Meet Sammie Garrity ’23

Sammie Garrity with a puppyHow many years have you been a student at MPA?
I started at MPA in the fall of my ninth grade year, so I have been here for a year and a half.

What do you love about MPA?
I love so many things, but two really stick out. The first is the community, and the second is how my teachers push me to be the best I can be.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I am encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA because of my teachers. They expect a lot out of me, and that makes it rigorous, but in the long run, it’s making me a better student.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
The moment I walked into MPA, I immediately saw that my teachers knew what they are doing. They have so many amazing stories and it’s clear that their teaching style is based on all of their many years of experience. Read More


Meet Cassie Atkinson ’23

Cassie Atkinson joined the Mounds Park Academy community in December 2019.

Cassie Atkinson '23 Standing and SmilingWhat do you love about MPA?
MPA allows me to be who I am and doesn’t judge me for it. MPA isn’t in the business of choosing what they like best about me or molding me to “society’s expectations.” They encourage me to do what I like best and help me with whatever I may need to be successful.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Just having a judgement-free zone helps me dream big and do right. MPA wants to help me, not shape me into what they think I am meant to be. When I shared that I loved art and being creative, I was introduced and shown many opportunities on campus including classes, plays, studios, events, and galleries.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
Mounds Park Academy teachers want the best for me. They don’t give up on me and always are looking out for me. Their challenges only help me to grow, rather than trying to knock me down. Read More


Meet Justin Choi ’23

Justin Choi in front of skyscrapersJustin Choi ’23 and his family relocated to MPA from Hong Kong. He began at MPA in ninth grade in the fall of 2019.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the support I have received from absolutely everyone here.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I have a choice and a voice in what I do. There’s a large variety of electives, sports and clubs and I have chosen to get involved in a lot.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
Teachers teach in this way because they want me to succeed. They are helping me to find something that I truly love doing. Read More


Meet RuoHan (Kitty) Li ’21 and Xinyuan (Ella) Li ’24

Ella Li seated at her desk working on her computerBetween visa issues, parent concerns, and travel challenges, COVID-19 has presented many obstacles for MPA’s international students. In fact, two students from China, 12th grader RuoHan (Kitty) Li and 9th grader Xinyuan (Ella) Li (no relation) have had to stay at home this semester and attend virtually from thousands of miles away. In a testament to their commitment to remaining a part of the community, Kitty and Ella have rearranged their schedules to accommodate the time differences. Hear how they are making this tremendous sacrifice in order to continue their educations at MPA.

What does your daily schedule look like? What time are MPA’s classes for you? Has your sleep and meal schedule changed?

Kitty: Right now, my daily schedule is class from 9:00pm to 2:30am since I do not have 6th block this quarter. However, next quarter, I will have class from 9:00pm to 4:00am since I have Physics. I have been sleeping from 3am to 12pm recently. My meal schedule has not changed too much, but I have reduced it from three meals to two meals since I have not been eating a lot for breakfast. Read More


Meet Alex Appleton ’23

Alex works with LS studentHow many years have you been a student at MPA?
I came to MPA in the fall of 2019 as a ninth grader.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the diversity and the classes. The teachers are so kind and supportive and truly want you to grow toward your goals and will help guide you there. I love the community and that as a tenth grader, I have the chance to be with Lower School kids or work with Middle Schoolers as they make their way toward the Upper School.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
My math teachers encouraged me to pursue my goal of jumping ahead into accelerated math. And this past summer, I finally achieved that. What started as a big dream developed into a possible goal that is now a reality. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of the teachers at MPA who encouraged me to reach this goal. Not only do I now feel more confident to reach my own goals, but I am encouraged to do right by helping others reach their goals as well. Read More


Class of 2020: Graham Li

Graham Li As the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

I came to MPA in 10th Grade.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

I chose Purdue University based off its excellent options for majors and areas of study.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

I am excited about taking some challenging courses and learning new things. Read More


Class of 2020: Izzy George

Izzy GeorgeAs the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

I came to MPA in 9th grade.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

I thought I didn’t really know what I wanted in a college, and that’s why I decided the day before the deadline. But when I chose Grinnell, I knew it was the right choice. I chose Grinnell College because I knew I wanted a small school. MPA has a really small community that I love, and I knew I wanted to have a similar experience in college. Grinnell is also far enough away to really feel like I’m leaving, but it is still fairly close to home.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

I’m excited to begin this new part of my life, learn new things, and meet new people. I’m also excited to follow my passions and see where they take me, and I’m especially excited to be more independent. Read More


Class of 2020: Charles Grimes

Charles GrimesAs the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

I came to Mounds Park Academy in 9th grade after looking at a variety of college preparatory schools in the Twin Cities area. MPA’s small class sizes, laptop program, and modern facilities piqued my interest during open houses and my shadowing experience. However, I ultimately chose MPA for high school because I knew my time there would be a valuable experience full of opportunities to try new things, find a passion, and challenge myself.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

