January 1, 2017


Winter Imaginations

The sun did not shine. 
It was too wet to play. 
So we sat in the house 
All that cold, cold, wet day 

Do you recognize the opening lines of the classic story The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss? In this book young readers meet the mischievous Cat who creates chaos for two children while their mother is away from home for the day. 

At the end of the story, as the mother returns home, the children look at one another and ask the question...

Should we tell her about it? 
Now what should we do? 
What would you do 
If your mother asked you? 

After reading the story to my three year-old granddaughter, I asked her, "Do you think The Cat in the Hat was just in the children's imaginations, or do you think the story really happened?" 

She answered quickly and confidently, "It really happened..."

After she fell asleep that evening, I pondered the boundaries between fantasy and reality which seem so fluid in young children. I wondered what scientists are learning about imagination. 

Merriam-Webster defines imagination as "the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen or experienced." 

Nearly a century ago, Frenchman Jean Piaget observed children and developed theories about how they think. We are still influenced by his theories, which is why we take delight in the imaginative fantasies of children rather than correcting them about what is real and what is "only their imagination." 

Recent research by Paul Harris at Harvard Graduate School of Education concludes that imagination is important for understanding reality and understanding another's perspective. So the development of a healthy imagination is an important part of child learning and helps lay the foundation for later intellectual curiosity, social intelligence, and empathy. 

"Enough theory!" you say. "Give us the 'how to's.'"

Well, with winter coming on, here are some ideas for the children and grandchildren in our lives. 

First: Encourage reading. Why? Reading promotes imagination as children create mental pictures of characters, identify with their feelings, and follow the story lines. Make regular trips to the library. Check out stories. Limit videos. Rediscover your favorite children's books and read and talk about them together. 

Second: Bundle up. Go outside. Explore nature. Follow animal trails. Listen to the sounds of winter. Visit Tamarack Nature Center. Enroll your children in the "My Nature Preschool," a partnership between the White Bear Lake Area Schools and Tamarack. Why? Being outside lowers stress - both theirs and ours, and expands a child's horizons literally and mentally. 

Third: At home - Draw. Color. Make music. In the community, visit the Center for the Arts. Attend a play at Lakeshore Players. Look into MacPhail Center for Music and evening music lessons at Birch Lake Elementary School. 

Fourth: Get active. It's easy to get lethargic in the winter. As the body slows down, so does the mind. Go ice skating at the Hippodrome. Go to open gym at the schools. Go sledding. Join activities through the White Bear Community Services and Recreation programs. Go swimming at the YMCA. 

Oh, more about my granddaughter... We are walking home very slowly. Her imaginary friends are trailing far behind us and she insists we wait for them to "catch up." She doesn't want them to get lost on their way home to Grandma and BaPa's house... Supper will have to wait.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

Article originally published in the Winter 2016-17 edition of Town Life.

In photos: Student donations


Student News

Cooking up skills

At Lakeaires Elementary's Extended Day program, there is no such thing as "too many cooks in the kitchen." Cook Julie Mattice taught students how to prepare delicious meals as part of their cooking club. The students made different recipes each week including chocolate zucchini bread, apple snacks, monster cookies, and homemade chips and salsa. Julie emphasized the importance of proper food handling and kitchen cleanliness. The cooking club will continue weekly starting in March. She will also be doing a "how to host a dinner party" cooking club during spring break as a one-time special event. This will be an extended day and youth enrichment partnership class. While students at Lakeaires Elementary worked on their cooking skills, so did high school students. 

Picking out gifts for family members and friends can be challenging enough, and then some families are faced with what they should surprise their dog with. This year, students at North Campus had the answer. The students have been busy making and selling dog treats as part of their Dog Biscuit Bakery business, which provides students with school-based work experience. The students are learning job duties, food safety, personal and social skills, cost analysis, business skills, leadership skills, and equipment care and use (as highlighted in the previous issue of the e-newsletter).Students were busy baking, organizing, labeling and packaging the dog biscuits. Before Winter Break, it was delivery time! The North students delivered dog biscuits to staff members at Central Middle School, the District Office, Lincoln Elementary and North Campus. They sold 280 bags of biscuits. They plan on making more during the spring semester, possibly even baking and selling a special Valentine's Day version.

