American Choral State Honor Choir

American Choral State Honor ChoirCongratulations to tenth grader Rowan Mulrooney and ninth graders Truman Wilgocki and Warner Reid who auditioned and were selected to be members of the American Choral Director’s Association 9-10 State Honor Choir!

Rowan will sing in the soprano-alto choir under the direction of Susan Vollbrecht (University of Wyoming) while Warner will perform in the tenor-bass choir with Derrick Fox (University of Nebraska). Truman is in the mixed choir conducted by Merin Guice Gil from Bethel University. The daylong event will culminate with a concert at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis. Rowan and Truman are members of the MPA Concert Choir while Warner sings in the MPA Varsity Choir. Keep singing, Panthers!

Middle School Show Tickets On Sale Now

This fall will be our first full return to the Black Box, with the Middle School production, “Space Princess Wars” by Don Zolidis. It is a bit ridiculous, at times chaotic, but always a lot of fun! Ms. J and Ms. Mastel have been working with 61 Middle and Upper School students to bring this show to life. Star Wars + The Princess Bride = Space Princess Wars!

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Friday November 4, for the following days/times:

Friday, November 18 at 7 PM
Saturday, November 19 at 2 PM
Sunday, November 20 at 2 PM

Meet William Kim ’20

William Kim '20What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?
I am a student at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University in London, Ontario, Canada (also where I currently live), studying Percussion Performance and entering my third year.

How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?
I was able to get to where I am today because of the numerous opportunities MPA and the Twin Cities provided for me. While in the Twin Cities, I got to play in the Symphony Orchestra of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies organization. I got to perform in venues such as Orchestra Hall and Ted Mann Concert Hall, mentor younger musicians in other orchestras, and tour internationally in Eastern Europe (2018). This past June, I was invited by GTCYS as an alum to come back to Minnesota to perform and tour internationally with them in Southern Italy–it was wonderful to come back and visit all my old friends and relive fond memories at MPA!

It all started for me with MPA’s ensembles, who inspired and shaped the musician I am today. While at MPA, I participated in Concert Band, Varsity and Concert Choir, and Percussion Ensemble. In addition to developing my musical abilities, each ensemble helped to develop my confidence and teamwork skills, very important skills to have when majoring in music and in life.

While in Minnesota, I also took private lessons at the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Dr. Adam Rappel. His patience, dedication, and guidance helped to get me to where I am today, and I don’t know where I would be today without him and my MPA teachers Ms. Wantock and Mr. Habermann.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today? How did MPA inspire you to dream big and do right?
MPA’s faculty inspired me to dream big and do right by serving as excellent role models, and leading by example. Every faculty member I interacted with impacted me through their respect, responsibility, leadership, and methods of keeping us engaged and fostering learning through multiple flexible approaches that included Socratic seminars and frequent in-class discussions, a learning environment very few schools have. Given the nature of my current major (Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance), which involves a lot of performing in large ensembles and working in “teams,” MPA has given me the lifelong skills necessary to lead and collaborate with my colleagues effectively.

What’s next? Do you have any aspirations, personal or professional, that you’d like to share?
To keep learning and performing!

Essential Arts Education

from Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

One of my favorite times of the year is early fall, when the first round of student artwork is displayed throughout the school. Bare walls come alive with beauty, creativity, and splashes of color. With just a few weeks of the semester to cultivate ideas and build skills, I am astounded by students’ accomplishments. This year is no exception. A quick walk about the school will be rewarded with marvelous displays of shape, lines, textures, shading, and values.

I am sometimes asked why MPA considers the arts an integral part of our academic program. Shouldn’t a college-prep school focus solely on subjects such as math, science, and English? The arts are considered electives or optional in many schools, but not at MPA. Unfortunately, many schools are forced to cut art education to free up funding and make time for standardized assessments. In contrast, we firmly believe that art education is essential to developing skills, mindsets, and attributes in the whole person both during their time at MPA and throughout their lives.

Many of us are familiar with the term growth mindset. A growth mindset is a belief about the malleability of intelligence and is associated with a wide variety of positive academic outcomes, including curiosity, resilience, and improved achievement. Guided by their teachers, students see that there is more than one way to approach a problem and that every solution, when well executed, offers a unique perspective. As a result, they learn that instead of mistakes being a failure to replicate an ideal, they are opportunities to expand ideas and use the process as an opportunity to creatively problem solve. “I love the process of designing a visual challenge,” says Middle and Upper School art teacher Renee Sonka. “Preparing students to meet that challenge, and then stepping back to see the incredible variety of beautiful solutions that result from that process.” Read More

One Space, Infinite Possibilities

MPA’s Makerspace intentionally provides students with opportunities to construct meaning through making with practical, hands-on, interdisciplinary, problem-based projects. In this space, students of all ages use design thinking to develop empathy with individuals and design creative solutions to problems through an iterative process involving brainstorming, prototyping, and testing. The Makerspace allows for the blend of technical and creative skills conducive to developing a well-rounded individual.

