WLRN journalist speaks to Quill and Scroll

Written By: Carolina Niebla

On November 15th, class of 2010 alumnus Alex Gonzalez came to visit the Newspaper, Yearbook, and Literary Magazine staff at the monthly Quill and Scroll “Breakfast With The Newspaper” meeting. As a part of The Beacon staff, he was News Editor, Truck Editor, and Editor-in-Chief.

“Being Editor-In-Chief was a fun, collaborative job. I’ll never forget being able to work with such a talented group to produce such a great product,” Gonzalez said.

After studying Journalism at the  University of Miami and New York University, he now works at public radio station 91.3, WLRN.

“Newspaper helped me develop a great talent for learning how to talk to strangers. This was extremely helpful in developing my skills for my Journalism career,” Gonzalez said.

Due to his extensive knowledge in journalism, he spoke to the students about the business and his days on The Beacon staff. He talked about one of the most controversial issues during his time at MAST and his involvement in it to show that things are still similar in our staff today.

Regarding his job at WLRN, he talked about the process of coming out with a segment for the radio and proceeded to explain how each minute on air takes about 60 minutes of work.

Although he never thought he would do anything other than print as a career, he ended up in the radio industry and he explained how anyone can find a job in journalism  if they are interested. He hopes that the students learned that there are many opportunities in journalism, that there is always a job for someone, and to think of high school journalism as the foundation for the rest of your career.

 

Our superior students: Performing Arts students earn high scores at a musical theater competition

This December, several students from the Mast Academy Performing Arts Club participated in the Individual Events put on by the Educational Theatre Association. The competition is widely acclaimed by those within the Association and the affiliated International Thespian Society.

The students are participating in multiple events, including the Solo Musical and Small Group Musical categories. Sophomore Shea Stone, who has been to competition before, and seniors Glowie Allday and Emily Johnson are performing “Make Him Mine” from the musical The Witches of Eastwick. Stone is also performing alongside seniors Pia Nair and Amanda Marban in the Solo Musical category, with Stone doing “Safer” from the musical First Date, Nair doing “No One Else” from the musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, and Marban doing “With You” from Ghost  – The Musical. The performers are evaluated by a panel of judges and receive scores of Fair, Good, Excellent, or Superior, based on Acting Transitions, Characterization, Singing Technique, Singing Expression, Movement and Dance, and Execution.

The performers have been practicing since the start of the school year, choosing and refining their selections with the guidance of the Performing Arts teacher, Dr. Cayce Benton, who regularly performs in local productions and has extensive experience in musical theatre. Benton says that she advises her students based on what has scored highly in the past; one can never know how the judges will react to a performance. There is no formula, as every performance is different, but there are certain techniques that performers use which have proven to be successful.

“When an actor is delivering a line, whether it’s sung or spoken, any movement or facial expression needs to coincide as a natural outcome of the thought process that creates those lines,” says Benton.

At the competition on Saturday, December 1st, those in the Solo Musical category presented their pieces to the judges with this in mind, and came home victorious. All three performers received an overall Superior, with two even receiving Superiors from all three judges.

 

Buying your way in: A look at the degradation of school culture at a top magnet school

Written by: Tiana Headley

The time is 3:37 pm. I am aboard the bus to the Vizcaya train station. Shifting my body toward the window to enjoy the warm rays of sun and crystal blue waters, my commute to and from school is the only moment I truly appreciate attending a beachfront school. When all seems calm, my ears are suddenly met with the heavy bassline of rap blasting from a portable speaker. I usually do not mind when a student establishes an impromptu road trip soundtrack; however, when the songs played mention the n-word and the non-black students aboard sing along with ardor to every word, I immediately sift through the contents of my backpack for noise-canceling headphones.

This is a tame example of the rampant use of the n-word by those of non-black descent at MAST Academy. In cases even more egregious, black students have been called the n-word with genuine malicious intent.
According to the school’s 2017-2018 school profile, two percent of the student body is black. As a magnet school that has historically strived to create a diverse makeup of students from all corners of Miami-Dade County, this percentage is troubling. However, for individuals who are not completely familiar with MAST’s history and the changes it has undergone, one question continues to be unanswered or answered poorly: how did this happen?

