Our Legacy Society Story

our legacy society storyNan Etzwiler, Dan O’Neill, and Laura O’Neill

Since our daughter, Laura, started at MPA in 2005 in its first PreK class, MPA has been joyful, enriching, and stimulating for her—and for us! From pillowcase poems to building 3-D digestive systems, from memorizing Chaucer to crafting a competitive speech, we are grateful to the incredibly skilled and caring faculty we have known in each division. As parents, we have also had the opportunity to volunteer at MPA in various capacities and have seen close-up how thoughtfully the mission of the school is borne out through curriculum, character-building, and extracurricular activities. MPA is a place that speaks to the both the ‘head’ and the ‘heart’ of everyone who passes through it.

In recognition of the rich mission of the school, and its strong leadership and staff, we have included MPA in our estate plans for three reasons. Most important, MPA has played a critical role and had a sustained presence in
our lives for many years—and its impact on our family will continue for decades to come. Second, prioritizing our giving and including MPA in our estate planning have been ways for us to talk with our daughter about not only the importance of giving, but the joy of it. She has a growing appreciation for the fun and importance of leaving something behind for others.

Finally, through tax planning we have been able to maximize the impact of our gifts today and later. Working with MPA’s Development Office to denote MPA as an estate beneficiary was easy and quick. We hope one day that our legacy gift can help sustain MPA so that generations of students to come might thrive and soar just as our daughter has. We encourage you to reach out to MPA’s Development Office to consider including MPA in your legacy planning, too.


Be A Career Panelist To Help Students Dream Big

students in the college counseling officeCollege Counseling and the Upper School Advisory program are teaming up to provide career exploration opportunities for students! We are looking for MPA parents and alumni to share information about their careers with students who are starting to imagine where their talents could take them.

We plan to offer six different “career cluster” panels during Advisory meetings. Speakers will volunteer either Wednesday, April 8 or Wednesday, April 15 (time commitment roughly 10:45 AM to 12:30 PM). On each date, three different panels will be offered, featuring people presenting about their jobs, the paths that led to their current positions, and taking student questions.

If you are interested in being a panelist OR getting involved in future career programming, please complete our brief survey or contact Andrea Kaltved in College Counseling at akaltved@moundsparkacademy.org. Read More


Meet Nate Bander ’09

nate bander and yahya madarMeet 2019-20 Alumni Association Board member Nate Bander ’09!

MPA Class of 2009 alum Nate Bander is MPA’s admission outreach coordinator and Upper School admission coordinator at Mounds Park Academy. He also coaches boys basketball and the varsity track and field and cross country teams at MPA. After attending MPA K-12 and the University of Minnesota, where he majored in Communications Studies with a Spanish Studies minor, Nate moved to Baza, Spain and worked in an adult language academy as an English teacher.

“The single biggest impact that my MPA experience had on me was inspiring me to learn about the world. MPA is a wonderful, diverse community of parents, students and educators who place a high value on education. I feel prepared to speak about the greater world, travel to faraway places, digest complex theories and thrive as a global citizen. MPA connected me to the broader world.”

But Nate’s MPA moments did not stop as a student and alumni. In fact, he didn’t make one of his fondest memories until coaching in 2019.

Nate recalls, “I first met Yahya Madar (Class of 2019) when he came out for my ninth grade basketball team. That season, I benched him in a game and he almost quit the team.” But, Yahya persevered and in 10th grade, he came back out for the basketball team. He also tried high jumping in track and field for the first time, and something clicked. Read More


A Message From Brenna Bray ’02

Brenna Bray '02Fellow Alumni, MPA has provided us with a trampoline! For many of us, MPA has provided a safe launching pad that catapults us into action. We have been able to “launch” towards our dreams with the knowledge that we have a net that will catch us softly if we fall. The metaphorical trampoline gains its strength from the MPA community: our teachers pushed us to dream big and take actions; our colleagues inspire us to do right and remind us of who we are and where we come from. MPA gains its strength from its community, and that includes you!

The MPA Alumni Association leverages alumni successes to inspire future generations Panther prodigies; this requires us to keep tabs on our alumni. Please provide updates–big or small–on your whereabouts! Have you moved? Do you have a new e-mail address or phone number? Have you experienced a life event or a career change? We want to know about it! Your achievements can inspire the next generation of Panthers to dream big, do right, and give back in turn.


Alumni Mentorship Making A Lifelong Impact

lyndon and matt at the alumni networking eventMore pairs of MPA seniors and alumni mentors have been eager to share their positive experiences and connections through the MPA Mentorship Program and how it has continued to inspire them. In just its second year, a historic number of alumni participated, outnumbering the current senior class! Mentees and mentors were matched based on interests, hobbies, career goals, and college choice. See all of the photos from the networking event here!

