September 25, 2016

Strategies for Success

One week before the official opening of school, more than 600 sixth graders walked, biked, or bused to school for a special orientation to their new "big" schools.


All were invited for a morning with eighth graders. You may think,"How cool is that?"

But there is more; the eighth graders were trained as "WEB" (Where Everybody Belongs) leaders. Their job was to welcome, encourage, and support new students, and promise to support the sixth graders during the year.

What did we see and hear that morning? Shy, cautious boys and girls walked quietly through the doors before 9 o'clock. Three hours later, as students poured out of the buildings, we heard laughter, and saw obvious signs of new friendships.

What went on inside the schools? By mid-morning, WEB leaders were meeting in classrooms with small groups of sixth graders.

What did they do? Learned names, talked about feelings, asked questions, found common interests. And played games.

In one intriguing game, eighth grade leaders challenged sixth graders to what looked like a simple, intuitive game. The sixth graders were challenged, engaged, and confident. But they always lost to the eighth graders.

The eighth graders explained, "We won because we knew strategies that you did not." The eighth graders then explained their strategies to choruses of "cool" and "so that's how you did it!"

But now the real lesson. "Can you think of strategies that will help you succeed in middle school?"

After a brief moment of silence, unusual even for 11-year-olds, the sixth graders responded,

"I guess we should be organized."

"We'd better do our homework every day".

Then after another moment of quiet came the wisest lesson of all:

"It's important to be kind to everyone."

Michael Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools

In Photos: WE Day Minnesota!

 

Several of our schools were chosen to take part in this year's WE Day Minnesota, which is part of a national movement that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world.
 

Student News

Support the Bears

It's no secret our district and White Bear community have a tremendous amount of Bear pride, but this month is when we truly "bleed orange and black" - it's Homecoming! This year's Homecoming Week will take place October 3-8 and the theme is "Wipe Out Woodbury," as our varsity football team will go head-to-head against the Woodbury Royals during the Homecoming football game on Friday, October 7. Before that match-up, there are a number of other happenings during Homecoming Week where you can support the Bears, including the daily "dress up" school days throughout the week, coronation and the annual Homecoming Parade, to name a few. A more detailed schedule of events can be found here. The fun doesn't stop after Friday's game either - gather your family, friends and neighbors for the BearPower Homecoming Celebration 6.24K run/walk Saturday, October 8. The first 500 to register will get one of the new BearPower winter headbands. Click here to learn more!

 

There are many other opportunities beyond Homecoming where you can support our Bears throughout the school year. For instance, the student-ran coffee shop, Central Beans, is back in business for the the 2016-17 school year. It's a unique shop where Central Middle School students make and deliver coffee orders to staff at both Central and District Center. District staff can go through the Central Beans websiteand click on the coffee order form tab to place an order and a beverage will appear at their door. The orders are personally delivered by Central students between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The coffee shop started back in 2013 when three Central teachers brainstormed how they could develop a student work opportunity on-site. A grant application was then submitted to the White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation and its committee graciously accepted this proposal and awarded the school with the Brocious Grant. To get the ball rolling, students were invited to submit a logo design and name for the coffee shop, thus Central Beans was born. Besides the convenience for staff to have a hot cup of Joe brought to their doorstep, Central Beans has continued to be a great opportunity for students to gain "real-world" work experience. A training schedule was developed, which touches on job interviewing skills, the job duties themselves, food safety, social skills, a cost analysis math lesson and equipment care and use. Students have been training for the past five weeks in preparation for Central Bean's to open its doors for the school year and are now ready for business!

Transition Education students will soon be starting a very similar work experience, taking on trash and recycling duties at District Center. The team of 2-3 students plan to come by District Center every weekday between 8-10 a.m. with their job coach. This is one of many opportunities students at the Transition Education Center are given to participate in a work experience within the schools. This work experience is paired with an employment course and is based on their needs and interests. Students start out by training with a job coach and then the support fades as they gain independence and meet their goals. 

Opportunities for all ages

The White Bear Lake Area School District offers many opportunities for students of all ages, including the seniors in our community. The White Bear Area Senior Center recently hosted its open house - introducing the community to the Senior Center, its staff and local volunteers, many of whom were there representing programs throughout the community. After a social hour, was the re-dedication of the Senior Center library, now officially known as "Libby's Library." The new name comes from 20-year Senior Center volunteer Libby Tweedale, a remarkable woman who spent years as the head librarian, office assistant and In Stitches leader for the Senior Center. It was an emotional dedication as district staff, the community and Libby's family shared stories of how much she's given to the community through her volunteer work. Senior Center staff then handed the scissors over to Libby to cut the ribbon, unveiling the updated library space for the first time to the public. Also at the open house, was the unveiling of the Tree of Life plaque, which serves to memorialize and honor community members and supporters of the Senior Center. It's proudly displayed in Libby's Library and was designed and created by Don Pakko, who leads Senior Center's woodcarving group.
 

From our eldest students to our youngest, we often witness the power opportunity. Most recently in two of our special education students in the district's Early Childhood Program, Lydia and Bode. The two have been faced with independent mobility challenges, an obstacle in which students at the University of Delaware were determined to tackle. The college students came up Go Baby Go, a program that modifies PowerWheels cars for young students with special needs to give them independent mobility. Lydia and Bode's families applied online for a grant to receive these custom cars, and now the two have their very own modified PowerWheels with the gas pedal on the steering wheel (on a touch pad) for them to move about. Volunteers from all over took the two students' measurements and needs, then customized the cars to each child. The group of volunteers also adapted the cars to provide seating support and positioning since both students are challenged with independent sitting balance. As you can tell by the photo shared by Lydia's mother, Lydia is loving her new, bright-pink ride!

A university here in Minnesota also created an opportunity for students at Vadnais Heights Elementary recently. Children's author Zetta Elliott visited with Vadnais fourth grade students, discussing the writing of diverse children's books through a program at St. Catherine's University. Arrangements were made through the University for Ms. Elliott to visit the school and share her writing and stories with our students. 

62.4-second video updates
Take a look at our 62.4-second video updates that highlight weekly activity throughout our schools during the school year.

Activities Updates

Homecoming week is taking place October 3-8, with the Homecoming football game happening Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m. against Woodbury. The Harvest Bowl football game will take place Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m. against Stillwater. 

The National Scholastic Press Association granted the 2016 Matoskan (WBLAHS yearbook) with a First Class highest honor, earning 425 out of 500 possible points.

 

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 Meetings

School Board meeting minutes and agendas can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
September 26 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center
October 10 Regular 7 p.m.  District Center
October 24 Work-study 5:30 p.m. District Center

 

For highlights from the most recent Board meeting, click here

Superintendent's Message

  • Strategies for Success


Student News

  • In Photos: WE Day Minnesota!
  • Support the Bears
  • Opportunities for all ages
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities

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