Posted: 21 May 2015 05:24 PM PDT
Obama student and AACAS member Naomi Allen gives a riveting speech on the steps of the Pittsburgh Board of Education building on May 15.
Posted: 21 May 2015 03:43 PM PDT
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Black Lives Matter rally on Friday, May 15th. The rally was held in front of the Board of Education building in Oakland and began at 4:30 pm. There were about 100 students at the rally, the majority from Capa High school, but it was open to the public. The rally was organized by Capa Seniors, Alexis Payne and Alona Williams. The purpose of the rally was to obtain a diverse teaching staff, to implement multi-cultural African American programs, and lastly to give attention to the disparity in suspension rates between black and white students and to create efforts to eliminate them. There are so many issues with our school system but the issues pertaining to race is what is extremely prominent due to the events occurring in our country because of police brutality. School is meant to be a safe environment where we can excel and accomplish goals that will lead us up to our careers. It should never be an environment where such beliefs are replenished rather than dispelled. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This year, I decided to join AACAS which stands for African-American Centers for Advanced Studies. Much to my surprise, I was elected as an executive member of the council which also meant that I would have to attend numerous meetings on Fridays of every month. When Dr. Walters would call us out of class for these meetings, he would always say, "All African- American CAS students please report to the auditorium". I could not help but notice how this simple routine angered so many of the White students at our school. They believed it was unfair for us to get out of class simply because we are black. What was even more bothersome to me, were the similar remarks from the teachers and administration staff.
I have also engaged in conversations pertaining to race, the Black Lives Matter movement, current events, and even what it is like to live every single day of your life in fear. Although one may be capable of sympathizing with us for the life an African- American is condemned to from the moment they are born, you personally cannot truly understand what that very life consists of. This is the reason that the movement was created. If you have heard about The Black Lives Matter Movement or Black Girls Rock, then you probably already know the controversy behind it. Neither of the movements were created to bash any other race and believe me, we fully understand and know that all lives matter and all girls rock. Our issue is that it seems that the government has forgotten that and if we are unable to remind them, then we need to remind the African-American race, who could honestly use uplifting encouragement. Another issue is our curriculum, being that we only learn about the fact that we were slaves or that we organized marches and protested during The Civil Rights Movement. This history that I crave and yearn for my peers to learn should not be an elective and it should not suddenly gain relevance during Black History Month. Why is it that I have not learned about King Taharqa, King of Nubia from 710 to 664 BC who controlled the largest empire in ancient Africa during his 25 year reign or King Shaka, King of Zulus from 1818 to 1828 who developed the "assegai", a short stabbing spear, or Nzingha , Amazon Queen of Matamba, West Africa from 1582 to 1663 who was able to save her people from becoming slaves by negotiating with the Portuguese slave traders? African-American history did not begin with us boarded on ships bounded with chains but this is what is constantly taught in our curriculum. This is what our history books see us as, what they want us to adhere to.
While the rally was taking place, I noticed there were a number of police officers that not only surrounded us by standing on each corner of the street but, multiple undercover cops rode past as well. If the thought of being surrounded by city police officers was not enough, security from the Board of Education building guarded the area where we stood. It was clear that the sole purpose was to not only to intimidate us, but to ridicule our protest completely.
Obama's very own Ashley Brown, who is a Junior, also attended the Black Lives Matter rally on Friday. When asked about her feelings on the police's watchful eyes, she stated, "We were literally watched the entire time. I was like wow, we can't even have a simple and peaceful event without being watched like animals." Although Racism is an issue that has plagued America for centuries, a great deal of people believe that racism was not an issue in the North. When asked if the police's presence was a surprise to her, she immediately shook her head no. "I wasn't surprised by it at all," She continued. "They see us as destructive and chaotic people."
Destinee McCallister, a Junior from Pittsburgh Capa could not express her feelings about the rally, being surrounded by city police officers, and security guards. She decided to keep it short by saying, "I hope they got something from the rally and see this as a learning experience. We're not what the media portrays and what is happening in Ferguson, Florida, Maryland, and everywhere else just isn't right. It wouldn't happen if it were their kid or their brother or father. So why take ours?"
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also attended to write an article about the event and to my surprise, the article was very positive. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the comments underneath. I will not dwell on the comments of even give them the light of day, but ultimately the ignorance displayed underneath the article expressed the need for this rally even the more. During the closing of the rally, Alexis and Alona encouraged us to keep this movement alive and reminded us that despite the fact they are continuing on with their education that does not mean that we simply drop the baton.
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without its roots."- Marcus Garvey
Friday, May 22, 2015
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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Friday, May 15, 2015
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Thursday, May 14, 2015
Posted: 13 May 2015 05:50 AM PDT
Dear Class of 2019,
Attending Obama Academy seemed like a great opportunity for me. Meaning that since a plethora of schools got closed down I could not go to my home school, which was Langley. So then my home school became Brashear and I did not want to go there and I also did not want to go to Alderdice. So then my parents starting looking into Obama and we found out that they have an IB program, and that attending Obama would be beneficial for me academically and as an athlete because I'm a good swimmer and I heard they had a good swim team. I expected high school to be somewhat like it is on TV. You get free periods, leave school for lunch, make a lot of friends, etc. Turns out you get half of those things; although it does meet some of my expectations, but it is also more classwork than I was used to. Prior to coming to Obama, I attended Pittsburgh Classical Academy, despite the fact that I was in advanced classes, I still did not get as much work as I do now. Then again that was middle school and it does not get easier as you go.
