Category Archives: Education

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?

What Queen Latifah means to us

Queen Latifah

by Selena Williams

She’s big and bossy. And what we like most about her is how she knows how to relate to people — with her touch, her eyes, her music.

To all of us in West Oakland, she’s more than glitter, she’s real.

She speaks her mind. For instance, she supports gays and lesbians, and rode in a pride parade. In her hometown in New Jersey, she offers scholarships to minority students in honor of her brother who died in a motorcycle accident.

“She is like a song that never gets old, like Oprah,” said Janaya Andrews, a sophomore at McClymonds.

She’s been around a long time. Queen Latifah burst onto the scene in 1989, one of three hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category.

From her rap origins, she evolved into an actress, jazz singer and icon of classic good taste, without ever losing her edge. “I’m not that into trends,” she says, for starters. “I do my thing.”

Unlike Wendy Williams and Oprah, she adds comedy and originality to her show.

She’s also a plus-size spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color with CoverGirl Queen Collection.  Latifah changed the game, becoming a role model  for Black girls in West Oakland.

For those of us who don’t look like Britney Spears or Madonna, Latifah was the artist to follow and relate to.  Black women were no longer  eye-candy in hip-hop or rap videos: they took control of the mic.  Few artists have had a bigger impact on West Oakland youth.

Now Queen Latifah returns to daytime television with a new talk show.

Co-produced by the hip Will Smith, through his production company Overbrook Entertainment, it features the  usual celebrity interviews, hot topics and pop culture tropes and top tier musical acts.

For me, Queen Latifah is an idol who shows me that you can be famous as a musician and successful as a businesswoman.

“Griots” project comes to McClymonds

mcclymondsgriots

by Jaden Nixon

The “Griots” project made a powerful impact at McClymonds.

“It gave us insight into how Oakland teens think,” said Kaya LaForte, a freshman who saw the exhibit late last month.

“The Griots of Oakland” is the name of a book and an oral history project by five young black men who collected stories of growing up Black in Oakland in interviews with 100 Black  men aged 6 to 24. ‘Griots’ is a West-African word that means storyteller.

“It should be made for the whole school and all of Oakland to see,” said Joseph Sanford, a senior. “It makes me remember about the ‘hood, and what people don’t know about living in a different community and what we do to make it out.”

The project was launched by African American Male Achievement (AAMA), which works to empower young black males, and Alameda Health Care Services Agency created a project to allow young African American males to share their personal experiences. They worked with Story for All to recruit five young men from the ages of 14 to 18 to collect stories.

The young men were taught African American and Oakland history, as well as videography, by the non-profit.

With video cameras and 30 interview questions, the young men hit the streets, interviewed teens at school and captured on video the voices and thoughts of over 100 African American males from the ages of 6 to 24.

Interview questions ranged from “What did you eat for breakfast?” to “What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland?” The answers were sometimes alarming. While nearly 79 percent of boys under 13 said that it was good to be a young black male, 83 percent of those over 13 said that it was hard.

The exhibit at McClymonds included photos, quotes and video clips from the interviews. A book was also published.

However, for some, it is just a reminder of the ordinary. “I’ve seen people get shot. When I see this, I don’t feel anything new,” said McClymonds sophomore Billy Giddens. ” I just go on to the next day.”

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“I, Too, Am Educated” campaign to speak out against prejudice

mackDazhane

After reading a piece about Harvard students speaking out against racism and reclaiming their place on campus, students in the Journalism 1 class at McClymonds decided to launch their own photo campaign.

“We want to show that we are educated and don’t just text, tweet, take selfies and post on Instagram,” said Jaden Nixon, a freshman. “We are young, educated black people in West Oakland who go to school in West oakland,” said freshman Dazhane Labat (pictured above) who takes great offense when asked if she eats fried chicken.

mackHailey

The young journalists also mentioned a recent project about race at the University of Michigan, where students used the hashtag #BBUM to talk about discrimination and stereotyping.

” Once I tell people this is all my hair, they assume I’m mixed,” said Hailey King, freshman.

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J’Mya Gray-Martinez (above) also highlighted the racist remarks directed at mixed race students — questions about their birthplace and racial identity.

mackKaya

 

mackAbbas

Back to the future: the secret world of BART

BART1

Story and photo by Anthony Beron

It was a glimpse into the future of BART: its new, New Zealand-designed  40-mile an hour cable car that’ll zip riders to the Oakland Airport.

About 35 McClymonds’ STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students were treated to a behind-the scenes tour of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), along with a cameo on local TV news Tuesday.

“We learned how trains function and all the careers associated with BART,” said junior Kardel Howard.

The trip was organized by BART and Kathryn Hall, who heads the STEM program at McClymonds.

Why I miss San Francisco

san fransico                      

  Even the new Bay Bridge can’t compete with views from San Francisco

opinion piece by Marlena Younger

I miss the views. Stunning vistas, dotted hills, the blueness of the Bay, Ocean Beach with its limpet shells and sand dollars.

And then there’s the mobility of living in San Francisco: the buses are cheaper and it feels safer, less violent.

On a typical morning on Potrero Hill, I could jump out of bed and race down the street to Potrero Hill Neighborhood House to take a Zumba class. It’s high energy dance with samba music, Latin jazz, Cupid shuffle. Cafés like JB’s Place open in the wee hours. People mill around Safeway on 17th and Potrero street.

My neighborhood in north Oakland (ice city: “we ain’t no squares we polar bears” Mistah Fab) is less lively and more dangerous. There’s a gang injunction that limits the freedom of lots of youths and people in their 20s in your neighborhood.

My job in San Francisco was where I danced — helping people do the homework and teaching hip hop dancing. I combined strong academics — I don’t even have Spanish this year. And although the pay is the same, my after-school job in the East Bay is in San Leandro, an hour and a half from my house.

It’s fun living in north Oakland, but I also miss all of  my friends and family, and on top I miss being in the hood. I miss going everywhere and knowing everybody.