Meet Samantha Forgosh ’22

Samantha ForgoshMeet Samantha Forgosh, a recent MPA Class of 2022 graduate and proponent of the many possibilities and experiences MPA had to offer during her time as a student.

What do you love about MPA?
The one-on-one experiences with your teachers and fellow classmates.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
They want to ensure they give their students the best education and opportunities possible, and they do!

If you have attended another school, how has your experience here been different?
It’s difficult for me to remember my old school, but at MPA there have been so many more opportunities and experiences available for everyone, the possibilities are endless!

What would you tell another student considering MPA?
Even if you spend less than a year at MPA, it’s a guarantee that you’ll meet incredible people and create bonds you didn’t think were possible.

In what ways has MPA prepared you for life beyond school?
It’s given me impossible problems and trials that I would have preferred to avoid and taught me how to get around them. It’s challenged me, and taught me what the world could be like and what it is like.

What’s your big dream?
To either be the CEO of Disney, the Commissioner of the NFL, or to be rich and famous for a good reason.

How were you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA has encouraged me to do my best at every turn.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your MPA experience?
I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent at this school, yet every year, every day, and every class is always a new experience! It’s been an honor watching my fellow classmates grow up, and an honor learning along with them.

Two National Merit Finalist Scholarship Winners in MPA’s Class of 2022

Congratulations to Elissa Frankel and Ruihan (Leo) Yu, recently announced as winners in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program! Elissa and Ruihan (Leo) entered the scholarship competition when they took the PSAT as juniors in October 2020 and scored in the top percentile. This past fall, they were among 16,000 Semifinalists chosen nationwide state-by-state, based on their scores relative to other Minnesota students. After submitting a substantial scholarship application and supporting materials from MPA, they were chosen as National Merit Finalists this winter.

Elissa is one of only about 1,000 students nationally who will receive a corporate National Merit award. Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for Finalists who are children of their employees, who are residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage. Elissa will take her scholarship, sponsored by 3M, to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she plans to major in neuroscience. At MPA, among other things, Elissa sang in Concert Choir and Madrigals, led the Social Consciousness Club in discussions of national and international subjects, initiated a voter registration drive, and co-captained the girls varsity soccer team.

Ruihan’s scholarship is funded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. He is one of only 2,500 Merit Scholar designees from across the country, assessed by NMSC to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Ruihan (Leo) will attend Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, where he plans to study economics and philosophy. Ruihan (Leo) also is a strong advocate for the liberal arts at MPA, co-leading the STEM Education Club over the past four years, playing cello in the Orchestra and keyboards in Jazz Ensemble, serving on Student Council and competing with MPA’s varsity baseball team.

We also congratulate the following MPA graduating seniors who scored well on the PSAT as juniors and were recognized by National Merit as Commended Students: Skyler Burnett, Rohit Iyer, Kaija Kunze-Hoeg, and Ruby Schwieger.

Meet Elissa Frankel ’22

Elissa FrankelWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the learning environment that the teachers and students create together! Everyone is encouraged to follow their curiosity and given the support to learn about things they’re interested in. The student body is really involved in clubs and extracurriculars (especially for such a small school), and trying new things is encouraged.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
The teachers at MPA always supported me in my goals and dreams and given me the resources to help me follow the right path to achieve them. MPA is a place where dreaming big and doing right are valued and encouraged by the whole community. Having a community that truly believes in you and your future has encouraged me to dream big and do right.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
The teachers at MPA truly care about their students and the subject matter they are teaching. They want their students to find fascination in learning and discover their passions. MPA teachers want to see their students make an impact in the world and achieve their goals and they equip us with the tools to do so. Read More

Meet Meiran Carlson ’24

Meiran Carlson How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
By receiving an immense amount of support from the people around me. Whether it’s teachers, staff, coaches, or friends, I’ve just felt a lot of structure since coming to MPA, and that has allowed me to do better socially and academically.

What do you love about MPA?
I love that even though I’ve only spent a short amount of time at MPA so far, I’m able to express myself so openly and freely. The community here is so welcoming and everyone wants to hear what everyone else has to contribute, which is such a nice thing to be able to say. Everyone’s thoughts matter and it’s really hard to feel left behind at a school like MPA.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I think the teachers here teach the way they do because they genuinely enjoy finding new ways to get their students to think critically about issues in and outside of the classroom– it’s not a chore for them. It’s a breath of fresh air to have teachers who feel it’s important for their students to succeed in their classrooms, but also in everyday life, and who want to help in that effort.

