Category Archives: Alumni

Ready to argue? The fearless join Mack’s new debate team

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by Anastasia Walton

After a two-year break, Urban Debate is back at Mack.

Leading the new crew of debaters is Wyllene Turner, a 20-year-old community college student who graduated from Street Academy, where she was a debater in the Urban Debate League and won the Oakland district poetry slam in 2011.

“I really want this team to prevail because I’m from West Oakland and I really want to see people from my community succeed,” says Turner.

As a first exercise, she split the 12 students into  two groups and had them debate which candy was better: Hershey’s or M&M’s. Anthony Beron, a 10th grader, looked up how many calories were in each candy to sweeten his argument.

“I want to help contribute to this year’s debate team,” said Beron.  “ I also want to hone my debating skills.”

Debate is not new to McClymonds. In the past, the school has had a strong debate team and debaters. In 2010, alumna Tanesha Walker, now a student at UCLA,  was runner-up  in the National Urban Debate League. That same year, the McClymonds’ debate team won 1st place in the Bay Area Urban Debate League.

As regional coordinator, Turner helps several teams from the East Bay — Envision, Emery, and Oakland Tech. She said she was happy with the initial turnout and hopes more students will join. Debate, she argued,  is a good prep tool for college. And Mack students are natural debaters, she added.

J’Mya Gree-Martinez, a 9th grader, echoed that thought. “ I believe debate will give me a chance to interact with new people, and plus, I like to talk,” she said.

Some students like 9th grader Kaya LaForte developed a taste for debate in middle school. “ I like to argue, and I participated in debate my 8th grade year at Kipp Bridge and loved it,” she said.

The debate team meets every Monday right after school in the 2nd floor computer lab.

Tradition, sports bring freshmen to McClymonds

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More studious? Freshman Alaydrianna Jones hunkers down in the library.

Photo By Jasmine Moody

by Anastasia Walton

They’re not the targets of balloons full of honey and feathers.  Instead, praise is heaped on them.  So far.

The new freshman class at McClymonds is larger than last year’s, more committed to academics (and sports) and punctual, according to teachers and administrators.

 “For freshmen,  they have a great habit of being on time, but what I need to see is more focus and less immaturity,” said PE teacher Jeremy Namkung.

There are  90 freshman at McClymonds this year, 10 more freshman than last year, says principal Tinisha Hamberlin.  A small group of 25 freshman who had to  attend summer school at McClymonds as eighth graders got an early feel for the “School of Champions.”

The reasons for enrolling at McClymonds range from family tradition to excellence in sports. Although McClymonds has a stronger STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, it was not an apparent factor for students in choosing McClymonds, says Katherine Hall, STEM teacher.

“I chose to come to Mack because it’s close to home and it has the best sports records,” said Rayshawn Lawrence, who attended Westlake Middle School and plans to play football as a Warrior.

For some, tradition goes back several generations. “So far I like Mack, it is not as bad as people try to make it seem,” said Tonisha  Smith, who attended Westlake Middle School last year, “I came to Mack because my grandmother came here.”

For others it was a matter of logistics, mainly commuting. “I had no choice in whether or not I was attending Mack or not. My mom made me come here since it was close to home, but so far I really love all my new teachers and the new friends I have made here, ” said Tatyana Jones.

Freshmen enthusiasm has spread to those who work with them. Head of security Donald Mann  said that he has to talk to 85% of the freshman class about adjusting to the demands of high school. He says this is not unusual because freshman are used to their middle school’s immature ways. He labeled this class  “one of the best freshman classes I’ve seen in 15 years.”

 

Will New Gun Laws in Oakland Make Mack School Students Safer?

130114_SCI_Guns_jpg_CROP_rectangle3-largeby Anthony Beron

Will tracking guns reduce violence? Or is this just another unworkable solution?

In Oakland, guns appear and multiply. And get used, over and over again.