MAST Academy was born out of a program known as the Inner City Marine Project (ICMP). The program, created September 1984, sought to acquaint minority (black, Hispanic, female) students of lower socioeconomic status with marine-related careers. In 1984, the project’s first summer program enrolled 15 students from five high schools. By 1988, it had become a year-round program teaching marine-related skills to 4,000 minority students from 46 schools. The project’s mission goes beyond teaching local students skills to work in the local economy.

In the 1980s, three race riots, the deadliest in American history until the 1992 Los Angeles race riots, erupted in Miami. The McDuffie riots, as they were called, were a response to the acquittal of four white police officers in the death of Arthur McDuffie. McDuffie, a black salesman and former Marine, died after he was brutally beaten by the officers once he was seized after giving chase for approximately eight minutes. The black neighborhoods of Overtown, Liberty City, and elsewhere were so outraged by the injustices that prevailed against black residents in Miami that they destroyed their own communities. Residents like lifelong Miamian and former MAST teacher Karen Sutton were affected by the chaos that occurred in these neighborhoods at the time.

“There was a lot of looting. We were under a curfew so, by dark, we could not leave our neighborhoods,” Sutton said. “It [The killing of McDuffie] cracked open some of the tensions that were festering in Miami at the time.”

Sutton also remembers having access to only subpar businesses and facilities in her neighborhood of Westview, Florida, which has always been made up of predominantly black residents.

“Living in that neighborhood, our kids got to see that when you are not of a certain social status, you do not receive the same treatment. My husband was a surveyor who went into affluent neighborhoods of black individuals who did receive good service. That just shows that there was the problem of race and economics,” Sutton said.

Career and college opportunities for black inner-city youth were virtually inaccessible as well in the booming maritime industries and marine science academic community of Miami.
Community leaders in Miami who recognized this plight proposed the ICMP to the Dade School Board. The program started off with organizing several field trips and summer jobs that involved high school students gaining marine science and maritime industry knowledge in engaging ways. In its second year, it expanded to providing educational opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged elementary, middle and high school students.

Students from several high schools could be placed in laboratory positions at three oceanographic institutions on Virginia Key, Miami. A middle school course in marine skills would frequently entail cruises down the Miami River to raise awareness about careers and businesses located on the river. Coupled with enthusiasm expressed by the students, an expansion of the program was prompted. This expansion came to be MAST Academy.

When the school first opened, it embraced the magnet school concept. Such programs originally emerged in the 1970s as a means of achieving voluntary desegregation, an alternative to busing. This way, black and white students did not have to travel to schools far distances from home simply because of mandatory student assignments. At the core of magnet school enrollment is student choice. Today, magnet programs exist to attract students of different social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds to schools with specialized curriculums that focus on a particular theme. These can include mathematics, science, technology, communications or performing arts.

In addition to this system, MAST remained faithful to its mission of exposing minority students to marine science and maritime careers through maintaining its own system of recruitment; the ICMP became the “MAST Outreach” program. This was ultimately an expansion of the program that had been occurring for nearly a decade, as well as a transformation into an articulation tool that would ensure a continuous source of minority applicants to the school.

The school even outlined a sample target for recruitment for the four years leading up to the 1993-1994 school year; this is when the school expected to reach its target enrollment of 550 students. With each set of students accepted into the school over the course of the four years, 33 percent of the total student body would remain black. This was to reflect ethnic demographics of the county at the time. Global Studies teacher Mayling Ganuza vividly remembers how diverse the school was during her student years at MAST in the 90s.

“I remember very clearly the first time I befriended a white kid at the freshman orientation. The elementary and middle schools I attended were nearly 100 percent Hispanic, so attending MAST was my first experience interacting with people who were different than me. I thought it was great! I got to meet kids from all over the county and from different backgrounds- Haitian, Jamaican, African-American, Indian, Pakistani, Colombian,” Ganuza said.

However, the grand plan to reflect the county makeup would meet its sudden demise when U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas ruled in 2001 that Miami-Dade County schools had reached “unitary status.” Unitary status meant that a school was officially free of the dual school system of black students and white students; in other words, the court came to the conclusion that the schools were no longer racially segregated. The decision came 30 years after the 1970 order by late U.S. District Judge C. Clyde Atkins for the court to supervise the desegregation efforts of Miami-Dade County schools. Efforts to desegregate were occurring at a snail’s pace and the schools were not found to be in compliance with the Pate v. Dade County School Board rulingThis ruling sought to reduce the number of black students of predominantly black schools by giving them the freedom to choose another school.

