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Oakland's Teen Newspaper


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Oaktown Teen Times News & Views of Youth in Oakland, California

March 2011

Volume 4, Issue 3

Small schools must transition to Castlemont, Fremont Highs OUSD cites declining enrollment as reason for 2012-13 consolidation; many fear loss of academic gains STAFF WRITERS

East Oakland School of the Arts Media Academy

photo by Lisa Shafer / Media Academy

FUelED FOR SUCCESS Jamil Brown, a junior at Media Academy, takes the California High School Exit Examination on Feb. 1 with breakfast on his desk. The Tiger Clinic and Youth Wellness Committee provided the breakfast to Brown and all other students who took the exit exam, as a trial run of their pilot breakfast program, set to start officially next week.

Schools pilot classroom breakfast Two schools on Fremont campus to serve 'grab and go' meals that students can eat in first period


LINDA POENG Media Academy

ony Srimoukda can barely focus in his second period class. Trying to pay attention in Advanced Placement U.S. History is difficult because the Media Academy junior is too preoccupied with his rumbling stomach, a stomach demanding something to eat. Srimoukda skipped out on the free breakfast offered every day to all students in the Fremont Federation of High Schools cafeteria; he would rather wait until lunch or until he gets home to eat than to

"It’s a good idea that people can get breakfast in the morning time. They can concentrate better with something in their stomach.”

Leo Jerald Media Academy senior

wake up early enough for breakfast. But while Srimoukda waits, his stomach is in pure agony. That stomach may soon be saved by the In-Class See BREAKFAST page 5

Retaking algebra — formula for success? Math department says move will give students stronger base for math GLORIA 'JACK' MEJIA


Media Academy

or many freshmen, math class at Media Academy feels like their 8th grade year — that’s because most of them have been required to retake algebra. In the summer, the math department decided that students who had not done well on algebra standardized tests should retake the course as freshmen, even if they passed

the class in middle school. However, students who scored proficient or advanced on the algebra portion of the California Standards Test did not have to retake the class; that was only three students. Sarah Mazzotta said she and other math teachers had noticed an alarming trend in recent years. “The math content team looked at the data (concerning) what happens with students who took Geometry as freshmen as they took other math courses,” Mazzotta said. “We See MATH page 3

photo by Shima Kaid / Media Academy

back to basics Algebra teacher Sarah Mazzotta gives directions to freshman Myzil Waters and others in his algebra class at Media Academy. All but three freshmen were assigned Algebra 1 in an effort to make sure students built a stronger math foundation.

Is bigger really better? That’s what students, teachers and staff are asking after news that the Oakland Unified School District will combine small schools on the Castlemont and Fremont campuses into two big high schools in the fall of 2012. Next year’s seniors will be the last to graduate from Leadership Preparatory High School, Castlemont Business and Information Technology School and East Oakland School of the Arts, all on the Castlemont campus. Next year also will be the last year for students at Media College Preparatory High School, Mandela High School, and College Preparatory & Architecture Academy High School on the Fremont campus. District officials cited budget cuts and declining enrollment as reasons for their decision to merge schools as of the 2012-13 school year. But students aren’t sure change will be good. “Small schools are better,“ said Gloria Canela,17, an EOSA junior. "You have more attention, and by attention, I mean from the teachers. They can help you more.” “I’m going to transfer, because it’s going to be crowded and the environment is going to change,” said Media Academy freshman Frank Hartwell IV. He predicted that "there will be more fights and things will become more messy between others” if Fremont's schools merge. Matthew Duffy, one of two network executive officers overseeing OUSD high schools, will be in charge of the proposed mergers. In e-mail exchanges with Oaktown Teen Times reporters at EOSA and Media Academy, Duffy was open about the challenges he faces. “I currently believe the three (Castlemont) schools are bleeding enrollment, and many parents and middle schools have lost faith in the Castlemont Community of Small Schools to educate their kids, and they are making other choices,” Duffy wrote to EOSA reporter Alizhey Black. “We offer fewer and fewer (Advanced Placement) classes," Duffy wrote. "We spend our money staffing offices and attendance instead of (paying for) teachers and other services." Duffy disclosed that “Castlemont alone was given an extra $700,000 this year just to stay afloat,” with the money coming from other schools in the district. “I will absolutely not abandon (EOSA) into some sloppy merger,” Duffy added. In another e-mail exchange with Media See MERGE page 2

Teenagers across Oakland grieve as two more peers fatally shot 12 students killed so far this school year, compared to 15 students in 2009-10 STAFF REPORT

East Oakland School of the Arts Media Academy

A spike in teen homicides over the last 12 months, many of them in East Oakland, has struck fear as well as sorrow into students' hearts. At the Fremont Federation of High Schools, the campus motto — "The Friendly School" — contrasts with the sadness many students are

feeling after the shooting death of Lovell Hadnot, 15, a Mandela High School sophomore, in the 5800 block of Bancroft Avenue on Jan. 8. Just eight days later, Kerry Baxter, Jr., 19, the son of Lawana Wyatt, Fremont’s cafeteria manager, was shot and killed outside St. Anthony’s Church on 16th Avenue. Meanwhile, East Oakland School of the Arts held a musical tribute on Jan. 26 for Chris Jones, 17, a gifted drummer who was shot in front of

his home on New Year’s Eve while tucking his five-monthold niece into her car seat. For many students, the homicides weren't just numbers on an annual murder victim map. They were family. They were best friends. They were classmates. ‘‘It makes me feel like, no lie, as though I can be next,” said Earsy Jenkins-Crockett, a Mandela sophomore. “And I hate that feeling because if it can happen to an innocent bystander, then it can happen to a

little baby playing outside.'' “Chris was never in trouble. He never did drugs, he never messed with anyone. He was different. He shouldn’t have died,” says Jenah Keeby, 17, a senior at EOSA. Another EOSA senior, Dejai Johnson, 17, took Jones’ death especially hard. “When he died, it was hurtful,” he said. “It was the fourth funeral I’ve gone to since September.” See GRIEF page 2

photo courtesy of Brenda Grisham

Music Man Jones, a church organist, had just begun music theory classes at Laney College when he was killed on Dec. 31.



March 2011

Oaktown Teen Times

MERGE: Consolidation predicted to be a 'sweet and sour, up and down' move from page 1

only 500 students, "which is considered a small school and is the same number Academy students, Duffy envisioned a of kids the small schools opened with new Fremont High that blends the best seven years ago." parts of the small schools. "You can consider the new school a "The current plan is to build out small school, which is strange to think one new school to open in September about," Duffy observed. 2012," Duffy wrote. “This one school EOSA Principal Matin Abdel-Qawi would be centered around everything believes the proposed merger is “good that is working at each one of the (cur- and bad, sweet and sour, up and down.” rent) schools.” Breaking Castlemont into small OUSD broke up Castlemont and schools in 2004 was the right thing to Fremont in 2004 with financial support do, “(although) the students are not perfrom The Bill & Melinda Gates Founforming as well as we wanted them to.” dation. Castlemont became three small “If we get the schools together, schools, while Fremont was split into maybe there will be more students to six small schools, two of which — Life come to our school,” Abdel-Qawi said. Academy and Youth Empowerment But Media Academy founder MiSchool — moved from Fremont. Paul chael Jackson was not so optimistic. Robeson Academy was closed last year. “My life work, down the toilet,” said Now, however, the Gates money Jackson, a history teacher. “I am the last has run out. Another problem is enroll- man standing. I put my whole life in the ment: The three Castlemont schools Media Academy ... to see it go away is currently have a combined enrollment like (flushing) it down the toilet.” of 700, down from 1,300 five years Some students worry that big schools ago, according to the Oakland Tribune. will mean big trouble. Fremont's enrollment has dropped from Before Castlemont was split up, 2,000 a decade ago to 940 today. “there would be fights between blacks According to Duffy, a combined and whites on a daily basis,” said an Castlemont would open in 2012 with EOSA student, who asked to remain

