It’s been 35 years since I graduated from Mounds Park Academy. Had you asked me then, I would never in a million years have predicted my eventual return as both a parent of a senior and, equally incredibly, as a mentor for the school’s FIRST® robotics competition (FRC) Team 3926, the MPArors.

How I came to mentor robotics is a long story. But it’s so much fun, full of energy, intensity, and camaraderie. I’ve watched in real-time as students grow in confidence and leadership. “We’re using robots to build kids” is how FIRST founder Dean Kamen once described it. While the team wisely keeps me away from actually building the robot, I mentor a lot of the other team’s activities: community outreach, public engagement through social media, preparing for regional competitions, fostering inclusivity in STEM, and raising funds to pay for it all.

It turns out that running an FRC team isn’t cheap! Last year’s expenses included $16,000 in robot supplies, $8,000 in registration fees for two competitions, and $14,000 in travel-related costs. The team also has to regularly update aging tools and equipment.

This is our busiest time of the year for fundraising, and I’m touched by all the generous alumni who have supported robotics at MPA. Did you know that roughly half of the team’s funds come from individual donors? We are so grateful that you have helped us start the season strong.

However, there is still a ways to go before we meet our financial goal. So, this giving season, I’m reaching out to my fellow alumni to ask for your help. Perhaps you yourself were part of the robotics team, or (like me) wished the team had existed when you were a student at MPA. Or maybe you simply appreciate the profound impact that FIRST® Robotics has on our kids.

We’d love to hear from anyone interested in supporting the team – or is able to introduce us to potential new business or corporate sponsors (who make up more than 40% of our funding). Learn more at or the QR code below, or call (651) 777-2555 x462.

Thank you! Go MPArors!

Sirid Kellerman ’88

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