Students Give, Get, And Grow Through Community Involvement

first graders reading to a blood drive donorThe world starts small when you’re a kid. In a relative bubble of family, friends, and school, it can be challenging for children to think beyond their own backyard, or to reflect on how they can support or contribute to a community that’s different from their own. Cultivating a service mindset in students early is a powerful key to unlocking a larger world view, while also preparing them for college and creating distinction in their educational experience.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common project published a groundbreaking study focused on inspiring community service as part of the college admissions process. The researchers advocate for how service can help students focus on meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement, while creating a platform for long-term success. The study emphasizes that, through their volunteerism, students should be encouraged to:

  • engage in meaningful, sustained community service that is authentically chosen, consistent, and well-structured, and that provides opportunity for reflection both individually and with peers and adults;
  • take collective action that tackles community challenges;
  • have authentic experiences that focus on “doing with” not “doing for”; and
  • engage in service that develops gratitude and a sense of responsibility for the future.

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Travel 12,000 Miles At Culture Day!

flags decorating the halls for culture dayJoin Us For Culture Day At MPA! On October 23, 3-6:30 PM, travel 12,000 miles in one evening! Enjoy Peruvian, Armenian, and Korean-pop dances while sipping masala chai and munching on mini quiche. Try your hand at American graffiti art or relax to beautiful instrumental music while getting a henna tattoo.

You don’t want to miss this hands-on experience! Sign-up for a cooking demonstration in our new kitchen:
Learn how to make Gata–an Armenian sweet bread, 3:30-4 PM
Learn how to make Idli’s–savory Indian rice and lentil cakes, 4:30-5 PM

The kitchen can accommodate a maximum of 10 people, so please sign-up in advance by emailing

Food and drink tickets ($1 each) will be sold at the event. Try drinks and delicacies from around the world, have fun making crafts, enjoy the cultural entertainment and fashion show, and learn about our world–bonus points if you can identify all the flags decorating the hallway!

Help make all this possible by signing up here.

Parents of alumni and alumni, we would love to have you on campus for Culture Day at MPA as well! Join us to experience the brand new commons, cafeteria, and kitchen on campus in an experiential, fun, and delicious way!

MPA Alumni Spotlight: The Class Of 2014

In celebration of their 5-year reunions graduates of 2014 are excited to share what they have been up to since graduating from MPA!

Kathryn (Etzold) Dampier is currently in her third year of enlistment at Marine Corps Base Head Quarters Quantico, VA. She is serving as a Foreign Weapons Instructor at Precision Weapons Section, Weapons Training Battalion and recently got promoted to Platoon Sergeant. Her husband Anthony is also a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. They got married last January.

Michael Guggenheim is entering his second year at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where he is a co-President of its Entertainment & Sports Law Society, and has been interning this summer in the Legal & Business Affairs department of Universal Studios International Parks & Recreation, where he will continue working during the fall of the school year. He continues to find time for concert-going, scuba diving, snowboarding and friends!

Madeline Sobalvarro is attending Hamline University and majoring in Digital Media Arts. She also free-lances in video editing and runs tabletop games for fun.

Ralph Dunn graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Kinesiology. In college, he worked as a fitness coach. After, he wanted to help people by making them more fit before they ever needed to go to physical therapy. Working alongside physical therapists, it was obvious to him that the majority of people end up there from not exercising appropriately. And that what is “appropriate exercise” is specific to the individual. He is working towards opening an “OPEX Fitness” gym, focusing on individualized functional fitness coaching. The gym is opening this January in Woodbury. Read More

A Joyful Homeoming And Alumni Gathering

Mandy Abdo-Sheahan '92 with my burger truckBeautiful weather and a variety of activities brought more people than ever to campus on September 28 for our community-wide Homecoming festivities. Sports games included a varsity volleyball tournament with the Panthers as the overall winners and several soccer games and tennis matches. We hosted My Burger food truck, which is owned by MPA alum Mandy Abdo-Sheahan ’92, and concessions were made possible by our MPA Spirit Committee. Our third and fourth grade Lower School students sang the National Anthem for the volleyball and soccer games; three types of inflatables were there for the students including a bounce house, axe throwing, and mini golf; additional lawn games; several goodies and giveaways; community gathering around the fire pit; and face painting and chalk art in the parking lot. We had additional alumni-focused events including a tour of our renovated spaces attended by approximately twenty people, an alumni soccer scrimmage, and reunions on Saturday evening.

Milestone Alumni Reunions were celebrated for the classes of 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 at Lake Monster Brewing on Saturday evening. Following the reunions, an alumni social was held for all MPA alumni. We hosted 39 alumni, which was our largest alumni event in four years!

