November 26, 2017

Student News

  • In photos: Ryan Family Art Grants
  • Moving hearts
  • Exercising skills
  • Hardworking Bears
  • Communal experiences
  • The Week in 62.4 Seconds
  • Activities updates


School Board News

  • School Board Recognitions
  • School Board Meetings


District News

  • General Information
  • Awards and Honors

A Note From the Superintendent
The first Strategic Planning meeting was a success, with a collaborative atmosphere and many great ideas being shared. There is still time to get involved with shaping the future of White Bear Lake Area Schools. The Action Team meetings are tentatively scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. on the following evenings: Nov. 30, Dec. 14, Jan. 4 & 18, and Feb. 1 & 15. Action Team meetings will take place at White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus. If you are interested in volunteering on an Action Team, complete the registration form. For additional information about the Strategic Planning process, click here.

Wayne Kazmierczak, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In photos: Ryan Family Art Grants

Student News

Moving hearts

Families who wondered what it would be like to watch an inspiring and heartwarming movie together at the Emagine White Bear Theatre were able to make the experience a reality. Recently, more than 500 students and family members attended an exclusive viewing of the movie "Wonder" at the theatre. This movie is about a child, August Pullman, who has facial differences and enters the fifth grade where August attends an elementary school for the first time. "Wonder" inspires individuals to act with kindness, stand up against bullying and never to judge others based on their appearances. The Oneka Elementary fourth grade teachers read "Wonder" as a read aloud last year so this year the fifth grade teachers read the sequel "Auggie & Me." The school's current third and fourth grade teachers read "Wonder" and the second grade teachers read the picture book "We're All Wonders," which is by the same author. Oneka Elementary's PTA supported the initiative by purchasing the books with Scholastic Dollars from their book fairs. Principal Teresa Dahlem explained how viewing the movie that showcased messages of acceptance, kindness and empathy was one of the best experiences families have done together as a school. 

Willow Lane Elementary and Vadnais Heights Elementary students enjoyed a another fun experience with a trip to the Minnesota State Capitol. They had an exciting tour of the building where students were in awe of the spaces. One of the students exclaimed upon entering, "this place is huge!" They saw the House of Representatives Chamber from way up high in the balcony. Additionally, they saw the Supreme Court and sat in the benches at the back, imagining what it would be like to watch a trial. They had fun finding symbols of Minnesota everywhere including the loon, the ladyslipper and the gopher. When their tour was over, Senator Wiger told them that the most important things to him are respect for everyone and education. He yelled, "go Bears" with them all. As they waited for the bus, they counted the steps up to the front door, twice! Students said they feel that everyone should go have a look sometime! 

Extended Day students have been active and engaged with experiences ranging from learning traditional Chinese dance and the use of fans and handkerchiefs, to packing gratitude boxes, to testing their skills and strength on the Ninja Warrior course. Extended Day programs also visited The Works, participated in an onsite presentation with the Raptor Center and played at Edinborough Park. Middle school students participated in a pizza party and open skate with friends at the Hippodrome. On one of the coldest days yet this fall, FLEX students also spent a day learning outdoor survival skills ranging from what to bring for a hike in the woods, how to build an outdoor shelter and a fire and how to orienteer in the woods. The FLEX program is open many non-school days to current fifth and eighth graders, and after school at both Sunrise Park Middle School and Central Middle School for sixth through eighth graders. 2017-18 non-school days are part of the Adventure Series specifically designed to challenge and inspire middle school youth. The non-school day on Thursday, Jan. 25 will include a paintball field trip.

While FLEX students navigated the woods, earlier in November, elementary, middle and high school students also did some exploring when they went to the Xcel Energy Center for WE Day. At the event, they were able to hear from artists and speakers that aimed to inspire them to make changes to help the world become a better place. After this event, a speaker came in from WE to help kickoff the eighth grade IB Community Project at Central Middle School. The speaker talked to students about how to take action to help make communities better locally, nationally and globally. Following the speech, the speaker met with students in a Service Learning Workshop. This gave students an opportunity to put together a plan to take action in their community. The experience was recently captured in last week's The Week in 62.4 Seconds video. One group of students came up with an idea to address water consumption and conservation by encouraging individuals to pay attention to how long they take showers.

