May 20, 2018

Student News

  • A Note from the Superintendent
  • In photos: BearPower Family Breakaway Bike Ride
  • Active Bears
  • Exciting accomplishments
  • Growth opportunities
  • Celebrating culture & art
  • The Week in 62.4 Seconds
  • Activities updates


School Board News

  • School Board Recognitions
  • School Board Meetings


District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors


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A Note from the Superintendent
This spring has been a busy one, and we will remain in fast forward as end-of-the year festivities approach. 

Amidst the flurry of activity, projects focused on safety and security have continued to progress. Entrances at some of our buildings will be completed in more secure fashions yet this school year. We also are starting to work with the Minnesota School Safety Center, discussing building safety audits and school safety best practices. The safety and security initiatives will continue throughout the summer and are expected to be considerations in our upcoming Comprehensive Facilities Planning process.

This week's School Board meeting was well-attended, with high school students finishing up their public meeting attendance requirement and audience members looking for updates on district initiatives and recommendations. A Strategic Planning informational video debuted at the meeting, providing information about the plan that was approved by the School Board in April. This summer, district leadership will build plans within the plan's eight strategies. Initiatives will be implemented in three phases, with the first phase happening within the first one to two years, the second phase in three to four years, and the third phase happening in five years and beyond. 

The district's International Baccalaureate programs also were acted upon at the meeting. The School Board voted to continue the Primary Years Programme (PYP) at Matoska International and to discontinue the Middle Years Programme (MYP) at the middle schools. Moving forward, we will work with our families and staff members, valuing insights and passion while working together to continuously improve all of our programs. Additional information and presentation links for each item can be found in this week's School Board Meeting Highlights document.

Thank you, staff and family members, for your support of our students as we begin to wrap up a terrific year!

Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak

In photos: BearPower Family Breakaway Bike Ride

Student News

Active Bears

It's National Bike Month and the White Bear community knew all the fun ways to celebrate staying active! Students started off their school day with a bit of excitement by participating in their very own Walk/Bike to School Day where they hopped on their bicycles and walked to get to their classrooms. The fun was captured in this video. The biking fun didn't stop at Birch Lake Elementary. Families put their pedals to the metal this weekend, as they enjoyed the outdoors and being active together at the BearPower Family Breakaway Bike Ride. Before the event, children had the opportunity to learn about bike safety at a Bike Rodeo. Participants lined up at the start line and prepared for their desired course. Bikers could either enjoy a Baby Bear, Bear Cub (3.5 miles) or Bear Family (8.25 miles) course.

The activeness continued as students at Otter Lake Elementary enjoyed their Rainbow Run. Everyone could participate at their own pace of either walking or running while they got "rainbowed" with color out on the course. Families were also able to enjoy running and getting sprinkled with colors at the Hugo/Oneka Color Run. The proceeds from this event will help the Hugo and Oneka PTA support students and teachers in the classroom. In other fun news at Hugo Elementary, first grade students were able to embrace their musical talents, as they performed at their concerts. While some students were active performing, other Bears were busy on the field making the Lacrosse Out Cancer event a success. This was a boy's lacrosse game to support their coach Ryan Bartlett, as they aimed to raise funds to support Ryan, who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In other athletic news, other students' hard work recently paid off as there was a Signing Celebration at WBLAHS - South Camus for student athletes who signed National Letters of Intent and plan on continuing their sports at the NCAA Division I or II level.

Exciting accomplishments

High school students Lauren Loppnow and Alec Rautenberg submitted winning essays for the Ramsey County Bar Association Law Day Essay Contest. The students were invited to attend a special awards ceremony to be recognized for their hard work and creativity. Other students have been hard at work, as they have been preparing for their balloon flight. Associate Director of the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium Dr. James Flaten even visited WBLAHS - South Campus to talk to students about high altitude ballooning! Other high school students have also been embracing their knowledge and skills by contributing to Sensicality, the White Bear Lake Area High School's Student and Literary Journal. This publication includes students' art, photography and writing. Copies are available to purchase for $5 from the Writing Center or by contacting Carolyn Youngbauer. Check out this video of students' artwork.

From artwork to the spotlight, high school students recently performed the 2018 White Bear Lake Area High School Spring Play "Antigone in Munich" for community members. White Bear Lake playwright Claudia Haas wrote "Antigone in Munich." The rehearsals for the performances were captured in this video. The show chronicled the work of World War II German resistance fighter Sophie Scholl-her coming of age and developing from bystander to witness to activist within the White Rose Society. From the stage to the pasture, some students from the Transition Education Center enjoyed a unique opportunity, as they visited Acres for Life in Chisago. Acres for Life provides equine assisted psychotherapy and learning programs for people of all ages. They had the opportunity to meet with three of their staff members who explained their program and allowed them to have time in the pasture with the horses. Students explained that the experience was peaceful and calming. 

