Urban TXT teaching teens leadership skills through technology

By Jose Rodriguez image

Urban Teens Exploring Technology (TxT) is an organization that encourages inner city teens to become catalysts of change in urban communities through the use of technology, concentrating on South L.A and Watts high school students. Urban TxT youth develop skills they wouldn’t normally learn in a traditional school like research, public speaking, leadership and project management. The organization considers community, leadership, academics, and technology as pillars that serve as the foundation to succeed in life.

I joined Urban TxT because I wanted a challenge that dealt with technology. I learned how to create a website and realized how much planning it takes. The website was intended to give incoming high school freshmen an idea of what high school is about. It acts as a guideline for freshmen to follow and become competitive applicants for college. I didn’t think I would ever be a project manager for the website. Before the creation of the website, my teammates and I learned how to use web 2.0 tools as resources. Web 2.0 tools are free utility software available to the public. An example of a web 2.0 tool is “Splash up,” a Photoshop-like software that allows users to edit and manipulate images. Learning how to use web 2.0 tools helped us plan the website when the team was not able to meet in one place. That’s when we used “Mind 42,” a web 2.0 tool that allowed us to map out ideas in a form of a bubble map. We would have never learned how to use these tools in high school.

image Urban TxT challenged us emotionally through team building. We had to do most of the work from home, making it harder to manage the team and assign new deadlines. Oscar, our mentor, also challenged us with team building challenges. For example, we would have to complete challenges before entering the lab where we would meet. One such challenge was closing our eyes and creating a star with a rope. In order to complete the task, it was important to have good communication among the team members. The purpose for the challenges was to learn how to face problems, even with disabilities. This showed us the importance of working together as a team. Our biggest accomplishment was how we all overcame obstacles. With the help of Oscar’s guidance, we were able to find solutions to complex problems by doing research and thinking outside the box.

Being in Urban TxT gave me the opportunity to work with Oscar at L.A. Trade Tech, managing the social media of the organization. He taught me the basic principles of how social media works and its effectiveness. My classmates and I also got the opportunity to visit Cal Poly Pomona which was an amazing experience. Graduate students who helped develop Urban TxT gave us a tour and focused on areas that interested us such as computer science, computer engineering, and civil engineering. We even had the chance to enter labs where students perform experiments and also had a conversation with a professor about hydrology, the study of water, which led to a small lesson of where we can find the best possible source of water. Our plan for the summer is to raise money for a trip to Google. Thanks to Roxanne, who has been able to contact Google staff, arrangements are being made to set a date in which we can all attend.

This article will appear in The Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.
Jose Rodriguez is an 11th grader at MAHS.

What happens after death?

This story appeared in The Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Carlos Guerrero

What really happens after you die? There are many theories regarding this mysterious event. There is no single answer, just theories. What you believe is up to you. Many people have their beliefs and religions yet theories abound which cannot be ignored. Two of the most known theories are reincarnation and afterlife. Not one of these can be 100% proven. What one believes is subjective.

Reincarnation is when the soul or spirit is brought back into a newborn body after death to live a brand new life. The reincarnated person will grow up again maybe as a different race or a different gender, who knows. Reincarnation is a difficult theory for people to believe possibly because it is hard to believe that everyone one knows now will not even exist after death. People like to believe that when they die they will still be around to watch over their loved ones. If reincarnation is true then watching over loved ones is not possible because no one will have any memory of the life they had lived before. For all one knows this could be our hundredth time being reincarnated we just do not know it.

Afterlife is one of the other theories that is related to God and religion. It is believed that what happens to a person is up to God and depends on one’s actions during one’s lifetime. This one might be easier to believe because it makes people think that they will still be around in spirit with full memory of all things they have experienced. Many people would prefer to believe in this theory because it’s easier to believe that when one dies the spirit will still be around. Philosophically it doesn’t matter whether you live or die because in the end one never existed because those who cared about one and knew one will be dead as well. So ultimately one’s life will not have mattered, a difficult thought to digest.

“There is nothing to be feared in death; it matters not a scrap whether one might ever have been born at all, when death that is immortal has taken over our mortal life.” This is a quote by Lucretius, a Roman poet and philosopher. This supports the philosophical theory that it will not matter whether one lives or dies. In the end one never existed at all.

Toiler Times at Manual Arts High School

image Intersections South LA mentors work with students at Manual Arts High School to produce a student newspaper called The Toiler Times.

