Thank You For A Joyful MPA Book Festival!

lower school student reading outsideThe annual MPA Parents Association Book Festival has left us with many awesome books to carry us through the summer, along with proceeds for our library to purchase new books to benefit our library, teachers, and greater community! It was so wonderful to see Valley Book Seller, Usborne Books, and Breakthrough Twin Cities highlighted on our social media platforms, and all the great responses from our community.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who made the Book Festival a success! First, we want to thank all of you who purchased books, for being flexible and willing to try something new this year, and for supporting the Breakthrough summer literature program. Without you, there would be no Book Festival! We want to thank the parent volunteers, as they are key to helping our MPA community put on so many well-loved traditions. We want to thank Nancy Lage, as well as many teachers and administrators, for the time they spent brainstorming wonderful ways to engage our community in reading activities throughout the Book Festival. Finally, both Valley Book Seller and Usborne Books also send a big thank you to our community for supporting their small businesses during this hard time. We don’t know what next year will bring, but we will be excited to offer our Book Festival anytime, anywhere, anyway! Read More


Ashley Cooper Named 2020 Outstanding Cooperating Professional

Ashley CooperAshley Cooper, MPA Middle and Upper School Counselor, was recently awarded the UW-River Falls 2020 Outstanding Cooperating Professional! Over the past three years, MPA and UW-River Falls’ School Psychology Program have worked together to conduct depression and suicide screenings for our Middle and Upper School students.

The unique partnership allows MPA to deliver high-quality programming that reaches over 150 students each year while providing invaluable, real-life experience to graduate-level mental health practitioners. MPA is incredibly fortunate to collaborate with such a compassionate, knowledgeable, and professional group of people each year.

“Through our work together,” Ms. Cooper shares, “we have been able to highlight and strengthen our school culture in so many ways. I’m incredibly proud that there are dozens of UWRF graduates working at schools all over the state who know of and have a firsthand experience with Mounds Park Academy, and that MPA has gained a positive reputation in the community for how we are addressing student mental health.”


Con Law Class Presents Oral Arguments Virtually

Con law studentsThis year was the 17th annual MPA Constitutional Law oral arguments! Each year the Con Law senior elective culminates with students presenting oral arguments before legal experts in an actual courtroom. They choose a federal case that has been appealed before the US Supreme Court, prepare extensive written briefs which are submitted a week in advance, then appear before a panel of three judges to make their case. Afterward, each judge gives the students feedback.

This year, however, the seniors took a page out of the MN Supreme Court’s playbook and held virtual oral arguments. The students were split up into breakout rooms on Zoom, and conducted their oral arguments in the same way they would if the event was taking place in person. When asked if they enjoyed themselves, one senior responded, “Yes, but I was still nervous, even over Zoom!”

The judges this year were made up of MPA alumni, parents, and MN Court of Appeals Judges. The day could not have happened without their time and support. We want to extend a special thank you to MN Court of Appeals Judges Judge Jeanne Cochran, Judge James Florey, Judge Kevin Ross, and Judge Jill Halbrooks. A big thank you also goes out to the MPA parents who took time out of their busy days as practicing attorneys to serve as judges for the seniors: Nan Etzwiler, Gail Engstrom, Kevin Rhodes, and Steve Quam. Thank you to the MPA alumni who returned to judge the oral arguments they themselves participated in years ago: Kethan Dahlberg ’14, Jenny Portis ’16, Warsame Galaydh ’06, Adam Pabarcus ’03, Sam Bolstad ’08, and Paul Shapiro ’05. Lastly, thank you to Maureen Conway, MPA founding faculty member and retired Upper School History teacher, who started this event 17 years ago, and who was able to return as a judge this year.

“Every year, I am amazed with what our seniors do with the preparation of their briefs and oral arguments,” shared Mike Vergin, Upper School history teacher, and who now teaches the Constitutional Law class. “They are considering cases actually being argued before the Supreme Court this session. One judge participating for the first time in a while commented that these students were every bit as skilled as those he works with in the moot courts at the law school at which he teaches. We literally have not seen each other since the day they found out which cases they’d be arguing. This is challenging enough in a typical year, but the Class of 2020 rose to the occasion and made it happen this year just as well.”


Making A Difference Through Art

Zoe Hutton's art projectsEach MPA senior must complete a Senior Service Project where they submit a proposal, complete a minimum of 30 hours of service work, keep a record or journal of their experiences, and prepare an exhibit or presentation based their experiences. The project is an opportunity for them to use their voices, skills, and carry out a service project with an organization or for a cause they are passionate about.

MPA senior Zoe Hutton chose to create portraits for The Memory Project, which is a nonprofit organization that connects artists with children throughout the world. After completion, the children are sent their portraits. Zoe’s portraits will be sent to children in Venezuela. Visit www.memoryproject.org/venezuela to learn more and see a touching video about the project!


