Category Archives: AP classes

Confessions of an anxious student

backtoschool2013Teacher Colleen Piper and student Deshawn Nelson prepare for back to school night.

By Jacob Miles

It was every student’s worst nightmare: back to school night. Last Thursday, kids all around scrambled with their parents in tow from class to class, introducing their teachers. Many fidgeted,  anxious about that awkward moment: what will my teacher reveal about me?

“I think this is great to see how my son is doing in class and see how the teachers are holding up at Mack,” Erica Hardaway, parent of senior Danny Cox, explained.

Many parents trotted around, relieved to know their child was doing fine during the first couple of weeks of school, while other parents reacted with dismay at the prospect that their kid might fail at McClymonds.

At McClymonds, it was also different from last year: more parents participated, mostly parents of freshmen, said leadership and life skills teacher Relonda McGhee. “It was a success because many parents showed up for their student.”

On the other hand, some students remained mixed. “I’m glad my mom didn’t come: who knows what the teachers would’ve said about me,” Deshawn Nelson, a senior, admitted.

Many teachers said they were excited to report about their students.

“I kept it straight-up with the parents. Whether their kid is good or not, I let them know ,” Rashaan Curry, history teacher, stated.

It was a night of truth (and consequence).  Students learned how each teacher felt about them when he or she talked to their parent. “I was able to meet and speak with a lot of parents to inform them of their student’s progress and the things to come in my Spanish class,” said Spanish teacher Colleen Piper.

The consequences might become apparent in the next weeks: will it be the parents following their student children next time instead of vice versa?

Hipster or Hoopster?

opinion piece

by Kardel Howard

When the alarm rings at 6:30 AM, it’s a struggle to get up if you’re exhausted from last night’s practice. Another 300 push-ups, 20 50-yard sprints, 30 bench presses of 180 pounds, after seven classes, including a quiz in geometry, an AP world history debate and a 16-page English paper to revise.

What’s a harder road at McClymonds? Being an athlete or just a regular student?

Being an athlete means always being sore until you’re conditioned. But then, you can’t miss a day. No sick days at all. If you go to practice all week and miss one day, when you go to practice the next day, you feel like a wimp, dizzy, out of shape, out of breath. It’s a commitment, day in and day out. No dabbling in sports.

There’s also the social pressure and stigma attached to being cool.   Although athletes are admired as the reigning kings and queens of the social oligarchy, that power only comes from looking and acting cool.

There is fear attached to power.  Once a person has had a tiny taste of what it means to rule a school, they will do anything to ensure that power, even if it means sacrificing one’s interests. Camping out for the next Hunger Games movie or Black Ops game is out of the question.  We mustn’t do that.

I feel that a non-athlete has more time to experiment. He or she can join different programs like YOLO and Culture Keepers, even if it isn’t “cool,”  and meet new people. Non-athletes also have more time to finish their homework and talk to their teachers after school.

An athlete like me has practice every day for two hours and only has study hall for an hour.

After practice, you’re  tired. You have to catch the bus home and when you shuffle into the house, all smelly and sweaty, at 10:00, you collapse. You’re lucky if you get into the shower. No time for extra homework.

Since athletes ALWAYS have practice, they do not have time for extra activities like journalism, Student Government, and any other after school programs. This probably limits their chances of being well rounded.

” It is easier being a non-athlete because you don’t have to worry about games, practice and homework,” says Danny Sola, a senior. ” So it’s better to focus on just one thing.”

Her sister, Mickey Sola, a freshman, agrees.” I feel it’s harder to be an athlete because you have to work on sports, project, and daily homework that you get from teachers. The work you get from teacher is already too much.”

As non-athletes, Danny and Mickey believe that athletes do not have it easy and struggle through tests and papers, like everyone else. But they also believe that athletes are graded more easily than others.

I disagree, and I know from experience.  In AP World History, my first essay about imperialism earned a D. No second chance to do it over again. So I had to work harder on the next essay, which was on Modern India and Gandhi.

The proof is also in the athletes’ records: Mercedes Latu, a sophomore and girls’ basketball star and discus thrower,  and Kelton Runnels,  a sophomore and football player, have maintained a 4.0 GPA all year.

As Runnels sees it, “Being an student athlete is difficult. My teachers didn’t just give me a grade because I’m an athlete. I had to earn all my grades.”

But he admits the free tutoring for athletes helps. “Receiving tutoring after school has helped,” he says.  “For example, I was doing poorly in geometry and now I have a B+ in the class.”

That kind of help creates jealousy among non-athletes. Alas, there will always be tension and suspicion between the two groups.

Only 15, covered, Muslim, and McClymonds’ first non-African-American co-valedictorian

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drawing by Sana Saeed who prefers not to be photographed

by Khristan Antoine and Kardel Howard

At 15, Sana Saeed is McClymonds’ youngest graduate and the first valedictorian who is non-African-American, Muslim and covers her head.

