Category Archives: changes

A taste of Oaxaca in West Oakland

oaxacamural&owners

photos by Danenicole Williams

by Janaya Andrews

Just around the corner from McClymonds High school stands one of the most intricate, colorful and bold murals in West Oakland with corn husks, a wizzened farm worker, white doves and artisan cloths– the exterior of Tamales la Oaxaquena, a new Mexican restaurant which opened last month.

The food inside is as exquisite as the art outside, and as subtle and bold.

Tamales la Oaxaquena is the real thing, with genuine Oaxacan moles. It’s a great addition to restaurants in West Oakland, with more variety than the food trucks, as good as they are, and a personal touch in everything from cooking fresh tamales to the serving cold lemonade by its mother-daughter owner-chefs, Rosa Oliva (an ex-seamstress who learned to make mole at the age of 8)  and her daughter, Carolina Santos.

Competing with the corner store (and its equally stunning mural), which offers fried chicken, corn dogs and french fries,  this new Mexican restaurant hasn’t captured its share of local traffic.

For now, the traffic coming from McClymonds is minimal. Shamorra Washington, 16, said “I guess like everyone else at Mack,  I go to the places I know, that are already on my radar.”

But Tamales la Oaxaquena attracts local residents and workers, especially vegetarians.  At lunchtime, regular customers, Monica and Kelly, savored their tamales.

Monica said that her favorite food is the vegetarian tamale, made with corn husks with guacamole and banana leaves, but she likes the banana leaf because it’s more healthy and she became an vegetarian in middle school to avoid fats and unhealthy foods.

Kelly preferred the super burrito, chimichangas made by first toasting the shell and then melting the cheese, with mole, a special Oaxacan sauce with chocolate and hot chiles (the restaurant’s specialties are the smoky mole negro and a cinammon mole rojo).

Dropping in to grab a bite, Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said she prefers the mole without chocolate.

Owner Carolina Santos said the signature dish remains the tamale. “It depends on  whom we are serving: some whites mostly wants tamales and some Blacks prefer burritos.”

Part of the challenge is to satisfy both, using traditional spices and chiles as well as almonds and spicy dried peppers (guajillo, negro and arbol). These are the spices used by the indigenous people near Oaxaca, the Zapotec and Mixtec, with roots going back thosands of years.

The result is a flavorful meal, “juicy but always sweet and never beat.”

 

 

 

 

Aside

Dear, Naya My parents told me this scary story about some kids who went missing when  they were camping.  It begins with 6 kids camping in the deepest woods, called “witches’ ground.” As they come upon a house in the middle of … Continue reading

I’ll just watch the movie “Prom” on prom night

kinopoisk.ru

by Luckie Lovette

Prom is a few weeks away, and everyone is getting ready for it.  Except for me.

Prom is one of those school events that everyone says they don’t care about but secretly do.  For me, even if I wanted to, I can’t go.  Tickets, transportation and tuxedos exceed far more than the $100 advised to spend in the once in a lifetime night.

On top of that, being a guy, I’m supposed buy my prom date’s ticket and pay for dinner.  Realistically, we would ride AC Transit to a Denny’s and split an order of nachos, but that doesn’t sound as luxurious as the movies make it seem.

I’ll just stay at home and watch the movie “Prom” on prom night.

Ask Naya: time to heal those secret scars

Image

Dear Naya,

My friends are ignoring me. Nobody wants to  acknowledge the pain that I carry.

Will I get over this feeling of being deeply misunderstood?

Deeply Hurt

Dear Deeply Hurt

There are kids out there who need comfort and help, these kids are “the hurt ones,” the ones that you see with  their faces down  on  the  desk  or who come to  school late so  that people won’t ask “What’s wrong?”

There’s a reason  why they give no  answer, because they know we’ll forget about it since we  are all too busy paying attention to ourselves (and taking selfies).

I understand their scars: what I mean by scars are not cutting yourself, but living with hurt feelings that are never spoken or acknowledged. Most people turn away from those feelings. The “hurt ones” are invisible to the crowd, or are seen as weird or creepy.

I tell you everyone has scars, so don’t hide away from us,  get to know us. “Scars are meant to be heard, not meant to be kept”

Speaking Up: what youth centers in West Oakland should provide

by J’Mya Gray-Martinez

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Chip Johnson blamed problems with youth centers (two open and a third about to open)  in West Oakland on lack of  staff and programs.

Journalism 1 decided to pitch in, providing insight into what should be included in local youth centers and what also needs reform.

“We should have more programs at school instead of at youth centers, because it’s easier for students to get their SAT prep,  help on their homework or class work right here.” (Abbas Hassan)

“More music, dancing, singing, college. Students are bored after school. So they need something to do. If you have these programs then the kids won’t need to do drugs or harmful things like that.” (Jaden Nixon, who transferred out of McClymonds)

“I’m happy with the programs that Oakland has to offer me. I can go to the YMCA on weekends and the Boys & Girls Club on weekdays. They have sports for you to play and they’re very safe. The programs are kind of healthy but you can get good exercise. It keeps the violence away. (Parrish Kendricks)

“Healthy living programs. Not just with eating but when it comes to relationships, violence, and interactions. I want to see programs that will affect the youth like scared straight programs. Also, I want to see more people kids can trust and rely on. Lastly, I want to see more jobs like YEP or Youth Uprising.” (Kaya LaForte)

“I would like to see fun programs. Also educational programs that will help us in the long run. For example, a program that teaches you useful things like how to write a resume, fill out a college application and things like that. I would really like to see tutoring programs also.” (Hailey King)

“We need more fine Arts and Educational Programs because there are a lot of talented kids I know around Oakland that don’t get a chance to show their true talents, and then they get caught up in gangs, drugs, and violence.” (J’Mya Gray-Martinez)

 In Oakland,  I believe we need to provide more programs during school hours so students are forced to go. (Quaylin Wesley)

There are a lot of kids in Oakland with great potential, but usually don’t get a chance to because they get caught up with things they shouldn’t be doing. Having more community programs in Oakland would help most of us be able to express ourselves in different ways.

