Paving the political path to gun safety

Written By: Julia Cooper

Last year, after the tragic event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s day, students across the entire country, including those at our school, many of them who showed their support to those affected by gun violence in demonstrations on campus, were shaken and ready to threaten politicians with their votes.

“In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, the debate over gun rights really heated up in my government classes. Like the rest of the country, I have noticed that the topic is not getting as much attention as it did last year,” AP Government and AP European History teacher Jeffrey Raymond, said.

Parkland students are aiming to take the high road, have vowed not to endorse candidates and remain a bipartisan group.

With this in mind, the student organizers of March For Our Lives continued their fight by coming up with and going on what they are calling the “Road To Change”.The students gave up their summers of fun to get to work and start creating an environment where they can effect change in politics surrounding gun violence and control on the lethal weapons. They are appealing to voters’ moral standards by using arguments along the lines of what David Hogg told Eliott C. McLaughlin of CNN.

“People have died for your right to vote. I don’t care if you’re a Republican. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. You’re an American. Do your duty as a citizen and vote,” Hogg said.

It was a series of stops across the country to get young people motivated and registered to vote that spanned over two months.

Part of their goal for the tour was to visit every congressional district in Florida and speak to locals and their representatives. Some activities at events included carnival games, food trucks, snowcones and more.

The tour began in Chicago at an annual peace march where the Parkland kids marched with Chicago residents and celebrities such as Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson. This part-education and part-registration effort made its way to the most pro-gun parts of the country as well as areas that have been highly affected by the subsequent violence of guns.

 

New class requirements is making waves

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.

New bus system hits bumps in the road

Written By: Emilio Pagan

As a result of the problems from previous years, administration has established a new bus system at our school. Now, students have to line up in front of their bus designated by orange cones, either Vizcaya or Key Biscayne.

“The whole purpose of the new system is to increase student safety,” assistant principal Mrs. Liliana Suarez said.

Within the first few weeks of the new school year the bus system ran into a few obstacles. Some of the students that started the school year late were not added to a bus line, but the main problem was the shortage of buses.

Since only the buses for Key Biscayne showed up, students that ride the Vizcaya bus had to wait until the buses from the Key returned to pick them up en route to Vizaya.

“It’s whack. All the new system has done is ensure us that we still don’t have enough punctual Vizcaya buses. One time I got out at 3:45,” senior Jaylen Bishop said.

Recognizing the anger of many students, Dr. Michael Gould worked to solve the problem.

“I sent a letter to the ‘the boss’ of transportation, and managed to reroute the buses that go to door to door to stop at Vizcaya,” Gould said.

Overall, the new system should ultimately ensure students’ safety and the efficiency of our school’s transportation.

 

Ramblings…Crossing the threshhold

Written By: Landon Watford

Finally, eighteen-years old, a legal adult. Over a decade of listening to NPR and only occasionally taking out the trash has prepared me for this moment. I can see myself now: lounging in a casino with a lottery ticket in one hand and a vape in the other, a pack of Redwoods in my lap, sitting on a throne of presidential ballots, jury duty notices, and army enlistment forms, all complemented by a flying dragon tattoo located just above my ankle monitor. Not only will I get all those totally awesome things, but my mentality will be different too. I am an adult: a sophisticated, thick-walleted, self-reliant adult. The only problem is… I do not feel any different than I did before my birthday.

Maybe my expectations were too high. I am sure that within the next month I will be filing tax returns like it is nobody’s business. Still, I am dumbfounded as to why I did not have an instant transformation into an adult, like the legal system led me to believe. Even though my birthday was enjoyable, I can not shake the feeling that it was somewhat anticlimactic.

Ever since I was in middle school I wanted to be a grown up. They had it all: freedom, independence, and best of all, no homework. As a little sixth grader that could not make his own lunch and whose sense of humor had failed to rise beyond mere flatulence noises, becoming an adult was a fairly big aspiration for me to strive for. And a lot has not changed since; though I have become more emboldened and motivated throughout my high school experience, astonishingly, fart jokes still give me a good giggle.

