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Oakland's Teen Newspaper

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

October 2010

Volume 4, Issue 1

OUSD grieves again for boys gunned down


Jimon Clark, Raymen Justice, two popular scholar-athletes, killed in separate incidents DESTINY STEWART, TOMMY TRAN & JASON LIU Oaktown Teen TImes Staff

photo by Pamela Tapia / McClymonds High

Backing Mack Seniors pulled together to win the tug of war contest at a rally on Oct. 15 at McClymonds High School. More than two dozen alumni attended, including LuPaulette Taylor, class of 1966. Taylor, who teaches English and economics at Mack, said she hopes that "our student body will grow again, and the old traditions will return."

EXCEL reverts to 'McClymonds' With push from passionate alumni, board restores high school's name; new principal is West Oakland native PAMELA TAPIA



McClymonds High

ack is back. McClymonds High School in West Oakland began a new phase this fall as the school reclaimed its name, got a new football field, incorporated students from two small schools, and tried to unify into one school under the leadership of a new principal, Kevin Taylor. From the start, Taylor, 34, a West Oakland native, has exuded optimism in the face of challenges, including training 14 new teachers, adding 30 students from the Business Entrepreneurial School of Technology (BEST), and low enrollment that threatens the school’s future. As he walked the hallways of the school, students welcomed the presence of a principal with local roots. “I’m from these streets, so I know what it takes,” Taylor said. Taylor graduated from Bishop O’Dowd High School before earning his undergraduate degree at California State University, Northridge. He also holds two masters of arts degrees. In an informal discussion with students, he listened as Malik McMillan, a junior, told him a “hood” joke and asked him where he got the seven tattoos on his arm, which include an angel and his grandmother’s name. ”In Da Bottoms, at someone’s

"McClymonds connects with a rich history. The school spirit remains strong considering the stresses of putting the school back together.” Sid Waxman English teacher house,” Taylor answered, jokingly, as all the students smiled. After the school board approved the name change in August from EXCEL and BEST back to McClymonds, the staff tore down posters and pictures, and had an artist re-graffiti the lockers with the word “Mack.” Although McClymonds alumni lobbied for the name change, which was approved by the school board in late August, most students were also pleased. “The name change is important because Mack is powerful and known,” said David McNeal, 18, a senior. “We should have stuck with the original name all along,” said E’Shaun Chapman, 18, a senior, whose mother, sister and brother all graduated from “Mack.” Teachers at the school agreed. “McClymonds conSee MACK page 2

Raymen Lamont Justice was the type of guy everyone loved. Friends described the high school junior, 17, as strong, effusive, ambitious, and funny. He was an athlete who played basketball and football and loved to encourage his friends. Despite being popular and sociable, he was also a good student who took care of his business academically. Justice was shot and killed on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 21 in front of a taqueria near his home in the 1200 block of MacArthur Boulevard. He was walking home alone after having visited friends and teachers at Oakland High School's Back-to-School Night. The murder devastated students and faculty at Oakland High, where Justice spent two years before transferring this fall to Life Academy, another Oakland school, in hopes of pursuing a future in health science. “What I’m going to remember most about him is his personality,” said Oakland High senior NaDirah Bolden. “He was nice, real, honest, and he made people respect him.” Justice’s death came as Oakland students were already mourning the loss of a promising young track star who hoped to join Skyline’s nationally ranked track team. Incoming freshman Jimon Clark, 13, was shot and killed on Aug. 20 while doing an errand with his brother near his home, according to Oakland police. At the time of his death, Clark was days away from celebrating his 14th birthday and two weeks away from beginning classes at Skyline, where he was enrolled in the architecture program. Clark’s twin brother, Jivon, is currently a student at Skyline. According to the Oakland police, Jimon Clark was shot by a man on foot in the 1600 block of Bancroft Avenue. Paramedics tried to revive Clark but he was pronounced dead at the scene. No arrests have been made. At Frick, Clark was known as an exceptional sprinter whose relay team beat the Frick teacher’s relay team at an annual spring sports festival – an unprecedented feat. Clark’s gym teacher at Frick, Kermit Bayless, told ABC News that Clark was going to join the track team in high school. Skyline’s 4 x 100 meters relay team is one of the fastest in the country, and the team as See MURDERS page 2

African American male achievement focus of new administrator Chris Chatmon will try to help black boys improve graduation, college rates STAFF REPORT

Edna Brewer Middle School

Oakland Unified School District has hired Chris Chatmon for a new position called the executive director of African American Male Achievement. The goals for this position are to increase graduation, attendance, literacy and overall academic performance while decreasing suspension and incarceration rates. There is also an achievement gap between African American males and

other groups, which Chatmon will try to lower. Edna Brewer student Langston Graham, 11, who is both African American and Mexican American, appreciates the new achievement program because it’s unique and focused. “Unlike other programs that are about females or other ethnicities,” he said, “this is just about African American males.” Chatmon definitely faces a big challenge: According to data from the state Department of Education, 956 AfricanAmerican boys entered the ninth grade in Oakland public schools in the fall of 2004. Four years later, 377 black boys, or about 39 percent of

that original number of freshman boys, graduated. And of those, only 89 — or about one in 10 — left the district with the grades and credits required to apply to a University of California or California State University. Before taking his new position at OUSD, Chatmon was a principal at Youth Chance High School in San Francisco. He also served as executive director of the Urban Services YMCA. Chatmon is the education committee chairman for 100 Black Men, a national organization that tries to improve the quality of African American communities and to help more students find educational op-

portunities. Chatmon is also a former history and physical education teacher and his three children attend Oakland public schools. (Due to privacy concerns, OUSD does not disclose the names of schools attended by district officials.) Chatmon feels that this new position is an extraordinary opportunity to uplift young brothers throughout Oakland. In a written statement obtained by the Oaktown Teen Times, Chatmon said that he “wants to ensure there are no barriers in our behaviors, practices, policies, and structures to (African American males) achieving the same goals and visions we all


hold for our children.” Chatmon’s goal is good news for Brothers on the Rise, an Oakland program that works See CHATMON page 2



October 2010

Oaktown Teen Times

Fremont frets about future Test scores are on rise, but enrollment is down



SHIMA KAID Media Academy

Courtesy of Oakland High


photo courtesy of Lifetouch


SHATTERED DREAMS Raymen Justice, left, wanted to pursue a career in health science, while Jimon Clark, right, planned to join the Skyline track team. Justice was shot in September; Clark, in August.

