What is MHS Culture? Part 1

Diversity. Positivity. Inclusivity. Mountainside community members weigh in on what a seemingly brand new school can define as their “culture”. 

Let’s have a look at what the Mavs have to say:

Principal Todd Corsetti mentioned that he saw himself as Mountainside’s “#1 Cheerleader,” constantly encouraging and hyping MHS spirit. In contrast to that bright outlook, with the school having just gotten on its feet, it was hard for Corsetti to define what MHS culture is to him. He believes it has yet to develop since it’s so early into Mountainside’s history.

I’m not trying to build it, I think we try to build it. It’s not my school, it’s our school…”

Another member of the Mountainside staff, Special ED teacher Eric Apalategui said, “I would say it mostly tries to be inclusive…It mostly tries to involve students and teachers of all types.” Apalategui says he feels welcomed and that his opinions and background are valued.

What makes a school a school is none other than the students. Through the varying backgrounds and perspectives, the definition of MHS culture is one with many answers.

Junior Basketball player Jacob Laff thinks the culture can be defined when “everyone comes to support their Mavs…everyone is just here to support one another.” He contributes by going to every event he possibly can and being the loudest cheerer in the stands. As a student-athlete, his definition of culture centers around gathering in support for the school’s many sports teams and being as cheerful as possible. He finds his identity through sports in the diverse community that exists at Mountainside.

Amongst our vast community of students, there are the thespians. The art connoisseurs have their own outlook on what they think MHS culture truly is.

“I think there was a lot lost during Covid, but I think overall there’s a large emphasis on like, building each other up,” said Andy Bakun, the president of the Thespian Board.

He spoke about the community, and how he feels like a senior he needs to build others up, but then he veered, saying that there is a “lack of diversity in the staff, and so I feel like a little bit of the time in the culture I have to be the person who is willing to stand up for marginalized communities.”

As co-founder and co-president of the MHS Black Student Union, senior Natalie Ebanks believes the culture has progressed over the years, but there are still some issues with prejudice. “I think admin and teachers are doing their best… and I feel like some students are … but there is still a large group of students that are not showing that standard and not actively being inclusive.” 

Ebanks is working to put a stop to the microaggressions and issues facing people of color within the community through the various organizations she is a part of school and district-wide. She still believes Mountainside does have a very spirited community, and through the work, she is doing, hopes that one day that culture will be prejudice-free.

When Associated Student Body President Melody Masroor was faced with the question of what MHS culture is, she believed that it is “a work in progress.”  Her motive for running for ASB President was in order to diminish the racism she personally experienced as a member of the student body and to truly build MHS culture into what it is broadcasted as. 

“As a majority one race school, it is kind of difficult for someone to go talk to a teacher or another student who was also white, so I ran and I was like, I want people to know that they can talk to me about anything and that I won’t ever make fun of them…make sure they know I’m here and that I am actually someone who will understand what they’re going through,” said Masroor. She plans to build an inclusive culture that brings all students together in a unified community. 

9th graders started their first year of high school in a bit of a different way than past classes. Although COVID has impacted this school year, Hailey Baca is keeping a positive mindset. “I think it’s so fun. I like how we have a lot more independence than the other schools.” Along with independence, Baca also loves the school spirit. I’m always excited to go to the activities that we have here and be part of what we have”. She says that Mountainside has inspired her to do more for the community and help out in as many ways as possible. She is proud to go to this school and is absolutely loving it so far.

“When you’re bringing in and creating a new school, there really is zero culture to pull from. Now, we have a culture, it’s just a matter of refining and defining it.” – Principal Todd Corsetti