Tag Archives: Berkeley High School

One to watch: Berkeley drummer James Small

Drummer James Small

Photo Courtesy of: Andrea Kash
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At only 23 years old, James Small is about as seasoned a drummer as they come. He’s been a member of over 10 bands, opened a nationwide tour for a Grammy-winning artist, and attended one of the nation’s top music colleges. Yet Small’s journey hasn’t always been filled with success and achievement. The drummer has experienced his fair share of hardships and struggles along the way.

Small left school to chase a dream, experienced the rise and fall of a band, and, at one point, found himself teaching kindergarten at a performing arts school in Ohio. Through it all, he remains confident in his ability and excited about his future, however.

“It has all been worth it,” he said, smiling.

Now, as the drummer in four bands and working as an after-school program counselor at Emerson Elementary School, Small is intent on not only becoming the best drummer he can be, but the best person as well. … Continue reading »

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One to watch: BHS grad, musician Spencer Stevens

Spencer Stevens. Photo: Courtesy of Spencer Stevens
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Ask Spencer Stevens how he became so musically inclined and he’ll probably give you a modest response. Something like: “I don’t know, I’m just blessed,” or “A lot of time and effort.” Whatever humble answer the 22-year-old Berkeley High graduate chooses, he’s downplaying the truth. That truth is that Spencer Stevens is just flat-out talented, and he seems to possess a clear understanding of most aspects of music. The work he’s done as a producer, engineer, manager and DJ has put him in the position of being one of the hottest rising stars in the Bay Area’s underground music scene.

With the success he’s had managing up and coming Oakland artist Legendvry, and playing the role of lead man for his DJ collective, Wavbros, Stevens has made himself a familiar face around the Bay. It seems there isn’t a musical event you can go to in the Bay Area where Stevens isn’t in attendance, and you can bet that each time he’s doing something different. … Continue reading »

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3 teens arrested after Berkeley student fights downtown

Police responded to downtown Berkeley on Thursday for youth fighting. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
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Is it just that time of year again? Three high-school-aged students were arrested Thursday after fights broke out among youth in downtown Berkeley, authorities said.

Berkeleyside was reporting similar news last year in April.

Lt. Alyson Hart, the Berkeley Police watch commander Thursday evening, said there had been some type of disturbance at lunch involving Berkeley High School students, leading school and police authorities to be on alert when BHS let out due to rumors that problems would continue.

Not long after school ended for the day, at 3:30 p.m., Hart said police received numerous reports of youth fighting downtown. There were multiple groups of students who were “running around everywhere.”

Originally, the BART Police asked for help to handle reports of fighting on the platform at the downtown Berkeley station.

“There were a bunch of little different skirmishes or reports,” Hart said. “Around City Hall also.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Yellowjackets fall to Crespi in state final, 68-53

Berkeley guard Bryan Morris, left, and Crespi Carmelite forward Mitchell Mykhaylov battle for the ball during the second half of the CIF boys' Division I high school basketball championship game Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. Crespi Carmelite won 68-53. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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Battling one of the nation’s top-ranked teams for the state title, the Berkeley High boys basketball team recovered from a 34-23 halftime deficit to grab a narrow 37-36 lead in the third quarter. But a dream ending for the underdogs wasn’t to be as Crespi-Encino went on a 9-1 tear and led the rest of the way.

The Yellowjackets had upset the odds three times in their drive to a long-awaited NorCal Division 1 championship, beating Jesuit 62-59, Monte Vista 64-52 and Menlo-Atherton 61-51. But SoCal champions Crespi proved too tough at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. Berkeley finished its season with a 24-9 record.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High boys hoops win first NorCal title since 1921

The Yellowjacket bench erupts in joy as the team clinches its first NorCal championship since 1921. Photo: Gary Jones
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When the Yellowjackets boys basketball team last won a NorCal championship, Woodrow Wilson had just handed over the White House to Warren Harding, Babe Ruth had completed one season with the Yankees, and the founding of the precursor to the National Basketball Association was still 24 years in the future. But memories of 1921 can now be safely shelved at Berkeley High, because the Yellowjackets are the 2016 Division 1 NorCal champions after defeating Menlo-Atherton 61-51 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Saturday night.

