Category Archives: ecology

Why Students Smoke Weed (or Don’t)

OPINION PIECE

by Lee Benson

Is weed a problem at McClymonds High School? Does it lead to absenteeism or cutting class?

Apparently less so, this year, so far.

Geometry teacher Elise Delagnes says,” It was a big problem last year and I had many students come to my class high, but this year it has gotten much better.”

In fact, no students have been suspended for being high at McClymonds. “Weed is not a problem at McClymonds,” says Principal Tanisha Hamberlin.

The changes at McClymonds reflect what is going on nationwide. Statistics show that the percentage of students who smoke weed in high school has dropped from a shocking 8.2% in 2002 to 7.3% in 2009.

As teens begin to smoke weed at a younger age, we would like to know the reason why this is happening. Why smoke instead  of going to class, getting good grades and going to college? In our interviews with several students at McClymonds, we discovered that many students react to stress by coming to school high.

First of all, most students won’t admit that they smoke. They can’t smoke at school because hallway cameras record comings and goings of students. “This is prison, they have cameras everywhere,” says junior Quadry Wesley.

Most students also say that sports and drugs don’t mix. At McClymonds, most students play at least one sport.

“I don’t smoke weed because I don’t want to let anybody down who is important in my life,” says Miles Mitchell, a junior and a tight end on the football team.  “I feel like it is a bad influence on little kids. Another reason why I don’t smoke is because I play for the varsity football team and I am trying to get a scholarship so I can go to college.”

Emoni Fountain, a senior and the starting quarterback agrees.  “I don’t smoke weed because I’m an athlete and it makes you have bad lungs, I don’t feel like weed is something that will help me get to where I am trying to be in life. I see people smoking around me all the time and I see the effects of it and I don’t want any part of it.”

In my opinion, students smoke weed  for different reasons, to relieve stress, because it’s cool, to fit in.

Those who do smoke say they work as hard as they play. “I smoke weed because it’s fun. I like to chase the high. It’s kind of relaxing and everything is way more funny than it would be when I am sober,” says junior David Smith. “Just because I smoke doesn’t mean that I don’t get my work done,  I still have above a 2.0, so I really don’t see a problem with it.

Sophomore Jasmine Richardson agrees. “I smoke sometimes because it is funny when you’re high, also I smoke because I want to and it keeps me occupied.”

Popularity and Dangers of Sideshows: Will Latest Police Crackdown Work?

by Lee Benson

After three people were shot at an East Oakland sideshow last weekend, Oakland police said they would crack down, once again, on the long-standing popular phenomenon, which inspires rap lyrics such as Macaroni Time by Chief Keef.

It’s clear from interviews with students at McClymonds that as dangerous as sideshows may be, they attract youths because they feature drag racing, stunts such as donuts, souped up cars, and rowdy crowds. “It’s dangerous but exciting,” said James Smith, a junior. “And then there’s not much else to do at night in West Oakland,” said Kelton Reynolds, a sophomore.

Even community workers agree. Olis Simmons, president and CEO of Youth Uprising, told reporters that  youths in Oakland need positive alternatives to sideshows, but she does not have the resources to keep her neighborhood youth center open past 8 p.m.

In West Oakland, the city recently finished building a youth center on Market Street, but lacks the $190,000 for programming.

Alternatives In Action staff member Shelley Smith feels there are many alternatives, until 6 p.m. at the youth center at McClymonds.  “Kids have many different options of activities to do afterschool.  Some play games like pool and air hockey, some go to the studio and record music, and some chill and eat snacks.”

At night, however, there are no alternatives, community workers say. “(We need) to actually think creatively like some of our sister cities like  San Diego and think about other ways that we can actually redirect this energy,” Simmons said.

Energy does flow at sideshows. Spinning cars whirr, the rubber of tires burn, and crowds cheer. 

