Friday, December 3, 2021

MIA Honors Class of 2021 with Building Tour, Time Capsule

Seniors in Marco Island Academy’s class of 2021 pose on the current campus.


“This is not a ‘rub it in tour,’” said Melissa Scott, Marco Island Academy Principal, as she addressed the class of 2021 during a tour of the brand-new school. 

As Scott stood in front of the new school’s fabulous multi-use gymnasium on Friday morning, flanked by MIA founder Jane Watt and National Advisory Board member Mark Melvin, she emotionally addressed her graduating class, who were gathered on the school’s impressive new stage, facing the gym. She let the seniors know that this beautiful new school would not be possible without all of them.

Grace Fields, Amelia Fontella, Jasmin Schauer, Aidan Libby, Tyler Chute, Allan Borges, and fellow seniors enter the building from the Student Lookout Lounge.

Of course, Jane Watt echoes Scott’s sentiments.

“Without the students who have come here,” Watt emphasized, “and chose to go to MIA, even when it was in trailers, we would have never been able to do this. They’re part of this forever because they made it possible.”

Watt feels the class of 2021 has an appreciation of the new building that future students may not have.

“I feel like they have an understanding that the future students won’t,” Watt said. “They know what it’s like to have to fight to get things, and work hard to get things, and not have everything given to you. When you have to work a little harder, there’s something special about that. It kind of brings people together. There’s a closeness that comes from not having everything. I don’t know if future generations will understand that. The students here today definitely do. They know what it’s like to sacrifice and do without. I don’t know if the next kids will get it. Or the new teachers who haven’t been in classrooms where things are falling apart on them.”

Part of Friday’s festivities included the preparation of a time capsule that will be sealed for 50 years.



Photos by Scott H. Shook | Graduating seniors line up for a panorama on the deck of the Student Lookout Lounge. This is where students and faculty will eat lunch.


Sofia Saavedra adds spray paint to the time capsule.

“One of the seniors had an idea to put together a time capsule for the senior class,” Watt said. “It’s such a pivotal time with the new building opening. It will be placed in the new school in a secure location. The students who are seniors now will be invited back in 50 years to open the capsule. I have a letter I’m going to put in there, and so does Melissa. As soon as Mark heard about the idea, he loved it. He surprised us with the time capsule. There’s going to be student writings in it. We wanted to capture some of the memories of the years of MIA. A lot of what’s going to be saved, or collected in there, are memories of putting the school together and how it came to be.”

There are even a number of newspaper clippings from the Coastal Breeze News being included in the time capsule.

“Today we’re so excited to be able to ceremoniously honor the class of 2021 with this,” Watt said. “In addition to this, Mark came up with the idea to do a class gift for the school. So, the Class of 2021 is going to have the exterior bleachers at the soccer field named in their honor. The kids did a fundraiser to contribute to that. I feel like this class is so special. There are a couple of kids here who grew up MIA. Little Kirra Polley’s mother Kim was on the founding board with me. She’s here today. Dawn Vergo, who is on the board currently, her son Matthew is a senior. Kim Barry, who has been with me since the beginning, her son Kevin is a senior. These are kids who have been with us since they were in second or third grade. It’s neat, because a lot of these kids I’ve been able to watch since they were little.” 

Looking at the state-of-the-art gymnasium, Watt couldn’t help but be amazed at the irony. For the past 10 years MIA has had to rent gym time from Marco Island Charter Middle School.

“We’re going to go from having nothing to having the best,” Watt mused.

The new building opens this fall. They have a waiting list for students who want to attend the new school. They have limited enrollment for the upcoming school year to 300 students.

“We didn’t want to double in size in a year,” Watt said. “We didn’t want to lose that culture. The culture is huge. It’s very important. And if you grow too fast, you lose that. Especially when you’re moving into a new building.”

Watt is greatly indebted to Melvin, who has been invaluable to the school. In addition to being a major donor, he has become a hands-on leader.

“He’s 100 percent volunteer,” Watt said of Melvin’s service to the school. “He stepped up when the MIA board asked him to be the project manager for the board. So, he’s on the site on a daily basis. He comes every morning and meets with the crew. Makes sure the subs are showing up. That things are happening that need to happen. He comes back at the end of the day to make sure things are locked up tight. In the meantime, he handles thousands of emails back and forth. Signs off on things that need to be signed. I know how much work that is. I was doing a lot of that before, but it became too much. I had asked for help. He’s running the entire show right now. He’s going at warp speed.”


MIA founder Jane Watt with Principal Melissa Scott.


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