Category Archives: Children

Ask Naya: time to heal those secret scars

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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”

For vegetarians: school lunch is just fries and an orange

lunch1 Standard school lunch: burger and fries, with one-third ounce packages of sauce to eat your food with.

Opinion piece and photos by Anthony Beron

It’s worse than what’s served at McDonald’s. How can fries be soggy and cold? School lunch at McClymonds —hamburgers and French fries “keeps me away from the cafeteria,” said vegetarian Mickey Sola, a sophomore.

The menu consists of cooked meats, occasionally expired milk, and roughly grated fries that taste gritty and old, and overly salted. If you choose to eschew from the “hot foods,” you then typically get a choice of a salad, or one of three types of sandwiches: turkey, tuna, or salami.

For vegetarians, there is nothing to eat during lunch, save a piece of fruit and a paltry amount of greens.

IMG_20140211_130410 Freshman Eric Coleman collects ketchup for his lunch.

Even omnivore Lucky Lovette, a senior, called school school lunch  “distasteful.”

“I’m the first person to get in line for the food; some of it isn’t good at all and other things are okay. I don’t like the combination of chicken and waffles with syrup, which is something they serve sometimes,” continued Lovette.

If students are concerned about the quality of school lunches, so are California voters, according to the most recent Field Poll released Wednesday. The poll found that 59 percent of California voters listed kids’ eating and exercise habits as their top concern — more than drug use or sex.

At McClymonds, most students feel that their lunch is not that healthy.

“Only people who are hella starved would consider eating the school lunch: the pepperoni tastes like it’s straight from a Lunchables kit, and the cheese is as hard as a rock. ‘Roaches and mice seem to flourish in the building,” said freshman Jerrell Alberty.

In the cafeteria’s kitchen stand a commercial oven and fridge, where food is made to be served to students and faculty. New refrigerators were put into service in 2010 for storing cold sandwiches and salads, about three years before a large rodent problem arose on campus, which put its kitchen out of service for several months.

“The vegetarian menu only has salad and fries in it. The salad is just a lot of ranch dressing, cheese and croutons, with a chunk of lettuce. I rarely ever eat lunch either because I’m not hungry or there’s nothing to eat,” said Sola. She then declared with levity, “I really need to start bringing my own lunch!”

Ironically, just a few feet away from the cafeteria behind a fence that is opened a few times a month, lies a vegetable and fruit garden planted two years ago and maintained by Planting Justice, a Bay Area group dedicated to making freshly-grown food more available to local neighborhoods.

Until two years ago, teachers gave food to students to aid their ability to focus in class and to help keep them from leaving campus during school, says Patricia Calloway, a teacher at McClymonds.

No longer (except for snacks distributed by the Peacemakers and occasionally by teachers) is this practiced.

Students say they survive by runs to corner store a block away on 26th Street and Market, where food ranges from fried chicken to canned soda. “I usually go by the store to buy brownies, honey-buns, juice and chips and eat it for breakfast because I’m usually late to the school, and don’t eat breakfast at home,” said freshman Nicole Funes. “Each visit costs me around two to three dollars.”

“Sometimes I buy stuff from the corner store and save it for lunch, because I don’t like the food here and there’s no off-campus lunch allowed,” stated Funes.

“There’s more variety at the fried chicken store, and everything for sale just tastes better,” said senior Quadrey Wesley. “Everyday there are people who go to the store to get lunch and get back to school hecka late, even though it’s against school rules.”

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Serving up stereotypes

Would quinoa salad (with white bread) represent white people?

Opinion piece

by Nicole Funes

How ignorant of a Catholic girls’ school to honor Black culture by reducing us to fried chicken and watermelon on their menu?

I found it insulting that just 18 miles from West Oakland, in the diverse Bay Area, a group of suburban school girls at Carondelet in Concord decided what to do for Black History Month without looking up a single thing about Black History on the Internet. They just talked about FOOD in the cafeteria. And resorted to STEREOTYPES!!!!

And don’t they have an adviser? Are there no adults involved in menu selection, let alone education?

I think that  those white people were being racist and they didn’t even know what Black History month was about. Their attitude is just too…cavalier.

For instance, if we were in their shoes and had a month to celebrate white history month (as though anyone would REDUCE white history to ONE month of the year)  and we said, “Oh, to honor white people this month,  we’re going to have salad, white bread, olives, and lemonade for lunch. We should put it on our lunch menu!”

And our principal wouldn’t even notice or say anything about it and, then we would go on TV and make fun of their culture like how they do, thinking we barely know their culture or what food they eat, just because it says “white” in front of “history month”, we only have to GUESS what they eat. And then we would have an assembly because peoples’ feelings got hurt, so we just had to apologize: nothing more.  As though, you could just take back words that had inflicted pain.

You would justify your action by claiming ignorance: oh, we just put something to eat this day because we had an assumption that white people eat this food because we might have friends who are white and now we think we are part of the clique!

Keeping the peace at McClymonds: Peacemakers in the classrooms and halls

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by Janaya Andrews

It is a tough third period English class; there is loud bantering, students jumping out of their seats. Sitting quietly in the back, Rhonda Jones stands up and walks around the room calmly. She puts an arm over the shoulder of a particularly irate 9-grader, who is disrupting the class.

“What’s bothering you today and how can I help?” she says. She sounds stern, but her gentle spirit somehow calms the student and redirects his focus to academics.

