Celebrating Our Antidote to Cynicism

MPA Faculty Celebrates the Class of 2019On June 8, 2019, students, families, and faculty gathered in Mounds Park Academy’s Nicholson Center to graduate the Class of 2019. The evening began with the Upper School Band’s rendition of “Pomp & Circumstance” as the junior color guard and MPA faculty and staff presented the graduates. Throughout the ceremony, the Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers shared songs and three members of the Class of 2019 spoke. Gabby Law ’19, Julia Portis ’19, and Valedictorian Ajay Manicka ’19 shared words of pride, encouragement, and inspiration for their fellow classmates.

When head of school Dr. Bill Hudson spoke, he called out the prevalence of cynicism in our society today. He referred to Operation Varsity Blues, the college admission scandal that broke this spring, as an example of the way our education system and society may seem to be heading. However, Hudson explained that while “Modern cynicism tends toward negativity, is judgmental, anti-idealistic, sardonic, and misanthropic,” the MPA education that the Class of 2019 has received has readied them “to act from a place of rational faith in the human spirit.” Before receiving their diplomas, Hudson addressed the Class of 2019, announcing to them, “You are our antidote to cynicism.”

As Hudson expressed, we are so proud of the impact the Class of 2019 has made on our community and are excited to see how they shake the world in the years to come. Congratulations, graduates!  Click here to view special moments from the night.


Class of 2019: Parker Law, White Bear Lake

Parker law, class of 2019As the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I started at MPA in Kindergarten.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Babson for its stellar reputation in business and entrepreneurship, as well as its nationally ranked tennis program. There, I will be able to push myself athletically as well as continue my business passion.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I am incredibly excited about the independence that comes with college away from home. Living next to Boston gives me the opportunity to experience a new landscape, meet new people, and find interesting jobs and internships.

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
The amount of time focused on standardized test preparation, college essay writing, and researching colleges starting sophomore year is something I have come to appreciate after the fact. I consistently felt more prepared for the college application process than my peers at other schools. Read More


Three Alumni Credit MPA For Helping Them Follow Their Dreams

Matt, Paul, and JacksonMatt Berning ’18 first stumbled across Camp Voyageur when looking for ways to spend his upcoming summer vacation. He knew he wanted to be outside—preferably in the Boundary Waters—and spending it at Camp Voyageur seemed like the perfect option. After he applied for and received the position as a camp counselor there, he texted his friends and fellow MPA alumni Paul Thompson-Nelson ’18, and Jackson Peacock ’18, out of excitement. A few weeks later, unbeknownst to Matt, both Jackson and Paul applied for and received the positions as well.

As camp counselors at Camp Voyageur, the trio will host portage trips across the Boundary Waters and hike around Lake Superior with their campers. “We will take campers in pairs of two and be gone for extended periods of time,” explains Matt. “The essence of Camp Voyageur involves creating an atmosphere that embraces the wonders of the outdoors … We have not worked here too long, but have already fallen in love with it. This is where MPA comes into play. We can all agree MPA has made a large impact on our mindsets on life and allowed us to follow our dreams.” Read More


2019 MPA Alumni Association Award Recipient

mike velin '06 and Claire porter '00Congratulations to Claire Porter ’00! The MPA Alumni Association Board of Directors is pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the MPA Alumni Association Award. This award is intended to honor alumni of outstanding talent pursuing their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations, while embracing the spirit of MPA’s commitment to community and social outreach.

Since graduating from MPA, Claire Porter ’00 has pursued academic excellence and has made a big impact on her field and the world. Claire received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University in 2005 and has earned two Master’s degrees, both from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Since that time, she has authored numerous publications to advance research in the fields of Geographic Information Science and Software Engineering.

Porter currently serves as a Remote Sensing Scientist at the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, a group that provides geospatial data, derived products, and expertise to polar researchers. She leads the product development team in building automated workflows for production of orthorectified imagery, imagery mosaics, and elevation models from stereoscopic imagery. She serves as a mentor and informal advisor to undergraduate and graduate students and carries on the MPA tradition of supporting others and making an impact on the world. Read More


Class of 2019: Izzie Portoghese, Saint Paul

Izzie PortogheseAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA? 
I came to Mounds Park Academy in ninth grade after years of attending Saint Paul Public Schools because of the welcoming environment and great academics of MPA. One of my sisters came to the school the same year I did when she was in eighth grade and the other came a few months later as a kindergartener. My parents originally were going to wait to bring my youngest sister to MPA until Middle School, but decided to bring her earlier when we saw the positive affect on myself and my middle sister.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I will be attending St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, this fall. I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college that was close to home. I also was looking for a great nursing program for me to pursue a career in healthcare. St. Olaf allows me to follow the career path I want, while being in the setting and environment that is a good match for me.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I am excited about starting the nursing program at St. Olaf. I was directly admitted to the program and I am looking forward to starting healthcare related classes and eventually doing clinicals. St. Olaf has clinical relationships throughout the Twin Cities, at Mayo Clinic, and in rural areas, and I’m so excited to experience all of them.

