Introducing Pantherpedia!

Lower school at a CHAMP AssemblyWe are excited to introduce Pantherpedia, a fun new feature where we define one word that’s unique to MPA! If you have a word or phrase that you want defined, let us know and we’ll feature it in an upcoming Pantherpedia entry!

CHAMP Program [tʃæmp prəʊɡræm]⁠⠀
Noun: The CHAMP (Character Happens at Mounds Park) Program is MPA’s Lower School character development program in which a character trait is chosen every year for students to explore in their homeroom classrooms, in special assemblies, in service-learning, and in music, art, and drama classes. PreK through fourth grade students come together for a monthly CHAMP assembly to learn about character traits such as friendship, cooperation, compassion, respect, self-control, responsibility, inclusiveness, courage, mindfulness, and integrity. In addition, service learning is embedded in the CHAMP program and in the classroom, culminating in the fourth grade conflict manager program. Students learn the importance of giving back and helping others in ways that are integrated in the classroom curriculum. Our CHAMP curriculum has made a difference at MPA. Students strive to apply the character traits they’ve learned in school to their own lives.


Three MPA Teams Going To State Future City Competition

Rowan M. researching for future citiesBecause the annual Middle School Future City Competition is completely virtual this year, MPA students had a preliminary in-school competition to determine the top three teams going to state this year. The outputs are the same–a 1500-word essay in collaboration with their English class, a physical model of the city, and a presentation. However, the problem that students must solve changes every year. This year, students had to design and build a city of the future on the Moon. “This is the toughest problem I have seen in years,” Mr. Milam said.

Students had to research the Moon’s resources, how to travel to and from the Moon, and how to sustain life on the Moon. They developed many innovations in indoor farming, transportation, mining on the Moon, production of water and air, city infrastructure, and housing.

The three winning teams that are representing MPA at the State Competition are Annika B., Annika D., Zoya, and Navreen; Rowan, Lucia, Camdyn, and Sylvie; and Olivia, Lucy, Zainab, and Ava. We’re cheering you on, Panthers!


Celebrating The Holidays Safety

Be Safe Be Smart Be KindAs we’re sure you saw, Governor Walz announced yesterday a month-long pause to help curb the spike in COVID-19 cases that Minnesota is currently experiencing. In addition to suspending organized sports, the order bans indoor and outdoor social gatherings, discourages travel, closes bars and restaurants (except for takeout, delivery, or walk-up service), and closes fitness centers and entertainment venues. Click here for the full order.

In order to do our part, help slow the spread, and ultimately return to dial stop two on January 20, we urge all MPA families to follow this order diligently. Gathering with family members outside your household is a very high risk activity. Travel is discouraged as well. If you do plan to travel, please report it to covid@moundsparkacademy.org.

Thank you for joining us in helping slow the spread. We hope you enjoy the holidays while being safe, smart, and kind. And, as always, report any COVID-19 symptoms, exposures, or cases to covid@moundsparkacademy.org.


MPA Fall And Winter Athletics Update

Panther volleyball players on the courtYesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz released Emergency Executive Order which initiates restrictions/a pause on all organized youth and high school sports beginning Friday, November 20. These restrictions directly impact all Minnesota State High School League fine arts and athletic programs that are in-season (volleyball) or projected to start (alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, basketball, and hockey). The restriction remains in effect through Friday, December 18. More specific MPA athletic program information will be forthcoming as we learn more from the Minnesota State High School League.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Dan Haase, athletic director, via email.


The Foote/Nelson Family Gives Peace Of Mind

The Foote/Nelson FamilyDuring the Fall Campaign, we are excited to share stories from our community about the impact the school has made on their children and their family. The Foote/Nelson Family shares the how their child grew more and more confident and comfortable, finding a home at MPA.

How did your family come to MPA?
We were looking at options for a new school for Odin and had a neighbor whose son had gone to MPA. Living in Minneapolis, it made an impression because they were willing to drive far but were so happy. That neighbor’s son became a literal rocket scientist. All of the conversations we had with them as well as Odin’s visit to MPA just seemed like a really great fit.