anonymous. Combining the schools “is bad because there will be more drama, and more fights.” However, Saundrea McElroy, 14, an EOSA freshman, said a combined Castlemont might be easier to navigate. “I wouldn’t feel safer or more in danger,” she said. “I just think it would be less confusing without so many different schools on one campus.” Academies may take the place of small schools. “I think we’re going to work harder on making (small schools) the same as small academies,” said Robin Glover, Mandela's principal. Incoming 9th graders at Castlemont next year will share "a core academic program led by a dynamite set of leaders and teachers," according to Duffy. Still, some teachers are reluctant to set aside the work all they've done to build their small schools. “EOSA has a really strong school culture and I don’t want to lose it,” said Katie Wade, physics/chemistry teacher. “This was a hard decision to hear because everyone has worked hard,” said Sarah Mazzotta, math/chemistry teacher at Media.”I feel for students because they want a safe and stable place to go

photo by Lee Simmons / East Oakland School of the Arts

Painted with Pride A mural at Leadership College Prep plays up the small school's independent spirit.

to school; it’s hard when the environment is changing to get that.” Upperclassmen are philosophical.“It doesn’t matter to me so much because I won’t be here,” said Ayana Cruz, 16, an EOSA junior who plans to graduate next year. “I think it’ll be harder for (freshmen and sophomores) though, because classes will probably be farther away, and it would be harder for teachers to help out because of all of the other students.” See Duffy's interview with Ali Black at Reported by Esmeralda Argueta, Alihzey Black, Guadalupe Buenrostro, Janice Davis, Esther Gamez, Maria Muniz, Lee Simmons and Erick Zamudio of East Oakland School of the Arts, and Shima Kaid and Kristell Dantoc of Media Academy

GRIEF: Survivors often traumatized LIVING TRIBUTE

from page 1

Left to right: Sophomore Sumayyah Mustafah, and another unidentified student tend a memory garden. photo by Gerquetta Jackson / Oakland High

OHigh dedicates garden to 2009 homicide victim



akland High students and staff have begun planting a garden to remember Phillip Wright, Jr., a student who was killed in November 2009. Resource teacher Amy Wilder and students have begun seedlings for the garden in an indoor grow lab. On Nov. 18, teachers dug a hole for a small tree. “Phillip was a good child,” said Wilder. “A tree was the perfect symbol for his strength and perseverance.” Wilder said that the Oakland Unified School District will not be funding this project. She and other staff have raised money to fund the garden. They will also receive some funds from the Oaktown Teen Times, which is working with the Open Circle Foundation to support school gardening. The memorial garden, near the portables at the top of the hill behind the school, has been used in the past by classes in the school’s Environmental Science Academy. A friend of Wright’s from the East Oakland Boxing Association, where he worked in a community garden, remembered Wright’s love of gardening. “Phillip was just as interested in gardening as he was in boxing when he attended the EOBA,” said the friend, who identified himself only as Kevin. Wright, who lost his mother to cancer four months before he died, was shot and killed when he went to answer a knock at the front door of his home on Oscar Avenue in East Oakland.

Katie Riemer, a health educator at Fremont’s Tiger Clinic, says teenagers surrounded by violence and tragedy often deal with serious mental health issues. “Every week someone is dying, and it’s leaving everyone stressed,” she said. “It’s a cycle and it leads to depression. People feel helpless." Police believe Jones’ shooting was a case of mistaken identity. No arrests have been made in the Jones, Hadnot or Baxter cases, Oakland police said. Other murders over the past 12 months include those of Eric Toscano, a Skyline High senior shot on March 27; Davante Riley, a former Media Academy student was shot on April 18; Jimon Clark, a student at Frick Middle School shot on Aug. 25; Raymen Justice, 17, shot on Sept. 21; and Marquis Woolfolk, 18, an OTT contributor shot on Nov. 21.

No information was available on investigations into the murders of Clark, Justice, Woolfolk, Toscano or Riley. The death toll could soon surpass the 15 students lost to violence in the 2009-10 school year, district officials said. "Despite our best efforts, we still struggle with an enormous rate of violent crime among our youth," said Troy Flint, OUSD spokesman. "And this problem has to receive the same, if not greater, emphasis than our efforts to improve academic achievement." Despite the sadness, teens carry on. Grief counselors were on hand at Fremont after Hadnot’s murder. At EOSA, seniors held a meeting to help freshmen learn how to cope. Barb McClung, OUSD's mental health services coordinator, believes students are becoming numb to tragedy. "It's happening so much, it's becoming normalized," she said. "I see a tremendous amount of sadness in students." Hadnot’s sister, Tonisha,

photo by Jennifer Truong / Media Academy

LOVELL HADNOT was memorialized in the Mandela Academy hallways two days after his death.

stopped by Fremont after his death to talk to students. She was a student at Media Academy in 2007. Asked what her younger brother’s dream was, Tonisha said she did not know. “I never asked him that question,” she said. “Now, it’s too late.” — Reported by Esmeralda Argueta, Alihzey Black, Guadalupe Buenrostro, Janice Davis, Esther Gamez, Maria V. Muniz, Lee Simmons and Lilybeth Villasenor of EOSA, and Pearl Joy Balagot and Rosemary Bustillos of Media Academy.

Gang injunction ruling delayed; decision on TFA reversed Injunction ruling pending

A judge is expected to rule soon on whether to grant a request by Oakland city officials to create a "safety zone" in which 40 alleged members of the Nortenos gang would have their activities restricted. The safety zone would be in the Fruitvale District and would include Fremont Federation of High Schools.

To follow news on the injunction, please go to www. Interns can be 'qualified'

Congress has overturned an earlier decision that would have prevented Teach for America educators and other interns from being considered "highly qualified" teachers. The Oakland Unified

School District would have had to join other school districts across the nation in sending out letters to parents of children who are taught by the intern teachers to inform them the teachers were not "highly qualified." The letters are now unnecessary. — Gloria 'Jack' Mejia Media Academy

