Congrats to our National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

Written By: Piper Penney

Recently, MAST students Pia Nair, Gabriel Fabre, Victoria Hijon, and Ana Roldan received the ranking of semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship. The prestigious award is given to 11th grade students whose PSAT scores are in the top percentile in the nation. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, only about 16,000 out of the 50,000 top scorers are semifinalists. Around 1.6 million juniors take the exam each year, meaning that only about 1% of students qualify for the award. Pia Nair gives this advice to juniors trying to qualify for the program: “Just do a lot of practice tests and then you’ll probably do well. Amuni Beck really helped me.” Another scholar, Ana Roldan, says “Taking a practice test is really helpful to get the timing down. My score increased by 70 points from the practice to the actual test. Also, make sure to get enough rest the night before so you’re at your best!”

“I used the practice PSAT exams the school gave me and, which you can use to link your College Board account and practice everything you missed on past SAT or PSAT exams” Gabriel Fabre said.

Protect and serve: New officer arrives on campus

Written By: Bryan Gomez

This year we have been joined by a set of fresh faces… and a cop car. Among these faces is the new School Resource Officer, Ariel Nuñez. The young officer has been in the force for one year, working at the City of Hialeah Police Department.

When asked about the comparison between his last job and working here he said, “One year there felt like ten. Everything is beautiful here and everyone has been so nice.” A Miami native himself, Nuñez graduated from Mater Academy and later attended Miami-Dade North School of Justice. True to his roots, Nuñez is a big fan of Cuban cuisine.

“Fricasé de pollo is fire,”Nuñez said.

Nuñez is quick to give advice, particularly emphasizing kindness and respect.

“Talk to people. Just say ‘Hi.’ It makes a difference,”Nuñez said.

Nuñez values discipline and respecting authority, pointing out that they are imperative lessons for teenagers which is why he likes the JROTC program. But do not be fooled by the uniform and badge, Nunez is much more approachable than he may seem. Nuñez’s down to earth demeanor is one of his most powerful tools for achieving his goals as School Resource Officer.

“I want to become part of the family. We need to be a unit; to be one,”Nuñez said.

A former student athlete himself, Nuñez hopes to come watch and support our student athletes.

At only 27 years old, Nuñez was among the first new School Resource officers to be sworn in. After the Parkland massacre in nearby Broward county, Nuñez felt a calling to work in schools. A new Miami-Dade initiative called for an officer present in every school, along with scanning visitor’s IDs which are registered in a government database, new GPS trackers on school buses, and a new county-wide school surveillance system. All these measures are meant to make Miami’s schools safer from the ever-growing threat of gun violence.


Oh my, so much E. coli

Written By: Layla Profeta

Florida is known to be a aquatic paradise. However, the notorious reputation South Florida carries for its beautiful waterways is currently at risk.

Water safety used to be a concern of the past but lately there have been signs of water contamination all over South Florida. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the presence of microbiological contaminants are a health concern at certain levels of exposure in South Florida”

The quality of beach water in Florida is plummeting. Specifically, Crandon and Oleta beach are targeted for being at  swimming risk and extremely hazardous. The EPA states that if water is inadequately treated, microbiological contaminants in that water may cause disease. Disease symptoms may include diarrhea, cramps, nausea and possibly jaundice, and associated headaches and fatigue.

Crandon beach and Oleta have been pronounced to be contaminated with an abundant amount of fecal coliforms or E. coli. Coliform is a bacteria commonly found in drinking water. However, lately coliform has been located in the South Florida pipes that distribute water. According to the EPA the presence of fecal coliforms or E. coli are generally not harmful themselves, but their presence in drinking water is serious because they are usually associated with sewage or animal wastes.  Living in such close proximity to the waterways, it is vital that students take precaution before visiting the beach.


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.