June 18, 2017

Hold on to what is most important

Remarks to graduating seniors of the class of 2017 on June 9 at Aldrich Arena

You had just finished third grade when I arrived as superintendent in the summer of 2008. I visited schools in the midst of summer cleaning, and often rode around with principals, learning about neighborhoods and listening to them talk proudly about their schools, staff and you.

Thursday nights at Marketfest I met many of you and your families. We gave out pencils in what you thought were designer colors. As fourth graders you were happy with anything that was free.

"My fourth grade daughter really likes school," one dad told me.

"Tell me more," I replied.

"She just made a paper chain with a link for every day until school begins!"

"You mean like kids do in December, counting the days before the holidays?"

"Yep, she really likes school!"

His daughter is one of you here tonight.

Do your remember tears or at least a bittersweet feeling at the end of your elementary school years? You were ready for summer vacation but knew would miss your teachers and friends. Never again would a year be quite the same.

This spring I asked many of you what you were looking forward to ... "summer...college...being on my own...graduation!" 

"But I don't want to graduate," one of you exclaimed.

As much as we look forward to the future, school has something we will miss dearly. 

Looking back on the past nine years watching you, I remember:

The carefree children I saw in elementary school become shy and reserved at the start of middle school. 

In middle school you were awkward. Yes, you were socially awkward. In fact, that was when you began bugging me about calling snow days.

You were physically awkward too. Arms and legs sprouted almost overnight. You kept losing your balance walking through the halls of Central and Sunrise. I finally figured out why you hung together by the lockers. You were actually holding on to one another to keep from falling.

By North Campus most of you could walk independently. North was easier because there were no sharp corners.

But you were still hanging on to one another for approval.

During high school you have emerged as accomplished young adults.

Sometimes during our conversations I remember moments from the past nine years. 

Your excitement at the fifth grade field day. Your character in the wax museum. Your pride in your seventh grade History Day project. Your remarkable progress on the athletic court or field. 

I have seen you blossom on stage, become accomplished musicians, inspiring artists, moving writers, compassionate citizens, and thoughtful conversationalists.

Class of 2017, you have grown up during these past nine years. I am grateful I have been able to witness your growth in skills, confidence, and poise.

Tonight when you come forward to receive your diploma, remember to "shake with your right hand and take with your left."

Hold on to your diploma, earned with time, encouragement and grit.

But also hold on to what you have learned during your time as Bears:

Hold on to memories of teachers and staff who put you first in their lives and will remember you;

Hold on to the friends who keep you from falling, whether in a middle school hallway, or as you walk to the stage tonight;

Hold on to the values you have learned: compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility, service, and perhaps more important now than ever, kindness;

Hold on to goals and dreams which have had their beginnings in our schools;

And wherever you go, hold on to the love we have for each of you.

Go Bears!

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: ALC, TEC and WBLAHS graduation ceremonies

Student News

Congratulations graduates!

"Pomp and Circumstance" was cued up, selfies were endless and speeches were bittersweet as the high school graduates reflected on their experiences and discussed their hopes for the future. The graduates had the opportunity to reminisce and inspire the next generation of White Bear graduates during the last week of school at the Senior Walk. The Senior Walk was a chance for approximately 200 seniors to dress in their caps and gowns and go back to their former elementary school. The experience was captured in the June 9 edition of the 62.4-second video update. After the Senior Walk, the White Bear graduates walked across the stage and received their diplomas at the White Bear Lake Area High School Commencement Exercises at Aldrich Arena on Friday, June 9. District staff sent the graduates their best wishes on their journey beyond high school. Gabriel Ijjo, Taylor Stumo-Langer, Hannah Falk and Samantha Engrav shared inspiring speeches with their fellow classmates, families and loved ones in the audience. Watch the entire White Bear Lake Area High School Graduation Ceremony. Also, hear from the newest group of White Bear Nation Alumniexactly what being a White Bear grad means to them. (Additional photos of the Graduation Ceremony can be found in the In photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter)


Prior to the White Bear Lake Area High School Commencement Exercises, Area Learning Center students walked across the stage and celebrated their graduation. All of the graduates were awarded their diplomas by their advisors, who shared the students' strengths, successes and future plans. Graduates Kevin Wann and Eli Hanusa shared their experiences and words of wisdom with the audience about life before and after graduation. Ayan Abdilahi, Jake Birchland, Eli Hanusa, Hailey Hopkins and Kevin Wann were all recognized as Students of Excellence. Also, Kevin Wann was named the 2017 Academic Achiever. 

Also, during the final week of school, the Transition Education Center Commencement took place, where 16 students celebrated graduation. Like the Area Learning Center, this graduation ceremony is unique in that every graduate is highlighted individually. Staff called up each graduate and shared their accomplishments and future aspirations. This year's keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Lovett. Following his remarks, was this year's Farewell Address given by 2017 graduate Will Hamilton. Watch his entire speech. After the ceremony, all guests were invited to attend the reception and enjoy a treat along with one another's company.

