Category Archives: speakers

McClymonds students lobby and present bills in Sacramento with YMCA Youth and Government

Youth and Government may still be predominantly white but McClymonds and other chapters such as Crenshaw, San Francisco and East LA are hoping to make an impact

By Janaya Andrews

For 16-year-old Khristan Antoine, a senior at McClymonds, it was a taste of what it might be to change the world.

“I learned not to give up when something’s hard and to put up with some judging and prejudice,” she said.

After five days of writing bills, lobbying and debating issues in Sacramento, students from McClymonds said that their five-day experience with YMCA Youth and Government was worthwhile and challenging.

The delegation from McClymonds, led by YMCA’s Erika Walker, has grown from six students to 18 students, the most ever, including 10 sophomores and four freshmen.

The bills they wrote, lobbied for and debated included a proposal to set a minimum age for marriage at 16, to hold gun buybacks twice a year and to require all drivers — not just teens — to have six hours of training behind the wheel and  go through a period of time on a permit.

Antoine said that she joined this program because her leadership teacher Relonda McGhee said it would be a great idea if she  joined Y&G.

The only criticism that McClymonds students expressed centered on the long sessions and strict dress codes (several students bought new “business” clothes).

Despite the restrictions,  students said they bonded with others and learned how to argue and compromise. Daijahnae Labat, 14, a freshman, said that she just  wanted to  try  new  things.

“I liked the team building,” said Dazhane Labat, 15, another freshman. “We learned about how goverment works and all its practices.”

 

McClymonds rookies place in BAUDL debate

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Debate practice at McClymonds with coach Joseph Flores

Story photo by Anthony Beron

It was a day to cheer on debaters.

Two McClymonds High School freshmen and a senior placed in the top 10 of the rookie division speakers at the Bay Area Urban Debate League New Year’s Classic debate tournament at UC Berkeley Saturday.

Freshman Hailey King placed 3rd, freshman Parrish Kendricks 8th and senior Anastasia Walton 9th in their first debate. King and partner Kendicks also placed 4th as a team.

The Warriors’ debate team is fledgling, being formed in the fall of 2013.

“They’re getting much better,” said Pamela Tapia, a Mack graduate (and former BAUDL debater) who coaches the team. “We’re trying to become a powerhouse like athletics, but it’s tough to compete for after-school time with our successful sports teams.”

The team meets twice a week near the school library, to cover debate tactics and review sources for arguments.

Tapia said that the team has benefitted from the recent addition of mentor coach Joseph Flores (nicknamed “J-Flo”), a UC Berkeley student who debated for the Los Angeles Urban Debate League.

Placing in the top 20 as speakers were Nicole Funes, 13th, Anique Gichanga, 14th and Jaden Nixon, 16th.

In the novice division, freshmen J’Mya Gray-Martinez and Danenicole Williams placed 13th as a team.

Will New Gun Laws in Oakland Make Mack School Students Safer?

130114_SCI_Guns_jpg_CROP_rectangle3-largeby Anthony Beron

Will tracking guns reduce violence? Or is this just another unworkable solution?

In Oakland, guns appear and multiply. And get used, over and over again.

At McClymonds, students feel mixed about the effectiveness of proposed assembly bill number 180, sponsored by Rob Bonta, D-Alameda that allows the city of Oakland to pass its own gun regulations. Would it have any impact on the street violence that Mack students witness?

“As younger people in the streets get guns, they don’t wanna settle out a fight with their hands- they just kill with a gun,” declares a solemn-looking Lee Benson.

Gun control remains a major problem in Oakland, especially West Oakland.  Five McClymonds High students and alumni were shot in 2012, which is just a fraction of the 1,594 total shooting victims in Oakland last year.

Three hundred and sixty crimes occur per square mile in the “hella” city, which is 320 above the national median according to the website neighborhoodscout.  The Business Insider ranked Oakland as the second most dangerous city in the United States as of 2012.

“The main problem with this is if we track guns that will just give people another reason to use them more quickly,” argued Kardel Howard, “they’re defiant, and there’ll be more violent if rules and deadlines are forced onto them.”

Others feel that you just do the math. “Less guns means less violence,” said Jacob Miles, Mack senior.  

“’The opponents like to paint it as some unreasonable restriction on gun ownership,’” said California senator Darrell Steinberg to the Sacramento Bee. “’And these bills are anything but. They are drawing a very careful distinction between gun ownership for sport, hunting and even self-defense – versus these guns that by definition fire dozens or hundreds of rounds indiscriminately and kill people.’”

Will restrictions work?  We will see when (if) this new proposed assembly bill is signed by Governor Jerry Brown by October 13th.

School’s out, but Mack students still angry over Trayvon Martin

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McClymonds students (left to right Jacob Miles, Lee Benson and Anthony Beron) take part in National Hoodie Day in support of Trayvon Martin.

by Anthony Beron

School’s out, but McClymonds students are closely following the Trayvon Martin trial, now in jury selection.

Several students, including juniors Jacob Miles and Lee Benson, took part in a National Hoodie Day, in support of the 17-year-old Florida high school who was murdered after buying Skittles and Arizona iced tea inside a gated complex in Sanford, Florida.

“I feel that what the man (George Zimmerman) did was out of pocket and the court should give him (Trayvon Martin) justice at least,” says Jacob Miles, a junior.

