Category Archives: innovation

Back to the future: the secret world of BART

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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.

Keeping the peace at McClymonds: Peacemakers in the classrooms and halls

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by Janaya Andrews

It is a tough third period English class; there is loud bantering, students jumping out of their seats. Sitting quietly in the back, Rhonda Jones stands up and walks around the room calmly. She puts an arm over the shoulder of a particularly irate 9-grader, who is disrupting the class.

“What’s bothering you today and how can I help?” she says. She sounds stern, but her gentle spirit somehow calms the student and redirects his focus to academics.

Jones is a Peacemaker, one of seven at McClymonds High School this year. The program, new to McClymonds, focuses primarily on the needs of 30 students who are on probation, helping them adjust, monitoring their ups and downs, monitoring attendance, assisting them as mentors and providing academic support. The program also has an impact on school culture. The group includes Jones, John Ivy, coach Michael Peters, Hank Roberts and Keith Walters, site manager. It is funded through a grant by Alameda County Probation Department.

“They’re supposed to bring extra support for our neediest kids,” said assistant principal Dinora Castro. “They’re still in the process of structuring and organizing. It’s still a new program.”

“We put kids first,” said Walters about the program. “The  reason  we  wanted  to  come  here  is  because there was  a  high number of  students on  probation who need mentoring in school and after school mentoring and enrichment.”

Peacemakers also  provides support in the classroom, crowd control and academic support. “We  respond  to  the  students in a calm professional, enlightening, proactive manner,” he said.

Students have noticed the impact of Peacemakers. “Some like the fact that they’re there. Those who don’t enjoy acting out,” said Carliss Le Roy, curriculum adviser. “I guess people are more quiet,” said senior Ibraheem Muhammad. “In rowdy classes, you need to be on your best behavior.”

Behavior changes do occur, said Peacemakers’ Hank Roberts. He repeats what he says to students with whom he works. “I say simply, ‘This is where the change begins.'”

Advanced Mack STEM Students Make Their Own “Whips” at the Crucible

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Edward Ainsworth, a junior,  works with Kathryn Hall to sand old paint off his bicycle

Story and photo by Anthony Beron

McClymonds engineering students welded, grinded, sanded, assembled, improvised and painted. Then they learned a lesson about the weather: as paint was sprayed on their home-made bikes at the Crucible in West Oakland, they realized that the cold weather can’t be tamed as easily as steel can be bent into shape.

The paint cracked, creating an unusually  jagged pattern. David Wright, one of the Crucible’s volunteers, complimented the design, calling it “crackin.”

“It looks really cool,” acquiesced engineering teacher Kathryn Hall, who had arranged for the Crucible staff to help her advanced engineering students build bicycles from scratch.

They met five times over the semester.

Students learned how to weld, paint and grind metal during the workshop in a hands-on manner during the five day-long course that was held over a period of five weeks, describing it as fun and challenging. Several students were able to present their own creations last weekend, earning an increased letter grade in extra credit for their engineering class.

They reused old bicycle parts, which ranged from cracked tubes to handlebars to rusted gears and drive-trains. They were then repaired and reassembled into ride-able recycled art, with nuances of accumulated pitch and worn paint.

Despite the alleged hands-on aspect of the course, several instructors complained of students not doing enough of their own work on their projects.

“Come on guys, you can’t have us do all this work that’s supposed to be done by you!” said a disgruntled Sudhu Tewari to Justin Gilreath and Issac Ramirez, a Mack senior and junior, respectively, for not completing an important weld.

When Mack engineering teacher Hall tried to take a ride with another student in the Gilreath-Ramirez designed cart connected to a bicycle, a weld failed when the joint that connected both pieces snapped. The bike, a tandem wheeler cart attached to a repainted and donated mountain bicycle, collapsed.

YOLO event: gummie bears as roofies warn of party dangers

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by Nicole Funes

Mock party. Juice instead of scotch. Gummie bears surreptitiously dropped into drinks, like roofies (rohyphnol, a “date rape” drug that renders victims unconscious)

Another creative YOLO event.

About two dozen students participated in the mock party Wednesday after school, organized by Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities (YOLO).

“The kids wanted to do a party and everything we do has to have a message so we decide to do a (mock tale) party to talk about the negative effects on drugs and alcohol at a party,” said youth organizer  Kharyshi Wiginton.

“This event was a success because many people came and they were all engaged,” she added.

Take Erin Nicholson, a senior and YOLO leader. She was sipping a cup of juice and when she set it on the table, someone slipped a gummy bear in her cup. She noticed only when she got to the bottom of her drink. “The lesson was that students don’t have to go to parties to get turned up and there are other ways to have fun,” she said.

The activity was the second in a series to counter violence in West Oakland. In October, several students marched to DeFremery Park to Life is Living Festival with signs  to promote peace.

“We also planned this event to encourage people to break the cycle of drugs violence and dysfunction,” added Wiginton.

Ink of Art

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By Luckie Lovette

For most students at McClymonds, tattoos represent overcoming trauma or celebrating memory. The tattoos range from symbols like ankh to dates, names of loved ones or flowers.

Ask any student at McClymonds why he or she decided to get a tattoo and the responses range from remembering loved ones to celebrating newborns.

