Category Archives: teachers

Eating in class: will we concentrate more?

eatinginclass opinion piece

by Anthony Beron

Some of us come to school hungry, usually because we got up late. It affects our whole day. We can’t concentrate, daydream instead of eating crunchy Doritos or sweet mandarins. So why not let us eat in class?

At McClymonds, students can’t eat in class, said assistant principal Clayton McKinney. His reasons: possible ant or rat infestation; distraction in the classroom.

“Food makes a cleanliness and rodent issue, and it’s distracting for the students. However, we’ve been pretty lenient in the past,” he said. But McKinney acknowledged, “Students should have between four and six meals a day.”

Not so in math teacher Mark Rizkallah’s class. Although Rizkallah could eat in class in his high school in Riverside, California, he supports school rules that prohibit eating in class.He doesn’t eat himself and believes that it distracts from learning. “It’s about who has authority,” he said.

Students disagree with all the reasons for prohibiting food in class. Some teachers eat in class. Students need to eat more frequently and have fewer breaks.

“The food becomes a distraction only when all you’re focused on is trying to sneak a snack,” said Brandon Aninipot, a junior.

In San Francisco, nine high schools and two middle schools have a program called Grab N Go, breakfasts conveniently packaged in bags with all of the components of the meal so students can grab a meal quickly from the cafeteria line or from carts on school grounds. These breakfasts can be eaten in class.

“The Grab N Go Breakfast is one of the best things we offer our students at school,” Mission Principal Eric Guthertz  told The San Francisco Chronicle. “To know that even in the morning rush all of our students can grab a bag, head to class, and have a full belly to begin the day, is powerful.  It is a joy to stand in the hallway greeting each student by saying, “good morning, grab your breakfast and have a great day!”

Food helps teenagers because it strengthens memory, energy levels, and concentration.  Research shows that the brain obtains energy from glucose and that fatty acids strengthen synapses, which are related to memory.  Antioxidants reduce stress by destroying extra oxygen in the body’s cells.  Amino acids — found in protein-rich foods — help concentration and alertness, as well as mood, sleep, and memory.

Because food helps regulate stress, strengthens memory, and provides energy, students should be have the opportunity to eat during the school day more often than just lunchtime.  How can someone succeed in school without remembering what happened in yesterday’s class?

McClymonds sophomore is fatally shot in front of Boys and Girls Club

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The wall at the Boys and Girls Club on Market and 24th Street commemorates Denzel Jones.

photo and story by Anthony Beron

McClymonds high school students were shocked by the shooting in front of the Boys and Girls Club on Market and 24th Streets Saturday night, in which McClymonds sophomore Denzel Jones, 15, was killed along with a 35-year-old man.

“It’s a dangerous corner,” said freshman Jasmine Vilchis. “It makes me think about safety and worry about the killers, still on the loose.”

Vilchis was within earshot of the shooting, and recalls gunshots “ringing in the night, leaving everything silent.”

Spanish teacher Elsa Ochoa described him as having a lot of friends and as a student who presented a reserved resonance. “We’ve lost another youth to violence in Oakland.”

Several grief counselors were available Monday to help students sort out their emotions.

His family asked the public Sunday to help find the gunman who killed him. Police told reporters they have no suspects and no motive yet.

Jones, nicknamed “Beans,” had only attended McClymonds since winter break. He had transferred from Oakland High School and said he most enjoyed math. His sister, Sharda Macon, a psychology major at Laney College,  told KTVU, “We just really need a lot of support right now. It’s hard losing a kid. He’s just a baby.”

Debate coach and journalism assistant Pamela Tapia saw him as a student full of potential and fraught with academic talent, and as someone with a strong work ethic.

“He was genuine, intelligent and mindful. It’s so horrible that he had so much talent that wasn’t harvested; he always turned in the best work and was one of the best students I’ve had.”

In front of the Boys and Girls Club, bystanders stopped to sign two enormous posters and light candles. A huge teddybear and red and white balloons — his favorite colors — also were placed nearby.

“He was hecka quiet,” said freshman Nicole Funes. “He looked smart,  like he was capable of doing good work.”

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.

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.

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.

Tradition, sports bring freshmen to McClymonds

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More studious? Freshman Alaydrianna Jones hunkers down in the library.

Photo By Jasmine Moody

by Anastasia Walton

They’re not the targets of balloons full of honey and feathers.  Instead, praise is heaped on them.  So far.

The new freshman class at McClymonds is larger than last year’s, more committed to academics (and sports) and punctual, according to teachers and administrators.

 “For freshmen,  they have a great habit of being on time, but what I need to see is more focus and less immaturity,” said PE teacher Jeremy Namkung.

There are  90 freshman at McClymonds this year, 10 more freshman than last year, says principal Tinisha Hamberlin.  A small group of 25 freshman who had to  attend summer school at McClymonds as eighth graders got an early feel for the “School of Champions.”