Despite being more developed, I still do not feel that I have truly matured. At eighteen, I am still living with my parents, still enrolled in public school, and still friends with the same people I met back in freshman year. In other words, I am a loser. It is impossible to grow, after a certain point, if I have been living in the same environment with the same people for an extended period of time. This is why I believe college is the final hurdle between youth and adulthood. Being placed in an entirely different surrounding, on my own, will expose me to new experiences, both positive and (more importantly) negative. These experiences also serve as a lesson that will teach me how to live independently- a lesson no public school can teach. Though the thought is terrifying, it seems like college may be my last chance at becoming a well-adjusted, functioning member of society rather than an immature, Cheez-It munching, hermit.

Even though my eighteenth birthday did not live to the fantastical expectations I had set, I have learned something far more valuable. It is not an arbitrary number that makes me an adult, but rather, it is time, experience, and loss, that will mature me into the man I will inevitably become.

“Queerbaiting” for ratings needs to stop

Written By: Isabella Zimmermann

A myriad of television shows and films, such as Supernatural, Riverdale, Voltron, and Fantastic Beasts: 2, have come under fire in recent years for accusations of queerbaiting. While some of these are not exact examples of queerbaiting, some exploit the LGBTQ+ community for monetary gains.

So what even is “queerbaiting”? Queerbaiting is the act of alluding to a same-sex relationship between two characters in a television show or film, whether it be through the use of subtle hints or jokes, only to have the relationship never actually become official. The controversy arises through the belief that queerbaiting does not represent the LGBTQ+ community, nor will it ever.

The motive behind queerbaiting is that companies want to appeal to a wider audience, more specifically, people of different sexualities, in order to earn more viewers and profit. People tune in hoping to see a glimpse of representation in the mainstream, only to be left disappointed. The relationship is never fulfilled, and the companies end up with no repercussions.

However, these actions are exploitative of the community and their desire for more diversity in film and television. Queerbaiting is simply a cheap tactic to give the illusion of adequate representation, when in fact, there is none. Companies do not care about being inclusive; they only care about earning more viewers.

One may argue that queerbaiting is just audience members looking too deep into subtext and subtle hints, and that there never was any tension between the two characters at all. Though I have watched an abundance of shows where the utilization of queerbaiting is apparent.

For example, in Riverdale’s pilot episode, the promotional video for the episode includes a clip of the two female leads kissing. In the episode itself, the two disregard the kiss immediately after. To insert that one clip, especially in the first episode of the series, only to dismiss the kiss as “pretend,” demonstrates that that same-sex interaction was implemented only to attract the attention of the LGBTQ+ audience.

“My whole thing about LGBTQ+ representation, especially with gay men and trans men, is that they are seen as clowns or comedic relief. Gay women are represented, but it is mainly for the male gaze,” language arts teacher Lindsey Peters said, “We heteronormalize things to make the majority comfortable.”

I believe queerbaiting takes up space that could be used instead for the addition of real, same-sex relationship representation in films. To remove that space, clogging it with non-official same-sex relationships, is not only destructive to the industry, but harmful to those who might not feel accepted by the mainstream and only find comfort in the arts and entertainment.

Persons of diverse sexuality status do not want to be seen as inferior to straight people. To capitalize off their desire to be seen as normal in mainstream television and film is outright impertinent and a step backwards in the fight for more inclusivity. A fight that has already been a struggle for numerous years.

The fact that there is still an ongoing struggle to depict healthy, day-to-day same-sex relationships is still a shock to me. A change for more inclusivity in television and film must be set into motion to prevent the exploitation of the community even more, and it must be done now.

In God We Trust: New Florida state mandate

Written By: Julia Cooper

As an overwhelming wave of “new” additions to Mast occurs this year, one  not-so discreet sign located in the main office window of the Florida state seal that reads in bold letters,“IN GOD WE TRUST” has been added. This statement which has been Florida’s official state motto since 2006 has recently been mandated by the State Legislature to be displayed in a conspicuous place in all public schools.

This initiative was passed as a companion bill under House Bill 7055, which is a lengthy education bill that sparked controversy in the legislature itself. Now that this is a reality for all public schools in Florida, we must ask ourselves what this means for us as both students and Floridians.

It can be argued whether the motto itself  adequately represents the state of Florida. I would beg to propose that it does not, on the grounds that it contains no defining characteristic that resonates with the state or its entire population.

Our motto is unlike many other states, who’s state phrases are reflective of their characteristics. Perfect examples are Alaska’s “North to the Future” or Tennessee’s “Agriculture and commerce” to which most, if not all the people of those states can understand as being part of that state’s culture.

