Oakland's Teen Newspaper
Why don't we skate more?
are you in the no-gang zone?
Jamba Juice jumps into campus sales
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Oaktown Teen Times Volume 3, Issue 4
News & Views of Teens in Oakland, California
Talks start, stop after OEA strike
Two birthdays. Two killings. Hundreds grieve.
District, teachers far apart as school year ends; possible second walkout when school resumes
Davante Riley, Eric Toscano lose lives in separate shootings at parties for their 18th birthdays
Staff Report Media Academy Green & Gold, Skyline Oracle , Oakland High Aegis
Oakland teachers decided to walk away from contract talks in May, settting the stage for a possible strike when school resumes in September. Teachers held a long-anticipated one-day strike on Thursday, April 29, effectively shutting down the school system for the day and drawing thousands of teachers, students and supporters to a See STRIKE page 12
photo by Khadijah Byrd-Lesley / Oakland High
sHOut Out Karla Pena (left) and Johana Gonzalez (right), 4th graders at New Highland Academy, joined an estimated 2,000 teachers, students and community members who rallied in Frank Ogawa Plaza on April 29 in support of Oakland Unified School District teachers.
Donors choose to help schools Nonprofit Web site helps teachers fund projects, buy supplies Jose Alvarenga
photo by Daniel Zarazua / Oakland Unity High
expanding horizons Julie Ortega and Bianca Ramos, two Oaktown Teen Times reporters from Oakland Unity High School, arrive in Portland, Ore., for a four-day high school journalism convention in April. The trip was funded in part by Donors Choose, a nonprofit organization that helps teachers raise money for classroom projects, supplies and sometimes trips.
icroscopes, science posters and a human mannequin now enhance Kerry Sullivan's physiology classroom at College Preparatory & Architecture Academy – thanks to an organization called Donors Choose. Donors Choose helps teachers around the country raise money for projects, classroom supplies and even trips. Donors Choose has raised almost $4 million in northern California for 9,632 projects, according to the organization's Web site. “I love this program because it has helped me a lot,” said Sullivan. “Science materials cost a lot of money and Donors Choose is necessary because it helps schools (get) the materials they need." Sullivan, who recommends the program to other teachers, had her latest project funded in January. She received dissection materials, including animal hearts and brains. To get help through Donors See DONORS page 7
Staff Report Media Academy Green & Gold, Skyline Oracle
Just hours after wishing Davante Riley a happy birthday, Fremont Federation students were grieving their former classmate's death. A similar scenario took place three weeks earlier when friends watched as Skyline High senior Eric Toscano was shot at his 18th birthday party. Both funerals drew hundreds of mourners. Riley's funeral also drew alleged gang members from another part of Oakland who fired guns inside and outside the church and instigated street brawls. His own death, police say, had nothing to do with gangs. The two murders — which took place so close together — have some students saying that 18th birthdays must be bad luck. “I'm going to turn 18 soon,” said Chanthavara Seng, a junior at Fremont's Media Academy. “I've got to watch out.” Riley, 18, was fatally shot on April 19, just 14 minutes after his birthday party ended. A 15-year-old girl was charged as a juvenile with his murder, but her name has not been released. Some reports say that she and Riley had been dating for about two weeks. Students at Fremont walked around campus the day after Riley's death with small photos of their friend that they had picked up on a memorial table. Counselors were on site to help students with their grief. Justice Thomas, a Paul Robeson School of Visual & Performing Arts senior, remembered Riley as the first friend he made in high school. “Davante was my brother ... he gave me my name ‘Jay Weez.' He was loving, sweet, and even though he got on my nerves sometimes, he was always cracking jokes.” The day after the murder, students wrote positive comments about Riley on giant memorial signs near the Fremont cafeteria. One of the signs read, “I (heart) you Tay forever. Your name will remain in my heart.” Photos posted on the memorial signs showed Riley enjoying a day at the beach with seniors from Media Academy — photos taken during the senior picnic, less than two days before the murder and one day before his birthday. “One minute I was shaking his hand goodbye, and wishing him a happy 18th birthday after our senior picnic,” said senior Makender See GRIEF page 2
Immigration debate flamed by new Arizona law power a new immigration law gives to local authorities in Arizona. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 requires immigrants to carry alien registraJuan Ramos tion documentation at all times, and Media Academy it gives police the power to question A police officer walked into the people who they suspect are in the Fremont auditorium, shined a flashUnited States illegally. light on a Latino student in the front “You are in America, not beaner row and demanded that the boy show land,” said Cruz as he approached proof that he had permission to be in the student and asked him for his the United States legally. legal documentation. Luckily for the student, the man A club member shared what she wasn’t really an officer, but Cesar hoped the skit would show students Cruz, the instructor for La Raza His- about SB 1070, which became law tory Through Film Club, and the em- in April. cee for the Una Familia Assembly at "We're demonstrating how racist Fremont Federation of High Schools (it is), how injust (it is), and how on May 21. it is affecting immigrants," said By walking into the assembly pre- Suaharimy Arreola, a senior at Fretending to be a cop, however, Cruz mont's Mandela Academy. was demonstrating to students what The Arizona law would also
Possible effects of law dramatized at assembly
target those who hire or knowingly transport illegal immigrant laborers. Luz Gonzalez, a junior at Mandela Academy, has issues with the law. “It’s not right to report someone who is undocumented, because someone who is undocumented could be your family or friend,” she said. Three weeks before the skit, members of the Raza Club, along with students from Castlemont Community of Small Schools, marched from 100th Avenue and International Boulevard to City Hall to demonstrate their disapproval. “I felt proud for my people that were marching with me," said Arreola. "To be honest, in the years before, people marched without result. This time maybe Obama is considering us."
photo by Juan Ramos / Media Academy
give me your papers Cesar Cruz, instructor of La Raza History Through Film Club, "demands documents" from freshman Pedro Flores during a May 21 assembly at Fremont Federation.
Oaktown Teen Times
GRIEF: More shooting at funeral from page 1
photo by Lisa Shafer / Media Academy
WRITERS SHOWCASED Jack Mejia, Fuey Saechao, Jose Alvarenga and Kim Mejia tour the Convervatory of Flowers before attending a May 17 ceremony for the California Press Women journalism contest.
Journalists win state awards Eleven journalists for the Oakland Teen Times were honored by the California Press Women on May 17. Five students and co-managing editors Beatrice Motamedi and Lisa Shafer traveled to the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco for the awards ceremony. Monica Floyd of Skyline High received 2nd place for her opinion piece “Generation Ignorant misuses tech tools.” In features, Fuey Saechao and Jose Alvarenga of Media Academy won 2nd place for “Teens warm up laborers days." Jack Mejia of Media Academy won
3rd place for “Can vampires build your SAT vocab?” and Oakland Unity High's Karina Gonzalez and Jessica Ortega won honorable mention for "The quinceañera – pricey rite of passage." Onisha Barham, Thao Tran and Rosey Uribe of Oakland High, and Devonna Atkins and Ameriah Hayes of Castlemont Business, Information and Technology School won 3rd place for "Two students fatally shot in 16-day span." Before the ceremony, students went on a private tour of the conservatory. – Kim Mejia, Media Academy
OTT clarifications and corrections In a February story on how teens are raising money for Haiti, Oaktown Teen Times contributor Lisa Lac's name was misspelled. Also in February, a story on the proposed North Side Oakland gang injunction incorrectly reported that Oakland Technical High falls into the proposed "safety zone," and a story on a dangerous street crossing incorrectly referred to Alana Stewart instead of Alana Williams. Finally, Kim Mejia co-wrote the back page review of Drew's new "What Is Love. The OTT regrets these errors. Please send notice of any corrections you find to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jean-Philippe. "It feels like too many deaths are happening in our community, and the pain is becoming too intense.” That pain intensified even further for Jean-Philippe and about 300 others at Riley's funeral the next week, when gunfire broke out at the church, causing panic, some injuries and a huge police response. “Basically the funeral was about to end, and before we knew it, there were people yelling saying, 'There’s a shooting,'" said William David Williams, who taught Riley at Media Academy last year. "There were cops everywhere." Williams was devastated to see violence erupt at the funeral, held at Cosmopolitan Baptist Church at 988 85th Ave. in Oakland. “We were not only upset that one of our students was a victim of a shooting, but that they wouldn’t even respect his funeral,” he said. None of the injuries was due to a gunshot, according to news reports, but a pregnant woman at the funeral was taken from the scene in an ambulance.
Until he was slain in front of family and friends gathered to celebrate his 18th birthday, senior Eric Toscano was a Skyline success story. Having turned himself around academically since a rough freshman year, the young man known for his sense of humor, handsome smile and football talent was headed for the college of his choice, say his coach and family. Toscano "exemplified what
Skyline Oracle photo
photo by Davante Riley
18 and Gone Eric Toscano, left, was determined to play football in college, friends say. Davante Riley, right, planned to go to Chico State.
it means to be a brother to all because he celebrated humanity, rather than finding fault with it,” said social science teacher James Richter. “We will all miss that joy.” According to police officers and eyewitnesses, a group of young men drove by and opened fire on the crowd in front of Toscano’s house, killing him and wounding three others. Toscano died at Highland Hospital early the next morning. The three others hit by gunshots — ages 19, 18 and 17 — suffered minor wounds to feet, arms and back, police said. They were being treated at a hospital. Their names were not released, but one of the victims graduated from Skyline last year. At a memorial assembly for seniors and football team members, members of Toscano’s family spoke. Afterwards, stunned and silent students streamed back across campus, many of them crying. “Eric was a light that never
dimmed,” said senior Kayla Wheatfall. “He had this energy that was contagious; every time he smiled, you smiled.” Toscano had played defense for Skyline’s football team. He had been sidelined by several injuries, including a broken arm, but had trained hard and was determined to play, his coach, Jamaal Kizziee, told the Oakland Tribune. Kizziee said Toscano would regularly drop in to his office to check in and tell him about his progress in school. One day, he recalled, Toscano came with some exciting news: He had just been accepted to college,” according to the Tribune. “They’re devastated,” Kizziee told the Tribune, of Toscano’s teammates. “This is going to be an uphill battle, to recover from this.” Police and Crime Stoppers are offering up to $25,000 in information leading to the arrest of suspects. Anyone with information can call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.