Exercising skills

Breathing, perfecting a bow hold and playing beautiful tunes together were just several of the fun components making one Ensemble Day such a success at Matoska International. The experience was recently captured in last week's The Week in 62.4 Seconds video. Fifth grade orchestra students have the opportunity every six days to participate in Ensemble Day where they perform different musical exercises. At one point in the day, students focused on their breathing and listened to how when they breathed together it positively impacted the sound and unity of the music. Matoska International students are preparing for their concert that will take place in February with Lakeaires Elementary, Vadnais Heights Elementary and Willow Lane Elementary. In other exciting news at Matoska International, the school received a generous donation of $500 from the Judy Craig Group for having the most attendees at the Family Yoga Day event. The money will be used to benefit the physical education department at the school.

A group of students from WBLAHS - South Campus and the Transition Education Center benefited by attending a work site tour of RedTeam Security, an information security consulting firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota. RedTeam specializes in offensive security and works with organizations to identify and address vulnerabilities in their security systems. RedTeam staff members taught students about the growing need for professionals in the field of cyber security, the physical and digital tools used in the work and the diverse range of skills required to meet the needs of their customers. All students who took part in the tour are currently enrolled in either a high school or college-level IT course, and they left with a wealth of new information and an excitement about their career prospects in the field. Other students had fun using their skills and compassion to serve community members in the White Bear Lake area. White Bear Lake hockey players, in seventh, eighth and ninth grade, and four adult drivers volunteered to deliver Blizzard Boxes to 54 Meals on Wheels recipients. Each Blizzard Box contains two shelf-stable meals along with information on emergency preparedness and other resources.

Hardworking Bears

The whistle blew, the athletes jumped into the pool, and the rest is history, as they shattered records at the Section 4AA meet in Stillwater. It was an exciting time for the girls' swim and dive team, as they broke the school record in the 200-medley relay from 2005. Furthermore, Melina Hughes broke the record in the 100-butterfly from 1994. After the team's success at the Section 4AA meet, Melina competed in the state meet in both the 50-freestyle and 100-butterfly. At the state meet, Melina qualified top 16 in both events, which meant Melina made the "B" final. Melina finished 16th in the 100-butterfly and 12th in the 50-freestyle. The University of Minnesota was packed and the swimming was fast. One spectator said that the state meet is a great opportunity to see athletes from all over the state; schools large and small, come together for the event. Melina's success was recently recognized in an article by the White Bear Press

Students have had other great opportunities to express their talents and skills in the Lion's Club Peace Poster contest and the Patriot's Pen Essay contest. Recently, Sunrise Park Middle School student Meg Elliott and Central Middle School students Lena Viker, Michael Kimlinger and Marta McKane were announced Patriot's Pen Essay winners. The Patriot's Pen is a competition conducted nationwide and is sponsored by the VFW, as it provides students with an opportunity to write essays expressing their thoughts on a chosen patriotic theme. This year the theme was "America's Gift to My Generation." Additionally, Nora Oslund was chosen as this year's Lion's Club Peace Poster winner. Second place went to Alex Reiland. The theme this year was "The Future of Peace." In other exciting news, White Bear grad Colleen Cosgrove recently got an article published about a 1500% increase in pelicans in the "Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation."

The Sunrise Park Middle School AVID team hosted a Family Night where AVID families could get together, share a meal and learn more about how their students are growing as scholars in the AVID program. There were almost 200 people in attendance. Students shared their AVID portfolio work with their parents, and listened to AVID testimony and encouragement from returning AVID WBLAHS - North Campus freshmen. November has been a meaningful month for many students throughout the district including those at Lincoln Elementary Extended Day. Many of their camp, club and daily activities revolved around friendship, gratitude and giving. They made a friendship quilt and talked about how to be a good friend. Last week, they delivered centerpieces and cards that the students crafted to Washington Square Apartments for the senior's community room.

Lakeaires Elementary students also enjoyed a fun experience where they learned about Hmong culture. District Hmong Cultural Liaison Malia Yang-Xiong visited Tracy Mowery's class at Lakeaires Elementary to talk about the Hmong culture and specifically Hmong New Year. Malia shared a Hmong story cloth, clothing, coin purses, hats and a queej (traditional Hmong instrument). Students were able to make Hmong hats. While students enjoyed learning about other cultures at one elementary school, at Otter Lake Elementary students were able to get a taste of what it was like to throw a pie at Principal Cynthia Mueller's face. Otter Lake Elementary won the Candy Buy Back event that is put on by Signature Orthodontics. The students at Otter Lake Elementary worked together to donate almost 500 pounds of candy. Other elementary schools participated in the contest and all of the candy is donated to the Ronald McDonald House. 

