Tag Archives: Debate

McClymonds rookies place in BAUDL debate


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.

Why Mack Students Should Care about LGBT

macksmackLGBTby Janaya Andrews

Sometimes justice trumps love. Take Valentine’s Day. I spent it lobbying in Sacramento for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I was one of seven McClymonds students who joined 3,000 students in Sacramento  in a forum about LGBT rights at the 65th Model Legislature and Court of California YMCA Youth and Government.

While in Sacramento, I wrote a bill to promote acceptance of gays, bisexuals, the transgendered, and lesbians. I felt that it was time to support the LGBT, not only because I am standing up for what’s right, but also for truth and justice.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to be what they were born with,” said Shamorra Washington, a freshman. “It’s not like it’s a switch that people could simply flip to change their whole being.  Why should they?”

Our group focused on notable LGBT people from President James Buchanan (our 15th president who was gay but closeted) and  Laura Jane Grace, born Thomas James Gabel, lead singer of punk band Against Me! (transgender who has since switched genders and married).

In my group, we had a guest speaker come talk about her experiences, and she shared a personal story with us about feeling out of sorts. It was in college that that she realized she was transgender. Her upbringing in an accepting family made her less afraid of coming out.

A 2012 survey by the Human Rights Campaign of 10,000 LGBT youth aged 13-17 found that while almost all (91 percent) of LGBT teens are out to their close friends, fewer are out in school (61 percent) and out to their families (56 percent).

Those who were out at school and out to their families reported higher levels of happiness than those who weren’t.

“We are all human, so why treat each other with less respect,” said Washington.  “If you want to be seen and heard, you have to set your feelings free.

As Dorothy Parker so eloquently said, “Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”  She forgot to add it is natural.

And Jean Genet said, “I like the word gay, though I think of myself as queer. I believe the strength in my work comes from that perspective -my being an outsider”.

And I have internalized what these two famous writers said: nobody should be afraid of being gay, just be who you are and love it. Now is the time to act to support LGBT youth.

Violence, Curfew, and the Future of Mack: Students Lead Forum With West Oakland Candidates

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photos by Breannie Robinson

by Selena Williams

Move over, Hofstra University. You have competition in hosting debates: students at McClymonds High School ran their school’s  first Election Candidates Forum last Thursday.

About 60 people attended the forum, including first-time voters like senior Carlos Valladares. “I sense that all  these candidates want to make West Oakland a better community,” said Valladares after the forum.”Tough choice.”

There were few disagreements, unlike the second debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. One candidate — Lynette McElhaney — left early and school board candidate Richard Fuentes could not attend because he had to work (for the Oakland City Council). City council candidate Alex Miller-Cole said he would be “one politician whose cell phone number you have” and candidate Larry Lionel Young Jr. stressed that he understood youth issues better because he was young.

The political forum grew out of interest by students participating in Alternatives in Action’s YOLO Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities. Senior Donte Jackson asked many of the questions about safety, violence, jobs, a proposed teen curfew and McClymonds’ future.

City council candidates included Nyesha DeWitt, a youth dropout prevention specialist, Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, director of a housing non-profit (who left early), Alex Miller-Cole, a small business owner, Sean Sullivan, who works with homeless youth, and Larry Lionel Young, a realtor who ran for mayor in 2010.

The candidates are competing for Nancy Nadel’s seat. Nadel announced that she would step down after four terms representing West Oakland.  All contenders describe themselves as liberal or progressive. They all support community policing and oppose gang injunctions, and youth curfews.

Also speaking were school board candidates, incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge and challenger Benjamin Lang, who said he was the only candidate who has spent no money on his campaign and has accepted no donations. Candidate Richard Fuentes, who has the support of the teachers’ union, could not attend.

Among the more striking statements, Sullivan said that better lighting in Emeryville made the streets there safer and cleaner. And Young kept using slogans to push his candidacy. “Vote LL: Oakland will be well.”

Debate Season Mixed: Tapia Wins 3rd Place, But Empty Trophy Case at Mack

Just a hint of the trophies to come.
by Pamela Tapia

The debate season at McClymonds ended on a high note, with senior Pamela Tapia winning third prize in the junior varsity division at the Bay Area Urban Debate League’s annual League Championship on May 14-15.

Tapia began debating just four months ago. Her strongest argument focused on how the war in Afghanistan served as a distraction for the structural violence in the United States.

Despite Tapia’s victory, Mack lost the largest trophy displayed in its trophy case to one of its rivals.

“It’s a shame we lost our precious trophy — our non-sports trophy — to Fremont,” says Tapia.

Last year, McClymonds’ Tanesha Walker (now a freshman at UCLA) reigned  as number one debater in the league, traveling to nationals to represent the Bay Area. Her victory brought the traveling trophy to Mack.

At a gala dinner Monday night at the Lake Merritt boathouse, students recognized their coaches and volunteers who helped organize practices and tournaments.

Top debater — now a UCLA freshman — visits Mack

by B. Tindle and Miriam Neal

UCLA freshman Tanesha Walker, 19, came back to McClymonds Wednesday to visit the debate team, which she led last year.  On Tuesday, she spoke to the 10th graders about her experiences at UCLA and adjusting to diversity.

“I’m involved in community service, in building a stronger Black community on campus,” said Walker.

Walker has had to give up debate because the focus at UCLA is on parliamentary debate, not urban debate.

She plans to major in mathematics.

“Coming from McClymonds, you’re behind and you have to catch up,” she said.

Vance Wins First Place

  1. winner at debate

    by David Michael

    Stephen Vance, 16, a junior at McClymonds, won first place at the novice Bay Area Urban Debate League on December 11-12.

Vance, who went maverick (or solo), entered the two-day weekend tournament at Balboa High School in San Francisco. More than 30 debate teams attended the tournament, ranging from San Francisco, Oakland, and other East Bay cities. Other Mack debaters included David McNeal (11th place individual speaker in varsity division), Maria McClain and Lateefah Edmondson (in novice division).

On Saturday, Vance faced three teams, and recorded three victories. He won the 9th place speaker trophy and qualified for Sunday’s final rounds.

In Sunday’s final rounds, Vance competed against the remaining top four teams. His winning argument was that the collapse of Aghanistan was tied to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal getting into the hands of terrorists.

“I just wanted a bigger trophy for McClymonds,” said Vance.