Unique experiences

Sunrise Park Middle School's seventh grade students took a trip to the Minnesota History Center. This activity allowed students to explore museum exhibits that cover the histories and diverse cultures of Minnesota's people. The seventh graders were able to brainstorm ideas for their History Day projects by experiencing interactive exhibits, demonstrations and multimedia theaters. They were also able to see the largest traveling exhibit produced by the Pro Football Hall of Fame to celebrate America's gridiron history. While students were having fun learning about history, students at South Campus were collaborating on how to best showcase high school memories by designing the yearbook. Students recently met their second deadline and began working on their third set of spreads. The students are keeping busy with designing, interviewing and writing the 2016-17 yearbook edition. 

While students collaborated with others and dove into their creative projects, Dr. Lovett visited classrooms around the district to embrace the various happenings. He went to Matoska Elementary and read the "Polar Express" to first graders as a part of visiting all of the schools during the past couple of weeks before Winter Break. Dr. Lovett and the High School Superintendent Student Advisory took some time to advise students on what they could do with their time during Winter Break. The high school students gave others the ideas to sled, snowboard, relax, spend time with friends and family, bundle up, take advantage of sleep, play pond hockey and volunteer in the community. Dr. Lovett encourages all students to get outside every day over the break, have fun, enjoy the fresh air, be kind to one another and read every day. To view the video, click here

Otter Lake Elementary students chanted "Vikings" over and over to welcome Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Brooklyn and Viktor, the mascot, to present "Viktor's Quest to S.T.O.P. Bullying." The Minnesota Vikings representatives discussed the importance of bullying prevention in schools. The program taught students about the acronym "S.T.O.P" which stands for "stand up, take action, open up and protect." This program is aimed at empowering students to safely and responsibly S.T.O.P. bullying. 

Paying it forward


White Bear Lake Area Elementary Schools were all about giving back to their community before Winter Break. While Evan Weissman's fifth grade class at Oneka Elementary donated clothes to The Closet (highlighted in the previous issue of the e-newsletter), other elementary schools got busy tying blankets to donate to the White Bear Lake community as well. Hugo Elementary's kindergarten classes made fleece tie blankets to donate as part of their 6th annual Families Helping Families Day. At Birch Lake Elementary, Kathleen Elletson's student council made blankets. All of the items were donated to The Closet, which is managed by the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation. The Closet is a place where families in need of clothing in the White Bear district are able to shop. When students are in the district and present a need for clothing, they are able to receive items free of charge. For more information, click here (additional photos from the donations can be found above in the In-photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter).

Students at Matoska Elementary also embraced the opportunity to pay it forward, as they donated "blessing bags" to people and families in need throughout the community. Paraprofessional Heather Katz asked the school and a variety of businesses to donate items that people in need could use including toiletries, hats and mittens. The students stayed busy collecting and sorting the items. They ended up being able to donate 17 blessing bags to people and families in need. While students at Matoska Elementary were busy donating items to those in need, Vadnais Heights Elementary students were embracing their creative abilities and making cards for seniors in the White Bear Lake area.

Vadnais Heights Elementary students participated in a community service initiative to spread kindness and compassion to seniors throughout the community. Students made cards for senior citizens who weren't able to be out during the holiday season. The entire school participated and worked in partnership with Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Vadnais Heights. The cards were delivered along with the food served through the Meals on Wheels program that the church provides to seniors in need. The church responded with a thank you letter addressed to all the students who participated in the act of kindness.

Showcasing traits


Elementary students' smiles lined the hallway as the students from the CUBS (Creating Unique Bridges for Students) program marched around Birch Lake Elementary for their annual Holidazzle Parade. The month of December at Birth Lake is Special Abilities Awareness month. This parade gives the CUBS students an opportunity to pass out candy and sing songs with their friends. They celebrated with cookies and juice afterwards. 

