March 12, 2017

How We Use Time
This month our School Board approved school calendars for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Our process for developing a school calendar is a long one, beginning early last fall, seeking suggestions and priorities from staff and parents. The proposed calendar was presented to the School Board in public meetings twice in February and was posted online. Based on additional feedback from staff and parents, minor changes were included in the calendar approved this month.

Our local preferences need to fit into the parameters set forth by state law. For example, by legislative mandate, school classes may not begin in the fall until after Labor Day, except as permitted by a few exceptions listed in statutes.

What is different for 2017-18? Many of you may initially focus on the length of the winter holiday break, the placement of spring break, and whether the calendar will allow flexibility for travel before Thanksgiving.

The 2017-18 calendar also continues a "Welcome Back" elementary school parent-teacher conference just before school begins. We first piloted this "extra conference" last fall. Feedback from staff and parents was overwhelmingly positive.

For 2017-18, we have made some minor changes in the time and format of these conferences based on feedback. All elementary schools families will continue to have the opportunity for three parent conferences, one just before school begins for the year, another before Thanksgiving, and a third in the spring. These meetings are an important time for us to make sure we are communicating well, listening to parents, and addressing the learning and support needs for every child.

Beginning with 2017-18, we have also added some time during the year for our teachers to work closely together to understand the progress that each student is making, and determine how we can improve our instructional strategies and practices mid-year.

For some students this will be seen as a "day off," but teachers and administrators will be hard at work. Building this time into the schedule will mean fewer days when teachers are out of the classroom for professional development, collaboration, and planning. That means fewer times that students ask their teachers, "Where were you yesterday?"

Our best wishes to all our staff, students and families for a wonderful spring break. We look forward to seeing you again on Monday, March 20!


Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: Tree Tapping at Tamarack

Student News

Pancakes and pj's

Students and families at Tamarack learned from first-hand experience what it means to transform sap into delicious maple syrup. The students and families started their adventure by walking to the "sugar bushes" where they tapped maple trees for sap. They started by drilling into maple trees and looking to see if they could spot any liquid. Next, they hammered spiles into the trees that will help the sap drip into buckets as it collects over the spring. After the adventure into the woods, the families and students went into the classroom to taste last year's maple syrup. The students were able to enjoy the maple syrup drizzled on top of pancakes for a snack.

Students at Birch Lake Elementary woke up and stayed in their pajamas as they headed to school for a Read All Day Event. The students continued to celebrate "I Love to Read" Month by wearing their pajamas, bringing blankets and pillows to class and doing as much reading as possible. While one day the students wore pajamas, the next day both students and teachers dressed up as their favorite book characters to spark conversations about fun books to read. Students also took a break from the books and got busy jumping to celebrate the end of their Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. 

Now starring

Students at Otter Lake and Oneka Elementary Schools are preparing for their productions of "Musicville," a story about Maiden Melody and Radical Rhythm trying to save their town from the Sorcerer of Silence. Otter shows are on April 7, 8 and 9 at the Maplewood Community Center. Click here to order tickets for the Otter production. Oneka shows are April 20, 22 and 23 at the Maplewood Community Center. Tickets for the Oneka production will go on sale March 20. Tickets to Lincoln Elementary's production of "Peter Pan, Jr." are available at Truly in Downtown White Bear Lake. The show will be performed on the Community Auditorium Stage the evenings of March 31 and April 1 with a matinee performance planned for April 2. Find additional information here. While elementary students are preparing for their shows, the middle school musical rehearsals of Lion King, Jr. are in full swing. Find information about the production, with tickets available to the public March 20, here. Additionally, high school students are getting ready to audition for the spring theater production, "Play On!" Click here for more information about auditions.

Central Middle School band students also recently benefited from a music stage, with guest composer Aaron Perrine coming in for a seventh grade band class. While a classroom visitor by a composer is always a rare treat, what makes this experience even more special is that the students are currently rehearsing Perrine's piece "April." The visit provided a natural tie to student lessons on large concepts from the piece, while the students also heard about what it means to be a composer and learned about the composing process. The classroom visit was covered in Friday's 62.4-second video update here.

Creating community

Several months ago, Action Ambassadors visited the kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms at Matoska to gather ideas of what issues were important to the Matoska community. Then, they brought those ideas back to Matoska's Action Team meeting and narrowed down the list of concerns brought up most by students. After a vote, the Action Team decided that they would focus on issues of hunger this year and the Ambassadors would be leading Matoska in all school Action Projects. There are committees working on setting up a Matoska service day with Feed My Starving Children, two groups working with local organizations to fight hunger and one group is raising money to donate to Heifer International. The group focusing on Heifer International organized a Book Drive in connection to "I Love to Read" Month where they asked Matoska students to donate used books for the cause. They collected more than 500 books and are selling each of them to students for 25 cents. All of the proceeds will go towards purchasing animals for families in need through Heifer International. 

Transition Education Center and White Bear Lake Area High School's South Campus Programs hosted the 7th annual Community Partner Event. This event provided students with the opportunity to express their appreciation to community partners that are opening their doors to give students the chance to learn valuable employability skills. The event was standing room only, attended by community members, students and staff. See the event video here and the press release here. The students and families also had an opportunity to learn about resources in the White Bear Lake community by attending Conference Night Resources, aimed at promoting services and resources available to individuals with and without disabilities. Resources featured at the event included the White Bear Lake Food Shelf, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Disability Linkage Line.

