MAST Grads heading to College. Photo by MAST photographer
MAST Grads heading to College. Photo by MAST photographer

SANDY HOOK –  The 69 students graduating from MAST, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, at ceremonies on June 22 have broken several academic records and achieved a number of different fields from music and art to community service and scouting, said Marcy Kay, guidance counselor at MAST. Graduates are also recipients of more than $15 million in four-year scholarships from many colleges as well as the US Naval Academy, US Coast Guard Academy and the US Merchant Marine Academy. Nine students received ROTC scholarships to the colleges of their choice.

    The educator also noted that Congressman Frank Pallone sent each of the students in his Congressional district a graduation certificate and a special recognition of their National Honor Society honors. He also cited Harrison Adler as the outstanding senior in his district.

    Kay cited statistics that set the MAST class of 2022 apart, including approximately 65 percent of the class being accepted into colleges on scholarships with more than 600 applicants submitted.  Every one of the 69 graduates will be attending four year colleges, the counselor said.

   With 100 per cent of the graduates  looking towards college, eighty-nine percent  have declared majors in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering or math, and the mean GPA for the school was 91.66 percent, in step with the MAST average of 90 percent over the past 14 years, where all classes are taught at the honors or AP level.

   On SAT scores, Kay noted the average combined score for the class was 1359 out of a possible 1600, and the average ACT score was 32 of a possible 36. That score, she said, “makes it the highest average ACT score compared to every other MAST graduating class in the past 14 years.”

   Kay also cited students Maharshi Barot, Bran d’Emery Edwards, Grace Decker, Arjun Farsaiya, Conor Greene, Mary Catherine Harvey, Mackenzie Jackman, and Abhinava (Abi) Pendyala for special commendation. The counselor explained that approximately 1.6 million students take the PSAT exams each year, and of those, 50,000 are selected for special recognition, representing three and a half per cent of all test takers.

  “Of 1.6 million people who take the PSAT, only 3,100 are listed as Outstanding Participants; therefore, these eight students rank in the top 2.5% of all those who take this test,” she said.

   In other awards, the Northern Monmouth County Branch of the American Association of University Women honored Grace Decker as the highest-ranking female graduate in mathematics.

 Olivia Bonforte of Ocean was presented with the coveted Brian D. McAndrew Student Achiever Award for being distinguished both academically, as well as athletically and in her work in community service. In presenting Bonforte with this award, some of the graduate’s achievements noted during the ceremony were her extracurricular activities that included participation in the school’s award winning NJROTC Drill Team, her membership in the Color Guard during her freshman and sophomore years, her citation as Honor Cadet in her freshman year by the Naval Science Instructors and her appointment as Battalion Operations Officer this year.  Kay added that Bonforte was the highest scoring team member on the Northview High School NJROTC Academic test, was freshman class vice president and this year president of the Key Club, the school’s service organization. She is a varsity field hockey player for her home high school where her team was a state finalist in 2020 and a North Division Champion in 2019.

    Bonforte is also active in community service ,May continued, citing her coaching young children in field hockey for Ocean Township, organizing a clothing drive for her church, and helping at the Jersey Girls Triathlon, as well as serving as a gift wrapper at holiday time at Barnes and Noble, tutoring children in reading and math, and serving as teacher and coach for young field hockey players.  She also volunteers at MAST’s Back to School Nights and at Information Sessions and is a member of the Student Environmental Advocates and Leaders Program, a program through Clean Ocean Action. Bonforte was awarded both a four-year NROTC scholarship and a 3-year Army ROTC scholarship, but has decided to accept the Navy scholarship and will be attending George Washington University.

   In commending each of the students for their excellence during their four years at MAST and praising their parents for the added efforts it takes to juggle schedules of students attending schools outside their immediate school district, Kay noted the class has achieved in so many areas, both in and out of the classroom, and many have received awards from their extracurricular activities including Boy Scout Eagle Awards and the Girl Scout Gold Award. Many students are dedicated community service participants she said, as well as being world travelers with their families.

  “The MAST graduating class of 2022 has been through a lot over the past four years,” said MAST Principal Earl Moore. “For them to achieve the level of success they’ve achieved, in spite of all of the challenges they’ve had to face, is truly remarkable. They’ve not only demonstrated their academic abilities and commitment to community service and engagement, they’ve shown how young people today can still thrive in challenging times. They have grit. They’re not afraid to face challenges head on. And they can adapt to evolving situations and seem to not even break stride. It’s good to see, because these kids are the future of our communities, our state, and our world.”

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Muriel J. Smith

Muriel J Smith

Muriel J Smith an award-winning journalist, former newspaper editor, book author and historian, Her newest venture is her blog, in...