A College Choice Day Unlike Any Other

Isak Dai '21by Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

I remember sitting in the bleachers in the upper level of Jenison Fieldhouse at Michigan State University to witness the graduation of my father. At five years old, I had no appreciation for the sacrifice he and my mother made for that to happen. I didn’t know that my dad joined the Navy after high school to help support his family and that afterwards, he worked full time to put his younger brother and sister through college. I didn’t know that over the course of seven years he drove 80 miles round trip to attend classes at Michigan State all the while working a full-time job, leaving my mother to care for three small children. I didn’t know any of that, sitting in the bleachers that hot May afternoon in 1969. But I did know how important college was as I spotted my dad cross the stage to receive his diploma.

MPA seniors, together with the entire MPA community, will celebrate College Choice Day this coming Monday, May 10. Sporting their chosen college apparel, seniors will gather in and around the Upper School Commons to create their college pennants and feast on individually pre-packaged cookies and beverages. “This class has my heart,” says director of college counseling, Lisa Pederson. “The pandemic literally shut down campuses last spring break as many were arriving to tour campuses. They rebounded and conducted the rest of their college search almost entirely online, demonstrating an amazing degree of resilience, imagination, determination, optimism, and support of each other.” Read More


Thank You, Why I Volunteer, And More From The Parents Association

PreK on the story walk with Ms. LageThank You!
The Virtual Book Festival was a great success this year. Thanks to everyone who participated. Thanks to our volunteers, Book Festival Chairs Michelle Mick and Deedee Clendenning, the faculty and staff that helped make it happen, and to all the families who love to read and supported MPA. A big thank you to Valley Bookseller for donating 20 percent of sales and to Usborne books for their contributions.

Approximately 190 books were sold by Valley Bookseller, and Valley’s contribution to MPA is $678.06. Usborne Books sold 208 books and contributed $1,263.52. That makes the Book Festival’s total contribution to MPA’s library $1,941.58!

Join The PA Board
The Parents Association board is looking for volunteers to fill several positions next year. There are varying time commitments, but the experience is consistently rewarding. Over the next few weeks the current PA Board would like to share our reasons for volunteering. Read More


Vote For Siri And Evan To Be Top Performers Of The Week!

Siri with teammatesLet’s go Panthers! Two MPA athletes are up for winning Top Performer of the Week in their sport–vote for them with the links below. Voting ends Sunday, May 9 at 10 AM!

Click here to cast your vote for sophomore Siri Springer to be the MN Softball Hub Top Performer of the Week! “The sophomore pitcher had an impressive April, allowing just four runs to score through 23 innings during five Panthers wins. Last week, Springer led the Panthers to a 13-1 win at Blake on April 26 and a 12-0 victory against Breck on April 28. At Blake, Springer pitched five innings, striking out eight batters while allowing one run on four hits. At the plate, she went 3-for-4 with two home runs and six RBIs. Against Breck, Springer pitched two hitless innings, recording four strikeouts. She hit a double and a triple and scored a run, leading the Panthers (5-0, 4-0) with four RBIs.”

Evan pitchingClick here to cast your vote for senior Evan Esch to be the MN Baseball Hub Top Performer of the Week! “The senior pitcher struck out 17 batters as the Panthers ended a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory at Blake on April 26. The Panthers (2-7, 2-7) avenged a 13-3 loss to Blake from two weeks earlier as Esch gave up one unearned run on three hits through seven innings on the mound.”


MPA Book Festival Ends May 3!

perk students on story walkThe book festival has started and runs through Monday, May 3. Its goal is to encourage the love of reading and to contribute to the MPA Library. Books are available for purchase from two local booksellers, Usborne Books and Valley Bookseller in Stillwater. Our theme this year is Earth Day, which was April 22. We have opportunities to participate in book and Earth-related fun activities, including story times and prize giveaways!

Below are helpful links with book recommendations and direct links to our book vendors to place your orders.

If you have any questions about this year’s Virtual Book Festival, please contact DeeDee at deedeeclendenning@gmail.com or Michelle Mick at michelle_wessely@yahoo.com.


Planting Seeds

perk students doing the story walkby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Outside my office is a skinny rubber tree with branches extending in all directions. A scarcity of leaves is clustered on the end of each branch, like hands and fingers on outstretched arms waving at passersby. I have to admit that it looks quite peculiar and often is subject to ridicule, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. But it means a great deal to me and I love to share its story.

The tree was a gift from long-serving Upper School Math teacher Theresa Reardon Offerman upon her retirement. Theresa told me she bought the tree during her first year of teaching. It was the winter of 1977-78 and she happened upon it at the old Sears on Lake Street in Minneapolis. “It looked lonely sitting all by itself in the aisle,” she said. “It was sickly, partially frozen from sitting outside too long, and on sale. I bought it and nursed it back to life.” Every time I walk by the tree I think of Theresa, her dedication to MPA, her love of math, and the many seeds she planted over her teaching career, touching the hearts and minds of so many.

This week and last, MPA has been observing our annual celebration of reading, the MPA Book Festival. This year’s theme is centered on and coincides with Earth Day, which was celebrated on April 22. Students in all divisions were each given a beautiful bookmark and a packet of seeds with the quote, “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” A hallmark MPA tradition, the Book Festival began 21 years ago, in 2000 by the Parents Association under the leadership of Elaine Johnson and Karla Myers. Like the library at the center of our school, reading is at the heart of a MPA education.

