December 14, 2014
- Hug a Heart, Helping a Stranger and Other Lessons
- In Photos: Middle School Choir Practice
- Outstanding achievements
- Creative generosity
- Get to know White Bear Lake Area Schools
- 62.4-second video update
- Activities Updates
School Board News
- School Board Meetings
- General Information
- Awards and Honors
Hug a Heart, Helping a Stranger and Other Lessons
"Well, sometimes a heart gets wrinkled," explains the third grader.
"Wrinkled?" I ask.
"Yes, when a heart gets wrinkled we can help it get better by an act of kindness."
Over a lunch of chicken nuggets, sweet potatoes, and fresh fruit and veggies, I am in the midst of a dozen boys and girls at Lincoln Elementary School. This stop is one of several school lunches with students this fall, always fertile ground for learning what students think about the issues of the day.
After the usual warm-up questions about what they like about school, I ask whether any of them have participated in "Hug a Heart," a school-based service initiative.
All have participated and are eager to tell me about their projects, including making blankets for families in need.
"I like to help. I like to know that I am helping someone else," explains another student before adding "I think about what would be like not to have enough food, or to be cold and then receive something from someone I do not even know... I want to show kindness to others."
On another day, children in the Otter Lake Elementary after school program make sandwiches in cooperation with a local non-profit serving families in need. In addition to making the sandwiches, elementary boys and girls and middle school students help out decorating paper bags with color markers. These bags became easels of color with messages of comfort and kindness.
The next week, after filling my tray at the salad bar, I join a table of seventh graders at Sunrise Park Middle School.
"Are you involved in service at school or in the community?" I ask. All are, and all are eager to give me details.
"Why is service important to you?" Students describe school activities where service is just part of what they do, such as a food drive for the food shelf. But other stories are personal.
"I remember one time I was with my mom at a store and we saw a man who was having a hard time communicating. My mom helped translate for him, and then she gave him money for food... Seeing what she did made an impression on me."
This October and November, our high school students hosted one of the most successful food drives in the state by collecting nearly 20,000 pounds of food and raising almost $4000. On the first Monday of November, a teacher workshop day but not a school day for students, a dozen students showed up to sort and organize the food for transport to the food shelf.
High school ambassador clubs at White Bear Lake Area High School North and South Campuses are organized to serve; each Friday morning, for example, 60 or more South Campus students come to school up to an hour early to plan all manner of service activities, aiding our schools, community, and local and national non-profits.
"When I was in middle school, I had a serious illness, and this organization made it possible for our family to take a trip together... I just need a few students to help collating materials."
The room is quiet as students explain their service projects and pass around sign-up sheets.
Why has service become such an integral part of the school community? The answer may be very simple: this is a community which cares. From the beginning of European immigration and American migration to the shores of White Bear Lake in the mid- nineteenth century, there is much evidence of community support for the newcomers by those who were already here.
Our churches and communities of faith have strong traditions of outreach which continue today. Service clubs were established in the twentieth century and are organizations of givers and workers, generous in their investments of time and resources. The YMCA has been a part of the community for more than a century.
Within our communities nonprofits work together, understanding that community and family support is a point at which their missions overlap.
The schools reflect our communities; children may learn service first from home, but everywhere they go in our community, students have ample opportunities to practice service.
Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools
(Article was originally published in Town Life Magazine's Winter Issue)
In Photos: Middle School Choir Practice
In the last few weeks, five stories highlight how our schools have been collaborating with each other and local businesses to create an engaging learning environment. First, Molly Vadnais's WBLAHS - North Campus multimedia art and design class recently collaborated with Shannon Nicholas's first grade Lincoln Elementary class to create Monster toys and packaging.
After Lincoln students drew pictures of fun monsters, North Campus students designed how the monsters would be recreated into three dimensional toys. North Campus students then made the miniature 3D monster models and built the packaging that the toys would be placed in.
Our middle schools have been collaborating with our elementary schools as well. Sunrise Park Middle School reading intervention students now have buddies at Lakeaires Elementary! When the weather cooperated, the middle schoolers would walk over to Lakeaires to read with their buddies. Thanks to the innovative technology provided at our schools, the winter weather has not hindered this project. Now, participating students use Google Hangouts to have reading time together!
Next, who said collaboration couldn't be delicious? For the second year in a row, WBLAS parent Katie Jenkins has brought cake decorating to Central and Sunrise Park Middle School's FACS classes. Through Jenkins's WBL Area Education Foundation Bear Legacy Grant as well as donations from local grocery stores, each FACS student had the opportunity to create and design their own personal sized cake using icing and decorating tools. In addition, after they were finished decorating they had the chance to share their fun creations through Instagram! Decorative dessert lessons will continue with a ginger bread cookie decorating contest this month.
Another example of our student and staff dedication to community collaboration was White Bear Lake Area Schools' participation in the recent TIES Technology Conference. Ten staff members and three students (Alex Hassel, Shannon Herzog, and Lexi Ward) were selected and presented at the TIES (Technology and Information Educational Services) conference, representing the innovative technology work happening in White Bear Nation!