Oaktown Teen Times



March 2011

Temperatures flare over heating problems Extreme heat, cold violate state education codes; teachers relocate classes

in November, their classrooms became even chillier — so cold, according to Ostrom, that she would often relocate her classes to the library. ZOE FILIPPENKO “I’m in here all day and on some Skyline High days, I couldn’t stay (due to the cold),” Each year, Skyline High experishe said. “We went to the library but ences fluctuations in campus weather we usually had to coordinate with three — winter brings cold, foggy days, while other classes there also because their early fall and late spring mean heat rooms had no heat, either.” waves and warm temperatures. These Ostrom’s heater was fixed over winconditions, however, cause myriad ter break, but she said it still takes hours difficulties for teachers, students and to warm up. Pratt’s heater was one of administrators alike when temperature the last to be fixed — it began working extremes create uncomfortable and even again on Jan. 27. dangerous classroom circumstances. Jeff Rapson, an English teacher in Vinh Trinh, Skyline's administrator the 30 building, faces the opposite in charge of school facilities, said some problem: When the temperature outside of the heating and cooling systems on exceeds the mid 60s, his classroom photo by Juan Carlos Ramos / Media Academy campus are outdated, dysfunctional, and becomes “dangerously” hot. THE HEAT IS ON (ALmOST) Workers prepare to fit a new heater into a wall at Fremont's TIger even nonexistent. As a result, class“It gets close to 100 degrees inside Cllnic, one of a number of district facilities with temps as low as 42 degrees this winter. rooms become overheated or extremely the classroom . . . it’s ungodly in here,” cold. The variable classroom temperahe said. He added that he has seen the temperature. Complaining becomes ing plants and animals. tures have a significant effect on teach- students come close to passing out due constant and it is hard to teach lessons, “(Extreme room temperature) imers’ ability to teach, students’ ability to to the heat. according to Pratt. pedes learning and I hope something learn, and the learning environment in Julien Tell and Sara Elsaiedy, both “I can’t focus when everyone is com- catastrophic doesn’t happen before general, according to teachers. juniors who have Rapson in the afterplaining,” said LaShall Hamlin, a soph- something is done,” said Rapson. “No Some are finding temperature issues noon, said the room is so “unbearably” omore. “Ms. Pratt gets mad when there exaggeration: Kids look like they’re in their classes to be so extreme that hot that they are often unable to focus. are so many complaints and distractions going to pass out. If you’re in that kind they violate California education codes. “It’s suffocating . . . someone could and it becomes a big problem.” of position where you can’t concentrate Many teachers have filed formal comhave a (heat) stroke,” said Elsaiedy. While they tried to alleviate the on anything (but the heat) how do you plaints to the district and the state. “My brain chemistry is all over the problem by teaching elsewhere when learn?” Katie Pratt, a chemistry teacher in place because it’s boiling in my head. possible, the teachers said relocating Their problems, however, are not the 60 building, and Tracy Ostrom, a How can you concentrate when everyis difficult because class plans often unusual. Trinh said “lots” of classes were science teacher in the 70 building, have one is huffing and puffing?” depend on space and materials that only without heat at some point this winter. It faced problems this winter as a result All three teachers said the temtheir classroom can provide. Ostrom is up to the district to send technicians to of their broken heaters. Both teachers perature problems create substantial said her classroom was so cold this repair heaters and fans, but personnel is said they requested to have their heatdistractions in the learning environwinter that the temperature killed many limited. According to Ostrom, there are ers fixed during the fall, but nothing ment because students are only able to of her environmental science students’ only five technicians to distribute around happened. After there was a cold spell concentrate on their discomfort with eco-column projects, which contain liv- the entire school district.

Ants, mice pester OHigh TOMMY TRAN Oakland High

Oakland High has been invaded by pests this school year, with ants and mice popping up around the campus like a game of Whac-A-Mole. While ants swarmed through the school's new building during the beginning of the school year, teachers say they now have the infestation under control. However, mice still seem to be a problem. "I saw rodents at the front gate at nighttime," said campus security officer Sam Banker. Social studies teacher Ruben Rodriguez said he has spotted a mouse in his portable, TC8, and English teacher Lara Trale, who taught in TC8 last year, also recalls seeing mice in that classroom. Assistant Principal Anisa Rasheed said the school dealt with the pest problems before receiving word that a Williams Act complaint had been filed. Under a settlement in the land-

mark Williams lawsuit, brought by a group of San Francisco students in 2000, California schools must provide students with clean classrooms. Anyone who feels conditions are unsanitary or unsafe may file a Williams complaint. Schools must address valid complaints. Rasheed said custodians have methods to deal with the pests, including emptying trash cans daily, and reminding students not to eat in class. Indeed, some teachers think that it is food that has attracted the ants. "Students should not eat in class," said science teacher James McGrath. Science teacher Malia Lehman believes the weather drives the pests indoors."(The ants) come out when it’s too hot or too cold," she said. Senior Khadijah Byrd offered a strategy for discouraging the insects. "You can mix vinegar and water," said Byrd. "Wiping it on certain areas will prevent ants from coming into the classrooms." Some students worry that the pests have damaged Oakland High’s image. "I feel that the school is disgusting and unsanitary," said junior Dan Nguyen.

Oaktown Teen Times clarifies Silver Bowl coverage A story on the Silver Bowl football championship in the December issue of the Oaktown Teen Times should have attributed the Oakland Tribune

for some play-by-play material that one writer used. The Oaktown Teen Times regrets this oversight.

Number of Students

Cold weather may be driving rodents into classrooms; food likely culprit for ants


Algebra English

MATH: 41 percent of freshman get A's from page 1 found that most of the students were not successful in the Geometry CST and struggled on the Algebra II CST.” Math teacher Sunny Chan agreed. “We felt that a lot of students who’d passed algebra didn’t have the fundamentals skills required for other courses,” he said. “If you don’t know algebra, you‘re going to go into Geometry confused.” Mazzotta agrees that mastering the basics of algebra is essential. “Our plan now is to make sure there’s a strong foundation in Algebra I so that they can be successful in Algebra II,” said Mazzotta. Although freshmen had to take algebra twice, they still will have time to take math required for college admissions.

If everything goes according to the math department’s plan, freshmen who retake Algebra I will take Geometry as sophomores and Algebra II as juniors. They will be encouraged to take a fourth year of math. So far, the plan shows mixed results, at least in terms of grades students are receiving. In an analysis of freshmen who retook algebra, 41 percent received an A for first semester, 8 percent earned B's, 5 percent had C’s and 45 percent of earned D’s or F’s. Compared to the marks freshmen earned in English, however, the math grades were good. Only 25 percent of freshmen received an A or a B in English for the first semester. In a survey the Green & Gold newspaper conducted to find out how freshmen felt about being forced to retake algebra, one student wrote, “One benefit is that it’s an easy ‘A’.” Others believed retaking the class has helped them improve their skills. “I could retake stuff I wasn’t good at," wrote freshman Sarai Ramsey. "I understand it better." Ninety-five percent of students rated their algebra class above a five on a scale of one to 10, most giving it an eight. The most prominent complaint wasn't the content of the math class, but the interruptions. “Some people don’t pay attention,” wrote freshman Vanessa Rivas. Of the three freshmen allowed to take Geometry, one received an A first semester and two failed the class.



