April 9, 2017

Preparing for the Future

The kindergartners of my first year as superintendent are now in eighth grade. This week I listened to them talk about high school course choices and plans for the summer.

But I remember nine years ago when they were first making friends, learning to print their names, and trying to walk in a straight line on the way to lunch.

When today's eighth graders began kindergarten our state and county were entering a significant recession. Homebuilding dropped off. Parents lost jobs. Many families struggled to make ends meet.

As we tried to project future enrollments while we were still in the midst of a recession, we thought that by 2017 our enrollment would be slightly under 8,000 students K-12. But it hasn't worked out that way. The economy improved. Families with school-aged children moved into homes formerly occupied by senior citizens. After the recession, homebuilding again picked up.

This year our school enrollment K-12 is approaching 8,300 students, with more than 4,000 at the elementary level. With large tracks of new homes rising in the northern half of our school district, we have worked with a demographer to provide us expertise to project school enrollment over the next five to 10 years. 

The big picture conclusion? Within 10 years our enrollment could be about 1,000 students higher than it is today. What factors make a difference?

First, our kindergarten classes have been higher in recent years. This means that as today's elementary students move through the system, our secondary enrollment will rise. This year our average grade sizes are:
- Elementary Grades K-5: 673 
- Middle School Grades 6-8: 622 
- High School Grades 9-12: 593 

Secondly, more families are choosing White Bear Lake Area Schools as an option. Third, new homes are rising on what was formerly farmland, open fields, or rolling hills. The evidence behind these projections give us confidence about growth. 

The full report is being discussed by our school board this spring. This report is one component in our planning to make sure we will have adequate space when each new class of kindergartners arrive, eager to make friends, learn to print their names, and try to walk in a straight line on their way to lunch.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: Community Baby Shower

Student News

Community connections

Parents gathered together to learn baby massage techniques while meeting other parents with babies in the area at the free Community Baby Shower at Normandy Park Education Center. Parents with new babies, birth to six months old, also learned about fun ways to support and nurture their infant's health and development. There was also an opportunity for parents to connect with and receive additional information from community resources and staff. This event is offered once in the fall and once in the spring and it aims to helps families get to know what the district and local area has to offer. (Additional photos of the event can be found in the In Photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter, as well as in this Friday's 62.4-second video update). While community members and parents spent time with babies, early childhood students were recently featured in the news, as they were busy taking advantage of another sweet opportunity. The White Bear Press highlighted how the students are making sap flow at the Tamarack Nature Center. The Early Childhood students have also been embarking on other exciting journeys outdoors, as they recently found deer bones on a nature walk in the middle of the pines. The discovery provided real-life context to the lessons students have been learning about healthy bodies, bones, and what they do for bodies. High school students have also been embracing the opportunity to explore lessons with real-life context. 

Passion motivated high school students at North Campus to complete a research paper project focusing on an issue they care about and then a Minnesota non-profit organization that works with that issue. The students created PSAs and reached out to the non-profit organizations they made them for. As part of the research paper, students spent time persuading their audience to donate money to the specified organization. During this process, students have been participating in a competitive fundraiser, and Monte Collins was voted for having the best video, which means the new record of $924 raised will go towards the American Cancer Society. Organizations have showered the students with positive responses and even have posted them to their organization's websites. In other exciting news at North Campus, the manufacturing program has been getting highlighted for their achievements in publications such as the Enterprise Minnesota Magazine and the Precision Manufacturing Journal.

Families, friends and community members manufactured their own celebrations and had an opportunity to support Vandais Heights Elementary in a fun way at their 2017 Spring Carnival Event. At Vadnais Heights Elementary, there were games, a raffle, bounce house/slides, a silent auction and food at the event. Students at Vadnais Heights Elementary also had a spirit week leading up to the event by celebrating PJ Day, Crazy Hair Day, Hat Day, Jersey Day, and Wear Orange/Black Day. Students, staff, and community members could also enjoy food, games, activities, inflatables, face paintings, and games of skill at the Willow Lane Carnival. There was also a raffle and silent auction with 100 items at the event. 