“MPA’s mentorship program has given me a chance to learn so much information about my dream of becoming a pilot that I cannot get from the internet. I cannot describe how excited and happy I was on the first day of the mentorship program,” said MPA senior Lyndon Lyu ’20. “We started to write an email to our mentors, and I was so lucky to be paired up with Matt, who is a professional pilot. Being a pilot has been my dream since I can remember. When I was told that I was paired with a real pilot, I was like a little boy seeing his hero. In the many emails between Matt and me, mine were always so long because I had so many questions about aviation. I knew I could ask Matt anything because he knows almost everything about my dream, and for this reason, our email progress was always far ahead of the program required timeline. Thank you to MPA for arranging the mentor meeting in our new Family Commons. Meeting with Matt might be the best thing that has happened to me this year. Matt was very nice and helpful, and he told me every step that I need to do in order to be a pilot in the future. He is even willing to introduce me to some airlines after I get my pilot’s license. For all of these reasons, I am so thankful to MPA’s mentorship program, and I really appreciate Matt’s help and the time that he spent with me on this program.” Read More


Momentum 2020: Living Out Our Mission

upper school students working together in the commonsby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As we approach the end of our current 5-year strategic plan, Momentum 2020, work is underway to lay the foundation for our next plan. Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees and the school’s administration, the MPA community is engaged in a conversation around our core and aspirational values that will give direction to the new plan.

As part of this conversation, students in the Upper School were recently given the opportunity to provide their feedback on a list of core and aspirational values. They were also given the opportunity to name additional values represented at MPA that were not on the list provided. Imagine my reaction when the overwhelming value Upper School students offered was “kindness.” In a world that often feels anything but kind, I am proud that students affirmed kindness as a core value. While respect is part of our mission statement, kindness is the manifestation of respect, an expression of how students consciously choose to act. I couldn’t have been prouder.

We are fortunate to have a warm, kind, welcoming, and inclusive community, characterized by kindness. It represents a deliberate outcome set forth in our current plan that prioritized the creation and implementation of character education and wellness programs across each division. It serves as just one of many examples of how Momentum 2020 has guided the ongoing, continuous school improvement over the past five years. It is customary at this time of year that I provide an update on our strategic plan and how the school is living out its mission. As you will see in this infographic, we have accomplished a great deal. While it is impossible to capture all the progress that has been made in the last year, I would like to highlight a few notable accomplishments under each of the three strategic priorities. Read More


Introducing The Martin Lenz Harrison Library

Ingrid cutting the ribbon to the libraryThank you to our generous and kind community for helping us unveil the brand new Martin Lenz Harrison Library yesterday! Martin Lenz Harrison was a member of MPA’s first graduating class. His memory and legacy will live on for generations of Panthers as they read, learn, and grow in their beautiful library.

His surviving parents Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison and members of the first graduating class joined us on campus for the ribbon cutting and celebration. Thank you to our donors, volunteers, and community members!


Join Us At The Spring Auction Preview Event

auction committee chairsStop by the Family Commons during drop off time for drinks and snacks and to learn more about this year’s Spring Auction! You can ask questions, purchase tickets, and talk to the volunteer planning committee members about the event. In addition, if you bring wine, gift cards, or a silent auction item to donate, you will be entered in a door prize drawing to win one of our coveted Golden Tickets for your chance to win one of this year’s fabulous live auction items.

MPA Spring Auction 2020: Light Up The Night Preview
Friday, February 14, 2020
7:30-8:30 AM in the Family Commons


Be Part Of The Fiber Friends Quilting Project

the mpa fiber friendsThe MPA Fiber Friends are currently working on a community-wide quilting project and want your masterpieces to be part of it! Bring your artistic vision and voice and be a part of something special. Anyone may be part of the community quilting. The Fiber Friends meet on Fridays from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. This group of knitters, crocheters, and textile gurus is open to all parents, alums, grandparents, students, staff, and faculty. Beginners are always welcome!

And don’t miss the Fiber Friends at Maker Fest 2020!


Born Of A Dream And A Shoestring

lower school boys reading in the new libraryJoanne Olson, MPA’s first Lower School director, is fond of saying that MPA was born “of a dream and a shoestring.” What started as the dream of founders Bob Kriescher and Sandy Kriescher Smith, quickly became the dream of parents and educators from across the Twin Cities. Bob, Sandy, our founding teachers, board members, and parents pooled what resources they could muster to make their dream a reality on a shoestring budget that would have a lasting impact.

Sandy Kriescher Smith once shared with me that she used a small bequest from her grandmother’s estate to buy books for the new library. In the year before MPA opened, Sandy would crisscross the cities, utilizing her inheritance to purchase the books from public schools that were closing, or the inventory cast from public libraries. Little by little, she filled her garage with boxes of books so that when (or if!) the school opened, it would have a library.

Sandy’s story is just one of the many stories of our humble beginnings. MPA would not exist without the vision of the founding families and generosity of time and resources of so many. Over the years, generous gifts have resulted in beautiful campus and school community. A commitment to the school guided parents and supporters to invest in the needs of the time but also to invest in the school’s future. Read More