Category Archives: jobs

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

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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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Why I miss San Francisco

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  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.

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.

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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.

McClymonds Team Wins Junior Achievement Competition

McClymonds Team Wins Junior Achievement Competition

Three McClymonds teams were among four teams to compete at Oakland City Hall Wednesday before a panel of five judges. Winning first place was the team presenting Shake and Bake, Angelique Villasana-Hill, Jashawn Foreman and Damoni Magano.

Gang Violence Rages Through the East, Affects Mack

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OPINION

by Jacob Miles

Somehow, violence in the East always spills over into West Oakland.

March was an awful month. In East Oakland, another life was claimed over so little: a dispute over the theft of $200 worth of marijuana  prompted two shootings at an East Oakland house Sunday morning that left one man dead, another wounded and a lengthy standoff with police before the suspected gunman was arrested.

In the following days, two teenagers, whose names were not released by Oakland Police, were  shot on separate occasions : one teen, near Fremont High, running to football practice, was shot randomly. The other victim was a 13-year old boy who was on his way to school, also shot by accident.

The violence wears us down. “I feel sad because I have a friend and when he was 13-years old he was shot and it still traumatized him to this day. Also it is scandalous how some one could shoot an innocent 13-year old boy,” said  Janaya Andrews, a freshman.

East Oakland lives up to its acquired nickname: “little Iraq.” Residents caught in the cross fire lose their lives to gang wars.  Mayor Jean Quan promises that the violence will start to decrease in Oakland but the death toll keeps mounting.

That violence touches us all. “I feel safe, sometimes, but when going from West Oakland to East Oakland I never know what is going to happen because something can pop-off at any time so I just wait to hear or see something.” Khristan Antoine, junior, explains.

 The borders between East and West, between more dangerous and less  dangerous, between “them”:and “us” seem fluid and ill-defined. “Students shouldn’t have to worry about their lives and worry about which parts of Oakland they should go and which ones shouldn’t be crossed,” said Franklin Hysten, senior director of community programs for Alternatives In Action at McClymonds.

Some students are taking steps to counter the wave of violence in Oakland.

“Our action to this rise in crime in our city will start with our Chicago Peace Pledges, followed by our Peace Talk on May 15, and our Peace fest on June 8. We will release more information on those actions later,” said Kharyshi Wiginton, youth leadership coordinator of Youth Organizing & Leadership Opportunities.

West Oakland has had its share of recent shootings, but the most controversial took place downtown: an Oakland police officer shot McClymonds freshman, Frenswa Raynor, 16,  innocent, and unarmed, mistaken for a suspect in an earlier robbery at Le Cheval restaurant.

“Hopefully, we can get answers to why these murders and shootings keep occurring and what we can do to prevent them from happening to our students,” said Harold Pearson, executive director of Student  Program for   Academic and Athletic Transitioning.

Winning at Mack: Will STEM provide the academic answer?

stemteam

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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