Category Archives: Debate

McClymonds rookies place in BAUDL debate

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Debate practice at McClymonds with coach Joseph Flores

Story photo by Anthony Beron

It was a day to cheer on debaters.

Two McClymonds High School freshmen and a senior placed in the top 10 of the rookie division speakers at the Bay Area Urban Debate League New Year’s Classic debate tournament at UC Berkeley Saturday.

Freshman Hailey King placed 3rd, freshman Parrish Kendricks 8th and senior Anastasia Walton 9th in their first debate. King and partner Kendicks also placed 4th as a team.

The Warriors’ debate team is fledgling, being formed in the fall of 2013.

“They’re getting much better,” said Pamela Tapia, a Mack graduate (and former BAUDL debater) who coaches the team. “We’re trying to become a powerhouse like athletics, but it’s tough to compete for after-school time with our successful sports teams.”

The team meets twice a week near the school library, to cover debate tactics and review sources for arguments.

Tapia said that the team has benefitted from the recent addition of mentor coach Joseph Flores (nicknamed “J-Flo”), a UC Berkeley student who debated for the Los Angeles Urban Debate League.

Placing in the top 20 as speakers were Nicole Funes, 13th, Anique Gichanga, 14th and Jaden Nixon, 16th.

In the novice division, freshmen J’Mya Gray-Martinez and Danenicole Williams placed 13th as a team.

Mack Debaters Place (Again) in BAUDL Tournament

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by Khristan Antoine

Move over, Warriors. McClymonds has a future in debate.

After a late start (at the end of September), a McClymonds debater has placed in the top 20 in two consecutive debate tournaments.

Danenicole Williams, a freshman, placed 18th out of 120 speakers at the Fall Championships held Saturday at Oakland Tech. Along with her partner, J’Mya Gray-Martinez, the young team came in 15th out of 60 teams in the novice division of the Bay Area Urban Debate League tournament.

“I feel pretty smart,” says Williams, flashing a smile. “I felt more confident in myself because of my experience [in the first debate].”

The collaboration was successful because both debaters worked hard. “We would write out each other’s arguments when we struggled with a point or an argument,” she said.

Martinez came in 24th, less than two points behind her partner. “It’s a great opportunity,” said Martinez, who plays basketball. “Most of my peers wouldn’t find debate interesting, but it’s intense and challenging.”

Martinez studied the evidence at home and wrote out her speeches. She enjoys collaborating with Williams, who has more bravado and a fast-talking style.

“We make it fun, even though it’s hard work,” she said.

In the September Season Opener tournament held at UC Berkeley, sophomore Anthony Beron placed 5th as a speaker. He and his partner Dazhane Labat, a freshman,  placed 24th.

Other debaters include Taeylor Barker, Taliah Scott, Sherry Ross and Ringo Buffin, all freshmen, Kardel Howard, a junior, and Anastasia Walton, a senior.

“This is a promising start for a rookie team,” said debate coach Pamela Tapia. “I expect them to do even better with experience. They’re hungry, motivated and nimble, just like our athletes.”

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.

School’s out, but Mack students still angry over Trayvon Martin

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McClymonds students (left to right Jacob Miles, Lee Benson and Anthony Beron) take part in National Hoodie Day in support of Trayvon Martin.

by Anthony Beron

School’s out, but McClymonds students are closely following the Trayvon Martin trial, now in jury selection.

Several students, including juniors Jacob Miles and Lee Benson, took part in a National Hoodie Day, in support of the 17-year-old Florida high school who was murdered after buying Skittles and Arizona iced tea inside a gated complex in Sanford, Florida.

“I feel that what the man (George Zimmerman) did was out of pocket and the court should give him (Trayvon Martin) justice at least,” says Jacob Miles, a junior.

Zimmerman argued that he was in imminent danger of being attacked by Martin, who was at the time unarmed and pleading for his life, according to CNN.

“I’m angry.  After all, this is just another example of how Black and Latino youth are targeted because of their skin color,” said Rafael (who would not give his last name), a Hispanic male in his 20’s from East Oakland, who was the apparent organizer of the rally.  Rafael added, “We need a revolution!”

“I think George Zimmerman should serve a long sentence in jail, because he killed an innocent person.  It was racial profiling: he just killed Trayvon since he was an African-American male, wearing a hoodie, just walking around,” argued Kardel Howard, a sophomore.

Zimmerman claimed to have been attacked by Martin before shooting him, and later took photos of himself with a broken nose and several cuts and bruises.  The slug of the fatal round Zimmerman fired at Martin was lodged in the teen’s left chest before  paramedics arrived and attempted CPR on him.  Martin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.

Zimmerman’s defense team allegedly tried to form a jury with the least number of minorities as possible.  They denied the allegating: “Absolutely not, but if there isn’t a black juror, that doesn’t mean anything either. It just means that we chose the best people based on their answers to their questions,” according to the New York Daily News.