The chaos can be scary, students said. Tyanna Jackson, a senior at McClymonds High School says that, ” I have been to one on International but I will never go again. Side shows are crazy, cars are in the intersection doing donuts and often there is at least one person who is injured or worse. At this one, people began to shoot at each other.”

Most sideshows are impromptu. They move to another area if police appear, even West Oakland, which is smaller and easier to patrol than East Oakland, says Jacob Miles, a junior. “I went to a side show on 12th and Adeline, and somebody started shooting like ten minutes into the show,” he said.  “Everybody ran and that was my last time going to a side show.”

Students would prefer not to have to run. Desean Nelson, a junior at McClymonds High School said,” It doesn’t make any sense that people can’t just go to an event and have fun without having to worry about getting hit by bullets.” He added,  “The world that we live in is getting too sick and this unnecessary violence needs to stop.”

In the meantime, Oakland interim police Chief Sean Whent announced several strategies, including having police and CHP officers at popular spots for sideshows. Police launched a similar crackdown in 2010, increasing fines and ticketing spectators. It was unsuccessful.

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.

EcoCool: Why Some Mack Students Bike to School

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by Lee Benson

His gold bicycle shines in the sunlight, as Shaquan “Sip” Washington locks it outside of McClymonds High School. He is one of only a handful of students and teachers who ride their bicycles to school. “It’s not just eco-friendly, it’s practical,” says Washington.

Today is different: no lock, so the sophomore rolls his Schwinn inside and parks it in Officer Humphrey Garret’s office on the second floor.  In West Oakland, where Bikes 4 Life founder Terry Coleman helps kids fix bikes on 7th Street and sometimes organizes Rides for Peace, bicycles take on a different meaning: they are cheap transportation but they can also be also dangerous.

Two bicycle riders were robbed near West Oakland BART on May 8 (and blogged about it).

Just six weeks ago, McClymonds student Frenswa Raynor was riding his bicycle near the downtown area when police mistakenly identified him as a robbery suspect. He was shot in the jaw.

And there are plenty of bicycle thefts. Just a few months ago, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon broke up a major stolen bicycle ring. Police say most of the stolen bicycles are sold at flea markets in Oakland.

So why do McClymonds students (and teachers) ride their bicycles to school? Necessity or style?

“I ride my bike to school everyday because my parents work and do not have enough time to drop me off at school,” says Washington.

For Rahquille”Roc” Jackson, a sophomore at McClymonds, “it’s way more convenient than walking.”  He adds, “I live down the street.”

For Kelton Reynolds, another sophomore at McClymonds, it’s a way to stay in shape. “As a varsity football player, I look for ways to exercise and strengthen my muscles. This is as effective as me running the track around the football field.” Long term substitute teacher Michael Curry claims that ,”I ride my bike to school occasionally because gas prices nowadays are too high to drive to school everyday.”

Billy Stevens, a freshman on the McClymonds basketball team says that it has double benefits for him, too. “I ride my bike to school because I need to save money and I can get my exercise as well.”

Not all students agree. Luckie Lovette, a junior at McClymonds, prefers to walk. “It’s better exercise and I don’t have to worry about where to park it.”

What “Healthy Environment” Means to Mack Students

by Janiero Rodriguez

This week, two youth groups at Mack — YOLO and Real Hard — are promoting the idea of “healthy environment.”

I asked several students and a tutor to define “healthy environment.”

Kardel Howard (not photographed), a sophomore, said

“Water is clean. No trash on the street. The air is clean and smells like trees.”

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Miles Mitchell, sophomore:

“A healthy environment to me is violence free environment and an environment that is very green.”

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Daishawn Shannon, sophomore:

“Keep everything clean, not just your own neighborhood.”

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Lavance Warren, sophomore:

“To keep your neighborhood streets clean.”

Tutor Amy Nickersen said:

“A healthy environment is an environment where you can thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually, physically — clean, safe, makes you feel good. Emotionally — inspiring environment, creative, where you can think productive thoughts.”

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

readytomeet

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.