The Toiler Times features a variety of articles and opinion editorials on topics ranging from bullying to graduation.

Here are some of the articles from the latest edition:

Manual Arts debate team shows dedication

Bullying: An Issue for All

Teacher of the Month: Mr. Solis

What is wrong with Manual Arts?

What happens after death?

What is wrong with Manual Arts?

This story appeared in The Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Juanita Yat

What’s wrong with Manual Arts High School they ask?” Well to start off with you have students thinking it is okay to come to school buzzed and half asleep. Students tend to sleep late or not at all, also they think it is okay to sleep during their teacher’s lecture. Students must understand that by not sleeping it causes them not to work as well in school. This is only the beginning.

You have teachers that prefer being on their phones or reading the newspaper to teaching their students. You also have teachers thinking that just because a group of students don’t want to learn they aren’t going to teach.

Then you have the class clowns that don’t know when it is time to joke around and when it’s time to focus. Class clowns sometimes are the life of the classroom, but there are times to play around and act goofy and there times to focus on school work. I honestly think that teachers should take action towards these students.

You have students coming late; most of the times these students are the ones behind. Also, some students come to school without supplies; these are the students that arrive to school without any sort of backpack.

Constantly teachers have a problem with students not finishing their work because they are on their phones, iPods, and talking. Students not only do not pay attention, but sometimes their phones go off in class.

Many students that don’t do their work tend to bring another person down with them. These problems are not fair to the students who actually come to school to learn and to get their education.

Then you also have the dean’s office picking up students 30 minutes before third period even ends. Let’s not forget about when students are entering the Manual Arts gates they have the staff looking at them like they are convicts. The dean’s office tends to send students home or keep them in their “jail” all day. They trip about the dumbest things that make students not want to come to school or to switch schools, so we lose a lot of smart students. As a result when it comes to the CAHSEE students don’t take the test seriously or don’t even bother to show up.

All students have the ability to pass the CAHSEE exam the first time around, but instead we have students in their senior year who haven’t even passed. Not only does this affect our students during testing, it affects our school.

So when parents ask their students what they have learned, they don’t have any idea what to say. This makes me feel that the Manual Arts family should try a little bit harder and maybe someday all these problems will change.

Teacher of the Month: Mr. Solis

This story appeared in The Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Jovana Urrutia

This month’s choice for the teacher of the month is Mr. Solis, a World History teacher. Mr. Solis is a dedicated teacher who wants changes for students to change their lives with education.

I met him in September 2010 when I took his class intersession to make up World History. From the start, I knew I was going to learn a lot from him, and I did.

One question I asked him was, “What inspires you to teach high school students?” He responded he wanted to be a football coach but then he decided to be a history teacher and to teach students to motivate their minds.

Mr. Solis wants every student to have a better education then he did. The reason why he says this is that doesn’t want them to go through what he went through. He grew up in East Los Angeles where there is violence, gangs, drugs, and death. When he was in high school, he was with the wrong people and did stuff that he wasn’t supposed to do. Then he finished high school and college and now he is a teacher. Mr. Solis inspired me when I had him for a class he said to me and the other students in his class. “Go to college don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Prove them wrong.”

Since that day I knew that I can go to college and be successful in my life and follow my dreams. Mr. Solis went through the same thing when he was in high school and he told me that people doubted that he would go to college and he proved them wrong he went to college got a degree.

I would like to thank Mr. Solis for telling me that I can go to college and never give up my dreams.

Bullying: An Issue for All

This story appeared in The Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Juanita Yat

Many teachers see it happen and don’t do anything to stop it, sometimes teachers laugh as well. Bullying is not a laughing matter: many students keep bullying alive by laughing at the jokes, name calling and literally hitting or pushing. Bullies tend to pick on people they consider as “nerds.” I’ll just have you know that someday the people that you call nerds might end up being who you call boss.

Its fact that bully victim can be traumatized for many years, they lose all self confidence while still getting attacked. Some bully victims are pushed to their limits while others try to push back, others start building hatred towards themselves are mostly likely to hurt themselves in the long run.

Verbal bullying is the most common use today this includes name-calling, offensive remarks or consistently making the joke about them. Here at Manual Art you hear peers call each other names. You hear students making fun of others for the way they look or for some other dumb reason. Here at school we have a lot of immature little kids. It’s not only students to students it’s also students to teachers, teachers to students, or staff to students.

