Register For Summer Basketball Camp!

basketball campers 2019Children entering grades 4-9 this fall are invited to Summer Basketball Camp at MPA held Monday July 27-Thursday, July 30 from 9-11 AM. On behalf of Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Jacob Schwartz, and our entire program, we are looking forward to a safe and enjoyable camp. This camp is for MPA and non MPA students at all skill levels, so whether your child is looking for a chance to hone their skills after a summer of AAU, or try basketball for the first time in a welcoming environment, MPA’s camp is open to all. Mounds Park Academy’s Summer Basketball Camp costs $75 per camper, via check/cash/Venmo on the first day of camp, and includes a camp t-shirt.

A quick note on safety: From prearrival home screenings, to all participants and coaches wearing masks, to temperature checks on arrival, keeping a safe, healthy, COVID-free camp environment is our number one priority. We will be employing 27 distinct protocols and safeguards. More information on safety is available on our registration page.

Register here and contact Nate Bander with any questions.

 


Virtual Freethinker Fridays

Freethinker Friday with MPA faculty, staff, parents, and studentsPlease join us every Friday on MPA’s Facebook page or MPA’s YouTube channel for live, casual conversations about topics that matter with a variety of MPA community members.

  • June 19 Freethinker Friday: Middle School Stuff watch the recording >
  • June 25 Freethinker Friday: Setting The Foundation In Lower School watch the recording >
  • July 10 Freethinker Friday: Racial Justice and Inclusion watch the recording >
  • July 17 Freethinker Friday: Thriving, Not Just Surviving Through Virtual Learning
  • July 24 Freethinker Friday: Balancing Academics, Arts & Athletics
  • July 31 Freethinker Friday: Rigor With Purpose
  • August 7 Freethinker Friday: The ROI Of A Private School Education
  • August 14 Freethinker Friday: Design Thinking In A PreK-12 Makerspace
  • August 21 Freethinker Friday: Making Relocation Work

No RSVP is necessary. We look forward to seeing you live!


Tips To Prepare For Fall 2020 From Dr. Nolan

lower school student and parent arriving on campusby Dr. Jules Nolan, Mounds Park Academy school psychologist

The oft-cited advice to “put your own mask on before assisting others” is taking on new meaning during COVID-19. How we take care of ourselves influences how smoothly our kids adjust to new habits and routines. They are able to sense our emotional state (co-regulation) and when we are relaxed and confident, they are better able to feel the same way. As we head into fall 2020, we need to be positive with our kids, even if we feel a bit uncertain. The next year and a half will be bumpy, but together we can manage it and develop new talents and skills that will serve us throughout our lives. The Mounds Park Academy team is working hard to make the upcoming school year a safe and positive experience for our entire community.

Given our current reality, we need to prepare differently for the upcoming academic year than we typically do. Here are some tips: Read More


Meet MPA Parent Laura Butler

Ella Jones graduating MPA Parent Laura Butler is mom to Upper School students Amelia and Callum, and new alum Ella ’20!

What do you love about MPA?
The community!!

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
They are allowed to be a part of their own, focused extracurriculars. And also they are very welcomed to any extracurricular or sport there is.

If your child has attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
They loved their international school and MPA made them feel at home and as welcomed.

What would you tell another family considering MPA?
It’s a very welcoming community and administration and teachers want nothing but the best for the students.

Mounds Park Academy, a PreK-12 private school in Saint Paul, is currently accepting inquiries for the 2020-21 school year. For more information about admission and to schedule your tour, visit moundsparkacademy.org/admission. We look forward to getting to know your family!


MPA Social Consciousness Club Resources & Recommendations

Student-led Social Consciousness Club at Mounds Park Academy has focused on resources for education and personal actions. They are currently reading “ How to Be an Antiracist”  by Ibram X. Kendi, and many of our students have also read  ”Just Mercy“  by Bryan Stevenson, “ Between the World and Me”  by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and “ The New Jim Crow”  by Michelle Alexander. They also recommend to watch the Netflix documentary  ”13th”  for those interested in understanding the evolution of systemic racism in our country.

Some organizations that they are recommending support for right now are the Black Visions Collective, which is Minnesota based, The Marshall Project, Campaign Zero, and Black Futures Lab.