Communal experiences

One district parent is showing community members that it does not have to be 80 degrees and sunny for a farmers market. After winning a BearPower Ambassador grant, Michelle Bruhn of is giving community members an opportunity to shop for locally grown produce at an indoor White Bear Lake Winter Farmers Market on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tamarack Nature Center. There will be delicious produce including winter squash, potatoes, cabbage, beets, carrots, kale, garlic, onions and fresh greens. Learn more about this exciting event. Recently, another exciting event called the Play for Patrick Free Youth Heart Screening took place at WBLAHS - South Campus where 153 youth were screened and 138 individuals were trained how to perform hands only CPR and use an AED. At the event, the Play for Patrick Foundation donated a portable AED to WBLAHS - South Campus. 

The Dominoes Group at the White Bear Area Senior Center were enjoying their games together and made time for a special celebration. The community members wished Bob Reistad a happy 95th birthday. They even got to enjoy a delicious cake in the shape of a domino tile with green and blue dots to celebrate in style. Bob joined the Senior Center at the age of 93. The Dominoes Group meets every first, third and fifth Thursday at 1:30 p.m. There are about 20 active members who play different variations of the game. Dominoes is just one of the many activities offered weekly at the White Bear Area Senior Center. Other fun activities offered include Friends Who Care, Mah Jongg, Adult Coloring, 500 Cards, Pinochle, Woodcarving, In-Stitches, Mad Hatters Knitting, Cribbage, Duplicate Bridge and Contract Bridge.

The Week in 62.4 Seconds

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



Activities Updates

At the Section 4AA meet, the girls' swim and dive team broke the school record in the 200-medley relay (from 2005). Also, at the Section 4AA meet, Melina Hughes broke the record in the 100-butterfly from 1994. At the state meet, Melina qualified top 16 in both events, which meant Melina made the "B" final. Melina finished 16th in the 100-butterfly and 12th in the 50-freestyle. Also, recently, a White Bear grad was the fastest Minnesotan at the New York Marathon and was highlighted in an article by the White Bear Press. 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 Nov. 13 School Board Meeting, the School Board recognized the following students:

  • All-State Soccer players
  • Girls' Cross Country team
  • Boys' Cross Country team
  • Middle School Cheerleading team
  • Junior Varsity Cheerleading team
  • Varsity Cheerleading team




To see clips from the recognition ceremony, watch last week's The Week in 62.4 Seconds video.

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

Date Type Time Location
November 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center 
December 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
January 8 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