There are many special activities occurring this week. For instance, in Lower School, our librarians read the book, “We are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom and the students all took the Water Protectors Pledge. This pledge went home with students so families could work together to be stewards of the Earth. Students are currently working on an illustration which will be hung up in Lower School promoting taking care of our Earth. Upper School Student Council organized a casual Earth Day activity in the Benz Courtyard for their peers. It involved painting plant pots filled with succulent plants, and also painting rocks with messages of peace and love for our planet. Council members set up tables in the courtyard and played music.

The annual Book Festival provides our MPA community with opportunities to participate in reading activities, purchase great books, and support our local booksellers. The MPA Library will use the donations from the booksellers to purchase books for teachers, for the classrooms, and the Library. Books are available for purchase from two local independent booksellers, Usborne Books and Valley Bookseller. Since our event is virtual, you have the ability to purchase any books available through their distributors.

I give credit to co-chairs and Lower School Parents, Michelle Mick and DeeDee Clendenning, for choosing such a brilliant theme—reading and gardening have much in common. For me, libraries are like wonderous gardens, filled with countless varieties of flowers. In this garden, books are the flowers and seeds are the ideas that over time, grow and give life. From childhood, books have fed my mind, sparked my curiosity, and nourished my soul. Reading has planted seeds that have taken root and grown, forming me into the person I am.

In an age of instant gratification, live streaming entertainment, and overnight delivery, gardening, like reading, takes time and patience, and teaches us to slow down. Seeds need to be cared for and nurtured, like the experiences, perspectives, ideas, and knowledge that stem from reading. If properly cultivated, its blooms are transformational.

Please join me in celebrating Book Festival 2021. May the seeds of knowledge we plant today bloom innovators, scientists, doctors, artists, peacemakers, and leaders we desperately need.


Parents Association Members Share Why They Volunteer

MPA parents having coffee outsideWe invite you to join the MPA Parents Association Board! The Parents Association board is looking for volunteers to fill several positions next year. There are varying time commitments, but the experience is consistently rewarding. Over the next few weeks the current PA Board would like to share our reasons for volunteering.

Please reach out to Kim Jakway, Susan Knapp, or any of the current board members with questions or to express interest.

Why I Volunteer
by Yukiko Miyokawa (parent of Eilam, 9th Grade)
I have been volunteering my time as a Treasurer for the Parent Association for the past one and a half years and it has been a very rewarding experience.

Initially, I was nervous to volunteer at MPA since English was not my first language and I came from a different culture.  Moreover, since I was born and raised in Japan, I had no idea what student life was like and how teachers interacted with students and their parents in the U.S. I wondered what I could do as a parent to be involved and help. 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


Congratulations MPA Speech Champions!

MPA Speech class A ChampsCongratulations to MPA Speech, the Class A State Team Champions! In the 2021 Speech Season, Mounds Park Academy had ten state finalists, two state runner-ups, and four State Champions. They also broke the prior Class A team points record. We are so proud of these students!

Individual results:
Hana Miller: sixth in Humorous
Charlotte Bergh: fifth in Ex Reading
Rohit Iyer: fourth in Ex Speaking
Lucy Schwieger: third in Poetry
Lilly Gasterland-Gustafsson/Garrett Hollihan: second in Duo
Emma Cohen: second in Oratory
Salmah Elmasry: champion in Ex Speaking
Ryan Ghose: champion in Humor
Livia Wooldridge: champion in Poetry
Anna Gaudio: champion in Prose


Congratulations Athena Award Winner Izzy Quam!

Izzy QuamCongratulations to MPA’s 2021 Athena Award Winner, senior Izzy Quam! A four sport athlete, Izzy competes in Soccer, Cross Country Running, Nordic Skiing, and Track and Field. She is a captain in each of her sports.  Izzy has accumulated 19 varsity letters in athletics, 9 All Conference or Honorable Mention awards from the IMAC conference, and countless team MVPs honors and coaches awards. She is also a stellar student who appears on the honor roll, has earned academic letters, and is a member of the Cum Laude Society.

“I have been fortunate to coach Izzy since she was a 7th grader. She is an absolutely tremendous kid, really among the best ever to come through MPA. Her combination of leadership skills, positive attitude, kindness, and athletic ability don’t come along very often,” says Panthers Cross Country Running and Track and Field coach Nate Bander. “I can’t wait to see what great things await her as she heads off to college.” Izzy joins her older sisters Erin (2017) and Ellie (2019) in winning the Athena Award. Read More


What “Dream Big. Do Right.” Is All About

middle schools students in Spanish classby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Ask my kids or my husband. Ask a member of the administrative team. Any of them will say I am wrong a lot. That probably does not inspire great confidence in your head of school. However, if you ask Adam Grant, author and professor of Psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, it’s a good thing. According to Grant, keeping an open mind means reexamining our ideas and beliefs. For him, the purpose of learning isn’t to affirm our beliefs, it’s to evolve our beliefs.

These days continue to be difficult for many people. I keep asking myself when it will be that we can just “teach” and not feel the weight of social unrest, racial inequality, mass shootings, police shootings, political discord, and the pandemic. The truth is probably never, and I don’t think that is being pessimistic. Throughout history, educators have been called upon to walk with their students, helping them make sense of the world. As a school that teaches the whole-child, we cannot shut the doors and ignore the outside world or limit learning to only what happens in the classroom. Read More