Class of 2019: Mats Dahlberg, Saint Paul

Mats Dahlberg '19As the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I came to MPA in Kindergarten.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Columbia College Chicago because it has a strong dance and visual arts program and they would let me be involved in both. I wanted to go to a college in a city surrounded by a vibrant art scene and so many museums and traveling exhibits especially because I’m studying arts. Columbia is right in the middle of the city on Michigan Avenue and has great speakers and events including some notable alumnus.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I’m excited to explore my independence, especially in a new city. I am very excited to expand my circle and meet a new very diverse crowd of people with different viewpoints than I’ve been exposed to. I’m excited to have my ideas challenged and add to my skillset with education from new teachers and more high-level art classes. I’d love to take a printmaking class or a textile and fiber works class, something that I haven’t had the opportunity for at MPA, but have the basic artistic foundation for because of the Fine Arts education here. (And I’m excited to try all the pizza Chicago has to offer).

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
There was time set aside every other day to lead us through the whole process from browsing colleges, to editing essays, to actually weighing pros and cons and making a decision. Ms. Pederson was so helpful to me and had such a tailored approach to each student. I did a lot of research and on my own, but she still had many helpful insights into my suggestions and acted as a real guiding light through the whole process.

What about your MPA experience has best prepared you for college?
MPA has prepared me for college in terms of classroom discussions. MPA and the teachers here have really encouraged me to find my voice and feel comfortable sharing my opinions with the group even if they might be contrary to what other people are saying. Additionally, the teachers at MPA have taught me to really listen to what other students are saying and not immediately start defending my position, but to truly understand where the other person is coming from and why they hold the opinion they do.

What is your advice for MPA’s Class of 2031 (kindergartners)?
Since I started at MPA in kindergarten, my advice would be to not take life too seriously and have fun and enjoy childhood while you can. Also, your friends in kindergarten will not necessarily be your best friends in senior year, but always give people second chances and learn forgiveness early because you will all be together for a long time. Finally, if you’re ever feeling bummed out, change your outfit and get ready to change the world.

Insight from Ms. Pederson, Director of College Counseling:
While Mats had very specific criteria to guide him in his college search, he still considered a number of schools that offered the programs and environment he desired. As a future fine arts major, he had to prepare and submit a portfolio of his visual artwork along with his regular applications. Before senior year, Mats completed a summer portfolio development program at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and as a senior he both presented his own art show and was recognized multiple times for entries in juried art exhibits. He also met with college reps visiting MPA who provided individual portfolio review before he had to submit his work. At MPA, Mats was recognized by the faculty as a junior with the “Think Independently” Mission Award, and went on to graduate with a Certificate of Distinction in Fine Arts, recognizing his work in visual arts, dance and music. It was exciting to see his excellence in those areas, as well as in academics, recognized with scholarships by the schools where he ultimately applied. While we will miss his many contributions to our community, I’m excited to see how Mats continues to grow as he studies at Columbia and embraces life in Chicago.

The 55 members of the Class of 2019 were offered admission to 107 different colleges and universities in 30 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada. They will attend 44 different schools in 18 states and Washington, D.C. Learn more about MPA’s College Counseling program here!

Welcome To The Family, Ms. Drake!

Lauren DrakeMeet Lauren Drake, who is joining MPA’s faculty as an Upper School English teacher! A veteran English teacher, she has taught in both Northern California and in Colorado and recently relocated back to Minnesota. After graduating from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., Ms. Drake matriculated to Carlton College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English (magna cum laude) and then received a Master of Arts in British and American literature from Mills College. Learn more about her below!

What did you love about MPA right away?
I loved how MPA felt like a close-knit community that was warm and inviting. Everyone I met, from teachers, to administrators, to students, was incredibly friendly and I felt at home immediately. I also really enjoyed the portion of my interview with students. They were thoughtful, engaging, mature, and funny–I feel so grateful that I’ll get to work with students like that every day at MPA.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to start an experiential learning school on a farm. Through farming, students would learn about sustainability and biology. They then would learn about math, economics, and marketing by selling the produce. Of course, we’d read a lot of nature literature as well!

What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
I am passionate about connecting with the land–through gardening, hiking, and environmental stewardship. I love spending time outside and now I get to show the beauty of the outdoors to my two young sons.

What’s your secret talent?
I am really good at making up songs on the spot!

We can’t wait for our entire community to meet you, Ms. Drake! Stay tuned for more extended Q&A profiles of the amazing faculty and staff joining our community in the 2019-20 school year!

Cleaning Up Our Waste System

Ms. Meras washing trash binsIn May 2018, Middle School faculty members Ms. Meras, Ms. Powell, and Ms. Nagle first began thinking of ways to eliminate the food waste in the cafeteria. With the help of a Ramsey County grant and members of EcoConsilium, MPA was able to purchase a food recycling system and larger waste bins. MPA’s food waste is now sent to a pig farm, where it can all be recycled. There are two other bins available for trash and recyclable materials. While it was a change from simply dumping all lunch garbage into three bins instead of one, our school has  received positive feedback and high remarks that we are doing an impactful and excellent job of sorting our food waste.

