Community e-Newsletter

2024-25 Enrollment

As January's Welcome to White Bear Month registration and enrollment activities comes to a close, we want to thank those who joined us for the festivities. To families who haven't yet enrolled for 2024-25 - please know that enrollments are still being accepted. Those who wish to tour our schools are invited to reach out to individual schools (find contact info here) or to the district's Enrollment Office (info here). Be a Bear!

Find complete Enrollment information on the district's website here.

White Bear Lake Area Schools enrollment ad

In Photos: Busy Bears

Student News

Meaningful Interactions

Last week's Youth Night at the WBLAHS Gymnastics home meet vs. East Ridge was a success, with those age 0-14 years filling the stands and receiving free entry, goodie bags and prizes. Special treatment for the young Bears also included a group photo with the teams and a "High Five" line during the teams' march out. Donations for the Food Shelf were also collected during the spirited evening, with those over the age of 14 receiving free entry to the meet when they donated 3+ food shelf items!

High school students who are members of the Black Student Union took part in a community-wide program, honoring Martin Luther King Junior Day. The program was captured in this video. Students performed different songs, told personal stories and read poetry to a very engaged audience before participating in a panel discussion alongside Century College students.

Second graders at Lakeaires Elementary participated in a U-time activity. Students demonstrated different emotions to their classmates and learned what non-verbal communication is. Students regularly perform U-time activities to help promote teamwork while building a better community within the classroom. Watch this lesson come to life in this video

Coaches vs Cancer, a national basketball program partnership between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, puts a full-court press on cancer by engaging coaches, players, and fans to help end cancer as we know it through fundraising and education initiatives. Our girls' basketball team has designated the following varsity game for their Coaches vs Cancer event this year:

  • Friday, Feb 9, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. at South Campus (vs. Mounds View)

Pink Out! with the team to promote cancer awareness or in honor of someone battling cancer in your life. The Pink Out! Bear shirt was designed by WBLAHS student Elias Ramirez. Purchase your shirt for $16 at Hisdahl's the week before the game and Hisdahl’s will send a donation to the American Cancer Society! The boys' basketball team participated in the program during their January 24 games.

It's time once again to celebrate professional excellence as part of the White Bear Lake Area Educators’ Teacher of the Year program. The process begins with nominations from community members, families, students and colleagues. Please take the time to nominate an exceptional teacher who goes above and beyond and who makes White Bear Lake Area Schools a great place to send our students every day. Nominations are open until 4:00 p.m. on February 19th, 2024.

2024-25 Teacher of the Year nomination form screenshot

Classroom Challenges

Criminology students at WBLAHS - North Campus received hands-on learning when they were tasked with solving a murder mystery! Criminology teacher Mr. Whalen set up a crime scenario in their studio. Students collected evidence, analyzed finger prints, hair samples and fake blood while performing lab work to figure out what happened. 

Fifth graders in Mr. Hjelm's class at North Star Elementary explored their curiosity of rockets last week, after one of their classmates shared her enthusiasm for the topic. Following a lesson from a rocket scientist who explained how they work, students were inspired to design their own rockets using balloons, cans, cardboard, and more! Some even made hand-held rockets that could launch small items while others chose to create rockets from kits. Students took turns setting off their projects to learn what materials worked the best. This unique lesson was highlighted in a recent video issue of "The Week in 62.4 Seconds".

WBLAHS - South Campus students in Ceramics 1 finalized their pottery projects last week. Students prepared their creations to go in the kiln by hand painting or dipping them in different colors of glaze. High schoolers had creative control over what they made. Some chose to craft vases and bowls while other students made clay bird houses and castles. Get a closer look at the students' work in this video.

First graders in Ms. Gaddini’s class at Vadnais Heights Elementary are learning about igloos and the shelter they provide in colder weather climates. As part of their lesson, students collected over 160 milk jugs to build their own igloo in their classroom! The structure serves as a great place for students to read and learn together! Get a closer look at the igloo in this video issue of "The Week in 62.4 Seconds"

Engaging Opportunities

Tenth grade language arts students are preparing for their future careers by taking part in mock interviews. The lesson was in partnership with the Career Pathways Program. Second quarter is all about "language arts in the real world". Students worked hard creating cover letters and resumes, practicing applying for jobs, improving their professional communication skills and more! This lesson was highlighted in a recent video issue of "The Week in 62.4 Seconds".

Students in the Sunrise Middle School Afterschool FLEX program worked on homework, made crafts and had great conversations.  This free program is designed by students, for students. It combines opportunities for homework completion, trying new activities and having fun with friends. Learn more about the opportunities the FLEX program has to offer here and along with a highlight of the afterschool program in this video.

Lincoln Elementary families came together to play candy bar Bingo during Family Fun Night. Students and families enjoyed many entertaining games of Bingo trying to line their cards up just right as Principal Morris and staff member Mrs. Butters called the numbers. Many staff and PTA members also joined in on the fun playing a few games with their students.

