Blog Reflection

25 05 2012

Although having a blog as my senior project product may be determined “easy” to some people, the purpose of the senior product is exactly the same.

I chose to use a blog as my product because a majority of the population is connected to social media. A blog is faster and easier to update and access.

My topic on urban violence and education may be unoriginal, but I feel that I attacked presenting this blog on a different scale. Overall, I’m very proud with what I have to present and it makes me feel even more proud knowing I can educate whomever comes across my blog but at the same time speak in my own opinion, whereas if I chose to do a magazine, I would have to do otherwise.

Urban education is something (I feel) not enough people pay attention to. It is such a major issue in America, but rarely do schools like mine ever get any attention financially. According to, on a state level, education and incarceration funds come from the same pocket, except $9 out of $10, support imprisonment. (You may access the full article here.)

Before I started working on this blog, I knew that the Oakland Unified School District’s dropout rate was dramatically high (nearly 40 percent), although it looked worse compared to San Francisco’s low percentage (11 percent).  (

I want people to be educated about the violence issue in urban areas and know what they can do to reverse its effect. Knowing that changing society’s perception isn’t going to happen overnight, I take the first step onto improving my community by making my voice become heard with this blog. Nothing is going to happen if one simply complains about what needs improving in their so called “home”. This is why I chose a blog as my senior product.


Survey Results

8 05 2012

If students complain about the lack of  “fun” activities on campus, why do they not take initiative to join programs of their choice?

Also, how do students agree to a proposal of an 18 hour minimum of attending an after school program such as a club, tutoring program or job, but don’t attend an after school program because they are “uninterested”?

I conducted a survey on my senior project topic ‘Urban Youth Education’ and these results came in.

When I asked if they were involved in an after school program, 54.2% of 24 students they didn’t, and 45.8% said they did. Nearly all of 13 students who answered ‘no’ are the ones who are for the proposal of 18 hour after school program requirement.

A specific student requested that the school should “engage” with students more to “build a better support system” for the student.

From experience, I know that teachers at Fremont do attempt to build strong support systems and relationships with their students but certain students don’t either acknowledge their actions and/or they reject and distance themselves from any adult on campus.

The teachers I’ve met and built relationships with at Fremont did support me and I did feel like I can go to an adult whenever I needed help. And from what I see, it just seems as if underclassmen (mostly freshmen and sophomores) ignore and brush off the teachers’ offer to help. They constantly complain about how the teachers are “bitches” and “hella annoying”, when in reality, they’re just trying to lead these students down the road to graduation.


Matthew Phork: Zero to Hero

1 05 2012

The challenges this particular student went through highlights the senior class of Media Academy.

This student is the perfect example of a very determined, yet struggling student in Oakland, CA.

Matthew Phork made his start in San Francisco, then to Illinois, thenVan Nuys, then to Long Beach, then Oakland, and Long Beach again, then finally back to Oakland.

Phork was just another slacker in school; uninspired, tired, lazy, didn’t care too much for his education. This caused tension and stress for him and his family. He walked the streets of Long Beach with curiosity and not a single care in the world.

When Phork’s mother passed away during his senior year, he was taken in by his sister who lived in Oakland. Eventually, tension and drama arose in the household of him and his sister and eventually, Phork found himself jumping from family to family in order to keep a roof over his head.

Because of the lack of high school credits, Phork wasn’t able to graduate in 2011, like expected. Instead, he spent his summer going to summer school to officially start catching up on his credits.

In Phork’s second year of being a senior, he worked extra hard to make sure he was going to graduate. With 145 credits to makeup and the Marines on his mind, he sacrificed playing football for Fremont and hanging out with friends after school to attend Cyber High.

It is now near the end of Phork’s senior year, and it looks like he has nothing more to worry about other than passing the classes he’s currently taking.

In his journey to graduation, I believe his story can inspire a lot of students who struggled the same way he did.

A high school diploma is all he needs before he pursues his dream in the Marines.

Interview with education reporter and blogger Katy Murphy

27 04 2012

Education reporter and blogger for the Oakland Tribune, Katy Murphy

When and why did you start blogging about education?

I was writing about education for seven years. I started a blog for Oakland schools and thought this was very useful. I feel it’s a better way to inform [the] community. I chose to write a blog to involve the community more.

What do you think of the general society’s perception of urban youth communities such as Oakland? How do you think we as community members can change that?

I’m not sure of [a] perception. [I think] from movies, they think of urban schools as violent, dysfunctional, and chaotic.

Many schools are undergoing changes in the next school year. Fremont Federation is one particular school that is expecting major ones. What is one thing you think the OUSD schools should to improve on to better society’s perception of it?

“Safety concerns.” I think the principles should establish culture [in the schools]. Community involvement for families, policing, discipline. Everyone has to play a part in it.

