By Emmanuel Sarpong ’19

When I was finishing up my eighth-grade year and looking at high schools, my mom asked me about a school called Morgan Park Academy.

Even though I lived close to the school and had passed it many times, I never knew it was a high school. I was a bit nervous about going to a school I never heard of. I applied, got in, and it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.

In four years at MPA, I have been a part of many different groups in my time here, from playing three sports to doing Dance for Life to being a part of crew for the plays, and many other things that I will remember forever.

One of my favorite memories is from freshman year, during my first soccer practice, when I was still just getting to know everyone. To make things easier and to have some fun, for the entire practice, every time I touched the ball, Mr. Ellis said I had to scream my name as loud as I could.

I felt embarrassed every time I had to do it (especially when my voice cracked), but it also taught me a lot about MPA and how I couldn’t just be a shy kid hiding behind the scenes. I would have to open myself up if I wanted to enjoy my time here.

I think I speak for all of us when I say the teachers at MPA are some of the most caring and thoughtful people I have ever met. They make time for us when they don’t have to and always willing to help us if we are struggling.

No matter how many different colleges we looked at in College 103 and the numerous meetings we had with Ms. Rathi, she helped us get to the point where we can now say we are going to the college that we believe best fits us. Our advisors, Mrs. Drown, Mrs. McAlister, and Ms. Concannon, were always are available to help us with any of our problems we dealt with. Two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life, Dr. Kicmal and Ms. Yoon, showed me the importance of being kind to others. Mr. Drahozal always had an open door we could come to if we had a concern.

Every teacher in the Upper School has helped us along our journey and for that I would like to say thank you.

I am proud to say that this senior class is one of the most diverse groups I’ve ever been a part of. We have people with many different talents, interests, and skills that will lead them to success after we all have graduated and moved on to the next step.

Whether it’s Bryan and Tony’s math abilities, Maya and Halle’s singing that could capture the ears of everyone in a room, Julie and Ireland’s artistic creativity, or Tim’s ability to challenge someone in an argument, I could go down the list and name something about everyone in this class — and I think that is what makes MPA so great.

I have been able to interact with everyone in this class in some way, not many other graduating seniors in the country can say that. Through my experiences with you all, I have become a better person and I have matured and grown so much through the years we shared together.

To our parents, we can’t thank you enough. You constantly support us in everything we do. Not many parents are willing to pay for a private school education, yet you made the decision to allow us to come here and helped us make it to graduation. I would like to thank my own parents for the sacrifices they made for me as well as all the other parents who have helped me in my time at MPA.

Before I end, I would like to say this: We are a family. No matter what we go on to do or where we may go, I believe everyone in this senior class will go on to be successful in whatever we put our minds to. I know we will all go on to do great things.

I will end with this quote from the wise astronaut, Buzz Lightyear. His famous quote “To infinity — and beyond!” represents our class well, because although this may be the end of our high school years, there is still so much left to do as long as we continue to reach for the stars.

Thank you.

Manny is a graduating senior in MPA’s Class of 2019. He is headed next fall to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was awarded a full, four-year scholarship to cover tuition and housing.