District staff members led White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation fundraising breakfast attendees through White Bear Lake Area High School to showcase the work being done to bring students in grades 9-12 together in one building (current North Campus) this fall. Tour groups checked out the learning studios, flexible learning spaces, student union, field house, construction happening to the new game gym, and more. See a tour handout with information about some of the WBLAHS areas here. These projects and the ones happening across the district were made possible due to the community's support to the 2019 Building Our Future Bond Referendum. Community members can follow along in the district’s Building Our Future Facilities Process to see all projects happening right now, what's been completed and the projects still to come.

White Bear Lake Area High School received a shoutout on CNN 10 last week. One of our high school students commented 104 days in a row to get the mention! CNN 10 is a daily news show designed for middle and high school aged viewers who want to learn about current events and global issues in 10 minutes or less.

We love it when our littlest Bears show off their Bear Wear! The smallest of them all is the "Born to be a Bear" onesie, shown off below by an adorable newborn Bear! As our kindergarteners enroll for school this fall, students receive an "I'm a Bear!" shirt and smaller "I'm a Bear" shirts are sent to toddlers as a reminder to families to participate in screening at age three. We are always looking for photos of our youngest community members showing off their Bear Wear. Email photos to us here and you may just find your little one featured in a District publication! 

Bears of all ages came together with their skates to participate in a FREE "Skating with Bears" event at the Hippodrome earlier today.

The district's pickleball opportunities and new courts were recently highlighted in the White Bear Press "Around the Lake" section. Registration information for the Community Services & Rec "Pickleball Club" was also included in the mention. Find additional details here.

Team Accomplishments

The WBLAHS Boys Swim & Dive team placed third out of 12 teams at the Tartan Invite with several swimmers and divers placed in the top eight. They were also highlighted in the White Bear Press for their recent win over Cretin Derham-Hall. The Bears are currently 2-4 in conference play. The team will take on Roseville during their senior night and final home meet of the season. It's happening at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 1 at the White Bear YMCA. Meanwhile, a former swim team member and WBLAHS exchange student was the subject of a CBS report. Click here to watch the full story.

The Bears Wrestling team  won three matches during a recent home meet before placing third at Park Center’s Pirate Classic tournament. During the matches, teammates Christian Carlson secured his 100th career win and Zach Carnes gained his 75th. The White Bear Press highlighted their accomplishments in this article. The Bears also had three entrants in the girls division. Top finishers were Janet Demanou placing first and  Calli Lacktorin placing third in their respective divisions. 

Central Middle School's Knowledge Bowl teams took first, 10th, and 12th place out of 28 teams at their second competition of the season. The Central teams collectively had the highest overall score, earning first place as a team. The teams now move on to the Regional competition. 

The high school Adaptive Floor Hockey team's fan section has been packed throughout their season. The varsity girls’ hockey team along with two local youth hockey teams have filled the stands to support and cheer on the Bears during their most recent home games. The Bears will be back at home taking on Anoka-Hennepin at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31 at WBLAHS - North Campus. Find their full schedule here.

The WBL Speech Team had impressive results at the Stillwater/Mounds Park Academy meet on Saturday:
  • Freshman Ethan Kinsella placed 2nd in Consolation in Extemp Speaking
  • Junior Praise Oyekunle (OI-ye-KUN-le) took 1st place in Next-In Poetry.
  • Senior Jonathon Fitzgerald took 8th in Consolation in  Extemp Speaking
  • Senior Mikey Zewdie took 6th in Merit in Extemp Speaking
  • Seniors Sanyu Mwassa and Mariam Elias-Danjuma were Champions in Duo 
  • Senior Mariam Elias-Danjuma was the Program of Oral Interpretation Champion and took home 3rd Place in Individual Sweepstakes and the team took home a 3rd place in Small Schools Sweepstakes.

The WBLAHS girls' hockey team recently secured two shutout games. One at home against Forest Lake (5-0) and other against North/Tartan (7-0). During the Forest Lake game, Bears goalie Gabby Casa de Calvo made 23 saves. The team is currently 13-8-1 The White Bear Press highlighted the Bears' success over Forest Lake in this article and North/Tartan in this article.

Members of the WBLAHS Jazz Band entertained attendees at the 42nd Annual Jazz Night Club event, which took place with a beautiful backdrop of the WBLAHS Union space. Groups of student musicians played, along with guest artists The Star of the North Jazz Orchestra. Dinner was catered by Donatelli's and free swing dance lessons were provided by Awakened Dance. A complete performance and event calendar for the WBLAHS Band can be found here

collage of jazz band dance event photos

Alumni Highlights

White Bear grad Heidi Dierssen, who is the project manager leading a team of 100 people for SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 launch scheduled for Feb. 6, was recently highlighted in the White Bear Press. "This is NASA Earth observation satellite mission," Dierssen told the White Bear Press. “So we're trying to understand the biology with the optical signature that comes out of the ocean." Dierssen graduated from White Bear Lake High School in 1985 and was class Valedictorian.

Former WBLAHS Boys' Hockey Captain Joe Belisle was recently highlighted in "Center Ice View" after committing to play for St. Cloud State. Belisle will play alongside former teammates Aiden Welch and Nolan Roed. He is currently playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede. During his time as a Bear, Belisle had 15 goals and 49 points in 26 games over two varsity seasons.

