2021-22 COVID-19 & Back To School

first grader in art classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Even though it can be a little quiet and sometimes lonely working over the summer, it is a delight to witness how the grounds come alive. My office overlooks the rain garden and reclaimed prairie at the north end of the campus and the indigenous flowers that only bloom in the summer are stunning. From time to time, I also stroll through our gardens outside the Middle School and our new garden outside the Harrison Library. We are fortunate to have such a beautiful campus and a committed cadre of teachers, staff, students, and parents who lovingly care for it over the summer months.

Great care has also gone into preparing for the new school year. This email serves as your re-introduction to life during a pandemic on campus at MPA. We’ve spent a great deal of time this spring and summer researching the progression of the pandemic, consulting with educational and medical experts, and seeking guidance from our Community Advisory Group to design a plan that continues to be flexible, nimble, and always attuned to the latest science. Just like last summer and even throughout the school year, please know that the plan and all of our safety measures will change based on emerging information, both locally and nationally. We remain wholly committed to being safe, being smart, and being kind and ask all of our families to recommit to that intention. We cannot wait to have the entire community back on campus this August—including families! Read More

New Family Orientations & Back To School Days

back to school day in first gradeNew Family Orientations and Back To School Days will be held on campus throughout August. These will be small events designed for maximum safety.

  • PreK Family & Teacher Meetings: August 10-14, scheduled by sign-up
  • PreK Playground Playdate & Family Orientation: August 19, 3-5 PM
  • Kindergarten Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 20, 9-11 AM (New family arrival time: 8:45 AM. Returning family arrival time: 9:30 AM.)
  • First Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 23, 12-2 PM (New family arrival time: 11:45 AM. Returning family arrival time: 12:30 PM.)
  • Second Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 23, 3-5 PM (New family arrival time: 2:45 PM. Returning family arrival time: 3:30 PM.)
  • Third Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 24, 12-2 PM (New family arrival time: 11:45 AM. Returning family arrival time: 12:30 PM.)
  • Fourth Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 24, 3-5 PM (New family arrival time: 2:45 PM. Returning family arrival time: 3:30 PM.)
  • Fifth & Sixth Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 17, 6-8 PM (New family arrival time: 5:45. Returning family arrival time: 6:45 PM.)
  • Seventh & Eighth Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 19, 6-8 PM (New family arrival time: 5:45 PM. Returning family arrival time: 6:45 PM.)
  • Ninth Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 18, 6-8 PM (New family arrival time: 5:45 PM. Returning family arrival time: 6:45 PM.)
  • 10th-12th Grade Back To School Day & New Family Orientation: August 23, 6-8 PM (New family arrival time: 5:45 PM. Returning family arrival time: 6:30 PM.)

Each of these Back To School Day & New Family Orientation events will include time with your division director as well as opportunities for students to meet their teachers, bring their school supplies, see their lockers, and walk their schedules (in Middle and Upper School). It will also include social time for returning and new students as well as their families.

To view these events in calendar form, click here.

Host An MPA International Student

international students in the makerspaceDo you have room to spare? Space in your heart for another family member? A desire to expand your family’s perspective of the world? MPA is seeking host families for several international students for the 2021-22 school year.

Our new students this past year found great success, experiencing near-daily “firsts,” and are loving their MPA journey. Between the adults in their school and home lives, our students feel supported, nurtured, and loved while living so far from their families. This is vital to their success and the strongest testament to everything our MPA host families and staff do to care for our international students. Read More

Mounds Park Academy Closed July 3-11

MPA campusMounds Park Academy, including the building and grounds, business office, heads office, development, admissions, communications, athletics offices, and all division offices will be closed July 3-11, 2021. We appreciate your patience while employees spend time with their families. We will respond to emails and voicemails immediately upon our return!

Students Join Volunteers To Help Our Campus Flourish

student volunteers working in the gardenThis past year, our community volunteers found so many creative ways to stay connected and involved. Many found their time and love pouring into one of the newer additions to campus–our library gardens. Since the gardens just turned one year old this summer, this year is the first time that it has had volunteer tending to its plants and foraging its vegetables. While there are currently five dedicated parent volunteers, more recently, several Upper and Middle School student volunteers are spending their time taking care of our beloved outdoor space, too!

“The energy is wonderful. Cassie Atkinson has spearheaded the organization of things like the watering schedule (which is no small feat!), she has brought ideas and she even brought her Mum along, who spent a good couple of hours weeding,” said MPA parent and volunteer Michelle Mick. Read More

2021 Commencement Rescheduled

Due to the extreme heat advisory and air quality alert in place today, the Mounds Park Academy Class of 2021 Commencement outdoor event has shifted to Sunday, June 6 at 9 AM. This will help us ensure a safer and more pleasant graduation experience for our seniors and their families, as well as staff and faculty.

The entire community is invited to join us live on Facebook or YouTube for the Mounds Park Academy Class of 2021 Commencement! Thank you for supporting our students and cheering them on from afar as they graduate from MPA!

