The 2017-2018 school year has been a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows accompanied by unanticipated twists and turns. It seems that many have come to a similar conclusion: This year has been far from ordinary.
From the first day of school, it was clear that this year would not be normal. On August 21, 2017, the United States witnessed a solar eclipse. Although some states experience a total solar eclipse, South Florida students saw glimpses of a partial eclipse through quick looks and shared turns on the highly sought after eclipse glasses.
In early September, predictions of a category five hurricane heading straight for our city quickly altered the course of the year. Students and teachers alike had to work hard to continue moving forward in full stride despite the factors that pushed us back.
As students and teachers left MAST on Tuesday in early September to prepare their homes, it was unclear how our island school would be impacted by the storm. Taking on a “Hope for the best, but prepare for their worst” mentality, everyone braced themselves for how their lives, city, and homes would be affected.
Thankfully, we dodged the worst part of the storm, but the damage was still detrimental. Fortunately our school was not badly damaged, however, physical destruction was evident around South Florida. People were not only affected by power outages and flooding, they also experienced significant setbacks due to the seven school days missed. Teachers were forced to devise new plans to ensure that students could catch up on missed learning.
As for Miami Dade County’s plan for catching up, the school year’s set schedule was changed drastically. The county was stripped of several early release days and a handful of teacher planning days. It can be said that the shared experience of going through a catastrophic event allowed for people to band together… unless you were one of the lucky few who never lost power.
Despite the rocky start, traditional school events took place without a hitch. A Great Gatsby themed homecoming at the Colonnade Hotel kicked off the start of many activities.
After Homecoming, Spirit Week stretched over a span of two weeks with days like “Twin Day,” “Pajama Day,” and the unconventional “Baby v.s. Baby Boomer Day.” This year’s spirit week focused on giving back to the community through the collection of a variety of items. At the end of the week the Pep Rally took place on the field and, as expected, the seniors took the win.
Following a much needed Winter Break, students returned hungry for change. Staff writer and senior Tiana Headley wrote an article about the changes that have occurred at MAST over the years. Headley highlighted the noticeable changes in the attitude of the school. Her article, that was backed with extensive research, caused tensions between the two programs but also marked the start of a necessary change in our community. As a result of the article, teachers attended anti-bully trainings and bully boxes were installed around the school.
On February 14, a day that started as a typical sweet and sugary Valentine’s Day, took a heartbreaking turn as news of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas began to circulate.
As more tragic details were released, a flood of emotions came over not only south Florida, but the nation and world as a whole. Fearful of their own futures, angered by the fact that this was even able to occur, and grieving over the loss of beautiful lives, people refused to stay silent.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting spurred a tidal wave of protests, demands for gun reform, and stands for solidarity. Students took matters into their own hands, and used, and are continuing to use, their voices to demand change. Several students spoke at the Key Biscayne candlelight vigil and many used the hashtag “enough is enough” to show their support on social media platforms.
A movement has risen from this tragedy and so have new security measures. Some of the many measures to improve the safety of our school include the locking of classroom doors and the implementation of mandatory identification cards across all grade levels.
Student led initiatives have been on the rise this year with activities like LGBTQ Week and the circulation of a petition for an eco friendly water fountain/filter, among others. Talk about the LGBTQ week, the recycling and eclipse booth at lunch, and NASGAV first meeting.
As summer draws near, testing comes to an end and the time for seniors to tip their hats and say their final farewells finally arrives. Next year a new set of students will make MAST their home and the next set of seniors will rise. Although it seems like highschool is a perpetual cycle, it is evident that every year brings about its own surprises and experiences.