Tag Archives: west Oakland

Speaking Up: what youth centers in West Oakland should provide

by J’Mya Gray-Martinez

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Chip Johnson blamed problems with youth centers (two open and a third about to open)  in West Oakland on lack of  staff and programs.

Journalism 1 decided to pitch in, providing insight into what should be included in local youth centers and what also needs reform.

“We should have more programs at school instead of at youth centers, because it’s easier for students to get their SAT prep,  help on their homework or class work right here.” (Abbas Hassan)

“More music, dancing, singing, college. Students are bored after school. So they need something to do. If you have these programs then the kids won’t need to do drugs or harmful things like that.” (Jaden Nixon, who transferred out of McClymonds)

“I’m happy with the programs that Oakland has to offer me. I can go to the YMCA on weekends and the Boys & Girls Club on weekdays. They have sports for you to play and they’re very safe. The programs are kind of healthy but you can get good exercise. It keeps the violence away. (Parrish Kendricks)

“Healthy living programs. Not just with eating but when it comes to relationships, violence, and interactions. I want to see programs that will affect the youth like scared straight programs. Also, I want to see more people kids can trust and rely on. Lastly, I want to see more jobs like YEP or Youth Uprising.” (Kaya LaForte)

“I would like to see fun programs. Also educational programs that will help us in the long run. For example, a program that teaches you useful things like how to write a resume, fill out a college application and things like that. I would really like to see tutoring programs also.” (Hailey King)

“We need more fine Arts and Educational Programs because there are a lot of talented kids I know around Oakland that don’t get a chance to show their true talents, and then they get caught up in gangs, drugs, and violence.” (J’Mya Gray-Martinez)

 In Oakland,  I believe we need to provide more programs during school hours so students are forced to go. (Quaylin Wesley)

There are a lot of kids in Oakland with great potential, but usually don’t get a chance to because they get caught up with things they shouldn’t be doing. Having more community programs in Oakland would help most of us be able to express ourselves in different ways.

Too many murders of youth in West Oakland: McClymonds grieving again



Willie Gilbert lived in this house in West Oakland— his cousin, also a teen, was shot to death just a year ago.


opinion piece by Lee Benson

Students at McClymonds are once again grieving — this time for Willie Gilbert, a former student who liked to shoot hoops and was one of a handful of teens to own a car. Gilbert, who will be buried Friday, died from gunshot wounds 10 days ago at Highland Hospital, with police still trying to determine exactly where the shooting took place.

This is the second murder in 2014 of a student who attended McClymonds. In March, sophomore Denzel Jones was fatally shot in front of the Boys’ and Girls’Club on Market Street,

“It’s a shock because i just seen him not too long ago,” said senior Luckie Lovette. “He was one of the first people I met here, he was a funny dude, he would rap with me and stuff. He was a cool dude. He was a good friend of mine for some years and I’m going to miss him.”

The news of his death spread quickly on Facebook and Instagram. It hit students even harder because of the cumulative effect of the murders of friends in Oakland — including the fatal shooting of a young teenage mother by her brother.

Gilbert was a popular figure. “I knew Willie since middle school,” said Deshawn Nelson, a senior. “It’s just sad to see something like that happen and it’s a shame that he’s gone so soon. He deserved to live life just like the rest of us and someone took his life away from him.”

Lionel Hamilton, a senior at Mack, said, “I was devastated when I heard the news, I didn’t want to believe it but I saw the news and everybody was posting it on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve known him since we were little, he was like a brother to me. I was just with him the other day but it hurts me to know that I will never see him again.”

This shocked me as well. I was asleep when a friend called me with the news early Monday morning. It’s sad because I’ve known him since my freshman year; he was always a goofy person and fun to be around. It’s sad to know that I’m never going to see another one of my friends again.

These situations make you wonder who is going to be next. The entire class of 2014 is dealing with their grieving differently. Some are just letting their emotions show because they can’t help it while others just sit there and try to hold it in. The truth is that we are all hurting from the situation, especially because nobody expected it but you have to allow everyone to grieve in their own way.

“No one expected this at all,” said Lovette. “I guess what they say is true: if you look to your left and look to your right, some of ya’ll ain’t gonna make it. It feels like half my class is already gone.”


Eating in class: will we concentrate more?

eatinginclass opinion piece

by Anthony Beron

Some of us come to school hungry, usually because we got up late. It affects our whole day. We can’t concentrate, daydream instead of eating crunchy Doritos or sweet mandarins. So why not let us eat in class?

