Tag Archives: success

Mack’s empty halls

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macksmack reporter/photographer Anthony Beron captures the halls and stairways at McClymonds


Macksmack reporters attend journalism seminar at Sacramento Bee

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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.

Mack wins championship game; faces Deer Valley in CIF tomorrow night

Black College Expo: A Student’s Critique

On the spot acceptance by Alabama A & M

by Stephen Vance

My mind was set on Howard University and Xavier University.

There was much buzz about the Black College Expo and the lure of being accepted on the spot. But only a handful of schools were actually accepting on the spot – Fiske and Hampton, among them. We all had worked hard to have our transcripts officially stamped and had badgered teachers to obtain our two letters of recommendations. What a disappointment.

Two days earlier, 14 of my classmates had been accepted on the spot at Alabama A & M, and 7 are pending, as representatives from the university visited McClymonds. That ignited college fever at Mack and honestly, in me.

Dozen of colleges (even CSUs and UCs) were present at the Expo, which hundreds of students attended.

During the three-hours I was there, I stopped by Florida A&M University, Howard, Xavier, Moorehouse, Atlanta Clark University, Hampton, Fisk, and many more.

There were highs and lows with the interactions. High points, in which I was given helpful feedback on whether or not I would get accepted. The low point was the the indifference of the UCLA representative, in sharp contrast with the enthusiasm of the other attending colleges.

The Story Behind the New Mack T-Shirt: In the West, We READ

By macksmack staff
It was a bonding experience for black males at McClymonds — with an opportunity to read and be read to.
“It was inspirational,” said Shaquille Jackson, sophomore at Mack.

School administrators invited 40 professional African American men to conduct an inspirational assembly on Nov. 4 for McClymonds boys to talk about the lack of literacy among the African American community especially among males as part of the school’s campaign “In The West We Read.”  A similar program for girls will be held Jan. 7.

“An unacceptable amount of black men are behind in reading by the second grade,” said Franklin Hysten, director of Alternatives in Action.

Among the panel of professionals were Principal Kevin Taylor and Chris Chatmon-OUSD’s executive officer of African-American Male Achievement.  125 black males attended the event.

The exclusive black male event was the brainchild of Principal Taylor, who earlier this year emphasized reading and writing across the curriculum.

The assembly separated the audience into two groups and read the motivational book by Spencer Johnson “Who Moved My Cheese?”

“It’s especially important to have men read to younger men because most don’t have a memory or experience of someone reading to them,” said Hysten.

“I liked that they took their time out to come and read to us,” said Jackson.

The event focused on boys first because of the lack of Black male role models who are involved in the education of youth.

“African American boys are behind girls in maturity and academics,” commented Hysten.

Next month, McClymonds plans to conduct a girl version – in the west we read for girls.

Turning 48% into 99% — raising the percentage of public school students who graduate in Oakland

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REAL HARD retreat — bonding before tackling the dropout problem and (second photo) “Watch My Back” at Mack”]

By Eric Gant

A survey on how fights and bullying affect learning. Positive stickers that say “Watch my back.” And painting  “48%” on the faces of students (because only 48 percent graduate high school in Oakland). These were some of the “actions” that 14 students took this week after a two-day Real Hard retreat sponsored by Oakland Kids First.
“Students recognize that their community is going downhill and want immediate change and improvement, “ said Angelique Villasana, a junior at McClymonds. “They’re willing to take action.”

The activities grew out of the retreat for students from rival high schools, Oakland Tech and McClymonds, who focused on the controversial question: what stops a high school student from learning in Oakland? Peers, teachers, or the environment?

The goal was to write, through classroom exercises, and enforce a code of conduct that would improve interaction between students and teachers  and stop students from dropping out.

Fourteen students — five from McClymonds, the rest from rival Oakland Tech — attended the two-day leadership retreat. Real Hard is an after-school leadership training program that meets twice a week for two hour each session. Participating students receive a stipend of $350 a semester.
It was not the first time that the students tackled issues like bullying, teachers’ indifference and violence. However, this time students concentrated on relationships between teacher and student as well as among students.
Students also gathered more information than before. The survey at Oakland Tech, for instance, revealed that 54 percent of students feel that fights and bullying in school — whether they are personally involved in them or not — affect their learning and academic success.
At McClymonds, students proudly paraded their “We Got Your Back” stickers in psychedelic green, yellow and  orange. “It was a day of creating a culture of community,” said Stephen Vance, a senior at Mack and president of Oakland citywide high schools’ student government.

Four students will speak at graduation: now who’s the keynote?

Above: Denzale Johnson, valedictorian. Below: Darryanne Vance (left) speaking at EPA hearing

The class valedictorian, Denzale Johnson, and three other seniors — macksmack editor Pamela Tapia, and basketball players Miriam Neal and Darryanne Vance, will speak  at graduation on Thursday June 16. The theme will be  “Facing Challenges and Embracing Opportunities.”

It is unclear who the keynote speaker will be.

Three Mack students win East Bay College Fund scholarships

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by Silvia Cardona

Three seniors from McClymonds High School — Terranisha Nathaniel, Ernest Marshall and Shakuri Evans — have won four-year $16,000 college scholarships from the East Bay College Fund.

The three were honored Tuesday night along with 27 other students from Oakland public high schools  at a ceremony at the Oakland Museum. TV reporter Belva Davis and news cameraman Bill Moore spoke about their challenges, obstacles and success as African American journalists.

Nathaniel, who won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations last year for her environmental activism, plans to attend Chico State. Marshall has enrolled at the University of North Carolina, while Shakuri Evans will go to Humboldt State.

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.