By June 30, 2002, schools in the county, including MAST Academy, could no longer have race-conscious programs in place. From then on, the school had difficulty maintaining its range of 33 to 38 percent black students because efforts to actively recruit economically disadvantaged black students came to a halt.

Years later it seems the school is no longer in compliance with the definition of unitary status. Between 1993 and 2006, the percentage of students at the school who identified as black decreased from roughly 33 percent to 18.2 percent.
Just when it seemed that MAST’s ethnic composition proportions were in a downward spiral, the 2012 F-7 proposal to expand the school by 1,100 Key Biscayne prioritized seats proved to be the final tipping point.

The Village of Key Biscayne is the most recent municipality to be incorporated in Miami-Dade County.
A population of 13,019, including daytime workers, make up the island according to 2016 United States Census Bureau data. Data from the 2010 census reports that 96.6 percent are white of which 59.5 percent are white-Hispanic; the median household income is $121,434. Many part-time and full-time residents hail from South America and Europe. Residents have also fought for retention of more tax money; it has the lowest tax rate of any municipality in the county.
At the time of the proposal, the Village of Key Biscayne’s local middle school, Key Biscayne K-8, was overcrowded. The school was the only public, Miami-Dade County middle school nearby that was serving the residents. Students also had to travel far to attend their feeder pattern public high school, Coral Gables Senior High School.

“Coral Gables High School, which is the homeschool of Key Biscayne residents, exceeded the statutory distance in the State of Florida Code of Education, and as a consequence, they [Key Biscayne residents] threatened to sue Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” former MAST lead teacher Margaret Haun said.

In response, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho negotiated a proposal with Key Biscayne officials for a project that would meet the concerns of the community. The funding partnership involved the Village paying the $18 million plus cost upfront to build the new facility at MAST and cover renovations for Key Biscayne K-8. The district would then help pay back half of this amount over the course of 10 years. As part of the expansion, two new Cambridge programs would be offered as a second magnet option when applying. Key Biscayne residents would have priority to Cambridge seats. Also incorporated in the plan was the addition of middle school grades, starting with 44 eighth graders from Key Biscayne and 44 students elsewhere for the 2012-2013 school year. Seventh graders would be added once construction was finished; sixth graders would be added the subsequent year.

In addition to a drop in the black student population, the proportion of low-income students fell from 37 percent in 2012 to about 19 percent by 2017. This would be the first time in the history of the United States that a school district sold a public high school to a wealthy community. MAST Academy finds itself existing in a state of extreme irony. A school that was originally designed to serve the needs of the inner city is now serving an island enclave of wealth.

Several wealthy cities are also following suit, paying millions of dollars to accommodate their students into the best schools. The city of Coral Gables in Miami-Dade County is considering paying $4.2 million to create 180 more seats for Coral Gables students at Henry S. West Laboratory, or West Lab, a public K-8 center in the area. It is a top-rated magnet school, meaning any student in Miami-Dade County can apply. Therefore, it is troubling to hear that a school meant to accommodate students across the county would be serving one population, and a wealthy one at that. Coral Gables residents, however, argue that no seats would be carved out to serve students of the city; there would simply be an addition of seats.

Given that West Lab has a total enrollment of 348 students, adding 180 students would increase the school population by about 50 percent. This would also result in a decrease in the percentage of low-income students, which currently stands at a third of the student population. Sound familiar?

Schools like MAST Academy, along with West Lab if this proposal falls through, contribute to the rise in schools in Florida and across the country called “apartheid schools.”

A black student’s rate of exposure to white students in Miami-Dade dropped from 10.5 percent to 5.2 percent between 1994 and 2014. This decrease is a result of numerous factors, including housing and income segregation. Miami is still a highly segregated city, with many low-income black residents still living in Overtown, downtown Miami, Little Haiti and Liberty City: all historically black neighborhoods in Miami. The trend of segregation by race and poverty, or double segregation, is most prominent in schools attended by black and Hispanic students. Black and Hispanic students in Florida attend schools with a share of low-income students that is 1.5 percent higher than the share of low-income students in schools with mostly white or Asian students.

