Discovering Confidence On And Off The Court

Catherine Moore '20The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Catherine Moore’s Senior Speech.

I have been at MPA since kindergarten and during my time here, I have done and been many different things. In the early years, my aspirations ranged from being a veterinarian–a job that many regular people would think is a good life goal–to astronaut–again, a good job, though harder to get there, but still fairly normal… to finally…a mermaid. Clearly, my interests would wander, changing with whatever creative thought passed through my head. Luckily, MPA gave me a place to explore my less realistic, yet aspirational side. I don’t know about doing right, but I definitely dreamed big.

My afterschool interests varied, too. I tried soccer and swimming, joined basketball and played volleyball. I loved everything about sports… especially the competitiveness. I enjoyed being physical and loved my will to win. I engaged in as many sports as possible. Eventually, however, it was volleyball that caught my attention and gave me an anchor and a steady focus. In many ways, some of the most important lessons I have learned have come from being on a volleyball team, whether that was here at MPA or on a club team. Read More

MPA Named Top STEM School In The US

lower and middle school students in the makerspace togetherby Mark Segal, Upper School director

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, you will find a guest Head’s Message here from one of MPA’s division directors. We hope you enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

November 8, 2019 was a big day for the MPA community. Many of you remember the community energy and excitement as we celebrated the Volleyball Team as they competed in their first State Volleyball Tournament. This, however, was not the only thing we celebrated that day. November 8 was also the day that Mounds Park Academy was named one of the top 500 STEM high schools in the United States by Newsweek. Given there are more than 37,000 high schools, this is a very significant honor. Many of our fellow awardees are STEM schools or have STEM programs, while MPA believes that integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math into all aspects of an MPA education aligns best with our whole-child approach. Here, we add an “A” intentionally, referring to the disciplines together as STEAM.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 there were nearly nine million STEM/STEAM jobs representing 6.5% of the US workforce. Looking ahead, those numbers are expected to grow 70 percent faster than other occupations and many educators are encouraging students to take an interest in the subjects and courses that will provide a solid foundation in these areas. This is fabulous advice and fits well with MPA’s educational approach that allows PreK through 12th grade students to explore topics and ideas through multiple disciplines, examining problems and situations with insight from science, math, art, and humanities. Read More

Good Food For Great Education: Eating Well At School

upper school students eating lunch together in the family commonsSchool lunch has often been considered separate from the educational experience—a quick stop between class and recess, with functional, limited menus short on nutritional value and culinary inspiration. Leading schools have been reversing this long-standing trend, knowing that good food served well is a powerful way to fuel learning.

Nutrition and Academic Performance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscore this theme, emphasizing that “schools are in a unique position to provide students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors.” The CDC finds that most children do not meet fruit and vegetable recommendations, and that added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40 percent of daily calories for those age two to 18 years old, affecting the overall quality of their diets.

Additional studies show that school lunches cab affect student achievement as measured by test scores. As quoted in The Atlantic, Sean Patrick Corcoran, of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, reinforced the positive impact of schools serving high-value meals. “I’ve seen a number of other rigorous studies that also find a connection between healthy eating and academic performance,” he says. “Students who eat regular, healthy meals are less likely to be tired, are more attentive in class, and retain more information.” Read More

Shop Local And Socially Conscious Via MPA Alums

Mounds Park Academy boasts more than 1,600 accomplished alumni who have gone on to pursue all types of careers, including a disproportionate number who have founded their own companies that directly advance social causes.

Our impressive entrepreneurs demonstrate how MPA students make their mark on the world as dreamers and doers, turning big dreams into unique businesses that do right socially and economically for their communities.

For MPA’s inaugural Alumni Holiday Gift List, we’ve compiled a list of five alumni who represent the many MPA graduates who have built businesses from the ground up—and, they’re offering some exciting discounts and special offers to the MPA community this season. Please consider putting these companies at the top of your shopping list, today and all year round! Read More

Logan Erickson ’15 Inspires Student Entrepreneurs

Logan Erickson '15 talking to upper school Entrepreneurship ClubAs a recent graduate of the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, MPA Class of 2015 alum Logan Erickson has a lot on the horizon. From designing games with Octothorpe, to leading the design and development of neurological rehabilitation assessments and training at Stronger Brains Inc., he is making an impact and inspiring others to do the same. One of Logan’s recent projects was developing a game in which the user enters the world of Sherlock Holmes as a Baker Street Irregular–coincidentally, MPA’s 2019 Middle School Play, Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars, allowed for the same experience!

