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

Meet Lucia Simon ’22

Lucia Simon '22Lucia has been an MPA student for three years.

What do you love about MPA?
MPA gives me the space to be authentically myself, to dive deep into the curriculum through our modified block schedule, and to make real connections with students and faculty. I feel completely supported by the MPA community in moving by myself to Minnesota. I know I always have people to go to for help, advice, or just a fun conversation. To me, MPA really is my family because my own isn’t here. I’m spending the day with my friends learning about things that matter to me.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
The support given at MPA is unparalleled. Teachers and faculty truly care for each student’s experience and well-being. Since day one, I have been encouraged to follow my passions and use my voice to advocate for myself and others. We have been taught that as teenagers we can make meaningful change in the world just as much as any adult. Our level of knowledge, skills, and passion does not hold us back; rather, it gives us room to learn and grow. We can make a difference as long we do the work to go into our communities, build relationships, and make the effort to understand different perspectives.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
Because they really care both about the students and the impact the curriculum has on students. Teachers understand that they aren’t just teaching for us to get through high school but they’re teaching the next generation of change-makers. Everything they teach, they show us why we should care about it and why it’s useful in the world. Even if you’re not a science person, our science teachers will show you how science will help you with what you are passionate about. They make their teaching more specific in moments to help students care about what we’re learning. Read More

Meet Zaara Nayak ’23

Zaara NayakZaara has been an MPA student for six years.

What do you love about MPA?
I love MPA’s culture of inclusivity and its commitment to diversity. I also love my teachers and how they encourage me to be an independent thinker.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
At MPA, I truly feel there is no limit to what I can accomplish. MPA has provided me with many leadership opportunities. For example, I recently re-established the Upper School student-run newspaper as I felt students needed a platform to cultivate community culture.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
Hands-on, experiential learning is a key part of teaching at MPA because it teaches us how to think, not just what to think.

If you have attended another school, how has your experience here been different?
Compared to the schools I’ve previously attended, MPA’s small class size has allowed teachers get to know me, my strengths, and challenge me accordingly.

What would you tell another student your age considering MPA?
You won’t regret coming to MPA! It’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

In what ways has MPA prepared you for life beyond school?
MPA has taught me to think critically and independently and how to apply classroom learning to solve real world issues.

What’s your big dream?
Regardless of what career I pursue, I hope to meet the needs of our community and leave the world a better place.

Live Performance At MPA

Having our students engaged in visual and performing arts isn’t just about fostering an appreciation of the arts, rather it is about helping students develop the ability to practice perseverance, develop ingenuity, and understand that ideas can be expressed in more than just words. Through authentic experiences as musicians, performers, and artists each student has the ability to maximize their artistic potential, build confidence, and create beauty.

True hallmarks of Mounds Park Academy are the live performances where instrumental and choral students share their work with the broader MPA community. It is hard to believe that due to the pandemic the last live concerts held on campus were more than 19 months ago. We are thrilled to share that at this time we are not only holding in person performances, but that guests are invited to attend either in person or virtually. View the MPA calendar and add the upcoming performances to your calendars including the Upper School Instrumental Concert on Wednesday, November 3 at 7:30 PM.

To maintain alignment with the MPA health and safety protocols, each guest who plans to attend the live performances will be required to pre-register and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination (a picture or scan of their vaccination card) via email to by 7 PM the night prior to the scheduled concert. If your vaccination card is already on file at MPA through athletics or other events, you do not need to send it again. If you have a medical or religious exception, please contact with those details as we will provide information and work with you to obtain a clearance COVID-19 test so you may attend. Masking is required on campus.

All pre-registered guests will enter and exit through the Gallery on the south side of campus (door #3) and go directly to their seats in the Nicholson Center where the performances are held.

For the convenience and safety of our community, all performances will also be live streamed at the link below. Regardless of how you view the events, we are excited for you to enjoy the wonderful talent of our students.

Password: 2051
There will not be a recording distributed afterward due to licensing restrictions.


Please note that even though health and safety protocols are in place, band and choir performances are highly aerosolized activities. If any attendee develops symptoms within 48 hours of the performance, please contact for guidance.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease declared by the World Health Organization to be a global pandemic. Information about COVID-19 is continually evolving and subject to change. COVID-19’s highly contagious nature means that contact with others or contact with surfaces that have been exposed to the virus, can lead to infection. Additionally, individuals who may be infected with COVID-19, whether vaccinated or not, may be asymptomatic for a period of time or may never become symptomatic.

