October 29, 2012 is a day that will live on in everyone's minds, and hearts, as it was the day of "Superstorm" Sandy. We all seem to remember exactly wheat we were doing, who we were with and the fear within us of what might lie ahead.
"Sandy" came and left with unprecedented damage in recent history. She ravaged our shores, destroyed our homes, and took away our schools. Specifically, in this article, I am referring to The Marine Academy of Science and Technology (M.A.S.T.), a school which just returned home after 10 long months.
I can speak first-hand about this very long, challenging year, as I am the mom of a senior student, Glenn, Class of 2014. I vividly remember the day before "Sandy" as if it was yesterday. The impending storm brought a heightened alert and the buckling down of the hatches (as we say out at MAST). We were optimistic, as always, but aware that our school just might not be there at all after the storm. Well, it was, but it was flooded with a storm surge of up to 14 feet in 11 of the 13 buildings. Trophies were saved along with our vessel, "Blue Sea", a 65-foot research vessel owned and operated by the Marine Academy and berthed at the U.S. Coast Guard Station, Sandy Hook.
About a week after Sandy, an emergency meeting was called; a meeting so distressing that I later sat in my car and cried. It was pouring out, and the irony of the weather, made me laugh, as I thought, how fitting! Little did we know what would lie ahead - 10 months away from our home campus out on "The Hook".
M.A.S.T. was fortunate to relocate two weeks after "Sandy" to a temporary home at St. Joe's in Keyport, a Catholic School which had been closed for years. There were daily issues such as no intercom, no internet, and no Blue Sea, as there was no dockage.. Students were bused to local Universities to maintain the curriculum and new challenges were faced daily. The seniors, Class of 2013, spent most of their year way from their home, but were honored to be back on Pershing Field for graduating ceremonies last June!
M.A.S.T. is a co-ed four year high school, of grades 9-12. It is one of five career academies administered by the Monmouth County Vocational School District and most unique in its class. The Marine Academy is fully accredited by the Middle State Association of Schools and Colleges and offers small classes with personal attention. In 1998 and also this September 2013, the Marine Academy was designated a Blue Ribbon School as well as a New American High School by the United States Department of Education, only two of the many honors and awards the innovate program has received throughout the years.
Founded in 1981 as a part-time program, it has since grown to become a full-time diploma-granting program. The curriculum focus on marine sciences and technology/engineering and requires each student to participate in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) in lieu of Physical Education. Students are accepted into the Naval Academy, West Point, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Air Force Academies in addition to Universities such as Yale.
M.A.S.T. is located in the Fort Hancock Historic Area at the tip of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, adjacent to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the Country, and walking distance to several beaches. Facilities on campus include Marine Biology, Oceanography, C.A.D., and Multi-Media Laboratories in addition to a Marine Technology Workshop, a Media Center containing a Computer Classroom, a Naval Science Building and Chemistry and Physics Laboratories and classrooms for Mathematics, History and Social Science, English and World languages.
On September 9th, M.A.S.T. reopened on Sandy Hook "quietly" at the request of the students. The Annual Senior Drive began as usual at the Sea Gull's Nest and the "B Schedule" Formation took pace out on Pershing Field. Following was a special ribbon cutting with the Seniors (Class of 2014) being honored to head the class by class run down M.A.S.T. Way. A Homecoming Party/Gala celebrating our return 'home' with M.A.S.T./families and Alumni took place on September 23rd with bands and food "Boardwalk Style". September 9, 2013 was as beautiful and as special a day as its students of this very unique school of which I am so proud to be a part of every day. We are family and once a "Mastie", always a "Mastie". There is no place like home!