MURDERS: Students react from page 1

guy, respectful, and never caused me trouble at all,” said Michael Carter, a campus a whole swept the Oakland Athletic League sectionals last security officer who first met Justice when Justice was in May. middle school. Freshmen at Skyline who “He was a non-judgmental, came from Frick have been effusive personality,” said Sam especially affected by the Banker, another campus secutragedy. rity officer. “Everyone liked Jacqueline Cartagena him. He was outgoing.” Banker choked up with tears as she said that they hugged before reminisced about Clark. “He Justice left the campus. was a truly amazing person Like many other staff and — he always said “hi” to me,” she said. “He always made me faculty members of Oakland High School, Banker said that smile.” he last saw Justice at the school Students expressed similar when he came to visit his fasentiments about Justice. vorite teachers, including EngBolden, a longtime friend lish teacher Jennifer Howard at of Justice, said she would most miss spending time at his Back-to-School Night. Howard organized a memodad’s house with him and other rial service for Justice on Sept. friends. She said that Justice got good grades but knew how 28, including a slideshow filled to balance school with a social with photos, videos, and music by Justice. life and extracurriculars. “It brought back memories,” “He was very intelligent, wanted to go to college, joined said Jiaqualia Green, a junior, about the service. “I felt like the AVID (Advancement via this memorial was necessary Individual Determination) to remind us that not only the program, and did well in students were hurting, but the his classes,” said Counselor teachers and staff were hurtJaswinder Heer, who worked ing as well. It showed a sense with Justice for his two years of sympathy that we were not at Oakland High. alone.” Other members of the Police are offering a $15,000 Oakland High faculty and staff reward to anyone who has agreed that Justice was wellliked and open about his goals information regarding Clark’s murder and $10,000 for inforfor improving his life. mation on Justice's murder. “He was a nice dude, nice

With their dropping enrollment rates, could the schools at Fremont Federation of High Schools be three of the schools Superintendent Tony Smith says the district needs to close? In a town meeting on Sept. 28, Smith didn’t directly answer the Green & Gold’s question of whether the district might merge the schools, but he did say that it would need to be “on the table” as an option due to the financial situation the district is in. Smith called a meeting with the three Fremont principals and his cabinet on Oct. 14 to discuss the state of the schools. Principal Benjamin Schmookler of Media Academy said the principals were told that they needed to improve their enrollment numbers and market their schools. He said Smith said several times the three schools need to become "quality" schools. District spokesman Troy Flint addressed the possibility of a merge of the Fremont schools in an interview with the Green & Gold newspaper. "There is no immediate danger of Fremont closing, but it is clear that the district [has] too many schools,” said Flint. “We have 99 schools which are about twice as many as (a similar) school district normally has.” Flint said that the schools would not be shut immediately, but an eventual merging of the three schools is something the district will be “considering and discussing.” Fremont High School enrollment was 1,862 in 2003 before it broke up into the small schools. Now, total enrollment is about 900 students. The decline appears to have nothing

Data from

CONTRARY TRENDS The average Academic Performance Index has gone up at Fremont (left graph), while enrollment has fallen (right graph).

to do with test scores because the average score on the Academic Performance Index for Fremont has grown from 444 in 2003 to 588 this year.. At 620, Media Academy has the highest API and the second highest for small, non-charter, public schools in Oakland. Freshman Classes Shrink

Freshman classes this year are small: 59 at Media, 89 at Architecture and 78 at Mandela. In 2003-04, there were 147 freshmen at Media, 103 at Architecture and 118 at Mandela, according to state records. At the town meeting, Smith said that parents don't consider Fremont a safe school or think transportation to and from school is safe. Fremont students think their schools suffer from an erroneous reputation – but not necessarily about safety. “They (students at other schools) think this school doesn’t have enough money ... so they think it’s not as fun,” said Media Academy junior Christina Nguyen.

Skyline High

John Martinez, 18, was arrested outside his East Oakland home on Sept. 3 as a suspect for the murder of former Skyline student Eric Toscano. Toscano was killed in a drive-by shooting outside his home during a late 18th birthday celebration on March 27. Three other guests suffered gunshot wounds and were transported to local hospitals. Martinez is in police custody with no bail set. He has been charged with murder; however, a trial date has not been set. “Homicide [cases] in Alameda County take many years,” said Captain Ersie Joyner, who is in charge of the area in which the shooting took place. Joyner estimated it would be five years before Martinez goes to trial. All Oakland homicide cases are assigned two investigators, Joyner explained However, Toscano’s murder became a “joint effort between the investigative division and field officers,” he said. “Officers worked the case every day.” Martinez is the only identified gunman. No weapon has been identified and details of how many bullets were shot are not being released. Martinez has been identified as a member of the Norteños gang, according to Sergeant

Sean Fleming. The invitation Toscano sent out to his friends via Facebook explicitly stated “no rosaries or gang affiliated belts.” However, rumors circulated that the shooting was gang-related. According to Joyner, Martinez likely believed that Toscano’s party was a rival gang’s party and “did not care who he hit.” “It appears from all accounts, Eric was not the target,” said Joyner. “In my professional opinion. [Martinez] just wanted to shoot into the crowd.” The break in the case can be attributed to witness accounts identifying the shooter, according to a KTVU report. Almost six months after the incident, police arrived outside of Martinez’s home where KTVU reported police saw the suspect inside his car. News reports said Martinez barricaded himself within his home and released several large dogs. Senior Olivia Johnson, along with some friends, witnessed the arrest, but found out only the next day what the chaos had been about. “We saw cops everywhere... they had blocked two whole streets and there was a bunch of onlookers and news crews,” said Johnson. “It was kind of intense realizing that we witnessed Eric Toscano's murderer being arrested.”

— To see the rest of this story, go to

Sophomores Take Action

Students at Media Academy have started a public relations club to save their school. “We are going to middle schools to advertise Media, to talk about how we have high test scores, and why they Open Enrollment Blamed should come to our school,” Schmookler blames the low said President Jenny Saechao. enrollment on the district’s Vice President Laura Lem, options policy, which lets stua sophomore who transferred dents choose any high school from Oakland High this year, in Oakland as long as there is said the goal wasn't only to adspace available. vertise Media Academy but to "There are over 600 kids promote all three small schools living in the Fremont area that as a better choice than big are going to other schools, and schools. "Compared to OHigh," that’s what’s causing our enshe said, "Media has less drama rollments to go down,” he said. and feels like family."

Suspect arrested in Toscano murder MONICA FLOYD

Schmookler's solution? “Close it [open enrollment] and say that kids living in the Fremont area have to go to Fremont," he said. He said the popular schools in Oakland also are Program Improvement schools so it makes no sense for the district to let students transfer out of their neighborhood. Unlike Schmookler, Flint thinks open enrollment is beneficial. “Giving parents options about where their children attend school is not granting them a special privilege," Flint said. "It is a simple recognition that their kids, like those of other, perhaps wealthier families, are entitled to the same chance at happiness and prosperity regardless of their background or ZIP code."

