Tag Archives: AP classes

Hipster or Hoopster?

opinion piece

by Kardel Howard

When the alarm rings at 6:30 AM, it’s a struggle to get up if you’re exhausted from last night’s practice. Another 300 push-ups, 20 50-yard sprints, 30 bench presses of 180 pounds, after seven classes, including a quiz in geometry, an AP world history debate and a 16-page English paper to revise.

What’s a harder road at McClymonds? Being an athlete or just a regular student?

Being an athlete means always being sore until you’re conditioned. But then, you can’t miss a day. No sick days at all. If you go to practice all week and miss one day, when you go to practice the next day, you feel like a wimp, dizzy, out of shape, out of breath. It’s a commitment, day in and day out. No dabbling in sports.

There’s also the social pressure and stigma attached to being cool.   Although athletes are admired as the reigning kings and queens of the social oligarchy, that power only comes from looking and acting cool.

There is fear attached to power.  Once a person has had a tiny taste of what it means to rule a school, they will do anything to ensure that power, even if it means sacrificing one’s interests. Camping out for the next Hunger Games movie or Black Ops game is out of the question.  We mustn’t do that.

I feel that a non-athlete has more time to experiment. He or she can join different programs like YOLO and Culture Keepers, even if it isn’t “cool,”  and meet new people. Non-athletes also have more time to finish their homework and talk to their teachers after school.

An athlete like me has practice every day for two hours and only has study hall for an hour.

After practice, you’re  tired. You have to catch the bus home and when you shuffle into the house, all smelly and sweaty, at 10:00, you collapse. You’re lucky if you get into the shower. No time for extra homework.

Since athletes ALWAYS have practice, they do not have time for extra activities like journalism, Student Government, and any other after school programs. This probably limits their chances of being well rounded.

” It is easier being a non-athlete because you don’t have to worry about games, practice and homework,” says Danny Sola, a senior. ” So it’s better to focus on just one thing.”

Her sister, Mickey Sola, a freshman, agrees.” I feel it’s harder to be an athlete because you have to work on sports, project, and daily homework that you get from teachers. The work you get from teacher is already too much.”

As non-athletes, Danny and Mickey believe that athletes do not have it easy and struggle through tests and papers, like everyone else. But they also believe that athletes are graded more easily than others.

I disagree, and I know from experience.  In AP World History, my first essay about imperialism earned a D. No second chance to do it over again. So I had to work harder on the next essay, which was on Modern India and Gandhi.

The proof is also in the athletes’ records: Mercedes Latu, a sophomore and girls’ basketball star and discus thrower,  and Kelton Runnels,  a sophomore and football player, have maintained a 4.0 GPA all year.

As Runnels sees it, “Being an student athlete is difficult. My teachers didn’t just give me a grade because I’m an athlete. I had to earn all my grades.”

But he admits the free tutoring for athletes helps. “Receiving tutoring after school has helped,” he says.  “For example, I was doing poorly in geometry and now I have a B+ in the class.”

That kind of help creates jealousy among non-athletes. Alas, there will always be tension and suspicion between the two groups.

Mack lures transfer students — with sports and community

Breannie Robinson Aronisha Smith, 16 College Ready

by Anastasia Walton

Most transfer to McClymonds for sports, but others yearn for community, after feeling lost in the shuffle of students on bigger campuses like O’High, Tech or Skyline.

Some even come from afar: Vallejo, Manteca, or even San Francisco.

Jenero Rodriguez, sophomore, wakes up at 7:30  am,  gathers his backpack and books and heads for the door.  If he catches the 8:10 am bus from North Oakland he might make it on time for Spanish class.

Rodriguez is starting a new school year at a new campus with new faces, 33 of them (out of 265 students). After wearing a Bulldogs uniform for one year, he proudly dons a Warriors orange and black jersey.

According to the Oakland Unified School District’s student assignment office; there were twelve 9th graders, eleven 10th graders, three 11th graders, and seven 12th graders who transferred to Mack this current school year.

Like Rodriguez, Louis White, junior, 16, switched from Tech to McClymonds and to Mack’s Silver Bowl winning football team.

“The teachers at Mack really care.  They take the time to help you and make sure you get the material, unlike the teachers at my school [Tech],” stated White.

Who are these new faces you might ask? Well it was a question I was asking myself as well. I wanted to know whether the transition was easy and how they adjusted. The main difference, students said, was the encouragement from staff to prepare for college.

Jermaine McCann, an 11th grader said “The staff really pushes you and talks about college, where at my other school, they barely even brought up college.”  “Mack is  one big family,” he added.

Students who leave McClymonds are usually looking for more AP classes and more extracurricular activities, says Rolanda McGhee, Care Manager.

Fitting in at McClymonds may be easier than integrating elsewhere. Principal Kevin Taylor  said, “Students at Mack are very friendly and open so it isn’t hard for new students to settle in. As for the staff, I don’t really think they mind helping to teach a new mind.”

Changes at Mack: More AP Classes, Fewer Suspensions, New Teachers

by Romanalyn Inocencio

Iakiriyya Karimusha,17,  slouches from the weight of her backpack draped on her right shoulder while dragging behind her a gym bag with her basketball gear.