Historical lessons

Roughly 100 Central and Sunrise Park Middle School students became state qualifiers or received honorable mention due to their hard work showcased at the Metro Junior East Regional History Day Event. The students were able to create projects in one of five categories: Research Paper, Exhibit Board, Web Site, Documentary, or Performance. Topics discussed in projects ranged from a website about "The False Accusation of Tom Mooney" to an individual performance of the "Ten Days as Nellie Brown." The state qualifiers will present at the University of Minnesota on Saturday, April 29. View the Regional History Day results. There were also research papers that went to state. View those results

One guest speaker brought students' history projects to life, as she took them on a journey by sharing her experience of living through World War II. Louise Dillery was a Jewish girl in occupied France during the war, and she explained what it was like to live during this time period to students at North Campus. Students reflected and expressed their appreciation for her taking the time to share her story while teaching them about the personal side of historical events that may not be possible to capture in textbooks. This is the former French teacher's third year speaking to students. The experience was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update

Members from the Middle School and High School Student Advisory Committees made their own history, as they took a trip to the Capitol for a legislative visit. This special opportunity gave students a sneak-peak into the process of approving bills and advocating for change. Legislators took time to discuss legislative advocacy with students. The legislators also asked them important questions about how they think education can be improved upon in Minnesota. This experience was featured in last week's 62.4-second video update

Hands-on learning

Oneka Elementary was chosen to pilot a new program with the National Theatre for Children, LEGO education, and FIRST LEGO League Jr., called Bee on the Team. A performance for students and staff members kicked off the initiative, as it showed a worker bee Beatrice Drone on her first day at the hive, and she had to report the hive had been destroyed. She collaborated with students about how to ask questions, test ideas and solve problems to rebuild the hive to ensure it could produce honey once again. This program kicked off the start of Oneka Elementary students using LEGO kits and doing programming with Chromebooks to focus on the four main goals of the program, which are asking questions to solve problems, generating and testing ideas, embracing teamwork for learning and sharing ideas to contribute to knowledge. Students will also be able to participate in a free after school group called LEGO League Jr., where they can construct a motorized model with LEGO elements. The opportunity was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update

Beyond the LEGO's, fourth grade students at Oneka Elementary showcased their musical and speaking skills at the Poetry Slam. Since November, students have been rehearsing for their concerts where they played recorder music. The students also had the opportunity to memorize poems and perform them for the audience. Students later became the audience, as they gathered for an assembly to kick-off their Pennies for Patients fundraiser. A third grader at Oneka Elementary is a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Honored Hero and spoke at the event about his experience with cancer. While students embraced team-work when initiating the fundraiser, Bear FUNdamentals at Oneka Elementary has one classroom taking collaboration even further, as students have been meeting with community members including firefighters, the superintendent, the principal, dentists, a teacher, a police officer, and a mailman, and establishing relationships as part of their community helper unit. They have been doing fun learning activities and having special visitors come to their classroom. Students at Transition Education Center also treated special guests with a fresh meal. 

Transition Education Center students from the Work Based Learning Site at district center, highlighted their cooking skills with a sit down, "family-style" lunch at Transition Education Center. The students shared their creativity, knowledge and entertaining skills, while dining with staff members. Students were guided to research recipes, shop for needed ingredients, prepare food for a large group, and showcase their learning. Items prepared included a strawberry spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, baked ziti with spicy sausage, bread sticks and a chocolate trifle with toffee bits. 

Expressing kindness

Ryan Brown's ninth grade Ambassadors students planned, organized, and ran a bake sale during parent/teacher conferences at North Campus. Their group made $170, which they donated to the North Camus Angel Fund. This school fund is used for providing school supplies, backpacks and other fees for students who are in financial need. Central Middle School students also focused on giving back to the community, as they worked on a community service project to help seniors and their pets by collecting dog biscuits to be delivered through the Meals On Wheels program. Speaking of wheels, and in consultation with the White Bear Lake Lions Club, the legacy of the Lionmobile was honored in a Town Life article featured in the Spring 2017 edition. The last ride of the Lionmobile was a very special affair. Long-term riders, drivers and staff took a last loop around White Bear Lake. It was a lovely way to say a quiet good-bye to a much loved program.

