Real world experience in high school

photo of Sofia Garcia (left) and Oliveto chef Paul Canales (right) by Jane Tyska/Tribune staff

For some Oakland high school students, a classroom doesn’t always mean rows of desks and a chalkboard. Last week we ran a story about Sofia Garcia, a senior at the internship-based MetWest High School, who has spent two days a week for the last two-plus years in the kitchen of Oliveto Restaurant in Rockridge.

How have other schools incorporated `real world’ experience into the curriculum, and how has it worked?


Another Year, A New Beginning?

This is a sample article from the upcoming edition of the Skyline Oracle. It was written by me, Isabel Rodriguez-Vega, and a fellow classmate, Eugene Lau.

As 2008 quickly ends and a New Year approaches people tend to reflect on the past year. What was accomplished? What challenges were faced? What goals were met? Just how good looking were you? How many rounds of Russian Roulette did you win? Just enough.

What seems to be more important is not what has happened this year, but rather what will change next year. Especially since 2008 was your marathon of wine tasting in Napa Valley. It was worth it in retrospect though, wasn’t it?

A new year is symbolically a new beginning for some, and people usually set new years resolutions that they hope to follow. Yes, it’s a nice thought, but the truth is a new year is no different from a new day. When you wake up on the day after New Years, you are just gonna want to go back to 2008. Responsibility and the sun is a jerk for wanting you to wake up while still groggy and cranky, and you know you want to rewind those hours. Continue Reading


Greetings from Chicago

image from R Stanek’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Chicago has had more than its share of national news datelines lately, thanks to Barack Obama, Rod Blagojevich, and Arne Duncan. But I won’t be covering any of that. For the next few days, I’ll be taking a break from the news and spending time with my family and friends while trying to stay warm in this beautiful, snowy tundra where I grew up.

It was a balmy 30 degrees today — it “warmed up to freezing,” as my dad put it — but that won’t last for long!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.


Bringing in the New Year

The year 2008 was a very rewarding one.  I accomplished many things and learned a great deal about myself as a student.  I accomplished success in my AP classes and as an officer of the Black Student Union at my school.  I learned that if I apply myself, I am a great student.  I also learned that I prefer history tests to the SAT and the ACT any day.

Many things happened this year, some good some bad.  Our school went through a rough time due to a lack of administration, but we are doing just fine now.  I experienced difficulty in some classes, but summer school ended up being a rewarding experience.  College applications were overwhelming, but now I am reaping the rewards — with my first acceptance, to San Francisco State University! Continue Reading


Running blind at Skyline

Skyline High School’s track and field has fancy stadium lights, which could really come in handy during the short days between November and March. Here’s the catch: Its sports teams aren’t allowed to flip the switch for practice.

photo by Ray Chavez/Tribune staff

A 6-year-old contract between since-departed Oakland school district officials and the Hillcrest Estates Improvement Association restricts light use to 10 games a year — no practices. So, during Standard Time, outdoor sports teams either call it quits early or stick it out in the dusk.

LaMont Sanders, a 17-year-old track star, broke his leg last month while attempting his last set of hurdles at dusk.

photo by Ray Chavez/Tribune staff

The issue has been a sore spot for years. Continue Reading


Algebra I mandate stopped in court

Judge Shelleyanne Chang might have just dashed Gov. Schwarzenegger’s dreams of testing all kids in Algebra I by the eighth grade.

In July, the State Board of Education approved the governor’s 11th-hour algebra proposal over the strong objections of California’s top ranking education official, Jack O’Connell.

But today, the Sacramento County Superior Court judge stopped the implementation of this sweeping policy. You can read her 5-page ruling here.

Among other things, Chang said the State Board of Education didn’t give Joe Public much notice that this was all going down: Continue Reading


A lesson in selflessness

Three-fourths of the children at North Oakland’s Berkley Maynard Academy come from poverty, but they participated in the spirit of giving all the same, though a toy drive coordinated with local firefighters. Sam Humphrey, a teacher at the Aspire charter school, wrote the below account of the experience. -Katy

photo by D. Ross Cameron/Staff

Blessed with tremendous parent support that most teachers can only dream of, I had a visitor — Ms. Martha, as the kids call her — come to my class with an opportunity for my students to take part in the season of giving. She brought in flyers about Toys for Tots with the incentive of a pizza party and a visit from the Oakland Fire Department.

With the magical motivational powers of pizza in full effect, my students were immediately on board. Eventually, the lesson took a more valuable turn once students began asking who would receive the gifts. We had a discussion on giving and the importance of selflessness during the holidays, and the true meaning of the project came to light. Continue Reading


A school library, brought to you by the PTA

courtesy photo
When Russom Mesfun first laid eyes on Montera Middle School last year, he could not believe what he didn’t see.

“I was horrified to know that the school does not have a library,” said Mesfun, Montera’s principal. “I just could not conceive of it.”

Now it does, thanks to an $80,000 check from the school’s parent-teacher group  — which is technically a PFSC, not a PTA — that helped pay for a librarian. Continue Reading


Hills crowding debate: 20 months and counting

Way back in April 2007, I had the pleasure of observing the first of many sessions about overcrowding in a severely undercrowded district. It was on a Sunday afternoon at Hillcrest Elementary School, and boy was it intense.

Tonight, literally more than 30 meetings later, the board voted to send all Hillcrest-area kids for whom there’s no space to nearby Kaiser Elementary, a high-performing arts magnet school. They also agreed to eventually expand capacity at the also crowded Montclair Elementary School by up to 100 more students, which the school’s faculty council apparently opposes. No boundary lines changed.

You can find the presentation here.

Dozens of parents at various “hills schools,” some of whom live across the city from where their kids go to school, attended tonight’s meeting to voice support for Oakland’s Options policy.

School choice advocates take note: Continue Reading


Time is short for BEST, Robeson and Peralta Creek

Tonight, State Administrator Vincent Matthews decided to phase out two small high schools: the Business Entrepreneurial School of Technology (BEST), one of two schools on the West Oakland McClymonds campus, by 2011, and the Paul Robeson School of Visual & Performing Arts, one of four schools on East Oakland’s Fremont campus, by 2012.

Peralta Creek Middle School, which is in the second year of a phase-out (even if people at the school didn’t learn that, definitively, until more recently), closes at the end of the school year.

An emotional, historical discussion unfolded as retiring board member Greg Hodge, teachers and others traced the roots of these struggling schools to their much-celebrated origins not long ago. Continue Reading