The Joys And Challenges Of A PreK-12 Schedule

from Bill Hudson, head of school

I am deeply touched by the outpouring of kind sentiments I’ve received since announcing my intention to retire at the end of the 2024-25 school year. This decision was incredibly difficult, as I have found immense joy in serving as the head of school at MPA and feel privileged to lead such a remarkable community. Each day, I eagerly anticipate coming to school, recognizing the rare fortune of a job that is both professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling.

As I look toward the future, I have full confidence in the board of trustees and the search committee to find an exceptional successor. Rest assured, my commitment and passion for MPA remain unwavering, and I am dedicated to giving my all over the next 16 months.

Looking ahead to the 2024-25 school year, I am excited to share some exciting changes coming to the Middle and Upper Schools. Throughout this year, the academic administration has carefully reviewed feedback on the curriculum and academic schedule from students, parents, faculty, and staff. Our commitment to continuous improvement is guided by our school’s mission and values, ensuring we meet the evolving needs of our students.

Developing a master schedule and academic calendar that caters to students from PreK through 12 is indeed challenging. I often liken my role as head of school to managing a wonderfully messy family with three different schools, each with its own unique students, teachers, and parents—all under one roof. We are one school united by our mission, yet each division approaches the daily schedule with a focus on our students’ academic, social-emotional, and mental well-being. A committee of teachers and administrators, supported by our exceptional new registrar, Renae Wantock, has refined the master schedule to be even more responsive to our students’ needs.

Upper School
In the Upper School next year, we will offer an impressive 50 elective classes, with 29 available to ninth graders, 13 more in the tenth grade, four more in the eleventh grade, and four more in the twelfth grade. This breadth of choice is rare and reflects our commitment to providing an enriching academic experience. Read More


Congratulations MPA Skiers!

MPA Skiers Alpine and NordicThree members of the MPA Alpine Ski Team earned All-Conference Awards for their efforts at the IMAC Alpine Conference Championship Meet at Buck Hill. Congratulations to Sidney Lundeen ’27, Henry Schwartz ’25, and Jaclyn L. ’29.

Two members of the MPA Alpine Ski Team earned Honorable Mention All-Conference Awards for their efforts at the IMAC Alpine Conference Championship Meet at Buck Hill. Congratulations to Myah Hoeschen ’27 and Jacob Wyant ’27.

Two members of the MPA Alpine Ski Team qualified for State at the Section 4A Alpine Ski Meet. Congratulations to Jaclyn L. ’29 and Vittorio Bloyer ’24. They will be participating at the State Alpine Meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN on February 13. Read More


MPA Students Experience Music Clinic At University Of Wisconsin

Oslo, Julia, and LucyThree exceptional MPA students had the opportunity to attend a prestigious orchestra clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this week. Julia Anderson ’27, Oslo Norcross ’27, and Lucy Mayer ’27 attended intensive rehearsals, guided by university faculty, and all of their hard work culminated in a live concert performance.

“Our MPA musicians are so dedicated to music making and I love that they were able to experience this event,” said Hannah Lawson, MPA’s director of orchestras. “As their director, I want to give my students as many performance opportunities as possible and I’m so proud that they accepted the challenge and can carry this experience with them forever.” Read More


Middle School Division News February 8, 2024

Middle Schoolers high diving after talent show performancefrom Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Wednesday, February 14: Middle School Parent Quarterly Coffee, 8:15-9:30 AM, Library
  • Wednesday, February 14: MS Grades 7/8 BIPOC Affinity Group Meeting, Panther Center
  • Thursday, February 15: Re-enrollment Deadline
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: No Classes, Professional Development, Panther Club Closed
  • Monday, February 19: No Classes, Presidents’ Day
  • Monday, February 26: SnoDaze Spirit Week Begins
  • Friday, March 1: SnoDaze Assembly, 2:20-3 PM, Lansing Sports Center
  • Monday, March 4-Friday, March 8: i-Term 2024

This may be the first year since joining the MPA family in 2018, that the groundhog predicted an early spring! While we miss the sledding hill at recess, we are grateful to not be bundling up every day to be outside and maybe, just maybe, our spring sports will have a smooth start to their seasons.

As we approach conferences this week, I hope you’re also taking the time to connect with your Middle School students about how their year is going, what is working well for them, and where adjustments may need to be made to see great success. An important part of growing up is coming to a better understanding of how you learn and what you need to be successful. It was in Middle School when I realized that I needed clear checklists, absolute silence to fully comprehend what I was reading and studying and that not having a plan caused me an immeasurable amount of anxiety and caused me to procrastinate and avoid. Identifying hurdles and needs like these for your Middle School student helps them to manage their learning and their emotions and learn to ask for what they need. I encourage you, the next time you’re in the car, running errands, or sharing time on the sofa at home, ask your Middle Schooler about how they learn, what tips and tricks they’re learning, and where they’re finding success. If they’re not sure, guide them—help them see that learning is work, takes intentionality, and doesn’t just “happen.” The best part is that they get to decide how it happens! Read More


Meet International Student Alum Wei Zhan ’22

Wei Zhan '22What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally? What experiences or relationships have inspired you along the way?
I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and am now attending Santa Monica College. Engaging with a diverse and talented group of individuals fueled my passion along the way.

