Note from the Superintendent
With Winter Break beginning later this week, it's important to take stock of the year and realize it's been a year of change and challenge. Thank you for your flexibility as we have navigated, together, unchartered territory.
If you haven't already done so, please take note of the message emailed to all families on Tuesday, Dec. 16 (Info re: Updated Guidance).
Also, please be aware of the vast number of supports available to students and families. A comprehensive page of supports can be found at the Support Hub page of our district website.
Direct links that are specifically sought out these days include:
- County-level resources
- Food Supports:
If you would like help working through the process, please always feel free to reach out to your social workers, counselors, or school psychologists for help as well.
Wishing you a restful Winter Break,
Dr. Wayne A. Kazmierczak, Superintendent
Setting the table
The district has seen many recent examples of service related to ensuring families have access to food and nutrition. The Walk to End Hunger fundraiser recently raised $2292.80 for White Bear Lake Meals on Wheels, which was matched by Metro Meals on Wheels for a total donation of $4585.60. Additionally, the WBLAHS - South Campus Student Council's annual week-long food drive brought in donations totaling 268 pounds of food for the White Bear Area Food Shelf.
At the district level, the Nutrition Services Department Each week, the district's Nutrition Services Department distributes more than 1000 boxes of a week's worth of free meals to district families who sign up to receive meals. The team at Sunrise Park Middle School shared this photo of boxes being lined up outside in preparation for a Grab N' Go pick-up. Even though free meals are available to all for this school year, it is still very important that families who may qualify for free or reduced-price meals complete the meal application as soon as possible. The meal applications not only qualify your family for free meal benefits, but also provide additional benefits that may include discounts for: internet access, college application fees, sports/activities fees, and AP test registration fees. Please check out this flyer for more information. Contact the Nutrition Services Department at NutritionServices@isd624.org or 651-407-7524 with any questions.
The district's Senior Center is involved in efforts as well, serving as a pick-up location for the "More than Meals" initiative recently launched in White Bear Lake. Free restaurant-prepared holiday meals will be available to the first 1,000 to sign up. Sign-up deadline is noon on Monday, Dec. 21, with pick-up happening between 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Find information here.
On screens and airwaves
The WBLAHS Fall Musical "Songs for a New World" is now available as a video on-demand rental. In true "Plan B" fashion due to the pandemic, the performance that is usually delivered in person to a packed house can be found, rented and viewed from our ShowTix4U Box Office.
The holiday season has served as inspiration for "good." WBLAHS Skippers, a group of 9 wonderful and talented sophomores, recorded and shared a holiday performance. The choirs of South Campus also came together to record a wish for happy holidays and a wonderful 2021. The family of one of our Otter Lake Elementary kindergarten families was on 101.3 KDWB Dave Ryan's Christmas Wish on Friday. The family was nominated by two other families they met in the district's Early Childhood Program's “Little Bears Club” parent group for families with children who have special needs. The district group got additional attention from Dave Ryan, too, who made mention that it's "just about the cutest name" he's ever heard for a group. Hear the full heartfelt radio chat here.
Community Services Coordinator Jon Anderson was recently interviewed by SCC (Suburban Community Channel) for a video focused on the Senior Program. The Senior Center's reopening has slowed a bit since the video was produced, but the program continues to work to safely engage with seniors in the community remotely and for specialized in-person experiences. SCC was also recently at District Center to speak with Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak and learn more about Dr. K's recent honor of being named Superintendent of the Year. See the full interview here.
Students recently arranged for a screen-based surprise - and one can only imagine the in-person experience that went along with it when the teacher realized what the students had been doing in her absence. Denise Callen was curious on the last day of the quarter last week when her eighth grade Sunrise students asked her to leave the meeting for five minutes and then come back. When she came back, this is what she saw.
Alumni garnering attention
White Bear Lake Area High School grad Julia Duvall recently made the TIME magazine "best invention" list for her team's work on a reusable respirator mask. The honor was covered in a White Bear Press article.
MPR recently covered a bear project that has White Bear ties. BJ Kirchhoffer, a 2001 White Bear Lake Area High School graduate who now works with polar bears, worked with his dad to come up with a better way to deploy battery powered transmitters to track the Arctic animals. Another White Bear grad will is also seeing her name in the media these days. Hilary Jewell was recently named the new sports reporter for the Ashland Daily Press.
WBLAHS Class of 2006 grad Larry Jiles Jr., also known as Chef Hot Hands, was recently highlighted in The Citizen for his dream of opening a family-owned cafe and bakery that offers a unique dinner service with delivery and curbside pickup options. Read the White Bear Press article about the grad here.
Learning to serve
The WBLAHS - South Campus Spanish Department recently organized an effort to provide gifts for eight moms and families through Casa de Esparanza. This is the 25th year of the annual service project, which is done so in honor and memory of the legacy left by beloved colleague Marcia Wellstone Markuson.
Otter Lake Elementary fourth graders are participating in a service learning project this coming week. When preparing the activity, the teachers' focus was to find something students could do to demonstrate empathy and see the world through another's perspective. The students will be hosting a "Connect and Chat" on December 21st and 22nd. Students will be in groups of 3 and will be connected to a person who is spending a lot of time at home, due to the pandemic, to have conversation via a Google Meet.