Oaktown Teen Times
Teen journalists discuss, question North Side Oakland gang injunction City attorney, Oakland police hold press meet for OTT reporters on details of new gang ban
ity Attorney John Russo and Captain Anthony Toribio of the Oakland police department explained Oakland's controversial proposal for a gang injunction at a press conference for Oaktown Teen Times reporters at Media Academy. The injunction, which was granted by Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman on June 4, makes it illegal for 15 members of the Northside Oakland gang to be together in a 100-block "safety zone" in north Oakland. Toribio oversees police operations in north and west Oakland. Russo is the city attorney for Oakland. Approximately two dozen journalism and law academy students from Media, Mandela High School, Oakland Unity High, EXCEL and Skyline High attended the press conference on April 19, prior to the judge's ruling. They asked questions about the city's plans, including how an injunction would affect Oakland citizens' First Amendment rights. Members of the La Raza History Through Film Club at the Eastlake Oakland YMCA also attended the press conference. Russo called the Northside Oakland street gang "a violent group" that is responsible for "drug sales, robberies and other crimes in a large part of north Oakland, between Berkeley and Emeryville." Members of the gang used assault rifles to kill college student Charles Davis, 25, on May 16, 2009, firing "at least 17 high powered rifle bullets" into a residential neighborhood, according to Russo. Northside gang members have been involved in "at least 11" other homicides, including the killing of Oakland Technical High School student Desiree Davis in September, Russo said. Among other questions, students asked Russo about the city's plans to offer an "opt-out" clause for those who are stopped under the injunction and subsequently decide that they want to leave gang life. — the Editors
MEET THE PRESS Top: EXCEL student Pamela Tapia interviews Capt. Anthony Toribio of the Oakland Police Department on how the injunction will affect students. Middle: Kimberly Guzman of Mandela High listens to Russo's presentation. Bottom: Toribio, who oversees police operations in north and west Oakland, said minors will not be included in the injunction even if they are standing next to a known gang member.
in the zone City Attorney John Russo points to a "safety zone" that he wants to create with an injunction against the North Side Oakland gang. As approved by a judge, the injunction severely limits what 15 named members of the gang can do while within the 100-block area of North Oakland. Russo spoke to members of the Oaktown Teen Times and La Raza History Through Film Club at a press conference on April 19 at Media Academy. photo by Juan Ramos / Media Academy
The Zone & You
The questions below were asked by students during the press conference, with follow-up questions posed by sophomores at Media Academy. Answers were provided by Russo and by Alex Katz, communications director for the City Attorney's office.
How long is the injunction active?
The time limit is basically up to the judge. Right now we’re getting a preliminary injunction, which is different from a permanent injunction. To make the injunction permanent, we have to go to trial. But the short answer is, it’s up to the judge.
What are the consequences if someone violates the injunction?
If someone violates the court’s order, it’s considered contempt of court .... Violations are punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
Will more members be added to the 15 who are targeted by the injunction?
The order will apply to 15 people initially. We could add more people, but only if there is extensive evidence that they are committing crimes as part of the North Side Oakland gang.
Are any of the 15 members teens?
None of the 15 (is a) minor. I think the youngest is 19. All the rest are in their 20s or 30s.
Have any of the 15 gang members already committed crimes?
Yes, all of them (except one) have convictions for crimes such as armed robbery, domestic battery, grand theft, carjacking, felony drug sales (and) possession of an assault weapon. photos by Juan Ramos & Sergio Alvarado / Media Academy
Why aren't other parts of Oakland included in the gang injunction?
This is the way injunctions work. You have to go after one gang, and (the injunction) can only cover the area where the gang has committed crimes. North Oakland is just the first area where we decided to do this, but we could do different injunctions in different areas depending on the evidence.
Will you show photographs of the 15 gang members named in the injunction?
Photos of all of them are in the court documents posted at http://www.oaklandcityattorney.org/ Notable/Gang%20Injunction.html.
Why do you seek gang injunctions when you also believe that education and jobs (are) the root of the problem? I do believe that education and jobs are the root problem, but also we have to use the gang injunction to make the opportunities happen again, because it's not always one answer.
What happens if the gang injunction doesn’t work and the gang members move out of north Oakland?
This injunction will not solve everything. The intention of the gang injunction is to disrupt the gang's drug dealing and the area they own in north Oakland and (to) give a chance to people in the gang who want out and (want to create) a safer community.
New police chief proposes curfew for youth But limiting teenagers' activity could cause 'chaos,' some say David Ramirez
hile unpopular with teenagers, a strictly enforced youth curfew will be key to suppressing our high crime rate, says Oakland’s new police chief. Anthony Batts took over the Oakland Police Department in October 2009. On his list of objectives is lowering Oakland’s crime rate by half. To help accomplish this goal, he believes a citywide curfew on Oakland’s youth should be enacted. In a city notorious for violence, many Skyline parents feel that something needs to be done. “It’s a good idea, especially in Oakland, where safety has been an issue,” said Mandarin-Chinese teacher Wei Wann.
"Buying guns in this city is like buying shoes." — Anthony Batts Oakland Police Chief Asked about the curfew’s time, Wann said, “I’m a mom myself. I feel that that 11 (p.m.) is the latest I would let my daughter go out.” “Parents shouldn’t be dictators, but I feel that guidance and discipline from the authorities and parents are necessary,” said Wann. However, some students disagree. “Curfews are fine for (teenagers) who aren’t 16," said senior Dominique Griffith. "But I’m 18; I can vote; I can enlist in the military." Before arriving in Oakland, Batts served as Long Beach’s police chief for seven years. Though Long Beach
and Oakland are similar in terms of population — Oakland has approximately 404,000 residents compared with 464,000 for Long Beach — Oakland has about two and a half times as many violent crimes and three times as many homicides, according to a report by the Chauncey Bailey project. The homicide rate in Long Beach was 40 in 2009, unchanged from 2008. Oakland’s homicide rate was 104 in 2009, down from 124 murders in 2008. Data on how many teenagers were responsible for murders in Oakland were not immediately available. According to the Oakland Tribune, Long Beach’s homicide rate sank to its lowest level since 1975 under Batts' management in the years after he took office in 2002. During his time in Long Beach, a curfew was put in place. Batts hopes to use the same methods to control the streets of Oakland. “Buying guns in this city (Oakland) is like buying shoes,” said Batts at a
March 11 presentation at the Manzanita Recreation Center in Oakland. Batts said that Oakland citizens "must campaign" for a curfew if they want one. “(Oakland) needs to do things that makes kids safe, things that make the city safe,” said Batts. However, the city already has an anti-loitering ordinance. Anyone 18 or younger cannot stand or walk around aimlessly between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Youth caught loitering during the time frame are taken to a holding facility and their parents are called to pick them up. Any youth with an adult is exempt from the anti-loitering ordinance. Several Skyline students feel that the loitering law is enough and a curfew is unnecesssary. "(It) would just cause more chaos because many people in Oakland want to go out late and you can’t expect people to be in at a certain time,” said junior Anna Tran. “But then again, it would be safer for the people."
Sharp cuts coming to schools next fall Drop in state, district funds has schools scrambling to cut music, science, staff, security Elsanor Lam, Jason Liu, Phuong (Thao) Tran & Brandon Sneed
Oaktown Teen Times
akland's high schools are preparing for budget cuts that for many schools will spell the end of basic English and math classes along with art and drama, as well as teacher layoffs and less money for supplies and afterschool programs. At Oakland High, Principal Alicia Romero decided to cut the music program due to $1 million that Oakland High must ax from its budget for the 2010-2011 school year. Concerns and questions dominated a March 19 meeting to discuss the decision.“I might drop out of school if I don’t have a music class to go to,” said one student. “Why can’t we cut some other program instead of our music program?” asked another. Some students said that music is the only thing that keeps them out of trouble, so not having the music program at OHigh will be a huge change. Meanwhile, Skyline High School's budget already has been cut by a half million dollars. By next year, even more even more cuts will be imposed, with across-the-board impacts. “Performing arts has been drastically affected. The state dropped funding four years ago, and for two years, we have been relying on private donors and ticket sales,” said program director Jan Hunter. “This is frustrating because we’re producing work that provides experience for students, and the state has turned its back.” Diallo Weeks, a Beginning Drama student, said the cuts "will negatively affect the attitudes of all the students that are a part of it, since many of Skyline’s most talented students are in
music, dance or drama. The department needs as much money as it can get.” Skyline's science department has not received funds from the district in four years, according to Tracy Ostrom, who teaches chemistry and AP Environmental. "We had to rely on parent donations or our own money to fund our programs,” said Ostrom. The deficit has been so severe that some of Ostrom’s Environmental Science students did not get textbooks until May. AP exams are given in May. The Skyline library has not escaped the grasp of the recession. “Money earmarked for libraries does not come directly from the state anymore, but from the School Site Council (SSC),” which is composed of parents, teachers and administrators, Librarian Mary Walfoort said. Thus, programs compete for funds. “I’ve been doing the best I can. I have to be so careful
with every penny,” Walfoort added. At the Fremont Federation of High Schools, at least two teachers, four school security officers and the campus manager have lost their jobs for next year due to severe budget cuts. The two teachers, who did not wish to be named, are employed by Media Academy. One teaches English and the other teaches math. Teryl McGriff, the campus manager, also received notice that she will not have a job next year. Among her duties, McGriff makes sure the facilities are secure and clean by supervising the
custodial and security staff. levels. Gone from next Security staff next year will be cut year's schedule are an Algefrom eight to four, but only three ofbra strategies class and Read ficers will walk the campus. The 180 remedial English classes. other officer will be stationed “We are cutting programs to in front of monitors displaypay for teachers' salaries,” said ing video from new camSchmookler. eras installed this year The Media Academy magazine under a $3 million class, which publishes Tiger Talk, also districtwide grant. has been cut. Schmookler also said that Not all Frefield trips will be fewer and class sizes mont schools will be bigger. released Students are disappointed to hear inforabout the cuts and some think the conmation sequences will be serious. to newspa"Teachers getting cut means (fewer) per reporters students learning and more (students) about staffing out on the streets," said Johnny Nhem, a cuts, but some sophomore at Media Academy. teachers report that However, McGriff, the Fremont camthey may see staff cut pus manager, said she did not think the if enrollment figures are elimination of her position would affect not high enough. the campus too badly. She said she was The reason for the cuts out for two months because of illness is that the Oakland Uniand during that time, "the division fied School District has to rolled along just fine in my absence." balance its budget by cutting Schmookler said he selected teach$100 million ers to be cut based in spending. on departments that Decreasing could be condensed "Teachers getting enrollment also – English and math – cut means is taking a toll. and then on seniority For example, (fewer) students within those departMedia Academy learning and more ments. at Fremont is “The last one hired, (students) out on first one fired,” he projected to have 30 fewer said. the streets." students next However, year. Each Schmookler said he —Johnny Nhem, student brings did keep two math Media Academy in about $4,500 sophomore teachers who also a year to the teach science even school, according though they haven't to Principal Benjamin been at Fremont as Schmookler. long as the math Schmookler was forced to cut teacher he had to let go. That teacher more than $300,000 from the school's teaches only math. budget. The only way he could do that Next door, at College Preparatory & was to cut programs and teachers from Architecture Academy, Vice Principal Media Academy. Emiliano Sanchez is pleased that many “We (Media Academy) (are) so teachers have said they would volunteer broke, it’s like (it's) the 30th and we to keep some programs running. don’t get paid until the first,” said Schmookler. Lam and Liu write for The Oracle at Schmookler said he is also cutting Skyline High, Tran writes for the Aegis remedial math and English classes that at Oakland High and Sneed writes for were added this school year to help the Green & Gold at Media Academy. students with the lowest achievement
Seniors upset, ecstatic over results of exit exam
Nearly one in five seniors at CBITS did not pass test and will not walk stage DeVonna Atkins
Castlemont Business Information & Technology School
Seniors at Castlemont’s Business and Information Technology School are busy getting ready for graduation this June. It’s a happy time of year, but not for Mike'ice Brooks, 18, a CBITS senior. Brooks is one of 15 seniors out of a class of 80 at CBITS who did not pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) exam and will not graduate with their class. She received a score of 328 in English and 338 in math on the CAHSEE exam in March. A passing score is 350. Results of the March CAHSEE exam were posted in May.
