Mason Ferlic ’11, 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Launched earlier this year as a way to celebrate MPA’s rich athletic tradition, MPA is proud to announce the 2023 Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kordosky, athletic director and coach, Bev Docherty, teacher and coach, Mason Ferlic ’11, alum athlete, and Caitlin Lock Coomes ’01, alum athlete. Please take a moment to read thoughts from Mason below!

What was your greatest accomplishment in your four years at MPA?
After a successful junior year track season, I set the lofty goal of winning the state cross country championships. It was the first time I called my “shot” and let everyone know that was my goal for the season. When the day came, I defeated my rival in a duel over the last kilometer. Winning that race transformed my mentality as an athlete and opened my eyes to what was possible with self-belief and work ethic. I also have very fond memories of that time with the team—every day was a blast, and we all trained with a purpose.

How did your time at MPA shape your future?
Without the excellent coaching and supportive environment, I would not have had the same level of success that got me recruited to the University of Michigan and eventually make an Olympic team. MPA fostered my love for running and competing—I grew as an athlete and a person. Looking back, much of my success can be attributed to my formative years in high school. I learned to win, lose, and deal with challenges. MPA started my athletic career, but it certainly did not end there.

What is one piece of advice that you would share with MPA athletes?
Be bold and set ambitious goals. Real challenges require real sacrifices; hold yourself accountable to achieving those dreams. I spent many weekends, holiday vacations, and after-school hours training and preparing so that when the opportunity came, I could truly test my limits. When you wholeheartedly commit to a goal, do so with conviction and clarity. Remember, the journey is the ultimate reward.

Who at MPA had the greatest influence on you?
My MPA coaches, Bev Docherty and Dan Ethier, profoundly impacted my development as an athlete and person. They were the first to recognize my talent for running and cultivate the drive to be a champion. They were not just mentors on the track or cross country course but also in life. They instilled in me the essence of being a true athlete, emphasizing the importance of physical and mental preparation. Like all great coaches, their wisdom revolved around the power of patience, teaching me not to rush toward short-term achievements but rather to trust the process and focus on long-term growth. They were always there to balance my enthusiasm and disappointment, imparting valuable life lessons that extend far beyond the realm of sports. Their guidance has left a lasting mark on my character and approach to challenges.

Alumni Association Welcomes New Members

As the new year approaches the Alumni Association welcomes new members. Join us in welcoming the new alumni board members!

Isabel (McKeown) O’Branski ’14

For what grades did you attend MPA?

Why did you choose to pursue a position on the Alumni Association Board?
MPA made a great impact on my childhood (being there since kindergarten!), growing up and preparation for college – I want to help keep it the great school it was for me!

In what ways do you see yourself as a supporter of MPA and its mission?
At MPA I never felt anything was out of reach, excelling in sports, pursuing your passions, achieving good grades in the hardest classes, because I was so well supported! I hope to give support to current and future students to dream big.

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?
I currently work at Topgolf Callaway Brands (formerly Callaway Golf Company) as a Project Manager. I just got married in June in San Diego where I’ve lived the last 3 years, but will be moving in August to NYC with my husband and mini golden doodle.

How did you get to where you are in your career? Did you attend college and if so, where? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?
After MPA, I went to the College of Saint Benedict where I studied Global Business. After graduation I worked at 3M (right down the road from MPA!) in their Global Sourcing Department until moving to my current role.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today? How did MPA help you dream big and do right?
MPA helped me immensely in preparation for college – I felt extremely ready for the college curriculum and professor expectations. MPA prepared me for my liberal art college since I was ready to study multiple topics, be involved in sports on top of academics, and stay well-rounded. Today, I still feel inspired to stay well-rounded, focusing on both work, my health, and relationships all at once—just as I did at MPA. Read More

MPA Alum Receives Award Posthumously

The MPA Alumni Association Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2023 MPA Alumni Association Award recipient, Jaye Sinkfield ’12. This award honors 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. Award recipients are real-world inspirations for both current students and fellow alums to dream big and do right.

