July 10, 2016

A Reader's Guide to Understanding High School Seniors

Featured in the June 8 publication of the White Bear Press

"What are your plans for next year?" How often do high school seniors hear this question, especially when they are on the social circuit of graduation open houses and neighborhood gatherings? A dozen times a day? 

The questions were so much easier in grade school: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" or "What do you want to do when you get older?" One day the answer might be marine biologist or firefighter, and the next day, teacher, veterinarian, or zoo keeper. Back then, any answer seemed to work, even if it were borrowed from a friend.

But for high school seniors, the question matters more, and so does the answer. But the real pressure is not the question or the answer, but comes from the kind of wide world they are entering. 

Think for a moment about the world of these graduates and the events and changes that have occurred in their school lifetime from 2004 to 2016 - local, national and world events that have influenced and will influence their futures. 

First, when this year's graduating class entered middle school in the fall of 2009, our economy was scraping the bottom of the Great Recession. The national unemployment rate stood at ten percent, and while Minnesota's unemployment rate was lower at eight percent, many families experienced financial challenges. Thus, at a time students were making course selections for middle school and high school, being prepared for life after high school was a critical consideration.

Second, during their time in school our country has been engaged in on-going international conflicts; some of our graduates know what it is like to have a dad or mom or other relative deployed. Most graduates know classmates whose family members are veterans or have been deployed.

Third, local issues have also influenced student aspirations and plans. One issue all these students are aware of is the prolonged drop in water level in White Bear Lake. When this year's graduating class was in primary school, the lake level was near its normal high. But between 2007 and 2013 (their third through ninth grades) the lake level dropped more than four and one-half feet to its lowest level in the past century. Our students are not just aware and knowledgeable about water conservation, but about resource management.

When you ask questions and listen to high school seniors, think about the '3 P's' that have gone into their answers; purpose, preparation and persistence.

Purpose represents the goals to which our graduates aspire. These have been influenced by family, our schools, faith, community and core values of compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility and service.

Preparation represents the opportunities students have had in the White Bear Lake Area Schools to take challenging courses that prepare them to enter this challenging world. These courses include 33 college credit classes. In addition, new this past year is the Manufacturing Pathway, which prepares students to go on to higher education or to go directly into internships or to cutting-edge employment.

Persistence represents the efforts and determination to pursue purpose in spite of the challenges faced along the way. For many of our students, the financial reality of college costs requires persistence and determination to find a way to follow goals one step at a time. And for all students, the interest and support of this community of adults is critical.

So when you ask a graduate "What are your plans for next year?" take time to listen and to ask those follow-up questions that affirm their purpose, preparation and persistence. Then you will be a part of their story, too.

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

In Photos: Lil' Cubs K-5 Football Camp!

Summer activities

The WBLAS District is heavily involved in the community and its much-anticipated summer activities. Recently, students and staff walked proudly in the Manitou Days Parade. Among the crowd was Manitou Button Contest winner Kelsi Olivares (a Lakeaires fifth grader from last school year), the 2015-16 WBLTA Teacher of the Year and the Manitou Days Writing Contest winners, to name a few. While another successful Manitou Days celebration has come and gone, you'll continue to see district staff in downtown White Bear at the weekly Marketfest celebrations. At the most recent Marketfest event, district students were given the opportunity to run their own booth during "Biz Kids Week." The young entrepreneurs first applied for the spot and then were given a free booth space to promote their cause, product or idea during Marketfest. If you weren't able to make it downtown for Biz Kids Week, you're bound to find WBLAS students hanging out at the district booth every Thursday. Feel free to stop by for White Bear decals, early childhood activities and greetings from district staff!

Many of the district's community partners take part in these summer events as well, including BearPower. During Manitou Days, BearPower and the White Bear Lake Area YMCA hosted its annual event called Family Fun Night. It's a free event full of fun games, prizes and healthy food options. This year, the event took place at Lion's Park and there were roughly 150 people in attendance. The event is centered around BearPower's mission, which is to encourage families in the White Bear community to eat well and be active. Meanwhile, another district partner wrapped up an event that drew in many familiar faces to WBLAS. The 17th Annual White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation (WBLAEF) Golf Tournament was held at the end of June at Indian Hills Golf and Country Club in Stillwater. This year's event was a hole-in-one, with a turnout of 120 golfers - many of whom are students and staff from the district. Members of the WBLAHS Varsity Boys' Golf Team even made themselves available at the eighth hole to take a drive for golfers, and many took advantage of the young golfers' skills. All proceeds from the event will benefit the WBLAEF. 

