A quarter century since its opening, MAST Academy unlocks its doors in an entirely new fashion. Returning students, teachers and administrators have conflicting opinions about the changes to the campus.
There’s no doubt that updates were necessary to help MAST expand and include the Cambridge program.
The student body has doubled in size over the past four years, and new teachers and administration have been hired to support that growth.
“The new teachers are really cool. And I like how they’re mixing the Cambridge and Maritime programs,” senior Sofia Sellar said.
This year, the school has made an effort to integrate both programs, allowing Cambridge and Maritime students to take classes such as AP United States Government or AICE Marine Biology together.
The point of this endeavor is to unite the Cambridge and Maritime students and ensure that they have the opportunity to feel like peers and become friends.
The most prominent change to the MAST campus is the addition of the new building.
Consisting of a parking garage, including a parent drop off circling the building and a bus drop off going through it, and two floors of classrooms, the building dwarfs the original setting in comparison.
The old and new buildings are connected by a winding walkway between the two.
“I love the new feel of a college campus,” teacher Lisa Fischer said.
Fischer, one of the original teachers at MAST, has seen the school grow and change over the years, from a small group of teachers and students in a converted museum to the sprawling compound it is today.
“There’s never been a high school this pretty,” Fischer said. The views of the beach and the exterior architectural features of the building make it a sight to behold.
The most recently updated school in the county, MAST is bounding back into the technologically savvy school it once was.
Though for the most part the changes have been well received, there is still some discontent among some members of the school population.
“I think the changes have diminished school spirit, especially of the seniors, who were here before the changes occurred,” Senior Carolina Sanchez de Varona said.
The transition from where the school was four years ago to where it is now has not always been easy for students, teachers or administration, and some challenges are evident. With a larger number of students, there has been some difficulty moving between classes.
The five minutes to change classes used to be more than enough, but now to get from the fourth floor of the new building to the first floor of the old is a time crunch thanks to crowded stairs.
Additionally, the larger school size has meant that only one class can fit into the auditorium at a time.
“I don’t like that there is no place the whole school can attend events together,” Spanish teacher Lynn Paisley said.
This applies to the auditorium and to the cafeteria, where lunch periods have increased to four a day.
One of the lunches is just for seventh and eighth grades, while the other three lunches mix grades eight through twelve.
Another point of contention is the Ruppel Memorial, dedicated to the late John Ruppel, one of the first teachers at MAST.
The memorial was built to be a location where teachers could take classes to learn outside, but the balcony it sits on is empty. Instead of plants, there is only tile, reminiscent of the kind found in a locker room.
It is supposed to look like an aerial view of MAST and its surroundings.
“I think the idea of the garden is very creative, however, I also think that it could have been more aesthetically pleasing. I think it was a very nice concept,” senior Katerina Alvarez said.
MAST is a lot different from the school it was four years ago. Yet, through the change, it has remained the same school with its marine theme, motivated students, and dedicated teachers.
The new building, like any new project, has its flaws, but it was much needed and serves its purpose well.
On the whole, the student body seems pleased.
The adjustment is likely far from over, but most of the changes are, and that’s something we can be thankful for.