Pulse Oaktown Teen Times

Call of Duty

March 2011

Black Ops will please most gamers of




Oakland Unity High

re you a major “Call of Duty” fan? Did you pre-order the new “Black Ops” expansion pack? If so, this review

Kanye West

is for you. “Call of Duty” is the game that changed the first person shooter (FPS) genre forever, giving gamers a whole new feel. For those of you who don’t know, FPS games are all about the first-person perspective; you see the action (and do all the shooting) as if you were the main character. “Call of Duty” not only created this exciting genre; it’s known throughout the industry as a force to be reckoned with. As of November 2009, sales of "Call of Duty" games had surpassed $3 billion. And that was before "Black Ops" was released. Many other games have tried to steal the spotlight from “Call Of Duty,” but so far, none has succeeded. Newest game lives up to hype

“Black Ops,” released in November and the newest installment in the “Call of Duty” series, is a pretty impressive game all around, from the story, to the online-play, to zombie mode. This game delivers more customization; you can choose your own guns, perks, emblems, face-painting camouflage styles and gun camo. But don’t get me wrong: There are still a few bugs to be tinkered with, online and off. One flaw is that the characters on your team seem to act mindlessly and are not helpful in playing the game, except for the fact that they let you know when you’re halfway dead. Other than that, the characters run into walls, shoot walls, and seem unkillable until their time in the story is at hand. Towards the end of the game, another problem that I encountered was the game completely froze. And there’s more; sometimes the servers for people who want to play online seem unstable and uncooperative. Online modes challenging

One new mode is wager match, in which players can place bets online and gamble for money. There are three different types of wager matches: First

Screen Shot by Activision

TOP 10 Call of Duty: Black Ops," was nominated in February by the British Academy of Video Games as one of the 10 best video games of 2010. Introduced in November, the game topped $1 billion in sales in its first month on the market

The mode that attracted fans like me was “Nazi Zombies,” or what is now known as Zombie Mode. This mode is as simple as you can get. is “One in the Chamber,” in which a player has only one bullet in his handgun, but he can knife or “shank” his opponent to gain another bullet. Second is “Call Guns,” in which a players uses an array of 20 guns. The first player to get a kill with each gun wins, but if a player gets knifed, he is demoted to the gun he used last. The last mode is called “Sticks and Stones” — a match in which players

use only a crossbow and a hatchet. If an opponent throws a hatchet in the player’s back, he’s bankrupt. But the mode that attracted fans like me was “Nazi Zombies,” or what is now known as Zombie Mode. This mode is as simple as you can get. Players are trapped in a confined area and attacked by waves of zombies and hellhounds, which they must fend off. In the new “Black Ops,” Zombie Mode returns. You can drink certain drinks to get perks, upgrade your guns to become more powerful against the undead, and select from a new arsenal of different weapons. Overall, “Call Of Duty: Black Ops” delivers again with a game that will satisfy some fans, though probably not all. Some will find "Modern Warfare" more entertaining. But the new addition to the “Call Of Duty’” franchise is by far the most interesting story line so far. I give it eight zombies out of 10.

Acting majestic; 'Black Swan' disturbing JULIA KOPPMAN NORTON & ZOE FLIPPENKO


Skyline High

lack Swan, which mirrors the classic Swan Lake, is the story of a prima ballerina Nina, played by Natalie Portman, who is cast in the dualistic role of the swan in the New York City Ballet. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan — innocent, careful and pure — she is told that she must seriously work on the sexy and dark role of the sexy and dark Black Swan, The movie chronicles Nina’s selfdestructive journey to be capable of dancing the Black Swan. Nina’s struggle is intensified with the arrival of Lily (Mila Kunis), another company member, who epitomizes the role of the Black Swan — wild, impulsive and free. Nina is equally threatened and enthralled by Lily. She is consumed by competing with Lily and fantasizing about a sexual relationship. As Nina realizes how much the role takes, she becomes obsessed with perfection and develops a disturbing mental illness. She essentially turns into the Black Swan. This psychological thriller was captivating, to say the least. However, rather than feeling moved or touched by the film, we felt deeply disturbed by the gory images of Nina’s delusional impulses and hallucinations. Perhaps it was the film’s unique, realistic cinematography that gave it an

Fox Searchlight Pictures

STAR TURN Natalie Portman's depiction of a ballet dancer who slowly loses her mind earned her an Oscar for best actress.

especially creepy, thrilling vibe. Much of the movie’s action was filmed by a handheld camera following the characters. Often it felt like the camera was attached to Nina’s body, making audiences feel as if they were living her life. Film director Darren Aronosky said that the cinematography in "Black Swan" was meant to make audiences feel “unsettled,” according to He also said the point was to make an “ugly film,” one that didn’t feel comfortable but instead felt “real and visceral.” Coupled with the eerie plot and psychological turmoil, this style of filming is especially effective in draining audiences emotionally.

Imperative to the film’s intriguing effect is Portman’s acting. It was phenomenal; regardless of whether or not we enjoyed the movie as a whole, it would be incredibly difficult to say that anyone else could have played the role better. She was believable and terrifying, embodying all of the aspects which the role necessitated. It wasn’t clear exactly what the message was supposed to be — was the director implying that all dancers are insane and that all dance companies are catty, and fuel a dangerous amount of stress? Or that the pressure of performance is too high and therefore that those dynamics should be changed? One of us (Julia) is a dancer and this seemed too close to an attack on dancers in general. While we felt bothered and disturbed by the thriller, Aronofsky surely did his job capturing our attention and making us think. Never before have we been so deeply intrigued and devastated by a movie. Depending on one’s preferences (and ability to stomach disturbing, self- destructive acts), "Black Swan" could be seen as a masterful work of art. We, however, saw it as a weird and creepy representation of performers that was unnecessarily vivid and hauntingly memorable. As controversial as "Black Swan" is, it is a refreshing break from typical, predictable Hollywood style movies. Be prepared to have your mind blown, but not necessarily in a positive way.

The most hated yet beloved rappersingerproducer, Kanye West is back with a powerful mix of hip-hop and pop. His fifth studio album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," combines rap beats with contemporary melodies in his inimitable boastful style. The 13-track album starts off with a choir and the heavily British-accented voice of Young Money’s own Nicki Minaj, marking the first time Kanye has worked with a female rapper. That first track, “Dark Fantasy,” is produced by The Rza of the legendary hiphop group The Wu-Tang Clan, adding edge to an otherwise tame album. Another outstanding piece on the album is the star-studded “All of the Lights.” Almost a modern day “We Are The World,” the track features vocals from Rihanna, Alicia Keys, The Dream, Fergie, Ryan Leslie, Drake, and even Elton John. This song, planned as a third single, has everything it takes to top the charts — except its own video. The album is a bold statement for not just hip-hop but music as a whole. What other artist has the guts to feature Rick Ross right after a stadium-rock guitar solo? What other artist has “rap” songs lasting over five minutes? It’s almost as if Kanye is mocking the critics with this album, freeing himself from the unwritten rules of modern music. — David McNeal McClymonds High

John Mayer From sensitive singer and songwriter to the cover of Rolling Stone’s Guitar God magazine, John Mayer has always had a wide variety of sounds. Whether you are a fan of his pop sound or his blues, “Battle Studies,” a November 2009 release, should give you what you are looking for, whether you want a new sound or just to hear Mayer's great guitar playing. The album has plenty of riffy guitar work with extended solos on virtually every song and a wider variety of guitar tones than on previous albums. This isn’t a blues album. Mayer didn’t try to duplicate his “Continuum” album. It’s more mature and shows off his growth as a songwriter/musician. “Battle Studies” features fan favorites with lyrics of heartbreak, personal struggles and war. “Heartbreak Warfare” bursts with a Passion Pit electronic feel and is incarnated with a muddy guitar solo. It's similar in style to “War Of My Life,” but focuses on the war Mayer has within himself rather than war in general. — Miguel Valencia Skyline High


