Upper School Division News
October 7, 2021
from Mark Segal, Upper School Director
The day started like any other Monday, but I knew that was not the case. After welcoming students to campus at the north door, my focus shifted as I made last minute preparations for the first in person Monday Morning Meeting in 574 days. I anticipated what it would be like and what I would feel, but I had no idea how impactful this community gathering would be to me. I clearly remembered our last gathering where I wished everyone a safe and restful Spring Break, and since then have facilitated each of our meetings via Zoom. Although a nice substitute, nothing compares to seeing the Upper School students with each other in the same space. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) one of the key components of a school is, “creating a culture built on community.” Establishing the foundation of familiarity and trust between students within a community sets expectations and builds chemistry that translates to various aspects of their lives— family, team, club, etc.
Looking out at 235 pajama clad students (and many faculty) was the first of many community building activities during Homecoming week. Each day of the week the students excitedly participated in the themed dress up days (my favorite being Dress Like a Teacher Day and seeing several students wearing sweater vests and bow ties), spent time collaboratively decorating their grade level hallways, and engaged in a special Homecoming Assembly where the traditional court selection, introduction of fall athletic teams, and grade level tug of war took place. Friday afternoon brought three-quarters of the Upper School students together for the annual bar-b-que and bonfire in the Benz Courtyard. Even though it has been two years since this event was held, the students quickly fell back into their routines of being with one another and enjoying each other’s company. Throwing the football, kicking the soccer ball, bumping the volleyball, and participating in a cornhole tournament were enjoyed and appreciated activities.
Saturday night brought the finale’ to Homecoming week. The weather gods shined down as the rain cloud disappeared in time for us to hold the first Homecoming Dance since September 2019. More than half the Upper School student body attended the first outdoor Homecoming Dance in school history. Adhering to the required health and safety protocols, students danced and “chilled” with each other through the evening. The addition of a bonfire allowed students to find some peace and quiet in an otherwise fun-filled evening.
A recent Edutopia article shares that once students feel safe, secure, and have a sense of belonging in a school environment they are able to better focus their attention and energy on learning. There is no doubt that the past 19 months have impacted us individually and collectively. After the excitement of last week, I am cautiously optimistic that maybe, just maybe, “normalcy” is returning to our special community.
I look forward to seeing you on campus soon!
- We are excited to welcome Ms. Rae Dillon as the Upper School and College Counseling Administrative Assistant. Most recently, Rae worked as the Program and Operations Manager with the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association where she served as the primary liaison to their Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Prior to that, Rae held positions at the Universities of St. Catherine and St. Thomas, Oak View Elementary School, Brooklyn Center Elementary and the Northwest YMCA. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Rae holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Youth Studies. Rae can be reached on email@example.com or 651-748-5544 to report student absences of if you have any Upper School-centric questions.
- As we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we ask for your diligence in working with our COVID-19 symptom response and contact tracing team. At the first sign of symptoms, parents should complete the daily AUXS app symptom screening and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This should happen BEFORE seeking a COVID-19 test. When a negative COVID-19 test is required for student clearance, results must be provided prior to the student’s return. All symptomatic community members, regardless of vaccination status must remain at home pending those results. Thank you for your partnership. For any questions, please contact Jennifer Rogers at email@example.com.
- Thursday, October 7: Upper School Conferences, 4-8 PM, via Zoom
- Friday, October 8: No Classes, Upper School Conferences, 8-4 PM, via Zoom
- Tuesday, October 12: Senior Performances, 8-9:15 AM, via Zoom
- Saturday, October 16: PSAT Testing for Grades 10 & 11, 8 AM-12 PM, Lansing Sport Center
- Wednesday, October 20: No Classes, Fall Break
- Non-Official PSAT for 10th Grade, 8 AM-12 PM, Lansing Sport Center
- Thursday, October 21: No Classes, Fall Break
- Friday, October 22: No Classes, Fall Break
- Tuesday, October 26: PSAT Testing for 11th Grade, 8 AM-12 PM, Nicholson Center
- This is an alternate test date only for 11th grade students unable to test on 10/16
- Wednesday, October 27: Senior Performances, 8-9:15 AM, via Zoom
- Friday, October 29: Last Day of Quarter 1
- Senior Retreat, 8 AM-6:30 PM, Camp St. Croix and MPA
- Monday, November 1: No Classes, Grading Day
- Tuesday, November 2: First Day of Quarter 2
Meet Rae Dillon
September 30, 2021
What position will you be holding at MPA?