Students are emphasizing the need to exercise our democratic rights come November. The vote will drive change.  In our immediate community, 63% of eligible voters in the neighborhoods surrounding MPA voted in the last election, 10 points below the state average. This turnout makes is particularly important to mobilize our community to vote, so we are hoping to sponsor a lit drop campaign where we distribute voter registration and vote by mail request materials on doorsteps. MPA students are encouraging anyone who interested in expanding voting rights to do is request a vote by mail ballot to ensure their vote is counted and they can participate safely during this pandemic. For students who are not yet eligible to vote, they encourage them to serve as an election judge since there is a fear that there will be a shortage.


Meet Alumni Board Member Christopher Staral ’06

Chris '06Christopher Staral ’06 attended MPA for Middle and Upper school, and chose to serve on the Alumni Board to give back to the MPA community by offering mentorship in a career field that may be underrepresented and difficult to break into. He is currently the biotech Investment Analyst for Mangrove Partners and is responsible for making investment recommendations as they relate to the biotech sector.

He majored in chemistry and minored in biochemistry at Carleton College, and also performed medical research at the University of Minnesota’s Lillehei Heart Institute during breaks. He then attended the University of Minnesota’s Medical School immediately following undergrad, where he met his now-fiancée, a Minnesota native and investment banker in healthcare. She introduced him to the concept of trying to predict developmental drug program success as a way to value biotech companies, which he began doing during his spare time while at med school. This lead him to New York and pursue a career full-time in finance, starting at Canaccord Genuity in biotech and pharma equity research, and shortly thereafter moving to Goldman Sachs in a similar capacity.

While there are a diverse set of skills that Chris says can lead to success as an investor, a few that he learned during his time at MPA stand out as crucial. “The ability to think for oneself and to be skeptical of arguments that are made on the basis of authority rather than merit; the ability to quickly break down an abstract thesis into digestible, constituent parts and identify the crucial one or two questions that need to be answered in order to evaluate whether the thesis is valid or not; to have the self-awareness to know when your own knowledge base is insufficient to answer a question and seek out the resources that are needed; to have the confidence to know when you are right in the face of challenges to your beliefs that are unsubstantiated, but also have the self-confidence to admit that you can be wrong when new information disproves your beliefs; have an understanding of risk management,” he lists. “MPA was particularly important in providing a sound foundation for all of these points by providing a challenging, intellectually stimulating yet safe environment that pushed students beyond what they viewed as their own limits. Teachers would encourage students not to hang onto beliefs simply because someone told them it was true, but rather understand the facts and reason out for themselves why they ultimately believed (or dis-believed) something. Lastly, MPA’s strong math (and particularly statistics) provided students with the tools needed to independently test and verify hypotheses themselves rather than rely on someone else to tell them what is and is not true. Furthermore, and even more importantly, it allowed students to separate fact from falsity which is a crucial skill becoming ever-more-important in an age where technology has dramatically amplified the ability for those with perverse political incentives to manipulate and obfuscate truth in favor of a story that supports their own self-serving needs.”

Chris’s favorite experience at MPA was when he worked with three other students to pass a law that mandated 30 minutes of organ donation education in driver’s ed classes throughout the state of Minnesota, which came as the extension of a project he worked on in Ms. Conway’s public policy class. The class served as a way to combine many of the skills we learned throughout high school to creatively solve a problem we identified ourselves and effectuate actual change that continues to positively impact the lives of Minnesotans today.


Congratulations To Alumni Award Winner Heather Otto ‘97

heather Otto '97Nate Bander ’09 spoke with 2020 Alumni Award winner Heather Rose Otto ’97 about her Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, See You at the Summit.

Tell us more about your role as founder of See You at the Summit. How did that idea come about and what was the journey like to establish your organization?

I was working in the field of wilderness therapy and I actually attended an international conference where I heard a Canadian speaker share more about what they were doing to improve the psychosocial health of teenagers undergoing cancer treatment. I realized that there wasn’t anything like this happening in the United States, so over the course of 15 years, I developed and founded See You at the Summit. I went back to school to get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and spent years researching and presenting to the medical community to get their buy in. Now there are 18 hospitals in the Pacific Northwest hoping to get involved in our organization.

See You at the Summit takes eight kids ages 13-18 who are undergoing or have just completed cancer treatment and brings them on a nine day wilderness trip, followed by 21 days of additional programming. So far, we have done backpacking trips but we are adding white water rafting, snow shoeing and dogsledding trips as well. We bring a team of 20 volunteers including physicians, nurses, child psychologists, porters and program facilitators and we’re able to provide the trips at no cost to the teenagers and their families.

Going on a See You at the Summit trip helps this underserved group develop self-esteem, make friendships, build resilience, tell their story, and just learn how to be teenager, all skills that are much harder to develop from a hospital room. This is so important because teens with cancer experience depression and anxiety at a 30% higher rate and are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Through our trips and programming, we give them the tools to navigate a very challenging part of their lives.

