January 15, 2017

None watching from the sidelines

When watching an athletic contest, spectators are accustomed to focusing attention on the field or court where the drama of competition is played out before their eyes. (Those spectators paying more attention to the sidelines are called parents.)

Normally more athletes are off the field or court watching than are actively engaged in competition. For players on the sidelines, on the bench, or in the dugout, this is a time of waiting and watching.

Practice is a different story. During practice coaches design intense drills and activities to help athletes develop skills and confidence needed to compete. There is little "down time." 

Practice first of all to helps athletes progress in essential skills. Second, athletes learn how to work together and understand how individual skills lead to improved performance. Third, normally some portion of practice simulates actual game or individual competition conditions to draw out peak performance. This way skills are tested and athletes gain confidence before they play before spectators.

Likewise, students in classrooms of effective teachers spend little time "watching from the sidelines."

This month I visited classes from preschool through high school and was impressed by the remarkable level of student engagement. At every level, students seemed genuinely excited to be in class, worked together with their classmates, and responded with enthusiasm to their teachers. (Yes, even high school students!) 

How does this happen?

First, teachers gain student attention by demonstrating purpose for the day's activities. Students are motivated because they see how today's lessons are connected with a greater purpose.

Secondly, teachers challenge students to think and make learning their own. Student learning shifts from extrinsic (what my teacher and my parents tell me to do) to intrinsic(what I what to do to grow and learn) as they make connections between the skills they are learning and their own dreams and goals.

Third, teachers inspire students to be at their best. Students learn that peak performance comes from a combination of skills, purpose, and confidence.

Because our teachers are successful in motivating, challenging, and inspiring, I saw class after class of engaged and excited students. 

None were watching from the sidelines.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area School

In photos: Cheerleading National Sendoff event


Student News

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. 

Since students have the day off on Monday, Jan. 16 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they spent their time this week reflecting on the impact he made on advancing civil rights during his lifetime. Kristi Joesting's first grade students at Hugo Elementary listened to several books about Martin Luther King Jr., and composed their very own "I have a dream" writing samples. They are planning on hanging the samples up in the hallways. Other students at Hugo Elementary are reading books about Martin Luther King Jr. as well as making their own books.

Students at Matoska Extended Day honored Martin Luther King Jr. with a project of hand prints across a large poster. The students were asked the question "what would Martin Luther King Jr. tell your class if he came to visit?" The students figured he would tell them not to fight or be mean to others. The Extended Day students aren't the only ones engaging in conversations about Martin Luther King Jr. On Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 10:30 a.m. to noon there will be a chat cafe where individuals can partake in engaging conversations and receive a hot, catered meal. Registration is required for the I Have a Dream: Then & Now event honoring Black History Month. A $5 donation is encouraged and all classes are at the Senior Center Library. Individuals will be able to listen to Dr. King's classic speech and discuss the relevance of his message today.

Recognizing accomplishments

KS95 presented Oneka Elementary teacher Lindsey Thomas with the "Teacher of the Week" award. KS95 shows their appreciation for a teacher each week in the Twin Cities area to celebrate and recognize teachers' hard work contributing to making students successful in school and their future. KS95 also recognizes the chosen teacher on air Friday mornings during the show. Alexa, KS95's 12-5 a.m. host, visited the second grade teacher's classroom to congratulate her personally. Alexa also answered students' questions in the classroom. 

While students at Oneka Elementary recognized the accomplishments of their teacher, one student was honored for the beauty in his artwork. Congratulations to Patrick de los Santo who is the International Lions District 5M6 - 2016 Peace Poster winner. The Central Middle School seventh grade student was the top of 500 students in the district that entered the contest with art reflecting the theme of "A Celebration of Peace." The judges like the simplicity and brightness of color in his poster. He will be judged in the next step of the contest at the MD5M Lions District later this spring.

Hands-on experiences

The kindergarten students at Matoska Elementary participated in a service learning project to give back to those less fortunate. The students made 900 sandwiches to give to the "Sandwich Man" who hands out sandwiches to the homeless throughout the Twin Cities area. This is the second year that Matoska Elementary has participated in this event. The project teaches students about the importance of community relationships and changes that occur in the winter. While students at Matoska Elementary made sandwiches for others, more than 34 eighth graders from Sunrise Middle School tested out their food preparation skills as well. The students took a field trip to Envision Catering where they had an opportunity to experience the career of a chef. This was part of the Career Speaker Series offered to eighth graders. Students worked with Envision Catering's staff members to make cream cheese wontons, sweet and sour chicken, Chinese egg rolls, cake shooters, and broccoli and beef stir-fry. After the students ran the grill, rolled egg rolls and decorated desserts, they enjoyed a meal together with staff members. 

While some students enjoyed hands-on experiences with incorporating food into lessons, others throughout the district focused on preparing for a performance. First grade students at Hugo Elementary are leveraging their acting skills while practicing for their upcoming performance of Dr. Seuss's book "The Sneetches." This mini-production aligns with social studies standards and emphasizes the importance of celebrating citizenship and respecting oneself and others. This production is also connected to Read Across America Week to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday. The students will perform at the end of February.