Jaye was nominated posthumously in honor of their impact on the world. Tragically, Jaye passed away in January 2023, leaving behind lifelong friends, family members, and hundreds of people who felt their impact and were inspired by Jaye. We sat down with Tammy Sinkfield, Jaye’s mother, to learn more about how and why Jaye lived and the legacy they left behind.

Jaye and their twin brother, Jordan, were born to Tammy, a single parent who never dreamed of having children due in part to fibroids that prevented pregnancy. “That’s why I say, ‘They are my blessings, because God saw it fitting that I should be their mom,’” says Tammy, an inpatient nursing supervisor at Gillette Children’s where she has been for more than 25 years. “At their birth, from the moment Jaye came into my view as the doctor lifted them from my womb, Jaye was the most beautiful androgynous precious being. Though I hardly knew what androgyny meant, I understood in that instant what it was when I saw my first born baby, Jaye, this beautiful combination of beauty, grace, masculine, and feminine. Everything about this baby was symmetrical, balanced, beautiful, and perfect. Jaye was like the Black Gerber Baby. Everybody commented on what a calm and gentle spirit that Jaye had at birth. That carried them through life.”

When the time came, Tammy took great care to find a school for Jaye and Jordan, interviewing more than 12 and selecting Four Seasons A+ Elementary. “We knew we wanted private schools. I was always in private schools. But I couldn’t afford MPA at the time,” she shares. The twins thrived in elementary school, often serving as the leads in the annual plays. They were excellent performers. They came to MPA in Middle School—Tammy took a second job, the twins received a scholarship, and they got here. “I wanted them to have opportunities.” Read More

MPA Dreamers: Parents Of Lifers

Quote from Kelsi Picture yourself in the position of a parent of a PreK or kindergartener, perhaps anxiously, but jovially, beginning your school search. If you are looking at a school like Mounds Park Academy, you want your child to grow into a free spirit, a risk taker, a right maker, a dreamer, and a doer. You want an independent thinker. You want your child to be known. You want your child to love school. Your role, as the parent in the school search process, will determine the foundational years of your child’s education. It seems that for parents of the Class of 2023 Lifers, the memory remains clear as day.

Parents of MPA Lifers, the students whose entire K-12 or PreK-12 journey has taken place here at MPA, made a choice for their students and continued to choose MPA every year for all 13 years of their education. Right before they graduated from MPA, we interviewed the Class of 2023 Lifers in a group reflection on their MPA journeys. Their responses and recollections, punctuated with gratitude, nostalgia, and undeniably helpful feedback, led us to further expand on the conversation. We decided we needed to hear from the Lifer parents, as well.

An MPA education emphasizes the value of purposeful academic rigor in a hands-on, experiential, college-prep environment with the goal of instilling a lifelong love for learning. So we asked:

How has MPA accomplished this for your children, helping them find personal and academic success?

Christine (Anthony ’23): Anthony’s a quiet kid, more on the introverted side. And I think one of the things, from preparing personally, is being somewhere this many years and really knowing people and having those longitudinal relationships with teachers, classmates, and other staff at school. It has really been beneficial for him as far as building confidence and being comfortable–coming out of his shell a little bit. The first time he came here, he was 10 days old, so by the time he came as a student, he was super comfortable and felt like it was somewhere that he was familiar with. I definitely think that’s made a difference for him.

John (Freya ’23): When it comes to Freya, one thing that I think has been beneficial for her academic success is the small size of the school and the exceptional students that she’s with. And some of those kids being so exceptional and doing such exceptional work has forced her to become a better student.

Natalie (Henry S. ’23): I couldn’t agree more. One thing I’ve been really pleased about and so proud of is the diversity that Henry’s experienced here. It’s something he was looking for in his college search, which I was just so profoundly impacted by. He’d say, “mom, that’s just not what I’m used to, and I’m looking for a school with more diversity.” That is MPA. I love that. Read More

Meet The Johnston Family

The Johnston FamilyKate Johnston is an MPA Class of 1998 alum. Now, her son Emmett is a ninth grader at MPA.

