Category Archives: UC Berkeley

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.

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.

For the second year in a row, Mack wins Silver Bowl

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Photos by Silvia Cardona-Tapia and Ashley Stills

with stats and play-by-play  from MaxPreps and Oakland Tribune

by Silvia Cardona-Tapia

Despite a younger team (only 7 seniors) and a close first half (score tied at 13-13), the McClymonds Warriors  scored three touchdowns in the second half to win the Silver Bowl Friday over Skyline by 33-19.

This was the second consecutive Silver Bowl victory  to which quarterback Eddie Heard  led the Mack team. The team finished 9-2.

Senior running back Harold Halcomb III ran for 162 years and two touchdowns including the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, according to news reports.

After that play, Skyline attempted a lateral, which was fumbled and recovered by Mack’s Jason Brooks for a touchdown, stretching the lead to 25-13. A similar play led to a  40-yard run and touchdown by Lovell Samuels, making the score 33-13. Coming off the field, the Warriors were all smiles. One said, “We got this game.”

But Skyline quarterback Jamal Mayo managed to run for a touchdown, his second in the game, to make the score 33-19. The game ended with another interception by Eddie Heard.

Several Mack grads who had played football rushed onto the field, including Denzale Johnson, now a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley. Johnson was part of last year’s squad  finished the season undefeated 12-0, with the only other school to do so, Skyline in 1997.

“Feels good to watch Mack win. That’s what we’re here for,” said Johnson.

“Skyline has a great program, they came prepared.  Now we are going to enjoy the victory, come February it’s back to the weight room, ” said Coach Curtis McCauley.

McClymonds has won four of the past six championship games and adds another Silver Bowl title to its collection of six, second behind Skyline, which holds 16 titles.

OccupyCal: A Mack Grad Protests and Speaks Out

Marco Amaral lead the marchers in a chat, "Who's Universi... Lacy Atkins / The Chronicle

copyright photo by SF Chronicle

Denzale Johnson, 2011 valedictorian, Mack football player and freshman at UC Berkeley,  was in a San Francisco Chronicle photo of a  demonstration on campus with OccupyCal. He comments:

“I want to educate my friends. I was there to protest an economic system that is corrupted and flawed. It’s a big issue: that 1 percent of the population is accumulating wealth, while 99 percent suffer.

“Tuition is going up 81 percent and it’ll be harder for my younger siblings to have access to a UC. The whole student body was out there. If we don’t step up, who will change the system?

“Mack helped me articulate my position, speak up for myself.”

“It wasn’t my first time [at a protest this year]. I stood out there in the affirmation protest against the Bake Sale [racist sale of cookies for reduced prices], lay out in black in front of Sproul Plaza, letting them know that they can’t walk over us.”


Six McClymonds students selected as paid summer interns

by Pamela Tapia

Six students from McClymonds are among the 60 or so Oakland students selected for paid four-week summer internships through the city of Oakland’s  Mayor’s Office.

The students —  sophomore Devin Simmons, and juniors Eric Abundis, Dominique Albert, Jazmine McDowell, Victor Smith and Ciana Augustine — will work with Nancy Schiff at the Center for Youth Development through Law.

Students from the other high schools in Oakland will intern with businesses as diverse as Kaiser Construction, Metropolitan Golf Links, East Bay Zoological Society, More Radio, and KICU television.

In the past, as many as 250 students were selected as summer interns. “There is limited funding this summer for job slots,” said Cara Johnson, afterschool program coordinator at McClymonds. “The first place to cut in the budget is always programming for youth.”

Mack First: College Commitment Ceremony

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by Pamela Tapia

It was a first at Mack: a signing ceremony for students who were committing to graduate college.

And it  had nothing to do with sports.

At a time when violence and chronic absenteeism dominate the headlines about West Oakland, seniors celebrated the college-going culture at McClymonds on Thursday. With balloons, flowers and speeches, student leaders conducted the first McClymonds College Signing Day, at which all but two seniors pledged to attend college, finish college, and give back to the West Oakland community.

Students had a chance to thank their families and mentors for help in the application process.

Denzale Johnson, the event organizer, co-captain of the football team who was admitted to UC Berkeley on an academic scholarship, thanked his classmates for their participation in the event.

“I’m choosing to go to college because I want to better myself as a person and better my community,” said Kenya Lee-Fletcher, admitted to UCLA.

Students picked up the pen and signed a letter of commitment in front of students in lower grades, their families, and staff members.

“Finally an event that is for all seniors, not just for the football players,” said Bonita Tindle, admitted to San Francisco State University.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson was also present at the signing even though he did not speak.

DeSean Jackson talks about Crenshaw, bullies and achievement

by Pamela Tapia

Nobody knew the “back story”: how McClymonds “won” an assembly with DeSean Jackson, Cal’s beloved star, now 24 and a wide receiver with the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was tweeted and Facebooked, announced and whispered and then, he was there.