Sunrise Park Middle School and Central Middle School congratulated approximately 40 students at each school for receiving the Thinker - IB Learner Profile Award. The students received certificates stating why each student was nominated. The Learner Profile is a set of 10 traits that is a part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB-MYP). These traits are considered to be "interpersonal skills," which are important to develop to work harmoniously with other people. The 10 traits the middle schools celebrate are: caring, communicator, principled, thinker, reflective, open-minded, balanced, risk-taker, inquirer and knowledgeable. 

WBLAHS choir students sang their hearts out at the South Campus Holiday Concert. Four singers from the Mariners Choir stepped up to the front of the stage while singing "Cool Yule." Central Middle School's Volunteer Holiday Band spent time entertaining an audience as well. As middle school students walked into school in the morning they were greeted with upbeat music. The tunes had students in the crowd dancing to the beat and clapping for their friends. High school and middle school students were not the only ones singing for audiences. 

Students at Birch Lake Elementary and Lincoln Elementary Extended Day took their show on the road and sang carols while delivering homemade ornaments and cookies to local senior residences. Birch Lake went to Cerenity Residence while Lincoln traveled to Washington Square Apartments. The students were able to utilize their talents and spread holiday cheer to those in the White Bear Lake community.

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


Activities updates

Congratulations to WBLAHS Coach Patti Percival who will be one of a few select Minnesotans to be recognized by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership with their Breaking Barriers Award on Feb. 1 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. 


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
January 9 Work-Study
5:30 p.m.
7 p.m.
District Center 
January 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
February 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center


For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here

Superintendent's Message

  • Winter Imaginations

Student News

  • In photos: Student donations
  • Cooking up skills
  • Unique experiences
  • Paying it forward
  • Showcasing traits
  • 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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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

  • Characteristic Survey for New Superintendent - White Bear Lake Area Schools' Superintendent, Dr. Michael Lovett, has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2017. We are asking for the community's input in creating a profile of the ideal candidate through an online survey. Please take a moment to share your thoughts by taking this short survey. The survey will remain open until 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.
  • Welcome to White Bear activities - We are excited to welcome next year's students - from early childhood through high school - into our schools for welcome to White Bear activities happening in January. Find additional information here.
  • Teacher of the Year nominations - Please consider nominating an educator who will represent all of the dedicated teachers in our district and compete in the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program. You may use this form to nominate a teacher. Nominations are due by 4 p.m., Jan. 9, 2017.
  • 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.

  • Senior Transportation Transition Plan - At the Dec. 12, 2016 School Board meeting, the Board approved a senior transportation transition plan that closes the Lionmobile Program in the spring of 2017. See press release here.
  • 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.
    • Family Funtime gets BearPowered - On Jan. 10, BearPower will team up with White Bear Lake Recreation and sponsor free and Open Gym nights from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Oneka Elementary.
    • Bundle Up Bears - Come get BearPowered and have fun enjoying the great outdoors while skating around on Jan. 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the North Campus High School. Remember to dress for the weather and bring your own skates. The event will feature great music, hay rides and food options. The activity is weather dependent.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Attend an event or two this spring by finding the event schedule in the 2016-17 Activities Calendar! If you do not have a child in school but you would like a copy of the district-wide activity listing, please contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 to request a mailed copy and request to be added to the Activities Calendar annual mailing list.
  • 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

  • Congratulations to WBLAHS Coach Patti Percival who will be one of a few select Minnesotans to be recognized by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership with their Breaking Barriers Award on Feb. 1 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
  • Congratulations to Oneka Elementary Teacher Lindsey Thomas for being named KS95 Teacher of the Week. She will be presented with a plaque in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more information!
  • Please consider nominating an educator who will represent all of the dedicated teachers in our district and compete in the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program. You may use this form to nominate a teacher. Nominations are due by 4 p.m., Jan. 9, 2017.

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