Why do you think Oakland in general is looked at the way it’s looked at? Many have told me Oakland is such a dangerous city but doesn’t give it the change to show its true beauty

I didn’t realize how great it was until I moved here.

Certain murders happen in certain neighborhoods. About 30 people get murdered in West Oakland, a community of approximately 25,000.

There’s also a history of activism in Oakland (Black Panthers, etc.). Across the country Oakland looked like a threat. [There are] violent protests on the news.  The events are very real.

Murphy explained that she wrote about a shooting at McClymonds High School a few years back. There were three shot and injured. Luckily, no one died. She also explained how events like these can “desensitize the students.”

What misperceptions do you think society has on Oakland?

“I feel like people nationally, they don’t realize how much Oakland has changed. I think a lot of people see Oakland as a b/w city. When its grown much more diverse. [It has] a lot of natural beauty and people don’t see that. People just see one side of it. I think people in the Bay Area don’t see that. A lot of news will show just crime, catastrophe, mayhem.I think some people are just fearful.

Round of applause for M’Kala Payton

25 04 2012

Media Academy junior M’Kala Payton couldn’t have explained Fremont’s rugged campus any more precisely.

Payton spoke with staff attorney Tara Kini of Public Advocates Inc. about our “jail-looking” school facility. You can view the interview with Kini here.

In my opinion, my peer M’Kala was very spot on about Fremont’s environment. Yes, our portables are decades old and reek of mold and rat infestation. Yes, we don’t have the proper materials. And yes, our high school isn’t as clean as you’d expect a high school campus should be.

But the one thing about us Fremont students, or students of color who attend inner-city schools in general, is that no matter what, we take what we can get. There’s the half of the student body who use the available materials to our advantage, and then there’s the other half who complain about our out-of-date materials and don’t bother picking up a textbook.

The general perception of society on schools like Fremont is “ghetto”, “dangerous”, “chaotic”. What these certain people don’t see is how persistent and how hard working we students are.

Let me just some spotlight on our bright young students who made it on the Honor Roll with a 3.0 above in the fourth marking period.

A few particular students I would like everyone to recognize includes Ariel Martinez, who just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last month. Some students on Media Academy’s honor roll got into schools such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Los Angeles and Yale.

Lastly, the  College Summit program helped many students of Fremont broaden their knowledge about college and assist them with incoming college planning. Thanks to College Summit, a couple friends and I who attended the summer program are now expecting to be attending college at UC Santa Cruz in the fall. Other College Summit participants will be attending the different UCs available in California as well; UC Berkeley, Davis,  and Riverside.

Round of applause for Fremont. Keep up the good work.

Trayvon Martin Walkout

24 04 2012

Photo Taken by Aleanna Santos

This is fairly late but better late than never, right?

Well, as you may (or may not) all know, Trayvon Martin was a young African-American male who was shot and killed by a Hispanic man in Sanford, Florida late February.

On April 4, I was walking to my fifth period class when I suddenly noticed a large group of students crowding around the front gate of the Fremont campus. I assumed it was just a brawl between two students but later found out the group attempted to get off of school grounds, performing a walkout in honor of Trayvon Martin.

Students carried signs and pinned photos of Martin on their clothing, marching around campus looking for a way out.

My friends and I decided to be nosey and followed the crowd to see if the walkout was going to be successful. Eventually, half of the group exited through the front gate and the rest through the back.

I completely understand why students of Fremont felt strongly enough to organize a walkout for Martin, but what I thought was very disrespectful were the ones who took advantage of the walkout and looked at it as a free ticket out of school.

I kind of felt the need to add this story into my blog because on New Year’s Day 2009, a similar incident happened in Oakland. Oscar Grant was also an unarmed African-American man who was shot and killed by BART police.

These kinds of stories stick to the cities its happened in like glue. Once the entire country knows about a colored innocent life being taken away, (in my opinion) it’s hard to forget the past. Because of events like Grant’s, community members will never be able to trust authorities.

Just another shooting on an educational campus, nbd.

3 04 2012

It was no surprise to me when I heard that seven, people were found dead at a local school in Oakland, CA.

The students at Oikos University, a Christian school providing programs for theology, Asian medicine, nursing, and music fled campus as an elderly Korean man started spontaneously shooting, according to ABC News. More information about the shooting can be found here.

Is it absurd that I found this event very normal?

I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but just last week Fremont Federation went on lock down because a bullet pierced the side of the Foothill building. Sources tell me that the classroom whose room heard the gunshot took it very calmly and continued working on their assignments.

I don’t know about you, but a reaction like that wouldn’t have taken place if a shooting were to occur somewhere in the valley, the more suburban areas.

Thank you, elder Korean man for boosting 2012’s violence rates just a little more. Maybe we’ll get ranked 5th most dangerous city in the US instead of the 6th this year.