At McClymonds, students feel mixed about the effectiveness of proposed assembly bill number 180, sponsored by Rob Bonta, D-Alameda that allows the city of Oakland to pass its own gun regulations. Would it have any impact on the street violence that Mack students witness?

“As younger people in the streets get guns, they don’t wanna settle out a fight with their hands- they just kill with a gun,” declares a solemn-looking Lee Benson.

Gun control remains a major problem in Oakland, especially West Oakland.  Five McClymonds High students and alumni were shot in 2012, which is just a fraction of the 1,594 total shooting victims in Oakland last year.

Three hundred and sixty crimes occur per square mile in the “hella” city, which is 320 above the national median according to the website neighborhoodscout.  The Business Insider ranked Oakland as the second most dangerous city in the United States as of 2012.

“The main problem with this is if we track guns that will just give people another reason to use them more quickly,” argued Kardel Howard, “they’re defiant, and there’ll be more violent if rules and deadlines are forced onto them.”

Others feel that you just do the math. “Less guns means less violence,” said Jacob Miles, Mack senior.  

“’The opponents like to paint it as some unreasonable restriction on gun ownership,’” said California senator Darrell Steinberg to the Sacramento Bee. “’And these bills are anything but. They are drawing a very careful distinction between gun ownership for sport, hunting and even self-defense – versus these guns that by definition fire dozens or hundreds of rounds indiscriminately and kill people.’”

Will restrictions work?  We will see when (if) this new proposed assembly bill is signed by Governor Jerry Brown by October 13th.

Pass the Peace: Why I Embrace Non-Violence

Shamarray Ross, incoming freshman at McClymonds, gathers peace pledges in preparation od Saturday's event

Shamarray Ross, incoming freshman at McClymonds, gathers peace pledges in preparation of Saturday’s event

by Jonae Scott

I have experienced violence and force first-hand in West Oakland, a community in which my roots run deep. I’ve been shot (two years ago during a peaceful vigil for an older friend who was gunned down) and in April, my parents were arrested, and then released, during the raid of the Acorn housing project.

It was traumatic to have federal agents burst into my apartment with guns, assault rifles and flash bang grenades, handcuff my parents and brother, and throw my family’s possessions around.

Because of these experiences, I need to be involved, even to lead any activity to bring peace to West Oakland. The “Pass the Peace” event this Saturday will mark the first time I take action myself. It was time.

It’s important for youth to let their voices be heard. Take Shamarray Ross, a freshman at McClymonds. She says, “It’s time for youth to make it better. Nobody else is.”

And she’s right.

We are making peace pledges at the event at McClymonds this Saturday from 12:30pm to 4:30pm. Sponsored by the Alliance Recycling, the event is called “the Spirit of West Oakland” because we want everyone in the community to join us.

Like my peers, I was distressed to read The San Francisco Chronicle story, that noted that since 2002, the number of African-American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matched the number who graduated from public high schools ready to attend a state university.

So distressed that I’m taking action. I demand an end to gun violence in my community.

New Focus In College Prep Class

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by  Luckie Lovette

Finally the torch has been passed in college counseling.  Through Powerpoint presentations and more personal contact, Shelley Smith has  taken charge of Matthew Mayne’s sixth period college seminar.

Smith focuses on creating and editing personal statements and college applications.

“I start out with a foundation and every student’s objective is to plan ahead for the future so they can make  healthy choices to become a better person,” said Smith.

Recently, Matthew Mayne, who taught college seminar, left Mack after accepting a job offer at an agency focused on helping foster youth get  into colleges.

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Students are starting to see more changes than a light signal.  

Some students expressed neutral feelings about Smith’s debut.  Jashawn Foreman, junior, said, “Ever since Matthew, left  [the class] it was cool, some people disapproved of him, but as he left people was all over the place. Now Shelley is here and everyone is in place.”

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The move from comfortable, cozy, cave-like College and Career room to the second floor computer lab buzzing with the sound of outdated computers forced students to focus their attention on their screen, allowing Smith to get  through the day without interuptions while  making sure that all students completed assignments.