At McClymonds, students can’t eat in class, said assistant principal Clayton McKinney. His reasons: possible ant or rat infestation; distraction in the classroom.

“Food makes a cleanliness and rodent issue, and it’s distracting for the students. However, we’ve been pretty lenient in the past,” he said. But McKinney acknowledged, “Students should have between four and six meals a day.”

Not so in math teacher Mark Rizkallah’s class. Although Rizkallah could eat in class in his high school in Riverside, California, he supports school rules that prohibit eating in class.He doesn’t eat himself and believes that it distracts from learning. “It’s about who has authority,” he said.

Students disagree with all the reasons for prohibiting food in class. Some teachers eat in class. Students need to eat more frequently and have fewer breaks.

“The food becomes a distraction only when all you’re focused on is trying to sneak a snack,” said Brandon Aninipot, a junior.

In San Francisco, nine high schools and two middle schools have a program called Grab N Go, breakfasts conveniently packaged in bags with all of the components of the meal so students can grab a meal quickly from the cafeteria line or from carts on school grounds. These breakfasts can be eaten in class.

“The Grab N Go Breakfast is one of the best things we offer our students at school,” Mission Principal Eric Guthertz  told The San Francisco Chronicle. “To know that even in the morning rush all of our students can grab a bag, head to class, and have a full belly to begin the day, is powerful.  It is a joy to stand in the hallway greeting each student by saying, “good morning, grab your breakfast and have a great day!”

Food helps teenagers because it strengthens memory, energy levels, and concentration.  Research shows that the brain obtains energy from glucose and that fatty acids strengthen synapses, which are related to memory.  Antioxidants reduce stress by destroying extra oxygen in the body’s cells.  Amino acids — found in protein-rich foods — help concentration and alertness, as well as mood, sleep, and memory.

Because food helps regulate stress, strengthens memory, and provides energy, students should be have the opportunity to eat during the school day more often than just lunchtime.  How can someone succeed in school without remembering what happened in yesterday’s class?

What Queen Latifah means to us

Queen Latifah

by Selena Williams

She’s big and bossy. And what we like most about her is how she knows how to relate to people — with her touch, her eyes, her music.

To all of us in West Oakland, she’s more than glitter, she’s real.

She speaks her mind. For instance, she supports gays and lesbians, and rode in a pride parade. In her hometown in New Jersey, she offers scholarships to minority students in honor of her brother who died in a motorcycle accident.

“She is like a song that never gets old, like Oprah,” said Janaya Andrews, a sophomore at McClymonds.

She’s been around a long time. Queen Latifah burst onto the scene in 1989, one of three hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category.

From her rap origins, she evolved into an actress, jazz singer and icon of classic good taste, without ever losing her edge. “I’m not that into trends,” she says, for starters. “I do my thing.”

Unlike Wendy Williams and Oprah, she adds comedy and originality to her show.

She’s also a plus-size spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color with CoverGirl Queen Collection.  Latifah changed the game, becoming a role model  for Black girls in West Oakland.

For those of us who don’t look like Britney Spears or Madonna, Latifah was the artist to follow and relate to.  Black women were no longer  eye-candy in hip-hop or rap videos: they took control of the mic.  Few artists have had a bigger impact on West Oakland youth.

Now Queen Latifah returns to daytime television with a new talk show.

Co-produced by the hip Will Smith, through his production company Overbrook Entertainment, it features the  usual celebrity interviews, hot topics and pop culture tropes and top tier musical acts.

For me, Queen Latifah is an idol who shows me that you can be famous as a musician and successful as a businesswoman.

In a small school like McClymonds, love takes different forms


Stories, photos and illustrations by students in Journalism 1

Not everyone has a “love” on campus at McClymonds, a school of 270.

People have different passions, too: sports, video games, rap music, flowers, art, fashion, food and chocolate.

Here are the stories and photos we collected:

“‘You’re over my head…I’m out of my mind..’ Every time I hear Classic by MTKO, I just snap my fingers, sing along. That song makes me really happy and brightens up my whole day. I listened to it after I had fallen down the stairs at school, hit my head, and then went to track practice in pain.”