How was your experience at MPA different than other schools?
MPA has an inclusive and open atmosphere, embracing individuals from all backgrounds and creating a welcoming environment for everyone. Read More


Being An MPA Student Is…

MPA students working together in a small groupThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the January 27, 2024 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

Being a student at MPA is a lot of things.

It’s being part of “A generally really diverse, inclusive environment. I fit in like on day one.”

It’s also a place where you will find “Words of encouragement, even when I didn’t really think I needed it,” and opportunities that make you think, “This experience has just made me a much more confident speaker and critical person.”

And even in addition to all of that, it’s “This safe, nurturing, supportive place where I could really explore and learn so many new things.” Read More


Middle School Division News January 25, 2024

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Mark Your Calendars

  • Friday, January 26: PA Parent Trivia Night, 6-8 PM, Family Commons
  • Friday, January 26: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Saturday, January 27: MS Gemstone Quiz Bowl Tournament, 8:30 AM-3 PM, Burnsville High School
  • Saturday, January 27: MPA vs SPA Varsity Basketball at Target Center, 9 AM (girls), 11 AM (boys), tickets >
  • Saturday, January 27: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Wednesday, January 31: MS Grade 7/8 BIPOC Affinity Group, 2:20-3 PM, Panther Center
  • Thursday, February 1: MS Class of 2032 Parent Gathering, 3:15-4:15 PM, Library
  • Friday, February 2: Re-Enrollment Agreements Sent
  • Friday, February 2: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Saturday, February 3: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 7-8:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Sunday, February 4: US Winter Show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” 3-4:30 PM, Black Box, tickets >
  • Monday, February 5: MS Puss ‘N Boots Cast Party, 3:15-4:30 PM, Family Commons
  • Wednesday, February 7: MS Talent Show, 12:30-3 PM, Nicholson Center
  • Wednesday, February 7: MS Class of 2032 Parent Gathering, 6-7 PM, Library
  • Thursday, February 8: Middle School Snow Tubing, Badlands SnoPark, 2-5 PM
  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Friday, February 9: LS/MS Conferences, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: Professional Development Day, No Classes
  • Monday, February 19: Presidents’ Day, No Classes

New Semester, New Opportunity!
A new semester is something I always loved as a student … the chance to begin anew, be better, develop new skills, learn new things. I hope you’ll approach this semester, and this next part of our annual journey in the same way—optimistic, focused, and supportive! I tell Middle Schoolers that semester two is the start of their runway to their next grade and it’s time to fly more independently, more responsibly, and more maturely. How exciting to grow up!

Middle School Office
Review of applications for the Middle School Assistant position have begun. Ms. Meras and I continue to manage the divisional office tasks, duties, and day-to-day activities. If you need to report an absence, we request that you email MSOffice@moundsparkacademy.org. If it is urgent, please email either of us individually (pmeras@moundsparkacademy.org) and (jmilam@moundsparkacademy.org) and we will get it ASAP. As a reminder, the office phone number is 651-748-5565. Thanks for your support, kindness, and patience! We hope to introduce you to our next great “chaos coordinator” soon!

Lower and Middle School Conferences: Friday, February 9 and Thursday, February 15
Our conferences for Lower and Middle school will be held at the start of February. Scheduling for your conferences is ongoing now—please do not miss this opportunity to sign up! If you are not registered for conferences by this Friday, January 26, you will not be able to schedule! If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to the Middle School Office.

Valentine’s Day in Middle School
Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday of the year—a time to tell those you love and appreciate that you do and who doesn’t love loads of pink and red? It can also be a challenging time in Middle School when our minds and brains tell us that others’ thoughts, opinions, and interactions with us are more important than just about anything. Fear of rejection, unrequited feelings, or being left out, are real and powerful, especially for (pre)adolescents. In Middle School we work hard to teach, practice, and reinforce that no one must like everybody nor be liked by all. This is a shifting landscape in the social-emotional journey, for sure. If you and your student decide to share valentines, treats, cards, or other trinkets, please help them to be mindful of others. It’s always good to share kindness and it’s also an important lesson to be sure that we’re not sharing at the expense of others.