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However,  some expressed different opinions. “I don’t like that we have to move to different rooms instead of staying at the College and Career Center, it’s no point for us to share the computer lab with students that are disrupting and skipping class just to play video games,” said Sanan Omar,  junior.

Since Smith’s arrival at the beginning of January following Mayne’s departure, as many as five students tried to change their class schedule, to enroll  into 6th period college seminar only to receive  Principal Taylor”s message: “That’s not going to happen just yet, you must have two years of art credits to enter the College Seminar.”

“Mayne is more of a group worker, and Smith loves to help students on a individual level and is very friendly” says Jashawn Foreman, a junior.

“It’s not about who’s better, it’s about who could lead us to a path to success, but Smith is a very nice young woman that loves to see us come to school every day,” said Jacob Miles, junior.

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Mack Alumnus and Former Linebacker Killed At Dice Game

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by Anthony Beron

Students at McClymonds mourned Tre’Vion Foster, 19, a 2012 McClymonds graduate, who was shot to death on the grounds of a San Leandro elementary school on the eve of Valentine’s Day. His friends at Mack created a memorial, where many called him “brother”.   Coach Curtis McCauley referred to him as “the quarterback, the soul of the team.”

A memorial service was scheduled for Friday at 55th and Foothill.

Foster was reportedly killed shortly after playing dice, over a  two dollar debt, according to press reports.  He was a former star linebacker and a Mack alumnus,  who attended Merritt College.

“He was a good kid;” said Mack junior Deshawn Nelson, “He was always respectful, and was pretty much cool with everybody.”

“He was a funny person.  Nobody really had any problems with him,” said Jacob Miles, another Mack junior.  “He was a good football player and was a cool person.  He never got into fights and didn’t hold grudges against people.”

He received praise from coaches and teachers, too. “He was a great young man, who had a great future ahead of him,” said Relonda McGhee, a faculty member at McClymonds High School.  “It was senseless for him to die the way he did.”

Foster’s memorial — with a large orange R.I.P. banner and a table with candles, flowers and personal notes –sits near McClymonds High School’s front exit, where everyone is welcome to leave a note of commemoration.

Mack lures transfer students — with sports and community

Breannie Robinson Aronisha Smith, 16 College Ready

by Anastasia Walton

Most transfer to McClymonds for sports, but others yearn for community, after feeling lost in the shuffle of students on bigger campuses like O’High, Tech or Skyline.

Some even come from afar: Vallejo, Manteca, or even San Francisco.

Jenero Rodriguez, sophomore, wakes up at 7:30  am,  gathers his backpack and books and heads for the door.  If he catches the 8:10 am bus from North Oakland he might make it on time for Spanish class.

Rodriguez is starting a new school year at a new campus with new faces, 33 of them (out of 265 students). After wearing a Bulldogs uniform for one year, he proudly dons a Warriors orange and black jersey.

According to the Oakland Unified School District’s student assignment office; there were twelve 9th graders, eleven 10th graders, three 11th graders, and seven 12th graders who transferred to Mack this current school year.

Like Rodriguez, Louis White, junior, 16, switched from Tech to McClymonds and to Mack’s Silver Bowl winning football team.

“The teachers at Mack really care.  They take the time to help you and make sure you get the material, unlike the teachers at my school [Tech],” stated White.

Who are these new faces you might ask? Well it was a question I was asking myself as well. I wanted to know whether the transition was easy and how they adjusted. The main difference, students said, was the encouragement from staff to prepare for college.

Jermaine McCann, an 11th grader said “The staff really pushes you and talks about college, where at my other school, they barely even brought up college.”  “Mack is  one big family,” he added.

Students who leave McClymonds are usually looking for more AP classes and more extracurricular activities, says Rolanda McGhee, Care Manager.

Fitting in at McClymonds may be easier than integrating elsewhere. Principal Kevin Taylor  said, “Students at Mack are very friendly and open so it isn’t hard for new students to settle in. As for the staff, I don’t really think they mind helping to teach a new mind.”