September 6, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • We Are A Community

Student News

  • In Photos: Opening Convocation 2015!
  • Welcome back!
  • Practice make perfect
  • What to expect
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

Upcoming Events

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We Are A Community

(Pictured: 2015-16 New Staff Induction) 

Opening Convocation Speech excerpt:

Last spring a first grade teacher waved me into the classroom. "Could you stop by for a minute?"

When a first grade teacher talks, I listen.

"Just a minute... I want you to hear a story, but need to get the children settled first." 

"We were watching a district video on our SmartBoard. I wanted the children to see it because one of our little girls was shown in the video. But then your photo came on...

Amelia jumped up and said, "I know him, I know him! That's Mr. 'Love Doctor.'"

This very morning more than 8000 students are saying whatever they remember or have heard about you. Middle and high school students compare notes on teachers. Elementary children know which friends are in their classroom. More importantly, they know their teacher. 

What do they say about you, about each of us?

Those of you who are new start with a clean slate. But over dinner on the first day of school, you will be the topic of dinner conversation. After all, what do you talk about after the first day of school?...

For Dr. Lovett's entire 2015 Convocation speech, click here.

In Photos: Opening Convocation 2015!


Student news

Welcome back!

It's that time of year again, when we welcome back our students and staff for another great school year - and there's no better way to kick things off than with our annual Convocation event! On Tuesday, September 1, district staff members packed the Community Auditorium for a variety of high-energy student performances, videos and uplifting speakers. This year's Convocation theme was, "Understanding our changing world, and how we fit in it." Staff members were welcomed by our WBLAHS Drum Line performing outside, booths with essential Bear Wear and a student quartet, which was already playing on-stage as staff members took their seats. 


That energy continued with student performances from our cheerleaders, choir singers and even a farewell tribute to summer performed by our Lincoln Elementary students who sang, "So Long, Farewell" from their recent Sound of Musicmusical. Accompanying the student performances were addresses from the 2015 Teacher of the Year Pam Johnstone, Superintendent Dr. Michael Lovett and guest speakers Tom Gillaspy, former state demographer (presentation available here), and Tom Hanson, a distinguished American diplomat. As part of this year's theme, four of our 2015 graduates were interviewed prior to Convocation for a video that debuted at the event. A second video was played to cap off the morning - this one, showcasing a number of the 57 languages spoken at White Bear with students cheering "Go Bears!" in various languages.


Convocation was more of a second welcome for our newest staff members, as they recently participated in staff induction activities. During this training, the new employees learned everything from the district's technology resources, to the ways in which they will be evaluated and supported while working in White Bear. During this time, each new teacher was assigned a district veteran who had been chosen by their administrator to be their mentor. The teachers' training event was culminated by a luncheon at Manitou Station, at which Dr. Lovett and School Board Chair Janet Newberg welcomed the new staff members, who were joined by their building administrators, school board members and district administrators. The district is very excited about this group of staff members as they come with the experience, enthusiasm and love for students that's required to continue White Bear's legacy of offering a top-quality education.


Individual schools have also been hosting smaller-scale events to welcome new and returning students and staff. Vadnais Heights Elementary, for instance, hosted their annual neighborhood picnic. There were almost 60 students present, along with their families and many Vadnais Elementary staff members. The evening-long event comprised of crafts, games and a lot of outside playing. Then, Vadnais staff fired up the grill for some hot dogs and snacks. School supplies were also distributed at this event, but those in attendance say the biggest highlight was seeing everyone reconnecting and sharing their excitement for another great school year.


Though this is a very exciting time, for some, heading back to school can be a little nerve-wracking - especially if you're entering a new building like our sixth grade students and high school freshman. For this reason, White Bear Lake Area High School participates in the nationwide Link Crew Program, an organization with the sole purpose of helping freshmen feel more comfortable as well as help them achieve success in their first year of high school. The Link Crew freshman orientation, which took place this past week, was designed to both welcome and support freshmen by assigning them junior or senior Link Leaders as mentors during their first year. This year, more than 85% of the class of 2019 participated in the freshman orientation and experienced the legacy of a positive and engaging environment that can be continued at White Bear with their commitment to excellence. The Link Leaders are hand-selected from a large pool of applicants and have met the qualifications of being a good role model and a positive leader on our campus. 


Link Leaders continue to meet with freshmen throughout the school year in their advisories to develop long-term relationships and lead students in a variety of activities to help them understand the importance of skills such as managing time, balancing priorities and creating positive relationships with peers. Similar to the Link Crew program, is our WEB orientation at the middle school level which stands for "Where Everybody Belongs." Eighth grade students apply and are chosen to help lead and mentor sixth grade students through their transition into middle school. Both Central and Sunrise took part in Web orientation last week as an opportunity for all of our sixth grade students to meet new people and to learn from their peers how to make the most of their middle school experience.

Practice makes perfect

Though we're welcoming back many students this week, some have already set foot on district turf in preparation for fall activities. All fall sports have started practicing for the season, with football starting August 10 and all other practices beginning August 17. The first team to compete on the brand new turf field at WBLAHS - South Campus was ninth grade football. Boys' Varsity Football, Girls' Varsity Soccer and Boys' Varsity Soccer have since had games on the new field as well. During the first home football game on August 28, the Boys' Lacrosse team was recognized for taking the state title in June - and though fall sports have only just begun, Girls' Varsity Volleyball remains undefeated so far this season with three wins! 