School visitors

While students may be used to seeing Ronald McDonald on billboards, they were in for a special surprise when he visited Lakeaires Elementary to show students about how to be respectful to others. The Step to Respect show incorporated songs, props and audience participation into the performance to give students the opportunity to learn about respect in a hands-on approach. They explained how the definition of respect means treating others in a way that makes them feel cared for and important. At the end of the performance, they had students and teachers participate in a game show to review the content covered in the show.

Though it didn't involve a game show, Central Middle School students were entertained at Friday morning's Career Cafe when Dr. Melissa Samuelsson, a neurologist with a specialty epilepsy for Health Partners and Regions Hospital, visited. Dr. Samuelsson shared with our students information about the academic journey it takes for a person to become a medical doctor, in addition to the character traits of perseverance and strong work ethic required. Dr. Samuelsson also brought along some of the tools she uses to help her discover what might be going on with her patients and even put one of our students, her daughter Sofia's, reflexes to the test.

Creature teachers

Normandy Park Education Center transformed into a zoo for its Rad Zoo Family Event. Families were invited to explore creatures in the reptile and amphibian world including snakes, turtles, frogs and more. They were able to learn about habitats, eating habits and life cycles. Families were even able to pet and view the reptiles and amphibians up close. The experience was covered in the 62.4-second video update shared out on March 3. See the video here.

In other slippery-creature news, and on the other end of the age spectrum, high school students in the White Bear Lake Area High School Fishing Club recently heard from guest speaker Seth Feider, who is the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series "Angler of the Year." Advisor Jacob Montgomery reports that the evening was a fantastic informational session for the students, who enjoyed learning from one of the best. The fishing club is in its second year of being a club offered at White Bear Lake Area High School.

Celebrating culture, creativity, kindness

High school students embraced their creativity as they worked with Wing Young Huie to establish a body of student-focused work for his collection that will be presented at the White Bear Center for the Arts, as well as at a gallery located at both North and South Campus. This activity gives tenth grade students the opportunity to describe their culture, as they work toward literary and self-analysis of individual cultures, which is part of their tenth grade summative assessment. These students completed a "chalk talk" based on the adjectives they used to describe their culture and took pictures of themselves with their "cultural word" that will be used as an artistic medium that accompanies an essay about the culture they have chosen to represent themselves. 

At Vadnais Heights Elementary, students stopped, dropped, and read in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday. Students from all grade levels formed a reading train in the hallways on Read Across America Day to celebrate the author's accomplishments. Students were able to read their favorite books for approximately ten minutes. While students had the opportunity to read and celebrate literacy, they were also able to recently enjoy a Kindness Retreat. See the 62.4-second video update that featured the reading train here.


62.4-second video updates

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



Activities updates

The Bears' Swim Team recently found great success. The 200 freestyle relay broke the team record, and as a result of his strong effort at the Section 4AA Swim/Dive meet, Abe Townley qualified for the Minnesota State High School League's State Boys' Swimming and Diving Meet in the 50 yard freestyle and the 100 yard freestyle. He took home third place in the 50 freestyle at State. The WBLAHS Bears' Fishing Club recently learned from a very gracious and informative guest speaker, 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series "Angler of the Year' Seth Feider. The White Bear Lake Area High School Student Literary Magazine Sensicality was the only student literary journal in Minnesota to receive the highest award possible from The Program to Recognize Excellence in Student Literary Magazines. See the full press release here. The Girls' Basketball Team will compete in a State Tournament Quarterfinal game on Tuesday, March 14 at the Target Center. Tickets will be available for sale at the WBLAHS - South Campus front office on Monday, March 13. See full details here.


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 approves new hires to begin July 1
The District is pleased to announce the selection of three members of the leadership team who will begin their employment July 1, 2017: superintendent, Otter Lake Elementary principal, and WBLAHS activities director. Find the full press release here.

School Board approves 2017-18 academic calendar
At the March 6, 2017 Regular Meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board approved the 2017-18 academic calendar. The approved 2017-18 calendar includes staggered "first day" experiences for secondary, elementary and kindergarten students. Students in grades 6-12 will begin the school year on Tuesday, September 5. The first day of the year for students in grades 1-5 will be Wednesday, September 6, and kindergarten students will begin school on Thursday, September 7. Find the full press release here.

School Board Recognitions
Before the March 6 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the students and staff involved with:

  • Scholastic Art Award winners
  • HS Honor & All-State Choir
  • HS Honor & All-State Band
  • SEC music students
  • Nordic Ski Team members



To see clips from the recognition ceremony, watch this 62.4-second video update here

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

Date Type Time Location
March 27 Work-Study  5:30 p.m. District Center 
April 10 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 24 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center 



For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here


Superintendent's Message

  • How We Use Time

Student News

  • In photos: Tree Tapping at Tamarack
  • Pancakes and pj's
  • Now starring
  • Creating community
  • School visitors
  • Creature teachers
  • Celebrating culture, creativity, kindness
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board approves new hires to begin July 1
  • School Board approves 2017-18 academic calendar
  • School Board Recognitions
  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors


School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
March 27
District Center

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

School Board Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
April 24
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.