CHATMON: Position said to be needed from page 1

Saving Light Tiffany Zachary, mother of Alana Williams, turns on a new stoplight at the intersection of 64th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, near Frick Middle School in Oakland. Williams, 11, was a sixth-grader at Frick when she was struck and killed by a car last October. Family and friends expressed hope that no other child will be hurt at the dangerous intersection. Police still do not have a suspect in the case. Photo and caption by Rogelio Barraza / Unity High

with male youth to help them achieve success, develop healthy relationships and contribute to society. Reuben Roberts, a Brothers program specialist, said that Chatmon’s appointment addresses a great need. “We are losing too many of our young brothers to the streets, jail cells, and graveyards,” Roberts said. “The presence of strong positive black males is very much needed.” — The writers are members of the Brothers on the Rise program at Edna Brewer Middle School

MACK: Taylor named new principal from page 1

with students not permitted to leave campus. Doorknobs were nects with a rich history,” says removed from the front doors. Taylor said that he did not English teacher Sid Waxman. make the decision to remove “The school spirit remains strong considering the stresses doorknobs and that the move took place before he arrived. of putting the school back Despite the obstacles, “we together.” have to work more closely, In addition to the name with common vision and mischange, there has been a sion,” Taylor said. change in leadership style. Still, some students said they Taylor described his style as still don’t feel safe. “We don’t hands-on and committed to have more security officers guaranteeing the safety of (than before),” says Lateefah students. Edmondson, 17, a senior. “It’s The school is located in an area in which several shootings just too easy to get in here. I worry that one of my friends occurred last year. This year, might get shot.” the campus is closed at lunch,

photo by Pamela Tapia / McClymonds High




Oaktown Teen Times

October 2010

City seeks second gang injunction Certain Norteños would be banned from many activities in East Oakland safety zone KIM MEJIA, GLORIA 'JACK' MEJIA & JAZMIN GARCIA Media Academy

The city of Oakland has named the second gang it wants to target for an injunction—the Norteños. On Oct. 13, City Attorney John Russo and Police Chief Anthony Batts announced they had filed a petition for an injunction against 42 alleged Norteño gang members. An injunction against members of the North Side Oakland gang was approved in May. A gang injunction is a court order that restricts certain people from doing things in a designated part of the city, called a "safety zone." On Oct. 17, the city attorney dismissed one of the 42 defendants who

showed up to an injunction press conference and talked to the police. The city talked to his employer the next day and decided to dismiss him, said Russo's spokesman, Alex Katz. If a judge approves the request, the 41 remaining alleged Norteños will be unable to sell drugs, recruit more members, vandalize, keep company with other known gang members, carry guns, intimidate witnesses or be outside in the zone between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The zone is between 21st Avenue and High Street below Brookdale Avenue and also includes Fremont Federation of High Schools In a press release, Russo wrote that the Norteños are being targeted because they are the city's predominant gang and have caused the most gang violence within the proposed "safety zone." So far this year, he wrote, Norteños have been involved in 35 or more shootings.

Many at Fremont Federation praise the injunction for including the campus in the safety zone. “Some gang members come to school here. It would be easier for the police to find them in school than in the streets,” said one student. There was an almost unanimous agreement from the people interviewed that schools and the safety of Oakland students should be a priority. “I believe the school should be in the safety zone. It is our first duty to our students to [ensure] their safety,” said Daniel Hurst, principal of Fremont's Architecture Academy. Pablo Peña, an Architecture Academy senior, agreed. “If we’re not in the safety zone, we’re not protected,” he said. But the head of security at Fremont, Noil Angelo, doesn’t think being in the safety zone is a necessity for the school. “[Students] are pretty protected. We

have five security officers, two police officers and lots of cameras,” said Angelo. “When you’re at school, you are safe.” Regardless of their position on the zone, almost no one interviewed believed the injunction would actually decrease gang violence. Some believed that by creating a safety zone, criminals would just terrorize other parts of the city. Angelo said gang members would just work around the system to commit crimes, even if it was in the safety zone. Some students see some problems with the gang injunction.. "If they put the names and photos (of the 41 Norteños in public view), it will put their lives at risk," said Media Academy sophomore Ramon Arreola. Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, said the injunction "targets the good people" living in the safety zone.

Surge of fundraisers sparks senior worries

New Digs Oakland High School's new building features an open entryway and staircase to the second floor. Each floor holds five new classrooms.

OHigh class officers say class was never 'broke' or 'in debt,' deny that they overspent MINDY NGUYEN Oakland High

photo by Marcelus Clay

New building opens at OHigh; more Measure B work underway Naming contest planned to honor East Bay 'great minds' TOMMY TRAN & JAMIE WILLIAMS Oakland High

The new school year brought the opening of a new building at Oakland High. Construction on the new building, which houses eight regular classrooms and two computer labs, began approximately two years ago. It was built thanks to Measure B, which was approved by Oakland voters in 2006. Measure B provided money for the modernization of schools in the Oakland Unified School District. Money voters dedicate to building projects can’t be used to hire teachers or for other educational purposes. “This has nothing to do with budget cuts,” said Principal Alicia Romero. This is Oakland High’s fourth year of modernization. Construction has caused some teachers to move into portables. This year, the old shop buildings are being renovated into modern classrooms. According to social studies teacher Emily Macy, teachers are planning a naming contest so that students can propose and vote on names for all three

new or renovated buildings. Proposed names will honor “great minds” from the East Bay. The people most greatly affected by the modernization are the teachers in the new building and the portables. Teacher Ben Siino, who was moved out of the old shop building, now teaches in a portable so small that it fits about 14 students and does not have enough room for materials. However, Siino still complained about his old room. “My old classroom was like a dungeon,” he said. Next year, Siino will likely teach in the renovated Shop building. Teachers in the new building, such as science teacher Malia Lehman, are excited to be in better equipped classrooms. Of her old room, Lehman said, “I was in room 347. It was the size of a closet, it shook, and it had no windows.” “Man, there’s more room and light from the sun in the new building,” said student Javaris Holmes, who has three classes in the new building. “I feel a lot more comfortable here, feel me?” —Additional reporting by Marcus Finley and Alondro Solis

Just four weeks into the school year, students were worrying about whether the Oakland High School senior class is broke. The senior class officers were surprised by flying rumors. “It just escalated and spread,” said Jenny Lu, vice president for the senior class. “Never were we broke or in debt. Never. It’s really hard just having to reject these rumors over and over again." As to the budget, both the senior class president, Shayna Truong, and the senior class officers assure the class of 2011 that there is nothing to worry about. The senior class account currently stands at $1,674 after the payment of a deposit for Senior Ball. According to Leadership teacher Amy Dellefield, this is as much or more as previous senior classes have had in fall. However, students wonder why the senior class is planning so many fundraisers. “I’ve heard the rumors, and I’m not sure what’s the real truth behind it,” said Kelly Truong, a senior. “I haven’t heard how much money’s in our account. I think that the fundraising doesn’t have anything to do with the rumors—I just thought it was to make the best Senior Ball possible.” Senior class officers confirmed that the fundraising is intended to support Senior Ball, which is the official name of Oakland High School’s senior prom. “It’s still the beginning of the year, so we do have plenty of time to raise money for prom,” said class president

Truong. “But that doesn’t mean we can sit comfortably until then; that’s why we’re planning for several more fundraisers that’ll help lower the cost of the tickets.” The senior class president explained that the amount of money in the senior bank determines the price of tickets. Senior Class officers hope to raise more money so that Senior Prom can be affordable to all after last year's minimally attended Junior Prom. “Truthfully, Junior Prom drained our account,” Truong admitted. “No, the officers and I didn’t overspend; we just didn’t expect about only 100 people to attend. We want the best for the class of 2011, we love our class; I think we just put too much into making Junior Prom a perfect night. But hey, we’re lucky to still have money. We just hope the turnout for Senior Ball will be much different.” Although the senior class can finally let its guard down, many still wonder what they can do to contribute to their last year at Oakland High School. “Other than senior project and everything college-related, seniors have nothing to worry about,” Truong said. “My officers and I will try our best to handle everything, but I really would like to know if seniors are having concerns with anything regarding our decisions with things like events.” Though Truong said that the officers feel confident, they’re open to new volunteers to help raise money. “I feel like this is our last year, so people should put their all into it,” said Petty Lai, the social chairperson of the senior class. “People don’t realize how hard all the officers work either, so it’d be nice if we had a lot of support because we’re trying to reach out as much as we can.” —Additional reporting by KJanay Brown, David Chor and Steven Phan