Logan was invited by his brother Hunter, a current MPA junior, to visit campus and speak to the Upper School Entrepreneurship Club. Since he was seven years old, Logan has been creatively finding ways to pioneer his own small businesses. As a Middle School student, he established his first enterprise by selling handcrafted figurines–a leap he took that still echoes his ambitious spirit to this day. It eventually led him to the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah, where he helped friends with their own small companies. In turn, he realized how much he enjoys building them himself. Read More

Taking A Moment For Joy And Gratitude

zach thanking the cafeteria staff at middle school lunchby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I read recently that the Ritz-Carlton trains its staff to follow the “10/5” rule. That is, when employees walk within ten feet of someone they should make eye contact and smile. If they walk within five feet, they say hello. While not a rule, I would suggest it is an MPA practice. Personally, I try to also use a person’s name when I great them. The response, even from someone who appears to be grumpy, is often a smile.

You may have noticed a recent post on Facebook regarding new sixth grade student Zaq who organized his Middle School classmates to thank and celebrate our awesome kitchen staff. Students took the time to write notes and a large banner with their signatures was presented to the staff at lunch. In fact, throughout the last several weeks, the microphone at lunch has been passed around as students have share what they are grateful for with one another. Regardless of what they may say at home or how they may talk to you, most students voice words of gratitude about their parents. Read More

Deep Gratitude From An MPA Alum And Trustee

lower schools students working together in classby Jeremy Drucker ’97

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the time our thoughts are often directed to gratitude. In addition to those things for which I have always been grateful—friends and family and what I consider to be the miraculous comforts of modern living—I find increasingly a deep sense of thanks for the education I received at Mounds Park Academy.

When I attended MPA the motto was “Mounds Park doesn’t teach kids what to think we teach them how.” Today the motto is “Dream Big. Do Right.” In both of those mottos I find core values that have infused this school since I was a student in the early 1990’s. I arrived at MPA in sixth grade a spirited, albeit undisciplined and unruly, student with little experience in a structured academic setting. Through the years, MPA provided the structure and support for me to develop not just the skills and work ethic I needed to succeed, but also the less easily measured qualities of curiosity, adaptability, and self-awareness. Read More

Finding A Home At MPA

Elli Carlson '20The following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Elli Carlson’s Senior Speech. Elli joined MPA as a sophomore in August 2017.

I have been looking for “home” for as long as I can remember. Places I can be me, comfortably and unapologetically. Those places have changed as I have grown, and I’m sure my search will last my entire lifetime as I continue to evolve.

From a young age, I thought school would be my first home. I possessed an unrelenting love for learning, so I naturally imagined school as a haven for my curiosity. My mom frequently recounts the story of my first day of kindergarten, when I hopped off the school bus, ran up the driveway, and immediately asked her “When are we going to start the real learning? All we did was play!” Read More

Improve Mental Health By Releasing Unrealistic Expectations

upper schoolers working in pairs in classToday’s popular culture is often highly packaged and thoroughly curated. Everything looks good on screen, and the social media tally of likes, loves, and shares literally quantifies a hierarchy of success. But this desire to effortlessly excel at all can quickly backfire, especially for teens—leading to paralyzing anxiety on the path to perfection.

“Perfectionists often set unrealistically high standards for themselves and tie all results to their intrinsic self-worth,” writes Sheila Achar Josephs, Ph.D., in her column for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “In contrast, what I call ‘positive strivers’ set realistic goals, enjoy challenging themselves and see mistakes as task-specific rather than as a blow to their self-esteem. Practicing this new approach to success means making sure goals are doable, changing the level of effort depending upon the importance of the task and finding satisfaction in the process of doing a task, not just in perfect outcomes.” Read More

Creating A Better Future

kindergartners with the canvas bags that they madeby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Last week was extremely exciting as the community pulled together in support of our Girls Volleyball Team and their quest for a state championship. And although they were ultimately not successful, their incredible season will remain in the memories of MPA students and families. More than 250 students in grades eight through 12 filled five buses for the trip to the Xcel Energy Center last Thursday. Meanwhile, on campus, many Lower and Middle School students, faculty, and staff gathered in the new Family Commons to watch the game on the big screen. There was singing, cheering, and even a “wave” making itself across the fans in the commons.

The school spirit of last week is just one of many indications that our school year is off to a great start. We have wonderful new students and families who are enriching our community. Our newly built and renovated spaces have made it easier to come together as a family over a meal or an event. In the classroom, on the court, and on the stage, students are excelling and truly making an impact, locally, and globally. Read More