As co-valedictorian along with Iakiriyya Karimushi, she addressed the class of 2013 and guests about Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness.

Her smile is infectious, radiating gentle humor mixed with kindness. Yet, often hidden under her friendly exterior and her elegant head covering, stylishly modified with a gem or chic pin, Saeed argues fiercely, boldly tackles controversial issues — whether about immigation or gun violence — and fits into McClymonds High School as seamlessly as any other student.

“Getting it right, getting it done,” is what propelled Saeed to a 3.85 GPA, said Dr. LuPaulette Taylor, who teaches AP English. “She’s up for challenges and never gives up.”

Junior Darlisha McGlothen describes Saeed as always curious and challenging.”Sana always answers a question with another question, usually pushing you to think more deeply”  McGlothen said. “In one discussion, I finally asked her, ‘Sana, what do you think?’ and she smiled and answered, ‘What do YOU really think?'”

Like her sisters, Saba and Esma, Saeed devoted much of her energy to academics. She is the first valedictorian in the family and the youngest to graduate, though Saba was 16 and salutatorian.  Sana is also the first to be involved in journalism, as a reporter and writer for macksmack.

Saeed researched scarves as her senior project. She was accepted to California State University/East Bay and plans to study nursing.

Earlier this month, Saeed received a $1,500 SuperStar scholarship from Burma SuperStar, which was presented by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. She was one of two McClymonds seniors (out of five winners)  to receive the scholarship.

“This is so exciting,” she said at the time.

 

Some of Sana’s pieces:

From Stewie to Springer: Curse Words Pollute

Cyber High on Hold: Will College Coordinator Be Replaced?

Tougher Gun Laws Now:  Stop the Violence

 Is My Lipstick a Lethal Weapon?

Warrior Gets A Facelift

Epochal STEM Meeting: How Will Mack Students Benefit?

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by Anthony Beron

Behold, the 12-inch, green and grey robot, heralding change at McClymonds High School.

The floors of 226 were waxed, the equipment shined, the bright posters hung as McClymonds prepared to kick off its new STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) curriculum at a meeting tomorrow at 5:30pm in the Malcolm X room on the 2nd floor.

“This program is supposed to enhance engineering learning by providing hand-on experiences,” said Kathryn Hall, engineering and math teacher at McClymonds, about the program developed by Project Lead The Way.

Hall has been teaching a STEM elective at McClymonds this year. Kardel Howard, a sophomore (who will be there tomorrow) said that he enjoys the computer work, which helps him learn about himself. “Our teacher is not yet able to answer all our questions, but that’ll change,” he added.

In addition to students taking the STEM class, speakers are to include Principal Kevin Taylor, Oakland superintendent Tony Smith, Janet Auer from Chevron Global Partnerships and Programs, and Duane Crum of Project Lead The Way.

“I’m hoping that in the next couple to years, people will be hearing about our engineering and robotics programs,” principal Kevin Taylor told The Oakland Tribune.

On its website, Project Lead The Way says its curriculum reaches 500,000 students in over 4,700 schools in 50 states.

Robert Boege , executive director of Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, told macksmack that West Oakland was selected after U.S. News and other media groups identified those schools that needed STEM the most. “The future economy will be dependent on our youth,” he added.

Chevron partnered to provide funding to support the program, which will be launched in three schools in West Oakland, Martin Luther King elementary school, West Oakland Middle School and McClymonds, creating a “West Oakland STEM education pipeline,” said Hall.

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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When Young Actors Tell Their Real Stories On Stage

inandout3dreamergrilsinandoutfilipinoactor 

photographs by Breannie Robinson

by  Breannie Robinson

“This is my real life,” said actress Deanne Palaganas, a 25-year-old who plays a Filipino mother who is arrested by police and jailed for not having her papers.

The actress talks about the prejudice she encounters, the judgments of people not accepting her because she has no papers even though she pays taxes.

Palaganas portrays an immigrant and single mother from the Phillipines in Gary Soto’s newest play, Living In and Out of Shadows, which played last month at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.

To write his play, Soto read through the harrowing experiences of immigrant teenagers, gathered through interviews conducted by the Marsh Youth Theatre actors, living in Richmond and Pinole, and wove them together in an intricate compilation of stories and songs.

Palaganas herself was an undocumented teen, forced to live in secrecy even while attending college.

Like Palaganas, many of the actors were telling their own stories on stage. Others were portraying people they had interviewed.

The play refrains from stereotyping the immigrant look and experience.  Soto said his biggest fear was not including enough ethnicities, which is why he added a Chinese teen and added the stories of several of the Marsh Youth Theater’s undocumented actors from Canada, the Phillipines, and Mexico.

