Category Archives: Student Voice

Meet Our Seniors: Hiba Katerji

Hiba (bottom) during her Project Week trip to Thailand.

Hiba (bottom) during her Project Week trip to Thailand.

Hiba is heading to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and she has been at MPA since 6th grade.

Q & A

Favorite MPA tradition:
One of my favorite MPA traditions is the end of the year Academy Day/Carnival. It is a way to positively end the school year and lets students have a day of fun and excitement with their friends before parting with most of them for the summer. Last year, it was my job, along with the rest of Student Council, to plan, organize, and run the day for everyone. We got comments back from students and parents saying it was the “best Academy Day ever” which made it all the more special.

Favorite co-curricular activity:
Volleyball was definitely my favorite co-curricular/sport. I played all four years in high school and am happy that I was able to take part in it. I remember my freshman year when I would come to summer practices with all the older girls; I was so nervous, but everyone made me feel comfortable and helped me learn new skills and pushed me to do better. Volleyball made me sore in places that I never thought could get sore; but of course it was the good kind of sore. I always looked forward to going to practices and I miss volleyball season every day.
Proudest accomplishment:

Being on Student Council and being voted in as Vice President my senior year is probably one of my proudest accomplishments no doubt. Justus. the President, and I made history this year by making it one of the best, if not the best, Student Councils we have ever had, and in turn the 2015-2016 school year was one of the most exciting and had the most involved students yet. I loved being given responsibility to plan events and to be the voice of the upper school student body. Student Council helped me to hone my leadership abilities and really helped me prove myself as a leader.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?
People always say that MPA is a place that prepares you for college and having been here for 7 years I can definitely confirm that. MPA had us writing research essays in middle school, learning in biology about things my father didn’t learn about until medical school, and speaking French almost fluently by my senior year. MPA taught me to be independent in my studies and I learned how to efficiently do my homework and get everything done. In college, I’m sure I will look back and be grateful for the education that was given to us at MPA.

Favorite class/teacher:
This question is always one of the hardest ones to answer because MPA has so many great and qualified teachers that choosing proves to be difficult. However, of my four years in high school, I can definitely say that AP biology with Mrs. Drown was one of the best and most challenging classes I have ever taken. I have never met a teacher more qualified or more enthusiastic to teach than her. She truly wants her students to learn which is evident from the countless open periods I would sit with her so she can explain to me yet again the nervous system or photosynthesis. I think most everyone would agree when I say that Mrs. Drown is a teacher I will never forget.

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Meet Our Seniors: Brittney McKnight

brittneyBrittney is headed to Vanderbilt University to study neuroscience. She has been at Morgan Park Academy since ninth grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite MPA tradition:

I love Homecoming. It’s the first event during the school year that brings MPA students of all ages together to have a good time. It’s always so nice to see everyone dress for a different theme each day during Spirit Week and to see everyone come out and support all our sports teams for their Homecoming games.

Favorite co-curricular activity:

I love volleyball with all my heart, and being able to do that at a varsity level with my best friends was one of the best experiences of my high school career. Not only that, but having so much tangible success with our championships made that much better. I know for a fact that I would not have had that experience at any other school.

Proudest accomplishment:

Everyone at MPA is intelligent, so I wouldn’t choose an award or a sports accomplishment. I think mine is when I realized how aware I became of cultures that are different than my own, and how they all fit together to make the world the place that it is. There’s a difference when you can talk about global issues with personal knowledge or experience, and I definitely wouldn’t have that without MPA.

Favorite MPA memory:

During the dodgeball tournament sophomore year, while the teachers were playing the seniors, Mr. Kowalsky threw a curve ball, but fell into the stands into some students while doing it. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA opened me up to many different cultural, social, and academic aspects that I know college will have. My teachers challenged me academically, which helped me learn how to manage my time and my priorities, along with my co-curriculars.

MPA has introduced me to the strangers I now call my best friends. It has also made me aware of so many things I never thought I’d be introduced to. It’s definitely not the traditional high school experience, but it’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.

I know the connections I’ve made here, with faculty and students alike, will stay with me for the rest of my life. This place truly has become my home away from home, and I realize more and more each day how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to have this experience, travel the world, and figure out what my next step is. I’ve been given a wonderful foundation with an amazing support system that celebrated my successes and helped me learn from my mistakes.

MPA is unique without a doubt, the ultimate testament to the saying “Big things come in small packages.”

Meet Our Seniors: Jeffrey Eichinger

jeffreyJeffrey is headed to Washington University in St. Louis to study biomedical engineering. He has been at Morgan Park Academy since kindergarten.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Proudest accomplishment:

One of the proudest accomplishments of my high school career was my third-place finish in Engineering Graphics at this year’s WYSE (Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering) state finals.

When I joined the varsity team three years ago, as the lone freshman, competing in subjects previously foreign to me, I had many intelligent teammates with years of experience to look up to and learn from. They sparked my desire to study and compete. Our team won first place in the state competition my first year, and each year since them, I have pushed myself to live up to the high standards set by those older teammates. My finish this year validated all of that hard work and dedication.

Favorite class:

The best class that I took in high school was AP Biology with Mrs. Drown my sophomore year. Mrs. Drown is an incredible teacher and made the learning not only easy but fun.  The class was filled with interactive labs, creative projects, and intriguing lessons, all to help us better master biology. It was this class in which I discovered my passion for the intricacies of the human body, as I studied every function and process of the body along with various traits of evolution or individual parts of a plant.