Why we’re late to school — long commute, need more sleep

lateness

opinion piece

by Nicole Funes

Daily agony: my alarm rings, as I stumble out of bed at 5 a.m. way before the blue jays start to squawk. Shower, dress, quick juice and race five blocks to the bus stop. That run downhill gets my heat beating.

It’s now 6:45 and if I’m lucky I’m on the first of two buses that cross Oakland from East (south) to West (others have to transfer twice). It’s an hour and 20 minute ride and I have to be lucky — the buses have to be on schedule and follow their route without “incident” for me to make it to school on time.

There are a handful of us loyal to the West: we were displaced by gentrification but we identify with West Oakland and its community spirit and “family-like” feel.

Nevertheless, school administrators greet us with curt remarks “Late again?” and stony stares, as though we stopped at the corner store for a chat or overslept.

Anywhere between 12 to 40 students arrive late to school every day, said Will Blackwell, who teaches manhood at McClymonds. Tardiness can affect grades, other teachers said.

It’s clear that we need more sleep and less stress about the commute.

Just look at the newest study: a study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement showed that later start times for high school students are better. The three-year study involved 9,000 students at eight high schools in three states.

Earlier studies in Minneapolis showed that later start times (and more sleep)produced higher graduation rates.

Even McClymonds students recognize that sleep deprivation affects their school work.

“I’m tired and irritated in the morning,” said Kaya LaForte, a freshman at McClymonds, who is an A student but feels she could do more if she were not so tired.

Part of her problem is the long commute. “It can take an hour or more. The bus driver could be making a lot of stops. Some people might have to take 2 more buses, and BART, then have to walk sometime and then might not make it,” she said.

Like others, she often skips breakfast.

She feels targeted when she comes in late. The response to the bus saga at school: “That’s not an acceptable excuse. You need to leave 5 minutes earlier.”

Sleep affects performance, the study showed. More sleep, researchers found,  improves grades and standardized test results.

“We did find that there was statistically significant improvement in their grades in English, math, social studies and science, all the core academic areas,” said Kayla Wahlstrom, director of the University of Minnesota Center and the study’s author. “And we found improvements on standardized tests, like the ACT test.”

The study showed that schools with start times at 7:30 a.m. had just 34 percent of students who reported getting eight or more hours of sleep, while schools with  start times of 8:55 a.m. had 66 percent of students getting eight or more hours of sleep.

Wahlstrom also said coaches told her that the athletes were more able to remember plays and could perform better physically with more sleep.

“It’s easier to get up in the morning when you get enough sleep,” said Anthony Beron, a sophomore who played JV football and is a long distance runner. “When you’re rested, you can run faster, longer and compete harder.”

Eating in class: will we concentrate more?

eatinginclass opinion piece

by Anthony Beron

Some of us come to school hungry, usually because we got up late. It affects our whole day. We can’t concentrate, daydream instead of eating crunchy Doritos or sweet mandarins. So why not let us eat in class?

At McClymonds, students can’t eat in class, said assistant principal Clayton McKinney. His reasons: possible ant or rat infestation; distraction in the classroom.

“Food makes a cleanliness and rodent issue, and it’s distracting for the students. However, we’ve been pretty lenient in the past,” he said. But McKinney acknowledged, “Students should have between four and six meals a day.”

Not so in math teacher Mark Rizkallah’s class. Although Rizkallah could eat in class in his high school in Riverside, California, he supports school rules that prohibit eating in class.He doesn’t eat himself and believes that it distracts from learning. “It’s about who has authority,” he said.

Students disagree with all the reasons for prohibiting food in class. Some teachers eat in class. Students need to eat more frequently and have fewer breaks.

“The food becomes a distraction only when all you’re focused on is trying to sneak a snack,” said Brandon Aninipot, a junior.

In San Francisco, nine high schools and two middle schools have a program called Grab N Go, breakfasts conveniently packaged in bags with all of the components of the meal so students can grab a meal quickly from the cafeteria line or from carts on school grounds. These breakfasts can be eaten in class.

“The Grab N Go Breakfast is one of the best things we offer our students at school,” Mission Principal Eric Guthertz  told The San Francisco Chronicle. “To know that even in the morning rush all of our students can grab a bag, head to class, and have a full belly to begin the day, is powerful.  It is a joy to stand in the hallway greeting each student by saying, “good morning, grab your breakfast and have a great day!”

Food helps teenagers because it strengthens memory, energy levels, and concentration.  Research shows that the brain obtains energy from glucose and that fatty acids strengthen synapses, which are related to memory.  Antioxidants reduce stress by destroying extra oxygen in the body’s cells.  Amino acids — found in protein-rich foods — help concentration and alertness, as well as mood, sleep, and memory.

Because food helps regulate stress, strengthens memory, and provides energy, students should be have the opportunity to eat during the school day more often than just lunchtime.  How can someone succeed in school without remembering what happened in yesterday’s class?