Category Archives: cutbacks

Ask Naya: “carry-along” factor: dreams should include friends


Dear Naya

There’s this dream I have been thinking about: I was going to  travel the world.

When I  told my friends, they told me that’s impossible for me to even do, that I should give up.

What should I do?


Dear Confused

I see what the problem is: your friends are only saying that to you because they will miss you if you leave.

Maybe their dreams were crushed when they were your age but age doesn’t have to do with dreams, you aspire and continue to aspire to fulfill  that dream, now there’s a lifelong dream.

Dear Naya

I have a friend who is trying to  travel to different places without me and doesn”t understand  that I want to come.

Can you try to change my friend’s mind before my friend is gone?

We’ve been friends for so long and I  don’t want to lose a best friend suddenly in the 11th grade.


Dear Worried

If you want to stay friends with her, you have to let her follow her dream and I know you will be crushed if she told you to pursuing living your own dreams. You  have a friend who obviously needs your comforting. She’s open enough to be honest. She shared her feelings because she realized that if she didn’t, it would affect your special bond.

Keep pursuing your dreams.  I  know she’s got your back no matter what  happens.

*Dreams are meant to last: without them, we wouldn’t make it in the world.

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.

Why Oakland Shouldn’t Impose A Youth Curfew



by Romanalyn Inocencio

It’s late at night.  I’m stumbling to the bus stop after an exhausting basketball practice with my fellow Lady Warriors.  My feet ache, arms pulsate, and hunger sets in, making my guts screech.  I need to eat.  If I catch the bus on time, I might make it to Taco Bell before it closes. But will I be able to make it back home?

The public relations stunt supported by Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan would make THAT impossible.  And that’s why the youth curfew introduced last year (but not yet approved) would be a bad idea.

I don’t think the police will punish teenagers who live in the Oakland hills–I don’t even think they will stop them. They will only stop teens in areas like West, East, and even North Oakland.  Due to the stereotype of being black or brown–any color actually–and being after hours, that person is automatically viewed as a criminal.  But not the puny, sheltered white kid from the hills coming home from playing the violin with the Oakland Youth Orchestra.  He’s safe from being searched or stopped.

What if I, a varsity basketball player with a 3.5GPA,  ready to graduate,  have a late game and I need to walk home? Is the police going to arrest me for coming from a game? They might, when they see me walking down the street with a bag strapped across my shoulders and baggy shorts.

If the purpose of this curfew is to reduce crime rates among youth, then adults should be targeted as well.  Adults are the master minds in all these situations when they supply teenagers with weapons and often with dope.

We don’t have enough police to patrol teenagers in case of a curfew and who will keep the center (where they are held) open all night?  I don’t think Oakland has enough money for that, and if we do, then it should be used for something that won’t criminalize innocent teens who make their way home after hours.

The curfew will corral teens and cage them inside their homes.  Besides it’s not like criminals would follow the law and stay indoors after hours and become respectable citizens.  They will  just become more sneaky and move their business indoors.

I think police should focus on making sure that teens are not skipping class during the day and making sure they are where they need to be. Day time is not much different from the night.  Fights, shootings, and murders (many of the 100-plus in Oakland) occur during daylight. Let’s focus on keeping our schools safe, first.

Violence, Curfew, and the Future of Mack: Students Lead Forum With West Oakland Candidates

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photos by Breannie Robinson

by Selena Williams

Move over, Hofstra University. You have competition in hosting debates: students at McClymonds High School ran their school’s  first Election Candidates Forum last Thursday.

About 60 people attended the forum, including first-time voters like senior Carlos Valladares. “I sense that all  these candidates want to make West Oakland a better community,” said Valladares after the forum.”Tough choice.”

There were few disagreements, unlike the second debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. One candidate — Lynette McElhaney — left early and school board candidate Richard Fuentes could not attend because he had to work (for the Oakland City Council). City council candidate Alex Miller-Cole said he would be “one politician whose cell phone number you have” and candidate Larry Lionel Young Jr. stressed that he understood youth issues better because he was young.

The political forum grew out of interest by students participating in Alternatives in Action’s YOLO Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities. Senior Donte Jackson asked many of the questions about safety, violence, jobs, a proposed teen curfew and McClymonds’ future.

City council candidates included Nyesha DeWitt, a youth dropout prevention specialist, Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, director of a housing non-profit (who left early), Alex Miller-Cole, a small business owner, Sean Sullivan, who works with homeless youth, and Larry Lionel Young, a realtor who ran for mayor in 2010.

The candidates are competing for Nancy Nadel’s seat. Nadel announced that she would step down after four terms representing West Oakland.  All contenders describe themselves as liberal or progressive. They all support community policing and oppose gang injunctions, and youth curfews.

Also speaking were school board candidates, incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge and challenger Benjamin Lang, who said he was the only candidate who has spent no money on his campaign and has accepted no donations. Candidate Richard Fuentes, who has the support of the teachers’ union, could not attend.

Among the more striking statements, Sullivan said that better lighting in Emeryville made the streets there safer and cleaner. And Young kept using slogans to push his candidacy. “Vote LL: Oakland will be well.”

Inequality: Why Mack Needs To Be More Academic

by Stephen Vance

Will there be more academics at Mack next year? I certainly hope so.

Even though I was admitted to Cal Berkeley, I would have welcomed more AP classes, such as the ones proposed now by McClymonds alumni and the New McClymonds Committee. They proposed adding two AP history courses, two English courses, AP Calculus, AP Spanish and three AP science classes, as well as Environmental Studies and three computer science courses.

