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.


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 Khanacademy.org, 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.


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 Must: 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.