Ramblings… Shark mascot waves goodbye

Written By: Landon Watford

I am the mascot you probably didn’t know you had. I walk amongst you all as a lazy student by day, but then transform into the ferocious Mako Shark by night. Kind of like Batman, but lamer. Although I mostly cheer at basketball games, you may have seen me leading the senior charge at the pep rally, or getting kicked out of a soccer game or two for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” My performance is loud, stupid, and obnoxious. I scream at opposing players, I roast the referees, and shout chants until it feels like my lungs are about to burst. My golden rule is: If my voice is not hoarse the next day, then I have not done my job. Despite this, I try my best to bring heart to the games and genuinely cheer on our players. I do it for the team, the school, and in a strange way, for me.

Being a mascot is about as humiliating as it sounds. I am loud when everyone is quiet. I am running when everyone is sitting. I am slipping and falling in front of a gymnasium full of people when everyone… isn’t. Nonetheless, I try my best to own it. I try to be self aware, and let the audience know I realize how ridiculous I look and act. For the most part, people respond positively to me, though I find that the people who don’t like me, hate me. I have learned that calling a player who thinks that he will be the next LeBron James “twinkle toes” isn’t necessarily something he will appreciate. That goes about as well as accusing the referees of accepting bribes. But for every shouting match I get into with an angry parent or athletic director, there are twice the amount of beautiful moments I have with the audience and team.

A lot of people ask me why I do it, mostly out of concern for my mental health, but I can assure you I have my reasons. Firstly, I do it for the team. I have always been an unathletic, video game-obsessed, cave dweller, but I have always envied the comradery the team has shared with each other. I never pretended for a second that I could try out for the team, so being the mascot was my way of becoming closer to them.

In a similar vein, I do it for the school as well. We all talk about how little school spirit we have, which is a problem that will not fix itself overnight, but I think having a semi-official mascot representing the school is certainly a start.

And in a weird way, I do it for myself. I have always been a performer and an attention-seeker, which is a perfect fit for mascotting. These experiences have undoubtedly increased my confidence on stage. No stage experience will be as embarrassing as wearing a shark suit while screaming so loud your voice cracks back to adolescence for the entire gymnasium to hear, so there really is not anywhere to go but up. All the heckling that I have received certainly has increased my improvisational skills, as well as given me a thick skin. Both being skills that I will need for when I inevitably flunk out of college and have to start filling five minute stand up spots at open mics to pay rent.

Despite how ridiculous this all sounds, I am deeply proud of what I have done as the mascot. I have undoubtedly improved as a person through all of this and have gained enough skills to continue performing into my adulthood. Someday, when I have children, I will be proud to tell them that mascotting was the best part of my high school years. Hopefully they too, will realize how insanely cool it was to wear a sweaty costume and scream at kids non-stop for two hours straight.

 

Why should citizens suffer over partisan politics?

Written By: Julia Cooper

On December 22, after the federal budget expired and did not get re-approved by the President, federal agencies such as the Department of Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, State, The Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Justice, and Homeland Security have ceased operations or significantly cut down on activity.The United States government is currently at a standstill, stretching out a partial government shutdown that has officially surpassed the record for the longest in American history.  

The reason this shutdown has lasted for such a long time is that the budget has been placed at the center of a debate between Congress and the President over funding for the proposed border wall. Each side is refusing to find a compromise and everyday citizens are the ones suffering. According to website of CBS News, “more than 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, including agents from the FBI, ATF, DEA and CBP, as well as staff from the State Department, Coast Guard, IRS and Department of Homeland Security.”

The length that this has been dragged on is far too long. Employees are being cheated out of multiple paychecks. There are no excuses that American citizens would fully accept as to why the President and Congress have not solved this devastating issue.  

The issue of a partial government shutdown is not only affecting adults in cubicles or officers patrolling the border, the education of our students is also being disrupted by it.

Senior Madison Conroy found her internship for this school year in the NOAA Computer Network Department. NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an organization under the department of commerce. NOAA provides research information on climate change, oceanography and marine life.

“At NOAA, I manually transfer historical research documents,” said Conroy.

Now, Conroy is unable to attend internship and work with her mentor because most NOAA operations have come to a halt. Conroy is planning on majoring in animation in college so her work in the computer department helps her not only gain work experience but also familiarize herself with advanced computer programs.