If you have attended another school, how has your experience here been different?
I have felt much more supported and welcomed at MPA than I did at my previous school. From all the interviews I had during the admissions process to adjusting to the environment here, there was always someone there to check in with me at every step. I can tell that my presence here is valued as an individual and as someone who is now a part of the MPA community. Read More

A Peek Into The MPA Robotics World

from Marc Shapiro, Upper School science teacher and robotics coach

If you’ve been in the Lansing Sports Center recently, you’ve surely seen the large wooden structure on Court 4. Maybe you even saw Michael Wilke ’16 working on it. The curiosity some people had about the structure made me overcome my reluctance at sending all employee emails, in order to compose this description of what the MPA Robotics team is about.

FIRST Robotics is an international organization headquartered in New Hampshire. It has four levels, starting with FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for elementary schoolers, all the way up to FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for high schoolers. At MPA we have only an FRC team. Per capita, Minnesota has one of the highest participation rates in the U.S. There are more FRC teams in Minnesota than varsity hockey teams!

Each year, we are given a new “game” and a limited amount of time to create a robot to play the game. The robot must be designed, built, programmed, wired, and tested under strict constraints. A new robot is built every year; the game changes so much that there’s nothing from the previous year that is useful, other than possibly a drive chassis. With their batteries and bumpers, robots can weight up to 150 pounds. Teams are aided by adult mentors who are volunteers from the community, but the students have ultimate responsibility for designing, building, and operating the robot. Students can go the technical route and learn about building, coding, electronics and controls, computer-aided design, or using a CNC router, or several of these. They can also choose the non-technical path and work on such things as fundraising, marketing, outreach, and social media. Our team has Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a still-under-renovation website. We are like a small business, and have to raise all our operating funds; our budget for this season is $24,000. Read More

Meet Alex Bixby ’25

Alex Bixby at sailing How many years have you been a student at MPA?
This is my third year.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the opportunities MPA gives me and the amazing community.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I’m encouraged everyday by being given opportunities to try new things, get out of my comfort zone, and even challenge myself. My teachers and peers have guided me into things I now love to do.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I believe in my teachers teaching the way they do because it works. I have found myself engaged in all my classes and learning quickly. Sometimes I have even gone to do more work on my own because of things they have taught that have interested me.

If you have attended another school, how has your experience here been different?
My experience at MPA has been the best thing for me. It has given me a community where I can feel safe and be myself. At my old school, teachers would just teach and go through lessons. At MPA, I have been able to connect with everyone and try new things. I’m able to reach out at any time and ask a question or share something and feel heard. Having small classes is nice because everyone can be a part of the class instead of sitting in a room of 30+ people and being overlooked. Read More

Meet Fawzan Aslam ’24

Fawzan AslamHow many years have you been a student at MPA?
This is my second year here at MPA!

What do you love about MPA?
I appreciate the aspect of community at MPA. In school, you’ll find a diversity of people that share common interests and ideas, while also standing for their own beliefs. This community is supportive and bolstering for a student’s success and overall experience, because of the apparent cohesiveness of a well-educated and friendly student body.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA encourages me to ‘dream big and do right’ with opportunities and the ability to bring about change. At MPA, I am able to pursue new opportunities and challenges apart from the regular school curriculum. Either this being leading Social Consciousness Club presentations or engaging in helpful Speech and Debate practices, there will always be opportunities for students. Moreover, students who create and engage in these clubs and groups are able to create change not only within the MPA community, but outside as well. By ‘dreaming big and doing right’, the actions of MPA students have a big and long-lasting impact. Read More

