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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Chapter 1: Advice to Freshmen

By Amber Haydar
Features Editor

Dear Freshmen,

It feels quite surreal for me to be writing this as a senior, for I feel that not too long ago I was in your shoes—trying to familiarize myself to a new school, not really knowing anyone, and unsure of what my future at MAST had in store for me.

For you, however, things are drastically different. Back when I was acquainting myself with MAST as a freshman, society was blissfully ignorant of an impending world-threatening virus, and we were able to interact with one another without the awkward barrier that a mask provides. The implications of freshman year at a new school were significantly less confusing. This series is meant to help you.

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The number of times I’ve heard “I wish I’d known this when I was a freshman,” from my friends or around the halls is slightly concerning. With this series, I hope to not only help new students get acquainted with the school during times of quarantine, but also advise students of other grade levels based on experiences at MAST from my classmates, students that have graduated past, and myself.

1. Don’t freak out too much over making friends. Everyone is just as nervous and inexperienced as you are. Now that everything is virtual, you should try to reach out to the people in your classes, even if only to ask for help on homework assignments.  There are so many different people you will meet at MAST, so don’t be afraid to expand outside of the friend group you first find yourself comfortable in.

2. While you are acclimating to a new school (even in a virtual) environment, do not allow your grades to become a lesser priority. If your GPA drops, it will be increasingly difficult to raise it later on, and you will probably have wished you did better freshman year in those easier classes. However, if your grades do drop, or you simply wish to raise your already decent GPA, you should heavily consider taking Dual Enrollment courses over the Summer, Fall, or Spring semesters at MDC or FIU. Having to take a few extra classes will end up being worth it, assuming you do well in them.

3. Join extracurriculars that genuinely spark your interest or curiosity. Joining a club or a sport will allow you to make new friends, broaden your interests, and benefit you in the long run. Colleges like to see consistency on your resume and joining earlier on will make it easier to apply for higher positions in the future. A list of current school clubs and activities can be found on and meetings will be conducted through Microsoft Teams. We, The Beacon, will inform you of when the Virtual Club Fair will take place. Follow @themastbeacon on Instagram so that you never miss out on MAST news and current events.

4. Plan your schedule according to, not only your interests but future plans and course requirements. Keep things in mind, such as the fact that you must take two consecutive years of a single foreign language in order to graduate from high school. However, you should also keep in mind that some of the more selective schools either require or highly recommend you take three consecutive years. Also, even if you are a Maritime student, you can earn a Cambridge diploma if you take at least seven AICE classes during your high school career. With all this considered, I know there may be a certain fun elective that sounds especially tempting, like art or culinary, but if you only have one elective free to choose, think of what will benefit you in the long run.

Even though the start of this school year may not be what any of you had in mind when you imagined starting freshman year at a new school, I genuinely hope these insights from myself, as well as other experienced MAST students, will help you make the most out of your transition. If you would like more advice and tips about the ins-and-outs of MAST Academy, be sure to stay updated with this Survival Guide series and the rest of The Beacon news staff. 

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Chapter 1: Advice to Freshmen