Kindergarteners are experiencing the immersive magic that occurs daily in our Makerspace. For one of their first projects of the year, the eager students gathered around Mr. Braafladt, the Makerspace technology and innovation teacher. They watched in wonder as he carefully demonstrated their tasks and introduced the letter block activity.

The first letters that children learn are most often the ones in their names. In early kindergarten, names are used to practice letter recognition, syllables, counting, and so much more. In this project, Ms. Santiago’s class leveraged the Makerspace to take this foundational literacy work to a more creative and hands-on level.

For this experiential learning activity, kindergarteners were given small blocks of wood with the letters of their names outlined on them. Their challenge was to glue different materials over these outlined letters, producing unique and personalized art pieces.

Ms. Santiago explains, “Even though this project gave each student a beautiful end product, it is a prime example of a process-driven Makerspace experience for the students. Mr. Braafladt and I offered a wide variety of materials and intentionally left the rest up to the kids. They had to decide which material to use, how to best attach the material to their letters, and how to troubleshoot the problems that came up as they worked. Process-driven learning fosters creativity, independence, and perseverance.”

According to a Philly Art Center article on the importance of process-driven art for children, “If we show them an example and proceed to teach them exactly how to make their project the same as ours, we have only given students one answer to one question and both came from us. But if we instead give them materials and demonstrate the many ways they can use that material, we are posing questions and teaching them to find their own solutions in a world of possibility.” The Makerspace letter block project is an instrumental activity in developing autonomy for young MPA learners!

Welcome to MPA, Lukas Skrove!

Lukas SkroveWhat position will you be holding at MPA?
Middle School Band Director

From what school/organization are you coming?
Robbinsdale Area Schools

Tell us about your education and past experience.
I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Secondary Education Certification at the University of Minnesota Morris. After graduating in 2014 I acquired a multi-building teaching position in the Robbinsdale Area Schools District and the Mount Olivet School of Music. Over the last eight years I have worked both as a music educator and freelance musician in the greater Minneapolis/St.Paul area. Teaching and performing music has been a dream of mine since I was in Middle School. It brings me great joy to share my experiences and stories with students. Read More

Students Charting Their Own Course

Graduate with Global GCDSince its founding, MPA has pioneered whole child education in the Twin Cities with a commitment to helping students deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them. We persistently innovate in alignment with that core value, providing experiences that are challenging to replicate anywhere else.

One of MPA’s visionary programs is the Graduate Certificate of Distinction (GCD). It inspires students’ educational quests in one of four areas: Global Studies, Science Technology Engineering Math & Design (STEM), Fine Arts, and as of this year, Literary Arts. Consistent with the essence of student voice, where students actively shape curriculum and impact their education, MPA encourages and recognizes excellence that takes place outside of our already rigorous curriculum. The GCD program was designed to provide committed students a way to formalize their work. Further, it embodies MPA’s willingness to encourage engagement between students and teachers. A journey of passion, commitment, and hard work, the amount of individualized engagement required to successfully support Upper School students who pursue this challenge can only be offered by a dedicated faculty that interacts one-on-one with each candidate.

“Over the years, Upper School faculty and administrators observed amazing kids pursuing what could only be described as ‘passion projects’—students who dove into fields purely to spend time deepening their understanding,” faculty advisors Kari Kunze (Global), Lisa Buck (Fine Arts), and Jane Anderson (STEM) share. “They were not necessarily those with the highest test scores or GPAs, but students who were independently driven to quench their own thirst for knowledge.”

The GCD program is not a one-size-fits-all concept, nor is it for the majority of students. It’s a time-consuming experience for juniors and seniors who are already naturally exploring multiple subjects in depth. And it’s clear that the student must be leading the process to make this work.

“If you imagine the candidate in front of the line with the advisor close behind and their family supporting from the rear, that’s a good model,” observes Buck. The faculty advisor serves as a sounding board or brainstorming partner and parents can help by factoring their student’s area of passion into family activities, but ultimately, the student is responsible for seeking out new experiences that support the GCD honor. “What those kids offer, in terms of sharing what they’ve pursued, is extremely inspiring to us as teachers and advisors,” says Kunze. “The role of the faculty is to incite curiosity, help build confidence, and cheer them on, but we gain a great deal in the process,” Buck adds.