College Board eliminates penalty for guessing wrong on AP Testing company won't take 1/4 points away for wrong answers LIAM BARR


Skyline HIgh

or students at Skyline and across the country, Advanced Placement (AP) tests just got a little less stressful. The College Board recently announced that the multiple choice guessing penalty will be removed from all of its AP tests, effective on the next tests in May. “Getting rid of the guessing penalty for AP tests is a great thing,” said junior Ryan Chung, who is studying AP

English Language and AP US History. “Without the guessing penalty, you can get all of the points you scored.” The College Board has administered AP tests since 1955. More than one million students take the exams every year and up until now, students have lost a quarter of a point for every answer they marked wrong. The rationale was to discourage “random guessing” and to encourage test-takers to carefully think before they chose an answer, according to the College Board. This change has prompted several AP teachers at Skyline to speculate why the College Board removed the penalty. Former AP World History teacher Evonne Morici said she

believes the decision was made because of "the vast amount of teacher and student complaints." Others say the change just makes sense. It will “raise [the tests] up to college level, as there are no guessing penalties in college,” said Traci Ostrom, who teaches AP Environmental Science. Skyline teachers learned about the change in mid-September not from the College Board directly, but from a statement in USA Today. A spokeswoman for the College Board said “the decision to end the guessing penalty relates to broader changes in the AP program.” According to the statement, the College Board has “an-

nounced plans to redesign a number of courses, and that process will start to produce results in the 2011-12 academic year. The redesigned courses will feature ‘an increased emphasis on conceptual understanding and discipline-specific skills, resulting in fewer and more complex multiple-choice questions.’” Now that students will not be penalized 1/4 of a point for every answer marked wrong, AP teachers, including Tim Jollymore, said they believe students will score higher than in previous years. “I believe it is possible for scores to raise,” he said. “It might be the College Board’s objective, to encourage higher scores.”

Morici said she agrees with Jollymore’s belief that multiple choice scores will rise. “Multiple choice scores will go up for good guessers and good test takers, and all of [my] students,” she said. Another issue raised by teachers is whether the multiple choice portion will be more difficult. The e-mail to all AP teachers from the College Board stated that the change will “not make AP Exams any easier or harder for students.” Morici said she will change how she teaches test prep. “I will no longer advise students to leave seven to 10 answers blank, but to attempt to answer all questions, now that it cannot hurt your score to do so,” she said.


4 October 2010

Oaktown Teen Times

My take: No seeds of racism in gardens For student with 4.0 GPA, school garden creates a valuable learning laboratory Media Academy

photo by Juan Ramos / Media Academy

Working at Media Academy's garden has made me appreciate gardens more, and I learned the benefits that organic food has to offer. The person in charge of Media Academy's garden also disagrees with Flanagan’s opinion. “It was a really silly argument that she (made) because (she) tries to blame all these issues on gardens that have nothing to do with the problem she’s describing,” said Matthew Green, an urban gardening advocate and former teacher. It’s common knowledge that students learn through a variety of ways and activities. Students need to

experience different things in order to expand their knowledge about what the world offers. Gardens also provide students with nutritional information they can use to live healthier. Students learn to grow organic food and to share what they learned with their community. It’s important for students to eat nutritious food, especially when obesity is such a big problem. Gardens are a huge benefit to students of all races. Not only can they learn to grow organic food and how to eat well, but they also can learn to value the food that ends up on their plate.

Reporting, Naturally Jazmin Garcia, left, surveys the garden at Media Academy. Garcia works on the garden after school and in the summer. Juan Ramos, above, asks Michael Pollan, author of "The Ominvore's Dilemma," about school gardens after Pollan spoke at a fundraiser in Berkeley on Sept. 23. Ramos was in a summer garden program at Media Academy and heard Pollan speak as part of an Oaktown Teen Times field trip.


the Har g n ve ri st

chool gardens do not cultivate failure. Instead they provide a nice environment, organic food and a place to teach students valuable skills. But social critic Caitlin Flanagan doesn't think so. She wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly magazine this year saying school gardens are racist because they teach Hispanic students to be migrant workers and that they rob students of hours they could use to study. This is entirely wrong. Gardens provide students like me, a Latina, with a safe and enjoyable environment where we express our creativity and learn to cultivate our own food. Gardens help communities, teach you hard work, and give you valuable skills. They are not a waste of time and do not take learning away from students. I worked in Media Academy’s garden during the summer and decided to continue with the gardening club that runs after school once classes started again. My experience there has been fun, rewarding and unforgettable. I have learned how to cultivate and grow different plants including squash, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peas and tomatoes.




This article is part of OTT's yearlong "Sharing the Harvest" project, supported by the Open Circle Foundation. If you or your school has stories or photographs that show how Oakland students are working towards healthy eating and sustainable food, please e-mail us at

MP3s 'put on blast' for teenage hearing loss portable classroom more than 10 yards away. Media Academy Hardaway stopped his music for an interview and said he listens to his iPod 12 hours a day, almost allappin’ your iPod could lead to deafness, ways at maximum level. He listens to music before he according to a study August goes to sleep and when he gets up in the morning. by researchers at Brigham and Women’s If this is true, Hardaway could be at risk of losing Hospital in Boston. his hearing, according to the study. Researchers found that 19.5 percent of In fact, based on the study, probably 195 of the the people they studied who were ages 12 to 19 had 1,000 students at Fremont have probably lost some lost hearing in 2005-2006 compared to data tracked of their hearing or will lose it as a teenager. Oakland from 1988-1994 showing only 14.9 percent in that age Unified School District does not have updated stagroup had lost hearing. tistics on teen hearing in part because school nurses But students at Fremont Federation of High have been cut from every campus, explained Katie Schools, including Marcus Hardaway, don't seem to Riemer, the health educator at Fremont's Tiger Clinic. be listening to the warnings. How loud can MP3 players get? Sitting on a bench in front of the school garden, states that "a normal conversation is about 60 deciHardaway, a sophomore at Media Academy, blasted bels, lawnmowers and shop tools run at 90 decibels or his iPod to the max. It could be heard from inside a so, a chainsaw at 100, a rock concert at 115, and a jet FUEY SAECHAO & CAROLYN SAEPHAN


photo by Fuey Saechao / Media Academy

to the max Pope Foketi is among students who listen to an MP3 player at its highest volume. A study says teens are losing hearing.

engine at 120 or higher." An iPod at maximum level is 115 decibels. Media Academy senior Jennifer Truong is like many teens. She says she cares a lot about her hearing, but isn't ready to turn down her MP3. "I'm aware that I am doing damage to my ears, but I can't help it because I don't feel the music when it's low," she said.