Zimmerman argued that he was in imminent danger of being attacked by Martin, who was at the time unarmed and pleading for his life, according to CNN.

“I’m angry.  After all, this is just another example of how Black and Latino youth are targeted because of their skin color,” said Rafael (who would not give his last name), a Hispanic male in his 20’s from East Oakland, who was the apparent organizer of the rally.  Rafael added, “We need a revolution!”

“I think George Zimmerman should serve a long sentence in jail, because he killed an innocent person.  It was racial profiling: he just killed Trayvon since he was an African-American male, wearing a hoodie, just walking around,” argued Kardel Howard, a sophomore.

Zimmerman claimed to have been attacked by Martin before shooting him, and later took photos of himself with a broken nose and several cuts and bruises.  The slug of the fatal round Zimmerman fired at Martin was lodged in the teen’s left chest before  paramedics arrived and attempted CPR on him.  Martin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.

Zimmerman’s defense team allegedly tried to form a jury with the least number of minorities as possible.  They denied the allegating: “Absolutely not, but if there isn’t a black juror, that doesn’t mean anything either. It just means that we chose the best people based on their answers to their questions,” according to the New York Daily News.

“I feel like it’s not fair to choose people that are not minorities who can’t relate as much to Martin,”  said Howard. “With more minority jurors, they can relate to racism and oppression better; it should be more balanced.”

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 students’ films explore Black Panthers and homelessness

By Anthony Beron

A 17-year-old Skyline sophomore’s video based on an R & B song by Moria Moore that uses footage of the history of Black Panthers won the Judges Award last week at  Project YouthView.

Lily Yu, a Chinese immigrant who plays jazz bass, created the R&B film Limitations, which revisits the Black Panther Party’s lasting presence in West Oakland.  She won a $500 cash prize, a Kindle and and a private screening of her film and luncheon at the Dolby studios in San Francisco.

Organized by Alternatives in Action, Project YouthView, which took place last Thursday at the Alameda Theatre in Alameda, screened films by nine finalists. “Human,” a film by Fremont High School graduates Andy To and Dara So, which tells the story of a local homeless man, won the Audience award.

For Yu, film was a new venture. “I really love music,” Yu says, “I’m in my school’s jazz band. I had just started in film, and I didn’t know much about it, so I decided to do a music video.”

Since filming Limitations, she’s contributed to three videos for KQED chronicling the Oakland dropout crisis.

The Skyline High School student came to film through the Bay Area Video Coalition, or BAVC, a group that organizes classes, events, after-school programs, and resources to help students. Yu found her inspiration in BAVC member, Moria Moore, who has since moved to Los Angeles.

“[Limitations] talks about African- Americans, and it came from Moria Moore’s album, History in the Streets,” Yu says. “I used found footage from documentaries about the Black Panthers, and I decided to focus the video on that. You’ll see [Moore] in the spots that the Black Panthers were in many years ago,” she told Oakland Magazine.

Yu said she did not show her family the video until it was completed, as it was so different from anything she’d created before. “I didn’t know if they’d understand,” she said. But they did.

Her BAVC mentors helped her shape her story. ” I had to write out locations for each shot—‘Where do I imagine this part of the song?’”

Sustainable Future for Oakland: Students Care

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by Anthony Beron

Oakland High senior Kasey Saeturn relies on the bus for the long trek to school every day. It’s already overcrowded and unreliable.

Her nightmare could end: an alternative plan known as Scenario 5 could make Oakland more “sustainable” while investing more money in buses to restore service to levels that existed in the past, she told  at an environmental impact report hearing on April 16.

“Buses are overcrowded,” she said.  She also supports “eco-friendly buses.”

Saeturn was one of several students to testify at the hearing about the Environmental Impact Report, which analyzed several alternatives to Plan Bay Area.

In their testimony, students supported Alternative 5, touted as “the environmentally superior alternative,”  which would decrease greenhouse gases and particulate pollution that triggers asthma. It would also budget more money for affordable housing and buses.

The other students were graduates of McClymonds, Street Academy and Bentley high school, who are now attending college. The Rose Foundation’s summer program “New Voices Are Rising” had stirred interest in the plan.

Woody Little, a student at UC Berkeley who grew up in Rockridge, urged that any plan avoid displacing people from their current neighborhoods and create more affordable housing.

Plan Bay Area is a long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. It includes the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan (updated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission), and the Association of Bay Area Governments’ demographic and economic forecast.

This is the first time legislation is asking MTC and ABAG to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, which will coordinate land use and transportation in the regional transportation plan. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light-duty trucks in the nine-county region.  If the plan succeeds in getting people out of their cars, there would be more people riding buses and BART.

Pamela Tapia, a McClymonds graduate, told the story of her family’s displacement: that her mother now has to travel four hours to work and spends $60 a day. “The EIR fails to factor in the impact of gentrification on housing costs in neighborhoods that historically have been home to low-income residents.” Another McClymonds graduate, Devilla Ervin, talked about his foster mother having to move to Sacramento to find affordable housing.

Brenda Barron, who graduated from Street Academy and now attends San Francisco State, testified about changes in transportation: there are no buses near her home after 10 pm. She said that public transit  should be more affordable and frequent  and matters to younger people.

Another public hearing is scheduled in Fremont on May 1 at 6 pm at the Mirage Ballroom.