Taking the test four times over the past three years has been “very hard” on her, Brooks said. Prior to the March exam, she took the test and came very close to passing, with a score of 347 in English and 348 in math. “I have all my credits and if I don’t pass the test, I can’t graduate,” says Brooks, who was in an independent study program for 9th grade. Not passing the CAHSEE “is the only thing holding me back.” One the other hand, Laban Wade, 18, was “very ecstatic” when he received his test results. He says if he hadn’t not passed it would have been “very, very sad, and an unfortunate event to retake.” Wade, who was accepted to University of California, Berkeley, plans to study accounting. Michael Case, acting principal
at CBITS, says that there is help for students who want to pass the exam, including Revolution, an online test-prep program. However, only 20 students are enrolled in the program, he said. Data comparing last year's results for seniors to this year's seniors were not available, he said. However, the CBITS passing rates for sophomores dipped this year, with 45 percent passing the English portion compared with 49 percent in 2008, and 40 percent passing math compared with 49 percent in 2008. Case says seniors who don't pass may participate in summer school specifically for CAHSEE and take the exam again in July. A certificate of completion is available for students who finish 230 credits of coursework, but do not pass the CAHSEE.
California Department of Education statistics show the CBITS passing rates for grades 10, 11 and 12 are below the district average. For example, CAHSEE math proficiency for CBITS is 27 percent, compared with 37 percent for the district. English proficiency for CBITS is 20 percent compared to 35 percent for the district. The "proficient" minimum score is 380. At first depressed about her CAHSEE scores, Brooks is now looking forward to attending City College of San Francisco, where she plans to study culinary arts. She plans to retake the CAHSEE, though she will not get a cap and gown. "I wanted my diploma. I wanted to be my mom's first child to walk the stage, since none of my brothers and sisters have," said Brooks. "But now I can't because of this test."
McClymonds considering closed campus next year Students may feel 'caged in' if Mack follows policy already at 71 percent of U.S. schools Pamela Tapia EXCEL High
EXCEL may be a “closed campus” for all students next school year. The proposed rule would bar all students from leaving campus for lunch. “Nothing is confirmed yet,” said Vincent Matthews, state trustee for the Oakland Unified School District, who said that closed lunch was “probable.” Freshmen and sophomores are already confined to the campus for lunch, a new rule in effect since September. EXCEL would not be the onlyclosed-campus in Oakland. After a shooting at a mini-mart near Castlemont in November, that campus is closed
for lunch. Just as Castlemont students criticize its closed campus, the proposed policy at EXCEL has its detractors. It is unpopular among students, even though their parents lobbied for it after an offcampus lunch hour incident in which shots were fired at an EXCEL student. Students who were interviewed label the new policy unjust. For instance, they say it forces students to eat in the cafeteria. “Sometimes there (is) food that we are allergic to, and the food is nasty,” said sophomore Taleya Silas. They also wonder how it will be enforced. Despite the “closed campus” rule for underclassmen, freshmen and sophomores now leave the campus to go to local corner stores or fast food places like Subway, Taco Bell or McDonalds. “You can just walk out," said freshman Theresa Patterson.
"It's not fair .... (W)e're old enough and mature enough to stay out of trouble." — Bonita Tindle, junior The pressure for more security is coming from concerned parents reacting to the incident in May when shots were fired at a student standing at a corner store. “If the district were to adopt that policy it would be to secure our kids,” said Matthews. Juniors were especially outraged at what they call being caged in. “It’s
not fair,” said Bonita Tindle, a current junior. “We will be seniors and we’re old enough, and mature enough to stay out of trouble.” Despite its unpopularity, some juniors and seniors praise the proposed policy for security reasons. “I don’t think there would be more conflicts because nobody would get shot that way,” said junior Sammy Saeed. Most students are still uncomfortable about leaving campus to buy lunch and at least two transferred to other schools after the incident. If McClymonds does close its campus at lunch, it will join the majority of American high schools. According to a 2006 study by School Health Policies and Programs, more than 71 percent of high schools in the nation do not let their students off campus for lunch.
Teens speak out in Sacramento, NYC EXCEL students testify during EPA hearings about poor air quality
Deven King EXCEL High
our EXCEL students and their teacher testified about their personal connection to asthma at a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing to reduce ground-level ozone or smog. The four students — Darrynne Vance, Sarai Cornejo, Pamela Tapia and Deven King — were the only youths testifying at the February hearing held in Sacramento. More than 100 people attended. The students and their teacher, Ina Bendich, spoke on how air quality affects them, their families and West Oakland. It was the only EPA hearing on the issue in California and one of three hearings held across the U.S. The hearing, which collected public testimony, focused on whether or not to strengthen federal standards set in 2007. The agency is proposing to set the level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million measured over eight hours instead of 0.075 parts per million. Proponents of the change say it would help reduce premature deaths, severe asthma symptoms, and hospital and emergency room visits. The trip to Sacramento was sponsored by the Sierra Club, which held a press conference before the hearing at which students spoke. For several students, it was their first time testifying at a federal hearing.
"I’m tired of hearing young kids and myself being hospitalized or dying because of asthma caused by smog." — Darrynne Vance EXCEL junior
“This was the first time I spoke out publicly about my asthma,” said Vance, a junior at EXCEl and captain of the girls varsity basketball team. Vance has missed numerous practices and games because she was hospitalized three times with asthma. Students used their own experiences to personalize the suffering of the West Oakland community. Cornejo said that she was "petrified to speak," but went on to describe how her five-year-old brother had been hospitalized three times. King described how his twoyear-old sister has to use her inhaler every night. When King asked the audience how many people suffered from asthma or knew someone who did, most people raised their hands, including two EPA panelists. “I’m tired of hearing young kids and myself being hospitalized or dying because of asthma caused by smog,” Vance said. Tapia, who was hospitalized with asthma last fall, noted that the hospitalization rates in West Oakland are five times higher than the state average.
EXCEL, Skyline debaters capture national trophy Menganna Yao Skylline High
In an unusual move, Skyline High senior and an EXCEL senior teamed up as debate partners, captured WHAT in a Bay Area tournament, and then headed to the Urban Debate League National Championships in New York City, where they earned second place in a special competition for those in newer leagues. Skyline's Rashid Campbell and EXCEL's Tanesha Walker competed in the threeday national tournament held April 21-23 in midtown Manhattan. The championships featured 80 top competitors from the 20 Urban Debate leagues from cities across the country. Campbell replaced an EXCEL student. “We were having a good time and it was a great experience to meet with some of the best debaters in the nation,” said Campbell, who has earned a full scholarship to debate at the University of Oklahoma next year. After six rounds of preliminary debates, Campbell, who raps as part of his speeches within the debate, received a ceremonial gavel as the tournament’s 14th-best speaker. The 2010 debate question was whether or not the federal government "should devolve power to the state governments and relevant territories to provide health care to persons living in poverty.” Walker, who will attend the University of California, Los Angeles next fall, where she plans to launch a debate team, says while most debaters called for reforms in governmental policies, she focused on changes in the "mentality" of the poor. The Oakland pair were 3-3 and did not advance to the full tournament quarter-
Hybrid efficiency Skyline debater Rashid Campbell and EXCEL debater Tanesha Walker prepare arguments during the Urban Debate League National Championships in Manhattan. Skyline Oracle photo finals. However, since they were representing a league less than four years old, they were eligible to advance to a special “Building Leagues” breakout series for the top teams in that subcategory. “Tanesha and Rashid were able to build his raps into an argument about how important it is to include the voices of common people ... into policy discourses,” said EXCEL Coach Sebastian Castrechini. "I knew they would do well, but I didn't know they would do that well," Castrechini said. After beating a Denver team in the semifinals on a 2-1 decision, Campbell and Walker lost in the finals, 3-0, to debaters from Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. “Just being invited to participate in an event as prestigious as this one is a tremendous honor for our students,” said Blake Johnson, the director of the Bay Area Urban Debate League. “TaneshaandRashid’ssuccessissimply extraordinary — bragging rights on a national scale.” Deven King of EXCEL High contributed to this article.