Watch live on Facebook >

Watch live on YouTube >

Two MPA Siblings’ Experience In The COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

devneet and navreenby The Biring Family, featuring ninth grader Devneet and eighth grader Navreen!

COVID-19 has forever changed our world. What began as a scary unknown more than 18 months ago has now been largely conquered by vaccines that have given our country and the rest of the world a fighting chance to defeat this virus. The first vaccines against COVID-19 were approved for use in adults (and people ages 16 and above in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine) in December 2020 with initial vaccines being given to high-risk groups including healthcare workers and elderly patients.

When our kids first found out that the vaccines had received emergency use authorization, they were excited! But that excitement quickly abated when they realized that vaccinations for younger populations were not likely to be available until at least the summer. Devneet and Navreen asked why would it take so long for them to get vaccinated, and we explained that there would need to be trials in the younger populations before the vaccines would be given to children. At that time, there were reports that it was difficult to get the necessary recruitment numbers for trials in children. Devneet and Navreen asked us if there was any possibility that they could be part of a trial. As vaccine rollouts continued in adults, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine trial recruitments were underway for younger populations in various cities across the country. We found out that one of the city sites for the Moderna adolescent study was Minneapolis, and we inquired about details of the study.

Moderna began enrolling adolescents, ages 12-17, in a Phase 3 trial across the United States to evaluate the efficacy and safety of their COVID-19 vaccine. The trial is comprised of 3000 adolescents in a blinded study with 2/3 of volunteers receiving vaccine and 1/3 receiving placebo. This 13-month trial requires five clinic visits with two injections (at the initial appointment and one month later), four blood draws, four nasopharyngeal swabs, and electronic diary submissions. The trial will end in the spring of 2022. Read More

A Legacy Of Resiliency And Perseverance

Prek students at track and field dayby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

As we close out the school year, I couldn’t help but think of the prologue from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The series of paradoxes in the prologue rang true as I reflected upon this past year. We are living though one of the most extraordinary moments of our lives when just about everything has been turned upside down and called into question. Who could have imagined all that we would be faced with this year—a world-wide pandemic, social unrest, political discord, and racial reckoning?

If the pandemic has been a paradox, then this school year has been nothing less than a triumph. In the midst of darkness and despair, we found light and hope, resiliency, and perseverance. And while I sometimes take it for granted, I am reminded that is no simple feat to remain open throughout the school year and preserve the continuity of learning. It is true we’ve had our share of challenges and low points; our community is stronger and more resilient than ever.

In my first Panther Post message of this school year, I quoted author Diane Coutu who observed that resilient people possess three characteristics—a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. As I reflect upon this school year, I believe that our school and students have certainly demonstrated these characteristics. Resiliency and perseverance will be the legacy of our collective journey this year.

Even as this school year draws to a close, the Administrative Team has been hard at work throughout the spring planning for our next school year. Like we did at this time last year, we began by naming the values that would guide all decision-making, beginning with the health and safety of our community, on-campus and in-person learning, and a joyful, whole-child hands-on, experiential, exceptional learning. While there may be some necessary mitigation strategies, we will be monitoring the guidance from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Public Health throughout the summer and adjust plans accordingly. However, as vaccination rates climb higher and higher and young children begin to be vaccinated, fewer and fewer health and safety measures will be needed.

This is certainly a week to celebrate and I am pleased to bring back so many of our time-honored traditions, such as Kindergarten Graduation, Moving Up Ceremonies for the fourth and eighth grades, Lower School Vocabulary Bee, Track and Field Days, and Yearbook Assembly. On Saturday, we will bid farewell to a group of amazingly talented leaders and students who I am certain will continue to dream big and do right in all that lies ahead of them.

I want to thank you for entrusting your children to us. I also want to express my gratitude for investing in the school and our faculty and staff through your philanthropic giving. I am continually in awe of the generosity of our parent community and the strong partnership we have. Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to coming together again in August.

Become A Parents Association Grade Rep!

middle school students smiling togetherThe Parents Association is looking forward to the incoming school year and the Grade Rep program, which is integral in building our school community. If you’re interested in becoming a grade rep for the 2021-2022 school year, please email Julie Bixby at juliebixby1@gmail.com. If you’re currently a grade rep, thank you for all your work in keeping us together over this challenging year. The Parents Association will assume you want to continue as a grade rep unless you choose to opt out by contacting Julie Bixby.

Fifth Grade Math Masters Conclude Season With Success

5th grade math mastersThe fifth grade Math Masters team competed at the end of April through a virtual competition. Five fifth grade students made up this team: Emre K., Liam L., Andrew L., Harper S., and Chris T. As a team, they took second place!

There were also some other individual awards as well, including two MPA students finishing in the top five places! Harper S. took fourth place in the Fact Drill round and fifth place as an individual. Emre K. took second place overall as an individual.

Congratulations to these five on their fabulous end to their season! We are so proud!