While looking at the percentages and other statistics involved in MAST’s extensive timeline of change, it is important not to overlook how the hyper-segregation of this once racially and economically diverse school affects current students. For alumni and former faculty who feared that the culture of MAST would change for the worse, it is maddening to hear that it is steering in that direction.

“When I went to MAST, which was from 2001-2005, the general political climate was much less liberal. Nonetheless, no one would have used racist or gay slurs. The fact that’s happening now in a much more liberal political climate within school is truly horrifying to me as an alumna. We believed in the school as a diverse place, as a place where diversity mattered, and a place that taught us why diversity mattered,” MAST alumna Alexandra Marraccini said.
“Coming of age in such a diverse environment really helped me become the open-minded person I am today. My parents were kind of racist and it’s because of their lack of understanding and fear of others different than themselves. MAST helped me rise above these prejudices because I would see my fellow students as my friends and not simply as the other,” MAST Global Studies teacher Mayling Ganuza said.

The use of racial slurs has become a major issue at MAST. Just in the past school year, a text message group chat in which white male students in the ninth grade were excessively using the n-word was reported to administration. Their punishment: a meeting with the assistant principal, mandatory teaching of educational presentations to their classes and two days of detention. Because the students involved did not direct their language toward a student, their actions were categorized as LEVEL I behavior, which calls for PLAN I consequences. These consequences include but are not limited to detention or another Board-approved in-school program, indoor suspension (SCSI), a student contract and/or Behavior Plan, parent/guardian contact and a student, parents/guardians/staff conference. Behaviors and Range of Corrective Strategies are outlined in the Student Handbook for 2017-2018.

Some infractions involving racist language have been more serious, including black female students being called the n-word to their faces by white male students in the past two school years.

These incidents are a problem that may never make their way outside the MAST realm without solid evidence in the form of testimonies. Teachers, students, alumni, former faculty and administration are cognizant that white male students are actively calling their black peers the n-word or using the word casually in conversation.
However, student victims of racially derogatory language are too afraid to officially go on record for fear of backlash from hostile students.

At the school’s November 30, 2017 Educational Excellence School Advisory Council (EESAC) meeting, all those in attendance agreed that such language was growing in prominence. All topics discussed in EESAC meetings are public record. The attendees, Math teacher Dana Yancoskie, Physics teacher Julie Hood, Culinary teacher Ana Plana, History teacher Carlos Couzo and Lead teacher Melissa Fernandez, agreed that this is a matter of school culture. A student representative at the meeting, I proposed inviting a representative from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to speak to students in the school auditorium about racial slurs.

English teacher Lavetta Ulman took the opportunity to use her teaching of the book To Kill a Mockingbird to her ninth graders to open up discussions about the use of racial slurs in the school.

“When I brought it [the use of the n-word] up [students replied], ‘yes, they’re using it.’ A couple of things came up, including that the rappers use it. I said that there are certain things that are indicative of a culture that that culture can say. Memes also came up. I don’t have an Instagram, I don’t have Snapchat, but apparently, there are these memes that are really insensitive. In every class, the culture of our society has come up and what is happening in the leadership of America, along with white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan. The white supremacy came up in every single class,” Ulman said.

The school’s culture is shifting to one of intolerance of many groups historically marginalized in the United States. The group chat in which five students were punished was teeming with sexist, homophobic and racist language. The day after the 2016 presidential election results, Chemistry teacher Tomas Pendola found a sticky note on his classroom door that read “Build that Wall”; Pendola is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient.

Regulations are clearly outlined to handle these incidents case by case. However, the high rate of these repeated incidents calls for serious action, as well as administration publicly addressing and denouncing all forms of discrimination. The SPLC’s presence in the school is an important step in the right direction.

In addition, teachers and students need to hold each other accountable for derogatory language. Students establishing amongst themselves that such behavior is not tolerated can greatly change the culture of the school.
On a national level, it would be worth revisiting school recruitment statutes for magnet schools. In changing the laws that integrated student populations, schools have once again become segregated. Students gain from being in classrooms with people who are different from them. They are able to learn about different perspectives and develop empathy for people of a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. In a country that is becoming increasingly polarized, the ability to interact and work with a diverse group of people is vital to our national interests.

