February 12, 2017


Ripples in the Water
"Ms. Albert had brought a big bowl into class and filled it with water. We all gathered around her desk and watched her drop a small stone into it. Tiny waves rippled out, away from the stone. 'This is what kindness does,' Ms. Albert said. 'Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.'" (From Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson)

February is "I Love to Read Month," when our schools celebrate and encourage reading. On the first Friday afternoon, I was guest reader.

Kindergartners giggled and quacked in concert with the words and illustrations of Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. 

First graders walked the streets of Paris "in two straight lines" following the adventures of Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelman.

Second graders listened quietly to The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and in some small way saw the allegory to growing older and what it means to be happy.

By fourth grade, the fare was deeper. Thank you, Mr. Falker tells of a little girl who struggles to read until Mr. Falker...but, no giving away the ending. 

During the last 30 minutes of the day I was with fifth graders. After I read the passage above from Each Kindness, I looked up at the boys and girls, most sitting on the carpet, arms around their knees. 

"Then Ms. Albert let us each drop the stone in as we told her what kind things we had done. I stood there, holding Ms. Albert's rock in my hand, silent...but I couldn't think of anything and passed the stone on."

In front of me I saw only solemn expressions. One or two heads were down.

Each Kindness tells of a school classroom not so different from their own. A new girl moves into the school. Who will show her kindness? Who will welcome her? 

As I end the story and close the book, I look back up to their faces. 

"Did you want the book to end?"

"No!" Several students shake their heads. "There has to be more to the story. The silent girl needs to have another chance to show kindness!"

Because it was the end of the day and week, I offered to come back. A week later I sat with six boys and girls who want to talk more about the story. We find a quiet corner on the carpet just outside the classroom. 

"What do you think happened? 
She wanted to make friends with the new girl, but she was afraid...
The other kids in class teased her...
She never got to smile back to the new girl and say she was sorry...

Have you missed an opportunity for kindness?
There was a first grader who was really sick and had lots of problems...and then he came back for a while, but then had to leave again. I think he was dying. I wish I had done more...

Have you seen kindness in others?
I was really shy when I was in preschool and there was one person who understood me. I had one friend.

What did you think about after the story?
I wished she had just smiled.

How do you want to act when someone new comes into your school or neighborhood?
Be more nice...
Be more kind...
Accept people for who they are.. They can't help it if they have old clothes or if there are poor or if their family is having a hard time...
See who they are before judging...
Get to know them and be a friend...you might not get another chance."

The children saw parallels between welcoming a new classmate and welcoming immigrants and refugees. Among my young friends are some who are first generation Americans. They know firsthand.

"'Even small things count,' Ms. Albert said gently."

This is what kindness does... Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world. 

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: Donatelli's Take Over

Willow Lane Elementary students will be serving, hosting and cooking at Donatelli's every Tuesday for the rest of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. including Feb. 14, 21 and 28. Hope to see you there!

Student News

Exciting opportunities

Students at Lincoln Elementary showcased their creativity at the Carlson Art and Science Fair. This can be a great opportunity for students at all grade levels to work independently on an art or science project in an area of special interest. Students displayed their unique artwork, and stood in front of their exhibits covering topics such as sublimation and atmospheric pressure. All are awarded a certificate and ribbon. Elementary students were not the only ones showcasing their hard work on projects throughout the school year. Middle school students displayed their latest projects capturing the importance of history.

Some middle school students may have been heard saying "and the rest is history..." after displaying their projects at a History Day event. Sunrise Park and Central Middle School students displayed projects they had been working on for several months portraying the theme of "Taking a Stand in History." Students could create documentaries, exhibits and websites as part of their projects. While families and friends observed the various displays, parents at Normandy Park Education Center witnessed a different type of project display. 

Children ages zero to five, were invited to the Box City Event at Normandy Park Education Center. Families and community members could cut, glue and tape boxes together to transform the cardboard into a lively city. The city was left up so students could still enjoy the artwork and playground after the event. Community members are invited back to Normandy Park Education Center for a Free Community Baby Shower on Friday, April 7. Parents are welcome to bring their babies, birth to six months old, to the event from 9:30-11:30 a.m. This gives parents an opportunity to learn fun ways to support and nurture an infant's health and development. Community resources will be offering additional information, as well. Click here for more information.

