City celebrates groundbreaking for MAST @ Homestead

By Begone Cazalis….

Speaking at the MAST @ Homestead groundbreaking ceremony are (l-r) City of Homestead Councilmember Stephen R. Shelley, Mayor Steven C. Bateman and Councilmember Elvis R. Maldonado.

More than 100 people gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Medical Academy for Science and Technology High School at Homestead (MAST @ Homestead) on Tuesday, May 24.

Among the attendees were Homestead Mayor Steven C. Bateman, city council members and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DPS) representatives.

“This is a major step towards our goal of increasing educational alternatives in Homestead,” Mayor Bateman said at the ceremony, which took place at the former site of Homestead Hospital, where the school will open its doors in January 2012. “MAST will have a state-of-the-art facility housed in Homestead, which will give an amazing opportunity to our students and attract top students from across the state and the nation.”

MAST @ Homestead will be the first such medical academy in South Florida, the second medical magnet high school in Florida, and one of the few such exceptional educational facilities in the nation. The facility will provide educational strands for students who want to pursue pharmaceutical, physical therapy and biomedical fields. Each strand will have its own lab, which will be augmented by additional science labs and classrooms.

Councilmember Elvis Maldonado, the chair of the city’s Education Committee, spoke about the role MAST @ Homestead plays for raising educational performance in the city.

“We have been working hard not only to bring more choices in education for our residents, but also to increase academic performance,” Maldonado said. “MAST’s challenging academic environment will surely bring Homestead’s education to a new level.”

The school is housed currently at Gateway K-8 Center and has a freshman class of 90 students. Next year 300 students will be enrolled in grades 9-10, and it eventually will enroll 850 students at the state-of-the-art facility.

Councilmember Stephen R. Shelley, in whose district the academy is located, said the new school is a victory for M-DPS and for Homestead.

“This is a great opportunity for our students and for our residents. It will create jobs, offer new academic challenges and attract people to Homestead,” Shelley said.

Among the many dignitaries who were in attendance and spoke at the ceremony were: Alberto M. Carvalho, superintendent of schools, M-DCPS; Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, vice chair of the M-DCPS School Board and representative for District 9, which includes Homestead, and Valtena G. Brown, M-DCPS Region V superintendent.

Also in attendance were Miami-Dade County District 8 Commissioner Lynda G. Bell, a former Mayor of Homestead; Dr. Jeanne F. Jacobs, president of Miami Dade College’s Homestead Campus; Carmen G. Gutierrez, principal of the Gateway Environmental K-8 Center in Homestead, and Homestead Chief of Police Alexander Rolle.

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