Jaden Nixon

For Rayana Delaney, her first love was lit inside her during a balmy, summer day, at McClymonds High.  At first sight, he seemed like the “one”: charming, funny, caring, loving and overwhelmingly attractive all described him well. Fortunately, for both, they were coincidently students at the same summer school.  Delaney recalls a latent excitement after smiling at him and a requited love-struck stare, immediately prior to an exchange of introductions.

“We became friends right away,” said Delaney. “He was really cute, and he showed a lot of interest in me.  After around two months of being friends and a quick spread of my attraction toward him through my friends, we finally had our first kiss, at school; it was magical.”

Since then, they have both been in an intimate relationship, and are planning on having their first date soon—at a local movie theater.

Delaney’s Valentine’s Day gift to her boyfriend is a card with hearts on it and some chocolate.  His match: a card with a picture of a teddybear on it and pink balloon.

Rayana Delaney, as told by Anthony Beron


“Jessie was walking around her new high school and lost her way. A senior named Chris noticed her immediately and offered to help her. He walked around and around, and was so hooked he wouldn’t let her go home. There was a click between them. “We’ve been together ever since.'”

as told to Jasmine Vilchis

“My grandma makes us feel special: she brings us all together, we all sit on her bed and she’ll tell us a story. We’ll laugh and feel a special bond. We are family.”

J’Mya Gray-Martinez


 “I love hamburgers because they are always there for me, whenever I need food, hamburgers are always there with melted cheese, a juicy patty, crisp buns, and delicious pickles. Every time I’m down and out, I have a hamburger.”

Parrish Kendricks

McClymonds sophomore is fatally shot in front of Boys and Girls Club


The wall at the Boys and Girls Club on Market and 24th Street commemorates Denzel Jones.

photo and story by Anthony Beron

McClymonds high school students were shocked by the shooting in front of the Boys and Girls Club on Market and 24th Streets Saturday night, in which McClymonds sophomore Denzel Jones, 15, was killed along with a 35-year-old man.

“It’s a dangerous corner,” said freshman Jasmine Vilchis. “It makes me think about safety and worry about the killers, still on the loose.”

Vilchis was within earshot of the shooting, and recalls gunshots “ringing in the night, leaving everything silent.”

Spanish teacher Elsa Ochoa described him as having a lot of friends and as a student who presented a reserved resonance. “We’ve lost another youth to violence in Oakland.”

Several grief counselors were available Monday to help students sort out their emotions.

His family asked the public Sunday to help find the gunman who killed him. Police told reporters they have no suspects and no motive yet.

Jones, nicknamed “Beans,” had only attended McClymonds since winter break. He had transferred from Oakland High School and said he most enjoyed math. His sister, Sharda Macon, a psychology major at Laney College,  told KTVU, “We just really need a lot of support right now. It’s hard losing a kid. He’s just a baby.”

Debate coach and journalism assistant Pamela Tapia saw him as a student full of potential and fraught with academic talent, and as someone with a strong work ethic.

“He was genuine, intelligent and mindful. It’s so horrible that he had so much talent that wasn’t harvested; he always turned in the best work and was one of the best students I’ve had.”

In front of the Boys and Girls Club, bystanders stopped to sign two enormous posters and light candles. A huge teddybear and red and white balloons — his favorite colors — also were placed nearby.

“He was hecka quiet,” said freshman Nicole Funes. “He looked smart,  like he was capable of doing good work.”

YOLO event: gummie bears as roofies warn of party dangers


by Nicole Funes

Mock party. Juice instead of scotch. Gummie bears surreptitiously dropped into drinks, like roofies (rohyphnol, a “date rape” drug that renders victims unconscious)

Another creative YOLO event.

About two dozen students participated in the mock party Wednesday after school, organized by Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities (YOLO).

“The kids wanted to do a party and everything we do has to have a message so we decide to do a (mock tale) party to talk about the negative effects on drugs and alcohol at a party,” said youth organizer  Kharyshi Wiginton.

“This event was a success because many people came and they were all engaged,” she added.

Take Erin Nicholson, a senior and YOLO leader. She was sipping a cup of juice and when she set it on the table, someone slipped a gummy bear in her cup. She noticed only when she got to the bottom of her drink. “The lesson was that students don’t have to go to parties to get turned up and there are other ways to have fun,” she said.

The activity was the second in a series to counter violence in West Oakland. In October, several students marched to DeFremery Park to Life is Living Festival with signs  to promote peace.

“We also planned this event to encourage people to break the cycle of drugs violence and dysfunction,” added Wiginton.