March 2011


Oaktown Teen Times

Understanding stress, depression can help take some pain away FATIMA JONES


Oakland Unity High

ver time, stress built up for 14-year-old Raven (not her real name) and she finally said that she was tired of it all; she had hit rock bottom. “Nothing else matters, and nothing has come out as I’ve expected it to,” she whispered to herself, standing in the closet of her bedroom with the door closed. “No one would notice if I was gone.” She drew a razor lightly across her arm. The pain made her jump, and suddenly she had a moment of regret and called her best friend, Mala (not her real name). After talking for a long time, Mala finally convinced Raven that suicide was not an option and cutting would not relieve her pain. Raven’s moment of regret is just one example of how teenagers can be depressed and can sometimes hurt themselves as a result. Illness is both serious, common

Depression is something that some people deal with every single day. According to the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, “about 20 percent of all teenagers will experience depression before entering adulthood.” Depression can affect any teen at any time, no matter what his or her ethnic or social background. Even people who live healthy lifestyles can still experience depression. Personal experiences may play a role in depression, but what makes one person depressed might not have the same effect on another. According to an Oct. 5, 2006 article in the Deseret News, the psychological definition of depression is rage turned inward. Once you get to that breaking point, it’s tough to think before you act. And if you are in a stressful situation, your actions can end up being deadly. Any small thing can be a trigger, from someone giving you their true opinion,

"When you are facing depression, it’s like you fall into a trance, where you feel like nobody cares about you and therefore you don’t matter to this world anymore.” Anonymous Student Oakland Unity High

to finding out someone lied to you. “When you are facing depression, it’s like you fall into a trance, where you feel like nobody cares about you and therefore you don’t matter to this world anymore,” said a Unity student, who asked to remain anonymous. Questions to gain perspective

How can you control yourself when you get in the state of mind of not caring at all about your life? What can you do to regain hope, if you believe that things will never get better? What can you do if you begin to feel that hurting yourself or ending your life will solve all your problems? Can it be true that when you’re gone, you won’t have any more problems? These are difficult questions to answer, but what people tend not to think about in the first place are some other questions. For example, what if you’re not successful in killing yourself? If you try to hurt yourself and fail, your problems will still exist, and your attempt could even make them worse. Getting the skills now to control yourself from doing anything to hurt or destroy yourself should be on the top of your list of “things to do” as a high school student.

photo by Daniel Zarazua / Oakland Unity High

Writing to save your life Keeping a journal is one of several steps that you can take to release emotions and strive for perspective on your problems

Tips for beating the blues

So how do you go about dealing with depression? Different methods work for different people, but here are some tips: 1. Find something positive that you enjoy doing (soccer, writing, reading, talking, listening to music) and do it. Being active at something you like to do will let you wrap your mind around the activity and less on your problems. 2. Take a break from thinking about your problems. While you don’t want to ignore a bad situation, giving yourself a chance to rest your mind until you feel mentally stable can help you think of a solution later. 3. Calm yourself. You could even drink some tea. If it helps talk to someone, get some advice from a person you trust. Then face the issue when you feel that you are ready. You can’t get help to heal yourself if you don’t ask for it. 4. Write. One thing that I do to help

me cope with anxiety and depression is to write — in a diary, on the Web, in a blog, in a book, as a poem, whatever. I just write about what’s on my mind. Writing for me helps to release so many different emotions that I have built up over time. When I get down in the deep end and consider doing something selfdestructive, I think about the people who love me the most, for instance, my mother. It helps to observe myself from an outside perspective, and I realize that I’m hurting her, a person who loves me, by hurting myself. Your mother may not be your best friend — your relationship with her may even be one of the reasons you’re depressed. But if you can’t talk to a parent, you should realize that there has to be someone out there, even an animal companion, who needs you more than you think, and who would notice you if you were gone.

Few say 'Ahhh' to free dental help MINDY NGUYEN Oakland High School

Smile — free dental care is coming to Oakland High School. Big Smiles is an independent company that seeks to help underserved students. It provides students with free check-ups, X-rays, cleaning, fillings and more. Nurse Rose Qabazard said that the dentists will visit Oakland High School around March.

The health center has recruited only 45 students to take this opportunity. They hope to have at least 100 students when the program begins. “It sounds pretty dope for people who don’t have dental insurance,” said senior Geoffrey Dang. “It helps because out here in Oakland, there are students who don’t have the money to have their teeth checked.” “I just heard about the program the other day,” said Rachelle-Ann Esmele, a junior. “I’m glad I heard about it sooner, because I need it."

BREAKFAST: Students to grab sack meals for first period from page 1 Breakfast pilot program, scheduled to start next week at Media Academy and Mandela Academy on the Fremont Federation of High Schools campus. In-Class Breakfast is a program put together by Fremont's Youth Wellness Advisory Committee, the Tiger Clinic, the Fremont cafeteria, Oakland Unified School District Nutrition Services and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. In a concept called “grab and go,” students will be able to pick up a bagged breakfast with a student code to eat during the first 15 minutes of their first period class. The wellness committee is excited to launch the program because members know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the “fuel” that helps give the body energy when it needs it the most. Joaquin Hernandez, a senior at Media Academy and a wellness committee member, is looking forward to In-Class Breakfast. “The program that is going to happen will be a good change,” Hernan-

dez said. “It will benefit students in the school.” Right now, only 8 percent of students consume school breakfast, according to the school cafeteria. It is estimated that about 40 percent of students eat breakfast at home or on their way to school with about half of those reporting that they eat junk food such as soda and chips. Most of the time, students would rather sleep than wake up and have enough time to eat breakfast. Other times, students skip breakfast because there is no food at home. Katie Riemer, Fremont’s “wellness champion” and Tiger Clinic health educator, has been working to get all the teachers to cooperate with the breakfast program. She and the wellness committee knew that one thing that would win over teachers is to make sure that breakfast was quick and not messy. Therefore, no syrup will be served. The committee also knows the food needs to be appealing to students and healthy food. Reaction from teachers at Fremont's

three small schools varied. Teachers at Mandela Academy unanimously supported it; almost every teacher at Media Academy endorsed it, but hardly any teachers at College Preparatory & Architecture wanted the program, said Riemer. Therefore, Architecture Academy will not participate in the pilot. Jeanette Bell, an ELD teacher at Media Academy, thinks In-Class Breakfast will be a good idea, although she does have requirements if breakfast is going to be served in her class. “It’s a good idea,” she said. “But there should be a cut-off time. If students come (in) late, they shouldn’t get breakfast because it’ll disrupt class.” Leo Jerald, a Media Academy student who recently transferred to another school, had optimistic feelings towards In-Class Breakfast. “It’s a good idea, some people can get breakfast in the morning time, they can concentrate better with something in their stomach,” said Jerald. Emiliano Sanchez, vice principal of Architecture Academy, had mixed feelings about In-Class Breakfast. “It makes sense to give breakfast to

"... Older students should know when to eat. They should know that without food in the morning, they won’t have energy. And that is a life skill they must have." Emiliano Sanchez Vice Principal Architecture Academy His school is not participating in the pilot breakfast program

younger kids, like middle school and freshman students,” said Sanchez. “But older students should know when to eat. They should know that without food in the morning, they won’t have energy. And that is a life skill they must have.”

Speak Out!


