December 4, 2016


Pathways to Success
The ten cities that comprise the White Bear Lake Area School District are known for beautiful lakes, a rich history, and strong sense of community. Less well known are businesses and small companies that are designing and making innovative and precision products for the world market.

This fall I accompanied a tour group to a local manufacturing facility. The company manager was describing an innovative laser machine.

"We were the first company in the nation to have this machine in production", he modestly explained. After an impressive demonstration, he asked, "Any questions?"

"How hot does the metal get? How do you assure and maintain quality control?"

The manager's explanations became technical. His guests responded with nods of understanding and asked more questions.

Were these university engineering graduates? 

No, the four young men and women on the tour were high school juniors and seniors from the White Bear Lake Area High School's manufacturing and precision engineering classes. We were touring Dufresne Manufacturing in Vadnais Heights. Our partnership with Dufresne began eight years ago when its management contacted the White Bear Lake Area Schools. This month Dufresne and the School District were honored with partnership awards from the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation.

This partnership is a component of the high school's Manufacturing Pathway, innovative classes that allow students to gain manufacturing certification while still in high school. While the students on the tour plan to pursue four year engineering degrees, other students may proceed directly from high school to promising careers in manufacturing.

Back in the school district, middle and high school students troubleshoot computers, learning technical diagnosis, basic repairs and more. All are part of the "Tech Depot," students who receive specialized training and support to keep the district's 6000 Chromebooks in good repair.

Some are pioneers in the high school IT Pathway, a sequence of classes which leads to technical certification. Internships, coupled with engaging classes, accelerate student progress to college and careers in this promising field.

This past summer, while many area high school students were delighted to find jobs at minimum wage, two of our high school seniors were among high school interns who completed 9 weeks of internship with the Minnesota Trades Academy. Each student received hands-on training and job experiences at 15 different union training centers. These students are confident and excited about apprenticeship opportunities right after high school.

In addition to more than 30 college credit classes already offered at the high school, these three Pathway Programs have been added: Manufacturing, IT, and Construction Trades. Such innovation helps assure that every student graduates from high school not only well prepared to enter college, but with the option of going directly into a career.

Choosing to work directly out of high school in a job that has opportunities for skilled training, competitive wages, and career growth does not preclude college. In fact, earning while learning makes college more affordable and advanced training more focused.

During a decade where headlines predict worker shortages due to baby boom generation retirements, and other news articles lament the staggering rise in student college debt, these pathway programs are good news.

These new Pathways to Success grow out of a remarkable level of collaboration among our school teachers and leaders, local businesses and leaders, Century College, and nonprofits including United Way.

As a result, today's high school students will be prepared to join local companies designing and making innovative and precision products for the world market. This is good news for our students, parents, and our community!

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

Article originally published in the Nov. 29 issue of the White Bear Press.

In Photos: MS and HS Registration Guide Photo Shoots 


Student News

Experiencing Partnerships 

Students and families had an opportunity to get hands-on with learning manufacturing and engineering skills at White Bear Lake Area High School's South Campus. Attendees of the 3rd Annual Manufacturing and Engineering Showcase collaborated with industry experts and post-secondary representatives about the Manufacturing Pathway Program and careers in the field. This event gave students of all ages the opportunity to explore a career pathway, which exposes students to in-demand careers and equips them with teamwork, time management, and critical thinking skills. 

Other students are also honing their skills and thinking about how they can volunteer to make a positive difference in others' lives both locally and globally. A motivational speaker from the organization WE recently spoke to National Junior Honor Society members at Central Middle School about how they can contribute to a better world. A group of students brainstormed ideas about making fleece blankets to donate to the Children's Hospital. At North Campus, students in the special education program will be making 150 sandwiches next week to be delivered to a shelter.

Middle school students also had an opportunity to discuss the impact that conserving water in Minnesota can have on developing countries when H2O for Life presented programs about the culture of Costa Rica and the shared concerns about water resource issues to Kristie Holman's Spanish classes. Chelsea Morrison, a Green Corps member, is working with students on the Race 2 Reduce water resource curriculum project this year. Priscila Soto, an intern from Costa Rica, also talked with students about her experiences in Costa Rica and engaged students in conversations about the global water crisis. Students were asked to brainstorm ways to conserve water in our schools and homes, leaving them with the important lesson that water conservation is everyone's responsibility. 

Fueling Learning
First and second grade students kicked off their week at Vadnais Heights Elementary with a delicious, fresh snack. This newly implemented snack program will continue until the end of the school year and provides students with fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the week. This pilot program is provided through BearPower and an Action Grant through HealthPartners, which is aimed at promoting good health and offering fun snack choices to students. The snack program's goals are to "fuel" student learning while supporting classroom engagement. The program was covered in this week's 62.4-second video update, found here

Students and families at Vadnais ended the week in a different direction, snacking on Doughnuts with Dad. This special one-time indulgence allowed parents and students to have breakfast together in the gymnasium, sitting among other students and families to get to know one another. After breakfast, dads, grandpas, uncles, or guardians visited their breakfast buddy's classroom. This event is hosted every year by the school's PTO group as a way to bring the students and their dads (and other family members) to the school to build relationships with its teachers and students. 


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


Activities Updates

The White Bear Lake Area High School Theatre Program wrapped up a successful (and sold out!) production of Mary Poppins. The White Bear Lake High School Varsity Bowling Team took first place in the regular season in their conference, and also in the conference playoffs and state tournament.


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
December 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 9 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
January 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center


For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here. 


Superintendent's Message

  • Pathways to Success

Student News

  • In Photos: MS and HS Registration Guide Photos
  • Experiencing partnerships
  • Fueling learning and connections
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors


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