Wearing jeans, a light blue Superman T-shirt, earrings, and a beaded necklace, Jackson dominated the room.

“He the man” said Shaquille Jackson, a freshman at Mack (no relation to DeSean).

The football star spoke from the heart, talking about his tough childhood living in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. He mentioned the violence that he witnessed as a kid and remembered friends he lost to crime in that area. He also touched on the subject of poverty and making a promise to his family about “making it big.”

“My mother doesn’t work for anybody. She works for me now,” said Jackson.

Jackson turned to a more serious tone when he explained that bullying was one of the reasons why he got involved in football.

“Where the bullies at?” said Jackson, who is 5-foot-10.

Eddie Heard, standing 6 feet 4 inches tall and quarterback for the McClymonds football team, jokingly stood up as the crowd chanted his name.

“He’s the biggest bully here,” said Dalvin Guy, a sophomore.

Jackson snickered as Heard sat down. He regained the crowd’s attention by assuring the group that “bullying doesn’t pay the bills.”

Jackson explained the dangers of bullying and mentioned his meeting with a victim of bullying on the show “The View.” He described that the 13-year-old victim was bullied by a group of seven teenagers and one of the offenders filmed the entire assault.

Jackson introduced his brother Byron Jackson, former San Jose State University wide receiver, who spoke about achievements in both of their lives.

“Desire. Principle. Belief. Power. With these principles you can achieve what you want,” said Byron Jackson.

Byron Jackson then showed a film about DeSean Jackson’s football career. The film calmed down the excited students, and ended with an image of Jackson’s loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 2011 playoff game.

“Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do it,” said Jackson.

macksmack Editor Wins Three Journalism Awards


Pamela Tapia, editor of macksmack and a writer for the Oaktown Teen Times, has won three journalism awards in a contest for high school journalists in Northern California.

The Northern California Press Women’s Association held a ceremony for the winners on May 11 at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.

Betty Packard, CPW executive director, said they were over 1,000 entries in 17 categories and lauded the quality of the work submitted.

Tapia won second place in feature writing for a story that explored the difficulties that girls experience when they leave gangs. The piece appeared in The Mosaic, a newspaper published by Mosaic, a summer minority journalism program at San Jose State University sponsored by the San Jose Mercury-News and several Bay Area media groups and foundations.

The other two awards were for stories which appeared in Oaktown Teen Times. Tapia won second place in environmental writing for a piece on the creation of YouTube videos by McClymonds students opposed to Proposition 23 and its impact on clear air in West Oakland. “Good use of sensory appeal and  good use of perceptive personal observations,” wrote the judge.

Tapia also won third place in feature writing for a story that explored restorative justice at McClymonds, an alternative to youth court and suspensions.

“What an honor to be recognized!” said Tapia.

Another loss for Mack: Arthur Jackson, college counselor, to leave for grad school

by Pamela Tapia

Another loss for Mack:  its dynamic and popular college counselor.

Arthur Jackson, a Mack alumnus and graduate of UC Berkeley, will leave for graduate school next year.

His departure is part of a major exodus from Mack over two years: first principal Yetunde Reeves and three teachers, now the closure of the Law Academy and “consolidation” of Ina Bendich and Craig Gordon, pink slips for teachers and the departure of Jackson.

“My goal is to hire a better person than me as my replacement,” he said.

Jackson plans to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he will pursue a masters in public policy and management.

Mack students learn about resistance, struggle and dance

By Pamela Tapia

Askari York swayed to the beat of African drums. At the emotional intelligence workshop, Taylor Murray learned that the love you receive as a baby can affect your entire life.  ‘It gave me new ways to help my friends,” said Murray.

Focusing mostly on activism, immigration, leadership and hip hop, twenty students from McClymonds joined several hundred students from around the Bay Area to participate in the tenth annual Ethnic Studies Conference on the UC Berkeley campus Wednesday.

The conference included workshops on the history of walk outs, the Aztec calendar, mass exodus of black people from the bay to suburbs, and creation of social groups like the Black Panthers and Brown Berets.

It opened with a bang. To the beat of drums, UC Berkeley students, wearing authentic traditional Aztec ritual costumes, with colorful feathered headdresses bells around their ankles, performed traditional Aztec dances.

Asian students played synchronized instruments like the gong and drums. The ceremony concluded with Northern African drumming., during which York was invited on-stage by one of the African performer to beat the drums and to dance a few steps of traditional African dancing.

“That’s my people,” said York after returning to his seat exhausted.

Following a workshop on the brief history and organization of major walkouts in East Los Angeles during the 60s, a class of UC Berkeley students walked out of their classrooms and poured into the streets with signs, shouting chants and making demands for “education for all.”