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  by ibram x. kendi, and many of our students have also read “  by bryan stevenson, “  by ta-nehisi coates, and  by michelle alexander. they also recommend to watch the netflix documentary ”  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 , which is minnesota based, , , and .

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 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 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.

体育比分网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?

体育比分网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.

体育比分网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?

体育比分网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 .


MPA Community Members Are Rehabilitating Campus Gardens

working on the outdoor garden areas体育比分网After 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.

体育比分网“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.” !


Students Continue The Conversation

upper school SCC and RJEC meeting on zoom体育比分网The 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.


Summer At MPA

Kids playing outsideWe are thrilled to have students in grades K-6 join us back on campus for summer fun at Panther Camp! While our time together is going to look a little different from previous years, our program goals remain the same: provide our campers with a high-quality, joyful, and engaging program in the context of a safe and healthy environment.

panther camp will run june 15-26 and july 6-august 14 from 8 am-5:30 pm out of the gallery and nicholson theatre spaces. you can register for daily, half-day, and weekly options. during camp students will explore nature, science, art, play, and do so much more.

to register for weekly panther camps, use the “create an account” or “login” tab and follow registration instructions. see additional information under the “fees and policies” link. camp confirmation and details will be sent out upon registration.

体育比分网because of covid-19, here are some of the changes we’ve made for a safe return to campus. please know these measures are designed to provide the safest environment possible and are subject to change due to the evolving nature of the pandemic. they are based on recommendations by the minnesota department of health and the cdc.

Panther Camp Operations in Response to COVID-19

No-contact drop-off:体育比分网 When entering through the Gallery doors, a staff member will greet campers and run through the symptom checklist with parents, including a temperature check. Once completed and cleared to enter camp, staff will direct campers to their area in the Gallery or Nicholson Center.

Area Assignments: Campers will be assigned to a consistent spot within the program space for indoor learning & activities. Campers will also be given an individually labeled materials bin for their supplies (markers, scissors, glue stick, etc.). Read More


Class of 2020: Graham Li

Graham Li As the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

体育比分网i came to mpa in 10th grade.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

i chose purdue university based off its excellent options for majors and areas of study.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

I am excited about taking some challenging courses and learning new things. Read More


Class of 2020: Izzy George

Izzy George体育比分网As the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

i came to mpa in 9th grade.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

i thought i didn’t really know what i wanted in a college, and that’s why i decided the day before the deadline. but when i chose grinnell, i knew it was the right choice. i chose grinnell college because i knew i wanted a small school. mpa has a really small community that i love, and i knew i wanted to have a similar experience in college. grinnell is also far enough away to really feel like i’m leaving, but it is still fairly close to home.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

I’m excited to begin this new part of my life, learn new things, and meet new people. I’m also excited to follow my passions and see where they take me, and I’m especially excited to be more independent. Read More


Class of 2020: Charles Grimes

Charles GrimesAs the 2019–20 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of the Class of 2020!

In what grade did you come to MPA?

体育比分网i came to mounds park academy in 9th grade after looking at a variety of college preparatory schools in the twin cities area. mpa’s small class sizes, laptop program, and modern facilities piqued my interest during open houses and my shadowing experience. however, i ultimately chose mpa for high school because i knew my time there would be a valuable experience full of opportunities to try new things, find a passion, and challenge myself.

How did you come to choose the college that you did?

i chose to attend barret honors college at arizona state university because it is a small academic community within a larger university setting. i found during my time at mpa, small classroom sizes were a huge factor in my academic success and wanted a similar environment for college. barrett offers these small class sizes with focused and dedicated faculty, yet has the resources and opportunities of the larger university. therefore, i chose barrett because the combination of both these factors will best prepare me well for success later in life.

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?

First off, I am most excited for the Arizona weather! But in all seriousness, I am eager to experience an independent life outside of Minnesota and take advantage of the opportunities Barrett has to offer. I cannot wait to meet new people from all over the country or world and learn from their experiences, opinions, and viewpoints. Additionally, I have never travelled outside of the United States before an am super excited to seek out study abroad opportunities and connect with people from wherever I go. Read More