What is happening now in regards to this new policy is a direct opposition to the idea of separation of church and state that Thomas Jefferson, one of this country’s founding fathers often argued.

Further evidence that this mandate goes against what we as Americans stand for lies in the first amendment of our Constitution. The first amendment prohibits the government from creating laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” In other words, the government is not allowed to establish an official national religion or show favor towards one religion over another. This ideal should be upheld across the United States and is especially important in public education because schools are a place where children of all backgrounds come to learn and be productive citizens that contribute to the welfare of the nation.

“It’s disturbing,” physics teacher Dr. Julie Hood said.

Hood, who is an atheist and proud member of the LGBTQ community believes that just as Christians are entitled to have their own beliefs she has “a right to be an atheist.”

This is true and in line with what our Constitution sets up as precedent for how we should operate as a country. These rights are infringed when religion is imposed on us in schools.

The students at Mast come from all sorts of religious backgrounds and many may feel alienated by the “In God We Trust” motto because “we all know what capital-G-God refers to…the conventional white Christian God,” Hood said.

Education should never be a place of division by gender, race, sexual orientation or religion.

 

The “Stand Your Ground” law causes more violence, not less

Written By: Daisy Hoover

On July 17, a Clearwater man was killed in front of his five year-old son over a parking dispute. His killer initially walked free from the scene and it took three weeks and considerable public pressure before he was even arrested. Such inaction in the face of tragedy like this is only possible in our home state of Florida, with its scarily loose Stand Your Ground law.

        While many states have stand your ground laws, Florida’s stands out. Here, Stand Your Ground allows shooters a ridiculous amount of leeway. First of all, a shooter “does not have a duty to retreat” (the exact wording in the Florida constitution). They have no responsibility to deescalate a situation, even when they have the opportunity to do so. Second, the burden of proof in a Stand Your Ground Case lies with prosecutors, not the defendant. It is presumed a shooter is justified in killing another human being. It is up to the prosecution to prove they are not.

        The Clearwater shooting is a reminder of the dangers of the Stand Your Ground Law. An altercation over a convenience store parking spot turned fatal, raising concern that similar minor disagreements could result in a loss of life.\

It should not be that easy for someone to be killed over something as inconsequential as a parking space, and yet in Florida it is. In a time of heightened scrutiny over gun control, Stand Your Ground should not be overlooked. We put all this energy into making schools safer, yet we put little effort in making our day-to-day interactions safer as well.

Ganuza off the grid: Sustainable Costa Rica

Written By: Kaylee Rodriguez

 

This summer, global perspectives teacher Mayling Ganuza swapped her fourth-floor classroom for a bamboo thatched hut. For two weeks, Ganuza immersed herself in a lush green jungle found on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Ganuza is no stranger to traveling. Among her travels include hiking trips through the jungles of Thailand and Vietnam but this trip proved to be different. This time, Ganuza actually lived and sustained herself in this type of environment for an extended period of time.

The two-week trip consisted of taking a permaculture design course at a 9-acre jungle forest farm to learn about sustainable living, regenerative agriculture, and ecological design. Despite these complex terms, the focus of the two weeks was quite basic: live off the land. Due to the remoteness of the site, inhabitants had to meet their own energy and water needs using solar-power and collecting rainwater. They also grew their own food, receiving nourishment from an entirely plant-based diet.

Coming from the United States—where consumer culture and convenience reign— daily tasks proved to be difficult.

“A challenge was doing laundry. I would wash something by hand and then hang it to dry, only to have it rain and get wet again…my clothes and sheets were perpetually wet,” Ganuza said.

Living in the jungle was far from lavish.

“The only perfume you should wear is insect repellent. I made one out of natural oils like citronella and lemongrass,” Ganuza said.

Being surrounded by nature, one truly garners a feel for its untamed beauty and rawness. The jungle offered an escape from fast-paced living and placed an emphasis on being completely present in one’s surroundings. When your surrounding is the wild, it also means living in the presence of a variety of critters and creatures.

“There were always different animals visiting, like kinkajous, sloths, and parrots. Even the insects were incredible! A praying mantis climbed on my arm and tried to fight me.”

Not only did Ganuza get to interact with the animals, but she also had an opportunity to meet with some of the indigenous population. Among these, was a medicine man who welcomed the group into the home he built himself, a two-story bungalow that resembled Disney’s Swiss Family Treehouse. Hacking their way through the jungle, the medicine man taught the group about natural medicine, picking plants and explaining their medicinal values as they walked.

