V Smoothe, Flickr

It’s 7:30 in the morning at Skyline High and the halls are humming with activity. Kids are talking and slamming lockers. It’s loud.  But one building’s playing a different tune.

Richard Spitler / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License


Sonia Black is walking through the halls of Skyline High School, trying to get the last few kids to class.

Black is in charge of discipline and attendance for ninth and twelfth graders at Skyline. She’s been at the school for two years and this year, they’re trying something new: restorative justice.

Between classes, the five-minute passing periods at Skyline High are a little chaotic. Students are abuzz. Teachers, counselors and guards herd the teens to their classes.

Flickr: iamthetherapist

For a lot of high school students, the best part of their day is spending time with friends. That's also the case for students with Asperger's syndrome, which is characterized by trouble with social interactions, especially in reading nonverbal cues.

Paying to ride the school bus

Jun 2, 2014
H. Micheal Miley


Skyline is one of 15 public high schools in Oakland and the only one located in the hills. The 42-acre campus is nestled among redwoods and million dollar homes.  Nearly 2,000 students attend this traditional campus and many value the diverse student body.  But that wasn’t always the case.

Skyline High opened in 1961, and was almost immediately surrounded by conflict. It’s proposed attendance zone was one mile wide, ten miles long, and based entirely in the hills, which excluded students from the flatlands. This kept the school racially, as well as economically, homogenous -- despite the fact that the city’s black population nearly doubled during the previous decade.

Bridging the language gap for immigrant parents

Jun 2, 2014

Oakland’s Skyline High School has one of the most diverse campuses in California, with students coming from a wide range of backgrounds. That means some parents are not fluent in English, making it difficult for them to communicate with teachers and administrators. That is where the school's Family Resource Center comes in, helping to bridge the language gap with translation services.

A Day in the Life of a Skyline High Student

Jun 2, 2014


For many high school seniors the future is filled with excitement and uncertainty-- college applications, the prospect of saying goodbye to friends and family, and that occasional touch of senioritis. At Skyline High School in Oakland one student is trying to squeeze everything she possibly can into her final year. Here is a day in the energetic and jam packed life of Skyline student Hydea’ Burgess.


In 2012 Skyline's Black Student Union filed a complaint charging the school with discriminating against students of color. They accused Skyline of short-shifting black students, providing lackluster support which led directly to students not graduating. A lawsuit resulted in an agreement with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and Skyline and the Oakland Unified School District agreed to make some serious changes. Included in those reforms was a voluntary resolution plan to oversee the disciplinary methods toward African American male students.

Oakland Wiki puts 'community brain' online

May 20, 2014

When you’re trying to figure out a piece of information online, your search will typically bring you to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia about practically everything.

But, what if you wanted to know something about Oakland – like why 880 is also called the Nimitz freeway – there’s another place you might land: Oakland Wiki.

Pete Villaseñor moved to San Francisco from his home state of Texas almost 20 years ago. That’s well before the Bay’s current housing troubles began. But, moving to a new place can come with other difficulties, like homesickness. Villaseñor told our community storytelling project Hear Here how he found solace in a new city.

Adelyn Baxter

Just north of Jack London Square, inside Oakland’s oldest building, you’ll find one of the East Bay’s most celebrated soul food eateries. Even more surprising? It’s 100 percent vegan.

Visakha Som

There are over 40 million people over the age of 65 in the US today. According to the census bureau, that number is going to double by mid-century. While the senior citizen population grows, the country’s economic health is declining, which brings up questions: How will we care for the elderly? How will we ensure they are fed, clothed, and sheltered?

KALW's Ashleyanne Krigbaum

Groups like Open Oakland and Code for America want to help improve digital efficiency in the city, and now, a new government office is joining that effort. This past January, Bryan Sastokas became Oakland’s first Chief Information Officer (CIO). He has held the role in two cities previously, most recently Modesto. He oversees all things tech in city government, and it is his job to figure out how technology can solve communication breakdowns between residents and City Hall, or within the network of city departments. 

It’s a Tuesday evening in Oakland’s City Hall. A group of people ranging in age from their 20s to 50s are sitting, many in front of their laptops. This is an Open Oakland hacking meeting. Though a lot of jargon is thrown around, some of the people here have no tech backgrounds at all, including Anna Mathai.