Community members were able to enjoy a night filled with drum and dance. The Native American Parent Group organized a Career Night Speakers Event. The event included dinner, speakers and drum/dance! The audience was able to listen to three speakers: Angie Hirsch, Joanne Whiterabbit, and Andrew Adams III. Angie Hirsch holds a master's degree in Social Work and works for the State of Minnesota managing policies related to Indian Education and Services. Joanne Whiterabbit is the Executive Director for the Minnesota Indian Chamber of Commerce, while Andrew Adams III is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and member of the Tvlahasse Wvkokaye Ceremonial Grounds and has experience in the areas of federal Indian law.

Serving others

There were a few more cooks in the kitchen, as fifth grade students participated in the Donatelli's Take Over. The Willow Lane Elementary students wrote resumes, cover letters and went through a formal interview process with the restaurant's management to get their jobs. Students were trained as servers, cooks and hosts. Server and hosts worked on engaging customers in conversations to make them feel welcomed, while cooks prepared food. The students will be at Donatelli's every Tuesday in February for the rest of the month, including Feb. 14, 21 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Any tips greater than 15% will go to HopeKids, which is a charity that supports children with cancer. (Additional photos of students at Donatelli's can be found in the In-Photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter.)

Birch Lake Elementary students also focused on serving others, but in a different way. Students collected birthday supplies for children in need to donate to the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf. This was part of a service project for kindergarten, first and second graders. After collecting the supplies, the students joined together in the cafeteria to put together birthday bags. They also decorated happy birthday signs to staple onto the bags. While students at Birch Lake Elementary put their decorating skills to the test indoors, students also slid into some winter fun outside. Students in the CUBS program participated in a sledding activity with a Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Program Specialist. This gave students the opportunity to play with kick sleds that are adapted for children with special needs. Students at Birch Lake Elementary also embraced the opportunity to share breakfast with moms, loved ones or a special friend at the Muffins with Moms Event.

Working towards goals 

The Unified Bears basketball team is starting up their season. They practice on Thursday nights, and this year they have six new Unified Partners joining them. They will be heading to the State Unified games on March 24 at the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex at the University of St. Thomas. The Unified Bears have worked hard at closing the gap and teaching about inclusion and acceptance for all individuals. Watch this video to see what Unified is all about. Students at Otter Lake are also embracing playing games.

There is more to the strategy than rolling the dice and passing "go" in Otter Lake Elementary's version of Monopoly. The staff has transformed the board game into a reading marathon, as students compete in the modified game, Bookopoly, to earn the most money by reading more. The goal of the game is to encourage students to read outside of the school day, which they have a certain amount of time set as their goal. If a class meets their reading minutes goal, they will earn Bookopoly money. If their class goes above and beyond their goal, they will earn bonus money. The more minutes each student reads, the more money the class will earn. The class at each grade level that earns the most Bookopoly money will win the prize. While students had fun with games, they also embraced an exciting opportunity to participate in the STEM Fair at Otter Lake Elementary. The Otter Lake STEM Fair is an opportunity for kindergarten through fifth grade students to showcase STEM projects to all students, families and coaches. Each project is encouraged to use the inquiry process or engineering design process to present student learning on a variety of topics. Projects vary from testing the growth of plants using a control and changing one variable, to designing and creating a hovercraft. There were more than 86 projects on display and almost 200 students participated. In addition to the projects on display, the STEM Fair is also an evening where all kindergarten through fifth grade Otter Lake families are invited to explore a variety of STEM activities located throughout the school. 

Applauding accomplishments

Congratulations to White Bear Lake Area High School Track and Cross Country Coach Patricia Percival who was one of this year's selected Minnesotans to be recognized by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership with their Breaking Barriers Award on Feb. 1 at a ceremony at the Minnesota History Center. Click here to read more. Director of Student Activities Tim Hermann was selected from seven other Region winners to be the "Pete Veldman AA Athletic Administrator of the Year." Congratulations!

