Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

middle school student on a laptopJust as they were this spring, Town Hall meetings will be used as an important way for our community to connect, learn, and get their questions answered, both PreK-12 and by division. The information shared in these Town Hall meetings will support the written communication being shared regularly. Recordings will be distributed afterward should you not be able to attend!

Lower School Town Hall
August 11, 7 PM
Join on Zoom >
Meeting ID: 927 2973 0635
Password: 951763

Middle School Town Hall
August 12, 7 PM
Join on Zoom >
Meeting ID: 958 5995 8071
Password: MSTownHall

Upper School Town Hall
August 12, 7 PM
Join on Zoom >
Meeting ID: 940 5988 9836
Password: MPAUS0813

Middle School Back To School Days

middle school student doing science labAs we have reimagined our return to school events to ensure all can be on campus safely, we are excited to welcome Middle School students to campus for Back to School Days where we will get to know each other, our new campus health and safety procedures, attend laptop orientation, and learn about all of the new processes and practices that are part of our MPA student experience. We’re also going to have some fun—so we ask that students dress comfortably and ready for outside play! These are student-only events.

The dates offered below are listed by advisors and grade levels. Our Middle School advisory program is an important part of each day. This year, even more than before, each small group of students, led by a faculty member, will be like a small family! It will be an encouraging, supportive, and collaborative group for students and getting a great and positive start to the new school year. However, we recognize that with our summer winding down, your family may be unavailable at the scheduled time. If your student(s) are unable to attend their assigned advisory day, please let us know, and we will work to either have students attend with another group (with their grade level) or ask you to attend one of the make-up sessions. Advisory assignments were sent to families via email. Read More

Exciting Garden Progress: Tomatoes, Butterflies, And More!

It was a long week in the gardens on campus, as our volunteer restoration crew discovered them flooded after heavy rainstorms. Covered in half a foot of water, they weren’t sure what could be done to recover the young seedlings and careful work that had been put in over the past few weeks. Luckily, several heroes came to the rescue. Ms. Johnson and Ms. P had encouraging words of support for the garden crew. Chef Doug helped with moving the excess mulch, raising spirits, and refocusing energy into the garden work. Facilities team members Andy and Josh were also essential in draining the flood with a silk net technique.

Since the flood, the garden has received ten bags of river rock to help drainage, six large rocks around the downspout near Ms. Stinsons’ classroom to help stem the flow of water, and native Northern Iris and Liatris near the library. The plants have been rescued from the flooded area and weeded by Chef Doug. Dill and carrot seedlings have started to emerge, and cherry tomatoes are beginning to develop. The garden is also welcoming many dragonflies, swallowtails, monarch butterflies, and baby toads!

Coming up next, the volunteers plan to plant two birch trees, place more plants and seeds, study the effect of the silk net and rock drainage, and continue weeding. They are also looking into more hardscaping for the pathway in order to make sure the gardens are accessible to all.

Register For Summer Basketball Camp!

basketball campers 2019Children entering grades 4-9 this fall are invited to Summer Basketball Camp at MPA held Monday July 27-Thursday, July 30 from 9-11 AM. On behalf of Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Jacob Schwartz, and our entire program, we are looking forward to a safe and enjoyable camp. This camp is for MPA and non MPA students at all skill levels, so whether your child is looking for a chance to hone their skills after a summer of AAU, or try basketball for the first time in a welcoming environment, MPA’s camp is open to all. Mounds Park Academy’s Summer Basketball Camp costs $75 per camper, via check/cash/Venmo on the first day of camp, and includes a camp t-shirt.

A quick note on safety: From prearrival home screenings, to all participants and coaches wearing masks, to temperature checks on arrival, keeping a safe, healthy, COVID-free camp environment is our number one priority. We will be employing 27 distinct protocols and safeguards. More information on safety is available on our registration page.

Register here and contact Nate Bander with any questions.


Virtual Freethinker Fridays

Freethinker Friday with MPA faculty, staff, parents, and studentsPlease join us every Friday on MPA’s Facebook page or MPA’s YouTube channel for live, casual conversations about topics that matter with a variety of MPA community members.

  • June 19 Freethinker Friday: Middle School Stuff watch the recording >
  • June 25 Freethinker Friday: Setting The Foundation In Lower School watch the recording >
  • July 10 Freethinker Friday: Racial Justice and Inclusion watch the recording >
  • July 17 Freethinker Friday: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Through Virtual Learning
  • July 24 Freethinker Friday: Balancing Academics, Arts & Athletics
  • July 31 Freethinker Friday: Rigor With Purpose

No RSVP is necessary. We look forward to seeing you live!

Tips To Prepare For Fall 2020 From Dr. Nolan

lower school student and parent arriving on campusby Dr. Jules Nolan, Mounds Park Academy school psychologist

The oft-cited advice to “put your own mask on before assisting others” is taking on new meaning during COVID-19. How we take care of ourselves influences how smoothly our kids adjust to new habits and routines. They are able to sense our emotional state (co-regulation) and when we are relaxed and confident, they are better able to feel the same way. As we head into fall 2020, we need to be positive with our kids, even if we feel a bit uncertain. The next year and a half will be bumpy, but together we can manage it and develop new talents and skills that will serve us throughout our lives. The Mounds Park Academy team is working hard to make the upcoming school year a safe and positive experience for our entire community.

Given our current reality, we need to prepare differently for the upcoming academic year than we typically do. Here are some tips: Read More

Congratulations To Alumni Award Winner Heather Otto ‘97

heather Otto '97Nate Bander ’09 spoke with 2020 Alumni Award winner Heather Rose Otto ’97 about her Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, See You at the Summit.