Mack posts videos on YouTube to attack Prop 23 Students fear West Oakland would suffer undue harm if Global Warming Solutions Act gets suspended by voters PAMELA TAPIA McClymonds High


oddlers gasp for air. Diesel trucks spew fumes. These are some of the images that students at McClymonds are using in two You Tube videos to publicize their opposition to Proposition 23, which

would suspend California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB 32. If passed by voters on the Nov. 2 ballot, the proposition would have a direct impact on the levels of pollution near the school and in the students' community, says Jill Ratner, director of the Rose Foundation. The foundation, which has been working intensively with Mack students to document pollution levels, supports grassroots work to help communities protect their own environments, consumers and public health. Senior E’Shaun Chapman agrees.

“It’s more polluted here in West Oakland, so it’s important to raise awareness,” said Chapman, 18, who estimated that more than half of the students at McClymonds suffer from asthma. Students say they are pleased to have found a creative way to voice their viewpoints. “I believe an artist is an activist,” says David McNeal, a senior who is a poet and musician. The Prop 23 video project is part of the school’s Law Academy, which has also focused attention on high rates of asthma and emissions of diesel and

particulate matter in West Oakland, where McClymonds is located Students have testified at numerous state and federal public hearings about air quality of their school and neighborhood. Jose Luis Mejia, a documentary filmmaker, is helping 20 students select images and text, and record music and voice-overs for the three to five minute videos, which will be posted on You Tube two weeks before the election. To see the videos, go to YouTube and enter the words "McClymonds High School (and) Prop 23."

Mandela Law Academy: What would Proposition 23 do for (or to) California?




photos by Cesar Sanchez of Media Academy

EDUARDO VILLA "Mainly Proposition 23 will help big oil and put people with green jobs out of work. It also will keep America addicted to oil."

ANITA R. ELLISON. "It's paid for by Texas oil companies. It will only give the owners of the companies permission to make messes and then make us clean it up. It will also take away our oxygen."

EDGAR ROQUE “Proposition 23 will affect businesses and shut down solar panel makers."

BELEN POMARES “We need fresh air – no more pollution. Proposition 23 will increase global warming, so I say 'No.' We need fresh air for everyone."

JUAN AGUIRRE “If we support Prop 23, we support Texas oil. Texas oil companies ship their oil across the ocean. The ships could leak, sink and create pollution in the middle of the ocean."




Oaktown Teen Times

October 2010

Quick takes

"Waiting for Superman" focuses in part on five students who are hoping to get into a charter school. Students from Oakland Unity High, a charter in East Oakland, saw the movie and wrote these reviews.

photo by Paramount Pictures

Principled Principal Geoffrey Canada, shown above in a scene from "Waiting for Superman," is president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, a 100-block area in which community leaders and educators have come together to create new college-prep schools and programs for 17,000 children. President Obama has announced plans to replicate the HCZ model in 20 cities, including Oakland.

New documentary on American education

Super simplified? Film portrays flawed system, forgets about many successes, fails to give realistic solutions


Media Academy

aiting for Superman” is an interesting, yet alarming documentary, portraying the hardships and failings of America’s public educational system. It accurately points out the many restraints educators and administrators alike must face in order to create effective change within the system. That being said, the film seems pessimistic and incredibly one-sided. It only focuses on the less-than-spectacular public schools and districts in the nation, and not enough on the amazing public school teachers students like me are fortunate enough to have. To the filmmaker, students like me, educated 4.0 GPA debaters and public school successes, are virtually non-existent. Yes, the film does mention that a few U.S. presidents and notable celebrities were public-schooled, but it doesn’t get much more specific than that.

Some things are taken out of context, like a clip from the 2003 comedy “School of Rock” portraying actor Jack Black as a teacher refusing to teach an elementary school student, played by Miranda Cosgrove. The clip apparently attempts to cast the documentary’s ideals in a more favorable light, but instead, it just hurts the movie’s credibility. It makes me wonder: if this cwas taken out of context, what else was? I agree that our school system needs a reform, and badly at that, but to make assumptions that all educators are horrendous and to consider being public-schooled a death sentence for a student's aspirations and dreams is more than just wrong: It’s completely incorrect. I myself attended a charter school in the sixth grade, prior to my enrollment in Oakland Unified School District's United For Success Academy, and to be truthful, the charter wasn’t a fantastic school. Contrary to popular belief, I learned more at the public middle school than I did at the charter school. I also found public preschool, elementary and high school superior. Another critique I have for “Waiting for Superman” is that although it points out flaws, it does not offer

It ('Waiting for Superman') only focuses on the less-thanspectacular school districts in the nation, and not enough on the amazing teachers students like me are fortunate enough to have. viable solutions to fixing America’s public school system. Should all of our kids go to charter schools? Private schools? Should parents hire private tutors or homeschool their children? Of course not! But did “Waiting for Superman” point out any specific changes that need to be made to our appalling system? No, it didn’t. So I propose: If a film brings up a problem, it should also suggest a way to fix it. Otherwise, it is just another blameful documentary that calls for action but takes none.

Gorillaz' new CD shows virtual band is for real CHRISTIAN HERNANDEZ


Oakland Unity High

o you hang out with Gorillaz? I’m not talking about those big, furry animals that swing from vine to vine in the rainforest. No, the Gorillaz I’m thinking about are the hit band from Essex, England. Even if you’ve never heard of this band, you may have heard of the hit single, “Clint Eastwood,” which climbed to number 3 on the U.K. charts in 2000 and became an underground hit in the U.S. before hitting mainstream radio. Now the Gorillaz are on a world tour with their new album, “Plastic Beach,” including special guests such as Snoop Dogg and Mos Def. The music has the band’s typical memorable beats and captivating lyrics. Many who listen to the cools sounds will be surprised to learn that the Gorillaz are a virtual cartoon band, an art project by British musician Damon Albarn, and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, creator of the “Tank Girl” comic strip. Even though the Gorillaz are cartoons, their music is for real, with real musicians behind the characters who appear on the band’s website at "Plastic Beach" is exactly where the band's earlier album, “Demon Days,” left off. “Beach” takes you back into the world of the Gorillaz, and into the different styles of music that each of their

fake airhead Lead vocalist and keyboardist, 2D, is enigmatic.

guest artists contributes. Songs such as “Stylo” feature Mos Def and Bobby Womack, while actor Bruce Willis, appears in the song's video. Some songs will get stuck in your head. You might catch yourself humming along to “Rhinestone Eyes,” “Melancholy Hill” and “To Binge.” Each song has its own style with powerful memorable lyrics. “Beach” feels as if it tells a story about how the band ended up on a plastic beach, or how it’s like to live in such a place while recording music. The name of the lead vocalist and keyboardist is 2D; he’s a blue-haired boy who is cool and enigmatic, and seems intelligent, but acts as if he has no brain. Unlike 2D, Murdoc Niccals, the self-taught bassist and band owner, seems twisted in the head but badly wants his band to be known all over the world. And Noodle is a female guitarist who is said to have arrived in

a crate not speaking a word of English except for “noodle.” Noodle can be always found around drummer Russell Hobbs, who is possessed by funky phantoms who lend a few undead rhymes to the Gorillaz’ lyrics. Russell is the most well-adjusted musician in the band; he seems to know exactly what he’s doing. In 2006, the Gorillaz appeared in a live performance on the Grammys next to Madonna. How was it possible to have a virtual cartoon band perform live, you might ask? Well, that’s simple: A system called Musion Holograms used mirrors to bring the 3D cartoons to life so they could perform their song “ Feel Good Inc.” Some say a virtual band can’t be the real thing. But a cartoon band making music is truly original. The Gorillaz also have a lot in common with other cartoon bands we’ve seen on TV, such as The Beatles, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Josie and the Pussycats. The Gorillaz gives music new possibilities and raises interesting questions about who sings songs and how they’re made. If you'd like to see this band live, they'll be at the Oakland Oracle on Oct. 30 with special guest N.E.R.D. Tickets are available on or you can head over to the Oracle and buy them. Tickets range from $36 to $56. That’s real money, not virtual. But trust me: This is a concert you won’t want to miss.