White Bear grad Dan Jones was recently highlighted in a White Bear Press article that shares he's moving on from public service after 16 years on the White Bear Lake City Council, one of his many ties to service and the community. Also included in the article are mentions of his 15 years with Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO), work with the Governor's Fishing Opener in 2009, and his 2019 sketch that became the creative design used on the water tower at the intersection of Highway 96 and Interstate 35E.

WBLAHS grad Neveah Hughes was highlighted in the Brainerd Dispatch for earning the MCAC North Division Women’s Basketball Athlete of the Week honor. Hughes is a sophomore at Central Lakes College. She recently helped the Raiders’ secure two MCAC Northern Division game wins.

 Activities Updates

The Boys Swim & Dive Team is 2-4 in conference play after a recent win over CDH. Find additional details here. The Bears Gymnastics Team defeated Mounds View/Irondale in a dual meet before placing fifth out of 13 team in the Below Zero Invitational. The Boys Basketball Team won 63-58 over Stillwater. The Girls Basketball Team also picked up a win over Roseville. The Girls Hockey Team recently shutout North/Tartan 7-0. Find additional information here. The Boys Hockey Team snuck by Hermantown 3-2 in a recent matchup. Read the full article here. The Bears Wrestling Team had a great showing at Park Center’s Pirate Classic tournament. Read more about their accomplishments in this article. The Bears Speech Team saw several members finish in the top 8 during the Stillwater/Mounds Park Academy meet. Central Middle School Knowledge Bowl teams took first, 10th, and 12th place out of 28 teams at a recent competition. The Adapted Hockey Team is hosting a home meet at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31 at WBLAHS - North Campus.

Senior community members (age 65+) who live in the District are invited to participate in the Senior Activities Pass program and enjoy complimentary admission to most school activities. Find out how to receive your free pass 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.

School Board News

School Board Student Recognition

During the January 8 School Board regular meeting, School Board members recognized students for state-level achievements. Watch the Student Recognition video here.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center

Past Meeting Highlights

Jan. 22 Work Session

Jan. 8 Regular Session

Dec. 11 Regular Session

School Board News Posts

White Bear Lake Area School District - ISD 624 Logo

At December’s Regular School Board Meeting, representatives from the Be SMART awareness campaign and local law enforcement leaders presented information about a program developed to bring together parents and all adults concerned about kids, guns, and safety. The White Bear Lake Police Department, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and White Bear Lake Area Schools are teaming up to share an important message about proper gun storage and safety.

Calendars approved

At the November 13, 2023 School Board Regular Meeting, the School Board approved the following calendars:

  • 2024-25 Academic Calendar
  • 2025-26 Academic Calendar
Board approves “Mariner Middle School” beginning Fall 2024

At the February 13, 2023 School Board Regular Meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board approved a committee’s recommendation to change the name of Sunrise Park Middle School when it moves from the Sunrise Park neighborhood to the current White Bear Lake Area High School - South Campus building in the fall of 2024. The new name, Mariner Middle School, is a nod to the District’s past.

Updated Strategic Plan Approved

At the August 8, 2022 School Board meeting, the Board heard an update of the District's Strategic Planning process and approved four updated strategies.

District Logo (Multi)

At the March 28, 2022 School Board Work Session, the White Bear Lake Area School Board unanimously approved a Resolution Supporting Commitment to Equity and Inclusion.

District News

General Information

District-wide News Posts

photo collage of end of school year activites

The June 16 issue of the Community e-Newsletter is now available! The publication covers student and staff successes, School Board news, and school and Community Education offerings.

June 27 Marketfest sponsorship

District representatives will be back this summer at Marketfest, which runs Thursdays, June 13 - July 25 in Downtown White Bear Lake. Stop by the district’s booth for pencils, bear paw tattoos and fun conversation! New this year is an “Orange Out” photo at 6:30 p.m. on June 27 on 4th Street!

Michele Norcross 2024 White Bear Lake Area Educators Teacher of the Year slide

White Bear Lake Area Learning Center Teacher Michele Norcross was named the 2024 White Bear Lake Area Educators Teacher of the Year at a celebration and recognition event. The Language Arts teacher was chosen from an impressive slate of 6 finalists from throughout the district.

adult headshot

WBLAS is pleased to announce that Kristen Nelson has been chosen to serve as the district’s new assistant director of early childhood programs, a position that was vacated when current assistant director Darcy Rodriguez accepted a position as the new early childhood family education specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education.

notice of WBLAHS Community Open House on Aug. 29

Those who are interested in touring the renovated White Bear Lake Area High School are invited to mark their calendars for a Community Open House event from 3-6 p.m. on Aug. 29. Additional information will be shared as the event approaches.

adult headshot

The White Bear Lake Area School District is pleased to announce that Jenni Sjosten has been hired to serve in the role of High School Associate Principal - ALC at the district’s Area Learning Center. Sjosten will step into the role this summer upon the retirement of Gretchen Harriman, who has led the ALC for the past 12 years.