Tell us more about your role as founder of See You at the Summit. How did that idea come about and what was the journey like to establish your organization?

I was working in the field of wilderness therapy and I actually attended an international conference where I heard a Canadian speaker share more about what they were doing to improve the psychosocial health of teenagers undergoing cancer treatment. I realized that there wasn’t anything like this happening in the United States, so over the course of 15 years, I developed and founded See You at the Summit. I went back to school to get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and spent years researching and presenting to the medical community to get their buy in. Now there are 18 hospitals in the Pacific Northwest hoping to get involved in our organization.

See You at the Summit takes eight kids ages 13-18 who are undergoing or have just completed cancer treatment and brings them on a nine day wilderness trip, followed by 21 days of additional programming. So far, we have done backpacking trips but we are adding white water rafting, snow shoeing and dogsledding trips as well. We bring a team of 20 volunteers including physicians, nurses, child psychologists, porters and program facilitators and we’re able to provide the trips at no cost to the teenagers and their families.

Going on a See You at the Summit trip helps this underserved group develop self-esteem, make friendships, build resilience, tell their story, and just learn how to be teenager, all skills that are much harder to develop from a hospital room. This is so important because teens with cancer experience depression and anxiety at a 30% higher rate and are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Through our trips and programming, we give them the tools to navigate a very challenging part of their lives.

We are researching the long and short term outcomes of our work as well. We believe that teens who experience a See You at the Summit trip will have better cancer recovery and mental health outcomes. We hope that our research provides the medical professionals who care for teens with better ways to provide social-emotional support as well.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today and your work as the founder of a nonprofit?

I am an MPA lifer and I am so grateful for my time at MPA, it really was a great education. Looking back on it, I especially appreciated the small class sizes because I always felt heard and respected.

In particular, four teachers had a special impact on me. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Thacker was one of them. She actually adopted a puppy from the animal shelter and we cared for it as a class. I also remember my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Zimmerhakl really fondly. She was teaching us about privilege, equity and inclusion in the late 1980s, before most people were incorporating that into the curriculum.

From my Upper School days, Mr. Meacock and Mrs. Conway were of course teachers that made a lifelong impact on me. They stand out because their classes were filled with hands-on experiences. They were teaching about life just as much as the subjects they were responsible for. After MPA, I attended North Park University in Chicago where I studied theology.

What’s next?

I am continuing to build this program. As I mentioned, there are 18 hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, and more emerging on the East coast, who want to be involved. I am looking to do even more fundraising so that we can support more kids to go on our trips. For anyone looking to get involved, we are always in need of sponsors for our teens. For more information, visit www.seeyouatthesummit.org.

MPA Community Members Are Rehabilitating Campus Gardens

working on the outdoor garden areasAfter the completion of the new Martin Lenz Harrison Library at MPA, current MPA parent Michelle Mick had a vision for a beautiful Panther Garden in the adjacent outdoor space. Thanks to the help of Samantha Forgosh Class of ‘22 and Jaeden McFarland Class of ‘19, it is well on its way to achieving this vision. These volunteers and many others are helping to remove sod, prepare the ground, and create beautiful sanctuary gardens with sustainable wildflowers and plants, as well as vegetable and produce gardens which will be used in the MPA kitchen next year.

Jaeden, Samantha, Chef Doug, and MPA parent volunteers Tim and Michelle Mick continue to be hard at work volunteering to rehabilitate several outdoor spaces on MPA’s campus, already having cut and removed all the sod of the 120 by 40 foot-area, rototilled the entire space, and continue to remove the weeds and rake.

At first glance, the soil underneath was unusually sandy and barren. But after Tim rototilled the soil, which means using a tool that breaks up and tills the dirt, plenty of healthy worms and lots of other interesting bugs popped out! They found the area just beyond the library soaked after a night of rain, which Michelle was able to help drain by adding rocks.

This week, new mulch will be delivered, and the group will be moving it (while socially distant) from the drop off zone in front of Lower School to the new gardens. We are so grateful to have volunteers in our community making these gardens happen! A special thank you to Jaeden, Samantha, Doug, Tim and Michelle Mick, and all who continue to volunteer!

MPA Students Named NASA Scientists For A Day

gigi and bryanCongratulations to rising MPA ninth graders Gigi and Bryan! The two students were named the NASA Scientist For A Day 2019-20 Winners for Grades 7-8 on the topic of Miranda.

“Humans are driven to explore. To question. To wonder. Wishing to further our understanding of the universe beyond Earth. So that someday, the impossible might just become possible,” Gigi and Bryan wrote in their final submission. “Miranda, the fifth largest moon of Uranus. Some would refer to it as the Frankenstein moon. Many speculations have been made about how the moon came to be. But we don’t truly know for sure. With a variety of textures, grooves, craters, and fractures coating its surface, you cannot help but ask, ‘How were those created? Would it be the same on the other side of Miranda? Or would it be different?’ We won’t know unless we look deeper. This unusual discovery is something worth learning more about.” Read the rest of their report on NASA’s website here!

Students Continue The Conversation

upper school SCC and RJEC meeting on zoomThe MPA Upper School Social Consciousness and Racial Justice & Equity Clubs are continuing their conversations throughout the summer.

Students (and faculty) involved in the clubs are partaking in a summer book club, where they we will be reading “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X Kendi. They are also setting club goals for the next few months, and are making individual efforts to research and address topics like, “What are viable non-policing methods for security at school dances? Are mental health professionals an available resource for substance abuse concerns at school functions? Are school resource officers funded by the state?”

SCC and RJEC will also continue to share recommended resources for allies with all of their Upper School peers throughout the summer, such as podcasts, films, articles, and updates on our community actions and initiatives.