WEB EXTRA: The map of a 9-1-1 call in Oakland

Mar 5, 2014
Cal Tabuena-Froli

If you’ve ever picked up the phone to call 9-1-1, you or someone else probably needed help. Badly. And you probably assumed that after dialing those three numbers, help would come screeching around the corner, lights and sirens blaring.

Sarah Deragon/Miki Vargas

The film 20 Feet from Stardom, which just won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature this past weekend, shines a spotlight on the female singers who sang backup to the biggest soul and rock legends during the 1960s.

Housejacked: a homeowner held hostage

Mar 3, 2014

Three years ago, two tenants took over Opal Palmer Adisa’s Oakland home, which she had rented to them during her academic year abroad. When she tried to move back in after the lease was up, they refused to get out or pay the rent. She shared this commentary with us back in 2011.

Jen Chien

All week long we've been playing this sound, and asking you to guess what exactly it is and where exactly in the Bay Area we recorded it.

Todd Whitney


City Hall isn’t the only place you will find Oakland’s namesake, the oak tree. Step foot in the East Bay and you will quickly come across t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and stickers that brandish an image of the iconic tree. This wave of Oakland-themed apparel reaches back to the year 2000 when Oaklandish, a civic pride apparel brand, popped up.

Kyung Jin Lee

Giving teens the space they need, at the library

Jan 22, 2014

For many teens in Alameda County, the library isn’t just a place to study, it’s become a space for them to get away from mounting pressures from school and their social lives and a place where they can just relax and be themselves. For example, Oakland teenagers can come to the Asian Branch once a week, for game day.

Anna Xu is a teen advisory member at the library. She and the teen advisory group brainstorm ways the library can help meet the teens’ needs.

Library serves more than just books

Jan 22, 2014
Oakland Public Library

The 81st Avenue Library is the newest public library in Oakland. It has a sleek, modern exterior - unexpected angles and large green-tinted windows. Inside, it is just as modern - not just in its architecture or amenities, but in the programs it provides for the community.  The 81st Avenue Library hosts unexpected events like “Game Nights,” for teenagers (substituting Play Station 3s for Monopoly), and offers Zumba classes every Saturday. It is also the school library for the two charter schools next door—ACORN Woodland and EnCompass Academy. Plus, it's the only public library in Oakland that can boast a café.

Oakland librarians add biking to job description

Jan 22, 2014
Oakland Public Library TeenZone Facebook page

Mana Tominaga is part of the Oakland Library Main Branch's unique outreach program, the Mobile Bike Library. When patrons can't make it to the library, the library comes to them by bicycle.

Oakland kids find confidence reading to Fido

Jan 21, 2014

At almost any given library, you will find parents and librarians sharing books with children. At Oakland’s Lakeview branch, it isn't the adults who are reading out loud, it’s the kids — and to an audience you might not expect. 

A library reaches outside its stacks

Jan 21, 2014
Friends of the Elmhurst Library


If you head southeast from the Lakeview Library, way down to the 80s blocks of International Boulevard, be sure to take a turn at 88th to visit the Elmhurst branch of the Oakland Library. You'll have to look closely—this library is in a small converted house. Elmhurst operates like any other public library: books to check out, computers to use, and a children's program. But it's got a problem: most kids can’t get to it very easily. The Elmhurst branch is trying to fix that. 

I’m walking alongside the mural called “Beautiful Struggle” in front of Oakland High School. Frida Kahlo, Che Guevara, and Malcolm X are just a few of many social activists portrayed here. This mural also reflects a student body made up predominantly of students of color. Oakland High is 51 percent Asian, 29 percent Black, 16 percent Latino, and one percent white.

Oakland high school confronts daily violence

Jan 7, 2014
Brett Myers/Youth Radio

Castlemont High in East Oakland, looks like many other California schools – colorful box-style buildings with big windows – but inside, teacher Demetria Huntsman and several students are deconstructing a shooting that happened out front just 30 minutes before I got there.


Near dusk, you can often find Shirley Doell at Oakland Civic Center, staring at the tops of skyscrapers through her big telescope. But she isn’t spying on anyone – at least not any people. She’s on the lookout for Peregrine Falcons. They were on the brink of extinction a few decades ago, when there were only two breeding pairs left in California. But there are about 300 nests in the state now and they’ve started moving into cities.

One man’s trash is another's recycling

Oct 29, 2013
Judy Silber

Californians are pretty good about thinking twice before throwing things away—we divert more than 60 percent of our waste away from landfills. But what about that remaining 40 percent?

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