Kids in the Lil' Cubs Football camp also received some pointers from the pros. Coaches from WBLAS Community Services & Recreation taught the young players a thing or two about football, but were slightly upstaged by some big names in the sport. EJ Henderson, a former long-time linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, spent the afternoon with the kids - giving them encouragement on and off the field. He signed autographs and answered their questions, then played alongside our Lil' Cubs. Two days prior, several Minnesota Gopher football players came to teach our young football stars a thing or two. The Gophers also spent time with the kids, talking strategy and enjoying the game. Roughly 75 students grades K-5 take part in this football camp each summer. (Additional photos from this year's camp can be found above in theIn-Photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter.)

Technology experts

While the halls of most of our schools are relatively quiet this time of year, the district's technology department has been packed with students who've been hard at work to ensure technology is up and running for students in the fall. It's an internship program for middle and high school students called the White Bear Tech Depot. For many students, this opportunity provides a first-time working experience, as they must first apply for a position as they would for any other job. After the application process, students receive technology department jobs where they repair, clean, image and deploy more than 4,000 devices over the course of the summer. Currently, the students have been working with the Chromebooks, logging each laptop into its designated school's system. This provides technical support for the district's Chromebook 1:1 laptop program. These internships benefit the district, as well as the students, and they fit into White Bear Lake Area Schools' college and career reediness initiatives. 

Though not quite ready to join the Tech Depot, our elementary students have been expanding their knowledge of technology this summer through a variety of STEM summer school activities. Fifth grade summer school students from all elementary schools were invited to Oneka recently to program and control robots. Meanwhile, third grade students built roller-coaster paths for marbles to explore the power of inertia. These were just a couple of many fun activities our summer school students have been doing to keep their brains busy outside of the school year. There are also some really fun field trips happening, too. This coming week, fifth grade students will be touring CHS Field after riding the green line to the Union Depot in St. Paul. They are using this as a background for math and literacy, on top of the fact that it gives students a fun and unique experience. The best part is that one of the general managers of the St. Paul Saints is Chris Schwab, a White Bear graduate! He has arranged some very cool activities for his young hometown visitors.

Construction projects

Students and staff will be returning to some exciting building changes in the fall, including a new gymnasium floor at WBLAHS -South Campus. The floor currently being replaced was installed as part of the original construction in 1974 and was repainted in 1983 when the schools merged. The old floor was not to the standard of competitive floors in the conference, as it had numerous dead spots. The new Maple wood floor currently being installed will provide uniform performance and better absorption for the safety of the athletes. You can read more about this particular type of gym flooring here. The installation will be completed mid-July, then after allowing the finish to cure properly, it should be ready for use in early August. 

There are also a number of other building projects going on across the district: Lakeaires and Birch Lake will be getting new roofing; the tennis courts at Sunrise Park Middle School are getting resurfaced with added pickle ball lines due to increased community demand; and new lockers will be installed at Central Middle School in August, to name a few.

62.4-second video updates

Take a look at our 62.4-second video updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools during the school year.

Activities Updates
The WBLAHS Trapshooting Team recently competed at the national level, which was highlighted in the White Bear Press.

