Lower School Division News April 4, 2024

LS Division Newsfrom Jennifer Le Varge, Lower School director

Mark Your Calendars 

  • Thursday, April 4: LS Art Show Opening, 6-7 PM, Gallery, US Commons, Rossbach Art Walk, Family Commons
  • Thursday, April 4: LS Music Program 7-8 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Monday, April 9: US/LS Solar Eclipse Party, 8-10:30 AM, Family Commons
  • Tuesday, April 9: HeadSpace “Mental Health Crisis,” 3-15-4:15 PM, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
  • Wednesday, April 10: No Classes, Eid al-Fitr, PreK Panther Care > Panther Care >
  • Thursday, April 11: PA Cultural Celebration Day, 3-6 PM, Family Commons
  • Wednesday, April 17: LS CHAMP Assembly, 8:15-9 AM, Family Commons
  • Wednesday, April 17: LS Duty Free Lunch, 12:15-12:45 PM, Family Commons
  • Thursday, April 18: Spring Book Club With Dr. Hudson, 6-7:30 PM, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
  • Friday, April 19: Pairing Assembly, 2:20-3 PM
  • Friday, April 19: Spring Auction, 6:30-11 PM, Dellwood Golf Club
  • Wednesday, April 24: Spring Musical Preview Performance, 1:35-3 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Thursday, April 25: LS/US Haiti Cultural Celebration, 1-3 PM, Family Commons, Gallery
  • Friday, April 26: Spring Musical Performance, 7-9 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Saturday, April 27: Spring Musical Performance, 7-9 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Sunday, April 28: Spring Musical Performance, 2-4 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Tuesday, April 30: LS Parent Quarterly Coffee, 8-9 AM, Martin Lenz Harrison Library
  • Friday, May 3: New Family Panther Party, 4-5:30 PM, MPA Campus

I hope all our families enjoyed a restful and fun spring break! The children have enjoyed getting back into their learning routines and gearing up for the end-of-year festivities.

At our CHAMP Assembly on March 27, we focused on the CHAMP attribute of accountability. Our song about being accountable was set to the awesome Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” During the month of March, the Lower School students also enjoyed reading passages about important women in our world during our lunchtime announcements. We learned so much about Amelia Earhart, Oprah Winfrey, and more! Our next CHAMP Assembly is April 17, and we will be learning about being friendly. Please send your child to school on April 17 wearing their CHAMP colors!

Reminder: Lower School Art and Music Show on Thursday, April 4
On Thursday, April 4, the kindergarten through grade four students will be showcasing their artistic and musical talents during the Art and Music Show from 6-8 PM. Please join us in the Rossbach Art Walk, Gallery, and the Nicholson Center to enjoy all the talent that our students have to offer.

Reminder: LS Visiting Author: Yangsook Choi on April 15
Soon, we will have the pleasure of welcoming Yangsook Choi, author of the beloved children’s book “The Name Jar,” as our visiting author. Yangsook is from Seoul, Korea, and she is an incredible writer and illustrator. She will lead writing and illustration workshops for our PreK through grade four students while she is visiting. Please remember to order your copy of “The Name Jar” to be signed by the author by Friday, April 5.

Neighborhood House Food Drive, Led by Fourth Grade
The fourth-grade students are finishing up the book “Home of the Brave” by Katherine Applegate. This story, about a young refugee boy who relocates to Minnesota, is the catalyst that inspired this food drive to collect items for Neighborhood House in St. Paul. Lower School students and their families are asked to donate items between March 28 and April 8. A flyer from Neighborhood House with a wish list of suggested items has been shared on Schoology. This is not an exhaustive list, and personal care items, as well as other foods, are also welcome. Please keep MPA’s food allergy policy in mind when purchasing items. More information about Neighborhood House can be found here. Last year MPA sent over 2,000 pounds of food to Neighborhood House. Let’s see what we can do together this year!

2024 MPA Spring Auction on April 19
We hope to see you at the 2024 MPA Spring Auction: Together, We Can Move Mountains program on Friday, April 19 at Dellwood Country Club. This is your chance to attend a night of fun, inspiration, and community building while supporting MPA with fellow parents, alumni, and friends.

