May 21, 2017

Student Insights

"What do you think?" we ask students on my Superintendent Student Advisory Committees.

Committee members, grades 6 through 12, tell us what they think, candidly and respectfully. Examples of questions we have posed the past couple of years include:

How do you make decisions on which classes to take? What more would be helpful?

What gets in the way of recycling? What could we do to get all students to recycle?

Who do you talk to when you face a difficult problem or concern?

Principals and district level administrators join me, listening to conversations, and occasionally asking questions for clarification. Mostly the discussion flows from student to student. They take turns without interrupting. 

Deciding on which classes to take? We learned that parents and counselors play a role but were surprised to discover that the "go-to" source of wisdom is older students--including brothers and sisters and team captains. We are working on ways to capitalize on this level of trust.

Recycling? Students advised a redesign of the cafeteria recycling areas to make signage more visible and improve traffic flow. Then, a high school student prepared a video and trained students to present to school advisories. Compliance is now near 100%.

Who do you talk to when you have a problem? For the majority of students, the first step is to a teacher--or other staff member--with whom they have a relationship. Said one: "Our teachers are some of the smartest people we know." And obviously trusted. In response, we have provided training to all staff to better prepare them for the times that students "choose" them to trust.

This week we met with my advisory committees for the last time this year. On the agenda was time for our school board representatives to get feedback on a presentation, which they will make available to our School Board next week. As always, students had insights and experiences to share. 

We left the meeting knowing that it is always a good idea to listen to students.

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: Fairy Tale Trials 

Student News

Family bonding

Students, staff and families started packing away to provide food to others in need around the world. More than 120 people from Matoska International's school community signed up to help pack meals for children in Third World countries at Feed My Starving Children. They packed 96 boxes, which is 20,736 meals. Staff members and students invited their families to join them to participate in the rewarding experience. Former Matoska International students even came to help out with the action goal. This opportunity gives students a global perspective while having fun making a difference in others' lives. While Matoska International's staff and students worked together for a good cause recently, their PTO also hosted a Staff Appreciation Dinner and Awards Night for approximately 70 guests to give thanks to educators and all of the staff who make a positive impact on students' development. They provided a meal, live entertainment and presented staff awards to show teachers and staff how appreciated they are. Eighth grade NJHS citizen scholars also gave a shout-out to teachers and their most memorable middle school moments in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week. This was a special time for students and staff to reflect on the impact educators have on students' lives. The shout-outs gave students an opportunity to express their gratitude while educators could reflect on their dedication to being world changers.

Two elementary school students also embraced an extremely special moment in the classroom recently. A father of an Oneka Elementary and Hugo Elementary student is in the military and has been deployed overseas for the last five months and wanted to surprise his daughters at school. He headed over to surprise one daughter in Beth Englund's classroom at Oneka Elementary and then to surprise his other daughter over at Hugo Elementary in Laurie Hahn's classroom. When the father arrived in Beth's classroom they were watching a slideshow of some photos of his travels and when he arrived in Laurie's kindergarten classroom they were reading a C-130 book about an aircraft that deploys to help the troops. The daughters were focused on class one minute, and standing up hugging their dad completely shocked the very next.

Other elementary school students invited a special visitor into their classroom, as well. Second grade students at Otter Lake Elementary had the privilege of hosting Don Rooney who was a World War II veteran and a 1940 graduate of White Bear Lake High School. He also is the owner of Rooney's Nursery. During his visit, he told students and staff about his service to the country while serving as a pilot in the Navy. He showed students pictures of the planes he piloted and answered questions. His two daughters accompanied him during his visit, and after he shared his stories the students surprised him with thank you cards. Thank you cards were not the only token of gratitude students presented to him. Students handed the World War II veteran a quilt that the students and Otter Lake Elementary Teacher Mr. Barnes' step-mother helped make. The quilt contained patriotic messages and themes that were designed by students on the fabric squares. 