Our experience has been great. Odin has really transformed. He had been having a really difficult time and it had taken a big hit on his self-esteem. When he visited MPA he felt really welcomed by the students and teachers right away. He felt really supported to do the work in his class and enjoys being recognized for the work he was doing. It is a good balance for Odin – teachers pushing him to do more where they see it while also having a lot of respect for his boundaries and challenges. The biggest thing for us is seeing how the teachers are really empowered to do differentiated instruction. In our conversations with MPA’s teachers regarding past challenges Odin experienced, they listened and then shared that in some instances they may provide instruction differently for Odin and beyond that if they need to adjust, they just do. It’s made such a difference because in all of our previous conversations we didn’t feel heard. Now Odin has teachers that will overcome barriers.

MPA is a strong community for Odin. He’s friends with everyone and he just doesn’t have anything bad to say. MPA feels like home!

This year has been a year unlike any other. Can you share what it has been like being back on campus this school year?
We were really impressed and happy with how well the school pivoted in the spring with virtual learning. MPA was able to maintain structure due to effective teachers – throughout virtual learning. This year, being back on campus is huge. The in-person connection with teachers is incredible and I see a big difference in his engagement and attitude. And, he doesn’t mind his at home days and gets to sleep in a bit longer! I really appreciated MPA’s approach and philosophy of being ready to return to campus as soon as it was possible. Other schools waited, while MPA planned and didn’t wait. MPA was very prepared for either option.

What does MPA give to your children and your family?
We’re happy that our son is happy and growing. MPA provides an environment where Odin feels safe, both emotionally and physically. In social interactions and academically he feels respected by his teachers and doesn’t feel singled out for the challenges he has with his ADHD. Instead, the teachers understand the balance of providing challenge for a kid who has a lot going on and is super smart which really sparks his energy.

We know first-hand that this isn’t a given and we know it’s a lot of work to make MPA’s community what it is.

Why do you give to MPA?
MPA has just been so impressive to us. It has been worth every penny. With everything thrown at the school this last year, the focus has been on the students, communication has been solid, and the teachers deliver.

What would you tell other parents who are considering making a gift to MPA?
We’re in Minneapolis and we are committed to getting him here. The school is definitely worth it for us in time and money. Having the Minneapolis bus has also been really nice. We definitely use it and it helps Odin’s connection to the school because other kids are getting on the bus from the neighborhood.

One of the things I’ve recognized is how much time and stress we had with Odin’s previous school experience and what we have now with MPA is peace of mind.


Shift To Dial Stop Three

lower school student playing at recessa message from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School
November 13, 2020

Last spring, when learning shifted to virtual, I made a promise to this community: We will all come together, as Panthers, and be our best—our most innovative, our most engaging, our most creative, our most kind, and our most hopeful, all the while prioritizing the community’s health and safety.

That’s exactly what we’ve done. And we’ve seen great success because of it. We have had no on-campus transmission. Our health and safety protocols are working. Internally, things are strong and stable, in large part because we have come together, as Panthers. Unfortunately, the external COVID-19 metrics that we monitor closely have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Projections indicate that there is no relief in sight.

In partnership with the administrative team and members of the Community Advisory Group, I have made the difficult decision to proactively transition our community to dial stop three: PreK on campus, K-4 on campus in cohorts, 5-12 in virtual school. Read More


Ms. Dale Gives Belonging

ms. dale helping one of her studentsDuring the Fall Campaign, we are excited to share stories from our community about the impact the school has made on their children and their family. Middle School social studies teacher Marina Dale shares the joys and sense of home that MPA gives her and her family on a daily basis.

How did your family come to MPA?
I came to MPA when Hannah was a year old and I needed a change in my teaching career. Over my 20 years at MPA, I have seen the joys of all three divisions, and the sense of home that the faculty and community has created for my children. As a teacher and a parent, I can’t imagine our family being a part of any other community.

Hannah, my oldest, came to MPA in Kindergarten and she graduated as a “lifer.” Through those experiences, she had the freedom to be creative, be herself, ask questions, and fill her insatiable desire to have knowledge and know why. Because we had such a great experience with Hannah, Simon followed soon after in Kindergarten. Simon loved that he could do drama, plays, art, and read whatever he could get his hands on. My youngest, Aiden, followed suit, started at MPA in PreK. I knew we had found the right place for him when I walked into the PreK room one day and the teacher was rocking my three-year-old to sleep when he was having a difficult day. It reinforced once again that this was home for all of us.