The Title VI Indian Parent Committee conceptualized and carried out a ceremony to honor the Native American seniors. This recognition ceremony included the presentation of a beaded Eagle feather in honor of their accomplishments. Jerry Dearly was the presenter of the feathers. He explained to the students, among other things, how the feather is to be used traditionally. The Parent Committee members actually beaded the feathers and provided an engraved wooden carrying case to each graduate. An eagle feather is given as a traditional symbol of an accomplishment of a member of the community. It is something they can carry with them their whole life!

High school graduates were not the only ones to celebrate the next step in their lives. Fifth grade students across the district attended ceremonies to recognize their hard work throughout their school career, thus far. While they may have a few more years before receiving their high school diploma, family and friends gathered to send them off to middle school. There were many fun performances and accomplishments to share at the fifth grade graduation ceremonies. There were also graduation ceremonies held for students in the Bear FUNdamentals program. At these ceremonies, students sang and danced while enjoying pictures and hugs with their family and friends after the performances. While the school year ended, summer school kicked off at Birch Lake Elementary, Central Middle School and Lincoln Elementary. Students will have the opportunity to experience hands-on learning through a variety of activities such as touring the Police Station, visiting CHS Field and walking to the White Bear Lake Library. Summer school is run district wide. 


A beautiful piece of artwork reflecting patriotism made one soon-to-be eighth grade student the winner of an art contest. Megan Harrington won first place at the state level of the VFW Patriotic Art Explorers Contest. The Central Middle School student was recently recognized for her accomplishments at the state convention. Congratulations Megan! From one art success story to the next, Nolan Von Walter was the Manitou Days Button Contest winner and Rosemary Zarate was the runner-up. Nolan and the students in his fifth grade classroom celebrated with a pizza party at Lakeaires Elementary. Color, color and more color. Students and staff at Birch Lake Elementary enjoyed running around the grounds and getting decorated with a variety of colors at the Color Run. Staff held bottles of orange, blue and purple powder and dusted the students as they ran by. The experience was captured in the June 9 edition of the 62.4-second video update. This provided the school with an exciting way to celebrate the end of the year while enjoying the sunshine and one another's company. Also, the videos were voted upon for the water conservation video contest at the 1st Annual STEM Water Symposium. Watch these masterpieces

Students' detailed choreography, harmonious vocals and convincing acting captured an audience's attention at Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Showcase. Students who performed in the Fall Musical created a masterpiece during their performance of "Step in Time" from Mary Poppins. The whole auditorium erupted as the White Bear students brought down the house. They felt great about their performance and the audience's response exceeded their expectations. This is the eighth consecutive year the WBLAHS Theatre Program has received high Spotlight honors! Watch their full performance. The Spotlight Showcase highlights hard work and talents of the state's finest musical theatre students and programs. 

Getting scientific

The eighth grade Automation and Robotics class at Sunrise Park Middle School had JudoBots battles during their last week of school to tie in all of their conversations about hydraulics, pneumatics and to review all of the movements that occur in a robotic arm. In Sunrise Park Middle School's sixth grade Project Lead the Way classes, they were working on a sailboat project that the students designed on the Engineering CAD Program called Autodesk Inventor. The experience was captured in the June 9 edition of the 62.4-second video update. These classes are part of Project Lead the Way curriculum. Project Lead the Ways is a national organization and a leading provider of science technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs across the country. While some science experiments were conducted on land, others went skyrocketing into space. The WBLSAA (White Bear Lake Student Astronomical Association) partnered with South Campus, Matoska International and the University of Minnesota to learn about, experiment with and participate in a high altitude ballooning. Their balloon traveled to approximately 100,000 feet with two bears and multiple experiments related to sound, pressure and temperature. The balloon brought back a large amount of data for students to analyze and some spectacular pictures. The two bears were given to Karen Brabenec and Dr. Michael Lovett in recognition of their efforts and dedication to students' work. After students cheered for Karen, who is a special education teacher at Willow Lane Elementary, they geared up for a Talent Show. Students danced, sang and played guitar for their friends and staff members. Before students geared up for summer, special reptile creatures visited students at Lakeaires Elementary.

Exciting opportunities

Middle school students embraced National History Day's theme by Taking a Stand in History, as they showcased their exhibits at the National History Day Contest. The National Contest is the final stage of a series of contests that have been happening at the local and state levels. Evey year, nearly 3,000 students gather at the University of Maryland, College Park with families and teachers for the event. Sullivan Gunderson, Alexander Lockwood, Ernest Mattson and Oreoluwa Olusi displayed their group exhibit that was ninth in the nation called "Don Haskins: Standing at the Line to Break the Color Line." Emma Wickstrom displayed her individual exhibit, as well as Aliyah Hamlin who took third place at National History Day with her exhibit called "Loving v. Virginia: Taking a Stand For Marriage." Next year's theme is Conflict and Compromise in History.