I would have benefitted greatly; these classes would have given me the opportunity to satisfy Cal’s requirements. Unfortunately, there was only one AP class available in my four years at McClymonds — AP English.

As these groups point out, we students at Mack are getting an unequal education — fewer AP and honors classes translate into lower skills, lower GPAs as we compete for college admissions, scholarships, and fewer opportunities. We also have fewer courses to choose from: 21 courses at McClymonds, compared to 72 at Oakland Tech. And we are the only high school in Oakland that is overwhelmingly African American.

As I look around me, I see students struggling to graduate because they are missing required courses, partly because they dropped a course along the way or never found a science course they liked.

However for the most part, some students can’t take the course because it is full. Consequently, these students will have to attempt to satisfy the requirement next year.

Personally, I took Pre-Calculus my junior year, but was unable to take Calculus in my senior year, because we do not offer the course. The pickings are scarce. I’ve seen the offerings shrink in my four years here: Environmental Science, Forensic Science, Media Studies, Video Production, Drama, African American Studies, and the closing of the Law Academy.

Mack alumn Donald Layne: what I learned in high school; what I wish I had

"Wish I'd read more books in high school"

by Angelique Villasana

His blue and yellow knitted hat may say UCLA (prank gift from a friend), but Donald Layne’s  a happy freshman at Long Beach State University, where he hopes to major in social work.

“I wish I’d read more books at Mack,” he says, reflecting about his high school days.  He also wishes he’d spent more time studying for the ACTs, had taken the SATs, had written more papers and learned to type better.

What he learned at Mack that was most helpful: researching and writing a senior project; learning Power Point so well that he teaches it to his friends for free and to others for a small fee.

“College is a lot harder than high school,” says Layne, 19, who has a 3.2 GPA and takes advantage of tutoring programs, studies with friends and participates in BLC program that helps with every class.

The reason he chose social work as a major was to help the West Oakland community and other struggling communities. Once he was accepted at Long Beach State, he says he was self motivated and also ready to start his new life in college.

“It’s different, even better to be away from home,” he says. The “better” things are beaches, museums, Rosco’s Chicken and Waffles, warm weather, “people who aren’t negative” and diversity. His new friends include Latinos, African-Americans, Pacific-Islanders and Asians.

The scariest moment was….paying his own bills. Layne has $3,000 in loans and quickly learned to budget.

The New New Thing at Mack : Manufacturing and Engineering

photo by Pamela Tapia

by Pamela Tapia

School board Gary Yee brought along Dan Swinney of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council to pitch a new program to the staff, parents and faculty at McClymonds Wednesday night. However, Yee didn’t stay long at the meeting.

The change in focus at Mack — from law and environmental justice to manufacturing and engineering — was unveiled at a series of meetings, first with principal Kevin Taylor and then with the school’s alumni association.

“We could’ve prevented jobs lost in companies,” said Swinney as he introduced the program created at Austin Polytechnical Academy in West Chicago to the 25 people at the meeting.

The Austin Polytechnical Academy opened in 2007. A New York Times story in April reported that the school is facing funding problems, a decline in enrollment, and was placed in academic probation for the 2010-2011 school year.

In the latest news, on Monday, 100 students walked out of classes at Austin Polytechnic Academy to protest the firing of 7 out of 30 teachers by the interim principal. Students and teachers complained of poor communications and lack of professional development in a piece by the Chicago News Cooperative.

In an attempt to show that manufacturing jobs could be saved in West Oakland, Swinney said that there were jobs that could be filled if the people with the “right talent” applied. According to Swinney, even during the recession there were 3 million jobs in manufacturing.

“Whenever they think of jobs. they think of McDonalds, Wal-Mart, or selling drugs, they don’t think of manufacturing,” said Swinney.

According to Swinney, McClymonds was chosen because of the similarity to West Chicago’s demographics, namely high unemployment, a rise in African American population, and poor funding of public education.

There was many comments from parents after hearing that it took $75,000-100,000 to start the program from scratch and it cost $250,000 a year to maintain the machinery and hire specialized teachers.

“We don’t want to be a district dumping ground,” said Carol Ferguson-Jones, Mack class of ’88 and parent of a student.

“I’m not really excited if you don’t focus on academics,” said Rowanda McGee, a social worker at McClymonds.

“This whole idea is stupid. We need to divert the funds for something that will benefit everybody, not just the people interested in manufacturing. Our class can’t even do algebra, how are they going to do calculus to run a machine?” said Bonita Tindle, a senior at Mack.

Despite some negative reaction from parents, staffband students, the McClymonds administration welcomed the new focus.

“ Kids need another alternative. They need to find a career path with a skill set,” said council member Nancy Nadel. “College is not for everybody. The district needs to support us,” said Sam McNeal, attendance administrator.

“We need a safety net, nothing happens overnight,” said Karen Todd, vice principal at Mack.

There is no word when the final decision will be made.

Another loss for Mack: Arthur Jackson, college counselor, to leave for grad school

by Pamela Tapia

Another loss for Mack:  its dynamic and popular college counselor.

Arthur Jackson, a Mack alumnus and graduate of UC Berkeley, will leave for graduate school next year.

His departure is part of a major exodus from Mack over two years: first principal Yetunde Reeves and three teachers, now the closure of the Law Academy and “consolidation” of Ina Bendich and Craig Gordon, pink slips for teachers and the departure of Jackson.

“My goal is to hire a better person than me as my replacement,” he said.

Jackson plans to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he will pursue a masters in public policy and management.