Three Alumni Credit MPA For Helping Them Follow Their Dreams
June 5, 2019
Matt 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
Learning The Legacy Of Lawrence Riley
May 23, 2019
Sophomore Salmah Elmasry and Upper School history teacher Katie Murr are one of 15 student-teacher pairs from across the country to be accepted this year to the Albert H. Small Normandy Institute. The Institute is an intensive, all expenses paid program that will give Salmah and Ms. Murr the opportunity to study D-Day and the Operation Overlord Campaign of 1944. They are participating in an online course this spring, and then will travel to Washington D.C. and France to complete archival research and learn from experts. The program will culminate with Salmah writing a lengthy biography of and delivering a eulogy for a Minnesota soldier buried at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer in France.
This soldier is Lawrence—or “Larry”—Riley, and he has a connection to the MPA community. Upper School English teacher David Loo introduced Salmah and Ms. Murr to his wife’s uncle, Bob Riley, who is Larry’s son. Bob’s father was killed as a paratrooper in WWII, and he grew up knowing very little about who his father was, how he died, the regiment he served in, or anything related to his military service. After months of rigorous research, Salmah and Ms. Murr were able to piece together Larry’s story, and they met with Bob on campus this week to share with him what they discovered.
Salmah and Ms. Murr learned that Larry was from Minneapolis, lived in a house with his parents and eight siblings, and attended DeLaSalle High School. After finding photos and obtaining records from DeLaSalle, it was clear that Larry was a remarkably talented athlete. “He played football throughout his high school career, and he earned letters in his junior and senior years,” shared Salmah during the conversation.
“He had this high school education, but it was a struggle, and right at the moment he seemed to be getting back on his feet he secured a job at the Twin Cities Ordinance Plant … The war clearly took over in terms of where he went to get a job and what he was going to do,” says Ms. Murr. Due to his age at the time of the war and having three children, Larry was likely not going to be drafted, so he volunteered instead. He enlisted as a paratrooper. Paratroopers were paid an extra $50 a month, and there were a lot of men who tried to join the airborne for that reason.
A School Committed To Inspiring Curiosity
May 15, 2019
by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School, Mounds Park Academy
I came across an article recently shared by Entrepreneur magazine entitled, “The Most Important Skill at the Office Isn’t Being Taught in School.” It caught my attention. What is that important skill? The article argues it is curiosity. Curiosity is named by many behavioral scientists to be among the most valuable attributes in the workplace and yet it is not fostered in many schools. In fact, the way in which schools are structured discourages it—so many schools are driven by standardized testing and measure performance solely on test-based standards. Rest assured that is not the case at Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul, and in fact, is quite the opposite of our approach.
At MPA, curiosity is not just encouraged, it is expected. Furthermore, curiosity is valued as a mindset to be cultivated in its own right, not just for the workplace, but for lifelong fulfillment. According to best-selling author Todd Kashdan, “Curiosity—a state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something—creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences, laying the groundwork for greater opportunities to experience discovery, joy, and delight.” Whether in the classroom, the workplace, or in life, curiosity is essential. Read More
Mental Health Awareness Month At MPA
May 9, 2019
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and in honor of the national initiative, each weekday throughout the month at MPA there are activities, discussions, and presentations surrounding the topic of mental health. The month’s awareness events are focused on Upper School students, and are spearheaded by Ashley Cooper, Middle and Upper School counselor. While Ms. Cooper created the calendar of daily events, she shared that a lot of what she planned were direct requests from students.
Ms. Cooper emphasizes the importance of using the right terms when talking about mental health. “We all have mental health and mental wellness,” she says. She adds that some goals for the month are to bring awareness to mental health, help students reflect on the state of their own mental well-being, and to share resources on what to do if students think they need to talk to a professional about potential mental illnesses.
The month’s daily calendar has a loose structure; every week there is Meditation Monday, an activity, a Lunch Talk, a presentation, and an exercise for students to complete on their own. The first Lunch Talk of the month surrounded the topic of stigma, and any stigma that the students thought was associated with mental health. Upcoming Lunch Talks will cover the topics of supportive language, how to help a friend who is struggling with mental health, and a discussion on how to talk about your struggles. The month will conclude with a discussion on positive self-talk. These discussions are all led by Ms. Cooper, but are driven by the students who attend. Meditation Monday reoccurs every Monday throughout the entire school year, and the idea was brought to Ms. Cooper by Upper School students, who wanted moments of relaxation and stillness throughout their busy days.
A Language Overnight Unlike Any Other
May 9, 2019
Last Friday, May 3, fourth graders celebrated the end of the school year by participating in a culminating event of Lower School: a foreign language overnight! In years past, this took place at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, but when they couldn’t host it this year, our very own foreign language teachers came together to create a completely unique and engaging experience for the students.
The group had a packed schedule! First, they visited the Festival of Nations in St. Paul and then stopped by El Burrito Mercado, an authentic Mexican deli selling groceries and arts and crafts directly from artisans in Mexico. When they arrived back at school, they sang and danced with guest musicians and then enjoyed a six-course dinner prepared by MPA’s Chef Doug. The dinner alternated between a French course and a Spanish course, enabling the students to have the opportunity to try different dishes from regions around the world. After dinner, the students cozied up with a movie and a “camp fire” in the library, made creatively from string lights and smooth stones. In the morning, the event concluded with crepes and churros for breakfast in the Makerspace.