thinking about the first day of a new semester.

After an eloquent introduction from the Alumni Association, Mr. Nakasone, now a distinguished 88 years young, rose to speak to alumni gathered in the White Bear Armory.

At the sound of his booming voice, former students sat tall, shoulders square to the front, once again attentive 17 year olds, eager to please. When Mr. Nakasone relaxed and smiled, so did they.

And when the program ended, lines of students waited in line to talk to this inspiring teacher and mentor whose stories, wisdom and encouragement proved a lasting influence.

Mr. Nakasone expressed gratitude for the "Scholars Award for Excellence" bestowed upon him by the Alumni Association. But his warmest smiles were for his students, taught between 45 and 65 years ago.

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

For the recent White Bear Press Article on Edwin Nakasone and this event, click here.

In Photos: Homecoming Football Game!

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

Student News 

Homecoming wrap-up
From week-long activities, to pulling off a win at the buzzer, this year's Homecoming celebration was certainly one for the books. The sea of orange in the bleachers roared as the Varsity Football Team capped-off Homecoming Week by "wrecking" the Roseville Raiders at this year's football game. The packed house watched as WBLAHS student Brett Hronoski kicked the last-minute field goal, which sent the Bears to victory with a score of 32-29. 

Even before that match-up, energy was high across the district. That Friday morning, several of our schools participated in an activity called "Kindness in Chalk." Students at the elementary, middle and high school levels arrived bright and early to cover the sidewalks outside of their schools with positive messages for their peers. Students left with smiles and chalk covered knees as they filled almost every inch of the pavement. Our middle school students took this welcoming activity to the next level by bringing instruments and pompoms to cheer students on as they walked through a tunnel of peers. Though a very fun Homecoming activity, the objective of this was to ensure students feel welcome and safe as they enter their place of learning. This event and the Homecoming Parade were featured in a recent 62.4-second video, which can be viewed here.

Though students and staff wore most of their orange clothing for Homecoming Week, hopefully they haven't packed it away just yet! Orange "Bear wear" will make for the perfect ensemble on Unity Day, which takes place Wednesday, October 21. Unity Day is the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month and has been recognized in the United States since 2011. Generally, individuals, schools, communities and businesses wear or display orange to show support for those who have been bullied. Hugo, Oneka, Willow and Lincoln Elementary Schools plan to hold assemblies for Unity Day. Birch Lake and Vadnais Heights Elementary schools plan to make and display orange banners with anti-bullying messages. We encourage students and staff to wear orange Wednesday, October 21 for this important cause!

Tools for learning
The White Bear Lions Club is on its fifteenth year of providing our students with some important tools for learning. Each year, they provide a dictionary for each third grade student and a thesaurus for each fifth grade student in our community. The White Bear Lions purchase these books and present them to all of our students (and the students attending private schools) during the months of November and January. The coolest part is that the books become the property of the students - theirs to own and take with them for keeps! The idea came from Lion Bob Lunberg, who found he could purchase the dictionaries and thesaurus from a non-profit organization called "The Dictionary Project" located in Charleston, South Carolina. A group of principals and teachers assisted in choosing a dictionary and thesaurus which they thought was most appropriate for third and fifth grade students. Thirty-five cases of these books are being shipped to White Bear as we speak.

Prairie projects

After months of planning and preparation, the nearly two-and-a-half acre prairie in Otter Lake's "backyard" has been planted. The idea sprouted roughly two years ago after Otter Lake teacher Thom Greene took a class that encouraged educators to come up with an environmental project for their school. At that time, stood a patch of weeds adjacent to Otter Lakes playground, so Greene decided it would be the perfect spot for a prairie. He applied for a BEAR Grant from the White Bear Lake Educational Foundation and was awarded $3,200 for the project. Additionally, the school partnered with the Ramsey County Pheasants Forever Chapter for a $2,900 grant, using funds from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund

Preparation of the land began back in June with herbicide treatments, a controlled burn and tilling, but the actual planting of the prairie took place just recently at a community-wide event. On Wednesday, October 14, Otter Lake students planted seeds across the prepared land. The event concluded with a drum/dance by the whole student body where students pushed the seeds into the soil using their dancing feet (as the bison might have done 200 years ago). This soon-to-be prairie will not only help students learn about the environment, it will help the environment too. Helping out pollinators by planting native plants is an issue that has sparked national attention. This project even caught the attention of Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who joined in this planting celebration. This event was also featured in the most recent 6.24-second video update, which can be viewed here.

