South Florida High-School Becomes First Florida Public School to Host Prestigious English Royal Award

South Florida High-School Becomes First Florida Public School to Host Prestigious English Royal Award

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
May 29, 2024

Maritime and Science Technology (MAST) Academy Highschool has become the first Public School in the state of Florida to host the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is granted to students at select educational institutions for accomplishments in a variety of areas.

The award was created by Prince Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, in England during the 1950s.

Since then, the award has expanded to over 130 countries.

The Duke of Edinburgh award challenges students to partake in formative experiences in the areas of voluntary service, skills, and physical recreation, as well as engaging in an ‘adventurous journey.’

The ‘adventurous journey’ usually entails planning and executing a trip through challenging terrain alongside classmates also completing the award.

Students who successfully fulfill the award’s four areas are recognized upon completion along with their classmates.

MAST Academy, a nationally acclaimed Florida public High and Middle school located in Miami, Florida, enrolled in the award program earlier this year.

By doing so, MAST became the first public school in Florida, and the fourth school overall, to offer students the award program.

MAST Academy is one of Florida’s Top Public Schools

MAST Lead Teacher Melissa Fernandez, under the supervision of Principal Dr. Cadian Collman-Perez, led the school’s enrollment in the program.

Lead Teacher Fernandez explained to The Floridian the award’s significance vis-a-vis students’ holistic formation.

“Too often we focus only on a child's academic achievement or on their leadership or other athletic accomplishments,” said Fernandez. “The Duke of Edinburgh award really forces students to look at their physical skills, explore other skills that they want to build, look at something that they want to do in their community, as well as something that gets them outside of their comfort zone.”

While only 14 MAST students received the award, over 60 initially began the program.

The award’s attrition rate reflects the rigor of the program and student commitment required for its successful completion.

“I think other schools should absolutely adopt it, there are definitely things that make it challenging but I think the challenges are worth overcoming,” continued Fernandez. “For students to see they are able to set goals and achieve them helps them understand that concerted effort overtime works and that's really important.”

MAST Awardees Alongside MAST Staff

To enroll in the Duke of Edinburgh program, MAST had to be invited to participate after soliciting to become an Award Center and subsequently pay a licensing fee once accepted.

MAST’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) covered any expenses arising from the program.

MAST currently hosts the bronze-tier of the award and looks to expand to Silver and Gold-tier in the near future, which would augment the requirements for students to complete the program.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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