Homecoming Is For Everyone

from Bill Hudson, head of school

The energy in the building has been ramping up all week as we celebrate Homecoming. Students have been enjoying a series of special events, coloring contests, themed dress-up days, and assemblies. In many schools, this is associated with a Friday night football game and alumni events. At MPA, Homecoming is for everyone and is a week-long celebration of affinity for the school that includes all members of the school community—students in grades PreK-12, parents, alumni, parents of alumni, and friends.

For many students, MPA is a second home to them. Throughout the fall, I invite seniors to have lunch with me in small groups of 10-12. Over lunch, I ask the seniors to share their “MPA Moment,” an experience that encapsulates the essence of MPA. Inevitably, they talk about the sense of family they feel, the strong relationships they have with their teachers, and how much they belong at MPA.

Many years ago, I read the book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam. The title may seem strange but bowling alone serves as a metaphor for the loss of community in American society. In the 1990’s and 1980’s, bowling was the fastest-growing sport in the United States, all the while participation in bowling leagues dropped precipitously. Putnam found that fewer people are participating in social clubs, attending church, and even having dinner together as a family. Read More

Parents Association News & Events September 28, 2023

Lower School Quarterly Coffee
Tuesday, October 3, 8:15-9:45 AM
Join us for the first LS Quarterly Coffee of the year. Meet the new Lower School Director, Ms. Jennifer Le Varge. There will be a Fastbridge information presentation by Learning Support Specialists Alyssa Andretta and Robyn Kramer. Hear Chef Chris explain “All About the Cafeteria.” There will be a time for feedback and planning for future meetings. The last half hour will be reserved for informal conversations. This event will be held in the Gallery after drop off, from 8:15-9:45 AM.

Upper School Parent Coffee
Thursday, October 5, 8-9:30 AM
Join us for the first Upper School Coffee of the year. Talk with Mark Segal and other parents about the latest US happenings. We’ll meet in the Porter Conference Room (PCR).

Faculty and Staff Appreciation
Tuesday, October 10-Friday, October 13
The school year is getting into high gear, and the first round of Parent/Teacher conferences is coming up. The Parents Association and MPA parents and families are continuing the tradition of donating snacks and treats to help our staff get through conferences and to show our appreciation to all MPA employees. Please consider donating a beverage or snack for Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week. Remember to adhere to MPA’s Peanut/Tree Nut Policy when choosing snacks. Suggestions can be found at the link below. Thank you from the MPA Parents Association! Contact Tara Lafferty tmattrn@aol.com with any questions. Sign up here. Read More

Congratulations, National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Students!

Last fall, more than 1.3 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2024 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Based on PSAT performance, a nationwide pool of about 16,000 Semifinalists recently were announced, which represents the highest-scoring entrants in each state (less than one percent of all U.S. high school seniors).

Congratulations to Mounds Park Academy seniors Zain Ali, Maggie Banks-Hehenberger, Leo Eakin, Ian Frankel, Miles Niemeyer, and Soumya Raman, who are among these National Merit Semifinalists! These current seniors will now complete an extensive application to proceed further in the competition, providing their academic record, an essay, school recommendation, and SAT or ACT scores that confirm their qualifying performance on the PSAT.

Two additional seniors, Eilam Deinard and Ben Murr, are recognized as Commended Students in the National Merit program. Their scores placed them in the top 50,000 students nationally.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success and notes that they represent a valuable national resource, contributing to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation.

Your Brain on Art

from Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

Rarely was I more proud of our school than last Thursday. I sat in on the presentation of our Lower School specialist teachers at Curriculum Night.  Our teachers presented the underpinnings of their curriculum with passion and upon a firm foundation of science and best practices.  Across divisions, the MPA curriculum is enriched by a commitment to the arts and a whole child pedagogy.

