12. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology, Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Founded in 1981, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) is a public school, part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District in Freehold, N.J. As such it is open to any high school student in the state of New Jersey, excepting those in Ocean County.
Students who are interested in attending MAST must apply in early fall of their eighth grade year. Applicants are required to attend one of several open house sessions as this is the only way to obtain an application packet. Applications are processed at the Monmouth County Vocational School District office in Freehold, N.J. rather than at the school.
Since MAST is a public high school, there is no tuition.
The Department of Education has designated MAST as a Blue Ribbon School and a New American High School. In addition, U.S. News and World Report, ranked MAST number 35 in New Jersey and notes that the advanced placement (AP) participation rate is 63 percent of the student body.
MAST is located in the Fort Hancock Historic District at the tip of Sandy Hook, N.J. and sits adjacent to the Sandy Hook lighthouse, which is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the nation.
MAST’s proximity to the coast means that students can easily walk to several beaches. Despite this pristine location, the school is only about 30 miles from Staten Island, N.Y.
Every student at MAST participates in a college preparatory curriculum that features an expanded emphasis on laboratory science, marine technology and engineering.
In addition, students must take four years of naval science, and many also participate in AP and honors courses. One of MAST’s most striking innovations is The Blue Sea, a research vessel that the school owns and operates.
The Blue Sea is berthed at the nearby United States Coast Guard station and used exclusively for MAST educational purposes. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA).
Since most students are bused to MAST from their home school district, the school holds most extracurricular activities during school hours. Central to the school’s culture is the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) unit. At MAST each student is required to participate in NJROTC and this participation counts as a physical education credit.
In addition to NJROTC, MAST also has 19 clubs and honor societies, including color guard and drill team. The variety of extra-curricular activities and academic expectations are reflected in MAST’s mission statement. The statement stresses literacy, ethics and challenging study, which emphasizes marine science and technology.