Matoska students and staff also took part in a prairie restoration project recently. They have a beautiful design to renovate their existing prairie into an outdoor classroom and learning area for all Matoska students to enjoy as well as the community. Parent and staff volunteers gathered together on Saturday, October 10 to help dig out existing plants in order for them to be re-planted in the spring when the beds are ready. Families had fun getting dirty as they started first phase of this project.

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 Varsity Football Team beat the Roseville Raiders 32-29 during the Homecoming Football Game Friday, October 9. Three WBLAHS students were recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association (Minnesota chapter) for their yearbook contributions: Emily Magnuson won third place for feature copy, Ashley Tessier won second place for yearbook spread design and Madi Tegg won an honorable mention for featured sports photo.

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 Recognitions

Before the October 12 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the following students and staff:

  • Tech Cohort staff members
  • AP Scholars
  • National Merit Finalists


School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
October 26 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center
November 9 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
November 23 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center

Highlights from the most recent School Board meetings can be found here.

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 League of Women Voters will be hosting a School Board Candidates Forum Wednesday, October 21 from 7 - 8:30 p.m. at White Bear Lake City Hall. The General Election will take place Tuesday, November 3.
  • The Student Support Services Fall Flyer with upcoming events can be found here.
  • Recognition months/days:
    • Bullying Prevention Month - October is Bullying Prevention Month. Our schools will be participating in various activities throughout the month to ensure our students are educated on the harm of bullying.
    • Dyslexia Awareness Month - Governor Mark Dayton signed a proclamation stating that the month of October will now be recognized as Dyslexia Awareness Month in the state of Minnesota. The MDE has provided resources for families with children struggling with reading or Dyslexia, which can be found here.
    • National Principals Month - month of October
    • National Safe Schools Week / National School Bus Safety Week - Oct. 19 - 2
  • The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) has a few opportunities coming up for families in the White Bear Area. Details on those events can be found 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. 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.
  • 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.
    • Brosious Teaching Grant is due October 26. Brosious Application Forms are available at on the WBLAEF website. If you have any questions call the Foundation Office at 651-407-7696.
    • Teachers: Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 school year. Click here for the list and when to apply.
    • Enhancing Environmental Excellence fundraising event - Beyond Our Shores: Enhancing Environmental Education, will take place on Friday, October 23, 2015, from 6:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. at the White Bear Yacht Club, located at 56 Dellwood Avenue in White Bear Lake. The "E3" event is intended to raise funds for the new environmental learning grant. The cost is $50 a person and there will be a live and silent auction.
    • Bleed Orange and Black T-shirts are back! To find out how to get one please contact the Foundation Office (651-407-7696). Cost is $10.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Vadnais Heights Elementary will be hosting fundraising events on Friday, October 23. Relay Recess begins at 2 p.m., the Color Run is at 5:30 p.m and the Fall Festival will follow at 6:30 p.m. For more information on the 3K Color-A-Thon Walk/Run click here.
  • Otter Lake and Lincoln Elementary schools will be having a Bear Scare Fun Run fundraising event Saturday, October 4 at Otter Lake Elementary School. Registration begins at 9 a.m., costume contest and run to follow. For more information, click here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tickets for the WBLAHS Fall Musical, "Nice Work If You Can Get It," are now available to the public 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

  • WBLAS District educators Barbara Bursack and Cameron Mahlum along with student Cecilia Hammond and Assistant Superintendent Sara Paul (pictured here) spoke about the value of College In the Schools courses at the packed Senate/House Hearing on Oct 8 at the Capitol.

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