Upper School and College Counseling Administrative Assistant
From what school/organization are you coming?
I was the Program and Operations Manager at the MN Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA)
Tell us a little bit about your education and past experience.
I was inspired by the strong sense of community and even “family” at MPA! I love the school’s small, intimate feel that cares about students holistically, rather than just data and test scores. I love the welcoming environment and focus on individuality, inclusivity, and the arts!
What’s your big dream?
[Like, if I could do anything?] To help cultivate a world filled with compassion, empathy, and justice for all people and the environment.
What are you (and your family, if you so choose) passionate about?
I am passionate about young people and their futures, the environment, mental health and mindfulness, spending time outdoors, and reading a good trashy mystery novel (my goal is one every month).
What’s a fun fact about you that our community would love to know?
I LOVE gardening, but I am not very good at it. I love that I get better each year, and every autumn, I wipe the slate clean and try again next year. I love to grow (and eat) tomatoes the most.
Preparing Students For A Future That Is Difficult To Understand
September 27, 2021
To cultivate right makers, you need teachers who are able to connect deep content knowledge to the real world in ways that implore students to use it for good. Katie Murr is one of many exceptional teachers at MPA who have the ability to do just that every single day.
Katie was raised by two public school teachers, including her mother, who holds a Ph.D. in microbiology, and she was immersed in their careers. “They firmly believed in the power of knowledge as the path toward a more meaningful and impactful life,” Katie explained. Never intending to teach, Katie’s early aspirations led her toward law or politics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She interned for Paul Wellstone and worked primarily on education policy. “I came to realize that politics is not the place to change education. The classroom is.”
Looking back, Katie now realizes that she was destined to be a teacher. “I always really liked teachers, probably because I wanted to be one whether I knew it or not,” Katie reflected. She attended Eagan High School where two teachers truly inspired Katie—they were known to her at the time as Mr. Vergin and Ms. Kunze, both of whom are now her colleagues at MPA. Early in their careers, they taught Katie social studies and world language, and coached her in debate and speech. “Mike taught me everything I know about patience and evaluating information critically. And Kari is one of the finest educators I’ve ever known. You learn just by being in her presence.” Read More
It’s Time For MPA’s Fall Preview
September 23, 2021
Invite a friend, neighbor, colleague, or family member to join us for MPA’s largest PreK-12 admission event, the MPA Fall Preview! Held virtually on Sunday, November 7 starting at 2 PM, this event will be a structured program that will allow prospective students and parents to get a sense of what makes MPA an exceptional place to learn and grow.
Kindly invite your friends and neighbors to RSVP in advance for this engaging program at moundsparkacademy.org/RSVP. If you have any questions, contact the Office of Admission at 651-748-5577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to meet them!
Upper School Division News
September 23, 2021
from Mark Segal, Upper School Director
According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), “a recent U.S. Surgeon General report indicates that one in five children and adolescents will face a significant mental health condition during their school years.” Those who suffer from these conditions may face barriers to their learning or social-emotional relationships with peers and their school. The Surgeon General continues that, “key responsibilities of schools include creating a safe and nurturing school environment, supporting the physical and mental health of children, fostering their social and emotional well-being, and being prepared to address teen suicide through effective communication and support.” The Mounds Park Academy faculty prides itself on building strong relationships with their students, knowing their students well, and being prepared to support students as they make their way through the adolescent developmental journey.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shared last August that social media platforms saw a significant increase in COVID-19 materials and information and misinformation left adolescents exposed to associated challenges. The NCBI says that “the social media infodemic has been linked to anxiety, feeling powerless, and catastrophizing situations.”
