It is sometimes thought that MAST Academy molds our community and nation’s future leaders.
This idea was on full display on September 17, when seniors Olivia Pertierra, Lucas Pizzutti, and Christopher Alexander represented the youth of Miami Dade County at the last budget meeting, and spoke to the county’s commisioners and mayor about the importance of taking action against rising sea levels.
Eight months ago, a request was sent to the mayor’s office asking him to start taking a look at expert analysis on the effects of climate change in Miami.
They requested that he, or a designee, create an action plan and to start taking a look at Miami’s infrastructure, so that the issues brought upon by the eventual sea level risings can be easily addressed.
The request asked for $500,000 to be alotted in the budget to address these issues. The real problem was met in convincing the city council to set aside such a large amount of funds.
Months passed and no official response had been made. Finally, in August, the Mayor responded.
“I thought [the response] was poorly worded and poorly displayed. There appeared to be no interest in addressing the problem. Even if it was not the Mayor’s intention to dismiss our issues, he definitely did so in his letter,” Pertierra said.
In order to get the mayor to take action, Pertierra asked Alexander and Pizzutti to speak at the county’s budget meeting.
“I was immediately interested since this was a cause I feel strongly about, and anything I could do to bring awareness to this I would do gladly,” Pizzutti said.
Along with three students from other schools across Miami-Dade county, Pertierra, Pizzutti, and Alexander set out to bring change to the county.
“I’m lucky to go to school where I do. The drive over the Rickenbaker Causeway in the morning is one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen,” Pizzutti said.
“It would be an unimaginable tragedy if all that were to be ruined, along with the lives of hundreds of thousands of other South Floridians, simply because some of our elected officials acted too little, too late,” Pizzutti said.
In the end, the mayor alotted $300,000 from the budget towards adressing these issues. It was very easy to sense just how disappointed Pertierra was.
“I was grateful that at least some funds were allocated, but I am upset with how the mayor treated us. He didn’t seem interested in listening to our speeches, and didn’t seem to understand the severity of the issue,” Pertierra said.
“We are at the forefront of climate change. We need a climate resillency plan in action,” said Pertierra.