Introducing The Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning

Heads message


from Jennifer Rogers-Petitt, director of development and community engagement

Editor’s Note: Periodically, you will find a guest Head’s Message here from members of the administrative team. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

From an early age, I loved stories. I would make them up for myself at playtime. When I began to devour them in books, I couldn’t put them down, and when I started to write down the fantastical comings and goings of my active mind, I never wanted to stop. As I’ve gotten older, had children, and experienced the highs and lows that life offers, I’ve continued to go back to the stories that have opened my eyes, inspired my heart, and made me think. As a fundraiser, I witness the power of our personal and collective stories every day when:

  • I hear from an alum that their appreciation for MPA grows the more they experience in life;
  • I hear from parents about their journey to MPA and their hopes and dreams for what it can offer their children; and
  • I hear the joys and wishes of our faculty and staff as we dream about continuing to do right by our mission and the children in our care.

When I first came to MPA, my own story unfolded: someone not from Minnesota who had never experienced the independent school world and a fundraiser who had always wanted to be thoughtful about how I approached my work. Throughout my career, I have witnessed that if we dream big, tell stories, and stay true to our mission, we will once again spark the beautiful generosity of our community. I’ve now had six years of seeing that generosity come to life at MPA in so many ways: our incredible Family Commons and Martin Lenz Harrison Library, new tools and technology for students, a renovated outdoor track, new scholarship opportunities, COVID crisis funding, underwriting our diversity equity and inclusion initiatives, an innovation fund for teachers, and now, the Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning. Throughout it all, I have talked with hundreds of community supporters and heard and shared stories of our collective impact through these funds.

Read More

Four MPA Artists Selected for High School Visual Arts Exhibition

Please join us in celebrating the four MPA artists who had their artwork selected for inclusion in the annual juried High School Visual Arts Exhibition at White Bear Center for the Arts: Lia Sonka ’24, Clara Deneault ’25, Piper Hubert ’26, and Nom-Ujin Byambatsogt ‘26.

Lia was selected for her two ceramic pieces, “Cacti” and “Lotus and Lily”; Clara will have her drawing “Fragmented Still Life” and painting “Color Bubble Koi Fish”; Nom-Ujin has painting “Bubbles and Bones” and drawing “The Mori Tower,” while Piper is to be represented by her drawing, “Ribbon.”

Their work will be part of an exhibition that runs from April 15 to May 22, with an awards reception on Thursday, April 25. All are welcome to attend the reception to honor young artists from the region. We are so proud of Lia, Clara, Piper, and Nom-Ujin!

MPA Summer Camp Opportunities!

Summer at MPAWith our return from spring break, preparations for Panther Summer have kicked into high gear! Plenty of space remains for all programs, but we encourage you to lock in your plans as soon as you are able. We anticipate a final round of additions to the enrichment program roster in the next week, so keep an eye on the registration website.

Did you know that you can register for half days or selected days of Panther Summer Camp? Just make your selections during checkout, and the price will adjust accordingly.

Registration for Panther and PreK full day care on April 10 is now open. Remember, MPA will be closed that day for Eid al Fitr.

Questions? Contact Rudy Ford at rford@moundsparkacademy.org or 651-748-5518 (call or text).

Attend HeadSpace With Dr. Bill Hudson!

HeadSpace BillDr. Bill Hudson, Head of School, launched HeadSpace as a way to connect with families around big-picture topics relevant to today’s world. Please join him for the next and last informal conversation of the year about a topic that matters, a topic that is worth grappling over. You’ll walk away feeling enlightened, connected, and empowered.

Mental Health Crisis
Tuesday, April 9 | 3:15 PM
Martin Lenz Harrison Library

If you have any questions about HeadSpace, please contact Cherie Honan, assistant to the head of school, at chonan@moundsparkacademy.org.

Join Us For Cultural Celebration Day at MPA!

CC DayEnjoy an evening of food, music, and crafts from around the world by attending Cultural Celebration Day at MPA! The MPA Parents Association invites you to partake in the event that highlights the many different backgrounds present in our school. Cultural Celebration Day is set to take place on April 11, from 3-6 PM in the Family Commons.

