June 4, 2017

Passing the Baton

"Passing the baton" is an expression sometimes used to represent passing job responsibilities to another.

In track, passing the baton is serious business. For any of you watching elementary field days this spring, or seeing our middle and high school track teams in action, you know the exchange of the baton is anything but casual.

One runner is, in effect, running through the finish line, while the next runner begins before the first runner arrives. The moment of exchange requires supreme effort and concentration from each, and a great deal of trust in one another.

Later this month, I will "pass the baton" to Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak, who will begin as superintendent of the White Bear Lake Area Schools on July 1. We have been preparing for the "exchange" during the past months to assure a smooth transition for our district.

That baton of responsibility has been passed only seven times since 1893, when F.F. Farrar became the first superintendent of our schools. At the end of June, as the eighth superintendent I will pass on the responsibilities to Dr. Kazmierczak, who will be just the ninth superintendent in this 124-year span.

As I approach my final stretch, I thank all of you -- staff, parents, board, community, and students -- for your support and efforts, and emphasize the importance of your active support for the new superintendent. Please give him the same generous welcome you gave me nine years ago.

As a school district, we are in a good place, with a solid financial position, exceptional student performance, and increasing enrollment. Our community support is strong: in a survey last month, when asked to rate our schools with a letter grade, a full 80 percent responded. And more than four in five (83%) gave our schools an A or B grade.

Colleagues, our community appreciates your dedication and commitment. Parents and community, your financial support through referenda has been deeply appreciated and wisely invested. Students, you are challenging yourselves, performing well, and demonstrating our core values of compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility, and service.

Finally, we acknowledge two special groups. First, our congratulations to the class of 2017, which will graduate next Friday. 

Secondly, congratulations to our colleagues retiring this year: 39 staff members who collectively have served the school district for more than 800 years! That means the passing of many batons this summer -- perhaps resembling an elementary field day after all!

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: STEM Water Symposium

Student News

Cherishing memories

With the end of the school year right around the corner, retirees were honored for their years of service at the annual Retirement Dinner. There are 39 dedicated district personnel retiring this year with more than 800 years of service. They were honored in downtown White Bear Lake by the White Bear Lake Area School Board. This event gives retirees an opportunity to reflect, share memories and enjoy a meal with families and colleagues. The experience was captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update. While retirees celebrated their accomplishments and enjoyed sharing memories, so did early childhood students. 


It was a party at Hugo Elementary, as families came to watch their preschool students perform at their End of the Year Celebration Event. This annual event gives preschoolers an opportunity to sing, dance and enjoy cookies with their families and loved ones. The students sing songs such as, "Five Little Ducks," "Humpty Dumpty," "Once I Caught a Fish Alive," "Tooty-Ta," "Slippery Fish" and "The Goodbye Song." While many of these songs are simple, they help to reinforce the natural rhythm of language, fine motor coordination and social interaction with peers. This is a time for students and parents to share memories, celebrate accomplishments and reflect on preschool experiences together while embracing the beginning of new experiences to come. 

There was more celebrating underway! Other early childhood students had fun and enjoyed the sunshine at their End of the Year Party at Normandy Park Education Center. Wendy's Wiggle, Jiggle and Jam performed for families and played her guitar while the students sang and danced. The experience was captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update. They also were able to climb on the playground, participate in BearPower's Veggie Vote, play with bubbles and receive a tattoo. Second and third grade students at Birch Lake Elementary also had an opportunity to showcase their musical abilities during their concert. 

Positive impact

Students put on costumes to teach others about impactful historical figures. The Explorations team at Lincoln Elementary shared a Living History Museum. This was the final presentation of a unit where students were studying the life of someone who has been an agent of change in the world. Students had displays and were dressed up in costumes to portray their selected influential person. Historical figures such as Mother Teresa, Amelia Earhart and Albert Einstein filled the gymnasium. The experience was captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update. Other elementary students took time to honor another influential person. 

A sea of yellow filled up the gymnasium and the grounds of Vadnais Heights Elementary, as students and staff participated in the school's annual Relay Recess. This opportunity brings education and community service to the classroom in a fun and exciting way. Students learned about living healthy lifestyles and how to reduce the risk of cancer. Students sported the color yellow to honor former Vadnais Heights Elementary student Sam Woods who passed away after a two-year journey with Ewing's Sarcoma. The experience was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update. They collected money that will be donated to the foundation for this rare type of cancer. This event was a great way for staff and students to honor Sam while enjoying getting active in the outdoors. 

