Beyond The Surface—Meet Prescott Hutton

We are very pleased to share that Prescott Hutton ’23 is presenting “Beyond The Surface: A Photographic Installation” in the Gallery for the entire community to enjoy, May 1-5. It will feature not only his art but the art of four additional Upper School students: Ansel Streier, ninth grade; Emmet Johnston, ninth grade; Graham Jakway, tenth grade; and Andy Taylor, eleventh grade. He has organized this opportunity as part of his Senior Service Project and hopes that it brings perspective and joy to the community. 

In addition, please join him at the Opening Reception on May 1 at 6 PM in the Family Commons to learn more about the project and the artists. This event is most appropriate for ages 8+.

We hope you enjoy learning more about Prescott below! 

What inspired you to create this event for your Senior Service Project?
I have been at MPA for 12 years. During those 12 years, I have seen most of the senior service projects that have occurred at MPA. As I was looking at these projects, I couldn’t help but think about my future contribution. What I didn’t want to do was a project that I did just to get done. I wanted to do something memorable and vital that is personal to me and motivates others around me. The inspiration for this project came after thinking about what makes me happy as an individual. Last year I had the privilege to be a teaching assistant in photo I and photo II, and during that time, I developed a love for teaching others about the arts—specifically photography. In addition to that, I spent more than 30 hours alone preparing the darkroom here on campus for use. So as I was brainstorming for this project, I thought, “Why not combine them both?” That’s when the idea came to teach a select group of students film photography and how to bring ideologies and emotions into photography.

What are your hopes for this event?
My hope for this event is to spread thought-provoking art and to show the community around MPA what’s possible for a student to create and hopefully inspire others to create art of their own and celebrate it. From a personal standpoint, my goal is to leave a memorable impact on the community that has raised me and pushed me to become the person I am today. I also hope that people see how much I care and what is possible if you put effort into something.

What does photography mean to you?
Photography for me means storytelling, especially film photography. This is because with each photo I take with my Hasselblad, there is a story behind how I got that image and why I took that image. From a personal standpoint, it allows me to express ideas or emotions that I have trouble talking about; it also is an outlet for emotions that I can turn into creativity and joy.

How has MPA contributed to your artistic insight or passion?
Ever since I came to MPA in first grade, I have always been pushed creatively. I remember Ms. Rossbach always putting an emphasis on hard work and always trying your hardest even if your art did not look good as the other people in your class. As I got older, this lesson was reinforced in most aspects of my life. When I applied this to photography, it meant taking my time with each photo, understanding the importance behind it, and, most importantly, acknowledging the reason and story of how I got that photo.

How do you describe your art?
I would describe my art as visual representations of emotions and storytelling. I believe that the impact of the photo I take has to have an emotion tied to it. I also want my art to have a story tied to it so that each aspect of the photo can be explained in great detail. Another way to explain it is that the viewers decide the emotion they feel, but I decide the story that influences the emotion.

What do you think makes your work unique?
One of the aspects where I think my artwork is unique is the fact that each one of my fine art portraits I have taken has a sense of raw emotion that is communicated directly to the viewer. Because of the style that I take my photos, there is a direct connection between the use of the camera and the subject’s emotions in the moment. I don’t like studio portraits, and I don’t like pre-determined photoshoots. I love the surprise and adventure of spontaneous portraits. In the event that I’m not taking portraits, I want to include emotion in all my photos and become a provocateur of thought.

Have you had any major artistic influences?
When it comes to influences on my personal style, the biggest inspiration and role model for my work is Platon. His work captures what I believe is the perfect portrait; he manages to look into people’s souls and capture their lifestyles on the camera he uses. He manages to capture photos of the most well-known people on this planet and make them relatable and personal.

Do you have any long-term goals or plans for your art career?
I plan to pursue photography as a minor in college and hopefully continue my business. I would love to venture into documentary photography and travel all over the world.

What kind of support did you receive for this event?
There are multiple people I would like to thank: Mr. Dean because he encouraged me and supported me through the beginning stage of this project and has spent a considerable amount of time helping me. Dr. Hudson, for meeting with me, supporting the project, and putting MPA behind it. Mr. Braafladt for graciously allowing me to use the Makerspace as a home base for this project. And Ms. Flinsch for teaching me all I know about photography and making this possible project possible by inspiring me to pursue photography.

Spring Auction Ticket Prices Increase April 1!