Homecoming, spirit week, and more

Written by: Kaylee Rodriguez

Students and teachers alike repped their class colors, favorite movie characters, iconic memes, and pajamas during this years spirit week. At a school that is often blamed for lack of spirit, this year saw lots of involvement.
“It is awesome to see people show their spirit in their own unique way,” junor Iliza Aguiar said.

Spirit Week:
This year’s spirit week included fancy day, pajama day, twin day, movie character day, meme day, and color rush day. Suits and ties, bathrobes, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Harry Potter, and Kermit the Frog were some of the most popular outfits. Throughout the week, studnets dressed as dinosaurs made appearances around the school.Overall, students were excited with this year’s participation:
“It’s [spirit week] pretty cool to be honest. It is fun seeing how creative peopple get with the days, especially meme day and movie character day” junior Julian Basulto said.

Pep Rally:
On color rush day, the halls were filled with students and teachers decked out in their respective class colors. Pep rally was kicked off with the signature senior run. Senior Landon Watford led the charge wearing his shark costume and bearing a red flag with the the word“Re19n” painted across it. Seniors Karl William-Nietert and Jaylen Bishop were this year’s announcers.
As always, studnets especially enjoyed the dance competition. Melanie Ervin, Otto Zequira, Maria Sardinas, and Stella Crespo were among the teachers that broke it down on the field. Other games included the water ballon toss and tug-of-war. Although the other classes put up a fight, the Seniors asserted their dominance in the games and took home the victory.

Homecoming:
Students danced the night away at the “Club Mako” themed homecoming dance. Even administrators joined in on the fun. Assistant Principal Liliana Suarez taught students how to salsa dance and Michael Gould showed his moves in the center of a dance circle. Homecoming was hosted at Jungle Island and featured a larger dance floor and more menu options than last year.
Internship coordinator and former MAST Academy homecoming queen Melanie Ervin, crowned Homecoming king Lucas Alves and Homecoming queen Layla Profeta. Alves and Profeta shared a slow dance to the song “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran.

Record Bible Club Turnout: Club has been rapidly gathering new members

Written by: Kaylee Rodriguez

Students and staff gathered together for the first Bible Club meeting of the year, filling up every space available in the room including the floor and hallway. This attendance was the greatest the club had ever seen. With a combination of Krispy Kreme donuts and a powerful message in their system, members left with a contagious energy.

 

“I was in awe of the diversity present in the room. The number of students and staff members in attendance surpassed my expectations,” club sponsor Melissa Ervin said.

 

The first three meetings were led by senior Andres Bickford, the Vice-President of the club. Already, the club has experienced tears, hugs, and two responses to a salvation call. Another thing that has distinguished the start of this year from years prior is the support of the teachers and staff.

 

“I feel a transformation. Even though not everyone in the room is a believer, the Word of God is spreading through our school. Jesus preached to the Gentiles, and this club is preaching to students of every background and identity,” Special Education specialist M. Bryant said.

 

The focus of the club is to create an inclusive and understanding environment for students to learn more about the Christian faith, but students do not have to belong to any religion to attend. Catholics, agnostics, and people of various other faiths have attended.

 

“I have had a lot of people, including non-believers, tell me that they felt something great. A great peace they have never felt before as we were diving in deep into the word of God (which is epic)!” Bickford said.

 

“This club is a community of acceptance and love. I want to see the club grow internally more than externally, taking the knowledge and virtues they learn and sharing them with our school, Key Biscayne, and beyond. Regardless of who it is, everyone walks away from these meetings with something,” Irvin said.

 

This year the club is expanding their reach, in both the school and community, by partnering with Key Biscayne Community Church. KBCC donated bibles for the club and has agreed to supply donuts for every meeting. In the year to come, the club hopes to engage in more community outreach and events. They also plan on inviting guest speakers, including a possible visit by Vous Church pastor, Rich Wilkerson. If one thing is sure, it is that the club members are extremely excited to see what God has in store for them this year.

 

In the words of Bickford, and the club as a whole, “God is moving, and it is exhilarating.”

From class to the polls: Students cast their vote

Written by: Gina Crespo

Voter turnout for young people, especially those ages 18-25, has always been notoriously low compared to other age groups. With pressing issues like climate change and gun regulation, the voices of voters, now more than ever, will determine the future of our country.

On Wednesday October 24, AP Government students and eligible voters went on a field trip to vote in the midterm elections and visit the HistoryMiami Museum set up by history teachers Carlos Couzo and Jeffrey Raymond.

