Community Meets Experiential Learning

Upper school student working with lower school student on STEM projectThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the April 11, 2024 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

Earlier this week, we celebrated the solar eclipse with a day of cross-divisional activities, STEM education, and a community-wide viewing. Upper School students transformed the Family Commons into a space laboratory and spent the morning leading Lower School students through experiential activities that explained the science behind the eclipse and why it was such a phenomenon. Students rotated from station to station where they were taught the physics of the eclipse, experimented with black lights and photons, demonstrated the movements of planets, and practiced safe viewing with their eclipse glasses. They were over the moon, pun intended, to learn from their older peers who engaged with them in a way that defines our PreK-12 school.

The sense of community here not only creates a safe, inclusive environment for our students and their families–it extends to supporting lifelong learners on their journey of a joyful education. The laughter echoing through the Family Commons was heard throughout the school, and the look of pure awe on our littlest Panthers’ faces was not just for the phenomenon in the sky; they were looking up at the leaders of the student body, and at their own future at MPA. One day, perhaps for the next eclipse years from now, they will be the Upper School students leading the way and providing new Lower Schoolers with these memorable moments at school.

Even though we couldn’t see the eclipse through cloudy skies, what we did see was a PreK-12 community, gathered in joyful excitement to learn and be together.

Speech Team Wins Section Title To Return To State

MPA SpeechAfter winning the Minnesota State High School League’s Class A title last year, the Mounds Park Academy speech team put itself in a position to repeat by taking the Section 4A title on Saturday at St. Croix Lutheran Academy, sealing another berth to state for the Panthers. Eight students won their respective events, helping key the trip back to the state tournament, which will be held on Friday, April 19, at Shakopee High School. Congratulations to the following students for taking the top spots to punch their tickets to state:

  • Paul Fertig ’25 – Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Akshay Somayajula ’24 – Great Speeches
  • Guy Schwieger ‘26 – Humorous Interpretation
  • Zainab Lodhi ’25 – Informative Speaking
  • Ash Klann ‘26 – Original Oratory
  • Annika Binstadt ’25 – Poetry Reading
  • Andrea Pugh ’26 – Prose Reading
  • Maggie Banks ‘24 Storytelling

Sean Holland ‘25, Amila Avdic ‘27, Amal Sastry ‘25, Mari Minear ‘25, Mina Kim ‘26, Nico Bergh ‘27, Rowan Mulrooney ‘25, Oslo Norcross ‘27, Zoya Nayak ‘25, Nabila Artan ‘26, Lucy Mayer ‘27, Pahwa Yang ‘24, and Greta Hanson ’24 will join the eight, having all placed in the top three in their fields to represent MPA at the state competition. Just missing out on state berths had Jake Wyant ‘27, Warner Reid ’26, Sidd Sastry ‘27, Victoria Lin ‘27, and Soumya Raman ‘24, who all still earned placements during the section tournament.

Following the state tournament, some action still remains for the Panthers on deck. In May, the team will travel to Nebraska to compete at the NIETOC National Tournament. Those participants had to qualify throughout the season and include the following:

Maggie Banks, Nico Bergh, Kelvyn Boddipalli, Paul Fertig, Greta Hanson, Mina Kim, Ash Klann, Hannabella Li, Zainab Lodhi, Mari Minear, Rowan Mulrooney, Zoya Nayak, Oslo Norcross, Andrea Pugh, Amal Sastry, Sidd Sastry, Guy Schwieger, Akshay Somayajula and Pahwa Yang.

MPA Sailing: All Are Welcome, Grades 7-12!

MPA Sailing

Interested in giving the sport a try? The team is welcoming friends of any team member to come out and see what sailing is all about on April 9.

The MPA Sailing team sails out of White Bear Sailing School with and against teams from White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi High School, Stillwater High School, Saint Croix Prep, Mounds View High School, Hill Murray, and Totino-Grace, gaining crucial communication skills and cooperation on the water.

The White Bear Sailing School features three MPA alums in prominent roles as Toby Sullivan ’19 is the waterfront director, Josh Sullivan ’16 is head coach, and Henry Seum ’23 is a summer coach.

Cultural Celebration Day Is A Week Away!

CC Day

Are you ready for Cultural Celebration Day at MPA? The celebration, which will be held on April 11, from 3-6 PM in the Family Commons, is just a week away! Organized by the MPA Parents Association, the night will feature many of the different backgrounds at our school.

Cultural Celebration Day will entail sweet and savory street food from around the world, including a boba tea bar hosted by Treats, a cereal bar and Boba shop based out of St. Paul. In addition to the food from different cultures, the event aims to teach the steps to Sirtaki, a Greek folk dance, and feature a Kathak dance workshop, a classical Indian dance form, presented by the Katha Dance Theater. 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. Speaking to 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.

Looking to help out at Cultural Celebration Day? Sign up to volunteer! Please email with any questions regarding Cultural Celebration Day at MPA!

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 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

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 with any questions regarding Cultural Celebration Day at MPA!