A senior, Karimusha is taking advantage of the AP classes recently offered at McClymonds.  She’s taking AP English, Chemistry, and American Government while taking UC Berkeley’s Calculus class online.  Despite playing on the school’s varsity basketball team as a guard, she has managed to retain a 4.18 GPA.

“Nothing at McClymonds has been challenging to me,” says Karimusha. “But this year, I feel prepared for college, and competitive with the smart kids at Bishop O’Dowd and Berkeley High. I’m in the race now.”

Welcome to the new Mack. McClymonds is trying to change its focus, its approach to discipline and its curriculum. This year, the school has pushed to increase the student body, from 235 to 289, and has recruited 10 new staffers (including three teachers with Teach For America), added six new AP courses and reduced the number of suspensions from 32 last year to 5, relying on restorative justice.

“The biggest change is the focus on the culture, making material relevant, increasing rigor through STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and literature, and focusing on relationships,” says Dinora Castro, the school’s new assistant principal, who is implementing restorative justice at McClymonds.

Even school security officer Donald Mann sees the positive changes at Mack. Teachers are staying late and helping students. “The new teachers are very enthused and hard workers,” he says.

Take Ronald Delaney, one of the three new teachers from Teach For America who joined the Mack staff  at the beginning of the school year to teach AP American Government, one of six new advanced placement classes offered at McClymonds after years of offering only AP English taught by Dr. LuPaulette Taylor.

Delaney spends extra hours helping to tutor students and wants to “convince them that learning is fun.”

Delaney, born and raised in Long Beach attended community college and transfered to UCLA to obtain his degree in anthropology.

“I’m going to put more responsibility on students,” Delaney said about the challenge of teaching an AP class which had never been offered at the school.

Teaching a new class is not the only problem faced by Delaney.  He has to assimilate to the culture established at McClymonds.

“I have something I have to offer and I care about them,” Delaney said.

Delaney based his class “rules” on the school’s new core beliefs: respect, rigor, resilience, and relationships to tackle the “school to prison” pipeline at the Oakland School Unified District.

Last year, 20 percent of Oakland’s African American male students were suspended. African Americans are three and a half times more likely to be suspended, followed by Latinos. African Americans make up 39 percent of the student population in Oakland schools, yet represent 63 percent of the suspensions, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“Half a million dollars were lost because of suspensions,” Castro said.

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.

Cougar, Vandal, Husky: Three Mack Athletes Recruited

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by Pamela Tapia

Excitement reigned at Mack today. “Celebratory” was how Cara Johnson, after school coordinator described the signing day festivities at Mack, complete with speeches by coaches and even NFL player Courtney Anderson.

Mack’s top three football prospects officially committed to college teams. It became official: Marcus Peters Jr., 18, the 6’1”, 185 pound cornerback and receiver, committed to the University of Washington Huskies, as he had announced earlier. Two other Mack players also committed to college teams. Offensive lineman Wendell Taiese signed with Washington State and Jeremiah Walters, who made first team of the Oakland Athletic League and had 70 tackles, four sacks and recovered four fumbles this year, will go the the University of Idaho Vandals as a linebacker.

Why Mack is Failing Us — Four Students Speak Out

By: Lateefah Edmondson    Pamela Tapia

Bonita Tindle      and          Sarai Cornejo

What do you need from high school to be successful in college?

Usually high schools are classified based on factors ranging from class size to parent involvement.  That’s not enough. High schools, like homes, have an obligation to provide students with the mindset to succeed in college.

At McClymonds, we should begin by confronting home-related issues, such as poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and lack of parenting.  We need to feel safe, healthy, engaged, and committed to our future. We need to have more options in classes, more career paths to explore (in the arts and sciences) and more qualified teachers, who are specialists in their academic area.

After McClymonds split into two small schools, the aftermath of the school board’s decision had an overbearing effect on the students, parents, and staff.  The schools were forced to reduce their enrollment leading to cuts in funding.  Students had to travel outside of the only school in West Oakland to attend other schools.

“ Most students need motivation,” said Asia Hill, 16, junior.

Students at McClymonds seem to lack the most critical requirement of all: motivation.  The lack of motivation causes insecurity in students thereby increasing the possibility of not going to college or dropping out of high school.  According to a group of McClymonds students, adults in their lives, including teachers and parents, don’t provide them with motivation or assurance of their success in their future, making it difficult for them to believe in themselves.

In West Oakland, where violence is present every day, making the surrounding environment unsafe, the fear of losing a loved one to gang violence threatens students’ academic success because it distracts their concentration. In the very first days of 2011, one student’s brother was already gunned down in front of a corner store just one block away from school.  Students mourning the 22-year-old man’s death created a disruption in learning for many students who have a relationship with the family.

Outside of failing to provide moral support, Mack fails to provide advanced classes that will give students a head start in college.

“ We need more advanced placement classes so I can be more on a college level,” said Kenya Lee-Fletcher, 18, senior.

Mack offers only one AP class — in English — compared to Oakland High, which offers AP classes in almost every subject.  Students who take the only advanced placement class at McClymonds all feel that the class is taught at the same level as a regular non-AP class at other highly funded schools.

McClymonds high school needs an immense amount of support and funding to provide help to its students. High schools provide essential skills and tools necessary to foster a successful college experience. Schools like McClymonds should lay the groundwork by giving students the necessary tools to succeed in college and in their professional careers.