Enriching Our Lives, Starting With One Monday At A Time

lower school warming up at the Monday morning meaningby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Although Mondays can often be tough, attending the Lower School Monday Morning Meeting is a great start for my week. This past Monday was no exception. As I walked into the new Family Commons, I was greeted by the music of Trombone Shorty and the entire Lower School dancing and practicing their body percussion moves for Grandparents and Special Friends Day. It was pure joy and much more effective in waking me up than the third or fourth cup of coffee I was drinking. It had the same effect on other adults in the building as many poked their heads into the Commons as they walked by, leaving with big smiles on their faces. There is something about music that can transform our mood and lift our spirits instantly.

In an era when many schools are cutting their music programs in favor of more time for STEM-related classes, you may wonder why MPA places so much emphasis on music. In Lower School, students have approximately 90 minutes of music class a week. All Middle School students have year-long music or choir, are required play an instrument, and have either band or orchestra. Upper School students are required to have three credits in the fine arts, which includes instrumental and vocal music.

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Raising Kind Children

4th grade students introduce the CHAMP character traits at the first CHAMP Assembly of the yearby Renee Wright, Lower 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.

I have many fond memories from childhood and a deep respect for my parents for teaching me important lifelong values and lessons. Kindness was a cherished virtue for my family, and many conversations in our home centered on being a kind, caring, and compassionate person. While my parents and grandparents modeled kindness and compassion, I can recall a time as a youngster when I struggled to apply their teachings in a real-life situation. Neighborhood children were teasing and making fun of a young boy. Being a shy and somewhat introverted child, I watched and chose not to say anything or otherwise intervene. Later, that bothered me. When I finally spoke to my parents about what was happening, they coached me to stand up for this boy and show him the kindness he deserved. I took their advice and the next time I witnessed unkindness toward him I told the neighborhood children to stop their behavior and bravely told the boy I wanted to be his friend. I can still see the smile that spread across his face when he heard my words. I believe I made a difference for that little boy. I am sure you can recall similar situations growing up. My parents’ teachings and my reflections on childhood have led to my strong commitment as an educator to teach students to be kind, caring, and compassionate. In my opinion, learning kindness is as important as mastering timetables. 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

An MPA Education In A Rapidly Changing World

middle schools students use design thinking to problem solveby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

This summer, I attended a meeting of independent school heads at Stanford University and spent a few days in the San Francisco Bay Area. My custom has been to visit with alumni when I travel and I had the opportunity to connect with David Siegel ’04. David is a techie, philosopher, and creative thinker. Blending his love of technology with a sensitivity to human flourishing, he is driven to understand how technology affects people. He recently launched his own start-up, Glide, which enables users to create an app that turns Google spreadsheets into beautiful, easy-to-use apps, without code.

During his years at MPA, David gravitated mostly toward Spanish, film, writing, and critical thinking. When I asked him what class or experience at MPA he attributes to his success, without hesitation he said, “photography class.” Through photography he learned perspective, empathy, problem-solving, and iteration, all necessary for innovation. When asked for his advice to MPA students he said, “Develop your own theories about problems that interest you, seek out people working on those problems, and explain your ideas to them. View professional challenges as opportunities for creative thinking and devise your own solutions to these problems, rather than succumbing to pressure to behave uniformly.” Read More

The Impact Of Microexpressions

two middle schoolers working together in the makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I know I am not the only parent who can say that the ride to school with my daughter can make or break my day. A quarrel over the most insignificant matter, a scowl, or a roll of the eyes can send my mood in a downward spiral. Although others warned me, I never realized the degree to which my outlook on life is influenced by my children. On the flip side, the joy, smiles, high fives, and hugs from incoming students at the south entrance in the morning easily lift my spirits.

This phenomenon made sense when I happened upon an NPR story this summer about emotional contagion and how microexpressions influence moods. Microexpressions are fleeting, involuntary expressions of feelings that last a fraction of a second. For some time, science has observed how animals tend to mimic the physical movements of one another. We now know that such automimicry extends to emotions as well. After years of research, Elaine Hatfield and Dick Rapson, researchers at the University of Hawaii, have demonstrated that microexpressions can actually produce the corresponding emotion inside of us. Read More

Going The Extra Mile

middle school track and field day hurdlersby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Throughout middle and upper school, I was usually the tallest kid in the room. However, my coordination never seemed to be in sync with my height. Nevertheless, I was encouraged to play the center position on the basketball team and defensive end on the football team. There were many times I was discouraged, but I learned to push myself. In my junior and senior years, I saw very little playing time in basketball, but earned my place on the team in practices by playing center in scrimmages, going up against Pete. I was 6’3” and 160 pounds. Pete was 6’5’’ and 230 pounds. Over the course of two years, I sustained a broken leg, several sprained ankles, black eyes, bruised ribs, and other injuries … all thanks to my friend, Pete.