In our lovely school you frequently see students pushing and hitting each other. This leads to fighting and other big problems that sometimes are taken after school.

You also have bullying among ladies. This is mostly known as being “two faced,” including spreading of false rumors or talking “nasty” behind each other’s back. Bullying tends to pick on who are considered outcasts, misfits, or losers that get crappy remarks from what is known as the “cool kids.”

When bullies tend to cause intimidation its mostly verbal and when they tend to cast a threat, it is with the purpose of making their victims give in to their orders and demands. Many girls here and anywhere tend to talk about the people they hang around with. These types of girls are the ones that tend to start the fighting between their own friends. Here at school we have a lot of “back stabbers.”

Bullying is very commonly seen on internet chatting sites such as MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Formspring, text messages, and private phone calls. It also involves destroying or smearing the victim’s reputation on blogs, postings and also through texting etc.

Here at Manual Arts we have problems with burn books and blogs. Many people have been hurt and talked about and have had their pictures posted. Unfortunately, the dean continues to fail to do anything about the problem. Eventually, it blew over because students were taking matters into their own hands, so people that were responsible for the burn book took it down.

In my opinion, Manual Arts staff, deans, and teachers do not really take bullying seriously. Little do they know the effect that it has on students and their education. Teachers sometimes witness a student getting picked on by another student and they don’t bring the student to attention. This sends a message to bullies that it’s okay to pick on other students since no one ever does anything to stop it. In school there is no kind of punishment for bullying. I actually know some kids that get called names; like Mr. Potato head, fat, nerds, fatty, fags, Barney…there are a lot of names. Bullying is not okay and you should treat people the way you want to be treated.

The best way to stop bullying is to never let it start at all. So if you or anyone is getting bullied let them know it’s time to let someone know. It’s not called snitching if someone is getting hurt. Little by little we can stop bullying.

Manual Arts debate team shows dedication

This story appeared in The Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Jovana Urrutia

The debate team is one of the most hard working and dedicated teams we have here at Manual Arts. The team’s advisor, Mr. Rohoman, works to help each team member.

The teams consist of two members per group and there are about twelve groups total in the debate team. They started to compete in December 2010 and since then they have been unstoppable.

They have won many competitions but the most challenging one was at Pepperdine University back in January. Other schools participated in the Pepperdine competition as well. All the team members had a rough start but they stayed calm and did their best.

I had the chance to interview one of the team members of the debate team. Her name is Alejandra Alvarez, a junior on the C-track. She told me that they went through obstacles to get to where they are now.

I asked if anyone felt nervous and what are their goals for the team. Alejandra said, “Yes some were nervous and the most important goal is to win every competition.” Every team member puts in a lot of effort. They get busy with it and they have every detail on their mind. That’s how much potential the team has.

The last question I asked was, “What is the next step for the team?” Her response: “For the team and expand get and more people involved, to learn more about it, get prepared for college and their future, and to win.”

The last thing she told me is that it’s not always about winning, it’s about having fun as well as enjoying every moment of the competition. The Toilers’ debate team will always have fun and they are not going to let anyone from other schools bring them down because they always keep their heads held high and they are motivated.

Be mindful of how you use the word ‘gay’

This article also appeared in the Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Carla DeLeon

When the word “gay” is mentioned to you, what’s the first thing that pops in your mind? To some people it’s simply a way of joking with each other, but what if you were to say it to the wrong person unintentionally? How do you think he or she would feel?

GLTBI stands for gay, lesbian, transgender, bi, intersex. I’m sure most people know what gay, lesbian, transgender, and bi are, but do you know what intersex is? Intersex is a person who physically looks like a male or female but claim to be the opposite.

I recently heard the term. My teacher explained to me what the word is, and I learned that if you’re an intersex, you know deep inside of you, that you are the opposite sex of what you look like. There is an issue going around in school, in which teachers and staffs are getting trained for. For example, if we have a student who physically looks like a male, but claims to be a female, he has the right to use the female’s restroom. For those boys who think they can finally go in there with their girlfriend, it’s not as easy as it sounds. A security needs to make sure there are no girls in the restroom in order to for the other student to go in.