Jones is a Peacemaker, one of seven at McClymonds High School this year. The program, new to McClymonds, focuses primarily on the needs of 30 students who are on probation, helping them adjust, monitoring their ups and downs, monitoring attendance, assisting them as mentors and providing academic support. The program also has an impact on school culture. The group includes Jones, John Ivy, coach Michael Peters, Hank Roberts and Keith Walters, site manager. It is funded through a grant by Alameda County Probation Department.

“They’re supposed to bring extra support for our neediest kids,” said assistant principal Dinora Castro. “They’re still in the process of structuring and organizing. It’s still a new program.”

“We put kids first,” said Walters about the program. “The  reason  we  wanted  to  come  here  is  because there was  a  high number of  students on  probation who need mentoring in school and after school mentoring and enrichment.”

Peacemakers also  provides support in the classroom, crowd control and academic support. “We  respond  to  the  students in a calm professional, enlightening, proactive manner,” he said.

Students have noticed the impact of Peacemakers. “Some like the fact that they’re there. Those who don’t enjoy acting out,” said Carliss Le Roy, curriculum adviser. “I guess people are more quiet,” said senior Ibraheem Muhammad. “In rowdy classes, you need to be on your best behavior.”

Behavior changes do occur, said Peacemakers’ Hank Roberts. He repeats what he says to students with whom he works. “I say simply, ‘This is where the change begins.'”

From a cold Cabrio to a warm Thanksgiving: how the Golden State Warriors saved my life

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By Luckie Lovette

I never imagined it would happen to me: family crisis, homelessness, and living in a cold 1999 white Volkswagen Cabrio for two months. But unlike  633,782 hungry and homeless Americans, I got lucky.

Through the efforts of my school’s after school program and the Golden State Warriors’ basketball team, I won a shopping spree at Lucky’s supermarket in Alameda on Tuesday.

The Golden State Warriors invited my family and me on a unique Thanksgiving shopping spree. The team’s public affairs head interviewed me, putting a huge camera in front of me and two bright lights that blinded my eyes. She asked me questions about how long I’ve been homeless on the street (two months), how does it feel to sleep in a cold car (freezing), and the days of school  I’ve missed due to my situation (10 days).

The interview took place at the Warriors’ practice facility, among posters of basketball players. That’s when I received an invitation from the Warriors to take my family shopping for food.

Two weeks later, I walked into the supermarket, where my last name was on a banner on a Lucky’s shopping cart, which was breath taking.

Former NBA player Lindsey Hunter and Warriors’ cheerleaders guided me through the store and gave my family and me special printed jerseys with our last name “Lovette.” Camera crews and photographers followed me and as well as four other families. Two special checkout registers were reserved just for us. Our items were rung up and we spent time in front of the grocery store taking pictures with NBA star Klay Thompson and traffic anchor and news reporter Sal Castenada from KTVU, which was a big jaw drop for me.

After that happened, I went to my step-mother’s house and gave her all my Thanksgiving food. Besides my grandmother, she has been a central figure in my life since I was a little kid, welcoming me to her house when I was on the streets struggling to find a home. My grandmother recently tossed me of her house and left me homeless with no food or money.

She was moving back in her house and she threw away all of my prized possessions away – my TV, my neck set with my weights, my Nike Elites, my trophies — and left me to fend for myself. I wanted to take the Thanksgiving food to her house but I felt like she didn’t deserve it because of her mean attitude.

My step mom was very excited that I went shopping for her and her kids. She had to make room in her freezer for two 20-pound turkeys, two brown sugar hams, three pies and a big bucket of ice cream. My family and I were nothing but thankful to McClymonds Youth and Family Center care manager Lovell Ruffin Jr. and former youth manager Jareem Gunter for getting me set up with the Warriors and for a great haircut.

Engineers with Swagg: the New Mack Look

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by Kardel Howard

McClymonds has a new class — engineering.  That means new toys, new tools, and new equipment that students can play with in their newly renovated $60,000 classroom, according to Lynn Baliff, educational consultant.

The new improvements start with the backpacks that were distributed to the Principles of Engineering class. The backpack doubles as a solar-powered cell-phone charger.  Its solar panel is sewn into the front of the backpack, and when placed under sunlight, absorbs the energy and transfers that to its solar-charged battery.  A USB cord plugs into the charged battery while the other side plugs into the phone; then it charges.

Other equipment includes a “master computer” that allows the teacher to monitor all the computer activity in the classroom.

STEMmastercomputer

The engineering class also has a 3D printers that turns  models that are made on the computer to become a physical form. The 3D printer creates the model onto the platform by melting plastic filaments into a shape, and keeps tracing the model until it is no longer amorphous.

3Dprintermack

“The class is advancing,” said Katherine Hall, engineering and math teacher.  In addition to the introductory course, Hall also added an advanced engineering course, Principles of Engineering.

“Next year,” she added, “there will be a third course for seniors.”

The engineering course counts as an elective and has a curriculum that encourages students to use their creativity and think more critically in using their mathematical abilities to solve equations.

There are 20 students total enrolled in the Intro to Engineering class and 15 in the Principles of Engineering class.  Students like Kelton Runnels, a junior, enjoy the new STEM curriculum. ” I believe this engineering class is now opening a lot more doors for us than sports,” says Runnels.

As he sees it, McClymonds is turning over a new leaf.

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?