Aware of the foregoing, I am voluntarily attending the in person performance at Mounds Park Academy. To attend these concerts, I acknowledge and understand:

  • Given the many unknowns relating to COVID-19, it is not possible to fully identify or list each and every individual risk of contracting COVID-19;
  • MPA cannot limit all potential sources of COVID-19 infection.

Lower School Virtual Family Engineering Night

Join us as we celebrate “National Lights On Afterschool Day” with an MPA Lower School Virtual Family Engineering Night with The Works Museum! Our activity theme is Cardboard Creation Challenge, and can be done with materials you easily find at home!

Thursday, October 28 from 6:30-7:30 PM.

Cardboard Creations Challenge with The Works Museum!

Zoom Link 1 (Last name A-K)
Meeting ID: 832 2664 9255
Passcode: 949823

Zoom Link 2 (Last name L-Z)
Meeting ID: 832 9483 4891
Passcode: 988073

Items to gather/Materials suggestions: shipping boxes, food boxes (cereal, cracker, etc.), scissors, tape (masking, duct, or packing), writing tool (pencils, markers, crayons)
Optional: glue, paper, straws/skewers/toothpicks/beads, art supplies (stickers, yarn, ribbon, fabric, tissue paper, etc.)

Questions: Contact Russ at 651-748-5571 or

Meet Eva Benson ’21

Eva Senior PictureEva graduated on June 6, 2021 as a member of the Mounds Park Academy class of 2021. She will attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.

What do you love about MPA?
There are so many things I love about MPA! However, what really stands out to me is the teachers. Every teacher at MPA truly wants to create a personal bond with me and see me succeed. They have shown me true passion in their work, inspiring me to go out and work for my passion every day.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
MPA teachers have ignited my love for learning through the ways that they teach. They teach the way they do to inspire their students. Every teacher at MPA has a passion for what they teach and want to see their students thrive. Read More

Dhruv Muppidi ’21 Named Presidential Scholar Semifinalist

photo of DhruvCongratulations to senior Dhruv Muppidi on being named one of 625 Presidential Scholar semifinalists from out of 3.6 million seniors across the country! Since 1964, the Presidential Scholars Program has honored the nation’s most distinguished high school seniors based on academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. Dhruv is one of only 10 semifinalists from Minnesota. He will find out if he is selected as one of 160 Presidential Scholarship recipients in early May!

Meet Dhruv Muppidi ’21

What prompted your application to the Presidential Scholars Program?
After receiving the invitation to apply to the Presidential Scholars Program, I decided to apply mostly on a whim to eliminate any regret I may have had if I didn’t at least test my chances. I never once expected to be a semifinalist, and to be considered alongside some of the most accomplished high school seniors in the country is extremely humbling. It’s a testament to the wonderful work being done at MPA by the teachers and the student body.

What’s your big dream?
If we’re talking long-term (and perhaps a tad idealistically), NBA commissioner is my ultimate dream, combining my love of business management, economics, and sports. However, I’m also passionate about combating educational inequities, and I would love to continue working in the non-profit sector during college and beyond.

Read More

Meet Caleb Rhodes ‘21

Caleb Holding His ViolaMusic, particularly singing, has provided me with an opportunity to grow and learn. I attended Minnesota Waldorf School through 8th grade, and music is a significant component of Waldorf education. I learned to play the pentatonic flute in first grade, the C flute in second grade, the viola in third and the Alto recorder in fifth grade. Singing was an everyday activity in elementary school but I didn’t really enjoy it until my freshman year of high school at MPA.

When I made the switch to MPA, music was one of a activities that felt most familiar and comfortable to me, so I decided I would take varsity choir. At the end of my freshman year, my family encouraged me to audition for Madrigal Singers, MPA’s most select singing group. Getting in to Madrigal Singers ignited my love for singing and gave me the opportunity to express myself. Since that point, I have been in Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers for the last three school years, and I have auditioned for, and been accepted to the MMEA All-State Honor Choir the last two years. Singing provides me with an opportunity to confidently express my emotions in a way no other activity has been able to do. I am able to channel my feelings into music through my voice. This has made it much easier for me to open up to those around me and establish close relationships with classmates, and even with students from other schools, who I have met through our shared love of music. Read More