Since a very young age, I’ve seen kids bullying others about their perceived sexuality, simply because of the way they looked or behaved. The trouble begins when students who may be gay begin to start feeling rejected and don’t feel accepted by everyone. Although many people may not realize it, this can be an early sign of depression

After the years go by, depression may lead to much more serious things. The maltreatment may not stop and the depressions will most likely increase. Depression may lead to suicides. Once people start feeling suicidal, everything becomes very serious.

While watching the news, you may come across a teenager committing suicide for not being accepted for who they are. You may stumble across this sort of news every so often. The most recent data from the American Association of Suicidology shows that there are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses ever year. Most of the time, this kind of news may go unheard, it’s more of a hidden problem.

At Manual Arts High School, I’ve seen many things. For instance, while in class, I have heard classmates call other students names such as “fagot and gay,” but they do it basically to call each other names. Students are always teasing each about their manhood. In this school, being called these names are on a constant basis, but what about for those who really are gay?

I have a friend who is bi, and whenever she hears the word gay, she gets offended. How wouldn’t she when people are shouting out words that are offensive to others? Even if the word is said to her or someone else, she is proud to be the way she is, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life itself is hard enough, but why make it more difficult by insulting others? People who are gay are humans too and deserve the respect from others.

Teacher of the Month: Ms. Ramirez

This article also appeared in the Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Carlos Guerrero

All of us have had many teachers in the past years, but we rarely get to meet teachers who go out of their way to help students. Since middle school I have met only a couple teachers who take their own time to help students with whatever we might need. Mr. Galarza, Ms. Garibay, have been really great teachers, teachers you can really count on. Those are the kind of teachers we really need to have. Ms. Ramirez, my ninth grade teacher, is someone who I feel I can always count on, Not that she is the only one, but she is the only teacher from ninth grade I still talk to.

Ms. Ramirez has been working here at Manual for three years and has really helped us out since. Before she worked here she worked at a middle school. While she was working there she felt that teachers weren’t doing their job and realized that we need better teachers that will be willing to help. That is when she decided to work for high schools and she chose Manual. The reason she helps students so much whether they’re hers or not is because she grew up the way a lot of us did, neeeding a lot of help with school, but having parents who cannot help. That is why she takes time to help us out when she doesn’t have to. I went to her for any help I might need during lunch or nutrition. She has stayed with me and other friends, students that are no longer hers after school to help us out with work. I find that really great because many teachers wouldn’t take their own time to help us out the way she does.

Overall I feel that students need more teachers like this who will take time to help us and understand where we’re coming from. Teachers that aren’t willing to help students and don’t really try to help shouldn’t have picked a career in teaching. That is why I took my time to write this to show my appreciation to how this few teachers have been really helpful and put up with me because I know I play too much. These are teachers that I feel have really gone out of their way to help us out. Mr. Galarza, Ms. Garibay, and Ms. Ramirez have all been great and I thank you guys for that.

Music = Life

This article also appeared in the Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Juanita Yat

Music inspires all types of people and age groups from the youngest to the oldest. To many people in many cultures music is an important part of their way of life. In most cases music shows people who they are. While some use the art of music as entertainment other use it for other use it for inspiration. Sometimes it helps say what’s on your mind without saying it yourself. It’s a way people and bands express their feeling about society and the government

Personally for me, music is everything. Music can help in my rough times; just by listening to the lyrics I know I’m not alone, that somebody else felt or went through what I am feeling. Many people like me find that music is what calms and relaxes them and makes them feel safe. Hear it because you are living it.

Music is important to me because it’s a way I express my feelings, also music was a bond between me and dad. One of my favorite bands that brought us together was HIM. I was around 7 or 8 when I was looking up to my dad and his HIM interest. The very first album I ever had was Greatest Love Songs vol.666 which was my Dad’s. I would have to say my favorite songs from that album would have to be The Heartless, When Love and Death Embrace, and For You.

Soon my passion for HIM grew bigger I started asking for cd’s like Razorblade Romance, Venus Doom and Dark Light. These albums included songs like; Dead Lover’s Lane, The Kiss Death, Dark Secret Love, Wings of a Butterfly and Killing Loneliness. Each of these songs have meaning to me and many have got me through problems greater than life. I think at first it wasn’t only the beat of the drums, base, and an awesome guitar solo but the lyrics that touched my heart. I just sink to my music and everything is okay.

Music is everywhere. There is no noise, only sound.