This year has been a year unlike any other. Can you share what it has been like being back on campus this school year?
COVID has really put into sharp focus what is important. My relationships with my students, that they feel valued and heard remains my primary focus. We are thriving and delivering on the MPA promise thanks to being back in every capacity. Even for those who are virtual this year that I haven’t even met, I have made a connection with them and they do feel MPA is their home.

What does MPA give to your children and your family?
MPA has given my kids: critical thinking skills, compassion, and curiosity. All three of my kids will leave MPA curious about the world and wanting to learn more.

MPA has not only enriched my family, it has also honored me with the ability to connect with a family’s student during the turbulent adolescent years, encouraging, and validating them. I feel very honored I am entrusted to play a role in helping other children weather this storm. I hope my students emerge on the other side with the skills necessary to find success in Upper School and beyond. I have loved being everyone’s second mom at school. I go home at night knowing I have made a difference.

Why do you give?
MPA embodies what I believe is important in nurturing and helping students achieve and I give to MPA to make sure that vision and mission continues beyond the years I will be here.

Make A Gift


Thanks For Kicking Off The Fall Campaign With Us!

middle school student painting in the makerspaceThank you to our generous community for joining us on Monday for our virtual 2020 You Give Fall Campaign Kick-Off. Thanks to our community’s participation and giving, we were successful in reaching our goals to receive a $10,000 challenge gift in support of the school! The Fall Campaign will culminate in next week’s Give to the Max Day, so be on the look-out for ways to give, participate, and help us during this important time.

When you make a gift, you ensure our students, faculty, and staff have the tools, resources, and support they need for today and tomorrow, especially during these challenging times. Tuition only covers 82% of the cost of an MPA education. Your gift will bridge this gap and help us to maintain our unique learning environment, top-notch facilities and resources, and small class sizes. Every gift of every size makes an impact. Your participation is what counts. By everyone doing what they can, we all can benefit and thrive.

Make A Gift


Back to Basics: A Health & Safety Pep Talk

perk student coloring with his mask onJust like you, MPA is watching all of the COVID-19 metrics very closely. We continue to be incredibly successful with zero on-campus transmission and effective tracing. Because we are relying on both internal and external metrics to guide our decision making, we do not intend to make any changes to our dial position in the near future.

As cases continue to rise outside of MPA, however, now is a good time to get back to basics and refresh everyone’s memory about three of the most important health and safety layers that we have in place. It is our collective responsibility be safe, be smart, and be kind every single day.

  1. AUX SAFETY APP: This needs to be completed twice per day, every single day. This includes weekends and days your student is not on campus. If the app indicates that you need to stay home, it activates our response protocols internally and you must stay home.
  2. REPORTING: Any symptoms, close contacts, travel, or other vital information must be reported to covid@moundsparkacademy.org. And please follow the recommendations of the contact tracing team diligently. If your child is determined to be a close contact, you will hear from us immediately with information and instructions.
  3. GATHERINGS: We strongly advise against in-person gatherings with extended families or friends. As Governor Walz announced yesterday, this is a primary source of the spread in Minnesota. It can be very challenging to say no to our children, but the more diligent we all are, the more access to campus our students will have.

Read More


Parents Connect With Recipe Sharing

MPA Diwali celebrationIn the spirit of sharing, the Parents Association is starting a recipe exchange. We’re all cooking a lot more and are sharing some of our favorite recipes to try and enjoy throughout winter! This first week we’re focusing on Diwali. More details will be provided in next week’s Panther Post.

A Recipe for Diwali
This weekend, many of our Indian friends will be celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Celebrations include decorating the house with lights, lighting firecrackers in the evening, exchanging gifts and eating delicious food and desserts. One sweet delicacy that is synonymous with Diwali is Kaju Katli. MPA parent Seema Anwar has graciously provided an old family recipe from her mother-in-law for this delightful dessert.

Kaju Katli

Ingredients: cashews, sugar, water, and butter, ghee, or coconut oil. (Optional: rose water or saffron strands) Read More