Reeves takes job in hometown BEST students Pamela Tapia & Sarai Cornejo
etunde Reeves, 35, a bright young history teacher who transformed EXCEL into a college prep small school as its first principal, is leaving to lead a school in her hometown. No replacement has been named yet. It is unclear how many teachers may leave as a result of her departure. Reeves will become principal at East Palo Alto Academy High School next September. Her contract in Oakland ends June 30. “I’ve carried (EXCEL) as far as I could take it,” said Reeves, who has been at EXCEL for 10 years, five as a teacher and five as principal. Being a principal is just one job on a long list of duties, according to Reeves. “I’m tired of being so many things to a school: assistant principal, counselor, and secretary. It’s not sustainable, doing so many different things." Reeves leaves EXCEL High School as funding is being cut and enrollment is dropping, despite the absorption of 30 students from BEST, the other small school at McClymonds. Among her many accomplishments at EXCEL, Reeves raised test scores, recruited young, enthusiastic, new teachers, and improved teaching methods, according to a study conducted by the School Redesign Network at Stanford University. The Stanford evaluation lauded the college-going culture that Reeves created at EXCEL. “You want kids to get the message,” Reeves said. “I’ve influenced lots of young people’s lives.” Before becoming a principal, Reeves taught history at McClymonds, then led the group that made specific recommendations to create a small school and redesign the curriculum. “It was a chance to have a fresh start, to bring in new teachers, and to have a clean slate,” said Reeves, who was raised in East Palo Alto and is completing her Ph.D. in education at Mills College. She graduated from the University of New Orleans with a B.A. in history and a minor in African American studies. She then earned two master’s degrees from Millls and the University of California, Los Angeles. At EXCEL, Reeves made herself available. “I could talk to her anytime,” said Ciante Lovely, 17, a senior who will attend Howard University next year. Yet she did not shy away from confronting students for being disrespectful or missing class, even if the student “was in the right,” said Jamelah Isaac, 17, who will decide between attending Texas Southern University or City College of San Francisco. In a recent meeting with Isaac to discuss her senior project, Reeves was positive. “She was proud of me when I wasn’t proud of myself. She encouraged me when I was down,” Isaac said. photo by Amber Hill / EXCEL High
fold into EXCEL Consolidation at Mack leaves students anxious about transfer Pamela Tapia
hen 28 seniors from BEST High School put their caps and gowns on June 17, they will be the last graduates from the small school on the McClymonds campus. Thirty juniors from BEST will be moving next door to EXCEL, some with anxiety or resignation. In interviews with students, most said that their parents made the decision for them. “I didn’t really have a choice,” said Shakuri Evans, a junior at BEST, who lives in East Oakland. "My mom decided.” Another junior, Miriam Neal, 17, said she would “check it out for a year,” but would leave if it was too restrictive. There is still no word on where the school’s teachers will end up. The Oakland school district has not decided on how the space will be used. A year ago, the school district announced that it would close BEST because of low test scores and declining enrollment.The same is happening to the Paul Robeson School of Visual & Performing Arts on the Fremont Federation of High Schools campus. For some students, BEST provided a small learning environment where they could focus and receive help from teachers. While BEST and EXCEL both have a college-prep curriculum, BEST focuses on business and technology, while EXCEL targets law, media and international trade. “I liked BEST, but it was a couple of teachers and very small classes. BEST provided one-on-one help and scholarships,” Neal, 17, said, adding, “I don’t look forward to attending EXCEL.” The two schools are not complete strangers to each other. BEST and EXCEL share the same sports programs and cheerleaders. BEST students also are sent to attend classes at EXCEL that their school doesn’t provide, including science and Spanish. “There are people that I play and hang out with (who) go to EXCEL,” said Neal, a basketball player. Evans, a middle linebacker on the football team, said that “there is no rivalry between players. It’s one big family. We gotta look out for each other.” For some BEST students, transitioning to EXCEL will be difficult. “The BEST stereotype is that we don’t get the best (resources). Our work is easy, while EXCEL kids work harder,” Evans said.
6 June 2010
Oaktown Teen Times
fremont juiced over smoothies Jamba Juice sends Oprah's big squeeze to campus to promote smoothie sales
Juan Ramos & Paulina Rodriguez Media Academy
amba Juice is coming to Fremont Federation of High Schools next year in an effort to get students to eat and drink healthier foods. Jamba Juice and Oakland Unified School District officials announced the partnership at an event in the school courtyard on April 16. Stedman Graham, a Jamba Juice spokesman and Oprah Winfrey's longtime boyfriend, was at Fremont for the ceremony. During the event, students received free smoothies. They also competed in a jump rope contest for Jamba Juice gift cards. But the company did not need to work too hard to make students and staff excited about the drinks. “I love (Jamba Juice),” said Robin Glover, principal of Fremont's Mandela Academy. “It’s great. It’s practically a whole meal, and I think students will like it, too.” One student who already likes it is Jose Luis Bautista, a Mandela junior. “A lot of people will buy it," he predicted. "It’s healthy and has lots of natural fruits. It will be be good for students.” Switching to smoothies is exactly the kind of change Katie Riemer is happy to see. As a campus health educator, Riemer is working to promote healthier options and habits to try to curb the growing obesity rates. Some 30 percent of California teenagers are
photos by Katie Riemer / TIger Clinic
either overweight or obese, according to a February 2009 study by the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California, Los Angeles. While smoothies and juices were free at the kick-off event, they will not be part of the free and reduced lunch program next year. Lawanna Wyatt, manager of the Fremont cafeteria, said the 12-ounce drinks will cost $3. Wyatt also explained that the company has agreed to share
Government says fries = veggies, letting cafeterias pile them high
profits with the cafeteria. Neither she nor company representatives would comment on what share the cafeteria will receive. But Jamba Juice spokeswoman Janice Duis was quick to point out that the drinks offered at Fremont will be all-fruit, with no sugar or dairy added. Sophomore Cynthia Ruiz of Media Academy sees another benefit to the on-campus program.“Now we don’t have to cut class to get Jamba Juice,” she said.
Alvarenga receives Oaktown scholarship; two others lauded
USDA dietary guidelines consider 10 french fries a single portion; most schools serve double or more Juan Ramos
edia Academy senior Karen Tachiquin counted 33 fries on her school lunch plate, which held the fries and some chicken strips. She does not consider the fries as vegetables – but the government does. The Fremont Federation of High Schools cafeteria, like most cafeterias in Oakland Unified School District, frequently serves students two to three portions of fries because students like the fries, and because, according to federal guidelines, fries are a vegetable. Katie Riemer, the health educator at Fremont's Tiger Clinic, recognizes that the cafeteria technically is following the federal guidelines, but says that many fries do not make a balanced diet for teens. It is not just adults who are dismayed at the federal school lunch program rules. “The fact that the government considers (fries) as vegetables makes me think that the government needs to take a nutrition class," said Media Academy sophomore Laura Delpino. A district representative shared the reason behind why students aren't encouraged to steer clear of fries. District dietician Joyce Peters stated that the federal government does not mandate that students take all the food displayed during lunch, but the cafeteria must offer enough for them to get full. And if fries help them get full, and they are counting as vegetables, then students in cafeterias are able to get several portions in one meal. Many students who get their lunch from the cafeteria agree with Riemer, Delpino and Tachiquin that fries are not healthy. Jeanette Vargas and Kimberly Guzman, juniors at Mandela Law Academy, said that giving students fries in order to make up for vegetables is a bad idea. “Students need real, fresh vegetables (to) come with the food,” said Vargas. Guzman agreed, adding that while fries "might taste good," they "aren't as healthy" as green vegetables. Despite the lack of vegetables being consumed by students, Peters explained that the cafeteria serves healthier food than restaurants. “All the toppings are lower in fat; we cut out many sweets and trans fats, and the crust on the pizza is whole wheat,” said Peters. Another issue that Peters pointed out was that students are not making the right choices during lunch. “We provide several foods on the menu, some of which are fresh fruit and vegetables, but not all students take them. Outside the school, portions have been increasing, causing students to want more at school. “Students get used to some of the larger portions that they eat in places like McDonald’s, causing them to want more at school. Our portions are more, but
Smoothie smiles Left: Employees of Jamba Juice were all smiles during a promotion of their drinks at Fremont Federation on April 16. Above: Stedman Graham, Oprah's boyfriend, spoke to students about healthy diets and exercise.
A SUPER SIZE Federal dietary guidelines say a portion of fries should be the size of a deck of playing cards, or about 10 fries. Fast food restaurants and school cafeterias frequently serve two or three times that amount.
we can’t offer less,” said Peters. “We must please our customer.” Peters said that the cafeteria staff never intended to hurt students by giving them extra portions of fries. Riemer and Peters agree that students must be educated on developing healthier eating habits. Riemer even launched a Youth Wellness Committee program to make a healthier community and help students at Fremont learn to make healthier decisions. The group held a health fair at Fremont on April 19 and has started working with the cafeteria to encourage students to make healthier choices, said member Violet Souksavath, a senior at Media Academy. One goal is to get a salad bar in place next year and help make the lines move faster so students don't go to offcampus sites for junk food. As for picking fries over current salad options, “students make the choice,” said Peters. Riemer also agrees that because students don’t vary their eating habits outside of school, they don’t choose to eat healthier at school. “The cafeteria offers a wide variety of foods," Riemer said. "The students just choose the unhealthier choices opposed to the healthier options.” According to Peters, the Fremont cafeteria has to serve food that students will eat. If the cafeteria gives too little food that students are willing to eat, students won’t get full, causing families to worry about their child not getting one-third of their daily nutrition at school. “We give students what is going to fill them up, and some students do make their school lunch their only meal,” said Peters.