Second grade students at Vadnais Heights Elementary had the opportunity to say "hello" to their special visitor, Allie Koes, who was promoting her "Kindness Challenge." This initiative is in connection to her reign as Miss Chain of Lakes. She provided students with an important opportunity to learn how they can give back and make a difference in their community, even through what they may feel are "small" actions. Eighth grade students at Central Middle School expressed kindness by personally delivering art to first grade students at Hugo Elementary. The middle school students created a special piece of art by taking first graders' ideas, thoughts and descriptions and transforming them into comics and 3D artwork. 

Dinners and dances

From bear paw tattoos to sneak previews of the Middle School Musical's performance of "The Lion King Jr.," the 2017 Sunrise Community Dinner provided guests with all sorts of fun opportunities. Attendees enjoyed Donatelli's and entertainment from students and staff at the event. The Sunrise Community Dinner is a fundraiser for Sunrise Park Middle School that provides parents, students, staff and community members with the opportunity to build relationships and feel more connected with one another. From one exciting dinner opportunity to another, families and community members were invited to the Youth-Led Intentional Social Interaction Dinner at Matoska. Authentic conversations took place about how to make Matoska and the community welcoming while also talking about enriching relationships and connections with families and the community. These dinner experiences were captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update.

While community members enjoyed time together at dinners, families were also invited to show off their moves at the Bears Out of Hibernation Dance. Attendees were even able to witness a mascot dance-off. Families were encouraged to bring their school spirit by dressing in their favorite school Bearwear, which could be captured in a picture at the bear-themed photo booth. While people could shake off their winter coats at this dance, students celebrated the nicer weather as well by practicing outdoors for the spring sports and activities that have recently kicked-off. South Campus is staying busy with after-school activities that WBLAHS students are participating in. Check out this Friday's 62.4-second video update to see what the buzz is all about. 

62.4-second video updates

Enjoy 62.4-second video updates highlighting weekly district activities throughout the school year.




Activities Updates
Congratulations to Triple "A" Award recipient, Doug Shield, as he represented Region 4AA and WBLAHS at the Minnesota State High School League's Award Banquet. This program aims to recognize students who have excelled in the classroom and provides members of the League with an opportunity to experience a program that supports and promotes academic and extra-curricular achievements. Congratulations to Abraham Townley and Calista Hughes for being accepted to the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America, Inc. All America Team. Roughly 100 Central and Sunrise Park Middle School students became state qualifiers or received honorable mention due to their hard work showcased at the Metro Junior East Regional History Day Event. The state qualifiers will present at the University of Minnesota on Saturday, April 29.


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 News

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas, packets, minutes highlights and videos/audio files can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
April 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 
April 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
May 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 

For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here


Superintendent's Message

  • Preparing for the Future

Student News

  • In photos: Community Baby Shower
  • Community connections
  • Historical lessons
  • Hands-on learning
  • Expressing kindness
  • Dinners and dances
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors


School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
April 10
District Center

School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
April 24
District Center

School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
May 8
District Center

Find the 2016-17 Activities Calendar here. 2016-17 Parent Academic Calendar here. Find the recently-approved 2017-18 Parent Academic Calendar 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
  • Digital Backpack information is emailed to parents every other Thursday and available here.