A great deal of the success I’ve had to date can be credited to lessons I learned from those experiences. For example, whether it was pushing myself to finish my doctorate, dealing with difficult problems at work, overcoming personal challenges, or running a 10K, I am stronger because of the endurance I have learned. While some may define endurance as suffering, I view it in a positive light—an indication of growth and accomplishment. Read More

Building A Better Future

dr. Hudson shaking the hand of a middle school student on the first day of schoolby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

It was 1 AM Wednesday morning and I found myself wide awake. Fully aware that my alarm clock would ring in just a few hours, I just could not fall sleep. Even though this is my 29th year as an educator, I had the same excitement and the same tinge of nervousness that I had as a young student teacher. Standing before our community on Back to School Night, I knew that all those gathered shared a similar excitement, anxiety, and optimism, albeit in varying amounts. It is always quite humbling. And awe-inspiring. Read More

Neighborhood Road Construction

lower school drop offThere are two significant road projects underway near MPA’s campus. We hope this information will be helpful as you navigate to and from campus in the coming weeks!

Larpenteur Avenue
Larpenteur Avenue, at the south end of MPA’s campus, is being resurfaced by Ramsey County. project details >

  • Access to Larpteneur is limited to local traffic, which includes MPA families. MPA has been told that you will be able to drop off and pick up students via Larpenteur.
  • During the project, there may be times when one lane is closed. Traffic may be temporarily stopped as part of traffic control, creating a delay.
  • We will make every effort to keep the drive thru lane at the south entrance open. If it should need to close temporarily, please park and walk across the crosswalk to your child.

Hwy 120/Century Avenue
In addition, there is work being done by Xcel Energy on Hwy 120/Century Avenue between 34th Street North and the railroad tracks just south of Larpenteur Avenue. This work will likely impact families who travel from the east via 34th Street North or from the south via Hwy 120/Century Avenue. project details > Read More

Celebrating Our Antidote to Cynicism

MPA Faculty Celebrates the Class of 2019On June 8, 2019, students, families, and faculty gathered in Mounds Park Academy’s Nicholson Center to graduate the Class of 2019. The evening began with the Upper School Band’s rendition of “Pomp & Circumstance” as the junior color guard and MPA faculty and staff presented the graduates. Throughout the ceremony, the Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers shared songs and three members of the Class of 2019 spoke. Gabby Law ’19, Julia Portis ’19, and Valedictorian Ajay Manicka ’19 shared words of pride, encouragement, and inspiration for their fellow classmates.

When head of school Dr. Bill Hudson spoke, he called out the prevalence of cynicism in our society today. He referred to Operation Varsity Blues, the college admission scandal that broke this spring, as an example of the way our education system and society may seem to be heading. However, Hudson explained that while “Modern cynicism tends toward negativity, is judgmental, anti-idealistic, sardonic, and misanthropic,” the MPA education that the Class of 2019 has received has readied them “to act from a place of rational faith in the human spirit.” Before receiving their diplomas, Hudson addressed the Class of 2019, announcing to them, “You are our antidote to cynicism.”

As Hudson expressed, we are so proud of the impact the Class of 2019 has made on our community and are excited to see how they shake the world in the years to come. Congratulations, graduates!  Click here to view special moments from the night.

Another Compelling Chapter Comes To A Close

Julia portis '19 gives out high fives in the senior walkOn Tuesday afternoon, I had the privilege of attending the presentations of three seniors who will graduate having earned a Graduate Certificate of Distinction in the Fine Arts. If you are not familiar with the Graduate Certificate of Distinction (GCD), it is designed for students ready and willing to pursue their passions through additional and focused coursework, research, and volunteerism. The GCD allows students to dive deeper into one area of their choosing: STEM, Global Studies, or the Fine Arts. The depth of inquiry that students experience through achieving a Certificate typically simulates what they will find in college, requiring hundreds of hours beyond the classroom.

I was struck by the growth each student experienced during their time at MPA as they pursued their passion for art. In the words of art teacher Lisa Buck, “Each showed (just) snippets of their artworks in their high school years that spoke to an inner calling, a sense of self-worth and self-image that has now framed who they will become.” The sense of self, discovered and honed, during their time at MPA is perhaps the greatest outcome I could hope for as head of school. To witness, and perhaps be a party, to that transformation is at the heart of an educator. Read More