I chose to attend Barret Honors College at Arizona State University because it is a small academic community within a larger university setting. I found during my time at MPA, small classroom sizes were a huge factor in my academic success and wanted a similar environment for college. Barrett offers these small class sizes with focused and dedicated faculty, yet has the resources and opportunities of the larger university. Therefore, I chose Barrett because the combination of both these factors will best prepare me well for success later in life.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

First off, I am most excited for the Arizona weather! But in all seriousness, I am eager to experience an independent life outside of Minnesota and take advantage of the opportunities Barrett has to offer. I cannot wait to meet new people from all over the country or world and learn from their experiences, opinions, and viewpoints. Additionally, I have never travelled outside of the United States before an am super excited to seek out study abroad opportunities and connect with people from wherever I go. Read More


Class of 2020: Amanda Khouw

Amanda KhouwAs the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

I came to MPA as a freshman in high school. I ended up meeting the best classmates ever (Class of 2020!) and created friendships from different age groups. MPA truly gave me opportunities to thrive as a student and to share my passions with those around me. I have made eternal memories that will be forever cherished.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

Carleton College was one of my top reach schools on my college list and I was fortunate enough to be admitted. It has an incredibly diverse community alongside with an academically challenging environment. Carleton College is also very close to my own home. Meaning that I can go home easily and grab what I need in the cities. I am extremely excited to join Carleton College as it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that I had been admitted after the “official” Decision Day on May 1. I hope I can make new friends as I did the same in MPA and be able to pursue my career goals.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

I am most excited about the experience of being independent. I cannot wait to be able to spread my wings and indulge myself into new experiences in college whether it would be joining the many clubs in my college or exploring the city of Northfield. I am also very eager to meet new people and make new memories with them.

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?

From my personal experience with the college counseling process at MPA, I felt very confident in my college plans and choices. Ms. Pederson’s meetings were extremely useful, especially since I am the eldest daughter of an immigrant household and that it is the first time my family has ever gone through the American college application process. Thank you Ms. Pederson! And thank you to Ms. Kaltved for always updating scholarship opportunities!

What about your MPA experience has best prepared you for college?

To best summarize my MPA experience, I would say that MPA has taught me how to tackle problems and to always follow my passions and dreams. If it were not for MPA’s warm community, I would have never been able to found the Asian Culture Club or even dare to join the Student Council Executive Board team. Trying new things at MPA allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and to gain more self-confidence. With these newfound skills, I feel prepared to be independent in college!

What is your advice for MPA’s Class of 2032 (kindergartners)?

It is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Smart people aren’t smart. They are hard workers.

The 53 members of the Class of 2020 plan to attend 41 different colleges and universities in 18 states, Washington D.C., Canada, and Australia. See their destinations here. Learn more about MPA’s College Counseling Program here!


Developing A Sense Of Belonging

Jordan AkersThe following essay is adapted from MPA Class of 2020 member Jordan Akers’ Senior Speech.

The enemy was drawing closer. Footsteps echoed in the distance, and all I could do was sit and wait. I had my plan, but this was sure to be bloody. This battle, this war if you will, was more than violent. The conflict, between who I objectively was and who I so desperately wanted to become, countered all laws of nature. Any free will was a causality in this war, and my boon was the masculine persona. It was the ambition for which I was desperately fighting.

There have, of course, been battles of a similar nature throughout history. Several years ago, my father was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy. His body attacked itself until he lost the ability to walk. He lost his balance, memories, and fine motor skills. Only upon the administration of an intravenous steroid did his condition begin to improve. It was his secret weapon. Even then, any sense of normalcy was far in the future. Repairing the damage took time, money, and endless work.

His body was fighting a war against itself. Meanwhile, so was mine. Every moment hosted a cognitive dissonance so forceful that it too was debilitating. It was the seemingly magnetic repulsion between the acceptable way to act and my parasitic queerness, infecting my thoughts, behavior, and reputation. The obvious cure was suppression. I had to choose between two sides of myself, so I kept after my boon, my longing for “normal”, with an energetic determination to eliminate anything in my path.

Although I was fighting hard, surely hard enough to win, I kept facing defeat. Obstacles permeated my battles. They kept revealing themselves, and I felt ostracized among my male friends. I over-analyzed every word, every action, and exacerbated my misery. I found myself in conflict regardless of who was around me. Either I was too immersed in femininity or outcasted by masculinity. In my solitude, peace was absent, and only my ruminations persisted. Perhaps I should surrender to my queerness, I thought. Perhaps I’m too weak to overcome it. If I lost the war within myself, I would have to live forever with my defeat. And yet, victory was unattainable. Read More