Finally, WBLAHS - South Campus has collaborated with a dozen businesses to bring students a Manufacturing and Engineering Showcase that will take place on Tuesday, December 16 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in the South Campus theater. Career sessions will give students the chance to learn more about two of the fastest growing, high demand career fields. A panel of speakers from local manufacturing and engineering businesses will discuss opportunities available in these areas, as well as the skills students need to get hired in these sectors. Other opportunities will include: an open house in lab areas, a display/demonstration of student work and a look at the FIRST Robotics Team 2207.
Our community, students and administration have recently received recognition for their achievements. First, Vadnais Heights Elementary School won the Regional School of Hope Award for raising a substantial amount of money for elementary students and incorporating the American Cancer Society's mission into their Relay Recess event. As the award winner, the school was presented with a banner to proudly display.
Vadnais Heights Elementary has hosted a Relay Recess event for the past four years with the dollar amounts collected growing each year. In 2014, the school raised $1,287.75 and it all went towards the American Cancer Society's cancer fighting mission. As part of the Relay Recess program, VHES asks a survivor to share their experience and how the American Cancer Society has benefitted them personally. Over the course of a week students are educated on sun safety, physical activity and nutrition. The final event includes an all school assembly and a walk lined with luminaria bags.
Also at Vadnais Heights Elementary, K-5 students finished fourth out of 46 teams at a local chess tournament. It was a true team effort lead by the first grade brothers Martin and Graham Hennings. Teammates Joey Wolfe and Jack Dahler gave Vadnais Heights the extra push they needed to finish fourth among some of the most dominant chess schools in the state of Minnesota. This was an excellent showing for this group and shows a lot of promise for future tournaments. Congratulations to Vadnais Heights students and their highly dedicated coach, Pavel Jany!
Finally, our Superintendent Dr. Lovett was one of this year's recipients of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development's Distinguished Alumni Awards. His award reads "In recognition of your career as a distinguished educator, administrator and passionate advocate for students."
Throughout our school programs, students and staff express their generosity in creative ways. First, our Senior Program participated in the Walk to End Hunger for Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving. Through their efforts, they raised $1,127 for our Meals on Wheels Program!
In this case, it seems as though generosity has come full circle. The Meals on Wheels program, through the White Bear Lake Area Schools Senior Program, has been receiving a monthly donation from Olive Garden of a spaghetti lunch for each participant. The Olive Garden has been generously donating these meals one Monday each month since September and will continue into the future. This donation will save the the program more than $3,000 a year!
Next, the White Bear Lake High School Hockey team recently donated 500 teddy bears to the White Bear Lions. The bears were donated by Polar Chev as a fundraiser and sold by the White Bear Lake Cheerleaders to students who threw them out on the ice during a hockey game. On Saturday, December 13, the White Bear Lions gave toys away to more than 500 children from ages birth to 18 at the White Bear Armory. Qualifying parents completed an application for the free toys with the White Bear Lake Food Shelf.
Finally, our North Campus Ambassadors have been hard at work creatively raising money for H2O for Life. They have had eight events supporting H2O for Life including coordinating and hosting: a photo booth, a water wall, a bingo in the lunchroom event, a hot cocoa sale, a bake sale, a potluck for staff, teacher dress-down days and a gift-wrapping presents fundraiser. They also worked at the recent PJs with Santa event at the Vadnais Community Center on December 5. Through volunteering all over the community, our Ambassadors program strives to help people globally.
Get to know White Bear Lake Area Schools
January will be a busy month as we provide several opportunities for families to join us and get to know our schools. At the early childhood level, we will host White Bear Lake Area Preschool Open Houses. Open Houses are an opportunity for you and your preschool child to visit the preschool sites, observe classes in session, gather information about classes and programs, meet staff and ask any questions. Classes will be in session, so we encourage you to spend some time in a classroom observing the activities. Children are welcome and may join in the class activities if they choose.
At the kindergarten level, there will be a district-wide Kindergarten Registration Night on January 15 at all elementary schools. This in-depth session offers parents of future kindergartners an opportunity to learn more about the district's kindergarten curriculum and programs, ask questions, visit a kindergarten classroom and register their child for kindergarten.
At the elementary level, our elementary schools will participate in Welcome to White Bear Week (January 5-9) where all elementary schools will have tours available for families who want to explore our schools. Simply go to any elementary school office during tour times to join a tour!
For middle school families, parent information nights will be held on January 22. These information nights are especially helpful for current White Bear Lake Area Schools 5th grade families and families new to the White Bear Lake Area Schools with students entering grades 6-8 in fall 2015.
High school families will also have the opportunity to attend parent and student information nights on January 12 for next year's 9th and 10th graders as well as January 8 for next year's 11th and 12th graders. This is a great opportunity for parents and students to learn about course selection opportunities and registration for fall 2015.
62.4-second video update
Take a look at our 62.4-second update that highlights weekly activity throughout our schools!
Read about the White Bear Lake girls soccer team season in this White Bear Press article. The boys' basketball team defeated Forest Lake 75-62 in the Suburban Conference opener. The White Bear Lake boys hockey teamalso won their Suburban Conference opener 5-2 against Mounds View. The boys wrestling team took third against Mounds View, Coon Rapids and Centennial at recent invitational at Coon Rapids High School. Earlier this month, the girls basketball team defeated Rogers 56-50 at the Hopkins Tip-off Classic. The White Bear Lake girls swim and dive team recently wrapped up a competitive season and sent 22 swimmers and divers to the Section 4AA meet.
White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.