It was a very good movie that actually gets you thinking. A lot of people don’t have the opportunities to get a good education, and the ones that do don’t take advantage of it. A lot of us mistreat our teachers when they are trying their best to help us get a good education. But the movie showed how a lot of teachers take advantage; (it said) that they are hired for life so they slack off in their jobs. I did feel bad that three out of five kids didn’t get into the schools that they wanted to. — Carolina Burciaga, sophomore

What really stood out to me is how the children (in the film) suffer emotionally when they don’t win the lottery. I don’t believe it is fair for the children who really want to get in; they don’t know if some people who win won’t take it seriously. The situation that I really connected with was (that of) Daisy, because I have been in her situation, where your parents are laid off in their jobs and it gets harder for them. (I) also (connected with) Bianca because of how they had to pay tuition for school. I used to pay in elementary school, and there would be times that we would struggle. I cried, mostly because I felt as if I could feel how the children felt.

— Beatriz Arias, sophomore

The main points of this movie were the school system is damaged and it seems impossible to fix it, especially in poor communities. (But) the movie shows there are ways to fix the broken school system: By making charter schools, by making private schools, and by making boarding schools. —Christian Hernandez, junior

This movie shows you how life is and how things do not always go how you want them to. Now I will take school more to mind and do what I should in school. The movie helped me in more ways than one. —Atiba Jelks, junior

6 October 2010

Speak Out! Oaktown Teen Times


Legalize marijuana now


roposition 19, which would legalize the use and growth of recreational marijuana, has come under fire and been dismissed by some people in the community as a liberal move by Californians to promote the use of a damaging drug. If the proposition passes, it will be legal only by state, not federal, law. Californians will cast their vote on Nov. 2. The Green & Gold supports the passage of this proposition. There are three main reasons: Overall, money will be saved; the unfairness of not passing it; and the ability for government to regulate marijuana use. If Prop 19 passes, the state will save money in the long run. Why? Fewer people will be sentenced to prison for marijuana-related offenses and police will spend less time trying to convict and track down drug marijuana felons. If fewer people go to jail, less money We agree that will be spent on prisons. People marijuana is a drug, who really belong and an addictive in jail will fill up the one at that, but cells. The passage of Prop 19 will help isn’t it better if the keep serious crimigovernment gets to nals in overcrowdregulate it? ed prisons and keep the state from wasting millions in Green & Gold Staff Media Academy sending petty drug users to jail. Not passing Prop 19 is simply unfair. Many other more hurtful substances, like alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, are already legal. These substances can cause life-threatening conditions like cancer and kidney damage. Among cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, marijuana is the best vice, because it doesn’t cause death. If Prop 19 is passed, people won’t need a doctor’s appointment to have pain relief or join a medical marijuana program; the patients could just go to the store and buy the drug or cultivate it in their own backyards. Prop 19 would save consumers time and money. We agree that marijuana is a drug, and an addictive one at that, but isn’t it better if the government gets to regulate it? Marijuana will never be completely eradicated from human use. The best we can do is to legalize it. Currently, the government doesn’t have the ability to tax or license, let alone regulate, marijuana. Legalizing marijuana would help cities like Oakland generate revenue that can go to something meaningful, like funding schools, fixing public roads and renovating hospitals. It is in the best interest of society’s health to pass Prop 19. Most of the opposition’s arguments are based on misconceptions. If the law passes, the federal law on medical marijuana still remains in effect. Those consuming the drug will have to be at least 21 years of age, and they will be prohibited from giving it to minors or smoking it in front of them. History has proven that banning things causes the population to want it more and to smuggle to get what they want, effectively creating a black market. Keeping marijuana illegal causes many social problems. It empowers drug cartels and drug dealers who get their income without paying taxes and gives them power over the addicted. Voter approval of the proposition could reduce or eliminate the criminal marijuana trade. International cartels won’t have a motive to traffic the drug if it is already legal in the U.S. Recent polls show that support for Prop 19 is now fading. It is time to reverse that. It is time for Californians to recognize the thriving field of cultivating marijuana. Vote for Prop 19 to help the government regulate a flourishing legitimate business of marijuana—and to help our city by generating revenue from the drug and freeing up valuable police time in the process.

And at East Oakland School of the Arts ... Of students say they approve Proposition 19


Based on a poll of 56 freshmen and sophomores on Oct. 22.

Letters focus on birthday shootings


e received many letters after our June issue. Most referred to a story about Davante Riley and Eric Toscano, who were killed in separate incidents while they were celebrating their 18th birthdays. These letters were written before police arrested a suspect in Toscano's murder. See a story on that arrest on Page 2. The story in the June Oaktown Teen Times about Davante Riley and Eric Toscano was a sad story, but it shows what is happening in the world today. It was very moving because they were two guys trying to change their lives. Both were going off to college and next thing you know, they end up dead. This story had a lot of readers. A lot of people who didn’t know about the shootings found out and were touched by the story. I know I was. This brought a lot of sadness here in the Fremont Federation of High Schools. Davante Riley came here before I came. It looked like he was a really good guy because a lot of people on campus were mourning his death. I didn’t really know Eric Toscano, but I heard that he played football and wasn’t so good when he started, but ended up being one of the best. This was a tragic story. These two guys are going to be remembered forever. You did a good job on the story.

Alejandro Vasquez Media Academy junior

I just read the June issue of the Oakland Team Times and the story “Two Birthdays. Two Killings. Hundreds grieve." It is very upsetting that this happened to one of Fremont’s former students. It’s even more upsetting that it happened on his 18th birthday. It’s even more upset-

A lot of people who didn’t know about the shootings found out and were touched by the story. I know I was. Alejandro Vasquez Media Academy

ting that someone would shoot at his funeral. It's crazy that someone would do such a thing to good people. They got Davante’s killer in custody, but it’s sad that they weren’t able to find Eric’s killer. Eric was a good student, according to the article. He was not in a gang and had had an academic turnover. Overall, this was a sad story, but it was interesting to read. Hopefully, these will be the last deaths of the school year.

Mike Turner former Media Academy student

I thought the story “Two Birthdays. Two Killings. Hundred Grieve” was great because if it wasn’t for those who wrote this story, we wouldn’t really know what is going on. It gives people's opinions about what they think and how sad it is to lose someone you love. One of the two was my friend Eric Toscano, and it is really sad to know how somebody would just kill him and take all his dreams away. But I do not want to keep reading these kinds of stories because I don’t want people to keep getting killed. It makes me mad and I want to stop all the violence, which I can’t do.