With great experiences come great lessons; this trip was no exception. One lesson that Ganuza took back home is that monkeys are very dramatic and that toucans are trouble-makers so at the end of the day, it is best to stay away! Her greatest takeaway, however, was far less playful.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that there are other ways of living. I am interested in working toward a sustainable future, but we will need to break out of our air-conditioned, plastic-wrapped comfort zones and make fundamental changes on a personal and societal level for that to happen. We need to transition from being dependent consumers to responsible producers and prepare for an uncertain future of dwindling natural resources,” Ganuza said.

It is evident that Ganuza brought back far more than smelly clothes and mosquito bites. Although her trip only leant itself to two weeks of unplugged living, it offered a glimpse of a subsistence lifestyle. Ganuza hopes that this lifestyle, often left behind in history, can be incorporated into building a sustainable future.

Fun in Fiji: A community service adventure

Written By: Carolina Niebla

On June 12, Gianfranco and Giovanna Key ventured on a 16 day trip to Fiji for a program called “Rustic Pathways.” Rustic Pathways allows students from all around the world to take trips during the summer and spring break. They also provide gap year trips for college students. They participate in community service, their projects depend on where they go.

Gianfranco and Giovanna went to three different places in Fiji: the Nausori Highlands, Vaturu Dam and Kuata Island.

On the first day, they chose their partners and shopped for gifts for the host families that they were staying with. They stayed in small village houses and got to know the families.

They spent the first six days in the Nausori Highlands painting schools and building sidewalks in the village. There was only electricity from 6-10 p.m., the only time they would turn the generators on. Aside from those four hours, they had no electricity. They could not drink from the water and had to be extremely cautious.

Everybody on the trip was from different parts of the world with only one other person from Miami.

“In Kuata Island we had more leisure time. There we got to do things such as skydive and shark diving with bull sharks. These were two separate trips. For skydiving, they take you on an airport to a super small plane with only 3 people. It’s a 15 minute ride up to the top and at 14,000

feet is where you fall for about a minute. I was terrified but it was amazing,” Gianfranco said.

“The culture in Fiji is very different than it is here. Me and my friend would walk around and were offered cigarettes and the parents let their children run around everywhere without any concern of what might happen to them. One time we took a hike to a waterfall and the kids were jumping around a cliff not caring what might happen and their parents were okay with it,” Giovanna said.

In Vaturu Dam they continued their community service and spent more time getting to know everybody.

“My community service trip to Fiji humbled me in so many ways. I realized that happiness does not originate from the amenities of the first world but rather by the people and the environment that surrounds you” Gianfranco said.

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: your new favorite rom-com

Written By: Rani Jivani

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them all at once? Lara Jean Song Covey’s love life goes from fantasy to reality when her love letters for every boy she has ever loved- five in all- are mysteriously mailed out and she has to confront each boy about it.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (TATBILB), previously a novel adapted into a movie, tells the romantic story between two high schoolers from different social circles: Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky. Lara Jean, a 16-year-old Korean American with an addiction to romance novels and a fear of talking to boys must fake date Peter Kavinsky, the most popular boy at school. The goal is for Lara Jean to get over her crush on her older sister’s ex-boyfriend and for Peter to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.

Of course, as in many romance novels, the two, despite their “fake” relationship, inevitably fall in love. They start bonding over many different topics, realizing that they have much more in common than they originally thought.

The movie is a throwback to the chokers, slip dresses, and scrunchies of the 90s but still has characteristics of the 21st century.

Lara Jean and Peter go to great lengths to prove to others that their relationship is real. They have each other as their background photos on their phones and talk about when to post pictures of each other on Instagram.

TATBILB turns away from the traditional all-white casts to an Asian-American protagonist, Lara Jean. When the author of TATBILB was asked about what kind of spirit the protagonist was, she responded an Asian-American with no doubt.

It is overwhelmingly rare to have an Asian-American play a main role featured in a movie; in fact, as the book was pitched as a movie, only one production company offered to keep Lara Jean Asian-American.

“I think it is very important that the movie industry incorporates more Asian-american protagonists to demonstrate representation .” said Cinthya Maldonado.

To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before is a combination of the cheesiness of most teen dramas and elements of real life and relationships. It has just the right amount of high school drama, young love, and sweetness all in one 100 minute movie.