Alumni at AuctionWe are in the final days before ticket prices increase April 1! Now that the snow is beginning to melt and we’re seeing signs of spring, plan to celebrate the joy and imagination at MPA by joining us for the auction. There are still many ways for you to join us in celebration of MPA through this year’s auction:

  • Purchase a sponsorship or tickets. Don’t forget, your sponsorship helps to ensure teachers and staff are able to attend at no cost to them.
  • Purchase a Golden Ticket.
  • Learn more about the event and book your hotel room for a discounted overnight stay!

Community Is At The Heart Of Our Mission

from Bill Hudson, head of school

I was away from school last week, attending the National Association of Independent Schools annual conference held in Las Vegas this year. I have to admit that it was a bit surreal. While the conference center was first-rate, staying in a hotel casino was disconcerting. At the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy (even using the word makes me feel like I should be a patient of Dr. Rick in the Progressive Insurance commercials), the noise level, the smoking, and gambling were discombobulating (more evidence I need Dr. Rick’s help).

However, the conference itself was very good. Independent school heads of school and educators from around the country gathered to learn, share best practices, and celebrate independent schools. There is much to celebrate, including record enrollment, academic innovation, and student success. There is also much to be concerned about. Social polarization, political acrimony, the “Great Resignation,” the lingering effects of the pandemic on learning, parental angst and anxiety, and the increasing accessibility of artificial intelligence are all negatively impacting the academic, social, emotional, and mental well-being of our children.

The news is not good. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) recently released the results of their biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Forty-two percent of high school students report that they “experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year,” up from 36.7% two years ago. Females and gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are struggling the most, although increases across all racial and ethnic groups worsened also. While there are many reasons to explain the worsening of the mental health of young people, the internet and social media seem to have the most significant effect. Read More

Building A Path For Success Through Alumni Mentorship

After a successful Alumni Meet & Greet event, MPA seniors and alumni mentors submitted their meaningful experiences and connections formed through the MPA Mentorship Program. Community members gathered in the Family Commons and connected based on similar interests, hobbies, career goals, and college choices. See all of the photos from the networking event here!

Pairing curious and inquisitive students with adults that have experience in their field of passion is an invaluable way to provide insight. This especially applies to students seeking to get a more detailed sense of a profession, college, or industry’s nuances. William Tan ’23 explains, “this program really helped me gain new perspectives on the transition between undergrad and medical school. I also picked up many great tips to help me with college. While I have heard more generalized perspectives regarding undergrad in the past, it was nice to hear about a more focused experience regarding the career I want to pursue. Knowing I will be starting this path next year, it was nice to hear a perspective from someone who has already experienced college.” Read More

Meet Georgia Magers ’23

Georgia Magers '23What do you love about MPA?
I love how MPA provides the space for kids of all backgrounds to communicate and learn together. We all have an equal chance to speak our minds while diversifying our own knowledge and perception of the world.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I am encouraged to dream big and do right through the supportive resources MPA has to offer. From an emphasis on mental health, to being greeted at the door each morning by staff, or being encouraged to ask questions in class each day.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to find a fulfilling life path that challenges me every day.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I believe my teachers teach the way they do to prepare me for life outside of MPA and help me find my passions inside and outside of school.

In what ways has MPA prepared you for life beyond school?
MPA has exposed me to more ideas, concepts, and people than I could have ever reached on my own. Read More

We Are Listening

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and MOST of all, love of what you are doing.” -Pelé

The recent passing of Pelé was felt around the world. He was a remarkable athlete and is partially responsible for the rise in interest and participation in soccer in the United States. He was a role model, politician, businessman, and ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations. He was also very committed and passionate about what he valued most, including ongoing growth and improvement.

At MPA, like Pelé, we strive for excellence at all times. Our dedicated faculty and staff work extremely hard each and every day, truly know their students, and are passionate about their academic, social, and emotional growth. We celebrate our successes, build upon our strengths, and strive for excellence. We are also willing to face the hard truth when we fail to meet expectations. The Net Promoter Survey, administered last month, is one of the ways we seek to engage parents and listen to their constructive criticism and take note of their commendations.

Approximately 78% of MPA families participated in the survey this year (although the numbers are skewed a bit because families were invited to take it several times if they had students in multiple divisions). According to the Net Promoter methodology, survey respondents are grouped into one of three categories: detractor, passive, or promoter. The breakdown for MPA is as follows:

  • Fifty-nine parents, or 16% of the survey responses, gave a score between zero and six and are considered “Detractors” or unhappy customers.
  • Ninety-five parents, or 26% of the survey responses, gave a score of seven or eight and are considered “Passives” or satisfied but unenthusiastic customers.
  • Two hundred and eight parents, or 57% of the survey responses, gave a score of nine or 10 and are considered “Promoters” or loyal enthusiasts.

Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter). The MPA score for 2022 is 41. To put that in context, SurveyMonkey reports an average score of 32 across industries. Read More

Reflections From a Transformative Experience

MPA Upper School students Alex Appleton, Abdur-Rahman Lodhi, Alex Appleton, Andrea Pugh, and Ema Santibañez represented MPA at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). The students attended this transformative gathering in San Antonio, Texas in December. Some members of MPA’s faculty and staff also accompanied the students and participated in intentional professional development concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Regina Santiago, MPA’s kindergarten teacher, shared that “It was amazingly validating and healing to be in a space with so many other folks who understand the unique experience of being an educator of color in predominantly white institutions. It meant a lot to feel support and solidarity for my whole, authentic self. It was also great to spend more time with colleagues and students in other departments and divisions at MPA that I don’t get to spend enough time with because we’re all so busy!”

The workshops and modules that were available for faculty and staff ranged from resources for employees groups of color to general education on the nuances of being an employee in independent schools. Bakari Jackson, MPA’s communications coordinator, attended the event and recounts, “Although I’m not faculty, there were so many relevant workshops for me to learn from. I gained a considerable amount of beneficial tools and insights that are serving me today in my work here. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity. The time I spent and experiences I shared with my coworkers of color provided me with an invaluable sense of community that came back with me to MPA.”

While MPA employees attended their sessions, the students took part in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). NAIS describes the program as “a multiracial, multicultural gathering of Upper School student leaders from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participating students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles.”

MPA is proud of the students’ passion for leadership and their dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to look forward to hearing about these students’ experiences and instituting the practices that they learn into our community.

Buddy Families Needed

MPA is starting the onboarding process for more than 100 new students enrolled so far for the fall of 2022 and we are seeking volunteers to be buddy families! The opportunity involves connecting with the family over the summer months, helping them integrate into the social fabric of the class, and being a resource as they transition into a new school. You and your child will be a very warm and welcome friendly face on their first days of school! If you are interested in this meaningful volunteer opportunity, please contact Angie Gerstner, development coordinator, at

Get Your Tickets To MPA’s Spring Auction

Spring AuctionFriday, April 22, 2022
A’bulae | 255 6th St E, St Paul, MN 55101

The 2022 MPA Spring Auction: Let’s Dream is your chance to build community with fellow parents and raise funds in support of students and teachers. After years of joining together virtually, we can’t wait to safely be together in person to celebrate our students and school! Enjoy delicious cuisine, a hosted bar, live music, games, and both live and silent auctions.

Purchase tickets & learn more here.

We also need your help to ensure our silent auction is another great success! Contact us here anytime to learn more about our auction needs. Click here to view the 2022 Wish List.

Join us to dream big and celebrate all that we have accomplished together!

Science, Art, And Character Intersect In The Makerspace

students beginning to design their facesIf you are familiar with MPA, then you are probably also familiar with the AnnMarie Thomas Makerspace. Electrifying in its concept and its form, this area of the school houses the intersection of creativity and innovation. The Makerspace is the physical manifestation of MPA’s long-standing belief that learning should be hands-on, experiential, and joyful.

Keith Braafladt, MPA’s technology and innovation teacher, has already found himself right at home in the Makerspace during his first year as a faculty member. As a new friendly face on campus, Keith has dedicated this year to developing strong relationships with MPA teachers to integrate and deliver the best Makerspace curriculum and experience to our students. Curriculum that exists in the Makerspace connects liberal arts thinking with 21st century skills and competencies, providing students with opportunities to construct meaning through making via practical, hands-on, interdisciplinary, and problem-based projects. Most often, the work is centered around the design thinking process, a systematic way to solve real-world problems that major corporations use in the workplace.

student laying out a faceOne of the most memorable projects to occur in the Makerspace this year is still adorning the outer windows of the room, prompting those who pass by to pause and share a smile that is reflecting back at them. The activity was informally and aptly named “making faces,” because that is precisely what Lower School students did. Essentially, they observed, looking for faces out in the world. And under Keith’s model, the idea was to use all of the donated, found, and collected materials at the students’ disposal in the Makerspace to create a face out of everyday objects themselves. Keith has friends at the Exploratorium in San Francisco that have been doing a similar activity that inspired this one. Read More