Category Archives: graduates

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.

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.

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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.

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“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.

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.

Only 15, covered, Muslim, and McClymonds’ first non-African-American co-valedictorian

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drawing by Sana Saeed who prefers not to be photographed

by Khristan Antoine and Kardel Howard

At 15, Sana Saeed is McClymonds’ youngest graduate and the first valedictorian who is non-African-American, Muslim and covers her head.

As co-valedictorian along with Iakiriyya Karimushi, she addressed the class of 2013 and guests about Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness.

Her smile is infectious, radiating gentle humor mixed with kindness. Yet, often hidden under her friendly exterior and her elegant head covering, stylishly modified with a gem or chic pin, Saeed argues fiercely, boldly tackles controversial issues — whether about immigation or gun violence — and fits into McClymonds High School as seamlessly as any other student.

“Getting it right, getting it done,” is what propelled Saeed to a 3.85 GPA, said Dr. LuPaulette Taylor, who teaches AP English. “She’s up for challenges and never gives up.”

Junior Darlisha McGlothen describes Saeed as always curious and challenging.”Sana always answers a question with another question, usually pushing you to think more deeply”  McGlothen said. “In one discussion, I finally asked her, ‘Sana, what do you think?’ and she smiled and answered, ‘What do YOU really think?'”

Like her sisters, Saba and Esma, Saeed devoted much of her energy to academics. She is the first valedictorian in the family and the youngest to graduate, though Saba was 16 and salutatorian.  Sana is also the first to be involved in journalism, as a reporter and writer for macksmack.

Saeed researched scarves as her senior project. She was accepted to California State University/East Bay and plans to study nursing.

Earlier this month, Saeed received a $1,500 SuperStar scholarship from Burma SuperStar, which was presented by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. She was one of two McClymonds seniors (out of five winners)  to receive the scholarship.

“This is so exciting,” she said at the time.

 

Some of Sana’s pieces:

From Stewie to Springer: Curse Words Pollute

Cyber High on Hold: Will College Coordinator Be Replaced?

Tougher Gun Laws Now:  Stop the Violence

 Is My Lipstick a Lethal Weapon?

Warrior Gets A Facelift

Winning at Mack: Will STEM provide the academic answer?

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by Anthony Beron

It was a cheerleading event of sorts, but the team was a new academic specialty at McClymonds — STEM or Science Technology Engineering and Math.

On Tuesday night, about 80 people, including parents, students, administrators and representatives from Chevron and Project Lead The Way, met to celebrate the opening of McClymonds Project Lead the Way STEM project.

“This isn’t about making them [students] scientists or engineers, but making them critical thinkers and enhancing their life,” said math and STEM teacher Kat Hall, who taught the school’s first course this year.

“I’m certain that this class and academy will prepare our students for success,” said Colleen Piper, Spanish teacher.

With enthusiasm, principal Kevin Taylor talked about visiting STEM programs in Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Petaluma, and Piedmont only to create  “a Mack version of it.” The school partnered with Chevron for funding and with Project Lead The Way for materials and teacher training.

“I love one thing more than anything else and that is winning” said Taylor.

The expectation, he said, was that STEM would be a winning strategy for McClymonds, injecting creativity in the math and science curriculum and preparing students for the global workplace, a concept that PLTW’s Duane Crum emphasized in his remarks.”These kids can do the job if we pay for training; these jobs will fuel the California economy,” said Crum.

Hall talked about her course, explaining that she tried to spur her students with instant challenges, especially since there were no computers at the beginning of the year.

In one challenge, said student Kardel Howard, “we had to use five different pieces to make a cube. It was the most difficult and most creative project this year.”

Chevron specialist Janet Auer presented Hall with a certificate for a 3D printer. She did not specify the amount that Chevron is donating to McClymonds for the STEM program.

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Mack Alumnus and Former Linebacker Killed At Dice Game

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by Anthony Beron

Students at McClymonds mourned Tre’Vion Foster, 19, a 2012 McClymonds graduate, who was shot to death on the grounds of a San Leandro elementary school on the eve of Valentine’s Day. His friends at Mack created a memorial, where many called him “brother”.   Coach Curtis McCauley referred to him as “the quarterback, the soul of the team.”

A memorial service was scheduled for Friday at 55th and Foothill.

Foster was reportedly killed shortly after playing dice, over a  two dollar debt, according to press reports.  He was a former star linebacker and a Mack alumnus,  who attended Merritt College.

“He was a good kid;” said Mack junior Deshawn Nelson, “He was always respectful, and was pretty much cool with everybody.”

“He was a funny person.  Nobody really had any problems with him,” said Jacob Miles, another Mack junior.  “He was a good football player and was a cool person.  He never got into fights and didn’t hold grudges against people.”

He received praise from coaches and teachers, too. “He was a great young man, who had a great future ahead of him,” said Relonda McGhee, a faculty member at McClymonds High School.  “It was senseless for him to die the way he did.”

Foster’s memorial — with a large orange R.I.P. banner and a table with candles, flowers and personal notes –sits near McClymonds High School’s front exit, where everyone is welcome to leave a note of commemoration.

Cyber High On Hold: Will College Coordinator Be Replaced?

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copyright photo by Getty Images

by Sana Saeed

Matthew Mayne’s departure on January 11  leaves McClymonds High School without a college and career coordinator.  But the vacuum is even larger: Mayne taught a 6th period class and led Cyber High. About 1/3  of the 50 seniors need to pass a Cyber High course to graduate.

Student reaction ranged from disbelief to disappointment. Shannel Rix,16, a junior says, “I may have felt happy when he left, but I realize now that he was bringing me closer to my dreams. He helped us with college apps and getting us ready for college.”

“I had no intention of leaving McClymonds during the school year, but unfortunately due to some circumstances I knew that it was best to do so,” Mayne told macksmack.

Seniors say they turned to Mayne for help with college essays, scholarships, and community service hours needed to graduate. Dr. LuPaulette Taylor and Kim Neal are filling in to help seniors write essays and make sure they fulfill requirements.

 “I continue to work with McClymonds students,”Mayne said.  So some of the students who attend McClymonds are still getting help from him.

Some seniors worked with Mayne to make up credits needed for graduation through Cyber High. Cyber High is a program that lets students make up credits for classes they missed or failed. It offers every class except for foreign language. Danny Sola, 17, a senior, took PE class through Cyber High under Mayne’s guidance. “Matthew won’t be there to open exams for me on Cyber High and I’m starting to fall behind on my work.”

“Matthew Mayne was an important contributor,” said Franklin Hysten, senior director of community programs. ” Matthew quit his job after having accepted a job at another agency,” he added. (He gave a month’s notice and has taken another job working with college-bound foster youth.)

Matthew also ran College Summit and led peer leaders. According to Hysten, he “helped make it a success.”

As second semester began, seniors said they were  struggling to complete college applications and scholarship essays. But mostly, Mayne’s 6th period class is a free-for-all, with little teaching or exam preparation.

Esean Kelly, senior, 18, said that  Mayne helped him with scholarships, college applications, and essays.  Kelly was also a member of the college summit peer leaders.

“We have begun searching for a replacement and the job description is posted on craigslist for anyone who is qualified,” Hysten said.

Since the posting of the job opening, two candidates have been screened by peer leaders.  Interviews will be held Friday, February 22.

“We are currently very close in the process of selecting a Cyber High provider,” stated Hysten.

Meanwhile, faculty members are helping students to complete Cyber High.  Colleen Piper, Spanish teacher, holds Cyber high sessions during 3rd period and lunch and Shelley Smith is covering Mayne’s 6th period college seminar.