A senior from Media Academy who aspires to become a professional photographer has won the Oaktown Teen Time's 2009-10 senior scholarship. Jose Alvarenga, 18, ALVARENGA received $500 from the non-profit teen newspaper. He plans to use it to buy a camera for photography classes at Berkeley City College this fall. "I like to take moments that are going to be alive forever through a photo, a photo that contains a memory of a moment that is unique," says Alvarenga. "That’s what inspires me." Alvarenga, along with classmate Fuey Saechao, took second place in features in the California Press Women's 2010 High School Communications contest in May. They wrote a story about teens serving breakfast to day laborers on High Street. Alvarenga also took photographs for that December feature story. The Oaktown Teen Times also has named two students as "contributors of the issue" for the final issue of the 2009-2010 school year – Juan Ramos, 16, of Media Academy and Blake Williams, 17, of Castlemont Business and Information Technology School. Ramos, a junior and newly named editorin-chief of the Green & Gold newspaper, has written five stories for the OTT, including three in this issue. He also helped to document the teachers strike on April 29 for the newspaper. "Juan is an exceptional young man and journalist who does not shy away from difficult stories," said his adviser, Lisa Shafer, who also co-edits the Oaktown Teen Times. "Ramos' french fries story upset some district employees, but it did bring up important issues about teen nutrition and obesity." Williams, a senior, wrote his first news story this spring after contacting OTT and asking for advice on how to become a journalist. He also unexpectedly interviewed Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums after bumping into him at an event at Youth Uprising, which is located next to CBITS. "Blake had little time to prepare for his interview with Mayor Dellums, but he seized the moment and showed outstanding maturity," said Beatrice Motamedi, OTT co-managing editor. Williams plans to attend Merritt College in the fall, where he hopes to take journalism classes.
Student wins race relations prize Terranisha Nathaniel, 16, a junior at EXCEL, has won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her work in environmental justice. She and her collaborator, David Joseph-Goteiner, of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, attended a seminar at Princeton at which they presented their project. “It was a life-changing experience,” Nathaniel said. The project focused on identifying a smelter that polluted the air in West Oakland, just blocks from EXCEL and a playground.
7 June 2010
DONORS: Projects big, small funded from page 1 Choose, teachers write a proposal and answer questions about how the materials will help their students. The proposal, if approved, then gets posted on www.donorschoose.org. People anywhere who want to help public schools can see the proposal and make a tax-deductible donation. Once enough people donate, Donors Choose buys the materials and sends them to the teacher. Teachers then must take photographs of students using the materials and get them to write thank you letters. If the teachers meets deadlines for these requirements, they can earn points that let them make other proposals on Donors Choose. Sarah Mazzotta, a math and chemistry teacher at Media Academy on the Fremont Federation campus, earned a set of small dry-erase boards and markers as well as a set of calculators through Donors Choose. “This is a great tool for teachers," said Mazzotta. "This also helps the community get more involved."
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Unity High gets cameras, pipettes
Although private schools are prohibited from using Donors Choose, charter schools are eligible. And teachers at Oakland Unity High School, a charter in East Oakland, have certainly found the site useful. Rowan B. Driscoll, a biology and chemistry teacher at Unity, posted three grants on Donors Choose for chemicals, pipettes, mass balances and electric spectrophotometers. All of his requests, totalling about $700 in value, were granted in a short time. Like any proposal from a qualifying rural or lowincome school, the Oakland Unity High grant received half its funding automatically from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Teachers must show how their proposals will help encourage students or prepare students for college. “Donors Choose allows teachers like myself to access opportunities to get funding that otherwise will not be available," Driscoll said. "(It) serves as a bridge between teachers and donors.” English teacher Damon Grant wrote a grant to get silent sustained reading (SSR) books worth about $1,500. SSR helps students enjoy reading a book silently for 30 minutes daily in order to improve their vocabularies. The Gates Foundation contributed half the money for the books, while contributors from around the country chipped in the rest. Another Unity English teacher, Nicole Moore, wrote a grant worth more than $1,000 for 10 cameras. Once again, the Gates foundation paid half of the cost; contributors from New York provided the rest. —Nick Rodriguez and Jacqueline Arias
Tired of waiting for district money
Like many teachers, Catherine Kuhn is glad Donors Choose exists but resents spending time filling
posting thanks Teachers must produce evidence that the projects funded by Donors Choose are actually implemented. Above are photographs of microscopes and a human mannequin donated to College Preparatory and Architecture Academy physiology teacher Kerry Sullivan; a photo that shows Fuey Saechao of Media Academy and Julie Ortega of Oakland Unity High on a field trip to Portland, Ore.; and a letter from Pamela Tapia of EXCEL. photos by Jose Alvarenga of Media Academy and Daniel Zaruzua of Oakland Unity High
out grant proposals, soliciting friends and families to make donations and completing paperwork to get essentials. The biology teacher calls such donations a "BandAid" to the school funding problem. "I don't think it's my job to find money, but since it seems to be, I'm glad for Donors Choose," said Kuhn. Kuhn has had projects funded to buy frogs and rats for dissection through the nonprofit donation center – materials the district would not fund. Her colleague, Christopher Scheer, also uses Donors Choose for his journalism classroom. "I was tired of waiting for money and equipment," Scheer said in May. "Just this morning I got my third project funded – a $1,000 computer." All of Scheer's projects have been to equip The Oracle with computers so multiple students can work on designing the newspaper at one time.
No OTT without Donors Choose
At Media Academy, teacher Lisa Shafer makes writing Donors Choose proposals a part-time job. In the past four years, Shafer has received classroom sets of two books, two digital cameras, a printer cartridge, press passes and copy paper. She also has raised money to take students to journalism conventions in Phoenix and Portland. This year, Shafer raised $20,000 through Donors Choose to produce the Oaktown Teen Times. The school district does not fund the paper, so Shafer and her editing partner, Beatrice Motamedi, needed to find another way to pay for editors, scholarships and trips. "The OTT might have died without Donors Choose," said Shafer. "Donors Choose has allowed teens all over Oakland to continue to publish their opinions and to write about issues that are important to them."
Confirmation class defies decline in teen church-going Post-1980 youths twice as likely as parents to reject religion
We've attended several retreats that have touched our hearts in ways I couldn't imagine. (But) our religious faith puts us in a minority.
Oakland Unity High School
o most American teenagers, church is boring, incomprehensible and irrelevant. According to "Religion Among the Millennials," a Feb. 17 study by The Pew Forum, teens in America today are less religiously active than older Americans. Fewer young teens belong to any particular faith or attend religious services than older people. And compared with their elders, fewer young teens say religion is important. Teens today are only half as likely as our parents were to describe ourselves as members of a church or organized religion. All this might have described me two years ago, when my mother informed me that I would have to give up Sunday mornings for confirmation school. Catholic teens starting high school are required to attend a confirmation class to learn about their religion's beliefs and celebrations. Students are required to attend mass every Sunday, learn their prayers, and attend several retreats, which are dedicated to help teens reflect on personal experiences and open up to others about it. When my mother signed me up for confirmation class at Mary Help of Christians Church in Oakland, I was enraged. I didn't want to go to church to listen to what I thought was nonsense. I honestly refused to accept that there was a God. If there was one, why did I feel so miserable at times? Over the two years, though, my thinking changed in ways that I never expected. Through class, plus activities and retreats, my fellow students and I learned that religion can provide strength and values missing in ordinary life. "It's important to maintain your faith, or else you're living life without guidance, and that's where most teens fall (onto) the wrong path," said Stephanie Varela, one of my confirmation classmates.
Throughout the first year, it took some time to comprehend what it takes to be a faithful Catholic. During class, we learned the meaning behind certain celebrations and gospels. Students enjoyed being taught by young adults, who made us feel comfortable. "I personally disliked everything and everyone in my first year of confirmation class, but the retreats I attended changed my perspective on life and religion. I learned that it's not right to judge people and be ignorant," said Ben Palacios, a classmate. In our second year of study, we've attended several retreats that have touched our hearts in ways I couldn't imagine. Still, I realize that our religious faith puts us in a minority. According to the Pew study, young adults are less convinced of God's existence than their elders are; 64 percent of young adults say they are absolutely certain of God's existence, compared of with 73 percent of Americans aged 30 and older. While many teens continue to believe in heaven and hell, fewer than ever go to church. Even so, I believe all religious beings, or just anyone in particular, has an empty place, a God-shaped hole, that can be filled only by God Himself. As a confirmation leader, Joaquin DeAnda says, "Stand up for what you believe in and promote it. It's important to spread your faith and inspire others to do so." Teens today find it difficult standing up for their faith and promoting it since they are afraid of being ridiculed or criticized. Friends, drugs and violence are temptations that lead most teens away from keeping their faith. But we're not alone. Those involved in church serve as role models when we are misguided and especially when we are in need of someone to talk to about our problems. "The world is full of violence, gangs, drugs and parties that lead youth away from their faith," says Ramiro Garcia, a confirmation instructor. But he adds: "All my hard work has paid off now that I've seen improvements in some youth I've worked with." Today, I look forward to going to confirmation class. After two years of study, I will graduate in June. Some day, I hope to counsel other youth who are in need of guidance.