In an age of high-stakes standardized testing and societal concerns about math and science scores, parents might question MPA’s emphasis on the arts.  I understand the arts at MPA more broadly, including music (vocal and instrumental), visual arts, theater, and even world languages and physical education.  From the founding of the school, the curriculum of the school reflects an intentional balance between academics, arts, and athletics. 1982, our founders knew instinctively that such a balance was vital to developing the whole child. Through new and emerging brain research, we now know that their instincts were correct.

Over the weekend, I read the New York Times bestseller Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross. The authors propose that the arts are not mere distractions but powerful tools for improving our health and well-being across many dimensions of life and with the science to prove it. The arts are vital in relieving stress and enhancing well-being; they help heal trauma, mitigate pain, and help us live not only a healthier life but a longer and more meaningful life, too. Read More

Upper School Division News September 21, 2023

from Mark Segal, Upper School director

Looking Ahead

  • Monday, September 25: No Classes, Yom Kippur
  • Tuesday–Saturday, September 26-September 30: MPA Homecoming Week
  • Tuesday, September 26: PJ Day
  • Wednesday, September 27: Dress Like Your Favorite Character Day
  • Thursday, September 28: Anything But a Backpack Day
  • Friday, September 29: Homecoming Shirt/MPA Spirit Day
  • Friday, September 29: All School Homecoming Assembly, 2:20-3 PM, Lansing Sport Center
  • Upper School Student BBQ and Bonfire, 5-8 PM, Benz Courtyard
  • Saturday, September 30: Homecoming Events @ MPA
    • Upper School Homecoming Dance, 8-11 PM, Upper School Commons
    • Tuesday, October 3: Senior Performances, 8-9:15 AM, Recital Hall
    • Wednesday, October 4: Class of 2024 Cum Laude Society Inductions, 7:30-8 AM, Recital Hall
    • Thursday, October 5: PA Upper School Parent Quarterly Coffee, 8-9:30 AM, PCR
    • Friday, October 6: Picture Retake Day
    • Senior Retreat & Dinner, 8-6:30 PM, Off Campus and MPA
  • Monday, October 9: No Classes, Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • Wednesday, October 11: Grade 10 & 11 PSAT Testing
  • Thursday, October 12: All School Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences, 3:30-8 PM, MPA
  • Friday, October 13: No Classes, Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences, 8-5 PM, MPA
  • Wednesday, October 18: Special Upper School Programming
    • 9th Grade: 8 AM-3 PM, Off Campus Activity
    • 10th Grade: 8 AM-12 PM, Pre-ACT (noon dismissal)
    • 11th Grade: 8 AM-12 PM, Mock-ACT (noon dismissal)
    • 12th Grade: No Classes, day used for college visits or applications
  • Thursday, October 19: No Classes, Fall Break
  • Friday, October 20: No Classes, Fall Break
  • Thursday, October 26: MPA Upper School Blood Drive, 12-5 PM, MPA
  • Friday, October 27: Senior Performances, 8-9:15 AM, Recital Hall

According to Chris Dibble, Albert Lea Minnesota high school principal, “Homecoming is an annual event that holds immense importance in the lives of students, alumni, and the broader school community. It is more than just a dance; it is a celebration of school spirit, tradition, and the sense of belonging.” Within the MPA Upper School, Homecoming is one of the anchors of the community as it helps set the tone for the year and is taken very seriously by our students. The week consists of various themed dress–up days, spectacular hallway decorations, an all-school pep rally, and a noticeable boost of school spirit. Read More

Parents Association News & Events September 21, 2023

Faculty and Staff Appreciation
Tuesday, October 10 – Friday, October 13
The school year is getting into high gear and the first round of Parent/Teacher conferences is coming up. The Parents Association and MPA parents and families are continuing the tradition of donating snacks and treats to help our staff get through conferences and to show our appreciation to all MPA employees. Please consider donating a beverage or snack for Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week. Remember to adhere to MPA Peanut/Tree Nut Policy when choosing snacks. Suggestions can be found on Sign Up Genius. Thank you from the MPA Parents Association! (Contact Tara Lafferty tmattrn@aol.com for questions). Sign up here.