Molly Riley kicked off her commitment to Minnesota State University, Mankato by participating in National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Friends, family members and staff gathered to recognize the athlete's accomplishments throughout her soccer career. Congratulations to Doug Shields, as he is the Minnesota State High School League Region 4AA Triple "A" Award winner. The purpose of the program is to recognize high school seniors who have excelled in the classroom, athletically and in the fine arts. One White Bear Lake student and graduate have also been in the news lately for their accomplishments. Will Hamilton is a student at White Bear Lake Area High Schools' Transition Education Center, and is working on earning a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Team. Click here to read more about his story. Alumnus Donny Longendyke was recently featured in the "Pioneer Press" in an article highlighting his career as an Augsburg wrestler. Click hereto read his story. 

Students have been working hard to achieve their goals. Three Women's Literature students became published bloggers. As part of their final service learning project, all Women's Literature students were required to write either a "Media Monday Blog" analyzing a media text that contains images that objectify or misrepresent women in some way, or a "Love Your Body Blog" where they discuss why they love or how they learned to love some aspect of their body. Blogs were then submitted to The Emily Program Foundation. The three students' blogs that were selected will all be published on The Emily Program's website to be accessed as part of the client's therapeutic process. Middle school students celebrated their accomplishments of achieving their goals by providing teachers with a pie in their face. Teachers at Sunrise Park Middle School were in for a treat after students reached their goal of raising more than $500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The middle school students celebrated their accomplishments with Pennies for Patients by shoving a pie in teachers' faces during lunch. Together, Sunrise Park Middle School and WBLAHS - South Campus raised $2,017 to help fund blood cancer research. Click here to watch a video. 

While the middle school came together to recognize student accomplishments, legislatures, students, and staff also came together for the Legislative Breakfast at Lakeaires Elementary to applaud students for their hard work throughout the district. This gave some of White Bear Lake Area Schools' youngest learners an opportunity to show legislators and county commissioners what they are learning. High school students also spoke about their experiences with programs that are preparing them to be college and career ready. While students volunteered their time to speak about their educational journeys, one student was also recently recognized for providing outstanding services to benefit youth. High school student Emma Walker was chosen as one of the recipients of the 2017 Service to Youth Award through Northeast Youth & Family Services. Another high school student Hakeem Martins showed his commitment to serving others by providing testimony during a Senate hearing. He advocated for a grant that would offer support to students as they transition between middle school and high school. Click here to watch the video (his presentation begins at 45:00).

Perfecting performances

Band and choir students performed at the 30th Annual Suburban East Conference Music Festival in front of other schools in the conference and judges. Students in the White Bear Lake HS South Campus Mariners Choir performed as well as students in the White Bear Lake HS South Campus Wind Ensemble. Judges gave students feedback and critiques. This is an opportunity for students to grow as performers. While students perfected these performances, jazz students also got ready to play pieces in a way that had audience members dancing to the beat. 

Jazz students rehearsed for their performance at the 2017 Night Club Event, where the South Campus cafeteria transformed into a dance floor. All four WBLAHS jazz bands performed at the 38th annual event, as well as guest artist, Kenni Holmen, who is a saxophonist. The ninth through twelfth grade students prepared more than 45 tunes for the crowd. Participants could choose to attend just the dance or also have dinner before the event catered by Donatelli's. The middle school students also had a chance to showcase their talents in their first ever orchestra concert. 

Middle school students stepped up to the stage to perform for their families and friends. Sunrise Park and Central Middle Schools had their first sixth grade orchestra concerts. Students were excited to showcase what they had been working hard on all year long. They played a waltz, Latin and dramatic piece. The district currently has orchestra for fifth and sixth grade students. The program is expanding as next year fifth, sixth and seventh grade students will have the opportunity to join orchestra. Click here to watch a video to see more of their performance on stage in the Community Auditorium. 