Accepting Awards

Three Transition Education Center students have been nominated by their instructors as outstanding students/students of excellence. They will be honored at the Career Technical Center Student Awards Program on Thursday, May 25 at Century College. Other Transition Education Center students have been working hard at highlighting and producing a "TEC News" publication in a new class this year called TEC Popular Publications. This publication includes information about a student selected as student of the month, classroom and staff spotlights, job spotlights and upcoming events. Read the April newsletter. 

From one group of recognized outstanding students to the next. Lakeaires Elementary fifth grader Victoria Humphrey was selected to participate in the Vikings Empower Leadership Academy for Girls. She was nominated by her former fourth grade teacher. The event will be hosted on Saturday, June 10 and will focus on building the girls' confidence, leadership and resilience skills. She was one out of 50 girls selected to participate. Another student also was selected for a tremendous honor. Otter Lake Elementary's PTA picked former Otter Lake Elementary student and high school graduate Micah Anderson to receive a $500 scholarship. He was the first recipient of this type of scholarship. While Micah picked up a scholarship, other White Bear Lake Area High School students who participated in the Career and Technical program offered through Intermediate District 916 recently represented the district well and earned spots on the national stage. Students took top honors in their specialized events at the student organization State Conference - SkillsUSA. The students created a presentation related to a career pathway. They highlighted the training, mastery of the training, benefits to community and their presentation skills.

Challenging minds

A competition full of numbers was just what 12 Otter Lake Elementary students were recently looking forward to. The students participated in the regional Math Masters of Minnesota Challenge. The problem-solving competition for fifth and sixth graders included both individual and team components. The school's three teams placed seventh, twelfth, and sixteenth. There were 118 students in attendance with 25 teams competing. Math Masters challenges encourage students to use critical thinking skills while recognizing achievement and academic effort. Learn more about the experience. While students exercised their math skills at this competition, other elementary school students used numbers in a different way, to run a business. 

Birch Lake Elementary students took a trip to BizTown. The fourth grade students have been doing prep lessons to get them ready for the experience that gives them a chance to explore what it is like to run a business. Junior Achievement is the affiliate of BizTown, which is a kid-sized city in Maplewood that gives students the opportunity to participate in a simulated community and global economy while working in a collaborative atmosphere. It is a great event each year that fourth grade students participate in to meet several social studies standards. While elementary students were taking care of business at BizTown, high school students were working hard on research projects in the newly redesigned Media Center at North Campus. The collaborative space aims to encourage students to come together, enjoy one another's company and grow as a community of friends and learners. This experience was captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update

Students at Otter Lake Elementary created a collaborative atmosphere as they took fairy tales to a whole new level. Fourth grade students at Otter Lake Elementary participated in a Fairy Tale Trial project where they read two fairy tales and analyzed them from a legal point of view for the facts, as well as inferences supported by the evidence presented. The two books students read included "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Rapunzel." The defendants in each tale were charged. The tailors in "The Emperor's New Clothes" are charged with fraud and Dame Gothel in "Rapunzel" is charged with kidnapping. Each student is able to take on a role for the trial as either witnesses, attorneys, defendants, as well as a bailiff and a judge. The project concludes with the trial for each of the fairy tales. During this project, they were able to hear from two guest speakers who spoke about their roles in the legal process as a court reporter and a police officer. The Fairy Tale Trials is a project that aims to engage students in critical thinking, questioning, and persuasive speaking and writing techniques. The experience was captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update

Fun performances 

High school students took center stage as they performed "Play On." This show told the story of an amateur community theater that tries to save money by producing the murder mystery of a local inexperienced playwright. Everything that can go wrong does, and the playwright keeps changing the story and the script days before the opening show. The "Play On" plot twists and turns and brings audiences on an adventure, as the community theatre's sound cues were accidentally deleted on the eve of opening night, and the cast was at each others' throats. This show took audiences through the journey of the disastrous, but comical opening night. The experience was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update

While some high school students acted out "Play On," Central Middle School, Sunrise Park Middle School, North Campus and South Campus students all joined together to play their instruments. The middle school and high school students joined together to perform pieces they have been working hard on for the District Night of Jazz. Students took turns performing for other students, staff members and families. The event gives students an opportunity to showcase their hard work and musical abilities. The District Night of Jazz also serves as a final hurrah for students to come together while enjoying a beautiful blend of unique instruments. This event was captured in this Friday's 62.4-second video update