Parents Association News January 11, 2024

New! Parents Association Trivia Night
Friday, January 26, 6-8 PM
Join us for a joyful evening of dinner and socializing at MPA hosted by Trivia Mafia! Compete to be trivia champions! For parents and guardians of students in PreK-12, $5 per person (adult or child), dinner from Cossetta, childcare available for grades K-6. For more details and to register, click here.

Dr. Hudson’s Book Club
Monday, February 12, 6 PM
One more announcement for our parent readers! Dr. Hudson’s Book Club will be back on February 12, 6:00 PM in the MPA Library. We will be reading “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride. Childcare will be provided. Sign up here to get your copy of the book.

Parent Volunteers Needed for Lower School Valentine’s Day Party
Please contact msotoPA@moundsparkacademy.org if you want to help organize the festivities!


Middle School Division News January 11, 2024

from Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

Mark your Calendars

  • Friday, January 12: US Class of 2028 Parent Coffee, 8-9 AM, PCR
  • Monday, January 15: Indexed Tuition Re-Application Deadline
  • Monday, January 15: No Classes, Martin Luther King Day
  • Thursday, January 18: MS Grade 7/8 BIPOC Affinity Group, 2:20-3 PM, Panther Center
  • Friday, January 19: MS/US End of Quarter 2
  • Saturday, January 20: Minnesota State Future Cities Competition, Dakota County Technical College
  • Monday, January 22: No Classes, Professional Day
  • Thursday, January 25: MS Grade 5 Music Share, 2:20-3 PM, Recital Hall
  • Thursday, February 8: Middle School Snow Tubing, Badlands SnoPark (Wisconsin)
  • Friday, February 9: No LS/MS Classes, Conferences
  • Friday, February 9: LS/MS Conferences, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Thursday, February 15: LS/MS Evening Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
  • Friday, February 16: No Classes, Professional Development (Panther Care Closed)
  • Monday, February 19: No Classes, Presidents’ Day

HAPPY 2024! I hope this finds you having had a wonderful winter break with lots of rest, fun, and time with those you love the most! I also hope that 2024 presents you with a fresh start, a renewed energy, and a centeredness that can feel so elusive after the hurried holiday season. While it can be tempting to set lofty goals toward self-improvement and milestone attainment, I encourage you to be kind to yourself and search instead for peace, contentment, comfort, and fun! Catherine Price, author of The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again, writes, “If we want to be sure to save enough of our time and attention for the things that matter to us the most, we need to know what those things are—and create space for them” (p. 170).

When so much of the world is in flux of some kind, and there are indeed many transitions ahead for our division, my wish for 2024 is that we do our best to stay focused on the important things, to care for one another, and to follow the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, silly!) method for making space for things that matter most to each of us.

Middle School Office Staffing, Reminders, and Updates! 
With the departure of Mrs. Lassonde, Ms. Meras and I will be managing the divisional office tasks, duties, and day-to-day activities. If you need to report an absence, we request that you email MSOffice@moundsparkacademy.org. If it is urgent, please email either of us individually (pmeras@moundsparkacademy.org) and (jmilam@moundsparkacademy.org) and we will get it ASAP. As a reminder, the office phone number is (651) 748-5565.

Additionally, if you or someone you know loves middle schoolers, a dynamic work environment, and is yearning to be a part of a great team, we would love it if you would share our Middle School Assistant job posting here.

Priority review of applications will begin on January 12! Thanks for your support, kindness, and for sharing in your networks! Read More


A Makerspace Twist On National Novel Writing Month

One of the most memorable seventh-grade traditions at MPA is completing NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a national effort where participants write a novel throughout November. “It’s one of my favorite units to teach,” said Maddy Wolfe ‘12, seventh-grade English teacher at MPA. “They create well-rounded characters, complex story worlds, and a plot laced with tension, all while learning and incorporating language rules and mechanics.”

This year, in addition to their novels, the seventh graders created 3D frames depicting a scene from their stories. They chose a scene from their novel to highlight, and they needed to define the details that make up the scene in its entirety, translated onto a foreground, midground, and background.

“We used a multi-plane camera process—an old-fashioned way of creating 3D space by painting on glass frames as in the early King Kong movie—to create the illusion of space,” commented Keith Braafladt, MPA’s Makerspace coordinator. “It was a surprise how interested and passionate the students were, especially in terms of using color and painting techniques with paint markers, which is a painting tool we just started using last year with our Gunpla model-making activity. The students had so much more control than learning to use a brush in small spaces.”

When the models are held up to a projector, a 3D image is projected onto the wall behind.
“They turned out really incredible!” said Ms. Wolfe. “Their scenes included so many details from their novels, and it was cool to watch their visions come to life.”

“It was a wonderful collaboration using digital fabrication tools to make the frames and the transparencies using a historical perspective technique that came from filmmaking and animation and building this all around the notion of the creation of the narrative for the students’ novels,” commented Mr. Braafladt.

See photos from this exceptional project here.