What do you love about MPA?
MPA has a special energy that is warm and welcoming. It is an inclusive community that truly cultivates joy and a love of learning. I love that MPA prioritizes music and art. I also love that MPA encourages curiosity and creativity and is committed to teaching the whole child. I love the small class sizes and amazing teachers that make it a school where each child is truly seen, heard, and valued. MPA teachers and staff build strong relationships with students and encourage them to shine their unique light.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
I graduated from MPA and have always been grateful for the amazing education I received. When my husband and I were considering a school change for our oldest son, we decided to look at MPA. We wanted small class sizes and a school that was inclusive and committed to growth and progress. When we visited the school, I was happy to see that MPA continued to grow and change in many ways while staying committed to its mission and values. The energy was wonderful, and it felt like a place that could be an incredible partner for us as we raise our boys. Our son is in his second year at MPA, and we feel blessed to have him there. Read More

MPA Dreamers: Lessons From Lifers

MPA Class of 2023 LifersIn the spring of 2011, some of the littlest dreamers in the school were wrapping up their first year together. These members of the Class of 2023 were sprinting around the track and testing their throwing skills at Track and Field Day, graduating from kindergarten, and nestling together to watch the seniors, the biggest kids in the school, say their bittersweet goodbyes at the Yearbook Assembly.

This week, they are those seniors, concluding their time at the only school they’ve been at for their entire academic career. As they graduate on June 3, 11 of them join MPA’s Joanne Olson Club, reserved for students whose entire K-12 or PreK-12 journey has taken place here at MPA.

Recently, members of this group–Henry Galicich, Aidan Harms, Griffin Jones, Nicholas Larson, Gabby Magistad, Jack Peterson, Freya Rahm, Henry Seum, Siri Springer, William Tan, and Anthony Troullier–gathered together for a group reflection on their MPA journeys. After all, who knows more about the MPA community than the students who joined in kindergarten and now leave the school as young adults, each bound for college and charting their own paths?

MPA teachers foster the ability to solve authentic, real-world problems. Students are empowered to be architects of their education, and furthermore, their lives. So we asked,

How has being a student at MPA shaped you?

Freya: My communication skills have definitely developed because of MPA. I’m able to express how I feel and what I need to say. I feel prepared to answer questions, and when I was applying for jobs, I felt ready.

Nicholas: Adding on that, we do a lot of class presentations and public speaking, and I think that’s an aspect that MPA students are really good at. On my swim team, we have to do something similar to senior speeches–when you graduate, you give a speech to the whole swim club at the end-of-the-year banquet. And a lot of my teammates were really nervous. But it was just another speech for me.

Siri: Also, we have so much one-on-one time with our teachers. Talking to them helps. You learn to talk to adults and it’s encouraging for things like interviewing for jobs. Read More

Kathryn Andersen ’09 On Being An Alumni Board Member

Kathryn Andersen '09 of the alumni boardAs we seek new members for the MPA Alumni Board I wanted to share a bit about my experience as a board member the last 4 years. It’s been a wonderful experience and I thought I’d bust a few myths about being on an Alumni Board (many of which I personally misunderstood before joining).

  • Myth #1: It’s a heavy time commitment, I’m too busy! While full participation is helpful to everyone, the board commitments are quite flexible. There are opportunities to make it as much or as little time as you have that month. We meet every other month for 1-2 hours, with a few months skipped. Some folks just attend and participate, some volunteer for extra projects, some volunteer for leadership positions. There is a lot of flexibility!
  • Myth #2: It is just about raising money. Not at all! While we partner closely with the Development Office, the Alumni Board is all about creating and keeping connections between our Alumni and current MPA communities. Alumni on the board get involved by investing their time and talents into current projects and initiatives. While parts of the role are connected to fundraising efforts, there is a lot of flexibility if this isn’t an area of interest for you.
  • Myth #3: I already keep in touch with my classmates; I don’t need to join a board to do that. While it’s so helpful to have board members who maintain connection to their MPA classmates, the Alumni Board also offers so much more. Being a board member allows you to hear firsthand about what’s currently happening at MPA, be a voice in decision-making for the future of the school, learn about Education, get connected to current MPA students, and so much more.