On Thursday, the team travels back to Sacramento to face SoCal champ Crespi-Encino for the state title.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High student faces up to reality of vision loss

Jorden Johnson and his mother Keisha Darden. Photo: courtesy family
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Sometimes bad things happen to good people, changing the trajectory of their lives with no notice. For Jorden Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Berkeley High School, this moment came while attending football practice in the summer of 2015.

Johnson says it was like any other day. He was prepping for the first preseason game of his senior year. He had spent most of the summer preparing for that moment, and was eager to show his coach how he had developed as a player since the prior season. He went through his normal routine: stretching, team jumping jacks, and a few other exercises to get warmed up. It was when the team transitioned to position drills that Johnson began to notice something was wrong.

While going for a pass, Johnson watched the ball as it left the quarterback’s hand, soaring through the air and eventually eclipsing the sun. As the ball passed in front of the sun, Johnson recalls seeing a glare and not being able to relocate the ball, which caused  him to drop the pass.

“It was nothing new. I had done this drill a million times,” said Johnson recently. “I had lost the ball in the sun and been blinded by the glare, so I thought nothing of it.”

Johnson says he apologized to the coach for the dropped pass and determined he would make up for his mistake. His turn came around once more, and just as he had done so many times before, he took off for a pass. Again he was blinded by a glare and again he dropped the ball. This time he wasn’t sure the glare was a result of the sun.

“After that second drop I realized something was off,” said Johnson. “The glare began to turn into bright spots. I didn’t know what it was from, but I knew it couldn’t be good.” He was worried but not terrified, and he left practice thinking that some rest would do the trick. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board rejects school officer grant

Berkeley High police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley School Board said a resounding “no” to a proposal to add a second police officer to its campus roster during a discussion earlier this month about ways to address safety and racial tension on campus.

The proposal, from Superintendent Donald Evans, was among a group of ideas collected from the community in December following several race-related incidents at Berkeley High in recent years, including the hanging of a noose on campus, disparaging statements that were slipped into the school yearbook last spring, and racial threats posted on a school computer in the fall.

Scroll down to see what’s on tonight’s School Board agenda.

The Berkeley Police Department had won a Department of Justice grant for $125,000 over a three-year period to help fund an additional school resource officer position. There is just one school resource officer in the district, stationed at Berkeley High on weekdays.

Berkeley Technology Academy Principal Sheila Quintana has lobbied in recent years for an officer who could also be present on her campus, the district’s lone continuation school. The grant would have helped provide funding for that position, said Capt. Dave Frankel of the Berkeley Police Department.  … Continue reading »

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Faraji Wright: A journey from athlete to musician

Faraji Wright highway
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Many of us set out to change our lives at the beginning of a new year. Faraji Wright is hoping 2016 can pick up right where 2015 left off. The 25-year-old from Berkeley released the mixtape Telegraph Ave. in December and the project accumulated over 50,000 plays on Soundcloud in just one month.

Wright, who graduated from Boise State in 2012, decided to pursue music full-time after playing college football for four years with the Boise State Broncos. It’s a decision he says he battled with throughout his college career. Wright was a standout football player at Berkeley High, and signed a football scholarship in 2008. Many assumed that would be the start of an illustrious football career.

Berkeleyside contributor Delency Parham got the chance to sit down with Faraji at his studio in South Berkeley. They talked about some of the factors that lead to him letting go of football and picking up the mic. As he preps for upcoming shows including a possible short tour in Japan. Wright says he’s elevated his work ethic and has been in the studio on a consistent basis. He wants everyone to know his goal for 2016 is to get his music across more platforms and to create content that can inspire and entertain.

What was life like for you after graduating from college and moving back home?

It was a bittersweet moment. I was graduating college and I was the first in my family to do so. It was great, but when I came home I didn’t exactly get the welcoming that I expected. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High’s ‘See Rock City’: Affecting and uplifting

See Rock. Photo: Lisa Sibony
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By Johanna Staples-Ager

Let’s just get it out there right up front: Berkeley High’s production of the musical See Rock City and Other Destinations is excellent. The story, the production, the music and the acting are all really good. And there’s a bonus: the tickets are cheap and sales support Berkeley High Drama.

This is the West Coast premiere of the show, which is being staged on Dec. 17 and 18 at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, and, although it has been workshopped and earned a few minor awards in the past, it frankly deserves more attention.