A Fall Sports meeting for all participants and their parents/guardians will be taking place Wednesday, August 3 at 6 p.m. in the Community Auditorium (located at District Center). 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 Recognitions 




Before the June 13 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the following students and staff:

  • Adapted Softball
  • Sailing
  • Girls' Track
  • Boys' Track
  • Girls' Ultimate Frisbee
  • Boys' Ultimate Frisbee
  • Archery
  • Boys' Golf (unable to attend for photo)
  • Girls' Golf (unable to attend for photo)






School Board Meetings

School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
July 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
August 8 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
August 22 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center

Superintendent's Message

  • A Reader's Guide to Understanding High School Seniors

Student News

  • In Photos: Lil' Cubs K-5 Football Camp!
  • Summer activities
  • Technology experts
  • Construction projects
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities


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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

  • The 2014-15 Annual Report to the Community and 2015-16 Update was recently mailed to all community members. The Report provides a snapshot of the District, including information regarding: Student Achievement, School Climate, Student Awards, Innovation, Finance, District Profile, School Board and Partnerships. If you would like any additional copies of the publication, please contact us at communications@isd624org.
  • Summer Food Service Program - White Bear Lake Area Schools will be participating in the Summer Food Service Program where breakfast and lunch will be provided free of charge throughout the summer. Dates, times and locations can be found here.
  • Food Care Program - Willow Lane Elementary is now participating in the Food Care Program where children under the age of 18 can eat a free meal after school. The meals will be available at no separate charge to all enrolled children from 3:45-4:15 p.m. on school days. The goal of the program is to increase the opportunity for children to eat a variety of nutritious foods. For more information on this state-wide initiative, click here.
  • 2016-17 and 2017-18 Academic Calendars - The 2016-17 and 2017-18 Academic Calendars were approved at the March 14 School Board meeting. The approved 2016-17 calendar can be found here. The approved 2017-18 calendar can be found here.
  • One-stop online payments - The district offers a "one-stop" online payment system that enables families to make payments for food services, school activities and Community Education activities. The system also serves as the registration hub for middle school and high school activities. The system, new this summer, replaced multiple systems that are currently used for these purposes, including RevTrak, PayPams and ActiveNet.
  • PACER Center recently launched its National Parent Center on Transition and Employment website, which offers innovative tools, reliable research, and interactive training to support families who are going through the transition process.
  • 2015-16 Calendars - See the academic calendar here. See the activities calendar here.
  • Stay connected! - Sign up for the Community e-Newsletter, sent out twice a month. 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!
  • Additional resources:
    • Resources to help with our limited English speaking families can be found here.

Senior Program Updates:

The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department.

  • Summer activities - The Senior Center offers a variety of fun events and activities throughout the summer. See what's happening in the July issue of Senior Life.
  • Fraud and Scam Prevention session - WBLAS and the White Bear Lake Police Department have partnered to offer a free informational session to community members on how to protect themselves against fraud and scams. The session will be held Thursday, August 25 from 2 - 3:30 p.m. at the White Bear Lake Area Senior Center. Click here for the event flyer.
  • 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.
  • Craft Corner Gift Shop at the Senior Center - Open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the gift shop is the perfect place to shop for a variety of beautiful, handcrafted items. With more than 100 consignees selling their personal crafts, there is much to choose from for purchase. If anyone, over the age of 55, has any love of creating crafts, we are in need of consignees to further our inventory. The Craft Corner Gift Shop is located at Normandy Park Education Center, 2484 County Road F East.
  • 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:

  • H2O for Life - The Race 2 Reduce initiative at H2O for Life is a collaboration of stakeholders working to educate about local water resources and water conservation. White Bear Lake Area Schools is a partner in this effort and is working to align curriculum to integrate these important topics into school.
  • 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 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.
    • Save the Date! The Bear Legacy fundraising event will be held on Friday, October 14 at the North Oaks Country Club. More details to come.
    • Bleed Orange and Black T-shirts - find out how to get one by contacting the Foundation Office (651-407-7696). Cost is $10


Support WBLAS Students:

  • White Bear Lake Community Services is offering a new summer program called FLEX at Central Middle School. FLEX is designed to teach 5-7 grade students leadership and positive social interaction skills, as well as how they can make a difference in the world. FLEX is choice based and student driven. You're invited to stop by the FLEX Cafe from 7:30 - 9:30 a.m., Monday through Friday at Central Middle School this summer. The student operated FLEX Cafe offers an assortment of warm and cold beverages and tasty snacks at affordable prices. It is conveniently located on the first floor of Central in the first classroom on the right as you're entering Central from the District Center. Just look for the FLEX Cafe signs. Hope to see you there!
  • Attend an event or two this spring by finding the event schedule in the 2015-16 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.

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