When asked why it is important for students to vote, Raymond said, “Young people, between the ages 18 and 25, have the worst voting turnout of any demographic and yet, they have the most to gain by choosing the representatives who will make decisions about their future. This is a trend we need to change.”

Although the official day to vote in Florida’s midterm election is November 6, these students were able to vote at one of the many Early Voting locations around South Florida.

The day before the field trip, Rho Kappa Honor Society held a meeting for eligible voters. The club officers went through the major amendments on the ballot and also gave unbiased information about the beliefs of the candidates running for Senator and Governor of Florida.

At the polling place in Downtown, first time voters were given instructions on how to vote. Those who were not able to vote learned about the voting process and the improvements being made at polling areas.  

“If there was a larger student turnout they will have a much larger and influential say in our government and running it to keep up with the time and avoid the mistakes made in the past,” senior Emily Johnson.

After voting, the trip continued at the HistoryMiami Museum. At the museum the students participated in a tour known as “We the People.” The two-hour long tour reviewed the Constitution, the structure of our government and our role as citizens.

The tour also thoroughly issues such as suffrage and civil rights. Once the tour ended, students were able to look at the different exhibits there.

Overall the trip gave students an opportunity to see the workings of the government in action and learn more about how the United States government has affected and continues to affect the people of the nation.

Referendum #362: A chance to raise teacher salaries

Written by: Isabella Zimmermann

Voters in the upcoming November election will be able to vote on Referendum 362 and decide whether Miami-Dade teacher wages will increase. As of now, the district average for a yearly salary is $51,819, according to the Florida Department of Education’s 2017-2018 teacher salary data.

Individual teacher wages in Florida are behind those of many other states by several thousands of dollars. According to data from Trulia, teachers are struggling to afford 91 percent of Miami homes.

“For almost two decades our schools have been underfunded and we continue to see that this has impacted our schools. But despite the underfunding, our educators have continued to excel and have given more, despite having less,” United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats in a press conference said.

However, Referendum 362 proposes that wages be increased by up to 20 percent through the increase of property taxes. Taxes will increase by as much as 75 cents per one thousand dollars of taxable property value in order to raise $232 million dollars annually for the next four years. The district plans to allocate around 80 to 90 percent of these funds towards improving teacher salaries while the rest would go towards resources that would increase security on school campuses.

“Children deserve good quality education and quality carries a price as always. I’m willing to increase my own taxes to ensure that all teacher salaries can be raised to a decent and fair level,” foreign language teacher Felizitas Reby said.

Overall, the amendment aims to hopefully carry out a four-year plan to not only improve the salaries of the teachers that we see on a daily basis, but also increase security measures and  provide a sense of safety every day at school.

Second Cup with McKoy: Principal hosts morning meeting with parents over coffee

Written by: Daisy Hoover

Stacks of striped paper cups line a table parallel to the auditorium stage. The room is cold, but the crowd is warm and the coffee is piping hot. More parents shuffle in and Dr. McKoy begins to speak. He explains that the event will commence town-hall style and reads through a list of updates before taking questions from parents.

The Second Cup of Coffee, while new to MAST, is not new to Dr. McKoy.

“It started as something I did in my old school, and it was called the Second Cup of Coffee with the Principal, so it was something I had done before. It’s a way for parents to talk to me directly,” McKoy said.

Dr. McKoy appeared comfortable in front of the crowd, keeping conversation moving to address as many issues as possible. One by one, parents were picked to stand up and voice their concerns and questions. The discussion ranged from “Ship-shape” dress code to classroom cell phone usage. Of particular concern for parents was potential disciplinary crackdown on unexcused tardies.

Dr. McKoy was careful to make sure parents were understood, paraphrasing each response back to the crowd.

“It’s important to keep an open mind, be humble, and be honest, because every person has a different temperament, so I have to make sure I understand everyone from their perspective,” McKoy said.

Ultimately, parents had a favorable view of the Second Cup of Coffee. Taima Hervas, a second-timer, was pleased with the principal’s efforts and plans to attend future meetings.

“It was, as always, enlightening and interesting. I am impressed with the Captain for the interest he takes in parents’ questions and concerns. He is on the right course. We are stronger together,” Hervas said.