Paulina Mujica Media Academy junior

OTT honors contributors of the issue


ournalists Tommy Tran of Oakland High and Kim Mejia of Media Academy provide this issue with some of the best reporting by teens we have seen. Tran is well-liked by other journalists at Oakland High, who look up to him for his sense of humor as well as his reporting smarts. "Tran is a good-willed person who is always ready to make jokes and have fun. He loves to express his feelings and spread the word through his tremendous articles," writes fellow student Destiny Stewart. "We are fortunate because we have writers who don't just write because they have to; they write because they love to write," Stewart added. Mejia is news editor of the Green & Gold newspaper and a varsity debater. She wrote the Prop.19 editorial plus a thoughtful piece on public education after watching the documentary "Waiting for Superman." Further, Mejia jumped at the chance to cover a latebreaking story on the Norteños gang injunction. "It is clear that Kim's participation in debate has helped hone her analytical skills, which carry over to make her a star newswriter and arts critic," said Mejia's journalism adviser, Lisa Shafer.


aktown 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 Marguerite Sheffer, EOSA Lisa Shafer, Media Academy

TOMMY TRAN Oakland High


Media Academy

Lara Trale, Oakland High Daniel Zarazua, Oakland Unity High WRITING COACHES Nadine Joseph, McClymonds High Tim Kingston, Media Academy Sara Steffens, Oakland High 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.


Speak Out!

October 2010

Salvador trip a reality check: we need to step up


oming from a community that so many call dangerous, how dangerous could it be for me to travel to El Salvador? I was 16 last summer when an opportunity came knocking at my door: A chance to participate in a 10-day trip to Ciudad Romero, a community in Usulutan, located in the southeastern part of El Salvador. The trip from July 27 to Aug. 6 was organized by Movimiento, a cultural exchange program in Oakland that has connections to EcoViva, an organization in El Salvador that supports communities in Central America working towards environmental sustainability, social justice and peace. Movimiento 2010 included students from Oakland Unity High and Mandela High School, both in East Oakland. An Ella Baker Center staff member attended, as well as Mandela students from its “Heal the Streets” campaign. The goal of the trip was to spend time with and learn from teens from Ciudad Romero. Applicants had to go through a application and interview process in order to be accepted. Because of my age, plenty of people said “don't go,” including my dad. He signed the permission slip just one day before the trip.

Adjusting to a New World

When we arrived, we students had no idea of what was to come. We spent our first day in San Salvador, the country’s capital, adjusting to the heat, which was


Oakland Unity High

suffocating. My first food was an ice cream milkshake, which felt so good in that heat, and even though it melted fast, I enjoyed every bit of it. I tried to sleep during the bumpy ride from San Salvador to Ciudad Romero, which took about an hour and a half. As soon as we got to our destination, I changed into shorts and sandals. Once in Ciudad Romero, we talked to the leaders of a youth group called CEPAE, or Center for Popular Education and Expressive Arts, which provides training in community organizing as well as art and theater. Next came a series of ice-breakers, including a body massage, which I would've never gotten at home because of how uncomfortable people are around each other. The goal of these activities was to build the trust to express ourselves freely.

Helping Teens Help Others

Soon after, we Oakland students began helping the CEPAE students with some of their work. CEPAE is a family in which young people take on leadership roles in their community. CEPAE teens are helping adults in Ciudad Romero learn how

Now that I’ve been to El Salvador, I can’t help thinking about how beautiful and strong Oakland could be if we step up as teens and help our community. to read and write; for many adults, education is a luxury they have never been able to afford. We participated in planning lessons, and a writing workshop on our autobiographies. It was shocking when we read what CEPAE teens wrote about their lives. Many had been tremendously impacted by El Salvador’s civil war from 1979 to 1992, either by suffering physically themselves, or by losing loved ones. Still, they were moving on and participating in a process of change. We visited a radio station, called Mangrove Radio, where the DJ put us on the air and one participant made us all laugh by singing "Billie Jean," by Michael Jackson. We also visited Isla Montecristo, a gorgeous island where CEPAE works to protect marine life in Jiquilisco Bay. Another day, we hiked approximately five miles to get to a community that includes only one elementary and middle school. Kids there walk

those five miles twice a day every day to keep their education going. These five miles are a challenge; you have to be careful where you step if you are walking during the rainy season, like we did. Our shoes would get stuck if we didn’t watch out for muddy places. We had to step on rocks at times so our shoes wouldn’t be covered in mud. We also met up with ex-combatants of El Salvador’s civil war in that community. We visited a museum of war that included exhibits about weapons and machinery used during this time.

Learning About Peace, Purpose

Working with the CEPAE teens taught me so much more about what we can be doing as teens in the Bay Area. The people of Ciudad Romero face poverty and crime, and have very little in the way of resources, including a lack of access to quality education and jobs.. Yet they are doing so much more to build their community than we are. And that's just sad. I can talk about this trip for hours, but it would be difficult for me to express how calm and united Ciudad Romero is. My father may have been worried about me traveling so far from Oakland, but I found Ciudad Romero to be a place where people from different communities come together with peace and purpose. Now that I’ve been to El Salvador, I can’t help thinking about how beautiful and strong Oakland could be if we step up as teens and help our community.

Banning colors, rosaries won't solve gang problem


ave you ever heard about urban camouflage? If you were thinking it had to do with the kind of camouflage clothing that soldiers wear in war, well, then you’re wrong — it has nothing to do with that. Think of it as a disguise that allows students to dress in ways that only other students would understand. Urban camouflage is happening everywhere. One way it’s used is to feature colors as well as different types of objects and symbols that represent an affiliation or membership in a gang. Schools do not want to see urban camouflage on campus, so they have banned students from wearing certain colors, clothing, shoes and other items that are thought to be gang-affiliated. In fact, more and more schools are adopting strict dress codes or uniforms so that students can be protected from gang-related material. For instance, the most recent rule at our school, Oakland Unity High, is a ban on rosaries. Beginning this September, students were not allowed to wear rosaries around their necks. Many students are angry with this decision, especially since the majority of Unity’s population is Hispanic, which means that most of us are also Catholic. These students say that rosaries are for religious purposes, not for gang representation. Unity students have mixed views on the rosary ban. “I believe that this new rule is messed up because it will be like telling us not to believe in religion or to

Ironically, gangs are sharing addon colors, which can get pretty confusing. So what's next? Going to school naked? stop believing in God,” says Kristty Pelayo, a freshman at Unity High. “Also, it’s not our fault that gangs are using religious artifacts to represent their gang. It’s also not our fault that just because of the colors we wear ... we are being considered (to be) gang-affiliated. I think that by making up rules like this students will figure out a different way in which to represent their beliefs or (their affiliation with) gangs.” But another student, a junior at Unity high who asked not to be identified when talking about gangs, for reasons of personal safety, says the ban makes sense. “I think rosaries should stay banned because there’s people getting killed for wearing them, because they are getting confused for gang members,” the student said. “ I even think they should be illegal to a certain extent. We have family members, like little siblings, who look up to us and may think it’s cool to be just like us, when (instead) they might be putting themselves out for murder.”