Graduate with STEM GCDClass of 2018 alum Pranay Somayajula, now at The George Washington University, shares that he chose to pursue the Global Certificate and “the most valuable part of the program was the way it motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and explore the full range of cultural and foreign-policy opportunities the Twin Cities has to offer.” Maija Olson ’17 reflects on her Global Certificate as well, saying, “The freedom to guide my learning offered a new kind of independence. I enjoyed the ability to deeply explore various world issues and focus on something I was truly passionate about.”

The final presentations have turned out to be transformational for students–sometimes unexpectedly. Even when candidates were extremely nervous to get up before their teachers and present their reports at the end of their senior year, there is an evident level of maturity and empowerment along with a feeling of great accomplishment once they were done.

Alex Esch ’18 remarks that although she would’ve completed all the necessary hours in the Fine Arts area because of her personal interest, “The presentation requirement was incredibly valuable because it gave me the opportunity to share my passion and all the work I completed with teachers and fellow classmates. It was amazing to feel the support of the MPA community—especially from my personal advisor, Ms. Buck—as I expressed my love of the fine arts. She was always willing to answer questions and just be there as part of my artist’s journey.” It is truly a unique opportunity to be recognized by academic elders who have served as mentors and who can now formally honor the students’ hard work and devotion to education.

These students are charting their own course—one that can’t be shown by test scores, GPAs, or more traditional forms of recognition. The GCD program takes whole child education to a deeper level, honoring the unique contributions and multi-faceted academic experiences of each candidate. We’re looking for students to push themselves out of their normal routine in order to build multiple capabilities that intersect.

For more information on MPA’s Graduate Certificate of Distinction program, visit

MPA Students Thrive At The Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards

Please join the Visual Arts Department in congratulating these Upper School artists for having their work acknowledged in the 2022 Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards!

An online exhibition of all award winners will be available soon, and there will be an online ceremony hosted by the Weisman Art Museum on February 26.

Those receiving Gold Key awards will automatically be entered to compete at the national level.

Cassie Atkinson (11)—Focusing on Orchids Honorable Mention Mixed Media
Amelia Dickson (12)—Storage Full Silver Key Digital Art
Amelia Dickson (12)—Frog Hopping Through Imagination Gold Key Digital Art
Amelia Dickson (12)—The Ugly Butterfly Gold Key Digital Art
Amelia Dickson (12)—Anxiety’s Untouched Remains Silver Key Drawing
Amelia Dickson (12)—Rebirth Gold Key Sculpture
Amelia Dickson (12)—Cyberchondria: Fear and Fabrication Gold Key Mixed Media
Amelia Dickson (12)—Chapters of Childhood Silver Key Art Portfolio
Amelia Dickson (12)>—Caged Gold Key Mixed Media
Amelia Dickson (12)—The Manifestations of Anxiety Gold Key Art Portfolio
Amelia Dickson (12)—Lore: A Childhood Across Three Continents Gold Key Painting
Audrey Jakway (11)—Family Shelf Honorable Mention Mixed Media
Xinyuan (Ella) Li (10)—Undersea World Silver Key Drawing
Lia Sonka (10)—Franconia Honorable Mention Drawing
Maxwell Spencer (11)—Affliction Honorable Mention Painting
Maxwell Spencer (11)—Scream Honorable Mention Painting
Xintong Xiang (12)—Insomnia Silver Key Painting
Xintong Xiang (12)—Clash Silver Key Mixed Media
Xintong Xiang (12)—Overflow Gold Key Mixed Media
Xintong Xiang (12)—Round Taiyaki Honorable Mention Ceramics
Xintong Xiang 12—Right and wrong and love and Honorable Mention Ceramics

Please click here for the full album of beautiful artwork by our talented Upper Schoolers!

Three Panthers Chosen For 9-10 State Honor Choir

2021 9-10 state honor choirCongratulations to Olivia Lynch ’25, Pahwa Yang ’24, and Maggie Banks-Hehenberger ’24 who auditioned and were selected to be members of the 9-10 State Honor Choir! Olivia will sing in the mixed choir under the direction of Kyle Fleming (Regis University) while Pahwa and Maggie will perform in the soprano-alto choir with G. Phillip Shoultz (Vocal Essence). The daylong event will culminate with a concert on February 19 on the campus of Bethel University. Olivia is a member of the MPA Varsity Choir while Pahwa and Maggie sing in Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers. We wish them the best!

Get Your Middle School Production Tickets!

Middle School drama is in full swing and the links to purchase your tickets are up and active. Don’t miss your chance to catch the one acts: The Internet is Distract – Oh Look a Kitten AND Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Middle School, running from Friday, November 19, to Sunday, November 21. Click the link to learn more and to purchase livestream tickets!Join us in our return to live theatre in MPA’s Black Box, as we stage the two comedic one-acts for this year’s Middle School production! Learn more and purchase your tickets here