Tag Archives: restorative justice

Mack alumna tackles foster care in film in Project Youthview

That Family Thing

 

by Danenicole Williams

The subject is personal, the perspective is introspective and the filmmakers are a 13-year-old from Bayview and McClymonds alum, Bonita Tindle, now a film student at San Francisco State.

The poignant video, “That Family Thing”  which explores Bonita Tindle’s experiences from foster care to rediscovering her own family, was selected as one of twelve finalists in a Project YouthView, a Bay Area competition that creates a venue for youth to tell their stories.

“The film  breaks stereotypes,” says BAYCAT program manager Zara Ahmed, who mentored Miguel Rivera and Tindle. “Bonita’s personality – of a fun, intelligent, thoughtful young woman – erases any negative stigma about foster care.”

One of the more poignant moments comes as Tindle describes reading Harry Potter and waiting for the letter from Hogwart’s to arrive.

This is not Tindle’s first video. Three years ago, she made the finals with her fanciful video, “Dancing Robots, which followed a man’s  dreary robotic routine at work. All that changes when the man meets another man who plays music in the elevator and then exits on a floor where everyone is happy.

The video will be shown May 2 as part of Alternatives in Action’s 10th annual, a one-of-a-kind youth film festival now held at the Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland.

In a mock interview while still at McClymonds, Tindle said her biggest challenge as a filmmaker was “carrying around 120 pounds of equipment on BART, boom lights, tripods and cameras”

The 12 selected youth-created films were chosen through a competitive process by industry and community judges from over 45 pieces submitted by youth throughout the Bay Area.

These shorts focus on topics from restorative justice (by Sunce Franicevic) to “Pressure” ( by Lily Yu) to Life is Living Festival at DeFremery Park (by  Emmanuel Pereida)

WHEN:         

Friday, May 2th, 2014 at 7 pm. Doors open at 6.

WHERE

Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland

Information and Tickets available at www.alternativesinaction.org

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.

macksmack Editor Wins Three Journalism Awards

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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.

A Lesson in Restorative Justice: Mack Students Do the Teaching

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by Pamela Tapia

Strange sight.   The tables were turned at Mack last week.

Judges received a lesson on restorative justice from McClymonds students last Friday.

The 15 students opened “the circle” with agreements about trust and honesty. Senior Amber Hill read  a quote by Maya Angelou (“if we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die”) as students related it to violence in their lives. The judges from Hayward, Richmond, Chicago, and a Mack graduate, all former prosecutors,  looked astonished at the students’ analyses of the quote.

After the circle ritual, the judges praised the students as thinkers and reminded them about the need for more people of color to become attorneys.

As the demonstration of restorative justice came to an end, students who take part in the REAL HARD program escorted the judges to the Malcolm X room where the judges shared the life experiences that led them to become judges and attorneys.

Most Mack students paid particularly close attention to the Mack alumna (class of 1972), Alameda Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte, who moved from Mississippi to Oakland during the civil rights movement as a teen mom.

“You cannot use discrimination as an excuse (for not trying harder),” she told the group. “I know:  I lived through it.”