  • Enjoy sweet and savory street food from around the world and an international tea bar.
  • Experience beautiful music and interactive folk and classical dance performances.
  • Engage with community members sharing their cultural heritage.

Other offerings include going home with some cool body art from an expert henna artist, trying your hand at global crafts such as Greek laurel wreath making or Rangoli, and learning how to use chopsticks.

Also available will be a food demonstration, an opportunity to learn the steps of Sirtaki, a Greek folk dance, and Kathak, an Indian classical dance! Chatting with community members with booths set up to share their culture and or offer samples of their cuisine is strongly encouraged!

Food and drink tickets ($1 each) will be sold at the event. Zabiha, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options are available. Please email sanwarPA@moundsparkacademy.org with any questions regarding Cultural Celebration Day at MPA!

Welcome to MPA, Giselle Wynia!

Giselle WyniaWelcome to MPA, Giselle Wynia! Giselle joins us as a Middle School science and design teacher. We are so excited to introduce her to our community!

What school/organization are you coming from?
I previously worked for St. Odilia School.

Tell us about your education and past experience.
Prior to teaching middle school science, I taught courses at the University of Minnesota including human anatomy and worked in the anatomy bequest program. I have a Masters of instruction in human anatomy and physiology. I left the University of Minnesota to teach middle school science, and it is the most fun I have had during my teaching career. I have experience in public and private schools, and I am currently finishing up the year at St. Odilia. I have a passion for lifelong learning and I am excited to share that with the students at MPA.

What did you find appealing about MPA?
The sense of community and belonging was evident from the time I walked in the door. I really enjoyed my time teaching in Mr. Milam’s room as the students were eager to participate and a joy to interact with. Read More

The Why Behind End-Of-Term Exams

Mark Segalfrom Mark Segal, Upper School director

Editor’s Note: Periodically, you will find a guest Head’s Message here from members of the administrative team. We hope you will enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

The pressure to end the quarter on the “right note” is frequently a focus for students and their families this time of year. Next week in the Upper School, most third-quarter English, math, science, social studies, and world language classes will be offering final exams to students in grades 9-11 (seniors do not take final exams.) End-of-term final assessments serve as a crucial tool to assess students in educational systems worldwide. They play a pivotal role in evaluating students’ comprehension, retention, and application of rigorous course material.

Research underscores their significance in measuring learning outcomes and guiding instructional strategies. According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, “Final exams contribute substantially to students’ overall academic performance, with performance on these assessments strongly correlating with their final grades.” End-of-term exams also highlight areas of strength and vulnerability, informing students and their teachers of areas of focus and adjustment.

MPA faculty do a wonderful job of asking students essential questions based upon the material taught and discussions had throughout the quarter. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, “Cumulative and larger end-of-term exams have been proven to improve long-term knowledge retention, cementing the very reason we go to school in the first place.”

Read More

Classes Canceled March 25

Good morning, MPA Families –

Members of the administrative team and I have been closely monitoring the weather and road conditions since Sunday morning. Unfortunately, due to the storm, we have decided to cancel all classes, activities, and events for Monday, March 25.

We do not take this decision lightly as we balance the safety of our students, families, and employees with our commitment to having students at school. Safety, however, is always our highest priority.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday after what I hope was a wonderful spring break. Enjoy the snow day!

Dr. Bill Hudson
Head of School

Meet Assistant Director Of Admission Hannah Smith

Hannah SmithHannah Smith is the assistant director of admission (Lower School) at MPA, and a parent of two MPA Lower School students and one MPA Middle School student. Continue reading to get to know Hannah and contact her to learn more about Lower School at MPA!

When and how did you first come to MPA?
I came to MPA through my children about two years ago! We found ourselves seeking a different school for our kids, and ended up falling in love with MPA. After we enrolled our kids, I was ready to rejoin the workforce and so hoped to be apart of the MPA community as an employee in addition to a parent.

What memories do you have of your first days at MPA?
Kindness. Every single person in the building came up to me and not only introduced themselves but asked how I was doing and what they could do to help my transition.

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
By celebrating failure! Students with big dreams are taught that their goals are more than attainable, but nobody gets it right on the first try. MPA also has exceptional faculty to help students achieve whatever their dreams entail. Read More