  • Strategic Planning Update, Opportunity to Get Involved - A 30-member Strategic Planning team met Sept. 18-20, 2017 and identified draft beliefs, mission, objectives, and strategies. See the full details here. After a process that will take place this fall and winter, School Board action on the Strategic Plan is expected in March, 2018. The next step in the process involves forming Action Teams, which will develop action plans for each of the eight strategies (listed below in the form). The first Action Team meeting took place on Nov. 16, and there is still time to get involved. The Action Team meetings are tentatively scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. on the following evenings: Nov. 30, Dec. 14, Jan. 4 & 18, and Feb. 1 & 15. Action Team meetings will take place at White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus. If you are interested in volunteering on an Action Team, complete the registration form.
  • 4th Annual Manufacturing and Engineering Showcase - Students of all ages, parents and community members are invited to the 4th Annual Manufacturing and Engineering Showcase at WBLAHS - South Campus on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 5-7:30 p.m. See the flyer and register today.
  • White Bear Center for the Arts (WBCA) Sponsored Contests - All high school students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate in two annual contests sponsored by White Bear Center for the Arts. Complete information on the WriteNow! High School Writing Contest and the High School Visual Arts Contest and Exhibition are on the WBCA website. Contest deadlines are later this winter, with awards receptions in the spring.
  • 10% Discount - Use promo code HOLIDAY2017 for 10% off your next order of Purchasing White Bear Gear! Sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats and more are available to buy from The Official Shop of White Bear Area Schools.
  • Open Gyms - There are several opportunities to enjoy Open Gyms throughout the district:
    • On Wednesday nights at Normandy Park, there will be Open Gyms held from Nov. 1 through March 7 (except for Nov. 22 and Dec. 27) from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $3 per child and $7 per immediate family. There will be a free night sponsored by BearPower on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Learn more
    • There will be Open Gyms held from Nov. 1 through March 7 (except for Nov. 22 and Dec. 27) from 7-9 p.m. with volleyball at WBLAHS - North Campus and basketball at WBLAHS - South Campus. Learn more.
    • There are Open Gyms at Oneka Elementary on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 through March 8 (except for Nov. 21 and 23 and Dec. 26 and 28). There are also Open Gyms on Sundays from Nov. 19 through March 4 (except for Nov. 26 and Dec. 31) from 1-5 p.m. There is a Family Dance on Sunday, Nov. 19 from 3-5 p.m. to kickoff the fun. 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! 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
    • White Bear Lake Winters Farmers Market - One district parent won a BearPower Ambassador grant and will be hosting an indoor White Bear Lake Winter Farmers Market on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Tamarack Nature Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more
    • BearPower Ambassador Program - If you are a member of the White Bear Lake community and have an idea about how to make it easier for your community to eat better and move more, BearPower has an opportunity for you. Learn more about the BearPower Ambassador Program.
  • 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.
    • Ryan Family Art Grants Awarded - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation recently awarded nine Ryan Family Art grants to elementary school teachers in the White Bear Lake Area Schools totaling $4,285. View pictures and learn more. The following Ryan Family Art grants were awarded: 
      • Children's Theatre Company - Jenn Misgen, Deb Schmidt, Jessica Hosmer, Mary Liang, 
        Kristi Olness and Emily Ascheman, Otter Lake kindergarten, received a grant and will be bringing the Children's Theatre Company program "Building Bridges" into their kindergarten classrooms. "Building Bridges" provides a professional teaching artist from Children's Theatre Company to work with students for 16 sessions. They use interactive storytelling and dramatic arts to bring out the creativity of each child. Following their own play presentation, students are provided tickets and bussing to the Children's Theatre to see one of their theatre productions.
      • Paint Your Story - Jane Briggs, Hugo Elementary; Colleen Kopp, Oneka Elementary; Ann Gerding, parent, received an award to give students the opportunity to participate in two Paint Your Story workshops using high quality art materials facilitated by Nycole Fry, owner of Paint Your Story Foundation. The workshop is based on a children's book for each grade level. Students learn everyone is an artist and everyone has a story to tell. Each student will engage in self-reflection and create two unique paintings. All students will participate in an art show to display and discuss their artwork and their painting process with family and friends.
      • Colorful Art=Colorful Writing - Stephen Gravley, Otter Lake Elementary, received an award where students will be using watercolor techniques learned during watercolor classes through the partnership with the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts. Students will use the medium of watercolor to illustrate stories that they have written in class.
      • Fidgety Fairy Tales: The Mental Health Musical - Kendall Rutherford, kindergarten; Dawn Maple, Matoska International, received an award where during a classroom unit of inquiry titled "Tales We Tell," kindergarten students will experience art as an "expression of creative skill and imagination." "Fidgety Fairy Tales" will present three tale performances to the kindergartners. It is a goal that the students will see that stories can be used as entertainment as well as to teach a lesson or skill. Kindergartners will have the opportunity to talk to the cast and ask questions after viewing the performance. Later, students will be asked to choose one of the tales and draw or write about the characters, setting and plot of the tale. 
    • Be Someone's Angel this Holiday - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation launches a campaign on Monday, Nov. 13 to fill the shelves at their 'Closet' to help keep children warm this winter. Drop off new winter wear at White Bear Lake City Hall, Vadnais Heights Elementary or Oneka Elementary through Jan. 1. Items of greatest need are sizes 5-18 of the following: coats, boots, socks, girls' leggings, boys' cuffed jogger sweatpants/khakis, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts or make a tax-deductible donation to WBLAEF's Holiday Angel Program online on WBLAEF's website and they'll purchase needed items. All funds raised support families in need in White Bear Lake Area Schools. Learn more about donating to the Angel Fund and see a flyer

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

  • December Recognitions:
    • December 22 through January 1 - Winter Break

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