The 2020-2021 school year is a year no one could have prepared for. I mean, how could we? No teacher had trained to instruct during a global pandemic. No school board member had an “In case A Virus Strikes” binder plan. No student was mentally prepared to learn from across a computer or in the classroom six feet away from their friends. But yet, whether a teacher, student, or school board member, we all had to adjust quickly.
During the week of August 31, 2020, all MAST students began the school year online. Virtual learning remained mandatory for about two months until the school district gave schools the green light to open their doors. Returning to school was optional, and in our school, less than 50% of our student body chose to come back. And even though physical school was now an option, school procedures were nothing like previous years. For instance, club meetings, award ceremonies, competitions, and events had to be online. Also, classes were a lot smaller to promote social distancing. And some teachers continued to teach online even with their students physically in class. So whether a student opted to remain an online student or return physically, it was not going to be a normal school year. In a school year of constant uncertainty, MAST students ensured one thing would remain the same: their success.
MAST students are known to give back, not just to their peers but to their community. Although donation procedures were limited, this did not stop our Sabers from brainstorming creative ways to help others. As many of you know, United Way is one of the largest nonprofits MAST works with each year. Through drive-through coin wars and virtual and physical dress-out days, our super Sabers raised over $1000. The Homestead Soup kitchen is also an annual donation we participate in. Even amidst Covid, where the drop-off times were limited, we collected over 1800 cans for the Homestead Soup Kitchen. In addition to this, the National Honor Society’s Holiday toy drive donated over 150 toys for the holidays. These are just three of several drives our school put together this past year. In a time when many individuals and families were struggling, our student body didn’t just sit back and watch, but acted.
Throughout this year, it was heartwarming to see our seniors get accepted to their dream colleges. And even better, receive scholarships to enroll. MAST is incredibly proud of all our seniors and the offers they received. Reflection on earlier this year, nine of our super Sabers became Questbridge finalists. A huge round of applause to Kelly Alvarez, Arianna Beracasa, Nahomy Blanquicett, Sophia Calero, Sophia Duenas, Marian Hernandez, Osarenren Izevbigie, Mario Maravilla, and Kaylah Townsend. In addition to them, there are also a few other scholarship recipients to throw into the spotlight. In December, Senior Carlos Santana was awarded over $200,000 from the Posse Foundation. Following this, Nahomy Blanquicett was 1 of 300 students nationwide to receive the Gates Scholarship award. Working hard to keep their grades up, earn community service hours, and build a solid resume paid during a pandemic was not an easy thing to do. And yet, so many of our students made it seem so.
Even while experiencing a pandemic, MAST did not fail to continue its winning streak. As per usual, MAST had several HOSA SLC winners. Continuing their legacy, Kelly Alvarez, Sophia Calero, Osamuyimen Izevbigie, Maria Vidal, and Grace Whitter took home first-place for the MRC Partnership. We also had numerous 3rd place SLC winners such as Santiago Agillon for nursing assisting, Miguel Javiel and Kevin Toledo for medical innovation, and Sofia Alvarez, Nahomy Blanquicett, Stephanie Chavez, and Laura Fernandez for Public Service Announcement. In addition to this, Harmanpreet Kaur and Kevin Toledo put MAST in the STEM spotlight by becoming state science fair winners. Lastly, we have eight silver knight nominees: Alyssa Mullings, Carlos Santana, Sarah Johnson, Denise Evans, Erika Galban, Kevin Rojas, Maria Vidal, and Nicole Perez. Silver knight winners have not been announced; however, just going through the intense process of being a nominee is an accomplishment in itself.
This year, MAST didn’t just stick to its traditional events and competitions but held its first-ever Ted Talk Event: an event sponsored by the National English Honor Society (NEHS). Ileana Martinez, Alyssa Mullings, Osareren Izevbigie, and Stephanie Chavez used this event as an opportunity to discuss injustices, self-worth, the effects of virtual learning, and more. As it had great feedback from the student body, NEHS hopes to continue this event. Also, our robotics club showed out by scoring second place in the high school division. Vex Robotics Team, consisting of Luis Velasquez, Diego Rivero, Cheyenne Martinez, and Melissa Mullings, could not have made us more proud.
Pat Yourself On The Back
In a year where normality seemed nonexistent, MAST did not fail to live up to its legacy of excellence. I could go on and on about the achievements that occurred this year. Even across a computer screen, the amount our students accomplished speaks volumes about our school. This year truly tested our Saber spirit, and we passed that test. I know the administration could not be more proud of the obstacles we overcome this year. So Sabers, pat yourself on the back. Because even amid a pandemic, we were so successful.