Sobrante Park cheerleaders bring it on

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the overused, early 2000s pop culture reference after watching this video of the Sobrante Park Elementary School cheer squad, taken last weekend by a very excited mother (who seems to bounce along with the music at times).

The Oakland team took the state championship in their division at the Spirit Club International competition last weekend. The team formed last year as part of the school’s after-school program run by Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp. They are coached by Asia Williams.


A safer, greener place to play

photo by Robert Mohr/STOCK OPTIONS

photo by Robert Mohr/STOCK OPTIONS

The playground at Roosevelt Middle School in East Oakland didn’t always have a smooth surface, planter boxes, or a shiny new playing field. You can probably imagine what it looked like.

the old Roosevelt yard (courtesy photo)

It was transformed by the Oakland Schoolyards Initiative, a partnership between the East Bay Asian Youth Center, The Unity Council and the Oakland school district. Roosevelt’s new principal, Cliff Hong (a former teacher and assistant principal at Edna Brewer Middle School), sent me a photo of its unveiling today.

The outdoor spaces of Garfield Elementary, Urban Promise Academy and the Manzanita schools have undergone similar transformations through the schoolyards initiative. Next on the list? Continue Reading


“Pay to play” in the East Bay?

pay to playCalifornia’s public schools can’t legally require students to pay for uniforms, transportation or other costs of extracurricular activities, but some do anyway.

Last week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that some schools in San Diego Unified were asking students to pay for uniforms and other expenses associated with extracurricular activities, even though the California Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the practice violates state law.

The ACLU is also conducting a probe of other California schools that might require kids to pay for medical examinations, gear, Advanced Placement examinations, coaches and other expenses, according to California Watch.

The high school district in Brentwood (Contra Costa County) charges students for some activities, but it might revise its policies in light of the San Diego situation, Bay Area News Group reporter Rowena Coetsee learned. Oakland Unified Spokesman Troy Flint said there is no districtwide policy of the kind, but he couldn’t guarantee that none of OUSD’s schools did so.

Do they? What other East Bay schools require students to pay at least something to participate in extracurriculars?


Safety scare, basketball game postponed

Mack v. Oakland High, 2008Yesterday afternoon I was putting the finishing touches on a story about security at Oakland’s high school basketball and football games when I got an email from our prep sports writer, Jimmy Durkin: Friday’s basketball game between Oakland High School and McClymonds was postponed, for safety reasons.

Part of the reason for the decision, I learned today, was an incident that happened at lunchtime yesterday, a couple of blocks from McClymonds. A car pulled up to a crowd of people in front of a convenience store on Market Street — it’s a popular lunch spot for students — and someone inside the car fired a shot.

No one was hit, according to OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint. But whoa. Continue Reading


Homecoming at Oakland Tech

Lillian Mongeau and Becky Palstrom from Oakland North, a UC Berkeley School of Journalism blog, captured a quintessential slice of high school life in an audio slideshow about the Oakland Technical High School homecoming game (and the basic rules of football). Mongeau took the photos, and Palstrom interviewed the students and collected the audio.

I was highly entertained. You can find the slideshow here.


Oakland’s first high school ice hockey team

photo by Ray Chavez/Tribune staff

Last year, I wrote about the 100 Oakland Technical High School kids who woke up extra early, three days a week, to skate at a downtown ice rink for a class started by P.E. teacher Kelley Haskins. (It’s still going strong this year, I’m told.)

Out of that unexpectedly popular class — and generous community support for the program, in the way of equipment grants, expertise and time — a coed hockey team has emerged. I went to the program’s first practice of the season yesterday, a clinic with the Sharks, and talked with players Rachel Potter, Katy Ramos-Thompson, Calvin Washington, Monica Elvin and Kamrin Lewis.

A story about the fledgling team, which will face its first opponent in January, will appear in tomorrow’s paper.


Thanks, but no thanks

Some of you might have read the heartwarming story about players and families from Danville’s Monte Vista High School — the team that McClymonds beat last Saturday to make it to the state championship  — donating more than $1,000 to Mack, so that the players could stay overnight in Sacramento before the big game.

The donation came about after the Mack coach was quoted in the paper saying he was “broke” after covering the team’s expenses all season, and that there was no money for hotel accommodations.

Late this afternoon, though, the Oakland school district sent out a news release saying the whole thing was just a “misunderstanding” — that the basketball program would be provided for, and that they would give back the money.

Continue Reading


The high school hoops championships are here!

Will Mack’s boys basketball program take state again this year? Maybe its girls team will. Or the Castlemont girls, or the Skyline boys.

photo of last week’s Mack vs. Skyline game by Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group

If you want to come out and support some of Oakland’s student-athletes, Round I of the 2009 CIF State Basketball Championships starts at 7 p.m. tonight, with the McClymonds girls (21-7) at home against Lowell High School (27-4). 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


Oh, the noise, noise, noise, noise!

Dallas Lane is not a Skyline High School student, or a teacher for that matter. But she is certainly abreast of the high school’s internal communications. In fact, she can’t escape them.

Lane and her husband live close to Skyline, work from home, and they say they hear every single word blasted from the school’s frequently utilized PA system.

“I’ve heard it early in the morning, at 7 — Beep! And then an announcement,” Lane said at a neighborhood association meeting tonight. “Somebody’s got their hand on that little button,” she added. “It’s too loud, and it’s used excessively.”

Skyline’s new principal, Al Sye, Continue Reading