The WBLAHS Pep Band has been busy practicing for football season too. They've already had four, three-hour rehearsals prior to their first performance. These early rehearsals are an opportunity for student leaders in each section of the band (i.e. flutes, trumpets, etc.) and Drum Majors (student conductors at the games) to help our newest members learn the ropes and get some practice running small group rehearsals. Their first performance was at the August 28 football game. The Pep Band will perform at the three remaining home football games and during the winter, they perform at two games for each of the following sports: Girl's Varsity Basketball, Girl's Varsity Hockey, Boy's Varsity Basketball and Boy's Varsity Hockey. 


The Pep Band is comprised of band students in grades 9-12 and is a co-curricular activity, meaning that students who are enrolled in band at school are also the members of the Pep Band. You may have also noticed the Drum Line on the track at the game. This group of 24 percussionists is selected by an audition process in April. This group spent countless hours of rehearsals this summer preparing for four parades, a MarketFest performance and a performance at the Minnesota State Fair. The Drum Line took first place in the Oakdale Summerfest Parade in July. They also (as mentioned above) helped kick off the school year with a performance at Convocation!

A number of our students have excelled in their own ways over summer, especially in recent Minnesota State Fair competitions. Two of our Junior Authors placed at the state fair competition - Ericka Albrecht took third place in the Original Stories category and Travis Tillma took fourth place in the Drawing-Pencil category. WBLAHS junior Emma Cocoran earned first place for a colored pencil drawing of Mother Teresa and second place for her three other drawings of famous individuals. Alexandra Bergeron was also recognized at the fair for her original pottery. All of their work can be found in the Education Building at the fair.


This incoming senior has also accomplished a lot over the summer. Through running his own lawn mowing business, Michael Wrona was able to save enough money to pay for his own privet flying lessons at Fleming Airport. He set a goal on his 16th birthday to become a pilot before he starts his senior year and he just recently accomplished this goal. Michael spent this summer volunteering for the community by being a teacher's aide at Gateway Academy STEM Camp at Johnson Aerospace and Engineering summer school program. He is also involved in NHS and wind ensemble, among other school activities.

What to expect

If you're a student or staff member at Sunrise Park Middle School, you may notice some changes in leadership. In mid-August the WBLAS District announced the selection of Christina Pierre as the new Sunrise Park Middle School principal. Pierre has been an associate principal at White Bear Lake Area High School since 2005, serving first at North Campus and more recently at South Campus. She has broad leadership experiences including key roles in leading our Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, the mathematics and English Learner (EL) departments and the district's teacher evaluation process. Prior to becoming an administrator, she was an outstanding math teacher who began her career at Sunrise in 1994. Pierre was one of the first teachers in the district to achieve National Board Certification. Watch this video to learn more about your new principal. Click here to learn more about the district's plans for filling the Associate Principal opening.

The first day of school for all elementary, middle school and high school students is Tuesday, September 8. The first day of kindergarten will follow on that Thursday, September 10. If you have yet to pick up your students' school supplies, the 2015-16 supply lists can be found here. We look forward to seeing you! Go Bears!

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 Varsity Lacrosse team was recognized during halftime of the first home football game for taking home the state title in june. The next home varsity football game will be Friday, September 11. The Hall of Fame Induction will take place during half time of that game where athlete Doug Hicks and Coach Joseph Tamillo will be added to the list. 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 Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
September 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
September 28 Work-study 5:30 p.m.  District Center
October 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center

Highlights from the most recent School Board meeting 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.

  • Three of our 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.
  • Special Education Parent/Staff Advisory Council - Updated information and meeting dates for the 2015-16 school year can be can be found here.
  • Immunizations - Minnesota law requires each student enrolled in and remaining in elementary or secondary school must submit a record stating that they have received immunizations consistent with medically accepted standards. For more information on what is required and to complete the necessary form, click here.
  • The school supply lists for the 2015-16 school year can be found here.
  • NAMI Minnesota Parent Resource Program - NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) providessupport 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.
  • 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 Centerrecently 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 Cruise - The Senior Program recently held its annual "free cruise" event where community members gathered their pontoon boats to offer free rides on White Bear Lake to our seniors. Roughly 75 seniors took part in this year's event.
  • 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:

  • 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 Grantis due October 26 and there will be a Brosious Grant Writing Workshop on Friday, September 25 from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. in room #201 at District Center. Brosious Application Forms are available at on the WBLAEF website. If you have any questions call the Foundation Office at ext. 7696
    • Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant is due October 2. This grant will provide up to $500 per teacher for art projects, funding for artist-in-residence, supplies, etc. You can find more information by going to the Ryan Family Elementary Art Grant Application Form at on the WBLAEF website. If you have any questions call the Foundation Office at ext. 7696.
    • WBLAEF annual fundraiser,Beyond Our Shores: Enhancing Environmental Education, will be held on Friday, October 23, 2015, from 6:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. at the White Bear Yacht Club.
    • Teachers: Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 school year. Click here for the list and when to apply.
    • The Bleed Orange and Black t-shirts are back! To find out how to get one please contact the Foundation Office (ext. 7696). Cost is $10.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • The Annual Fall Craft and Treasures Sale will return to the Area Learning Center Saturday on October 3, 2015. The annual sale is an ALC fundraising event supporting student enrichment opportunities. Click here for more information.
  • 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.

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