Volunteer in the MPA Garden!
We are looking for volunteers to help with the MPA garden before the weather gets too cold. No previous gardening experience is necessary. No long term commitment is necessary either. We typically meet either Thursday or Friday mornings after drop off, but can also meet at other times as well. If interested, please contact Sara Carroll at smtanaka@gmail.com or Tenia Kalogeropoulou at tenia2@yahoo.com to coordinate.

Volunteer for Homecoming!
Friday, September 29 – Saturday, September 30
The Athletic Department is looking for help during Homecoming Week. Whether you’re a new Kindergarten Family or Seasoned US Parent, we invite you to help our school this Homecoming. MPA needs parents and students to help run the concession stand during MS and US School athletic events. We’re also in need of help to register students at LS workshops, help students on the rock climbing wall, don the Panther Mascot costume, paint faces, and more. Upper School students can earn volunteer hours by participating. MS and LS students are welcome to work in the concession stand with parent supervision. Check it out here.

Lower School Quarterly Coffee
Tuesday, October 3, 8:15-9:45 AM
Meet the new Lower School Director, Ms. Le Varge! The LS Quarterly coffee will be held in the Gallery after drop off, from 8:15-9:45 AM.

Upper School Parent Coffee
Thursday, October 5, 8-9:30 AM
Join us for the first Upper School Coffee of the year. Talk with Mark Segal and other parents about the latest US happenings. We’ll meet in the Porter Conference Room (PCR).

MPA Parents Association Affinity Groups
As part of MPA’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, the MPA PA in collaboration with the Office of Equity & Belonging, will begin offering Affinity Groups for parents/caregivers of current MPA students. Affinity Groups help foster a sense of belonging by providing a space for parents and caregivers to connect through shared experience and shared identity. They can also offer group members affirmation, support, and a vehicle for advocacy, especially those identities and experiences which are generally under-represented or frequently misrepresented in dominant culture and discourse.

Who leads affinity groups?
Affinity Group discussions are led by parent volunteers who work closely with the PA DEI Committee and MPA staff to manage meeting logistics, support member participation and group cohesion, and provide periodic feedback and/or suggestions during scheduled MPA PA DEI Committee meetings. Parents who are interested in volunteering as a group leader can complete this form.

Who can join?
Participation in affinity groups will require that a parent/caregiver self-identify with specific affinities detailed in each group’s description. This also holds true for volunteer parent leaders.

When and where are group meetings?
Initial affinity group meetings dates/times will be scheduled at the discretion of the PA and MPA staff, and based on the availability of space. It is expected that meetings will take place at MPA or virtually when appropriate. Following initial meetings, changes to dates/times and location will be based on group consensus, while ensuring that maximizing participation remains the top priority.

How are groups created?
Affinity groups are established to meet specific needs within the MPA community. At any point, families can request the formation of a new affinity group using this FORM. All submissions for new affinity groups will be reviewed by the PA and Equity & Belonging Office and a follow-up meeting will be scheduled with the requestor(s) to learn more about the desired group. It must be determined that there is both enough interest within the community and that someone is willing to lead the group before final approval of a new group. Following approval by the PA, a new group will work with MPA staff to plan logistics for the initial meeting. Parent Affinity Group Form.

What Makes a Global Citizen?

Salmah and Ms. Murr talking togetherThis message is from MPA’s Office of Admission from the September 21, 2023 issue of InsideMPA. Click here to get in touch with Admission and learn more!

At MPA, we are nurturing dreamers, doers, and right-makers. We are equipping students with academic knowledge to be change agents and world-shakers. In fact, in MPA’s Code of Ethics, our community acknowledges the responsibility of being a global citizen by advocating for social justice, caring for the welfare of others, and promoting human equality, among other pillars rooted in respect.