Important conversations

Seventh grade students were able to collaborate at a Courage Retreat. Youth Frontiers came to work with the Central Middle School students to inspire them to be themselves and take positive risks. This day is aimed at encouraging students to follow their hearts and use moral courage to make responsible decisions. While middle school students had important conversations, so will community members at an upcoming World Café event. The Reimagine Minnesota event is World Café, a community conversation that will inform the work of superintendents as they build an educational plan designed for the success of all students. White Bear Lake Area Schools is one of more than 40 school districts to participate in Reimagine Minnesota. The community is invited to Reimagine Minnesota on Thursday, Feb. 16 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Maplewood Community Center. View the invitation here. Transportation will be provided and interpreters will be available upon request. Find additional information here. Learn what Reimagine Minnesota is all about by watching this video. Click here for Spanish, and click here for Somali. A limited number of spots are available, so RSVP for the event at 651-407-7568 as soon as possible if you are interested in participating.

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

Activities updates

White Bear Lake Area High School alumnus Donny Longendyke was recently featured in the "Pioneer Press" for his success as an Augsburg wrestler. Click here to read his story. WBLAHS senior Molly Riley participated in National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Students in the White Bear Lake HS South Campus Mariners Choir as well as students in the White Bear Lake HS South Campus Wind Ensemble performed at the 30th Annual Suburban East Conference Music Festival. Jazz students performed at the 38th annual Night Club Event. Sunrise Park and Central Middle School had their first ever sixth grade orchestra concert. Three of our Nordic ski team membersmade it to state - Doug Shield, Keely Nistler and Olivia Schwintek. Our girls team finished 3rd in sections and our boys team took home 4th!


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
February 13 Work-Study & Regular 5 p.m. & 7 p.m. District Center 
February 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
March 6 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 


For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here


Superintendent's Message

  • An opportunity to show kindness

Student News

  • In photos: Donatelli's Take Over
  • Exciting opportunities
  • Serving others
  • Working towards goals
  • Applauding accomplishments
  • Perfecting performances
  • Important conversations
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors


School Board Work-Study & Regular Meeting
5 p.m. & 7 p.m.
February 13
District Center

School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
February 27
District Center

School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
March 6
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

  • Reimagine Minnesota - Community members are invited to join a community conversation on Thursday, Feb. 16 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Maplewood Community Center to gather input that will inform the work of superintendents as they create a plan that creates equity, integration and excellence in education for all Minnesota students. Click here for more information. Learn what Reimagine Minnesota is all about by watching this video. Click here for Spanish, and click here for Somali.
  • Superintendent Search - As the district conducts the superintendent search process, updates are available here.
  • Free Community Baby Shower - Community members are invited to join other parents of new babies, birth to six months old, for a free community baby shower. Click here for more information.
  • Free Parent Education Class - NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is presenting Helping Students Succeed: Special Education, a free two hour presentation for parents of children receiving or considering special education services. Click here for more information.
  • Website Quick Links changing in February - In an effort to make the district's website more family-friendly, the Quick Links options on the front page of the district website (in the white box) will be changed to reflect those links most used/requested by families. The drop-down Quick Links listing (in the gray box across the top header, near the Search box) continues to offer the expanded listing. If you have any questions, please contact Marisa Vette.
  • 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.

  • Community Forum on Seniors Event - The Community Forum on Seniors Event will be held at the District Center on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Click here for more information.
  • 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.

Support WBLAS Students:

  • 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.
  • Disney's Peter Pan Jr. - Lincoln Elementary PTA Productions presents Disney's Peter Pan Jr. with approximately 150 first through fifth grade students on March 31, April 1 and April 2. Click here for more information.
  • Willow Students Work at Donatelli's - Fifth graders at Willow Lane Elementary will be working at Donatelli's every Tuesday in February including Feb. 14, 21 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • 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

  • Director of Student Activities Tim Hermann was selected by the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association as the Region 4AA AD of the Year. Then, he was selected from seven other Region winners to be the "Pete Veldman AA Athletic Administrator of the Year." The award is named after former South St. Paul AD, Pete Veldman. There will be a presentation honoring him for his success on March 29 at the State Conference held in St. Cloud.
  • Congratulations to White Bear Lake Area High School Track and Cross Country Coach Patricia Percival who was one of this year's selected Minnesotans to be recognized by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership with their Breaking Barriers Award on Feb. 1 at a ceremony at the Minnesota History Center. Click here to read more.
  • February Recognitions
    • I Love to Read Month
    • Black History Month
    • National PTA Founder's Day - Feb. 17
    • School Board Recognition Week - Feb. 20-24

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