McClymonds High School is making new waves with the reopening this week of its school pool this week, which has been shuttered for eight years.
For community members who have mobilized to preserve the legacy of McClymond’s sports and academic programs, this week’s pool reopening signifies the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) commitment to invest in students at the West Oakland school.
For 25 years, McClymonds has gone without a swim program. Now, with new swim director Leon Sykes, the pool will become a regular resource for students and the community.
On Tuesday, OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson joined students, community members and school principal Tinisha Hamberlin to celebrate the pool’s reopening.
Also attending the Nov. 3 event was Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson’s office, and School Board Director Jumoke Hinton Hodge.
“This is the best pool the city has, and for it to be open, it shows why West Oakland is so great,” said Sykes. He said it offers “a healthy exercising alternative” at the school.
Students Jared Utley, J’mya Gray-Martinez, Anthony Beron, and Allen Laurenson-Reed – excited to take advantage of the new opportunity and jump in the pool on Tuesday – spoke about how this will impact them and the West Oakland community.
“Opening this pool is a message of hope for these kids, and it’s saying that the school district is fighting for (us). As long as we know that you’re fighting for us, we’re going to…do everything that we can,” said Utley, a senior at McClymonds.
For junior Gray-Martinez, who has been swimming since the age of 6, this is another way to cultivate community. She said, “It’s a way for West Oakland to be able to reconnect with each other.”
Superintendent Wilson said investing in such school programming will help students achieve success.
“Being exposed to this type of facility and having programming that allows them to be here around adults who care for them in a program where they can thrive…that’s what it’s going to take to ensure that our young people are successful,” he said.
Supervisor Keith Carson was instrumental in helping to reopen the pool so students can have the opportunity to take swimming lessons.
The pool’s reopening is just the beginning of building up the sports programs at McClymonds, said School Board Director Hinton Hodge.
“We should have a viable strong sports program, (including) sports management, sports medicine. Let’s build out the careers and the opportunities that are linked to this,” she said.
“We can create a culture and mentality around health and around fitness and around wellness, and coming together as community.”