MAST Academy is the first high school in Florida to receive the Gold Apple Award, the highest recognition in the state’s Green School program. The award, presented Thursday by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, was delivered with a call to do more.
“Seeing what you guys have done…thank you,” said Sheena Chin-Greene, the manager for the Green School Designation Program. “I congratulate you all for obtaining your Gold Apple at the beginning and saying ‘we’re not done yet’.”
Through a four-tiered designation system, schools have an opportunity to earn different “Apple” levels, starting at the Green level, then Bronze, Silver and finally Gold Apple, which is the highest designation.
Currently, there are only four schools in the state, three of which are in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, that have received this recognition.
At MAST, projects included installing bike racks for students riding in from Key Biscayne, and installing food-share carts in the cafeteria, reducing food waste.
“These small steps that we are taking here are the start of something much bigger that we hope that you guys will help us with,” said senior Enzo Fouquet.
Along with improving on the original Green Apple threshold, Green Champions made advancements in each of their six focus points: communications, waste reduction, air quality, alternative transportation, gardens, and energy efficiency.
“I was very excited, but I wasn’t surprised,” said Michelle Drucker, the co-founder of the Green Champions program at the MAST. “We were a magnitude more accelerated in our program than so many other schools. They thought it was breathtaking.”
Principal Dr. Cadian Collman-Perez opened the ceremony by quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Also attending were Key Biscayne Mayor Joe Rasco and Vice-Mayor Frank Caplan, as well as the Miami-Dade School Board Chair, Mari Tere Rojas.
“It is a win-win for all of us and for our future generations as well,” said Rojas.
MAST students say they have ambitious green goals for the future. The Green Champions are pursuing a goal of being a zero-net energy and zero-waste school by 2030.
“Little hinges swing big doors. Every action towards building a more sustainable future, no matter how small or large, leaves an impact,” said MAST alumni and Green Champions member Ellie Reyna.
MERCEDES HALLIBURTON is a junior at MAST Academy. She is a staff writer for her school newspaper, The Beacon, and aspires to follow a career in Journalism in the future. Other than interviewing and learning about new people, she is interested in sports, music, and literature