A recent grant awarded to two teachers will also allow them to get outside and enjoy nature, but in Iceland. Vadnais Heights Area Community Foundation (VHACF), in partnership with Fund for Teachers (FFT), has awarded a $10,000 Fund for Teachers grant to Lindsay Lamwers and Matthew Skogen, science teachers at Sunrise Park Middle School. This grant provides them with an experience that will both benefit them as a teacher and also their students. Lindsay and Matt will travel to locations throughout Iceland in August and film Iceland's unique tectonic features and landforms using a special 360 degree camera and record themselves teaching. Back in the classroom, students will be able to view these special videos using Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers. Lindsay and Matt's goal is to create virtual reality experiences to which students can obtain new information, leading to an increase in learning in Earth Science. In addition to a tectonic plate boundary, Iceland is home to almost all types of volcanic and geothermal activity, including rift valleys, geysers, hot springs, mountains, and volcanoes as well as glaciers and glacial landforms. Many of these features are found only in a few places on Earth and are included in the Minnesota State Standards in Science. One of the features that they will have an opportunity to film is an actual volcano, not only from the exterior, but also from the interior. They will also snorkel the Silfra fissure, a crack between the tectonic plates, and will be able to film the actual plate boundaries, giving students an up-close view of an actual plate, illustrating the properties of the Earth's crust.

Students at Willow Lane Elementary dug into the Earth's crust as they officially opened their garden at a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. At the same time, students and staff members also celebrated the diverse population at the elementary school. Many students wore traditional clothing from their country of origin. They also dedicated a Willow Tree in honor of Superintendent Dr. Michael Lovett and a reading bench in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Gene and Shirley Ruehle and Mrs. Leigh Anderson and their commitment to the Reading Buddy Program. The experience was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update. The students ended the ceremony by harmoniously singing "What a Wonderful World." In other excellent news, three Transition Education Center students were nominated by their instructors as outstanding students/students of excellence and honored at the Career Technical Center Student Awards Program at Century College.

Exercising skills

Fourth grade students at Otter Lake Elementary performed a program titled Sea to Shining Sea. This was a culmination of their history and geography study of the United States. Students were responsible for engineering props to represent the landmarks and landforms of our country. This program is a collaboration between the fourth grade team and music specialist at Otter Lake Elementary. Students have studied the folk and patriotic music of the United States and have learned the skill of part singing and reading music. From exercising one skill to the next, for 19 years, Lakeaires Elementary has hosted the Southside Track and Field Days. Willow Lane Elementary, Matoska International and Lakeaires Elementary students lined up with their friends and tested their speed. The students were able to participate in relay races, long jump and hurdles. Students at Birch Lake Elementary were also able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors at the Birch Lake Field Day and then the Northside Track and Field Day with students from Otter Lake Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Oneka Elementary. These events allow families, friends, and staff members to come together and enjoy each other's company while cheering on students. 

Elementary students were not the only ones blasting off from the start line. High school students challenged the notion that bears can't fly, as they blasted one into space. A bear could be found floating in space that was launched by WBLSAA and Cassie Knutson's AP Chemistry class. The bear made it to about 99,321 feet. Sunrise Park Middle School students were also looking to have fun while reviewing their eighth grade Automation and Robotics class so they built small hydraulic JudoBots as an end of the year project. They even had JudoBots battles. The JudoBots are built with four components including the base, the stand, the arm, and the hydraulic system. The students studied hydraulics and pneumatics, and also looked at all of the physical forces that apply to structures. 

While some students watched their JudoBots battle, other students at Sunrise Park Middle School had a Book Swap Day in their seventh grade Language Arts classroom. This is the second year Megan Perry has hosted Book Swap Day, which provides students with an opportunity to get new reading material for the summer. Each student could bring up to three books from home that they have already read and would like to exchange for a different book. Only students who wanted to bring in books participated in the book swap, and each student went home with the number of books they brought. Not only were students busy swapping books at Sunrise Park Middle School. The sixth grade students built roller coasters in their science class for an end of the year project. Birch Lake Elementary students also got hands-on with science at their Family STEAM Night Event where there were science experiments, Lego and math challenges, coding, science, and math and engineering projects created by students at Birch Lake Elementary, North Campus, South Campus and Central Middle School. This gave students and families an opportunity to experience a day in the life of an engineer. Students at Birch Lake Elementary also embraced their creativity and had fun with a printmaking art lesson. They drew a picture of a bug, then traced it over a piece of styrofoam. Then, they rolled the styrofoam with printing ink and flipped it onto white paper. The ink takes about one week to dry. 