Congratulations to All-State Choir Members

Lilly in a playRyan and Caleb Congratulations to Lilly Gasterland-Gustafsson, Ryan Ghose, and Caleb Rhodes who auditioned and were selected to be members of the Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Choir program! Lilly will sing in the Soprano Alto Choir under the direction of celebrated composer Andrea Ramsey.  Caleb is a member of the Mixed Choir conducted by Sandra Snow from Michigan State University while Ryan will sing with Tesfa Wondemagegnehu from St. Olaf College in the Tenor Bass Choir.  Plans are being made for an All-State Choir experience in February 2021.  Lilly, Ryan, and Caleb are all members of the MPA Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers.


Ian Snider ’21 Gets Accepted to MMEA All-State Orchestra

Ian Snider playing his instrumentCongratulations to junior Ian Snider for getting into the Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra! Students from high schools around the state of Minnesota audition in March for a spot in either the MMEA All-State orchestra, choir, or band. In August, Ian will join the other orchestra members in a week long camp to develop advanced technique and make music with new friends. The camp will culminate in a concert showcasing their achievements, as well as a performance at Orchestra Hall in February.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with other students, making music, and learning from amazing conductors,” he shared. Congratulations, Ian!


Class of 2020 Commencement

the class of 2020MPA is pleased to share that we will be holding an on campus, in-person, outdoor Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 on June 6 at 6 PM with appropriate safety measures in place. We will meet and exceed the April 10, 2020 Minnesota Department of Health guidelines on faith-based services in parking lots and the May 8, 2020 State of Minnesota graduation/commencement celebration guidance. By gathering feedback from seniors and their families, we learned that they have a strong desire to gather as a class one last time, albeit in a modified way, and we are happy to be able to honor their requests. MPA has rented a portable stage and the event will be held in the south parking lot, with all attendees remaining in their cars until it is time for the senior to walk across the stage and accept his or her diploma. Sound will be broadcasted to attendees through radio. We ask that only the Class of 2020 and their immediate families attend—to accommodate others, the full Commencement will be recorded and made available to the entire community via Facebook Live. A taskforce of students, faculty, staff, and administrators has been working hard to make it a very special event and we are excited to celebrate the class!


End Of Year Contactless Materials Pick-up

middle school student at his lockerAs the school year draws to a close in virtually, it is time to begin thinking about how you will return MPA materials to school for inventory and preparation for next year and how your student will receive any projects, work, or remaining personal items that remain at school from before our launch of Virtual School. Yearbooks will also be distributed at this time for those who ordered them. On Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, we will conduct contactless materials pick-up and return at MPA. See below for your family’s pick-up date and time slot.

  • Last names beginning with A-F: Thursday, June 11, 9 AM-12 PM
  • Last names beginning with G-N: Thursday, June 11, 1-5 PM
  • Last names beginning with O-T: Friday, June 12, 9 AM-12 PM
  • Last names beginning with U-Z: Friday, June 12, 1-5 PM

In preparation and to help families know what needs to be returned, each division is conducting an inventory of materials distributed to students with teachers and staff. This can include, but may not be limited to, textbooks, classroom reading books, library books, winter sports uniforms, and technology equipment (computers, chargers, laptop sleeves, etc.). We ask that you begin, with your student, an inventory of your own at home and begin gathering items that you know will need to be returned to MPA, as well.

Please watch your division communications for more information about the process and details. In the meantime, please save the dates and times above!


Eighth Grader Izzy E. Selected For USA Swimming Camp

Izzy swimmingEighth grader Izzy E. has been selected to participate in the Central Zone Diversity Select Swimming Camp sponsored by USA Swimming. Each spring, USA Swimming invites 48 athletes from underrepresented populations to participate in a three-day camp program which includes pool training, motivational and educational sessions, and team-building activities. Selection is based on times swum at USA Swimming sanctioned events. Congratulations Izzy!


An Opportunity For Alumni To Give Back

student reading a book in her lapLiteracy Minnesota’s modified Summer Reads program is a great opportunity to help. This year’s Summer Reads VISTAs will support schools and community organizations with a broadened range of initiatives, which may include:

  • Working with learners in a wider age range (K-12 instead of K-4)
  • Participating in distance learning (teaching, tutoring and connecting families with digital resources)
  • Being flexible and nimble as our host sites adapt to transforming circumstances

Summer Reads VISTAs serve full-time for 8 weeks between June and August. All VISTAs receive a living allowance and a post-service education award or cash stipend. Learn more at literacymn.org/summerreads. Ready to interview? Schedule a virtual one here.

Thank you to Randy Comfort and Lisa Pederson for sharing this wonderful opportunity for alumni to help others during COVID-19.