Favorite teacher:

Probably my favorite teacher in high school has been Mr. Smith. Each day, he came into school ready to teach, armed with an arsenal of tools to help us to learn. Whether or not we realized it at the time, each assignment or project or discussion was aimed at preparing us for what was to come. The resources that he brought to class were so insightful and thought-provoking, allowing him to guide the conversations into completely unforeseen directions. After two years in class with Mr. Smith, I feel more prepared than ever to face the future.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA has prepared me in more ways than I could ever imagine. Most important, it has given me an open mind with which to approach the world and has introduced me to so many unique individuals with a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds. The countless lessons that I have learned from the excellent teachers, both pertaining to the class and those which are beneficial in other ways, will stick with me forever. I have formed so many strong relationships that will last me a lifetime, providing me with a growing network across the country. I could not have asked for a better education.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Nina Rathi

ninaNina is headed to Claremont McKenna College to study economics. She has been at Morgan Park Academy since ninth grade, and is our 2015 salutatorian.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite MPA tradition:

One of the things that initially drew me to MPA was its annual Project Week. Through this fantastic opportunity, I have been able to develop a global perspective of the world. My four years at MPA have brought me to places like Panama, Morocco, and India, where I had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences I will never forget.

Favorite class:

My favorite class has to be English my sophomore and junior years with Mr. Smith. With a class of only 10 people, I was able to form a strong bond with my classmates and Mr. Smith while learning about literature and the world.

Favorite co-curricular activity:

My favorite co-curricular activity at MPA was participating on the tennis team. Not only was I able to play a sport I loved, but I was able to connect with my teammates and create many lasting memories.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA’s close-knit community and small class sizes are what drew me to Claremont McKenna, a small liberal-arts college in California. I am confident that MPA has prepared me academically and socially for my next four years in college.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Ahad Hashmi

ahadAhad is headed to Purdue University to study biomedical engineering. He has been at Morgan Park Academy since sixth grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite class:

The whole learning environment in Mandarin class was intelligent, fun, and full of life. It was very easy for me to learn a complicated new language thanks to Ms. Zhao’s help and teaching.

Favorite co-curricular:

I was able to co-found a cryptocurrency club with my friends. It was great being able to discuss the economy of an online currency with my peers.

Favorite memory:

My favorite MPA memory, hands down, was the eighth-grade trip to Costa Rica — being able to visit a new country whose culture I had learned about in my Spanish class. Taking a trip to a different land opened my eyes to the other situations in the world.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA has given me so many opportunities to grow and mature throughout my seven years here. Whether it’s the amazing Project Week experiences, the ability to be a friend to anyone, or to just be able to be involved, MPA offered every tool to each student so that we could be strong, both individually and as a group.

I learned how to get along with my teachers and how to utilize their help as well as that of my peers. MPA has also introduced me to such a diverse environment of students, which has helped me learn about all kinds of people.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Amber Payne

amberAmber is headed to Vanderbilt University to study biology. She has been at Morgan Park Academy since first grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite class:

My favorite high school class was AP Biology during my sophomore year with Mrs. Drown. It was my first AP class and I learned so much. It also inspired me to choose my career path of biology.

Favorite teacher:

Mrs. Drown is my favorite teacher because even though I only had her for one class, she has continuously encouraged and helped me in many areas. She has become so much more than a teacher, as she always supported activities around campus that I was involved in and also checked on me academically. She wants to see me succeed in all areas and has sacrificed so much time and energy for it to come to pass.

Favorite co-curricular activity:

Being a part of Student Council throughout high school, my classmates and I were able to accomplish so much to make everyone’s experience at MPA better. I learned so much about people through this co-curricular and cherish all of the memories.

Proudest accomplishment:

Directing the student-run dance show this spring was the most amazing school and life experience. Seeing students from every background, with different interests, come together, along with having teachers from all of the divisions participate, was so humbling. We raised about $4,000 for HIV/AIDS research through Dance for Life.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA has, of course, prepared me academically, instilling good study habits, teaching me to juggle a heavy and intense courseload, and pushing me to do better; however, the most important lesson I have learned from MPA is how to do better. I have learned that there is a bigger world out there than our world here at the corner of 111th and Western. I have developed a wider cultural understanding and appreciation.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Adil Mian

adilAdil is headed to the University of Michigan to study political science with plans of continuing on to medical school. He has been at Morgan Park Academy since ninth grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite teacher:

I had never had a teacher who can connect with you and give real-life advice beyond the book like Mr. Smith does. I can listen to his stories for days and his advice is always spot on. He’s genuinely a great guy, and we share many of the same passions.

Favorite assignment:

We did a cell model creation project in AP Biology with Mrs. Drown sophomore year, and my partner and I modeled our cell after the Chicago Bulls basketball team. We set up the whole team, from Tom Thibodeau to Derrick Rose, representing different parts of the cell. Our presentation had spotlights and the Chicago Bulls intro music. It was brilliant.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA prepared me by teaching us to foster interactive and mutually prosperous relationships with our teachers. At the college level, it will more daunting to approach professors and attempt to get one-on-one time; however, due to my success with that in high school, I don’t feel nervous. I feel confident that my experiences with teachers here at MPA will help me translate such success in college and ultimately be beneficial towards my future ambitions.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]