Category Archives: writing

Why Students Smoke Weed (or Don’t)

OPINION PIECE

by Lee Benson

Is weed a problem at McClymonds High School? Does it lead to absenteeism or cutting class?

Apparently less so, this year, so far.

Geometry teacher Elise Delagnes says,” It was a big problem last year and I had many students come to my class high, but this year it has gotten much better.”

In fact, no students have been suspended for being high at McClymonds. “Weed is not a problem at McClymonds,” says Principal Tanisha Hamberlin.

The changes at McClymonds reflect what is going on nationwide. Statistics show that the percentage of students who smoke weed in high school has dropped from a shocking 8.2% in 2002 to 7.3% in 2009.

As teens begin to smoke weed at a younger age, we would like to know the reason why this is happening. Why smoke instead  of going to class, getting good grades and going to college? In our interviews with several students at McClymonds, we discovered that many students react to stress by coming to school high.

First of all, most students won’t admit that they smoke. They can’t smoke at school because hallway cameras record comings and goings of students. “This is prison, they have cameras everywhere,” says junior Quadry Wesley.

Most students also say that sports and drugs don’t mix. At McClymonds, most students play at least one sport.

“I don’t smoke weed because I don’t want to let anybody down who is important in my life,” says Miles Mitchell, a junior and a tight end on the football team.  “I feel like it is a bad influence on little kids. Another reason why I don’t smoke is because I play for the varsity football team and I am trying to get a scholarship so I can go to college.”

Emoni Fountain, a senior and the starting quarterback agrees.  “I don’t smoke weed because I’m an athlete and it makes you have bad lungs, I don’t feel like weed is something that will help me get to where I am trying to be in life. I see people smoking around me all the time and I see the effects of it and I don’t want any part of it.”

In my opinion, students smoke weed  for different reasons, to relieve stress, because it’s cool, to fit in.

Those who do smoke say they work as hard as they play. “I smoke weed because it’s fun. I like to chase the high. It’s kind of relaxing and everything is way more funny than it would be when I am sober,” says junior David Smith. “Just because I smoke doesn’t mean that I don’t get my work done,  I still have above a 2.0, so I really don’t see a problem with it.

Sophomore Jasmine Richardson agrees. “I smoke sometimes because it is funny when you’re high, also I smoke because I want to and it keeps me occupied.”

What China Taught Me: Discipline, Roots, Openness

KhristanChinapagodaphotos by Khristan Antoine

by Khristan Antoine

Extreme is the word that sums up my experience of China: extreme numbers of people, vast expanses, cluttered skylines, extreme smog.

I had never traveled outside the US, not even to Canada or Mexico. I didn’t even own a suitcase. Then I was selected as one of 13 African -American students from the East Bay to travel to the world’s mightiest country, without a clue about language, culture, or history.

On a trip organized by East Oakland Youth Development Center and China-U.S. Study Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), three McClymonds students, Umiika Rose, Brandon Vonderwerth  and I experienced China in all its complexity.

We travelled with photographer Nicka Smith and EOYDC director Regina Jackson as part of a movement to bring more African American students to China.

There was more study than tourism. Every morning, we had lectures by professors and college students on culture, history, traditions,  and economics. The day we landed, we checked into the hotel, took a shower, got dressed for a greeting dinner. We were welcomed with a dinner with varied foods and Peking duck. They prepared welcome signs, greeted us with smiles and an introduction; the Chinese delegates gave brief speeches and we all broke into conversation (through our translators) and ate.

Our first day set the tone and pace of our stay: we went to Beijing foreign studies to attend our first lecture (we had 8 lectures and three Mandarin classes.

The most memorable moments were when we could explore the city, as tourists. We walked through Tiananmen square and the forbidden city. I enjoyed walking up the Great Wall (I wouldn’t say it was easy at all as it was a challenge climbing the uneven stairs and walking up the steep hills).

As we toured, the reaction of people in the street was to stop, stare, and snap.

The biggest surprise for me was seeing the same deep divide between the rich and the poor in China that we know all too well in the United States.

Ask Naya: Advice on Relationship and Etiquette — Are Freshmen Fresh?

naya photo

Dear Naya:

“Today, a pesky  freshman was hassling me, calling me B@!%$ and generally hassling me. What can I do to stop this?”

RG

Answer:

Dear RG,

Oh, those ignorant freshmen!!! Unfortunately, they haven’t realized that high school is basically four years of hell in disguise.

They need to learn the way.  They need to be taught how to solve their inner issues: i.e. if a freshman girl (person A) were to bump into another girl (person B) whilst walking by, you (person B) shouldn’t just immediately square up with person A; you have to talk it out with them.  You need to be the more mature person and temporarily back away from the situation to try to lose that disconcertion you get from that initial shock of extreme rudeness… then go back again and talk it out with that person.

My advice about the foul-mouthed freshman: try to forgive and forget.  When I say forgive and forget, I mean to leave the  things that are trivial in the long-run behind and make a new road for yourself.

You can’t change the game, but you can always change your ways to conform to the game by doing the best thing.

The Big Game: Will Mack Be Tested Early?

by Lee Benson

If McClymonds had a “big game,” it would be the one this Friday against on Central Catholic in Modesto.  Last year’s Mack team is still smarting from the 42-12 loss the Modesto powerhouse inflicted on them: it eliminated McClymonds from a shot at the state’s biggest game.

This year may be different, says Coach Carlos Anderson. Mack is 2-0, off an overwhelming 40-7 crushing of Ferndale last week, while Central Catholic lost to St. Mary’s 47-27. Mack’s quarterback is new, Emoni Fountain, a senior who transferred from Skyline High School.

And the Mack team is more than hopeful. Cornerback Quadry Wesley,  a junior,  says, “I don’t think that it will be close, We are going to serve them”. “It’s a big game and it’s the one we plan on winning,” adds running back Lester Stanley.

McClymonds has been working very hard since that game and very prepared to take on this challenge, says Coach Ron Smith.  In addition to  Fountain, returning players include Kelton Reynolds, Joseph Sanford, Jacob Miles, and star running back LaVance Warren who rushed for 220 yards against Ferndale last week.

“Revenge will be sweet,” predicts defensive tackle Jacob Miles.

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

lovebysana

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

Macksmack writers win state high school journalism awards

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Miles Mitchell wins 2nd place in environmental reporting for story on McClymonds garden

Two McClymonds students, senior Romanalyn Inocencio and sophomore Miles Mitchell, have won journalism awards from the California Press Women’s Association.

Mitchell won second place in environmental reporting for a story about the vegetable garden at McClymonds, which appeared in macksmack blog on June 11 2012.

macksmackkhristanromanalynsacto

Romanalyn Inocencio (second from left at a journalism workshop at the Sacremento Bee last fall) wins 3rd place in two highly-contested categories: news and opinion

Inocencio, a senior, won third place in news for a story on changes (new teachers, restorative justice  and added AP classes) at McClymonds that was published in Oaktown Teen Times in January.

She also won third place in opinion for a piece opposing a teen curfew in Oakland.