Growth opportunities

Students at Lakeaires Elementary transformed into bakers, as they tied up their aprons and made delicious wheat bread that they were able to later enjoy. They were able to knead their own dough, which seemed to be one of their favorite steps of the process. While some students enjoyed wheat bread, community members had the opportunity to enjoy refreshments and a brief update of ongoing initiatives in service to area seniors at the Community Forum on Seniors Celebration. Attendees could learn more information regarding transportation, housing, health, services and recreation. Participants could also tour the Hanifl Performing Arts Center, which is the home of Lakeshore Players Theatre and Children's Performing Arts. The opportunity was highlighted in this video. Other community members enjoyed a fun moment, as one cribbage player at the White Bear Area Senior Program's Senior Center received the highest score possible! Great job, Ervin Merkling!

At Sunrise Park Middle School, in the Manufacturing Education class, eighth grade students were measuring, manufacturing and pattern making. This is the first and only time students were able to work with sheet metal to form the roofs for their bird houses. Check out the students hard at work in this video. Other eighth grade students at Sunrise Park Middle School were working on their robotic arms while the sixth grade students tested their air skimmers and drawings on the CAD (computer-aided design) program. These air skimmers are objects that can speed across the floor and have wings like a paper airplane. The students were able to test their products by launching them on the floor and observing how far and quick they could travel. While some students explored manufacturing, Bek Lillo was recognized for creativity by receiving a National Medal in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The award was a Silver Medal for the sculpture entitled Form of Canine! Another student at WBLAHS - North Campus embraced their creativity by completing a pixel painting as a solo project. The outcome was a colorful and vibrant masterpiece!

Students at WBLAHS - North Campus were recently busy baking, selling, and delivering dog biscuits to staff members. After the dog biscuit experience, they were actually able to travel to Animal Humane Society for community based instruction (real life educational experiences for students) to hear a presentation about careers working with animals. They were also able to tour the shelter. The experience was highlighted in this video. In other fun animal news, students at Matoska International had the unique experience of watching eggs hatch and raising ducklings! From watching animals grow to helping a garden flourish, students in the FLEX Middle School Program at Central Middle School are getting invaluable hands-on experience working in a hay bale garden by having fun with planting, watering, maintenance and harvesting. This garden was funded by a BearPower Ambassador grant. Half of the harvest will be donated to the White Bear Lake Area Emergency Food Shelf and the remaining portion will be split between the FLEX program and to those who participate in the gardening process. Other students at Vadnais Heights Elementary embraced giving back with food. Student Council made a service project possible for second, third and fourth grade students where they all worked together to make sandwiches for the Sandwich Man, who distributes food to those in need throughout the Twin Cities area. 

Celebrating culture & art

Oneka Elementary students recently traveled to the White Bear Center for the Arts for the Oneka Fifth Grade Living History Portrait Field Trip. During their time, they had fun with portrait drawings, background collages, scavenger hunts and lunch. The Living History project is the annual capstone project for Oneka's fifth graders where students choose a famous person and conduct rigorous research. Besides writing a biography paper, students complete many assignments demonstrating their understanding of the person's challenges and achievements. To fulfill the "portrait" requirement of the project, Oneka fifth graders embraced their trip to the White Bear Center for the Arts where they did drawings of their famous person and combined this with advanced collage making techniques. The artistic opportunities were captured in this video. The exciting experiences will continue around this capstone project, as students will host a Living History Museum Night on Wednesday, May 30 at Oneka Elementary. They will be dressed in costumes and present large poster boards or websites that showcase all their learning. 

Students from Hmong Heritage Club and the afterschool dance program at WBLAHS - South Campus helped Matoska International students learn, as they presented and performed for them, celebrating Hmong American Day on May 14. This day is about honoring Hmong history, culture and achievements in the United States. Elementary students were able to learn more about the Hmong language, ask presenters questions and explore culturally significant items. Other students and families had the opportunity to embrace a learning experience together at the Birch Lake Elementary Latino Family Night. The night started with dinner and a time for families to connect with one another while meeting staff members from throughout the district. After the meal, students could enjoy activities while families were able to ask Principal Jonathan Luknic questions and meet with the district's technology team. 

The Week in 62.4 Seconds

Enjoy The Week in 62.4 Seconds videos highlighting weekly district activities throughout the school year.



Activities Updates

Members of the WBLAHS Lacrosse Team hosted the Lacrosse Out Cancer event, where they played a game to support their coach Ryan Bartlett who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. High school senior Dan Johnson was recently announced an Academic All-American for swimming, which is an award given out by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. High school student Bek Lillo received a National Medal in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The award was a Silver Medal for the sculpture entitled Form of Canine. 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 May 14 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized students and staff involved with the following:

  • Minnesota D.A.R.E. Statewide Poster Contest 
  • MNSOTA Middle Level Honor Orchestra 
  • MBDA 6-8 All-State Honor Band 
  • MS Honor Choir 
  • History Day 




To see clips from the recognitions during the ceremony, watch the May 18 edition of The Week in 62.4 Seconds video. During the May 14 School Board meeting, Student Liaison Ashley Rensted was awarded the Minnesota School Boards Association Student School Board Member Scholarship! Congratulations and go Bears!

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

Date Type Time Location
May 21 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
June 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center 
July 16 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center


For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here.