So far high school has been a good experience. I'm glad I chose CAS courses because it gave me a heads up for what to expect for the next three years of my life, then college… I'm also glad about this decision because it forces me to be serious about my work and try my best to stay on top of things. It also makes me realize that I should appreciate all of the people in my life trying to help me get a good education: my teachers, most definitely my parents, as well as my friends. ONLY you can decide who you choose to hang with; I chose a "clique" that I wanted to be in and that separates themselves from negative activity and they have their minds made up on making smart choices. They have good reputations and plan on keeping it that way; my friends too take CAS courses (advanced classes) to be in a classroom where we can focus on the content and instruction.
If I could change anything that I did it would more than likely be to stop procrastinating. Every time I have a project due within a month I still get it done the weekend prior to the due date. With that being said, I would try managing my time better. This year I was on the swim team and I tried softball, which was a total bust, but playing sports did not cloud my vision or distract me from my priorities. I also had free time and found myself busy on the weekends hanging with friends, but I still got assignments done; focusing is important because it is only going to get harder.
I would advise incoming freshmen to follow the same advise I'm giving myself: use your time wisely. Study as often as you can because it will certainly hurt your grades if you do not.
High school, at least form my experience, is a big shift from middle school. To some extent it depends on what middle school you attended because every curriculum can be different, but if you know what kind of student you are and you get all of your work done then your freshman year of high school will be a breeze. I wish all of the freshmen that may be reading this good luck, and I hope my advice can assist you in some way!
Monday, May 11, 2015
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Eagle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, May 11, 2015
Subject: The Eagle
Posted: 10 May 2015 06:43 PM PDT
Ms. McCafferty's 9th graders got the chance to go to Carlow University with YMAP to present their projects. YMAP is a year-long program in which students can make a change in their school or community. Students get together with each other and break up into groups after they have decided what they want to do. This project empowers teens to stick up for what they want. There are usually a few students from Carlow who help us with our projects. Students get to express what they think can change. This year's 9th graders are trying to improve many facets of the Obama experience. At first, a lot of the 9th graders in my class underestimated YMAP, thinking that the program was uninspiring. However. as we went along in the school year, we gained experience and saw YMAP as an instrument for change. We got to interview people, work as a group, and learn skills we will never forget. The 9th grade class used the opportunity to work with people we might have never gotten the opportunity to collaborate with otherwise.
The three participating schools who met up at Carlow were Brashear high school, Obama Academy and Wilkinsburg high school. Each group presented their project and talked about what they want to change and the logistics of executing their project. We were shown videos, cataloging what previous students that were in YMAP accomplished. While the project started as a one year opportunity in physics class, we intend to continue working on it after leaving the 9th grade. In short, YMAP encouraged us to talk about what we want as students.
Obama Academy was represented by all three of Ms. McCafferty's classes: a total of five groups. Brashear and Wilkinsburg each had one group. Each of our groups wanted to change something that dealt with the school. C.O.L.O.R.S. (Creating Outstanding Lockers, Outside spaces and Rooms at School) wanted to change the look of our school. They want to repaint the locker with Obama's school colors—so as to differentiate the school from Peabody because lots of adults still recognize the school as Peabody and not Obama.
Obamanary Arts wanted to get Food Revolution to open up to more freshmen and sophomores. They currently have mostly juniors and seniors. We interviewed Asha and Simon, two members of Food Revolution. They talked to us about what they do in Food Revolution. We also talked to Alaina Webber and she said that she would like to see more sophomores and freshmen in the club. For Food Revolution day, Jaylynn Brown, Robin Jones and myself will be there talking about what we did for our project.
T.R.T (Tutoring Resource Time) wanted to get tutoring time during QRT with college students who need the volunteering time. T.R.T. believes that if Obama implemented this, a lot of students who are failing or don't have good grades, will start to improve academically in addition to gaining other skills. Margot Allison, Joseph Moore and Timothy Underwood Jr. stated that this will benefit both high school students and college students.
The only person who showed up to the YMAP convention from Building Character was Russell Harris. He explained very well what the group is trying to accomplish. The group's goal is to get more males and females athletic and fit. The boys, Russell, Gerald Ferguson, Ernesto and Sergio Castillo, Dionte Vickers and a few others would help the boys. They are looking for girls in our school to help the females get in fit. Then the students would run the program. Russell explained that they talked to a few people and that their views were broadened after they learned what it would take achieve their goals.
M.C.D. (More Club Days) wanted the school to, well, have more club days. They said that clubs only meet once a week and students would benefit from larger portions of club time. YAG (Youth & Government), is a popular club that only gets to meet once a week. The students pitching M.C.D. believe that they should be able to meet more in order to get ready for Harrisburg. Other clubs, like The French club, would need more days to get ready for events like Mardi Gras. They were explaining that all of the clubs would benefit from having more days that they get to meet. Their position is that all of the clubs could benefit from this in their own way.
I was in Obamanary Arts with about ten to fourteen other dedicated students. All of the students who were at the event, in our school and the other schools, were dedicated to their project. Throughout the school year we learned to speak for ourselves and how to lead.
Ben, Chanessa, Radayah, Breiona, Teddi and Rachel were some of the people that Obama students worked with. They helped us throughout our project when we needed it. Ms. McCafferty also helped us a little and kept our tri-fold boards in her room for us. As YMAP students, we are now leaders. We stood up for what we wanted and made our project based on that. Our leadership will take us to places unknown but we are thankful to have had this chance to take these improvements into our own hands.
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Mark Rauterkus Mark.Rauterkus@gmail.com
Swimming and Water Polo Coach, Schenley High School, Pittsburgh, PA
412 298 3432 = cell