The play follows the stories of people in six places: Rock City, GA; Roswell, NM; The Alamo, TX; Glacier Bay, AK; Coney Island, NY; and Niagara Falls, NY. These tourist destinations, well-known by most in the audience, tie in closely with the experiences of the people in the play: a young man looking for “signs” about his future, which he finds in literal signs such as, “SEE ROCK CITY”; a man who has left behind his life to be at the site of a UFO landing; a woman and her grandfather following the annual tradition of going to the place where her grandparents met; three sisters gathering to scatter their father’s ashes in his favorite bay; two best friends cutting school to go to an amusement park; and a runaway bride taking a tour of the famous Falls while still in her wedding dress.Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board gets annual bullying report

BHS Stop Harassing has been working to raise awareness about sexual harassment and other types of discrimination at Berkeley High over the past year. Photo: BHS Stop Harassing
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There were 165 complaints of bullying, sexual harassment and other types of harassment were reported in Berkeley schools in the 2014-15 school year, according to a report set to go before the School Board on Wednesday night.

There were 41 incidents at the grade school level, 78 in Berkeley middle schools, and 46 in Berkeley’s two high schools. Neither race nor gender descriptions were included in the report.

The Berkeley Unified School District also reported four incidents of bullying by parents or adult family members toward students, and four complaints of bullying toward students by staff.

At Berkeley’s 11 grade schools, there were 25 incidents of bullying, 12 incidents of sexual harassment and four incidents of harassment or intimidation. Other than bullying, reports are only collected for students at the fourth grade level or above, as per state Education Code requirements. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A call to white parents — address racism

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A month ago, someone posted a racist threat against black students on a library computer at Berkeley High School. The threat expressed support for the KKK and stated that there would be a public lynching on December 9. In response to this threat, many students walked out of classes to protest of this act of racism, to say that #BlackLivesMatter.

This all seems so long ago now. Across the country, university student protests against racially hostile environments emerged … Continue reading »

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Update: School officials say threat to Berkeley High shared on Facebook is false

Berkeley High School. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Update, 3 p.m. Berkeley Police said they are not investigating this as a crime.

Update, 12:30 p.m. Berkeley High says that, after speaking with the Berkeley Police Department, it does not believe a Facebook post that mentioned a “massive text” and a “massive shooting” is related to an actual threat of violence against the school. In an email sent out to the BHS community around noon Wednesday, Principal Sam Pasarow said that, instead, the school believes the social media post was “based on a misinterpretation of previous communications that BUSD sent out to families.”

The post contained misinformation about the school’s permission slip policy, he said. “The permission slip was for students to attend a special “Sankofa” assembly on campus, not to attend school or stay home from school.” Pasarow added that the BSU Sankofa Assembly today had been well-attended. “I have been seeing students deeply engaged in our academic classes today, with lesson plans that are stimulating thoughtful discussions,” he wrote. Read the full email.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Berkeley Unified School District and Berkeley police are investigating a possible threat to the campus that was reportedly sent out by mass text and then shared via Facebook.

BUSD spokesman Mark Coplan confirmed that Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow was talking to police Wednesday morning about a widely disseminated text which referred to a “massive shooting” at the high school Wednesday. The text also discussed permission slips that would allow parents to excuse their children from attending school. Today, Dec. 9, had been designated a special day of “communal self-affirmation” with a modified schedule focused on race issues. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High to ‘take back the day’ after racist incident

Berkeley High students marched through the UC Berkeley campus Thursday in support of racial justice. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley High School is preparing for a special day of “communal self-affirmation” on campus Wednesday, following a racist incident on Nov. 4 and the school-wide protest that came in its wake.

BHS Principal Sam Pasarow said he is supporting Wednesday’s activities which will see a slightly modified class schedule and include two assemblies.

In a Dec. 2 email to the school community, Pasarow wrote: “I am heartened by these student-led plans to spend time together in a safe, supportive, and educational environment, rather than skipping school on December 9th.”

The choice of Wednesday for the ‘take back the day’ events is significant: the racist threat that was discovered on a school library computer on Nov. 4 said there would be a “KKK Forever public lynching on December 9.” … Continue reading »

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