Take a look at the photos from Homecoming and the Alumni Gathering!

Meet MPA Parent Dr. Emily Binstadt ’91!

the Binstadt familyWhat do you love about MPA?
Almost everything! MPA has an emphasis on inclusion and kindness which defines the community overall. Within that circle, there is a freedom for individuals to explore what drives and inspires them and to develop their own identities and passions. Kids are free to try to do it “all” with a broad sampling of high-quality experiences in arts, academics, and athletics, and/or to delve deeply into a particular interest. I’m amazed by my children’s aspirations and achievements to date at MPA. I’m even more impressed by the confidence they have gained from engaging deeply with material in their academic courses at MPA, and in the organizational, public speaking, empathy, leadership, and teamwork skills they are honing. I am certain they will make a meaningful contribution in whatever area they choose to direct their energy.

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
When weighing the financial and personal commitment to enrolling at an independent school like MPA, we worried about our girls being insulated in a school with less socioeconomic diversity than other educational options. And although we continue to be attentive to the impact this reality might have on our girls’ development, we have been astounded by the spontaneous commitment to altruism and advocacy our kids have made at MPA. They are more excited to talk about what’s new in the student-run Social Change Club than in almost any other activity they participate in. We couldn’t have asked for a bigger “win” in this area, which is even more wonderful because this was something we worried about before our kids started at MPA. Read More

Be A Part Of Culture Day At MPA!

culture day at mpaSave the date for Culture Day at MPA on Wednesday, October 23 from 3-6:30 PM! Join us for a gastronomic tour around the world as we share sweet and savory delicacies from 10 countries and an international drinks bar. Attend a cooking demonstration in our wonderful new teaching kitchen, go home with some cool body art from an expert henna artist, and try your hand at global crafts like “worry dolls” from Guatemala and Origami, the Japanese art of paper-folding. You will also be able to enjoy musical and dance performances by our talented students! This day full of food, community, and fun is hosted by the MPA Parents Association. Read More

The MPA Theatre Department’s 2019-2020 Season

Haroun and the sea of storiesThe Theatre Department is proud to announce its 2019-2020 Season. Everyone is welcome to join us for any and all of our productions. Information will go out via Panther Posts as tickets become available for each show throughout the year. Please know, we are happy to help you with accessibility needs for any of our productions.

Students, remember, our department’s goal is to immerse you completely in the creation of theatre–from top to bottom and back to front. You are our technicians, performers, designers, musicians, and writers. If you’d like to get involved, please check out the dates below for auditions and crew sign-ups. Remember, Upper School classes also help with the production side of things, so if that’s of interest to you. Feel free to contact any of your theatre teachers with any and all questions. Read More

Help Make Dreams Come True By October 1

upper school track runnersIf you haven’t already, now is the time to support Together, We Dream: The Campaign For MPA. Help us reach the $5 million goal by October 1 so we can fully fund each priority and finish the campaign strong. Thank you!

“The endowment is important for future students to have the opportunity to access a welcoming environment of learning regardless of socioeconomic class. This is vital for all in the community.” – Nancy and Dominick Driano, current parents

“The outdoor track will show MPA’s dedication to sports as well as academics. Our alumni daughter participated in track and our alumni son participated in soccer. The fields and track are in desperate need of renovation.” – Dan and Elizabeth Esch, current parents Read More

Come Home To MPA

upper school students cheering during homecoming week spirit daysby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I am a sap when it comes to commercials around the holidays. I may be showing my age but some of you probably remember the Folgers Coffee commercial when the son surprises his mother by coming home from college unexpectedly, making a fresh pot of Folgers that awakens his mother. Tears, every time. There is something about coming home—feelings of love, safety, and acceptance—that stirs our emotions.

Our identities emerge in the midst of community, molded and shaped by our experiences. Our family, religious beliefs, neighborhoods, and schools are all important in introducing and reinforcing a shared set of values that nurture our identities. Schools in particular have a lasting impact not only on our academic development, but our social and emotional development in our most formative years. Read More

Happy Homecoming, Panthers!

fans line up for high fives at homecomingHomecoming 2019 is here! Did you see the Homecoming chalk art at the north and south entrances on Monday? Thank you to the Upper School Student Council for kicking off the week of festivities!

We have been dreaming, playing, and sharing all week. We hope you can come celebrate with us at the All-School Pep Rally on Friday at 2:20 PM in the Lansing Center.

Please also join us for a day of fun on Saturday! It will be a perfect fall day for catching up with friends, watching a game or match, grabbing a bite to eat, and warming your hands by the fire. Read More