Dr. McKoy plans to continue the Second Cup of Coffee and will convene with parents regularly. He understands that for some, the 9 a.m. meeting time can be difficult to make, as many have busy work schedules. Dr. McKoy welcomes messages and emails from parents and is committed to communication. He even has a special system set up.

“I have an email that you can directly access me at. Just put “Captain” in the subject line and I will respond to you within 48 hours,” McKoy said.

For any curious parents, Dr. McKoy’s email can be found on gomakos.org.

Engineering teacher gears up to start new Esports class

Written by: Paolo Montoya

Our school’s new engineering teacher, Mr. Allan Miller, has given life to one of the student body’s most sought-after ideas: an Esports class. Simply put, Esports is a multiplayer competitive game played for an audience by professional players.

On a much deeper scale, however, Esports is the combination of art, coding, business, and skill with a blend of culture that brings gamers together across the world. This connection, as well as a need to sharpen one’s skills through arduous training both help in creating the culture of Esports.  

Mr. Miller has made it one of his dedicated goals to make a state-approved Esports class for our school.

Mr. Tomas Pendola, the sponsor of the Esports club, responds very enthusiastically to this potential class.

“An Esports class would be a great thing to have, I think, because it gets rid of the view some of the older teachers may have towards gaming, of it being violent or negative, when in fact it is a huge industry, a place where art, coding, music, they all come together to form one thing, and that’s a beautiful thing that gaming can teach to the students at MAST,” Pendola said.

Teachers aren’t the only supporters for this class. Avid gamers in the student body have spoken up about this class.

A potential Esports club sounds like a very good idea. It will give students the ability to participate in, and learn many team building activities, [and] how to work with other people in general, which by itself is a key trait any person should have, and the schools should help students hone that,” sophomore Mattheus Noronha said.

Mr Miller was very ecstatic to discuss his progress with the course.

“I’m currently around 100 pages into a textbook for the class, as well as writing my own curriculum.” Miller said.

In his first few months at school, Miller made a large impact. He is sponsor of the Mecha Makos Robotics Club, teacher of engineering foundations of programming, a successful engineer, business owner, scout leader, church elder, and public speaker. He has already contributed various things to the school, and he will continue to do so in the future.

“I heard the calling,” Miller said when asked about his reasons for becoming a teacher.

His knowledge is broad because of his business owning background, which makes him a great candidate for an engineering teacher. This knowledge would be the key to developing a proper Esports course for the future.

Ultimately, our school awaits the outcome of this great venture Miller has tasked himself with, and with hope, our future Makos will have the option to take Esports as part of their schedules.

Ahoy, Dr.McKoy!

Written By: Diego Garcia

As a new year rolled in, we welcomed a new captain onboard. Dr. Derrick McKoy is the newest addition to the Mako family and he is excited for what is in store in his future.

Before coming to MAST, McKoy was the principal at Eneida M. Hartner Elementary in Wynwood. There, he helped the many young students that were dealing with hardships such as impoverishment with systems he established. He also appreciated working at an elementary because he believes that the future of student depends on a good upbringing by being educated at a young age. It was hard for him to leave the elementary school he worked in but at the same time it was a “token” because now he has the chance to be the principal of a high school again.

This is not McKoy’s first time working at a high school, he was the principal at Norland Senior High for six years. With a doctorate in education and specialization on school management and instructional leadership and his previous work experience, he is prepared for this new task ahead of him.

“Based on my career and my past, I believed I could be a good fit here at MAST,” said McKoy.

The future is looking bright for the school as McKoy has many things planned to make his first year have a lasting impact. One of his goals this year is to strengthen the “No Place for Hate” program and inviting the Sandy Hook Foundation to make m a Sandy Hook Promise School.

Another one of McKoy’s plans is to get more involved with the parents by hosting “Second Cup of Coffee with the Captain” in specific mornings throughout the year and also learn more about the students by holding “Captain Calls” in which he will sit down at lunch and listen to what the student body has to say. McKoy says that his decision to get more involved is because he feels more productive when he knows what is going around the school.

“I don’t thrive well in an environment where I feel closed in,” said McKoy when asked why he was often out of his office interacting with the MAST family.

McKoy also wants to increase the school spirit. He envisions a future in which students are proud to be Makos and what it means to be one, proud to have school traditions, and a future in which the alma mater is known throughout the halls of the ship that he is now the captain of.