Meet Elise DeBruzzi ’24

Elise DeBruzziWhat do you love about MPA?
I love the environment and the people, staff and students both. When you walk into MPA, especially the classrooms, it feels so warm and inviting all the time! I tend to stay after school frequently and I’m constantly surprised how everywhere I go has a safe feeling to it.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
For me, the encouragement comes from all of the opputunities. Part of what I love and appreciate so much about MPA is that they help you find opportunities to expand knowledge and/or experiences in certain fields. (college counseling, history day, writing competitions, math competitions, etc.) So the encouragement comes from all of the opportunities that are presented to me and knowing that there are teachers and other adults that want to help me succeed.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really thought about this! All of the teachers I’ve had (and have) are very thoughtful and understanding, and not to mention, they are all extremely good at what they do. Maybe they are like that because they’re trying to create and maintain a good teacher-student relationship. It’s very easy for students to take teachers for granted, but I also feel the same is true about teachers to students. It takes more effort to create a lasting friendship with a teacher, but I think that is why the MPA teachers teach the way they do–because they care and want to be a part of the students’ lives. Read More

Building A Brighter Future

A huge congratulations to our eighth grade Future City participants! MPA, in its third year of participation, had our best showing yet!

This year’s competition entailed the same elements: a 1500-word essay in collaboration with their English class, a physical model of their city, and a presentation. However, the problem that students must solve changes every year. The challenge that students faced this year was to build a waste-free city. This theme was heavily inspired by nature and its circular processes, in which one organism’s waste is another organism’s food. The modern human world, however, operates in a linear fashion that follows a path of taking natural resources, creating products to use, then discarding them–from water bottles to clothing. While recycled materials are becoming more popular, today’s approach does not have a productive way to capture most of the limited resources and materials that our trash is composed of. This unfortunately causes pollution and many other issues for humans, the animal kingdom, and the world’s natural processes. This challenge serves to cultivate young minds to build a progressive, healthier world.

Below are summaries of this year’s awards:

Zenaida: This Future City won third place overall in the state of Minnesota, Best Infrastructure/Commercial Layout, and Best Age-Friendly City! The team was composed of MPA eighth graders Izzy V., Andrea P., Abby M., Teagan O., Ansel S., and Rosie B. During questioning, Izzy commented on how Andrea and Abby are new students to MPA this year and how the process of bringing them into the MPA community was special.

La Citta Del’Acqua: This Future City was made by Liam K., Truman W., Coba D., Boyd M., Matt T., Amelia V., and Roman S. This group won Best Essay in Minnesota and Most Innovative City Setting!

Greenwaters: This group was composed of Mina K., Zara G., Samantha G. , Amy X., Liam M., and Nellie L. Their ‘Greenwaters’ City won Outstanding Future City Project Plan!

A special shout out goes out to the MPA teachers, staff, and mentors who assisted students with writing their essays, providing information on sustainable food, ecosystems and waste-free programs, and model-building. Project-based learning takes immeasurable amounts of time, planning, commitment, and collaboration. The world is in good hands with these kids in the future!

We thank the following professionals for being mentors and judges,

Chris McLaughlin–Retired 3M Executive
Aimee Pearce–Medical Doctor
Olivia E. LeDee, Ph.D.–Acting Federal Director, U.S. Geological Survey, Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center
Doug Galler–Architect
Mike Darrow–City Planner, Maplewood

Lisa Vale
Joseph Pugh
Kate Johnston
Paula Tuebo Munkelwitz
Carol Bagnoli
Raphael Coffey
Scott Burnett
Salley Doherty
Meghan Masters
Bridget Mayer
9th grade Future City veterans: Alex Milam, Liam O’Keeffe, Rowan Mulroney, Ali Zuhayb, Zainab Lodhi

Meet Zainab Lodhi ’25

ZainabThis is Zainab’s second year at MPA. She joined in eighth grade and is currently in ninth grade.

What do you love about MPA?
What I love most about MPA is the community and environment. Not only does MPA provide students with a supportive community, but it also gives an environment that encourages curiosity, and it pushes its students towards improvement rather than pressuring students to constantly succeed. MPA makes me feel safe and respected, which I feel is vital in high school. I have never dreaded going to school at MPA. Everyday feels like a new and exciting experience. MPA truly is one of a kind––not only in its beliefs, but how it implements them to create an experience for each of its students.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
MPA wholeheartedly encourages its students to institute change, gives students the support they need to pursue their passions, and teaches students that everyone can make change. We are not treated like we are ignorant of the “real world,” and instead, given room to grow as individuals. I have felt that this treatment encourages us be unafraid of uncertainty and pursue happiness. Read More