Category Archives: graduation

Engineers with Swagg: the New Mack Look

kardelbackpack

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.

STEMmastercomputer

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.

3Dprintermack

“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

lovebysana

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

In and Out of Shadows: A Play About Undocumented Youth Hits Home

Felix and his momHomero Rosas plays Juan Two

by Romanalyn Inocencio

Watching In and Out of Shadows at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco was like sitting in my living room listening to my Mom. The Filipina mother in the story threatened like my mother, giving you a choice of what household instrument you can get hit with.

It hit home because I’m Filipina and these life stories — focused on fears about the police, stress over grades and college — reflect the anxieties of my undocumented cousins and friends.

Some significant details are different of course. The stories of crossing the border into the United States from Mexico, when one kid had to be drugged because he could not learn his fake name,and another had to crawl through the sewers, are harrowing.

The musical builds on a familiar theme: college application.  In it, the undocumented teens are preparing their personal statements for an AB 540 conference at UC Berkeley (AB 540 allows DREAMers to attend California colleges at in-state rates).

 We meet Angel, who arrived in the US alone via a sewer when he was 13. And Juan who, as a determined six-year-old, had to be drugged with cough syrup during the crossing because he adamantly refused to take his cousin’s name as his own. We watch a newly urbanized “vato loco” (crazy dude in Spanish) teaching an undocumented Chinese friend how to speak street Spanish.

Running through the entire musical is the fear of deportation. Many families in the  play  have deceptive status – undocumented parents who lie to their children about their papers (often telling their children they have papers, when they don’t)  and who live in constant fear of separation.

Even under AB 540 or President Obama’s recent two-year deportation deferral program for certain undocumented youth, students who get to stay may suddenly be left alone with nobody to take care of them. The diverse group of young actors, many whom are directly affected by the issue, mix English, Spanish, Tagalog and other languages as they examine the unwieldy human effects of this messy political issue.

When Young Actors Tell Their Real Stories On Stage

inandout3dreamergrilsinandoutfilipinoactor 

photographs by Breannie Robinson

by  Breannie Robinson

“This is my real life,” said actress Deanne Palaganas, a 25-year-old who plays a Filipino mother who is arrested by police and jailed for not having her papers.

The actress talks about the prejudice she encounters, the judgments of people not accepting her because she has no papers even though she pays taxes.

Palaganas portrays an immigrant and single mother from the Phillipines in Gary Soto’s newest play, Living In and Out of Shadows, which played last month at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.

To write his play, Soto read through the harrowing experiences of immigrant teenagers, gathered through interviews conducted by the Marsh Youth Theatre actors, living in Richmond and Pinole, and wove them together in an intricate compilation of stories and songs.

Palaganas herself was an undocumented teen, forced to live in secrecy even while attending college.

Like Palaganas, many of the actors were telling their own stories on stage. Others were portraying people they had interviewed.

The play refrains from stereotyping the immigrant look and experience.  Soto said his biggest fear was not including enough ethnicities, which is why he added a Chinese teen and added the stories of several of the Marsh Youth Theater’s undocumented actors from Canada, the Phillipines, and Mexico.

This is most noticeable when a young Chinese girl addresses the point, saying “they think only Mexicans and Latinos know the way [across the border] but we Chinese know the route, too. ” In the play, her Chinese family takes a plane ride to Peru, travels from Peru to Mexico and then crosses the Mexican-US border illegally.

Several of the interviews with Marsh Youth Theatre actors made it into the play, including a story from a young man who migrated to the U.S. illegally but told Soto,  “because I’m white, they don’t bother me.”  An Indonesian girl found it frustrating to have people refer to her as Chinese or Mexican.

Besides adding cultural diversity,  Soto made sure to include real details: for instance, a young boy had to re-cross the Mexican-American border through an underground sewer pipeline after he was caught by ICE the first time when trying to cross through the desert with his uncle.

Palaganas said her character reminded her much of her own mother, loud and passionate, outspoken and prone to alternating between rapid or soft Tagalog but never a mixture. “For many of us, this is our story,” she said.

“I’m allowed to stay here because Obama let me,” said Palaganas.”Not many Filipinos are open.  They train their kids to maintain their reputation, to say they have papers,” said Palaganas.

“To them [American-born] we are aliens,” said Palaganas.  She criticized the U.S. government for accepting taxes from undocumented immigrants, but refusing to acknowledge their contribution or pay any benefits. As for undocumented parents, “They tell us we have to act normal, act American,” said Palaganas, who was accepted to UC Irvine and San Francisco State but could not get a scholarship because she was undocumented.

“You just try to live your life normally and don’t tell nobody your status,” says Louel Senores, who plays Felix, the articulate, dancing, rapping Filipino high school student and activist in In and Out of Shadows.

Senores’ story is a bit different: he received his papers in 8th grade. He was able to attend UC Berkeley from which he graduated with a degree in engineering  For him, the challenge was professional: how to portray a jock when he was trained as a ballet dancer.

Although not in the script, he added his own line about being gay because he wanted to include LGBT in the production, as they are among undocumented youth.

“Filipinos from the islands are more conservative, they are not very open to homosexuality,” said Senores. 

After spending time with undocumented cast members, Senores feels fortunate. “I am an immigrant but I got my papers.  I didn’t think of it.  I didn’t realize they had it that hard.  That’s some f***ed up shit,” he added

“It was just a role but it makes you care,” said Senores. “As soon as you know someone who is going through that,  you care.”

Cyber High On Hold: Will College Coordinator Be Replaced?

Sat Act

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.

 

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.