It might be summer, but dozens of students are still going to school – to volunteer.
About three times a week, several high school students can be found inside of the school’s Marine and Science Technology (MaST) Institute Center , caring for dozens of fish and marine life.
It’s a commitment the students and a number of parents have made as a result the MaST program’s previous teacher deciding to resign as the program's instructor.
Newark Memorial High School's MaST program is one of five in the United States and is a student-run program that was created nine years ago.
It is a program in which high school students learn about astronomy and marine life and share that knowledge with third- and fourth-grade students who visit the lab for field trips throughout the school year.
But parent Gary Stadler, whose son has been a MaST student for three years, has said on Patch that the program teaches about more than sciences.
“It teaches independence, initiative, public speaking and much more. The students have a sense of ownership and they all support each other so that they succeed or fail as a group, and they don't fail,” Stadler wrote as a comment in .
Dozens of marine life live within 10 aquariums, a tide pool and more inside of the lab. The high school students run the program by diving themselves into five teams: Audio-Video; Information Technology; Husbandry; Tours and Connections; and Business and Marketing.
This summer’s focus is husbandry – the cleaning of tanks and feeding of the animals.
The resignation of the previous teacher led to a lack of feedings that resulted in the death of 10 animals, according to Stadler.
is currently looking for a new instructor, according to Superintendent of Schools Dave Marken.
“The MaST Program has been a strong program and Newark Memorial High School,” Marken said. “It is imperative that the right person follow to continue to build and expand the program.”
While Stadler said helping students care for the animals was not how he expected to spend the summer, he said they all plan to do so at least three times a week until the school year begins.
Parent Jody Montgomery has also taken an active role in maintaining the structure of the program until a new teacher is found.
Montgomery said school officials are currently looking at altering the program’s curriculum so that it is recognized as an A-G required class, which would be acknowledged as a class needed to be considered for admittance to a four-year university.
Montgomery, who has been a teacher, said she is working with assistant principal Ethan Cheever to rewrite some of the MaST curriculum so that it would assist the incoming instructor.
“We hope that with it becoming an A-G [class], then more support will be given by district officials,” Montgomery said.
Marken said that finding a teacher who will work toward building the program into an A-G class is important and that the district plans to make the shift “by selecting a teacher who has the desire to take the program in that direction.”
To learn more about Newark Memorial's MaST program, visit the website here.