The first grade students at Hugo Elementary are not the only ones rehearsing for a performance. Students at Central Middle School have been practicing away and playing tunes in preparation for their upcoming band concerts at the end of January and beginning of February. The students will perform in the District Center Auditorium. The sixth grade band will perform on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m., the seventh grade band on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., and the eighth grand band on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.

Embracing a challenge

Students put their skills to the test, as they competed and received first place in an Innovation Challenge at the Minnesota School Board Association's 2017 Leadership Conference with other districts including Prior Lake Savage and Forest Lake. Each of the four students received $150 to use for education. White Bear Lake students presented on ways Minnesota farmers can adapt to a changing climate while maintaining high levels of productivity and responsiveness to consumer demands. Students considered, theorized, examined, developed and delivered ideas about innovative technology/tools/devices that would help a Minnesota farmer increase productivity 35% by the year 2030. The students were scored on their team dynamics, innovation and sources of inspiration utilized throughout the process. 

The White Bear Lake Cheerleaders also had to focus on their team dynamics, as they showed families and friends how hard work pays off at their National Sendoff event. They performed their final routine in front of a crowd of families, friends and community members before heading off to Nationals. The middle school cheerleaders also stepped up on the stage to cheer. The cheerleaders will be competing in Dallas, Texas at the National Cheerleaders Association High School Cheerleading Championship on Jan. 20-21 (additional photos from the event can be found above in the In-photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter). 

Preschoolers practiced their tumbling moves as well, as they hopped, crawled, and rolled their way through Obstacle Course Day that happens every Thursday in the wintertime at Normandy Park Education Center. This provides students with an opportunity to have fun moving and learning. Students were able to work on gross motor skills such as balance, strengthening and bilateral coordination. The obstacle course also gives students a chance to work on speech and language development. Other families had fun moving by playing with basketballs and toys at Oneka Elementary for an Open Gym night. BearPower and White Bear Lake Recreation teams up to give families the opportunity to participate.

White Bear Lake Area High School's South Campus is joining the fight against blood cancer and helping the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fund research and care for patients. Students are organizing a Pennies for Patients fundraiser to raise money for blood cancer research. The students' goal is to raise $2,017, which will go toward saving the lives of blood cancer patients. Individuals can choose to donate to support a specific student or make a general donation. Click here to donate. 

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


Activities updates

Tickets are available for Night Club on Saturday, Feb. 11 in the South Campus cafeteria. This event will feature ninth through twelfth graders who will be performing as part of the WBLAHS Jazz Ensembles and guest artist, Kenni Holmen, who is a saxophonist. Dinner will be catered by Donatelli's and will include roasted beef tenderloin, spinach and garlic tortellini, roasted vegetables, green salad with Italian dressing and dinner rolls. Tickets for the dinner and the dance are $22 for adults and $18 for seniors 55 and over and children 12 and under. Tickets are $12 for individuals who just want to attend the dance. For additional ticketing information, contact Karen Beauclaire at 651-775-7207. Click here to purchase tickets, and click here for more information. 


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

For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here

Superintendent's Message

  • Welcome home from school!

Student News

  • In photos: Scholastic Art & Writing Contest (Gold Key Winners)
  • Expressing creativity
  • Embarking on journeys
  • Enhancing collaboration
  • Community support
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • 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

  • Volunteering for the On-Ice Program - If you are looking to have some winter fun in February, volunteer at the Art Shanty Projects, which is a month-long festival on a frozen lake that transforms into an interactive, artist-driven temporary community. For more information about volunteer opportunities, click here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The "BearPower Press" - A new issue of the "BearPower Press" is available. Click here to read this issue for more information about the PowerUp School Challenge and the BearPower events happening in January, February and March.
    • 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.
    • Family Funtime gets BearPowered - BearPower will team up with White Bear Lake Recreation and sponsor another free and Open Gym night in March. Click here for more information.
  • 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. For more information and updates from the WBLAEF, click here.

Support WBLAS Students:

  • Pasta Feed Fundraiser - The White Bear Lake Early Childhood PTA is hosting a Pasta Feed Fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 3 from 6-8 p.m. at Normandy Park Education Center. The dinner will include salad, rigatoni, breadsticks and drinks from Donatelli's. There will be a $100 Target gift card door prize, and chances to win raffle prizes. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Click here for more information.
  • Willow Students Work at Donatelli's - Fifth graders at Willow Elementary will be working at Donatelli's every Tuesday in February including Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The students applied for positions as hosts, servers and cooks by writing resumes and cover letters, and interviewing with the restaurant's management. Any tips greater than 15% will go to HopeKids, which is a charity that supports children with cancer.
  • 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

  • Governor Dayton recently proclaimed the week of Jan. 23-27 as Paraprofessional Recognition Week. The State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Education want to recognize the important role paraprofessionals play in ensuring student achievement and educational success. Click here for more information.
  • January is Welcome to White Bear Month. Get to know White Bear Lake Area Schools by attending parent information nights, preschool open houses and elementary school tours. View a complete list of activities here.

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