“I feel like it’s not fair to choose people that are not minorities who can’t relate as much to Martin,”  said Howard. “With more minority jurors, they can relate to racism and oppression better; it should be more balanced.”

Are you social or studious? Your favorite floor at Mack provides a clue

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photo by Anthony Beron

by Jacob Miles

Here’s the profile: talker, sagger, whistler, rapper, texts while he walks, dawdles in the hallway. Conclusion: definitely fits the personality of a 2nd floor guy.

She’s different: still half asleep, in need of caffeine or a pick-me-up, doesn’t want anyone to ask about her business, avoids confrontation, prefers not to flirt, doesn’t walk too quickly.  Probably prefers the 3rd floor.

Students at McClymonds often engage in a heated debate: about which floor is best:  “Which floor do you prefer?”

While most argue that the second floor is more convenient and social, others prefer the third floor because it is more quiet and also practical: it’s where most classes are scheduled.

So the  question is: which floor do more people prefer? I asked around to see what students and faculty think.

To some students the 2nd floor is more convenient  for a plethora of reasons.”The 2nd floor has the most teachers and we could be taught more and learn more than on the 3rd floor,”  said Luckie Lovette, a junior.

“I like walking down the 3rd floor hallways and seeing the art that goes on the lockers;  also it is more peaceful and quicker to get to class than on the 2nd floor.”  said Danny Cox,  another junior.

Besides the much desired stillness of the third floor,  students claim their allegiance to the top floor  because of the limited presence of security guards (SSOs), principal and vice principal who seem to enjoy roaming through the hallways of the second floor.  No SSOs , no way to get into trouble for any reason.

However, students who like to socialize with their friends prefer the second floor despite increased supervision.

“I’m willing to risk that and talk to my friends because they can’t really control us.” Andre Price, Junior, stated.

Macksmack writers win state high school journalism awards

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Miles Mitchell wins 2nd place in environmental reporting for story on McClymonds garden

Two McClymonds students, senior Romanalyn Inocencio and sophomore Miles Mitchell, have won journalism awards from the California Press Women’s Association.

Mitchell won second place in environmental reporting for a story about the vegetable garden at McClymonds, which appeared in macksmack blog on June 11 2012.

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Romanalyn Inocencio (second from left at a journalism workshop at the Sacremento Bee last fall) wins 3rd place in two highly-contested categories: news and opinion

Inocencio, a senior, won third place in news for a story on changes (new teachers, restorative justice  and added AP classes) at McClymonds that was published in Oaktown Teen Times in January.

She also won third place in opinion for a piece opposing a teen curfew in Oakland.

Sustainable Future for Oakland: Students Care

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by Anthony Beron

Oakland High senior Kasey Saeturn relies on the bus for the long trek to school every day. It’s already overcrowded and unreliable.

Her nightmare could end: an alternative plan known as Scenario 5 could make Oakland more “sustainable” while investing more money in buses to restore service to levels that existed in the past, she told  at an environmental impact report hearing on April 16.

“Buses are overcrowded,” she said.  She also supports “eco-friendly buses.”

Saeturn was one of several students to testify at the hearing about the Environmental Impact Report, which analyzed several alternatives to Plan Bay Area.

In their testimony, students supported Alternative 5, touted as “the environmentally superior alternative,”  which would decrease greenhouse gases and particulate pollution that triggers asthma. It would also budget more money for affordable housing and buses.

The other students were graduates of McClymonds, Street Academy and Bentley high school, who are now attending college. The Rose Foundation’s summer program “New Voices Are Rising” had stirred interest in the plan.

Woody Little, a student at UC Berkeley who grew up in Rockridge, urged that any plan avoid displacing people from their current neighborhoods and create more affordable housing.

Plan Bay Area is a long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. It includes the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan (updated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission), and the Association of Bay Area Governments’ demographic and economic forecast.

This is the first time legislation is asking MTC and ABAG to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, which will coordinate land use and transportation in the regional transportation plan. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light-duty trucks in the nine-county region.  If the plan succeeds in getting people out of their cars, there would be more people riding buses and BART.

Pamela Tapia, a McClymonds graduate, told the story of her family’s displacement: that her mother now has to travel four hours to work and spends $60 a day. “The EIR fails to factor in the impact of gentrification on housing costs in neighborhoods that historically have been home to low-income residents.” Another McClymonds graduate, Devilla Ervin, talked about his foster mother having to move to Sacramento to find affordable housing.

Brenda Barron, who graduated from Street Academy and now attends San Francisco State, testified about changes in transportation: there are no buses near her home after 10 pm. She said that public transit  should be more affordable and frequent  and matters to younger people.

Another public hearing is scheduled in Fremont on May 1 at 6 pm at the Mirage Ballroom.