Oaktown Teen Times

March 2011

Menchu, pit bull stories spark letters


Big schools, big mistake


remont Federation of High Schools will become a large school again. Due to budget cuts and declining enrollment, the district has decided that in two years, Mandela High School, Media College Preparatory High School and College Preparatory & Architecture Academy will close and then merge into a new school. We, the Green & Gold staff, are disappointed and dissatisfied with this decision. Returning to a big school again will negatively affect students and staff alike. In a big school, students will not be able to learn as well in larger classes. They are likely to fall through the cracks. Take Media Academy sophomore Laura Lem who transferred to Fremont's Media Academy after spending her freshman year at Oakland High. “There was a lot of drama,” Lem said about her experience at the big school. “It was very overwhelming. Being at a big school, you feel like you have to fit in (and) dress a certain way to go along with the crowd. Academically, I got so caught up in being part of the crowd; I stopped worrying about my grades and started failing some of my classes.” But transferring to Media Academy allowed her to turn all of that around. “I’ve been on the honor roll three times this year. I got a 4.0 GPA twice,” Lem said. “I’m doing way better in a small school than I did at Oakland High.” A half-million dollars is being cut from our own small school's budget next year, and it is extremely unlikely the situation will improve by the time we return to a big school again. We fear there will be bigger classes with more students, creating a chaotic environment in which it is more difficult for students to learn. We understand that our declining enrollment and the state budget crisis makes it difficult for the district to justify keeping us open when it could save a few hundred thousand dollars by cutting two principals, a few teachers and maybe some support staff. But it is a mistake for the district to merge us into a small school only to save money. We have been successful as small schools; our test scores have gone up, and our Academic Performance "I've been on the Index scores are testament to the fact. The API was 444 honor roll three the last year of Fremont High School; Media Academy's API is times this year. I now 620 with the other Fremont got a 4.0 twice. schools close behind. It might be more expensive to I'm doing way keep small schools, but it pays better in a small off for students and the commuschool ..." nity in the end. The district might Laura Lem actually hurt what it is supposed Media Academy sophomore to support—the students. It is unfair that students’ futures are on the line just to save money. In reverting back to Fremont High, many of our students might fall through the cracks. We worry others will not be able to be academically challenged and college ready. Students need help, and, when Fremont was a big school, too many of them just weren’t receiving it. In an ongoing poll conducted on our newspaper's Web site to monitor people's attitudes toward the merging of the three schools, nearly two-thirds say they think the move will change things for the worse at Fremont. Only 4 percent say things will improve. That is why we encourage students and families to speak out against this decision, because ultimately, the power of education lies in the hands of the ones getting educated. And in the education system, the voice of the students sounds the strongest of all.

The above editorial represents the consensus view of Media Academy's Green & Gold newspaper staff and not necessarily the opinion of the Oaktown Teen Times.

At East Oakland School of the Arts of sophomores polled say they fear they will suffer academically in a large school



ur December issue prompted readers to write in defense of pit bulls, as well as people who are unfairly judged by their outward appearances. Readers also continued to write to us about our October issue, which featured a story on two student who lost their lives last fall. IN PRAISE OF PETS I love the article "Don't judge pit bulls. Or me, either" (December OTT), because (the writer) talked about how not to judge a book by its cover. Just because one pit bull attacked someone does not mean that all pit bulls are vicious. Same goes for people — just 'cause one person from a race kills another person doesn't mean everyone from that race is dangerous.

Steven Phan Oakland High junior

NOBEL LAUREATE INSPIRES I enjoyed the article about Rigoberta Menchu (December OTT). I am proud to see when a fellow woman speaks up amongst a society which still abides by conservative ideals that men are the ones with the largest points of view. I agree with many of the points she introduced. From what I read, she is a fine revolutionary woman. Alejandra Vijja

Oakland Unity High senior

ON SIDE OF 'CAGED' WRITER I am responding to two articles in the October Oaktown Teen Times. First, I can relate to “Senior feels caged in,” by Pamela Tapia of McClymonds High. My school has also decided to close off-campus lunch. We also as a school feel caged in and less safe. How can we express ourselves freely if we aren’t free? I am glad you are on our side and speak your mind. Keep up the great writing. Second, I thought “OTT honors contributors of the issue” was cool. I like how the students (Tommy Tran of Oakland High and Kim Mejia of Media Academy) are dedicated to their work. It’s great because most people don’t do things they love. Second, most people aren’t interested in writing, so it is something different. I loved your work. Keep it up!

"Just because one pit bull attacked someone does not mean that all pit bulls are vicious. Same goes for people ... "

Steven Phan Oakland High junior

THE TROUBLE WITH CHEATING I was interested in the article "Skyline gets no state score due to text use" (December OTT). I enjoyed the article and was surprised about students using textbooks during their CST tests. I think the school made the right decision to let go of the teacher responsible for the event. I also support that the school's API score should be taken away. I was also disappointed in the students who used their textbooks to cheat on a test. Students who cheat only hurt themselves and don't learn anything. Tommy Tran

Oakland High junior

FACING DOWN BULLIES I agreed with the article "No more Tylers, please" (December OTT) and thought that it was appropriate to speak about the bullying that goes on in schools across the nation and how making fun of students has led to horrible consequences. But I think bullying begins when the bully is insecure and think that those insecurities should be incorporated into school curriculum, conversations at the dinner table, and even (into) social networking sites, especially since Facebook is the mostly widely used Web site in the country. Kevin Hunter Oakland Unity High sophomore

'THOSE WERE GOOD CHILDREN' I read your article “OUSD grieves again for boys gunned down” (October OTT). I think this article is amazing .... I didn’t really know Jimon (Clark) that well, besides the fact that we attended Frick Middle School together. While Briauna Spragans we were in school, he did behave well, Media Academy sophomore but like all kids, he had his days. He was an amazing athlete, and he loved LONG LUNCH LINES ANNOY competition. Raymen (Justice) also was I am the student life editor from the very athletic. He was a good basketball (Oakland High) Aegis. I really liked player and football player as well. the article about where student didn't Those two were good children. have any open campus lunch. (“Closed I would be interested in reading more lunch angers student; health workers of your articles. I like the way that you see opportunity,” December OTT). It's don’t only talk about all things that very interesting, because students resort happen in school, but you talk about to getting food from vendors behind the things that happen outside of school locked gates. I agree with this article; also. Things like this need to be acstudents often spend most of their lunch knowledged. It makes the children feel time waiting for the food. I know this like someone cares about what they are because I am in this situation every day. going through. I really appreciate that. David Chor Kentasha Anderson

Oakland High junior

Media Academy sophomore

Based on a survey of 35 sophomore English students on Feb. 14.

OTT names contributors of the issue


ach issue, we highlight the work of one or two student journalists.This time, we're honoring an entire staff — the student-journalists at the East Oakland School of the Arts, who covered the murder of a fellow student, and wrote on plans to convert Castlemont into a single big school. English teacher Marguerite Sheffer has been working with OTT Co-Managing Editor Beatrice Motamedi to plant seeds of journalism at EOSA. "Over the last few weeks, the EOSA journalism team has come together to report tragic, complex and meaningful stories," said Sheffer. "Students have interviewed, photographed, recorded, drafted, revised, and set up a news blog, The Ink Incorporated."

ANAHEIM-BOUND From left: Guadalupe Buenrostro, Alihzey Black, Maria V. Muniz, Esmerelda Argueta, Lilybeth Villasenor, Lee Simons, Eric Zamudio. Not shown: Esther Gamez

Now students are fundraising to attend the national high school journalism convention in Anaheim in April. You can send a donation to EOSA, c/o Hilda Lilia Ortiz de Coots, office manager, at 8601 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, 94605.