“When a federal department shuts such as NOAA did, workers are supposed to change their voicemails and emails to have an automatic send back informing people that they are out of service. It’s crazy how much work goes into a shutdown without people getting paid,” said Conroy.

Other ways our community is being disrupted is through the neglect and vandalization of our National parks. Parks like the Everglades are understaffed and at risk of being shut completely because of health and sanitization issues. In some of our nation’s most beloved natural attractions, alarming amounts of trash are being dumped. In Yosemite alone, over 27 tons of garbage have been dumped since the shutdown began.

Sophomore Paola Belsol visited Yosemite National Park over winter break.

“I wanted to see one of the biggest trees in the world but they shut the roads down so I couldn’t see it with my family,” Belsol said.  

The only reason that the river of grass, the Everglades, Florida’s ecological wonder and the biggest National park in the state, has remained somewhat tidy thanks to volunteer groups that have taken it upon themselves to remove waste from areas in and surrounding the park.  

This partial shutdown has negatively affected millions of individuals and disrupted far too many processes that maintain the Nation’s quality of life. It is time for both Congress and our President to put their partiality and excessive partisanship aside. What the American people need from them now, more than ever is for the budget to be approved so that they can finally be paid for their hard work. This has escalated to a point where U.S citizens are simply being used as pawns in a toxic struggle between politicians eager to push their personal agendas rather than serve the people that elected them. The border wall is an important topic and should be debated over, but not at the expense of the people it would “protect”. The only rational solution for the nation moving forward is to have the budget approved, get government workers back in their paying jobs, and debate the border wall at a later time. A three week reopening is not sufficient to repair the damages that have already been done to American lives.

 

 

The Beacon’s Belief: Take a break and focus on yourself

New year, new you right? At this point in the school year, students can feel the levels of stress rising through the halls as each grade level experiences their own type of anxiety. Seniors are anxious about the arrival of acceptance letters and waiting to see what their upcoming year will look like. Juniors begin to feel the pressure of applying to college and having taking the SAT and ACT. Sophomores are starting to learn how to manage being in clubs and advanced classes along with the freshman who are still getting used to the transition from middle school to high school. With so much happening around us, it becomes very easy to prioritize school over your health. For this reason, for 2019 we are propositioning to make a change. A change that will emphasize the importance taking care of both your mental and physical health.

Creating one set New Year resolution for the rest of year can often bring disappointment by the end of the first week of January. Instead of holding yourself to a single goal, allow yourself to take each day as it comes. Each day should be taken as an opportunity to meet new people, discover new interests, and begin new habits. One new habit could be planning out your week. By starting a planner, you could potentially save yourself from procrastinating until the last minute on your assignments. Furthermore, by planning out your week, you will see that you have more free time available. This free time can be used to start a new hobby like: scrapbooking, journaling or  fishing. People throughout the school are participating in detoxes and fitness challenges as a way to start fresh. You could take part in this fitness trend by joining new classes either online, at a studio, or at a gym.

The new year can mark the start of trying out new things. In a recent iPhone update, there was a new feature added that monitors a person’s screen time. Within this new feature there is a portion called Downtime, which allows you to schedule a block of time where specific apps work. Another aspect is App Limits that restrict the amount of time spent on each app per day. Screen time can assist with limiting the amount of time spent watching Netflix and increase your productivity throughout the day.

As we move through 2019, look up from your phone and appreciate what surrounds you. Take this new year as an opportunity to redefine yourself and work toward becoming “stress-free.”

 

Can you separate the artists from their art?

Written By: Kasia Grant

The number of stories in the media involving different forms of sexual harassment and abuse by several musicians and entertainers has continued to rise. Many new organizations and movements were created, such as the #metoo movement, as a way to put an end to this unacceptable behavior.

Recently, Lifetime has premiered a docu-series entitled Surviving R. Kelly, which shed light on the numerous allegations involving sexual and domestic abuse made against R. Kelly by providing testimonies from people who have had various encounters with the R&B singer. From a range of avid admirers to survivors, all shared their stories and revealed the truth about R. Kelly and his contentious lifestyle.

Now, due to R. Kelly’s damaged reputation, as well as the similar reputation of music artists such as XXXTentacion and Chris Brown, their fans are now forced to decide whether or not they are willing to continue to be a fan of the artist and their work or if they are capable of separating the art from the artist.

