As MAST completes its transition from high school to a combined program of both a high school and middle school, it has had to adapt in terms of resources and how students go about their daily hallway routines. Lead Teacher of the Cambridge Program, Barbara Quinaz, believes that, while the change is still a work in progress, the newest addition has been pulled off rather smoothly. “I think it was pretty seamless. Administration had to hire new teachers. Certain things needed to be addressed,” Quinaz said. For example, a fourth lunch and the extra minute in passing time had to be added.
Out of the 1,224 applications, an estimated 110 students were admitted to the new sixth grade. The number of sixth graders from Key Biscayne is unknown, but a number of them have moved to the island for the opportunity to attend MAST. “I moved to Key Biscayne for MAST. My parents really like MAST. They thought it was the best option,” sixth grader Enzo Fouqet said. It is no question that it is MAST’s great reputation that draws these newcomers to our school. Starting middle school at the same place as a senior can be daunting, but the new students have managed to fit in and take advantage of their situation. “We learn from [the high schoolers],” sixth grader Inaki Sebok said. Their efforts to adapt have not gone unnoticed. “They adjusted nicely. They meet out on the patio before school. I was impressed during the orientation that they were very well-behaved,” Quinaz said. After having been at MAST for three years, the current sixth graders will enter ninth grade confident as well as comfortable with the school and how it works.
“They have a seamless transition into the rigorous high school curriculum. We’ll be able to set expectations, especially with this model. I think parents are eager for something like that,” Quinaz said. Some students have very strong opinions on the new middle schoolers while others are indifferent due to the separation. “I don’t have an opinion on the sixth graders because I never get to see them,” senior Andrew Walker said. The middle school students agree that they do not spend a lot of time around the older students. Most of the students enjoy the separate arrangements.
“I prefer being on a separate floor,” sixth grader Olivia Sammataro said. For the most part, the two groups rarely interact. That is, until lunch A starts. The transition from third to fifth period in the new building brings hordes of students rushing to get to class or to lunch. The main staircase becomes backlogged with students trying to get to their destination, practically unable to move, as they slowly but surely shove their way through to an available opening in the cramped space. Many students agree that the traffic in that area is a problem. For safety reasons, students are no longer allowed to go through the garage.
The side stairs might prove a better option, but some students have complained about the younger grades sprinting in the stairwells. “They don’t know how to use the stairs or hallways,” senior Kalani Duran said. Many of the high schoolers have noted the energy-filled traveling methods of the younger students. “They run like Naruto characters. They remind me of pidgeys because they’re small and everywhere,” sophomore Gabriella Hall said. Despite some annoyances on both sides, the high schoolers and middle schoolers have managed to attend school together in peace.
While MAST may seem very different from the high school it was previously known as, it has and will maintain its prestigious record of being a great school, a school that now emcompasses both a middle and high school curriculum.