Written By: Pia Nair
This year, MAST Academy will be reintroducing a feature that takes it back to its inception: all freshmen, in both the Maritime and the Cambridge programs, will be required to take AS Marine Science. The new requirement is an attempt to regain the original theming of the programs, but it is only the first step in bringing the school back to its roots.
“We’re hoping also to introduce some new electives, like sea classics, which we used to have here in the past, in the years to come. So you’ll be seeing more themed courses being offered here at the school, both Maritime and Cambridge,” said Magnet Lead Teacher Melissa Fernandez said.
MAST began as a branch of the Inner City Marine Project (ICMP), started in 1984 to make South Florida’s marine environment and occupations more accessible to minority students of a lower socioeconomic status. The program entailed field trips and summer jobs for multiple local high schools, and eventually expanded to include middle and elementary schools as well. The program aimed to provide marine field work and education in order to allow students to consider marine related careers which were previously unavailable to them.
MAST was founded in 1991 by Dr. Linda J. Eads, as the MAST Outreach Program. The school essentially had the same idea as the ICMP – introduce students to vocations in oceanography, hence the name: Maritime and Science Technology Academy. As time has gone by, though, the school has lost most aspects of its marine heritage, in part due to the introduction of the Cambridge program.
The program was launched in 2012 after Miami Dade County Public Schools signed a deal with the Village of Key Biscayne to allow 1,100 of its students into the new program in exchange for a donation of $9 million. It became entirely separate from the the traditional maritime magnet program, in which students are chosen by a lottery. The school lost its emphasis on oceanography.
This new requirement will take MAST back to the core of its foundation, and perhaps get more students to consider entering occupations relating to marine science.