This past Tuesday and Wednesday upper school students participated in the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. MPA students received psychoeducation about the signs of suicide and how to help someone who may be having difficult thoughts or feelings. Students also completed an eight-question screener to identify those who need immediate assistance. This is the third time that we have partnered with students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin River Falls Psychology program. They met with students individually throughout the day and contacted parent(s)/guardian(s) of those who needed additional support and provided referrals to some for outside care.
Offering this support system at MPA provides students with the opportunity to engage openly in conversation and find important resources rather than face a stigma that may exist. These supports foster stronger and more authentic relationships which, in turn, allows students to see greater success in their academics and social connections.
I look forward to seeing you on campus soon,
MPA Covid-19 Symptom Response
As we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we ask for your diligence in working with our Covid-19 symptom response and contact tracing team. At the first sign of symptoms, parents should complete the daily AUXS app symptom screening and/or email email@example.com. When a negative Covid-19 test is required for student clearance, results must be provided prior to the student’s return. All symptomatic community members, regardless of vaccination status must remain at home pending those results. Thank you for your partnership. For any questions, please contact Jennifer Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tues, 9/21: SOS Screenings, 9th grade and new 10th grade students
- Wed, 9/22: SOS Screenings, 9th grade and new 10th grade students
- Thurs, 9/30: Upper School Conferences, 4:00 – 7:00 PM, via Zoom
- Fri, 10/1: Upper School Homecoming BBQ & Bonfire, 5:00 – 8:00 PM, Benz Courtyard
- Sat, 10/2: Homecoming, all day, on campus
- Wed, 10/6: Class of 2022 Cum Laude Induction, 7:30 AM, location TBD
- Thurs, 10/7: Upper School Conferences, 4:00 – 8:00 PM, via Zoom
- Fri, 10/8: No Classes, Upper School Conferences, 8:00 – 4:00 PM, via Zoom
- Wed, 10/20: No Classes, Fall Break
- Thurs, 10/21: No Classes, Fall Break
- Fri, 10/22: No Classes, Fall Break
Homecoming Celebration And Spirit Week Reimagined
September 16, 2021
September 27 – October 2
Join us as we reimagine our annual Homecoming festivities in light of COVID-19 health and safety concerns. We are offering division-specific opportunities for students as a part of a weeklong celebration, building spirit for MPA Athletics and our entire community.
Upper School Activities:
- MPA Student Council Spirit Week Dress Up Days: September 27 – October 1
- Upper School student only BBQ: October 1, 5-8 PM, Benz Courtyard
- Upper School student dance: October 2, 8-11 PM, Benz Courtyard
- Free Homecoming-themed MPA t-shirts for all Upper School students
Middle School Activities:
- Middle School Game Day: October 1, 10 AM-3 PM, South Lawn (Parent Volunteers needed!)
- Spirit Week Dress Up Days September 27-October 1
- Free Homecoming-themed MPA t-shirts for all Middle School students
Lower School Activities:
- Pajama Day for all Lower School Students: September 27
- Spirit Wear Day with Homecoming T-shirt and non-uniform bottom: October 1
- Homecoming Spirit Photo Booth and Special Appearances by the MPA Panther: September 27-October 1
- Homecoming Panther Coloring Sheets available for students
- Free Homecoming-themed MPA t-shirts for all Lower School students
MPA Athletics Schedule Saturday, October 2
Please note: Only athlete household members may attend in person. Join in the fun and cheer on our Panthers by streaming games live! Learn more at https://www.moundsparkacademy.org/athletics/
- Varsity Girls Soccer vs New Life Academy 11 AM (available for streaming)
- Varsity Boys Soccer New Life Academy 1 PM (available for streaming)
- Varsity Volleyball 9 AM-2 PM (continuous streaming viewing)
- JV Boys Soccer New Life Academy 11 AM (not available for streaming)
- Varsity Girls Tennis vs Como Park and Cretin Derham Hall (not available for streaming)
Homecoming Parent Gathering
Parents, would you like to share your MPA Spirit and support our student athletes? Join the MPA Parents Association for an all-parent coffee and community building meet-up on Friday, October 1 from 7:45 to 10 AM. You’ll find us under the big white tent in the west parking lot, rain or shine. Meet other MPA parents, help to decorate the outdoor fields, and write messages of encouragement for our athletes. Go Panthers!