I hope you’ll consider joining the Alumni Board next year!

Kathryn Andersen ’09

MPA Freethinkers: Student Leaders

MPA varsity basketball celebrating their playoff run

“Leadership is being in the middle of the herd, moving it roughly westward.”

This is one of Head of School Dr. Hudson’s favorite metaphors that he learned from a mentor years ago. Dr. Hudson meets with the current senior class throughout the school year to walk them through various leadership theories and ideologies as they prepare for their journey after MPA. He shares this one with them, asking them to think about how it applies to leadership in their own hands. When they unpack it together, common themes arise:

  • If a leader is at the tail end, the herd lacks direction. On the other hand, sometimes a leader needs to step back in order to consider crafting a broader vision.
  • Those who lead from the middle are often better in touch with other members of the herd and can nudge them forward in a common direction. They help others feel valued as a part of the solution as the team moves ahead.
  • Sometimes a leader needs to be bold and chart a new path.

We teach our students that leadership requires adaptability, responsiveness, and resilience. When we look at the freethinkers among our student community, student leaders do not come one-size-fits-all. They are leaders of clubs, team captains, and thought leaders. In Lower School, fourth graders are the conflict managers to help resolve conflicts on the playground. In Middle School, eighth graders set an example for all other grades, and are the peers who make themselves available and approachable for help. In Upper School, Peer Leaders take on being role models for the school, teaching others what leadership is to them. At every stage of their education, empowering students to live, learn, and thrive means guiding them and infusing their education with leadership skills–many of which are learned through experience. Read More

Meet Upper School Science Teacher Mitch Thomsen

Mr. Thomsen working in the gardens with studentsWhen and how did you first come to MPA?
August 1991. I had moved back to Minnesota in 1989, got married and taught for a year at St. Bernard’s school in St. Paul. I wanted to make a change and interviewed at MPA and St. Thomas Academy. I was offered a job at both schools. I really liked the atmosphere at MPA, knew Chris Jensen, and felt that MPA was the best place for me.

What memories do you have of your first days at MPA?
The joyful return of the students at Back to School Night. Camille Wainwright doing interesting demos in chemistry. Chris Jensen keeping the biology classes moving. I remember feeling that I was in a “fast” crowd. Here, at MPA, all the faculty were very talented and hard-working. The goal is creative, student-involved education and everyone, everywhere was doing this. The school was alive with positive action. I felt I needed to “raise my game” if I was going to be an effective part of this hard-charging group. There was such a collegial feeling between all the teachers. The male teachers had to wear a shirt and tie. This is where I started my biology tie collection. Mostly I was quiet and I listened. There was a lot to learn.

What’s the best thing about being a teacher at MPA?
I have the freedom to do what is best for my students. I can explore new ideas with colleagues and come up with interesting things for myself and the students to do. I can bring in new best practices and keep my classes current with what is happening in the world now. I can use the garden area as an ongoing research resource. I have connections with Ramsey Washington Metro Water Shed District and their expertise and support has been critical to the success of the rainwater gardens at school. I have the support of the administration and they have been instrumental in encouraging me to be involved in the garden, new classes, and new technologies. I have a wonderful relationship with my fellow science teachers. Every day is like a department meeting as we talk and share new ideas, and activities in a very collegial setting. We work together well as a team and we support and help each other. Read More

Spring Auction Ticket Prices Increase April 1!

Alumni at AuctionWe are in the final days before ticket prices increase April 1! Now that the snow is beginning to melt and we’re seeing signs of spring, plan to celebrate the joy and imagination at MPA by joining us for the auction. There are still many ways for you to join us in celebration of MPA through this year’s auction:

  • Purchase a sponsorship or tickets. Don’t forget, your sponsorship helps to ensure teachers and staff are able to attend at no cost to them.
  • Purchase a Golden Ticket.
  • Learn more about the event and book your hotel room for a discounted overnight stay!