Oaktown Teen Times
new law in Arizona has the goal of discouraging the illegal entry and presence of undocumented aliens in the United States. Here is a summary of Senate Bill 1070, which was signed into law in April and is 17 pages long (and, yes, we read it all!): q This law states that a police officer may arrest a person if he has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented; if so, the person will be detained and an attempt will be made to see if he or she is in the United States legally; q If an undocumented alien commits a crime, he or she will immediately be turned over to the U.S. immigration service; q A police officer may arrest an undocumented alien without a warrant — meaning permission from a judge — if the officer believes that the person is committing a public offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.; q If you are seen associating with an Ironically, Arizona (in 1492) undocumented alien didn’t belong to Americans — — meaning, you are in the same car or in it was Mexican territory the same house — you will be fined up to $1,000 per person and you could be placed in jail. The law above is inhumane. Speaking hypothetically, let's say your grandma is an undocumented immigrant. The rest of your family is here legally, but she just never got her papers together. One day, she has a heart attack and you take her to the hospital. What happens if your car gets stopped? As the summary above shows, you will be fined if you are seen associating with an undocumented alien. So are you supposed to just let your grandma die? Why should you have to choose between doing the right thing and doing the legally correct thing? If this law goes into effect, it would cause a lot of damage. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer probably didn’t stop to think how the law would affect Arizona business. Yet the jobs that are being performed by undocumented immigrants will no longer be circulating money into Arizona's economy. In the long run, this law will affect the entire United States as well. Not many Americans will be willing to accept the jobs that immigrants do. The fields of California are worked by immigrants; if they didn't pick the crops, Americans literally would have no fruits and vegetables. Some immigrants work just for a roof overhead or a day's meal. Not many Americans will do that. Those who approve of this law offer many arguments that don’t make sense. First, politicians argue that illegal immigration causes crime, but the truth is that it's not immigration that is to blame; such critics are simply hiding behind this issue. Others say that undocumented immigrants are using benefits such as welfare and WIC, the federal program that provides food to women and infant children. But that is not true, because only U.S. citizens are eligible for these benefits. Ultimately, Arizona’s new law is un-American. Why? Because we are a nation of immigrants. Hispanics are in the headlines today, but 518 years ago, when “in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” it was an Italian man and his European crew who were the immigrants. Ironically, Arizona then didn’t belong to Americans — it was Mexican territory. Recently came news that Arizona is thinking about banning ethnic studies as a college major. Before we pass any more un-American laws, maybe we should read our own history. – White Tiger, Oakland Unity High
LETTERS: Teens comment
e received many letters in response to stories that ran in our February issue. We are publishing some here, but plan to post many more on our blog at http://oaktownteentimes. blogspot.com If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please send it to email@example.com.
Be careful if you are (having sex) and be safe. Give us more sex ed classes, and give condoms to the kids.
ARTICLE RAISES SEX DEBATE After reading about pregnancy in the Oakland Teen Times ("Teen pregnancy is no reality show," February OTT), I think that schools should give students birth control — (I'm) not saying that students should have sex, but they're doing it anyway. We are just saying be careful if you are doing it and be safe. Give us more sex ed classes, and give condoms to the kids. You cannot make them stop; you can only tell them what will happen if they get pregnant or a disease or something.
Shaniqua Jones, 15 East Oakland School of the Arts
Regarding "Teen pregnancy is no reality show," by Kayla Wheatfall: I disagree with Wheatfall's opinion. The show actually shows how hard it is to be a teen mom, not how it's a "fairytale," as Wheatfall mentioned. The show shows the difficulties of being a mom, not how fun it is to have a baby. I think Wheatfall should have asked a couple of people for their opinions on the show, and not just focused on her views.
Jocelyn Sanchez, 15 Oakland Unity High
Shaniqua Jones, 15 on "Teen pregnancy is no reality show"
While I was reading this, I was thinking that people from Castlemont should say what they really think.
Adriana Nuñez, 15 East Oakland School of the Arts
SHARP READER CRITIQUES OTT In the February OTT, I liked "Dangerous crossing gets light," about the girl who got run over, because it shows that people care about Oakland. I also like the letters to the editors — they show that students appreciate the writers for their writing. Finally, I liked "Latinas may be few, but they are proud," because it shows that there don't have to be many (people) to show a change. On the other hand: You need to put in more stories about Oakland since the newspaper's name is the Oaktown Teen Times. And you need to get more pictures to show what the stories are about. Nick Rodriguez, 15 Oakland Unity High
'BONES' REVIEW 'AMAZING' I think that the review of "The Lovely Bones" was amazing. This is probably the only review that gave perspectives from both the book and the movie. I appreciate the hard work.
Micaela Clark, 14 East Oakland School of the Arts
KEEP CASTLEMONT OPEN After reading "Mini-Mart shooting brings about closed lunch" (February OTT), I have seen that most kids are against our closed lunch and want it to be open campus lunch. As a high school student at EOSA on the Castlemont campus, I believe we should be able to go out of campus to get whatever we please for lunch instead of waiting about 30 to 45 minutes in a line to get food that we don't really like.
Teresa Flores, 15 East Oakland School of the Arts
After reading "Mini-Mart shooting brings about closed lunch," I agree with the authors of this article. I have experience with the long (lunch) line.
aktown Teen Times is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, fiscally sponsored by Media Alliance. It is printed free-of-charge by the Bay Area News Group and the Oakland Tribune, but all content is produced by students in Oakland high schools. Students exercise their freedom of expression granted under the First Amendment and the California Education Code, Section 48907. We welcome financial support, letters to the editor, story tips and advertising. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. MANAGING EDITORS Beatrice Motamedi and Lisa Shafer PARTICIPATING OTT JOURNALISM ADVISERS Patricia Arabia, Mandela Academy Lisa Shafer, Media Academy Lara Trale, Oakland High Chris Scheer, Skyline High Daniel Zarazua, Oakland Unity High WRITING COACHES Mary McInerney, Skyline High Nadine Joseph, EXCEL High Dick Rogers, Oakland Technical High Sara Steffens, Media Academy BAY AREA NEWS GROUP Kevin Keane, Vice President, News Bay Area News Group-East Bay (BANG-EB) Peter Wevurski, Managing Editor, BANG-EB Martin G. Reynolds, Editor, Oakland Tribune & Assistant Managing Editor for News, BANG-EB
When it comes to testing knowledge, CAHSEE flunks
MONICA VIRGEN & JOCELYN SANCHEZ
Oakland Unity High
o you remember what you were doing in the 7th grade? Chances are you do not. However, if we students do not remember, there is a chance that we will not pass the CAHSEE. And that could mean not graduating from high school. The CAHSEE stands for The California High School Exit Exam. Students in the California public school system start taking the exam as sophomores in order to graduate from high school. Nine out of 10 members of California’s class of 2009 passed the CAHSEE by their senior year.
As might be expected, many students resent taking one more test before they get a cap and gown. “It’s a waste of time, because if we don’t pass the CAHSEE we won’t graduate even if we have good grades and (a) high GPA," said Carlos Cervantes, a sophomore. Students who don't pass receive a certificate of completion instead of a diploma. Students who want to study for the CAHSEE can get help from online programs such as Revolution. However, funds are being cut and there is not going to be as much support offered next year. One reason why students need support is because the CAHSEE doesn't test current knowledge; it is a test of skills that most students picked up in middle school. For example, the CAHSEE math questions go way back to exponents and functions. Those kinds of things most likely have been forgotten by your sophomore year of high school. Of course, with some review they may
be remembered, but why test us on old subjects, when right now we are learning things like quadratic equations and the Pythagorean Theorem? It’s also hard to go back to 8th grade literature, when we are reading longer novels and poems. The CASHEE should focus on what we are learning now. We are sophomores and we have GPAs of 3.8 and 3.9, respectively. But as the time came for us to take the CAHSEE in March, we were nervous. Why? Because this was not a high school exit exam; this was a back-inthe-day, what-do-you-remember-frommiddle-school exam. Nicole Moore, a teacher at Unity, calls the CAHSEE “a necessary annoyance that’s not testing the students on what they know.” Despite its flaws, some people say that the CAHSEE shows how serious a student is about his or her future. “It was hard,” said Oscar Garcia, a sophomore. “(But) if you don’t pass the CAHSEE, you’re not mentally prepared to take harder courses when you get to college.”
But even if you do pass the test, what you have demonstrated is that you have 7th grade knowledge. And that is not enough for those harder courses. What colleges are most interested in is the SAT and the ACT. Why not allow students to use these standardized test scores as a graduating requirement instead? At least the SAT tests you on things that you are more familiar with in high school, rather than on things you learned in middle school. The reality is that the SAT or ACT are better tests of what students know by their senior year. Either of these collegeentrance exams is appropriate because they test you on what you know and not on what you remember. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t think it is unnecessary to have an exit exam. We actually agree that we should have one. But not one like the CAHSEE! We should get tested on things we have learned throughout high school. After all, it's not the California middle school exam. It's the California high school exit exam.
Debater learns, teaches life lesson
ast summer, I flew to Austin, Texas, on a debate camp scholarship through the Bay Area Urban Debate League. It was the first time I had been on an airplane, and, quite frankly, I was afraid at first. I arrived on the University of Texas campus for debate camp. After the dorm attendant gave me my room keys, I walked through the halls and noticed every individual in the debate camp had in their possession a laptop. Everyone except me and other debaters from our league. It wasn't the last time I would feel underprivileged. Ironically, the whole camp was studying for the national debate topic of the year – poverty. In one of my debate courses, the teacher asked why I did not bring a laptop. I lied, “I left it at home” just to save myself from the embarrassment. As the class continued, the teacher taught as if we were required to have a laptop by passing around a flashdrive to give us debate evidence. Again, I was at
BRANDON SNEED Media Academy
a disadvantage. During our research, I had to study epistemology, which is the study of knowing. Many debaters knew what epistemology and many other political topics meant. I did not; however, I wasn't completely at a loss. I did research on my own time about our governmental structure. During study time, I was sent to the lab, where I researched and printed some evidence while other campers already had the necessary tools right in the classroom. I might have not have the same resources as the wealthier participants, but I didn't let that stop me. I came back to Oakland and debated
At one point I got angry, almost screaming, "You don't know anything about poverty! You're wealthy!" .... It did not work. the topic of poverty with students more like me in my own debate league. It was a more even playing field. But just this month, I again experienced debating against students with more resources at a national tournament at the University of California, Berkeley. People from all over the United States came to debate poverty. In the debate rounds, I saw a guy with a portable printer that folds up. I
did not even know they existed. Many students read evidence from their laptops and even researched political events happening at the moment to help them gain an edge over me and my partner. Again, we debated about poverty and at one point I got angry, almost screaming, “You don’t know anything about poverty, you're wealthy!” Before the debate began, I asked my opponents whether or not they were wealthy, hoping to gain an advantage. It did not work. The technological tools they had – and their stronger educational background – were too much for me and my partner. We lost many rounds. Nevertheless, debating on poverty, especially with students from much wealthier communities, has taught me a lot. It has taught me never to give up even when it seems pointless to carry on; it's made me strive harder in order to succeed, not only in debate but in life in general.