While students displayed their hard work at National History Day, White Bear Lake Area Schools, local vendors and BearPower offered the community exciting opportunities at the first Marketfest of the season. Families and community members could vote on veggies by giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to both jicama and carrots at the BearPower booth. Also, the district had a table full of fun, as community members could receive a Bear Paw tattoo. The exciting opportunities did not end at Marketfest, as community members, district staff members and students later lined up for the Manitou Days Grand Parade. District students are heavily involved with the upcoming Manitou Days celebrations, with district winners in the poster contest, button contest, writing contest, and Marketfest t-shirt design art contest. Visit the district's booth on Thursdays until the end of July, in Downtown White Bear Lake to receive a free pencil and Bear Paw decal. 

62.4-second video updates

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



Activities Updates

Megan Harrington won first place at the state level of the VFW Patriotic Art Explorers Contest. Fifth grade student Nolan Von Walter was the Manitou Days Button Contest winner and Rosemary Zarate was the runner-up. For the eighth consecutive year, the White Bear Lake Area High School Theatre Program received accolades from the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Musical Theatre Program. Recently, many WBLAHS students participated in the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Showcase. White Bear Lake Area High School boys' and girls' golf team athletes competed at the state competition and will be honored at the July School Board Recognition Ceremony. Go Bears!

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 12 School Board Meeting, the following students were recognized by the School Board for state- and national-level honors:

  • School Bus Safety Poster Contest winners
  • Archery Team
  • Boys' Track Team member
  • Girls' Track True Team
  • South Campus Student Council




School Board Meetings
School Board meeting agendas, packets, minutes highlights and videos/audio files can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
July 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 
August 14 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
August 28 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center 

For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click 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.

Parent Notices

  • School Board acts on HR Director to begin June 20 - The White Bear Lake Area School District is pleased to announce the selection of Mitch Cooper as the Director of Human Resources. Learn more.
  • Annual Report mailed - The "2015-16 Annual Report to the Community and 2016-17 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 additional copies of the publication, please contact the Communications Department at 651-407- 7695.
  • Communications Survey Results - Thanks to the nearly 900 parents who recently responded to a district communications survey. We are incorporating the results into recommended improvements in our district communications efforts. A few highlights:
    • Overall, parents feel well informed.
    • Trust levels in various district information sources are high.
    • Many parents feel overwhelmed by the length, volume and multiple sources of information from teachers, schools and the district.
  • Walk for Water - On Saturday, July 15 there will be an opportunity to walk around White Bear Lake to raise money for a well in Cambodia. Learn more and register today.
  • Free Summer Meals - There are free summer meals available throughout the community for kids and teens who are 18 years old and younger. Learn more
  • Summer Activities in Ramsey County - Check out all of the free summer activities available in Ramsey County including summer camps, movies and concerts. 
  • Senior Program Guides - The Senior Program has two new guides available for seniors. Learn more about the White Bear Area Guide to Senior Housing and the White Bear Area Guide to Senior Transportation. 
  • Summer Wrestling Camp - Students have an opportunity to attend the Augsburg/Bears Youth Wrestling Camp, which will take place on July 24, 25, 26 and 27 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Learn more information about how to register today. 
  • 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.

  • 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! 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.
    • Marketfest Volunteers - BearPower is looking for volunteers to work at their Marketfest booth this summer where they will be hosting veggie tastings, spin the wheel, life size connect four and more. Please email Julia.a.johnson@lakeview.org if you are interested in helping out this summer. 
    • Family FUN Night - You and your family are invited to attend Family FUN Night on Thursday, June 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lions Park.
  • 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.
    • Golf Tournament - Annual WBLAEF Golf Tournament is on Monday, June 26 at Indian Hills Golf Club. Learn more about registration.
    • Bleed Orange and Black T-shirts - Find out how to get a t-shirt by contacting the Foundation Office at 651-707-7696. The cost is $10.

Support WBLAS Students:

  • Be a Bear! The district currently has many staff openings available! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.

Awards and Honors

  • Bears that were launched into space nearly 100,000 feet by students were given to Karen Brabenec and Dr. Michael Lovett for their efforts and dedication to students' work. 

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


Superintendent's Message

  • Hold on to what is most important

Student News

  • In photos: ALC, TEC and WBLAHS graduation ceremonies
  • Congratulations graduates!
  • Masterpieces
  • Getting scientific
  • Exciting opportunities
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates



School Board News

  • School Board Recognitions
  • School Board Meetings


District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors

School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
July 10
District Center

School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
August 14
District Center

School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
August 28
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.