Oaktown Teen Times is a fiscally sponsored project of Media Alliance, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 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 MANAGING EDITORS Beatrice Motamedi and Lisa Shafer OTT JOURNALISM ADVISERS Patricia Arabia, Mandela Academy Ina Bendich, McClymonds High William Nee, Oakland Unity High Chris Scheer, Skyline High Lisa Shafer, Media Academy Marguerite Sheffer, EOSA

Lara Trale, Oakland High Daniel Zarazua, Oakland Unity High WRITING COACHES Nadine Joseph, McClymonds 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

To submit story ideas, photos or corrections, or to inquire about advertising, please e-mail OTT at We'd love to hear from you! School subscriptions to the OTT begin at $100 per year. To subscribe or to sponsor your local school, please contact us at or call 510-282-7379 or 510-759-7185. Sponsorships are tax deductible.


Speak Out!

Oaktown Teen Times

March 2011

iThink administrators made mistake with iPads


ood news to anyone who still might think that our school has money problems: the Skyline administration is now iFabulous! All five Skyline administrators are now supplied with iPads. According to Assistant Principal Vinh Trinh, these high-tech toys are to be used to evaluate teacher performance through observation. “We basically observe. We give teacher feedback, and just observe the classroom climate,” said Trinh. Principal Troy Johnston was able to give me a far more detailed explanation. “(The iPad) helps us in a great many ways,” he told me as he scrolls through the options. “We are able to note who’s talking (in a classroom) and for how long. We can also take notes right there.” As a student, I probably lack the mental power (probably because I haven’t bought enough Apple products) to comprehend the magnitude of these “observations,” but it occurs to me that the same process

has been undertaken before with less fancy equipment. The first viable replacements that come to mind are a legal pad, a ballpoint pen, and a stopwatch, although, I suppose, you can’t play Doodle Jump on a piece of paper. The exact extent of this expenditure is of some concern. As some readers might be aware, the iPad comes in several different memory sizes. The more gigabytes, the more you have to shell out to Steve Jobs. According to Johnston, the administrators purchased the “mid-range” model: 32 gigabytes. Johnston adamantly informed me that he bought his own iPad, along with everything else in his office. However, the iPads for the other four administrators were purchased with school money, albeit at a $40 discount for each one. According to the Apple Education Store, that’s a grand total of $2,662.61. Tax included. However, shipping was free — so it’s not all bad. Here’s a few suggestions as to how that money could be put to, arguably, better, yet far less

snazzy, use: With that money, we could purchase: • 107 bottles of grout cleaner ( • 500 bottles of toilet cleaner ( • 625 packages of toilet paper ( • 30 freshman biology textbooks ( • Four LCD projectors ( • 96 music stands (amazon. com) • 24 room heaters (amazon. com) • three drinking fountains (discountcrowdcontrol. com) I know what you’re saying, that this is just an attempt to give our administration a hard time. And you’re absolutely right. I’m sure that these iPads serve some greater purpose than I was able to extract from the administration. However, it comes down to priorities. Would it be a pain in the rear to do what those iPads can do by hand? Yes, of course it would be. But how about students sitting in frigid rooms, science teachers paying out


Shouldn't the priority be giving students the best possible tools?

of pocket for supplies, and a performing arts department that has been reusing the same set pieces for the greater part of the last decade? Those pains-in-thecollective-rear of the student body should be placed higher than the new policies of the administration. “I want to be able to give my staff the best possible tools to do their job,” Johnston says. And it was the real earnestness with which that was delivered that impressed me most. I don’t want to diminish the importance of the administration, but I feel that there is a shortcoming here. Shouldn’t your top priority as an educator, and a citizen, be giving students the best possible tools? A point that was made to me (or more appropriately, at me), by our principal was that the

iPad was significantly less expensive than a MacBook Air, or other alternatives. He then indicated a MacBook Air on his desk. The administrators at Skyline catch a whole lot of flack. However, they’re are all doing their best, and I’m not trying to sway people to lose sight of that. What’s far more important is that we as a school, and more importantly as a community start to prioritize education. Are classroom visits more important than quality textbooks? Do we really need to set a up a stringent academy system, or do we need to invest more in the core we already have? These are tough questions, but you better go see the principal in person; wi-fi coverage up here is a killer.

Skyline High

Mack needs more money, security and AP classes


(in the arts and sciences) and more qualified teachers, who are specialists in their academic areas. The decision in 2005 to split McClymonds into two small college? schools — the Business EnUsually, high schools are trepreneurial School of Techclassified based on factors nology and EXCEL (Experiranging from class size to ence, eXcellence, Community, parent involvement. That’s Empowerment, and Leadership) not enough. High schools, like — had a profound impact on the homes, have an obligation students, parents and staff. to provide students with the Despite the new names, mindset to succeed in college. At McClymonds, we should funding cuts at the new schools prompted students to seek out begin by confronting homerelated issues, such as poverty, other schools with more resources. Students had to travel alcoholism, drug abuse and outside of the only school in lack of parenting. West Oakland to attend other We need to feel safe, healthy, engaged and commit- schools. Often, the students who ted to our future. We need to remain are the toughest to reach have more options in classes, and teach. “Most students need more career paths to explore hat do you need from high school to be successful in

In West Oakland, where violence is present every day, making the surrounding environment unsafe, the fear of losing a loved one to gang violence threatens students’ academic success because it inPAMELA TAPIA, LATEEFAH EDMONDSON SARAI CORNEJO, BONITA TINDLE terrupts their concentration. In McClymonds High the very first days of 2011, one motivation,” said Asia Hill, 16, student’s brother was gunned down in front of a corner store junior. just one block away from Unfortunately, the lack of school. Students mourning motivation causes students to feel insecure, thereby increasing the 22-year-old man’s death created a disruption in learning the possibility of not going to college or dropping out of high for many students who have a school. According to a group of relationship with the family. Outside of failing to provide McClymonds students, adults in their lives, including teachers moral support, Mack fails to and parents, don’t provide them provide advanced classes that will give students a head start with motivation or assurance in college. of their success in their future, “We need more Advanced making it difficult for them to Placement classes so I can be believe in themselves.

more on a college level,” said Kenya Lee-Fletcher, 18, a senior. Mack offers only one Advanced Placement class — in English — compared to Oakland High, which offers AP classes in almost every subject. Students who take the only AP class at McClymonds feel that the class is taught at the same level as a regular non-AP class at better-funded schools. McClymonds needs an immense amount of support and funding to provide help to students. Schools provide essential skills and tools necessary to foster a successful college experience. Schools like Mack should lay the groundwork by giving students the necessary tools to succeed in college and in their professional careers.

Don't let the dream of citizenship and college die


JOCELYN SANCHEZ Oakland Unity High

hen the House of Representatives tried to pass the Dream Act, it raised the hopes of ambitious students waiting for its approval. But when the Senate killed the Dream Act, just before Christmas, it was a harsh

Q &


photos by Cesar Sanchez / Media Academy

wake-up call. This was the last chance for supporters of the Dream Act to try to get it passed by a Democratically-controlled Congress. Even with Democrats in power, it was not surprising that the Dream Act didn’t pass; there had been so many failed attempts that just about everyone could see it coming. Unfortunately, now that Congress is controlled by the Republicans, undocumented students will have to wait. I do not think that opponents of the Dream Act realize all the talent that is being wasted by our country’s unjust immigration laws. For instance, there are many academically-gifted students

who work diligently throughout their college years, graduate, and are then forced to work at a job they could have had without even attending high school. It is ironic that undocumented students often have a greater interest in school that those who are legal residents. An even greater irony is that non-English speakers born in territories such as Puerto Rico get citizenship automatically, but assimilated, Englishspeaking students who have family ties in the United States cannot. These students are likely to make a positive impact in this country. Why not grant citizenship to undocumented students as well as those from U.S. territories?