By separating the art from the artist, listeners attempt to enjoy the artist’s content while ignoring their controversial reputation.

However, this is a rather difficult action for listeners due to the fact that many artists put a piece of themselves, such as artistic flair or a creative quality, into their work to make it theirs. Some artists also choose to utilize the inspiration that they receive from a significant event or occasion that they have encountered throughout their lifetime by incorporating it into their work.

While attempting to remove the artist from the mind of the listener, the beauty of the art would be changed, making it harder for fans to truly appreciate their art.

Also, even if fans do not support the acts of the artist, they are still unconsciously showing their support. Musicians rely on the number of purchases or streams of their music in order to make a living. By doing something as simple as purchasing or streaming their music, it supports the artist mainly because this is what they rely on and how they receive their paycheck. So, in some way, the artist is always going to be involved with their art, making it almost impossible to fully separate the two.

If fans were capable of separating the art from the artist, this will give the artist the impression that there is nothing wrong with their crimes that they are committing because their actions are being ignored, prompting them to continue to live their unhealthy lifestyle. But, by getting fans to understand that this separation is not a practical solution, it will force them to face the facts and bring their attention to the wrongdoings of the artist. This is exactly what is needed in order to prevent the artist from performing these dangerous acts towards others.

When serious allegations are made against artists, it is hard to accept the fact that our favorite artist has the possibility of being guilty.

We try to convince ourselves that they could not have done whatever they are being accused of. But, as fans, we fail to realize that the art in art-ist is something that cannot be removed or separated.

No matter how hard we try to ignore or brush aside the negative news that we see or hear on the media, it will never work in our favor.

By disconnecting ourselves from the acts of the artist, we are condoning their actions and silencing our voices that could be used to make a change in our society and in the lives of many who are suffering in silence.

 

Do not take credit for the advancements of other cultures

Written By: Isabella Zimmermann

It appears as if the world is constantly developing with the constant intermingling of different cultures in modern-day society. However, with the overwhelming rise of celebrities establishing new trends on social media, it becomes evident that there is an underlying problem among many influencers and others who cannot draw the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.

But out all cultures that exist, black culture has been one of the many who has suffered the most, with non-black people ripping off hairstyles, clothing, and music styles that have been a part of this culture for decades, some even with ancient origins.

Appropriation of black hairstyles has become increasingly rampant as they have appeared on runways and become a “trend” in the past few years. However, when worn by black people, racial stereotypes are made regarding these cultural hairstyles.

A prime example of this occurrence took place in 2015 when Zendaya, a black actress, wore dreads. She was subsequently attacked and belittled for the hairstyle as she received an onslaught of derogatory comments online.

Yet when white people wear dreads, they are often described as being edgy or cool. They remain unaware of the importance of the culture that established these hairstyles in the first place. This can also be applied to the fashion industry, where designers capitalize on African prints, among other things, without giving credit where it is due.

In the past few years, a multitude of white rappers have sprung up in the music industry, such as RiFF RAFF, who parodies black culture by wearing grills, cornrows, and acting out stereotypes that cause more harm than good.

Black people are scrutinized and shamed for the things that they have been doing for their entire lives. One cannot diminish it as it “just being hair” or “just being clothing.” Culture makes up one’s self identity and when you ignore these issues and choose to not see race, it erases the struggles black people have underwent for hundreds of years for being themselves.

When people are oppressed and killed over following century-old traditions, it is insulting for the oppressors and privileged to just turn around and suddenly find it a new fashion staple without even giving credit where it is due. It reestablishes a distinction between the two groups.

It is vital to understand the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. You can still appreciate other cultures by making an effort to learn about it and its history and by giving credit to its original source, rather than claiming it as your own.

Black culture has shaped our own society in the music that we listen to and the foods that we eat, and it is important that we remember to appreciate its impact on American culture this Black History Month.

 

The Beacon’s Belief: Goodbye MAST Blast

Where did we go wrong? We lost the Mako Pride.

Last school year, MAST Blast saw its final takeoff. While the school made tireless efforts to organize and carry out the event, not all the Makos decided to attend. Many decided to stay behind, remaining with the few teachers that stayed on campus instead of attending the school wide event at the Miami Seaquarium. The outcome of this reduced participation has led to the dissolving of a long running MAST tradition. With everyone pointing fingers, trying to find out why we have lost it, we have forgotten to point the fingers at ourselves. Could MAST Blast be gone because of our lack of school spirit?