The reasons for enrolling at McClymonds range from family tradition to excellence in sports. Although McClymonds has a stronger STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, it was not an apparent factor for students in choosing McClymonds, says Katherine Hall, STEM teacher.

“I chose to come to Mack because it’s close to home and it has the best sports records,” said Rayshawn Lawrence, who attended Westlake Middle School and plans to play football as a Warrior.

For some, tradition goes back several generations. “So far I like Mack, it is not as bad as people try to make it seem,” said Tonisha  Smith, who attended Westlake Middle School last year, “I came to Mack because my grandmother came here.”

For others it was a matter of logistics, mainly commuting. “I had no choice in whether or not I was attending Mack or not. My mom made me come here since it was close to home, but so far I really love all my new teachers and the new friends I have made here, ” said Tatyana Jones.

Freshmen enthusiasm has spread to those who work with them. Head of security Donald Mann  said that he has to talk to 85% of the freshman class about adjusting to the demands of high school. He says this is not unusual because freshman are used to their middle school’s immature ways. He labeled this class  “one of the best freshman classes I’ve seen in 15 years.”

 

The Horror of 9/11: Do you Remember?

by Lee Benson

The 12th anniversary of 9/11  passed like a normal day for McClymonds students: no teacher mentioned it; lunch was hamburger and fries; most kids didn’t even remember it.

Yes, 9/11 was a horrible day for the United States. It started off as any other day, however at around 8:45am EST September 11, 2001 there were reports that terrorists had hijacked a commercial aircraft full of people. But most Mack students were still in diapers.

I interviewed several students at McClymonds High to see how they felt about 9/11.  Virtually no-one at school remembers this day as a day that will live in infamy from then on to this point and forevermore… instead just as a typical day.  “I had just got picked up from school and went to my babysitter’s house and watched it happen,” said Brandon Martin, Mack’s  back-up varsity quarterback. “None of my teachers mentioned the fact that today was the anniversary of the attack.”

Although the memories aren’t clear, most students remember the event. Jacob Miles, a senior, recalls,”I was still in elementary school in the counselor’s office when it happened and they were all talking about it.”

For some, it was a shocker. Deshawn Nelson, also a senior,  says,” I was at Martin Luther King Elementary School and I was playing basketball. I was shocked that none of my teachers told us that it was 9/11 today, not even a history teacher.”

“I was asleep when the attack happened, I was still a little kid,” recalls Kendall Page, a senior. “But today, my teachers didn’t tell me it was 9/11, they just showed us the date on the board like every other day.”

Taivion Foster also hardly noticed.  “I was playing my Xbox and I didn’t really know what was going on, and my teachers didn’t tell me that it was 9/11 today,” he said.

Lavon Washington said, ” He didn’t remember anything because he was too little and his teachers didn’t mention that it was 9/11 today.”

In my opinion, I feel like nobody remembered about today because there is way too much violence out here in Oakland to be thinking about tragic events that occurred over a decade ago on the East Coast. We all try to survive each and every day.

EcoCool: Why Some Mack Students Bike to School

bikingtoschoolphoto

by Lee Benson

His gold bicycle shines in the sunlight, as Shaquan “Sip” Washington locks it outside of McClymonds High School. He is one of only a handful of students and teachers who ride their bicycles to school. “It’s not just eco-friendly, it’s practical,” says Washington.

Today is different: no lock, so the sophomore rolls his Schwinn inside and parks it in Officer Humphrey Garret’s office on the second floor.  In West Oakland, where Bikes 4 Life founder Terry Coleman helps kids fix bikes on 7th Street and sometimes organizes Rides for Peace, bicycles take on a different meaning: they are cheap transportation but they can also be also dangerous.

Two bicycle riders were robbed near West Oakland BART on May 8 (and blogged about it).

Just six weeks ago, McClymonds student Frenswa Raynor was riding his bicycle near the downtown area when police mistakenly identified him as a robbery suspect. He was shot in the jaw.

And there are plenty of bicycle thefts. Just a few months ago, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon broke up a major stolen bicycle ring. Police say most of the stolen bicycles are sold at flea markets in Oakland.

So why do McClymonds students (and teachers) ride their bicycles to school? Necessity or style?

“I ride my bike to school everyday because my parents work and do not have enough time to drop me off at school,” says Washington.

For Rahquille”Roc” Jackson, a sophomore at McClymonds, “it’s way more convenient than walking.”  He adds, “I live down the street.”

For Kelton Reynolds, another sophomore at McClymonds, it’s a way to stay in shape. “As a varsity football player, I look for ways to exercise and strengthen my muscles. This is as effective as me running the track around the football field.” Long term substitute teacher Michael Curry claims that ,”I ride my bike to school occasionally because gas prices nowadays are too high to drive to school everyday.”

Billy Stevens, a freshman on the McClymonds basketball team says that it has double benefits for him, too. “I ride my bike to school because I need to save money and I can get my exercise as well.”

Not all students agree. Luckie Lovette, a junior at McClymonds, prefers to walk. “It’s better exercise and I don’t have to worry about where to park it.”