Note from the Superintendent
In the midst of moving parts and discovering new ways to do things, we continue to be committed to providing a high-quality education for all of our students. The coursework may be delivered differently, but our students’ experiences will remain robust and engaging - and I have no doubt our students will continue to lead the way with the flexibility and resilience they have shown since the pandemic began.
The social emotional well-being of those in our school community remain a priority as we work through the changes before us. Individual supports are available for students as needed. The Support Hub is a resource on the district’s website that provides access to information for essential services including crisis response, basic needs, mental health and well-being, physical health, social emotional learning and more.
In case you have missed them, please find important reminders of updates recently shared below:
A complete list of the messages sent out to families and staff members can be found in the Communications Updates section of the page here.
Please take care of yourself and your family. Together, we will get through this.
Dr. Wayne A. Kazmierczak, Superintendent
Music to our ears
Students at WBLAHS- North Campus have enjoyed weekly music lessons this semester that was made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Guitar Society, Music in the Schools Program. Instructor Jared Waln, a professional musician and guitar instructor who teaches at St Thomas, works with students through adaptive learning once a week. Students play guitars with necks that are color coded and read a color board to play songs together. The experience was covered in a weekly video.
Younger students are benefiting from lessons about melodies and harmonies as well. Vadnais Heights Elementary music teacher Sandy Smaker has creatively brought music to all of her students. Resourcefully creating a portable music teaching pod, she has been sharing her joy for teaching (and her love of frogs) with in-person and at-home learning students. Rest assured, a spirited White Bear is along for the ride to help with the lessons as well!
Willow Lane Elementary kindergartners recently practiced their letters with hands-on lessons, showcased here. The students started by reading a book about the letter A and the things that start with A, then they used the wood pieces to make "A"s before picking up pencils to write out the letters. The interactive activities, with a focus on active, helped the students learn important lessons in a fun way.
Kindergarten and first grade students took their lessons outside this week at Hugo Elementary. Guests from the Wargo Nature Center visited with them, enjoying the fresh snow and tree stump stools in the schools’ outdoor learning classroom. Through interactive activities, Kindergarten students learned about birds and the first graders’ lesson focused on rocks. See the video here.
Middle of the road
The district's middle school students have been busy these days. Sunrise Park Middle School seventh graders were highlighted in this week's issue of The Week in 62.4 Seconds as they had their first book club meetings. They are studying multiple works by a single contemporary young adult author to understand how the author creates complex characters.
Students in the News & Media Club at Central Middle School have been meeting virtually this fall, and they will continue to do so through the upcoming distance learning period. The student-created website consists of everything from fun highlights like Song of the Week and “Just Ask,” a platform students can use to get advice from their fellow middle school classmates, to more serious coverage like the “Why Social Media Can Make you depressed” presentation submitted by a student and included in the Thought Corner section of the site. The students will update their site with new content each week.
Perhaps the News & Media Club will cover Central's recent National Junior Honor Society induction. The ceremony was accomplished in a new way this year due to COVID-19 visitor restrictions, with inductees are getting special individual photos taken that will be shared with their families. See footage of the activity here.
And Central Middle School siblings Madisyn and Dylan Hood will find footage of themselves on “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” or AFV, this evening thanks to their dad's fun with a sink-sprayer prank. The fun story was covered in the White Bear Press this week and can be enjoyed here.
At the top of their game
Birch Lake Elementary fifth grader Maurion Davis was recently named the White Bear Lake Rotary Academic Achiever. In the write-up about him, he is lauded for taking ownership of his learning and offering advice to classmates to "not be so hard on yourself." He says this motto helps him do his best, knowing that sometimes he can't do things but he keeps trying and doesn't let himself feel defeated. He credits his mom for pushing him to work hard and supporting him. See the complete Achiever profile here.
WBLAHS seniors Sophie Davis and Abby Fettinger signed National Letters of Intent to participate in athletics at the college level. Sophie will play lacrosse at University of Detroit - Mercy. Abby will play soccer at University of Minnesota - Crookston. A celebration in their honor will take place this spring.
Alumni are finding success as well. Former WBLAHS Boys' Hockey player Lleyton Roed, now playing his first season of junior hockey in the NAHL with the Magicians, recently committed to play D1 hockey for Bemidji State University. Read more here. And White Bear grad Dan Hochhalter recently shined on stage at the 2020 CMA Awards. The article about him includes mention of a WBLAHS talent show and a video of his spotlight (especially impressive around the 6:24 mark of the video!) on a star-studded stage.
Back in Minnesota, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) has named Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak, Superintendent of the White Bear Lake Area Schools (WBLAS), the 2021 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year. As the state's honoree, Dr. Kazmierczak is a candidate among other state recipients for National Superintendent of the Year, to be announced during the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Conference on Education hosted virtually on February 18-19, 2021. Dr. Kazmierczak was selected for this honor by a panel of representatives from a variety of Minnesota education organizations. Nominees are evaluated on how each candidate demonstrates leadership for learning, communication skills, professionalism, and community involvement. Read the full details about Dr. K's honor here.
Building Our Future
A groundbreaking took place at the new Transportation Department building this week. Other projects currently breaking ground are the gymnasium project at the current South Campus, and projects at Lincoln, Matoska, Willow and Vadnais Heights Elementaries. These projects, and all those approved in the Bond Referendum, are made possible through the support of district residents. The ceremony was covered in the weekly video. Detailed information about the district's facilities projects can be found on the Building Our Future page of the district website.
Girls' Lacrosse player Sophie Davis recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at the University of Detroit - Mercy. Abby Fettinger has committed to play soccer at University of Minnesota - Crookston. Former WBLAHS Boys' Hockey player Lleyton Roed, now playing his first season of junior hockey in the NAHL with the Magicians, recently committed to play D1 hockey for Bemidji State University. Read more here.
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.
The Week in 62.4 Seconds
Enjoy The Week in 62.4 Seconds videos highlighting weekly district activities throughout the school year.