Parent Notices

  • Dr. Lovett Retirement Open House - You are invited to attend the Retirement Open House celebrating Dr. Michael Lovett, Superintendent of White Bear Lake Area Schools on Monday, June 5 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at South Campus. Learn more information
  • Meal Refunds - If your student is graduating or leaving the district with a balance in their meal account, please complete this form to have the money refunded, transferred to a sibling or donated.
  • Meal Charge Parent Notification - Starting April 10, the district's new meal charge procedure will go into effect where students will no longer be allowed to purchase a la carte items (i.e. milk or snacks) if they do not have enough money in their accounts. Families will receive notifications when students have a low or negative balance. Read more about the procedure. 
  • 2017 Marketfest Biz Kidz Vendor Application - Students can apply to have their own booth at Marketfest, free of charge, to showcase their business, non-profit or organization they want the public to be more aware of on July 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Apply today (applications will be reviewed and accepted beginning April 1 and those received after May 15 will be considered if space permits). 
  • STEM Water Symposium - You are invited to attend the 2017 STEM Water Symposium on Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at South Campus. Learn more
  • 2017 Manitou Days Student Button Contest - Students are able to design buttons to be submitted and voted on by the Manitou Day's Committee for a chance to win $100, a pizza party for the classroom and participation in the Manitou Days Grande Parade. Entries are due on Friday, April 21. Read this flyer for more details.
  • Tutors needed - If you are interested in tutoring students (paid position), please complete this form or contact Community Services for more information at 651-407-7501.
  • Looking for a tutor? - If you are looking for a tutor for your child, please complete this form to make a request or contact Community Services for more information at 651-407-7501.
  • We Are Hiring! - The district is now hiring substitute teachers, Extended Day staff, nutrition services staff, bus drivers, paras and more. Find the online application page here.
  • Stay connected! - Join White Bear Lake Area Schools' social media circles - Facebook and Twitter.
  • 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!

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.
  • Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.

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
    • BearPower Open Gym - Families, friends and community members can come play basketball, catch or just run around at BearPower's Open Gym events. Click here for more information.
    • BearPower Family Breakaway Bike Ride - Families and community members are invited to join BearPower for its third annual free bike ride event on Saturday, May 20. All ages and abilities are welcome. Read this flyer for more details and register on the Community Services and Recreation website. No bike? No problem. Extra bikes? We want 'em. For more information, email BearPower@HealthPartners.com.
    • The "BearPower Press" - A new issue of the "BearPower Press" is available. Read this issue for fun recipe ideas and to learn about the exciting BearPower events happening in April and May. 

Support WBLAS Students:

  • The Lion King, Jr. - Attend the Middle School Musical's performance of "The Lion King, Jr." on April 27, 28 and 29. Visit the district's website to buy tickets.
  • Musicville - Students at Otter Lake Elementary are preparing for their production of "Musicville." Oneka Elementary's shows are April 20, 22 and 23 at the Maplewood Community Center. Visit Ashland Productions'website to purchase tickets.
  • Minnesota Golf Cards for Sale - The Boys' Golf team is selling Minnesota Golf Cards once again this spring. The cards sell for $35 each and are good at more than 160 golf courses statewide and in western Wisconsin. If you are interested contact Coach Nasvik.
  • Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.

Awards and Honors

  • High school teacher Heather Jacobs won the Autism Society of Minnesota Educator Challenge after sharing strategies on how she encourages and motivates students in her classroom. She will present about these strategies at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference on April 28 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. 
  • Congratulations to Delroy Nyren and Rich Wessels for recent articles in publications describing their achievements with the manufacturing pathway program. Read the Spring 2017 edition of the Enterprise Minnesota Magazine and the Precision Manufacturing Journal for more information. 
  • This fall, Director of Student Activities Tim Hermann was selected by his peers in Region 4AA as their Region AD of the Year. He was then selected from seven other Region winners this winter as the "Pete Veldman AA Athletic Administrator of the Year" by the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Tim was recognized for this accomplishment by his professional organization at a presentation honoring him at the State AD's Conference held in St. Cloud on March 29. 
  • April Recognitions:
    • Poetry Month
    • Math Awareness Month
    • April 5 - Paraprofessional Appreciation Day
    • April 10-14 - National Library Week
    • April 10-14 - Assistant Principals Week
    • April 11 - National Library Workers' Day
    • April 17-21 - Public School Volunteer Week
    • April 24-28 - Administrative Professionals Week
    • April 26 - Administrative Professionals Day

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