Category Archives: Student Voice

Meet the Class of 2018

We caught up with several members of the Class of 2018 to get their perspectives on their time at Morgan Park Academy as they get ready for graduation, college, and beyond.

New York University
Hometown: Evergreen Park

“There’s nothing like the community here at MPA. I initially left after eighth grade before returning my sophomore year, because I learned from personal experience that there’s nothing like the bonds you form here with your friends and teachers.”

University of Michigan
Hometown: Chicago Ridge

“Basketball was my favorite co-curricular activity. I wouldn’t always look forward to practices, but it was truly my favorite activity because of the families I created over the years and the bond I had with Coach Drahozal. He was always there for me and for the other girls. Basketball was like a second family for me.”

Loyola University Chicago
Hometown: Blue Island

“I’ve been here since preschool, and the biggest thing that the Academy did to help me prepare for college was allow me to explore my interests and explore new activities that I usually wouldn’t do. My experiences I had inside and outside the classroom, from sports to theater to our unforgettable trip to Japan, will carry me into college and beyond.”

University of Southern California
Hometown: Crown Point, Indiana

“When I transferred to MPA, I was apprehensive about joining a school where many students had known each other for years. But everyone was incredibly kind and welcoming, and I quickly felt like a member of the community as well. Moreover, the teachers that I have had at MPA have been influential role models. They were truly invested in my personal success and advancement and guided me through the challenging college decision-making process.”

University of Chicago
Hometown: Munster, Indiana

“Four years on the tennis team have been both fun and challenging, and it’s been one of the best social groups I have ever joined. And when I joined theater my junior year, that gave me another group of incredibly friendly and fun people. I’ve spent the past four years of my life at an incredible institution, which makes me feel all the more prepared for the future.”

University of Chicago
Hometown: Mount Greenwood

“I’m so grateful to have met such amazing people and made such amazing memories at MPA. From performing in Little Women to laughing and crying with the basketball team, and everything in between, this has been a time to remember.”

Indiana University
Hometown: Schererville, Indiana

“Our annual Project Week trips were some of my favorite memories. I went on international trips each year and got to experience the rest of the world with my best friends.”

École Hôtelière de Lausanne
Hometown: Shanghai, China

“My favorite place on campus is Jones Bowl. It is beautiful in winter when covered in snow. In spring, it is even better; my friends and I would sit on the grass and enjoy the sun during our open periods.”

168 Reasons Why We Walk for Water

By Celeste Kettaneh ’20

All year long, we Americans tend to use water mindlessly.

Whether it be taking a shower or leaving the faucet running, our water-wasting habits are ingrained. Unlike many places in the world, we have the privilege of taking 60-minute showers and over-watering our plants.

While we use our limited supply of “infinite” amounts of water, others beyond our borders are suffering from diseases caused by their poor water treatment. In some places, it takes a three-mile journey, sunburned shoulders, and empty plastic gallons for a family to get their daily supply. Our separation in water collection expands beyond miles, literally and metaphorically. While we put on our faucets, others put on their shoes to walk for their water.

As a part of the WE Charity, an international charity and education partner based in Canada, schools all around the world were challenged to raise money to change these conditions. They planned to build wells from all the money collected where communities needed it most. The motive was pure: every $25 raised gave one child clean water for the rest of their lives.

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Standing Up Against Bullying on GLSEN’s Day of Silence

By Amelia Gomez ’22 and Hannah Sipich ’22

Last Friday, students around the world were silent in order to have their voices heard. This is GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Day of Silence. The Day of Silence was first organized in 1996 to bring awareness to the harassment and bullying LGBTQ+ students encounter. Bullying is unacceptable, and no one should be subjected to it anywhere, anytime.

We are proud to be part of the majority of Morgan Park Academy’s Middle and Upper School students who enthusiastically take part in this student-led movement. On this day, we dress in black and do not speak (except during class time). We are silent to remind ourselves and others that even though we want to use our voices and have ourselves heard, we cannot. This is how victims of bullying feel. They are afraid that if they speak out against what is happening to them, they will face more of the same treatment, or worse.

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My Project Week Trip to Andros Island

By Abbey Haynes ’20

Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, which this year included an Upper School trip to study the ecology and culture of Andros Island in the Bahamas.

When you think of the Bahamas, you usually picture gorgeous beaches, palm trees, tourists, and endless sun. Our Project Week trip to Andros Island was all of that and so much more — except for the tourists!

While the capital of Nassau is known for its populated areas, Andros, the largest of the islands, is acclaimed for its friendly residents and an abundance of nature available for scientific research and exploration.

[See more photos and videos from this trip or check out stories and photos from other Global Week trips.]

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My Week at Heifer Ranch & Global Village

By Saanvi Malkani ’23

Editor’s Note: A key part of Morgan Park Academy’s global curriculum is a week of school-wide global explorations each March, including a seventh-grade trip to the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas.

Sunday we had our near 13-hour bus ride to Perryville, Arkansas. It was a day consumed by our electronic devices, which will not happen again until Friday. The entire time I was anxious and eager to get to the ranch, which was inevitably in the middle of nowhere. The bus drive was slightly boring, but I got to witness the transition from the city to the rural fields. It was nice to escape my bubble in Chicago, in which everything is busy and chaotic, and transition into the serene, calm, and peaceful environment.

Although the bus ride was tiring, it was nice to be able to to rest up knowing what was in store for us tomorrow. I was very excited to finally be able to somewhat understand the things going on in the world and to be “off the grid” for a few days, while some people need to do it their whole lives.

[See more photos from this trip or check out stories and photos from other Global Week trips.]

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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.

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.]


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.”