In an effort to further the sustainable waste program, we are upgrading all the recycling bins in the building. The new bins will be a solid blue color and all bins will now be clearly labeled for either garbage and recycling. Overall, MPA received $10,220 in grants from Ramsey County to fund these exciting changes. During the first week of summer break, Ms. Meras, Ms. Powell, and Ms. Nagle along with help from facilities staff members Mr. Connors, Mr. Schneider, and Mr. McLees collected and cleaned all of the existing bins on campus. We are grateful for their enthusiasm and hard work to make MPA a greener, more environmentally-conscious place. Look out for brand new garbage and recycling bins in the fall, Panthers!

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.

Class of 2019: Parker Law, White Bear Lake

Parker law, class of 2019As the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I started at MPA in Kindergarten.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Babson for its stellar reputation in business and entrepreneurship, as well as its nationally ranked tennis program. There, I will be able to push myself athletically as well as continue my business passion.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I am incredibly excited about the independence that comes with college away from home. Living next to Boston gives me the opportunity to experience a new landscape, meet new people, and find interesting jobs and internships.

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
The amount of time focused on standardized test preparation, college essay writing, and researching colleges starting sophomore year is something I have come to appreciate after the fact. I consistently felt more prepared for the college application process than my peers at other schools. Read More

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

Class of 2019: Lindsey Baldwin, Saint Paul

Lindsey BaldwinAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA?
I came to MPA in ninth grade after moving to St. Paul from Marquette, Michigan.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I was first encouraged to visit Wellesley College because it is a women’s college and because of its reputation for academic excellence and social justice. When I visited, I fell in love with the positive, supportive environment and the dedication to feminism among Wellesley students. I ultimately chose Wellesley because it is a perfect fit for me, and I know that the college and my peers there will help me grow as a student and as a person.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
First and foremost, I am excited to study at a women’s college. While it is not representative of the “real world,” the prospect of engaging in learning unencumbered by gender roles and societal expectations is invigorating. I am very passionate about women’s and other social issues, and because Wellesley is committed to exploring and alleviating those burdens, I know that it will be a perfect place for me to grow. Read More

Meet MPA’s Newest Faculty And Staff

middle school science classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School 

I consider hiring to be one of the most important aspects of my role as head of school. As a rigorous college prep school, I need to ensure that we have excellent teachers. But because of our mission, we also need to ensure that we have excellent human beings who are going to go beyond the classroom as role models, advocates, and confidants, and even sometimes, act in “loco parentis.” I am continually reminded from my own experience as a teacher that in the long run, students won’t always remember what we taught them, but who we are, how we treated them, and how we made them feel. Early in the hiring process, I make a point to remind each committee that while it is important to fill the position, we are hiring the person first.

MPA has a very rigorous and inclusive hiring process. When an opening presents itself, we first take the opportunity to review the position in light of our mission and the evolving needs of the school. Open positions are then posted both locally and nationally and despite a national teacher shortage, we have had great success in attracting a highly qualified and diverse pool of candidates. Each hiring team is led by a member of the administrative team and is comprised of faculty and staff who work collaboratively to screen resumes and conduct a first round of interviews, culminating with a day on campus and a final interview. As a part of their time on campus, teaching candidates actually teach a class and then meet informally with students. We truly value the student perspective and voice in the hiring process. The final decision rests with the head of school, taking into account the recommendation of the hiring committee and the feedback of the students. Read More

Your New Parents Association Executive Board!

Middle school students dance in drama classThank you to those of you who voted for your new Parents Association Executive Board. The following slate was approved and will begin leading the Parents Association and serving the MPA community on July 1, 2019: Kim Jakway, president; Seema Anwar and Barry Madore, co-presidents-elect; Meredith Forgosh, secretary; Yuki Miyokawa, treasurer; Russ Purdy, Upper School division lead; Susan Knapp, Middle School division lead; Sally Richie and Andrea Dodson, Lower School co-division leads.

In addition, a special thanks to Tara Lafferty who is stepping down as Middle School lead but will continue to be involved in Parents Association events. Tara has dedicated many volunteer hours and her amazing contributions are much appreciated!

Volunteer With MPA This Summer!

upper school volunteers at summer eventsThe Offices of Admission and Marketing/Communication are looking forward to MPA’s presence at many fabulous summer events, starting this weekend! These events provide us with an opportunity to raise awareness of MPA in the community and share what a wonderful school it is.

We are looking for volunteers (families, alumni, parents of alumni, faculty, staff, and students) to join us in this effort! This is a great way to connect with people you might not get to otherwise and share your love for MPA. Your children are more than welcome to accompany you and this is a great way for Upper School students to earn service hours. Read More