Counselor Frances Ramos agrees. “I think it’s fair to have this rule. I also think it’s a shame that it has gotten to that. It would be nice if people used (rosaries) for religious reasons and would actually pray.” What Ramos says is true: The reality is that probably more than half the people who use rosaries for gang representation most likely do not even know how to use it to pray. Where do we stand? To be honest, we don’t know. On the one hand, we have questions about how effective the rosary rule can be. If a certain gangrelated object or color is banned, won’t a new method of camouflage take its place? If there’s one thing we know, it’s that gangs are persistent: If one type of camouflage is forbidden, gangs will come up with another. Second, are such rules equally enforced? At Unity, while some people get in trouble for wearing colored undershirts, others can get away with it. If you take away a student’s freedom, doesn’t it make sense to take it away for everyone? Finally, the school uniforms that most schools have adopted in fact use gang colors, such as white, khaki, black, navy blue, magenta, dark green and brown. Some gangs also have “add on” colors. For example, the Mexican Sureños gang, which is known for wearing blue, has added dark gray and brown to its color choices; Norteños, who are known for wearing red, have added dark green and purple; the Border Brothers, who are known for wear-


ing black, have added brown and purple (and the add-on list goes on). Ironically, some of these add-on colors are shared by gangs, which can get pretty confusing. What’s next? Going to school naked? Right now, taking away our camouflage seems like the only way to prevent gang representation, though it can be a struggle to stay one step ahead of what the gangs invent. “Teens are always going to create other ways to represent their gangs,” said Unity Principal David Castillo. “Everything we find out is gang-related, we will try to ban.” We believe the new rosary rule is beneficial in the fight against gang influence. However, we believe that the real solution is to break the sense of community that gangs offer to their members. Most teens join gangs because it gives them a sense of family, friends, and the power to do something in the world. Maybe we have to create an even bigger gang, a peaceful one, which includes our whole community. It wouldn’t be just one color, one religion or one school; it would be all of us. But is such a thing even possible?

Senior feels 'caged in' by closed lunch, safety zone


aged. Double-caged. That’s how I feel. I live in a neighborhood that was labeled a "safety zone" under the Oakland gang injunction approved last June, and I attend a “closed campus” where chain-link fences make sure that students can't leave for lunch. And so I feel caged. These new rules are supposed to make me feel safer, but they don’t. The city of Oakland and McClymonds High School, the new Mack, are just restricting my freedom. I’m a senior robbed of my rights: Instead of thinking and acting more responsibly and independently as I edge my way toward college, I’m

losing opportunities to test myself, to sharpen my decision-making, to gain confidence. My school is “closed” all day, which means that as a senior, I eat at school, in the rat-infested cafeteria. My choices are limited: I can eat the lousy school lunch, or I can get up early to make my lunch. No more chicken burritos from the El Milagro Taqueria on Myrtle Street. I don’t feel like a senior, with the privileges and earned trust, that assumption that I know how to stay out of trouble. Instead, I feel like a trapped animal. They’ve stolen my right to freedom of movement. Every day, I face a numbing routine of fences,


I feel like a trapped animal. They've stolen my right to freedom of movement.

McClymonds High

guards and restrictions. Meanwhile, the city attorney’s office in Oakland has imposed an injunction on my neighborhood, which is meant to restrict the movement of North Side Oakland gang members in a 100-block area from Oakland to Emeryville.. What that really means is that ev-

eryone in my neighborhood is, at times, more nervous and paranoid. Gang members just congregate elsewhere or sneak around, putting everyone in the neighborhood on edge. The police lurk and patrol even more frequently. I wonder how that’s supposed to make me feel safer.



October 2010

Oaktown Teen Times

Oakland's athletics Wildcats volleyball numbers spike Some Spunk


Unity goalie Jorge Mora dives for a ball before a soccer game versus Arise High School on Sept. 29 at Spunkmeyer Field in Oakland. photo by Julie Ortega/ Oakland Unity High

Unity soccer kicks off strongly Charter school league especially tough this year, White TIger players expect



akland Unity High boys soccer team is reaching for success, with a record so far of six wins versus only one loss. Asked how the team is doing so far compared to last year, goalie Jorge Mora, responded, “Pretty good, because we have more players than last year and possibly have a good chance of making it to the championship.” Coach Sam Zackheim agrees. “Thus far, to be frank, the season has been dicey at times, meaning unpredictable, like throwing a dice (and) not knowing what you’ll get,” Zackheim wrote in an e-mail. “Extra responsibility is part of being a student-athlete, and it seems we are finally on the right track, with a squad that understands and embodies the student-athlete commitment to academics, athletics, and overall improvement of self/team. I am proud of where we are right now and excited to continue the year.” Oakland Unity High boys soccer has had great success in their past games. They have learned to stay motivated and to work as a group and not to isolate one another. Players

pass aggressively to one another on the field instead of hogging the ball. So far Unity has not played against any teams that students believe will be a challenge for them. The most competitive teams that Unity is going up against this year are Lighthouse and Lionel Wilson. Unity lost a painful game to another tough competitor, LPS Richmond, by a score of 3-4. Unity will play against both Lighthouse and Lionel Wilson in early November. As a charter school, Unity plays against only other charter schools in the Bay Area Charter Schools Athletic Conference, now part of the Oakland Athletic League Section. The White Tigers will next play Lighthouse on Nov. 1. Players are eagerly anticipating the game. “Unity is very excited to play versus Lighthouse this season, since we have been rivals for two years now,” said Michael Ruiz, a Unity striker. “Lighthouse has a really great squad as well as (does) Lionel Wilson. “When Unity plays those two teams we will play with everything that we have, and we will make it a good game,” Ruiz said. Despite the competition, Unity’s expectations this year are high. “One of the team goals this year is to play the game as a team, and to hopefully win a championship,” said team captain Abraham Salazar.


arly recruitment from the end of the last school year led to an unprecedented number of more than 50 girls trying out for the Oakland High girls volleyball team. The number of students who tried out for the girls varsity team was reduced to 27 selected. Coach Amy Dellefield said she was thrilled to have a record-breaking students trying out for the team turn. She had not seen similar levels of interest since 2004, when 44 boys tried out for the volleyball team that she coached as well. “It was difficult to pick the players for the team because so many have never played, and we only had three weeks of practice,” said Dellefield. “I had to look for players who were fast learners and athletic.” The girls volleyball practice started on the first day of school. It was difficult for the volleyball team to practice with the high amount of players. “I find it annoying that there were so many girls in the small gym playing with a small amount of volleyballs,” said senior Khanh Tu, playing volleyball for her second year. The teams had their first game on Oct. 12 against the Oakland Tech Bulldogs. The varsity team lost 11-25, 6-25, 8-25. The JV team lost 14-25 and 18-25. “This game was what I expected it to be,” said Dellefield, adding that 75 percent of the players are beginners. Because of this inexperienced team, Dellefield said she thinks it will take a while before the team starts to dominate the courts. Captain Janice Cao agreed. “It’s a brand new team,” said Cao, a senior. “Only Khanh and I were on varsity last year.”

Mack leads OAL pack in football The chart below shows the standings in the Oakland Athletic League after two weeks of league play.
















Oakland Tech



Oakland High



October 2010 issue of the Oaktown Teen TImes  

October 2010 issue of the Oaktown Teen Times

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