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
My favorite part about the college counseling process at MPA is that I could sign up to meet with Ms. Pederson to talk about my essays, college decisions, etc. easily and whenever I needed help. Senior year, I met with her about a hundred times to go over the essays I was writing and she always was there to help. I also really appreciated that MPA encouraged us to think and prepare for college starting freshman year. The College Counseling Office has been very helpful throughout my years at MPA. Read More


Class of 2019: Lindsey Baldwin, Saint Paul

Lindsey BaldwinAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I came to MPA in ninth grade after moving to St. Paul from Marquette, Michigan.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I was first encouraged to visit Wellesley College because it is a women’s college and because of its reputation for academic excellence and social justice. When I visited, I fell in love with the positive, supportive environment and the dedication to feminism among Wellesley students. I ultimately chose Wellesley because it is a perfect fit for me, and I know that the college and my peers there will help me grow as a student and as a person.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
First and foremost, I am excited to study at a women’s college. While it is not representative of the “real world,” the prospect of engaging in learning unencumbered by gender roles and societal expectations is invigorating. I am very passionate about women’s and other social issues, and because Wellesley is committed to exploring and alleviating those burdens, I know that it will be a perfect place for me to grow. Read More


A Special Dedication On Campus

Jane Harper and familyA very special surprise happened on campus last week that began at the Spring Auction 2019-Once Upon A Time! Mike Velin ’06 bid and won the opportunity to name a sewing machine in the Makerspace, and he named it after his mom, Jane Harper. “We wanted to show our appreciation for everything you’ve done, and dedicate a sewing machine in your honor,” Mike said to his mother, after she unwrapped the sewing machine.

Jane is a frequent member of Fiber Friends, and has used her expertise to teach countless MPA students. She has also been instrumental in helping the eighth grade boys learn how to sew. To show their appreciation, those boys joined in on the moment by singing her a tribute song. Click here to watch a true MPA moment.


Class of 2019: Ling DeBellis, Saint Paul

Ling DeBellisAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA? 
I started MPA in PreK in 2005! This was MPA’s first PreK class. I was really shy back then, and had faced isolation at a PreK before MPA, so I was pretty nervous on the first day of school. Lorraine Anderson, the former MPA PreK teacher, was amazingly kind and nurturing; it didn’t take long for me to come out of my shell!

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Rice University in Houston, TX because it just felt like home. The people were so authentic and welcoming. Our campus tour was incredibly accessible (I am a wheelchair user, and have had terrible experiences at other colleges). I ate lunch with the best, nerdiest students ever, and instantly felt a connection. I was clearly surrounded by supportive, engaging peers and brilliant professors! And, of course, Houston weather is my kind of vibe. I ended up applying Early Decision because I knew I’d be heartbroken if I didn’t get in. A bonus is that Rice is neighbors to the world’s largest medical complex (really!) — fingers crossed for plenty of research gigs! Read More


Class of 2019: José Varela Castillo, Woodbury

Jose Varela CastilloAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA? 
I came to MPA in ninth grade. MPA has been a great fit and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Tulane because I wanted to be in a place that was warm and close to home. Also, I wanted to be in a five-year architecture program, and Tulane was my favorite school in the south that offered it. I also was looking for a medium size school, but one that still had lots of school spirit and D1 athletics. Tulane also allows me to double or switch majors because admission is not school specific giving me more options if architecture is not the path I ultimately want to take.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I am really looking forward to taking more art classes and doing more hands-on projects. I am also looking forward to more independence and the ability to have more control over my schedule. College will also give me the opportunity to find out what I really want in life and discover new paths. I am excited to meet new people who have had different life experiences than I have. Studying abroad is another thing that I am excited for, since I love to travel and like living in different countries. Read More


Class of 2019: Gabby Law, White Bear Lake

Gabby LawAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA? 
I’m proud to call myself an MPA lifer. It’s crazy to think only 13 years ago I was sitting in Ms. P’s class learning the alphabet!

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I first heard about Georgetown through Ms. Kunze, my Spanish teacher and speech coach, who said a previous MPA student, Aniket Naravane, had just graduated from Georgetown and loved it. In particular, she mentioned how Aniket loved the global outlook on learning, their focus on care for others, and the overall happiness of the students. After researching Georgetown, my mom and I visited the campus, and I immediately fell in love. The students were engaged and weren’t afraid to speak their mind, but they were incredibly kind too. Having a community of older students who mentor younger students and professors closely bonded to their students was very important to me, and I could clearly see that exemplified during my visit.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I am so excited to live in D.C.! As someone who loves museums and politics, I can’t think of a better place to live. D.C. also has a lot of great opportunities for internships; I’ve listened to NPR since I was a young child, so I’m hoping I can intern at their headquarters or at the Capitol sometime over the next four years.

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
Ms. Peterson makes the college counseling process so manageable and enjoyable. She gets to know her students well throughout high school, so when we start applying to colleges and writing essays, she personalizes our experiences to help us find the best fit. Also, she is just the sweetest! I love stopping in her room to have a cup of coffee and chat.

What about your MPA experience has best prepared you for college?
MPA has helped me learn how to speak my mind and be open to debate. I know at college I won’t be afraid to present my ideas and defend them, too. By creating a space where I can take risks and make mistakes, MPA has inspired me to think independently and try new things. Read More