As for its legality, none of the students knew that in California, it is illegal for anyone under 18 (with or without parental permission) to get a tattoo. Most Mack students have had their tattoos done by friends or at tattoo parlors that cater to minors.

There’s nothing new about tattoos. Look at Japanese art and you’ll see warriors with tattoos of their battles or Polynesian tribes where the word tattoo derives from tatus.

Tattoos are trendy today, especially among teens.  With or without parental permission, some kids sneak out and get tattoos, hiding them with long sleeve shirts.  Or it could be a simple “ink hook up.”  In most cases, people preferred their name or that of their loved one to be inked on their body. People chose to get their arms, hands or shoulders designed in special cursive letters, graffiti letters, or fun letter and number fonts.

Gradually, tattoo lovers started exploring new ideas.

However, most students says they have been discriminated against and profiled because of their body art; adults think that a person who has a large tattoo must be affiliated with gangs and violence, which is not true for most people. Some argue that it’s just art, and not prison related.

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Monte Smith, a senior

Smith says his arm tattoos represent “Family, reminiscence, lost loved ones and prosperity.”

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Jermaine McCaints, a senior

Says his tattoos represent “Family”, with special colors of roses, which cost over $300 “Family is important to me because we all stick together as one,” said McCaints.

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Lavance Warren, a junior

His tattoo reads: “Rose.” He dedicated his art to his grandmother to remember her.  “I got my tattoo to remember my grandmother for making a big impact on my life,” said Warren.

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Luckie Lovette, a senior

His tattoo reads “1800”. Which is the block of 18th street and Linden.  “It’s home,” said Lovette.  Although the tattoo is designed in a style of a gang banger, it was transformed to remember his childhood home. “It give an appearance of an illusion to make people think twice what am I?” said Lovette.

DSCF2422Erin Nicholson, a senior

Her tattoo reads “De’miyah” which is the name of her niece.

“She’s my love, she’s my first niece, and she’s my little angel. I got her name tatted so I can remember her everyday,” said Nicholson.

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Jonae Scott, a senior

Has a tattoo of her niece’s name “Ja’dore.”

“It means I own my skin, and I love my niece, she means everything to me,” said Scott.

DSCF2421Shamiela Watkins, a senior

“It just simply means a symbol of life,” said Watkins .

“Some get tattoos for the heck of it but I got mine to enjoy the quality of a positive life,” said Watkins.

“It didn’t hurt as much, but it was worth the cost,” said Watkins.

Better, faster, livelier: why GTA 5 rules

gta-5by Jacob Miles

In Los Santos, 17-year-old Andre Price plays big dreamer Franklin, out-from-Witness-Protection Michael and hustler Trevor. He races a Rari at 110 mph, wields shotguns and manages to amass $600,000. Of course, that puts him in 1st place in the world of Grand Theft Auto V, the latest version of the popular video game.

It’s the talk at Mack, and at schools throughout the Bay. Released just a month ago, it has sold out in one week everywhere, making Rockstar Games, the creators of GTA, over $1 billion, according to press reports.

“To me Grand Theft Auto V is the best game I have played and keeps me on the action of the game for several hours,” said Randall Coleman, a senior. He says the game’s dialogue is so realistic that it takes you to another world. It’s also a game in which your character sweats through his clothes when he runs; crash barriers on freeway medians work; flip flops actually flip and flop.

But beware of downloading a version on your PC: it isn’t out yet and any version you can filth will come back to phish you, or infect you with a virus.

The Chicago Tribune reports that those downloading GTA for PC use from torrent sites are encountering malware.

There are also no breaks for transferring your skils: the game maker says that users who will repeat missions on the online version will only receive half of the reward money the second time around. Bummer.

Grand Theft Auto V, 15th title in the series,  was released last month with much buzz for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

The game is set mainly within the fictional state of San Andreas (based on Southern California) and lets the player roam the countryside and the fictional city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles). The story is told through three player-controlled protagonists among whom the player switches and it follows their efforts to plan and execute six heists to accrue wealth.

It took Price most of the night to beat the game, but he says it was worth it.  “It takes the whole online experience of racing and having shootouts to a whole new level, a player’s paradise.”

What’s gold, blue, shiny and new?

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by Nicole Funes

Now you see him. Now you don’t.

This is not some David Copperfield trick in Vegas: it’s Benjamin Franklin in 3D on the new $100 bill.

Some say the new $100 bill is tacky but the change  of colors makes it visually stunning.

“It looks really fake,” says Ojalique Frison,17,a senior at McClymonds. “It looks like monopoly money and I would rather have the old one back.”

Students and staff at McClymonds said they have had  to adjust to the new features of the bill: its colors, for instance, the blue 3D security ribbon on the side and Franklin’s golden face are jarring, they say. And its texture is odd: Franklin’s shoulder feels,well,ribbed.  “It’s not green and flat anymore,” said Frison.

The old bill was traditionally green and apparently too easy to counterfeit. Now “it looks like money from a foreign country,” said Kharyshi Wiginton, who runs  after school programs for Alternatives in Action. And the bills will  end up in foreign hands: in 2010, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said that two-thirds of$100 bills are circulating abroad.

So hang on to your Benjamins.