This is most noticeable when a young Chinese girl addresses the point, saying “they think only Mexicans and Latinos know the way [across the border] but we Chinese know the route, too. ” In the play, her Chinese family takes a plane ride to Peru, travels from Peru to Mexico and then crosses the Mexican-US border illegally.

Several of the interviews with Marsh Youth Theatre actors made it into the play, including a story from a young man who migrated to the U.S. illegally but told Soto,  “because I’m white, they don’t bother me.”  An Indonesian girl found it frustrating to have people refer to her as Chinese or Mexican.

Besides adding cultural diversity,  Soto made sure to include real details: for instance, a young boy had to re-cross the Mexican-American border through an underground sewer pipeline after he was caught by ICE the first time when trying to cross through the desert with his uncle.

Palaganas said her character reminded her much of her own mother, loud and passionate, outspoken and prone to alternating between rapid or soft Tagalog but never a mixture. “For many of us, this is our story,” she said.

“I’m allowed to stay here because Obama let me,” said Palaganas.”Not many Filipinos are open.  They train their kids to maintain their reputation, to say they have papers,” said Palaganas.

“To them [American-born] we are aliens,” said Palaganas.  She criticized the U.S. government for accepting taxes from undocumented immigrants, but refusing to acknowledge their contribution or pay any benefits. As for undocumented parents, “They tell us we have to act normal, act American,” said Palaganas, who was accepted to UC Irvine and San Francisco State but could not get a scholarship because she was undocumented.

“You just try to live your life normally and don’t tell nobody your status,” says Louel Senores, who plays Felix, the articulate, dancing, rapping Filipino high school student and activist in In and Out of Shadows.

Senores’ story is a bit different: he received his papers in 8th grade. He was able to attend UC Berkeley from which he graduated with a degree in engineering  For him, the challenge was professional: how to portray a jock when he was trained as a ballet dancer.

Although not in the script, he added his own line about being gay because he wanted to include LGBT in the production, as they are among undocumented youth.

“Filipinos from the islands are more conservative, they are not very open to homosexuality,” said Senores. 

After spending time with undocumented cast members, Senores feels fortunate. “I am an immigrant but I got my papers.  I didn’t think of it.  I didn’t realize they had it that hard.  That’s some f***ed up shit,” he added

“It was just a role but it makes you care,” said Senores. “As soon as you know someone who is going through that,  you care.”

Why Censorship is F****ng Stupid

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by Khristan Antoine

Like any other art work, journalism has its own beauty and language.  But what happens when that language is simply not enough?  As student journalists, we are handcuffed by rules that say we can’t use certain words like sh*t, p*ss, f*ck, c*nt, c*cks*cker, motherf*cker, and t*ts.

We resort  to using words  that tame the real, strong emotion behind a significant quote even if it was uttered in the heat of the moment: just last week, an ecstatic Lady Warrior, who recently won the OAL championship after 37 years of deadends, said “We f***ing go.” And we had to use asterisks. In some school newspapers, we couldn’t even use the asterisks or the word.

For f*ck’s sake, we can’t even write a review of a rap album because we won’t be able to quote verbatim a decent lyric that portrays the meaning of the song entirely or precisely.

And there are myriad other examples. In an interview with a student for another story, the student talked about how her parents told her to wash the dishes and she sat on her butt and continued watching TV.  After a while, they began to lose their patience and resorted to the language we all know as authoritative.  She heard a loud bang and a scream that pierced the atmosphere.  “Get your fu***ng a$$ up and do the God da*n dishes!”  As she told us, “sh*t just got serious. ”

Cuss words carry the emotion of the person speaking them. They don’t necessarily harm or insult anybody but they make a strong impression. They change the tone of the conversation.

Words were never meant to be “bad.”  Who gets to decide what is acceptable or not? I fuc**ng think words, all kinds of words, are just that:  words. They were designed to fulfill their purpose to communicate  and express emotion.  If a word achieves its purpose, does it cease to be a good word?  What a silly thing to suppose that words are bad or good.

A word is only as good or as useful as its context.  As some may argue, cuss words  detract from the eloquent nature of language, allowing for a lazier approach to social intercourse (you can SAY intercourse, but not the F word).

What censorship fails to address is inequality:  not everyone has access to an education that provides the tools necessary to develop a more extensive vocabulary fit for use in society or even fit for a high school journalism blog.

I  s**t  you not, sometimes words unify and make it easier to have significant conversations — break ups, family showdowns, disciplinary lectures, just plain hurt feelings.

I do not believe “cuss words” should be the only words used in a daily interaction.  There should be a professional level to everything and anything discussed or shared but cuss words unite us all. They’re so basic that there’s no possible miscommunication.