We are researching the long and short term outcomes of our work as well. We believe that teens who experience a See You at the Summit trip will have better cancer recovery and mental health outcomes. We hope that our research provides the medical professionals who care for teens with better ways to provide social-emotional support as well.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today and your work as the founder of a nonprofit?

I am an MPA lifer and I am so grateful for my time at MPA, it really was a great education. Looking back on it, I especially appreciated the small class sizes because I always felt heard and respected.

In particular, four teachers had a special impact on me. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Thacker was one of them. She actually adopted a puppy from the animal shelter and we cared for it as a class. I also remember my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Zimmerhakl really fondly. She was teaching us about privilege, equity and inclusion in the late 1980s, before most people were incorporating that into the curriculum.

From my Upper School days, Mr. Meacock and Mrs. Conway were of course teachers that made a lifelong impact on me. They stand out because their classes were filled with hands-on experiences. They were teaching about life just as much as the subjects they were responsible for. After MPA, I attended North Park University in Chicago where I studied theology.

What’s next?

I am continuing to build this program. As I mentioned, there are 18 hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, and more emerging on the East coast, who want to be involved. I am looking to do even more fundraising so that we can support more kids to go on our trips. For anyone looking to get involved, we are always in need of sponsors for our teens. For more information, visit www.seeyouatthesummit.org.


MPA Community Members Are Rehabilitating Campus Gardens

working on the outdoor garden areasAfter the completion of the new Martin Lenz Harrison Library at MPA, current MPA parent Michelle Mick had a vision for a beautiful Panther Garden in the adjacent outdoor space. Thanks to the help of Samantha Forgosh Class of ‘22 and Jaeden McFarland Class of ‘19, it is well on its way to achieving this vision. These volunteers and many others are helping to remove sod, prepare the ground, and create beautiful sanctuary gardens with sustainable wildflowers and plants, as well as vegetable and produce gardens which will be used in the MPA kitchen next year.

Jaeden, Samantha, Chef Doug, and MPA parent volunteers Tim and Michelle Mick continue to be hard at work volunteering to rehabilitate several outdoor spaces on MPA’s campus, already having cut and removed all the sod of the 120 by 40 foot-area, rototilled the entire space, and continue to remove the weeds and rake.

At first glance, the soil underneath was unusually sandy and barren. But after Tim rototilled the soil, which means using a tool that breaks up and tills the dirt, plenty of healthy worms and lots of other interesting bugs popped out! They found the area just beyond the library soaked after a night of rain, which Michelle was able to help drain by adding rocks.

This week, new mulch will be delivered, and the group will be moving it (while socially distant) from the drop off zone in front of Lower School to the new gardens. We are so grateful to have volunteers in our community making these gardens happen! A special thank you to Jaeden, Samantha, Doug, Tim and Michelle Mick, and all who continue to volunteer!


MPA Students Named NASA Scientists For A Day

gigi and bryanCongratulations to rising MPA ninth graders Gigi and Bryan! The two students were named the NASA Scientist For A Day 2019-20 Winners for Grades 7-8 on the topic of Miranda.

“Humans are driven to explore. To question. To wonder. Wishing to further our understanding of the universe beyond Earth. So that someday, the impossible might just become possible,” Gigi and Bryan wrote in their final submission. “Miranda, the fifth largest moon of Uranus. Some would refer to it as the Frankenstein moon. Many speculations have been made about how the moon came to be. But we don’t truly know for sure. With a variety of textures, grooves, craters, and fractures coating its surface, you cannot help but ask, ‘How were those created? Would it be the same on the other side of Miranda? Or would it be different?’ We won’t know unless we look deeper. This unusual discovery is something worth learning more about.” Read the rest of their report on NASA’s website here!


Students Continue The Conversation

upper school SCC and RJEC meeting on zoomThe MPA Upper School Social Consciousness and Racial Justice & Equity Clubs are continuing their conversations throughout the summer.

Students (and faculty) involved in the clubs are partaking in a summer book club, where they we will be reading “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X Kendi. They are also setting club goals for the next few months, and are making individual efforts to research and address topics like, “What are viable non-policing methods for security at school dances? Are mental health professionals an available resource for substance abuse concerns at school functions? Are school resource officers funded by the state?”

SCC and RJEC will also continue to share recommended resources for allies with all of their Upper School peers throughout the summer, such as podcasts, films, articles, and updates on our community actions and initiatives.