“Right-making is a seed that is planted in each student and cultivated as they journey through MPA. Not only do we teach character traits like inclusiveness and integrity, we promote a do-right attitude through our actions and words while we learn and grow together. This inspires us to dream big and impact others positively at home and in the world,” Kristine Petersen, MPA Kindergarten teacher says of global citizenship at MPA.

Through rigorous curriculum with meaning and purpose, and an educational blueprint with character education at its heart, MPA pushes students to realize that their identities are measured by the depth and decency of their impact on the world–our world. Perhaps Ms. Murr and Salmah ’21 could illustrate what this means.

Global citizenship at MPA is all about students discovering how to make a positive difference in our world, helping one another, and feeling connected. We emphasize character education. We require service projects prior to graduation. We support student-led clubs with cause-based initiatives. We partner with global organizations–The Red Cross and Seeds of Change, for example–for our students as young as first grade to realize their responsibility to positively impact our world. This is what makes a global citizen–and cultivating a service-based mindset in students is key to unlocking a larger worldview, while also preparing them for all that lies ahead.

Discover Something Remarkable

PreK-12 MPA PreviewDiscover something remarkable at the PreK-12 MPA Preview on Sunday, November 5, 2-4 PM–our largest PreK-12 admission event of the year!

MPA Previews are signature PreK-12 events designed to introduce you to the faculty, students, and families who make MPA the exceptional learning community that it is. These events are for family members of all ages to attend together and will include division-specific time.

You’ll hear from a variety of perspectives, be engaged in conversation with academic leaders, experience mini-lessons taught by expert teachers, and leave with a much better understanding of the MPA way.

The Taste of Ninth GradeFor families exploring ninth grade at MPA, we have a special pre-event immediately before the November 5 MPA Preview. The Taste of Ninth Grade is a lunch event for specifically for prospective ninth graders and their families. This event is your opportunity to learn more about MPA’s ninth grade program specifically. Students will engage in an activity to help them determine their school search priorities, while parents participate in an Upper School Leadership Q&A and hear from MPA’s school psychologist about parenting through the Upper School years.

RSVP today to experience the joy and discover why Mounds Park Academy is an exceptional place to learn and grow.

New Student Application is Opening!

MPA is delighted to announce that the admission application for new students to join us in the fall of 2024 will open on Friday, September 15!

If you, as a current family, would like to add any additional siblings to the MPA community who are not already here, please get started on the application process just as soon as possible. Space will be very limited in many grade levels. As a small token of our appreciation for your early application, current families are invited to use a $75 application fee waiver code 1982 for new student applications submitted prior to October 15. The deadline to complete the application process will be February 15, 2024.

If you have any questions, please contact the admission team at admission@moundsparkacademy.org and we’ll be happy to help!

Homecoming 2023: Wild With Panther Pride

Homecoming is quickly approaching with festivities planned for September 26-30! We have several ways for you and your student to get involved in this year’s slate of events.

  • Sign up to volunteer on Friday at Middle School homecoming games or on Saturday throughout the day.
  • Sign up your Lower School student for one or multiple athletic camps on Saturday.
    • Soccer Clinic with Mr. Sheehan, 8-8:45 AM
    • Track Clinic with Mr. Pettipiece, 8:45-9:30 AM
    • Climbing Wall Lessons with Mr. Ryther, 10:30-11 AM or 1:30-2 PM
    • Volleyball Clinic with Ms. Kunze, 1:45-2:15 PM
  • Cheer on MPA athletes at football, soccer, tennis, volleyball games on Friday and Saturday.
  • Encourage your student to wear spirit wear based on their division, including their free Homecoming t-shirts on Friday across all divisions!

View the full schedule here.

For questions, contact Jennifer Rogers-Petitt, director of development and community engagement at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org or Dan Haase, athletic director at dhaase@moundsparkacademy.org.