What would my ancestors do about fry bread?
ou might have heard of fry bread, but do you know how it originated? Although it is popular among Native Americans, fry bread is not a traditional food. Fry bread was created back when whites were giving out rations of food, and flour happened to be in those rations. With a little salt, flour, baking powder, and lard, fry bread was born. Fry bread is tasty, but it has always been a low-quality food. Obesity is a huge problem on the rez. With its high fat and calories, fry bread contributes to obesity. The sad fact is that the traditional Native American diet vanished after Europeans came to the Americas. What the traditional diet was depended on what a tribe did. Plains tribes would have hunted and eaten game, whereas
other tribes might have eaten fruits or grains, depending on what they grew and harvested Now, don't get me wrong: I love fry bread. But I think those of us who are native American should ask ourselves some questions before we eat it. Are we eating fry bread because it's traditional, or because we are culturally aware of the struggles faced by native peoples living on reservation land? Does eating fry bread honor how much pain and struggles our ancestors underwent just so that we could be here today? Or do we eat the food because it's all that we can afford? And why would we eat something that is bad for our health, even though it may taste delicious? Naming fry bread also can be an issue. Some people are offended by "Indian Fry Bread," while others are
Oakland Unity High
not. It's a matter of personal views. I am writing to let my people know that fry bread may be a cultural food, but it's not traditional and it's not healthy. I'm at the point now where I'm deciding whether or not I want fry bread to be a part of my life and my culture. Fry bread is typically of poor quality, since it is a fried food, and the bread is still difficult for us to digest. I'm not sure if by consuming the bread I'm telling my ancestors that I ap-
preciate them putting up a hard fight, or if I'm telling them the taste of fry bread means more to me than being as healthy and productive as I can be, which is what their struggles were meant to achieve. We're eating lowquality food that's killing us. I doubt my ancestors wanted me to do that. According to the Indian Health Services, the life expectancy of American Indians and Alaska Natives is now 2.4 years shorter than that of any other race in the U.S. The diabetes rate for Native Americans is 189 percent higher than that of any other race as well. There aren't very many doctors on the rez, so people have to make healthy choices for themselves. Are we really going to continue this cycle of letting someone come to our land and give us fatty food, when we have the choice to be healthy?
An open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder
ear Attorney General Holder: On May 11, you visited Youth Uprising, located in East Oakland near the Castlemont Complex of Small Schools, to talk about gangs and crime. I saw you there. You were funny, personable and aproachable. There was no reason why I shouldn’t have talked to you, but when you stopped and asked me a question, I froze. There is a lot that I wanted to say, but I hadn’t the courage, quite frankly. That’s why I am writing to you. Here at Youth Uprising, I am on the Rise Up Team, in charge of researching solutions for decreasing crime in Oakland. I’ve spent a year now looking over news articles and interviewing members of my community. I’ve mapped these streets, trying to locate the things a community needs to survive, such as hospitals, good-quality grocery stores and youth centers. We don’t have many of these. Instead of hospitals, we have clinics; instead of
How can someone who is selling weed because the rent is late ... explain himself, except to someone who went through the same thing? grocery stores, we have corner stores that sell liquor. And outside of Youth Uprising, there are few places for youth to come together in a positive way. What I wanted to talk to you about was using new methods of solving public safety issues in ways that don’t necessarily involve more arrests, more cops on the streets or more prisons. For too long, we’ve focused on how to fight crime and not why crime exists. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has suggested
a three-step solution, including understanding the economic and psychological issues behind crime; seeking solutions to sideshows that tend to spark controversy between youth and elders; and maintaining law enforcement and monitoring. As a young man living and working in Oakland, I can tell you that this approach is what we need. There is another problem. For too long, we’ve been working separately and not together. As Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts suggested, we need a multi-dimensional approach. From my research, I've learned that the people who youth most want to talk to are not police or professional counselors, but elders. How can someone who is selling weed to raise money because the rent is late and there is no food in the refrigerator explain himself, except to someone who went through the same thing? We need to have the whole community, from non-profit organizations and National Crime Prevention Councils all the way to ordinary citizens, talking and creating solutions.
JOSEPH JOHNSON Laney College
The Obama administration can help by funding more research on the causes of crime. The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities Research Team should be used as a model; its ground-up approach focuses on community solutions. As French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said, the more power you have, the more responsibility you have to listen to those under you. By coming to Youth Uprising, you demonstrated that leadership. Now comes the work of talking about what our communities need so that another generation doesn’t suffer from joblessness and hopelessness. I hope you’re listening.
How has the educational budget crisis affected you?
EMILIANO SANCHEZ Vice Principal, Architecture Academy
It's made it a lot more difficult as we're planning for next year. We've been able to secure our teachers and to keep our class sizes down, but the extras are going to suffer.
BETH SUDDRETH Resource teacher, Mandela Academy
Our school is in jeopardy of losing its computer lab.
SENG SO Youth Together Organizer
It has affected everyone across the nation, especially in California and cuts to school programs, resources for schools, teachers, staff, administration and those things have really affected the quality of education.
TYRELL BURRIS Junior, Paul Robeson
SANDY TU Math teacher, Mandela Academy
They are taking our education away, such as next year more kids will be packed in the classrooms. It makes it harder to learn.
We don't have enough tissue to go around. Some staff have been laid off for next year.
photos by Cesar Sanchez & Monserrat Chavez Media Academy
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Oaktown Teen Times
Skyline runners sweep OAL, but not state Megan Payne & Kyle Philllips Skyline High
More than a dozen Skyline Titans participated at the track and field state meet on June 4 and 5 in Clovis, earning impressive times despite an injury that sidelined Skyline's boys relay team. Going into state, Skyline boys and girls teams swept the Oakland Section track and field meet at Skyline on May 27, setting four meet records. At sectionals, Skyline's nationally respected boys 4x100 meters relay team — including Carl Horsley, Derek Henry, Darquis Rucker and Noah Blue — ran its fastest time of the season,
a blazing 41.54 seconds. The performance broke a 21-year meet record and earned the team eighth seed going into the state championship. Unfortunately, Blue pulled a quadriceps muscle during sectionals and had to be replaced at state with another runner, who strained his hamstring. The team finished 18th with a time of 43.31. Plans to run the 4 x 400 were scratched. At sectionals, Horsley set a new personal record with an amazing time of 21.61 in the 200, breaking a 28-year meet record. At state, he was 12th with a time of 21.45 in the 200, and 16th in the 400 with a time of 49.67.
The Lady Titans also performed impressively. At sectionals, Skyline's Montairra Hart set a meet record with a winning time of 55.53 in the 400. She also won the 200 (24.62) and ran on the Titans' victorious 400 and 1,600 relay teams. At state, Hart came within one hundredth of a second of qualifying for finals in the 400 and 200 meters, finishing 10th in both events. At sectionals, Skyline freshman Kristen Robinson qualified in three events. She won the 100 hurdles (15.08) and high jump (51/4 feet) and contributed to the winning 400 relay team. At state, she was one of only two freshman hur-
dlers, finishing 19th. Another freshman, Janaa Evans, won the long jump with a state-qualifying mark of 16.11. At state, she was 24th with a jump of 16.10. In the OAL 4x100 meters, a team of three freshmen — Robinson, Lashall Hamlin, and Evans — joined Hart to post a state-qualifying time of 48.68. At state, the girls were 13th with 47.94. At the Simplot Games in Idaho in February, Skyline’s 4x200 meters boys relay team beat the nation’s top relay teams with a time of 1:29.41, the fourth-fastest indoor time for a U.S. high school this year, according to the track statistics Web site dyestat.com.
Where is Castlemont track headed? College scholarships hopes dashed when coach leaves Blake Williams
Castlemont Business Information & Technology
photo by Akiyah Westly / CBITS
PASSING THE BATON Castlemont Knights relay runner Lizzie Caldwell of CBITS passes the baton to Jenessa Greyson of MetWest High School at a track meet at Skyline High School in 2008. Castlemont's team last year included runners like Greyson, whose school does not have a track team.
OAL Title Count
The sudden departure of a popular track coach at the Castlemont Community of Small Schools has left students angry, frustrated and wondering where track is headed next year. Seniors who hoped to apply for track scholarships this year felt bitterly disappointed when they found out that coach Chuck Schneekloth quit before Christmas. “I felt disappointed because it made a lot of his athletes discouraged and ended their track careers,” said Ryane Yarborough, 19, a senior who runs the 800 meter event. Yarborough, who says she will attend college next fall, said that she doesn’t know if she’ll continue in athletics. “I’m not sure about my plans but they won’t involve track,” she said. “I was disappointed because at first I thought he got fired and then I found out that he quit and I felt abandoned as one of his athletes,” said Akyia Westley, 18, who runs the 400 meter event. Castlemont hired Roy Caldwell to take over the team in January. Efforts to reach Caldwell for comment were unsuccessful. Castlemont has a strong tradition
Take 6: OHigh's Moreno on running, winning Joanne Lee-Yuen Oakland High
The bar graph below shows the number of Oakland Athletic League titles won by each school in 2009-10.
Oakland's marathon man is Steve Moreno, an Oakland High School social studies teacher who won the Oakland Half Marathon on March 28. His winning time for the 13.1 mile run was 1:10:26. Below are Moreno's answers to my questions about running and teaching.
Did you know you were going to win? I've been pretty out of shape for the past couple of years. I was trained to be ready. I didn't know I was going to win.
How many marathons have you run? I ran seven marathons. My first one was in 2002 .... I have a lot of respect for the people who ran the (Oakland) marathon for the first time.
What made you decide to run in Oakland? This marathon was different than the others because it was in Oakland. It's the first time we had a race in Oakland, so that's really why I wanted to do it.