Such a move would be for the greater good of the country. Now that the Dream Act has died, what will families do? Undocumented families will continue to cope by taking the low-paying jobs that U.S. citizens won’t. If the Dream Act were to pass, this never-ending cycle of poverty and suffering could end. People who seek only equal treatment could receive it. At my school, the staff tries to help undocumented students. We’ve had many assemblies designed to give students advice and guidance for their future. As a citizen, I plan to support my fellow students seeking a brighter future in this country.

MANDELA LAW ACADEMY: Do you think women will have a voice in creating a new government in Egypt?

MARY RAY “I think it will be hard for them, but I absolutely think the Egyptian women will push hard and make their voices heard if they want equality."

C'VON DYER "I don't know if Egyptian women will have any rights as citizens. The way the Egyptians treated the CBS reporter showed a large group being violent."

LONISHA WILLARD “No. I don't think women will have a voice unless someone that is for equality takes a stand. I do believe though that the women will not go down without a fight."



“From what I heard, the 20 women helping save the CBS reporter shows the women in Egypt stick together very well. Women need to know it is time to stick together."

"The people who are protesting in Egypt will lose everything they fought for because of the way they treated that lady reporter from CBS."



March 2011

Oaktown Teen Times

Kickin' it in OAL

10 questions for Jamaree & Jabari


he Oakland Athletic League this year has not just one, but two, top basketball players in the country. Jabari Brown, a senior at Oakland High, signed this winter with the University of Oregon. He is ranked 14th of all high school players in the country by and was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 16 in Charlotte, N.C. Jamaree Strickland, a junior at MetWest High who plays center for McClymonds, also has been in the national spotlight. He has been named a top player to watch next year by MaxPreps. We sent reporters out to find out more about these two players and their experiences in basketball. Who is your sports idol? JAMAREE: Kobe Bryant is my inspiration because he is the best in basketball. JABARI: My sports idol is Carmelo Anthony, because that’s who I look up to the most.

photo by Andy Hang / Oakland High Class of 2010

GOALS IN MIND Forward Stephanie Zambrano of Fremont drives towards the goal as Oakland High's Mariana Lopez tries to thwart her efforts. The Fremont Tigers won the Jan. 11 game 10-1 on their home turf. The Fremont girls finished third in the Oakland Athletic League behind Skyline and Oakland Tech. The boys OAL race was a battle among Skyline, Castlemont and Fremont. Fremont was ahead of Castlemont on Monday 2-0 when one player hit another player on the field. Crowd members joined in the fray, said a student who was at the game, and the game was stopped. Some outsiders arrived but were turned away by security and staff. They fired shots in the air from their vehicles as they left. No one was injured. OAL final results were unclear on Tuesday due to the incident.

Mack players picked up by college teams Peters, Taiese, Walters sign with Division I teams after leading 12-0 Warriors PAMELA TAPIA McClymonds High

Excitement reigned at McClymonds High School on Feb. 2 as Mack’s top three football prospects officially committed to college teams. “Celebratory” was how Cara Johnson, after-school coordinator, described the signing day festivities at McClymonds High, complete with speeches by coaches and even NFL player Courtney Anderson. It became official: Marcus Peters Jr., 18, the 6’1”, 185 pound cornerback and receiver, committed to the University of Washington Huskies, as he had announced earlier. Offensive lineman Wendell Taiese signed with Washington State. Jeremiah Walters, who made first team of the Oakland Athletic League and had 70 tackles, four sacks and recovered four fumbles this year, will go the University of Idaho Vandals as a linebacker. Mack finished its 2010 season with a perfect 12-0 record, beating the Fremont Tigers in November to win the Oakland schools championship. Mack's strong showing came despite fielding a roster of just 22 players, about one-third the size of most of the teams that Mack played during the season.

How do you prep for a game? JAMAREE: I’m not really superstitious, but I like to listen to music and sit down and relax. I usually listen to hip hop and (a band called) The General. JABARI: I just warm up, listen to my iPod, stuff like that, to get ready.

photos by Pamela Tapia / McClymonds & Milani Alexander / Oakland High

TOP OF THEIR GAME Mack center Jamaree Strickland (left) and OHigh guard Jabari Brown.

What is the hardest part of basketball? JAMAREE: Just getting to the court is the hardest part. Every practice, you risk getting a serious injury that will prevent you from competing or playing. JABARI: Just dealing with all the criticism that comes with being a top player. What motivates you to play? JAMAREE: My coach gives me the inspiration to keep playing. I also want to do something different in Oakland. JABARI: I love playing. That’s my motivation. And winning. Jamaree, how will you decide which college you want to go? There are many things to decide on. I want the college that I attend to have a good coach (who) has a really great sense of the game. It also helps that the college has a big campus and is in a good location.

Give Me A 'C-U-T-E' Makhiya JonesRobinson dresses for her cheerleader role, wearing Mack's black and orange school colors. Fans say her best move is the "Cat Daddy" dance, in which she waves her arms.

Jabari, what has the recruiting process been like for you? It was stressful, but now that I got it over with, I’m happy.

photo by Pamela Tapia / McClymonds High

Little sis sparks big-time cheers PAMELA TAPIA McClymonds High

She’s only four years old. But when Makhiya JonesRobinson dances, flips, and jumps on the sidelines of a McClymonds High School game, the fans erupt in cheers. “She’s little but she’s one of us. She brings a spark to our cheering,” said Qwanesha McDonald, 17, captain of the cheerleading squad. When the Warriors won the Silver Bowl, Makhiya was as euphoric as her older teammates. “They did win the trophy; that’s my team. That was exciting,” said Makhiya, whose brother, Berry Bell, plays varsity basketball. Makhiya has to obey the rules like all the other players, showing up on time for practice if she wants to cheer, and running through all the moves over and over again, says former cheerleader Kamesha Jackson, an 11th grader who is one of her fans. "She's joyful and she heightens our mood," Jackson says. "It's great for team spirit during basketball season," says Kimante Smith, a 12th grader who plays varsity basketball. "She's special."

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Jabari, how did you decide to sign with Oregon? JABARI: (It was) the coaches. And then when I visited, I liked the school and the campus the most (of those I’d seen). When did you know you had talent that might take you to a Division I college or the NBA? JAMAREE: People told me that I had a real talent in the game when I was in 8th grade. JABARI: Probably my 8th grade year. Which famous players have you met in training? JAMAREE: I can’t remember their names, but I’m sure that I have met some. JABARI: I’ve met LeBron, Carmelo, Jason Kidd, Deron Williams — I’ve met pretty much everybody. What kind of music makes you feel better when you play? JABARI: Rap music. —Reported by Milani Alexander, KJanay Brown and Tommy Tran of Oakland High and Pamela Tapia of McClymonds High. Questions created by Media Studies students of Media Academy.

March 2011 Oaktown Teen Times  
March 2011 Oaktown Teen Times  

Oaktown Teen Times for March 2011