Inspiring learners

The newest member of the White Bear Alumni Association Mark Fitzpatrick ('71) inspired high school students at the induction ceremony held during the South Campus Awards Night. Making the world a safer place by reducing nuclear dangers was the central theme of Mark's 26 years of service to our country as an international diplomat in the U.S. Department of State and his 11 years at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISSA), a London-based world-renown think tank. He earned a reputation as a premier expert in the field of nuclear proliferation and is often requested to comment on nuclear weapons on CNN, NPR, and the BBC. He visited South Campus after the ceremony to speak with high school students about his experiences. 

Students embraced a fun experience of their own at Oneka Elementary School, as they celebrated Bike to School Day by biking and walking to class. It was a beautiful day for students to get out and enjoy the sunshine and see all the community members walking them to school. By walking and biking to school, students had the opportunity to exercise and get their brains ready for a day of learning. Bike to School Day was a great way for students to build community, exercise and have a great time enjoying the weather. This experience was captured in last week's 62.4-second video update

62.4-second video updates

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



Activities Updates

Patrick Timmons was selected as one out of 24 finalists to progress to the final round for the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Triple Threat Award. He will work with directors during the next month and progress through rehearsals and interviews, and will find out if he has been selected as the Triple Threat Award finalist at the Spotlight Showcase in June. Learn more about this honor. Congratulations to Lakeaires Elementary fifth grader Victoria Humphrey who was selected to participate in the Vikings Empower Leadership Academy for Girls. Three White Bear Lake Area Schools hockey players have been selected to attend the 2017 USA Hockey Girls Under-18 National Player Development Camps. The top girls' hockey players were selected to represent Minnesota. Learn more about this opportunity. Congratulations to the Archery Team, as their scores at the National Tournament in both the 3D and Bulls Eye tournaments qualified them to attend the World Tournament for 3D and Bulls Eye in Orlando, Florida this July.

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 May 21 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the students and staff involved with:

  • State Speech
  • Art award winners
  • North Campus H2O for Life Contest winners
  • 916 program winners
  • Middle School Choir
  • National History Day






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

Date Type Time Location
May 22 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center 
June 12 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
July 10 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.

  • Seasonal catalogs are available now! You can find them here
  • Digital Backpack information is emailed to parents every other Thursday and available here.

Parent Notices

  • Notice of Filing - The filing period for candidates to file affidavits of candidacy for the 2017 school district general election in school districts with a primary, including White Bear Lake Area Schools, is May 16-30. Learn more about the filing period.
  • 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. 
  • 2017 Marketfest Biz Kidz Vendor Application - Students can apply to have their own booth at Marketfest, free of charge, to showcase their business, non-profit or organization they want the public to be more aware of on July 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Apply today (applications will be reviewed and accepted beginning April 1 and those received after May 15 will be considered if space permits). Learn more about this opportunity.
  • STEM Water Symposium - You are invited to attend the 2017 STEM Water Symposium on Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at South Campus. Learn more
  • 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 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.
    • Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation presented its 2017 Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award to Otter Lake Elementary Paraprofessional Lori Felton and Otter Lake Elementary Special Education Coordinator Kyle Lewis. The surprise presentation took place during a staff meeting at Otter Lake Elementary. Learn more about the experience.
    • 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

  • The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation presented its 2017 Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award to Otter Lake Elementary Paraprofessional Lori Felton and Otter Lake Elementary Special Education Coordinator Kyle Lewis. Congratulations!
  • May Recognitions:
    • May 5 - School Lunch Hero Day
    • May 7-12 - National Teacher Appreciation Week
    • May 9 - National Teacher Day
    • May 10 - National School Nurses Day

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

  • Student Insights

Student News

  • In photos: Fairy Tale Trials
  • Family bonding
  • Accepting awards
  • Challenging minds
  • Fun performances
  • Inspiring learners
  • 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 Work-Study Meeting
5:30 p.m.
May 22
District Center

School Board Regular Meeting
7 p.m.
June 12
District Center

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