FREMONT (1) CASTLEMONT (1) Skyline High titles include: Softball, Girls Soccer, Boys Soccer, Volleyball, Girls Badminton, Girls Cross Country, Boys Cross Country, Girls Swimming, Girls Tennis, Boys Tennis, Girls Track, Boys Track, Girls Basketball* Oakland Technical High titles include: Girls Basketball, Baseball, Boys Badminton, Boys Swimming, Boys Track*, Football* Oakland High won the regular season Boys Basketball title; Fremont Federation won the OAL post-season SIlver Bowl in football; Castlemont won Boys Basketball post-season. McClymonds had none. The OAL was unable to provide official results; these come from sources including the Skyline Oracle, sfgate.com and the Tribune. * indicates team won the OAL regular season title, but not post-season
of winning track meets and developing athletic ability. Senior Jamie Lopez won the boys Oakland section cross-country championships title in November 2009 with a time of 18:59. Many athletes use track to stay in shape for their primary sport such as football, basketball and wrestling. In fact, the evening prior to the Oakland cross-country meet, Lopez spent more than two hours practicing kicks for the Castlemont Knights football team. Matin Abdel-Qawi, principal of East Oakland School of the Arts and the athletic director for Castlemont small schools, said he remains a strong track supporter. “It is really good to see a student use his or her maximum athletic ability,” said Abdel-Qawi. Abdel-Qawi said that there is a small budget for sports next year and noted that Schneekloth applied for grants to finance out-of-town trips. Westley said Castlemont should look to its alumni for help with the track program. She plans to attend California State University, Fresno in the fall and she hopes to walk onto the track team. “Castlemont track should bring back some of the old track staff,” said Westley.
What was your secret weapon? I knew a lot of my students were going to be out there and it got me excited to be running beside them. What's the best part about winning? Oakland gets a lot of negative press and I hope that this win brings good aspects.
photo by Joanne Lee-Yuen / Oakland High
What advice do you have for others? Running isn't fun and it's hard to win, unless it's someone's interest or hobby.
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igh rai C roke orne n jo park bones, th s the f , and pu e lack o te f "I'm w skater downs d skate t s o h n't s o ring f Mc thon e next T top to th C l y y o m n Je e popu y o lar v professi fferson, Hawk," nds. take ideo o s a fre up gam nal ska shm ays Anan, r Jeffe the spor es have teboard er, w eferinsp at EX rson is t.. i r e CEL one d oth hose glim o H ers t f i gh. the p o aeria se of him You can few ska t l) or e s p b o o o m p a clas just s. rollin ping an etimes c rders o a g l tc l i quic e For kly d (a no-h h a land African a own -A , the h nded labe skateboa merican all to le r man d “white ding can teens in y kid Wes ” or be to t s e eme ntary of colo ven “ga ugh. Th Oakr y e decr . r s ” iding sp cho Whil e BreaKing tradition Deven skat e the ort is nific ases in m ol, the n e re b o umb a King prepares for a trick on er of ards in are statu ntly in h iddle sc eligh hoo skat sb his skateboard at McClymonds Yet s y playin school, w l, then d eboarde rop rs he Educational Complex in West Afric ome o g footb f the all o n guys s sigan-A r bas achi Oakland. King is one of only natio Jam meri eve ke e c n influ s (who ri an Terry ’s top sk tball. a few students at EXCEL High e d K a was nced co es for S ennedy ters are who are into skateboarding, mpa k8m foun a nd K a n d liam a sport that attracts fewer elle s. Oa ed by fa y Dirty G fia). The hip-h n mou hetto klan year African-American teens than s d ly sk o ate j has hos ex-skate Kids (DG p traditional sports such as am, t r K e Ste d ) and open the Hood vie Wilfootball or basketball. ed a Gam skat photo by Sarai Cornejo e pa es, a rk in
DeFremery Park. The problem with the skate park, says Jefferson, is that it attracts mostly BMX bikers who use the ramps for their tricks. At EXCEL, freshman Akinsha Davis, who has transferred to Far West High School, said that “traditionally" African-American teens don't skateboard. ‘The last time it was popular was in elementary school," said Davis. However, the other skater at EXCEL, Leon Richardson, also a freshman, says he uses skateboarding to get around West Oakland, including tying a rope to an ice cream truck and holding it around his waist for a longer ride. Richardson also practices his verials, ollies, pop shove-its and other tricks at a park on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. For Jefferson, a tall, strong, friendly freshman, skateboarding is a way to be original and to meet people. "I want to be different, because no one can call me a follower, " he says. Like Jefferson, most skaters are drawn into the world of skateboarding by a friend or a relative. Jefferson began it to hang out with his cousin and brother, who gave him his first skateboard. Since then, he has collected and painted three, in colors of red, yellow and blue. Some skateboarders are inspired to learn new tricks by playing and imitating video games. "It’s hard to learn new tricks, but I get better the more I practice," said Jefferson. What some label a 'white sport,” Jefferson prizes as a hobby that never loses its excitement.
Titans pounce on league rivals, critics of badminton Eugene W. Lau
special because “we all get along, and we can have fun together, and play good hite flashes streak games, and we get mad at each other if through the air as someone else is winning, but at the end a ballet of speed of the day we are improving our own and skill exudes the skills as well as (those of our teamseason. mates).” The Skyline girls badminton team Shirley Ma, ranked first in singles have dominated their three competitors and second in doubles, is the team’s coin the Oakland Athletic League: Oakcaptain. She noted that the strength of land High, Oakland Technical High and the team is that “everybody is competiFremont Federation of High Schools. tive but not too competitive, so that we The girls stomped their way to an are pretty close.” OAL victory, leaping from a loss last Ma also said that the practice sesyear to Oakland High. sions have been tightened up. “DefiniteThis year, Skyline excelled in both ly, everyone feels more together, and the organization and teamwork with daily captains don’t stand on a high pedestal," photo by Eugene W. Lau / Skyline High practices under Coach Dennis Fink. she said. "They help the team and do all BYE-BYE BIRDIE Skyline's Elizabeth Han lunges to return a birdie during a “(I want) to get great players that are the exercises together.” badminton match against Oakland High School. Skyline dominated the OAL. great people and hold them accountable Elizabeth Han, seventh in singles and to be diligent and have a high work ethic third in doubles, said one negative was "It (the criticism) has angered all “Anybody that doesn’t take badand team spirit and camaraderie,” Fink of us," said Uch. "So it encourages us minton seriously, needs to get on the not being able to play a game against said. to play harder and win OAL to prove court with one of my girls and get taken Fremont because that team forfeited. Ratema Uch, ranked 11th in singles down 15-0, 15-0," said Fink. "And then But the biggest negative may have been everybody wrong." and fifth in doubles, said that the team is criticism of badminton itself. Fink challenged badminton critics. they’ll take the game seriously." Skyline High
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photo by Howard Ruffner / Media Academy
WALKING THE LINE The Oakland teachers' strike on April 29 brought together teachers, students, parents and even babies in strollers to push for a resolution to contract talks, now in their second year. Clockwise from top: Teachers wearing T-shirts identifying them as members of the Oakland Education Association wave signs at an outdoor rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall. Middle right: Teachers, students and parents hold up signs and wave to passing cars outside Piedmont Avenue Elementary School. Parents said they preferred to walk the picket line with their children to sending them to school even though substitute teachers were available. "We don't feel that the kids are being taught the same way (by substitutes)," said Arturo Rodriguez, 34, as his two daughters did cartwheels on the sidewalk. "They're not as aware of teaching as a credentialed teacher is." Middle left: Freshman Nazario Matias, Kemish Rosales, and Angel Yañez hang out on the Fremont athletic field during the strike. Bottom left: Karla Pena (left) and Johana Gonzalez, 4th graders at New Highland Academy, join the rally at City Hall.
photo by Johanna Rodriguez / Piedmont Avenue Elementary
STRIKE: Rallies continue from page 1
photo by Juan Ramos / Media Academy
photo by Khadijah Byrd-Lesley / Oakland High
rally at City Hall. Though both sides immediately resumed talks after the strike, union officials on May 24 said the two sides were too far apart to continue and that teachers on the bargaining team needed to go back to their classrooms. In May, 75 percent of the 755 teachers attending a union meeting following the April strike voted to strike again if necessary. 'Avatar,' not academics In terms of participation, the April strike was a success. Student attendance across the school district was extremely low. The Oakland Education Association, which represents 2,800 Oakland teachers, counselors and other educators, said 91 percent honored picket lines. At Glenview and Hillcrest Elementary, no students showed up for school. Meanwhile, at Skyline High School, several dozen out of a student body of 2,011 attended. Fremont Federation of High Schools essentially shut down operations. Administrators estimated fewer than 100 of the 1,200 Fremont students came to school. The cafeteria served only 16 meals. The Tiger Clinic shut down. The only “classes” were students out on the athletic field unsupervised and some students watching a video in Mandela Academy’s hallway. Near Oakland High School, teachers and students gathered at the busy intersection of MacArthur and Park boulevards.
They were joined by a group from Edna Brewer Middle School. Approximately 18 OHigh students showed up for school; they reported to the library, where they watched the movie, "Avatar." Rori Abernethy, a math teacher, later estimated that 94 percent of the student body was absent. Media Academy Principal Benjamin Schmookler had to work, but brought coffee,
"I feel like they shouldn't cut money from the schools because we already have nothing." Khadijah Byrd-Lesley croissants, muffins and water to picketing teachers.“I support my team,” said Schmookler. Strikers get creative Teachers found various ways to display their lack of satisfaction. Teacher Cory Henrickson hula-hooped in front of the Skyline gates while holding up a sign in Spanish that translated to “strike for the students.” OHigh teacher Ben Visnick arrived at 5:15 a.m. and parked his car in front of the back gate. “I didn’t want the scabs to come in,” he said. Oakland teachers on May 12 marked the Day of the Teacher
by demonstrating at Lake Merritt. Another rally was planned for June 9. April strike 'effective' Craig Gordon, union representative for Paul Robeson School of Visual & Performing Arts, said the strike was effective in getting the public’s attention and putting pressure on the district to return to negotiations. “The effect of a one-day strike is not in and of itself a big deal,” said Gordon. “It doesn’t hurt the district much. It is more of a political effect. It mobilizes (the) community .” The teachers union is asking for an 8 percent raise over three years, down from an earlier demand of 15 percent. The school board offered a 2 percent raise in May after imposing a contract in April with no pay raise or changes to benefits. Students were supportive of teachers’ actions. Khadijah Byrd-Lesley, a junior at Oakland High, showed up at 7:15 a.m. to walk the picket line. “I feel like they shouldn’t cut money from the schools because we already have nothing,” said Byrd-Lesley. “Today is a great day because everyone is fighting for something they believe in,” said Jammie Forrest, a senior.
June 2010 issue of the Oaktown Teen Times