This issue was felt by the class of 2019 student government last year, as their frustrated efforts to gather support for the class trip ended with the cancellation of the event, due to the lack of participation. The solution to this problem is quite simple. Students participation is key. The problem will be solved once we are able to unite as a school and student body, bearing the MAST colors proudly.

I know so far this article has spoken about the lack of MAST pride. This year, however, Mako spirits are on the rise, making waves. SGA has been hard at work, planning big and small things to raise the pride students feel for the school. The perfect example of this was the pep rally, in which every grade was eager to participate and they made their voices loud and clear enough to be heard. SGA efforts have always been there, it is just up to the students to want to be excited and proud of the school.

Having little school spirit makes it seem like we are not united as a student body, and it feels like many do not feel proud to represent the Makos. As we have seen, the consequences of low school spirit leads to low turnout to school events for the students, which ultimately leads to their cancellation. So next time we refuse to show our Mako pride, we have to think of how this might affect our future enjoyment the school arduously plans for us.

It would be incredible to hear every student proudly recite, “To our pride, and our home, MAST Academy.” These are the last words of our alma mater that many of us did not even know existed. As we carry on forward and SGA and other clubs plan to raise our school spirit, we as a student body have to unite and work on raising the spirit of our home, MAST Academy.

 

Ramblings… Frozen in time

Written By: Landon Watford

St. Nick did not intend to sell his soul to large corporations. It seems that each year we begin celebrating Christmas sooner. I wish I could say this is due to an increase in Christmas spirit, but it is instead an attempt by companies to increase revenue. On Halloween night, candy corn is replaced by candy canes. By November 1, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is opening its doors and Christmas music begins playing in department stores. We are bombarded with Christmas before we even get the chance to eat turkey and mashed potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, however, it has become so highly commercialized that it hardly resembles its true meaning.

So what is the meaning of Christmas? The answer can be found in the very word: CHRISTmas. Whether people choose to recognize it or not, Christmas is a Christian holiday just as much as Hanukkah is a Jewish one. We recognize classic carol lyrics like  “Joy to the World” but forget that the words “the Lord has come,” come right after. The reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Everything else, from the lights to Santa Claus himself, are just add-ons. But even if you are not of the Christian faith, there is still something to be said about the way that the values of Christmas have been manipulated.

When people think Christmas, many things come to mind: presents, Santa, Christmas trees, presents, Mariah Carey, mistletoe, and more presents. A holiday that should promote generosity and gratitude has evolved into a consumer culture machine. This is why we see people scavenging for Black Friday doorbusters on the very day that they should be thankful for the things they already have. What are they shopping for most of the time? Christmas presents.

There is nothing wrong with gift-giving. In fact, the idea of giving gifts originated as a symbolic homage to the offerings that the Three Wise Men brought to baby Jesus. Giving someone a present should be a sign of appreciation and love. However, when the spirit of giving is transformed into giving simply because it is expected, the meaning behind it is completely lost. Because gifts are expected at Christmas, there is an automatic pressure to make sure that no one is left out. Christmas shopping becomes a checklist. One in which presents are bought just to cross out a name. Instead of putting time and effort behind the gift, we often pick something that is just good enough to assure that the gift won’t be tossed into the “white elephant” pile. I will point out that this may not be true for everyone. But, whether you enjoy gift-giving or not, there is a definite stress and financial burden that comes around every holiday season.

A Harris Poll survey conducted on behalf Suntrust revealed that if given the chance to give up the holiday gift-giving tradition, 69% of people surveyed said they would. So why don’t we? Because everything around us screams holiday shopping. Beyond the stores, we pour money into holiday amusement parks and waiting in line to tell Santa what we want for Christmas .

Christmas has become a profiteering holiday, instead of a charitable one.

So this holiday season, I challenge you to take a step back. Whatever your reason for the season is, honor it. Ditch the stores and spend quality time with the people you love. Instead of buying another set of reindeer ears, give those two-dollars to the Salvation Army or any other charity. If you truly love giving, then consider organizing a toy drive. Be present, instead of worrying about presents. And most importantly, remember that Christmas is supposed to be a time of community, love, and hope.