Whether it was wet or dry outside, a group of walkers met to take a jaunt either on the sidewalks or inside of Lincoln Elementary. Students at Lincoln Elementary's Extended Day enjoyed a beautiful morning outside for their final Morning Milers walking club gathering. The students learned how to walk, bike and how to put safe walking into action around the Lincoln neighborhood. They met for four sessions, completed five and a half miles, and enjoyed cool water bottles that were donated by BearPower. 

Getting creative

Sunrise Park Middle School students shared their International Baccalaureate (IB) Community Project at the Minnesota Department of Education in front of approximately 40 administrators, coordinators and teachers from IB Schools all over the greater metro area. The experience was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update. Their project, "Cocoa for Communication," was shared as an exemplary sample. The students wanted to take on the difficult topic of abuse, create a safe space for people to discuss the topic of abuse and also wanted to raise money to support a specific group of women in Kenya who are building a community of businesses to help empower them by having their own source of income. They learned that by supporting these women, the women create a source of income which allows them to be independent and not have to stay in dangerous situations. The students, created a website with facts and information about abuse, sold hot cocoa where students could talk about the issue, designed personalized bracelets with their URL to hand out with the cocoa and donated the money earned to WE Day pillar of Opportunity to support entrepreneurship for abused women in Kenya. Elementary students put their creative thoughts together to advocate for a good cause as well. 

Students created posters that were submitted in the 2017 National School Bus Safety Poster Contest with the theme of "My Driver - My Safety Hero!" Kindergarten student Aubrey Linder won second in state and fourth grade student Peyton Ek won third in state, in each of their respective grade levels. These two students also receive a place certificate and an invitation from the Minnesota State Patrol Office of Pupal Transportation Safety for a free ticket for themselves and a guest to be recognized on the field during the pre-game activity at the Minnesota Twins baseball game on Thursday, August 17. The other students that had a poster submitted, but did not place receive a "Bright Idea" participation certificate.

Conserving water

Students, families, staff and community members attended the first annual STEM Water Symposium where the public had an opportunity to learn about ways to conserve and protect water for the future. There were student water conservation presentations, educational workshops and a rain barrel sale and raffle. Students were also able to participate in a water conservation video contest that promoted positive water usage habits. DNR Hydrologist Paul Putzier also spoke at the event, which was free and open to the public. (Additional photos of the event can be found in the In photos section of this issue of the e-newsletter.) Middle school students also had fun splashing around with water conservation ideas. 

Eighth grade students at Sunrise Park Middle School have raised $11,000 to support H2O for Life water projects around the world throughout the last ten years. This year, they are teaming up with the White Bear Lake Rotary to provide a new water system for La Esperanza School in Costa Rica. Their goal was to raise $1,000. To work on accomplishing this, the students have sold t-shirts and Costa Rican crafts and organized a splash down event during which students and staff threw water balloons at one another.

62.4-second video updates

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



Activities Updates

Congratulations to Jack Rogowski, as he was selected to participate in the 43rd Annual 2017 Play Ball! Minnesota High School All-Star Baseball Series from June 22-24 in Chaska. 

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
June 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 
July 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
August 14 Regular 7 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

  • 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.
  • Measles Immunizations - There have been recent cases of measles in Minnesota, and White Bear lake Area Schools are urging families to ensure that their children are fully immunized against measles. Learn more about getting students immunized against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) with two doses of the MMR vaccine. 
  • 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. 
  • Dr. Lovett Retirement Open House - You are invited to attend the Retirement Open House celebrating Dr. Michael Lovett, Superintendent of White Bear Lake Area Schools on Monday, June 5 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at South Campus. Learn more information
  • Meal Refunds - If your student is graduating or leaving the district with a balance in their meal account, please complete this form to have the money refunded, transferred to a sibling or donated.
  • Meal Charge Parent Notification - Starting April 10, the district's new meal charge procedure will go into effect where students will no longer be allowed to purchase a la carte items (i.e. milk or snacks) if they do not have enough money in their accounts. Families will receive notifications when students have a low or negative balance. Read more about the procedure. 
  • 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 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.
    • 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. 
  • 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 for the current school year and 2016-17! See additional information here, and find the online application page here.

Awards and Honors

  • Vadnais Heights Area Community Foundation (VHACF), in partnership with Fund for Teachers (FFT), has awarded a $10,000 Fund for Teachers grant to Lindsay Lamwers and Matthew Skogen, science teachers at Sunrise Park Middle School. Congratulations!


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

  • Passing the Baton

Student News

  • In photos: STEM Water Symposium
  • Cherishing memories
  • Positive impact
  • Exercising skills
  • Getting creative
  • Conserving water
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates



School Board News

  • 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.