Category Archives: Lifestyle

Lyfe Kitchen: Bringing healthy back

Santa Clarita residents are now able to dine on the same meals prepared for Oprah Winfrey at a reasonable price with the introduction of Lyfe Kitchen in Valencia.

“Love your food everyday,” the acronym for Lyfe Kitchen, seems to be what inspired Mike Roberts, former global president of McDonald’s, to create the eco friendly health food franchise.

Lyfe Kitchen buys their food semi-locally from Ventura and a little farther.

Lyfe Kitchen’s menu was created by Food Network star, Jeremy Bringardner, vegan chef, Tal Ronnen and Winfrey’s former chef, Art Smith. Some of the popular items on the menu are the quinoa crunch wrap, the Thai red curry bowl and Art’s unfried chicken.

The biggest complaint one of the managers, Jackie Alvarado, hears is that the portion sizes are small, but she says that because of the calorie and sodium constriction there is a limited amount of food they can serve per meal. Lyfe Kitchen is dedicated to providing healthy food to their customers so they only allow up to 600 calories and 1,000 mg of sodium per meal. The quinoa crunch wrap is the highest calorie dish they serve at 591 calories and the sweet corn chowder is the lowest Calorie dish at 164. This doesn’t seem to bother everybody. “The food is to die for,” said Elizabeth Kerr, a customer. “I have not found one thing on the menu that I haven’t liked. I even tried the vegan and vegetarian options and they were both excellent.”

Lyfe Kitchen has a modern, fast, casual atmosphere about it, which I noticed as I waited to meet with Alvarado.

As you walk in, the first thing that catches the eye are the herbs grown in planters that look like a stand-alone wall. After you pass the herbs, the restaurant opens up with floor to ceiling windows that let a lot of natural light in and an orange, gray and white color pallet among the walls and furniture. Quotes about good food nourishing the body are painted sparingly on their walls as well. With mostly recent pop tunes playing in the background, Alvarado described Lyfe Kitchen’s atmosphere as relaxed and upbeat. Everyday at noon, they experience their lunch rush, but around 3 p.m. it is slow enough that customers can come in with their laptops and study for a couple hours in peace.

“The atmosphere is also very upscale and trendy,” Kerr said.

Lyfe Kitchen strives to be an “eco-friendly facility.” Especially their to-go containers: they are all made from recycled material, said Alvarado. Also, the furniture is recycled plastic because the company wants to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible.

Lyfe Kitchen’s target market is women ages 18-49 because they believe that if they enjoy the food and their experience at Lyfe Kitchen, then they will come back and introduce their friends and family to the restaurant.

“We get the younger kids from high school to all the older people that just have to eat a certain way or that have, like, restrictions on their diet, so it’s kind of nice because on the weekends we see a lot of younger kids coming in and enjoying it, “ Alvarado said.

Finding relevance in a community church

Higher Vision church recently celebrated 10 years in Valencia.

Its main focus has always been family based, and its message seems to have resonated within the community, it has a strong family presence with ministries for all ages from pre-k through high schoolers.

Its volunteers have an active role in its make- up and infrastructure for the constant daily ministries and connect groups, giving its members a place to stay “plugged in” on a regular basis.

Being active can mean volunteering in a service ministry from hospitality, consisting of assisting and making guest feeling welcome to joining a media team, in which you can find yourself learning to operate a camera, or mixing for the live stream.

The pastor and his staff are A-1 leaders and are passionate for the gospel, and their mission, that is to give back to a community that has welcomed them these past ten awesome years.

Wings for Life: Making It’s Way Back To Santa Clarita

Red Bull Wings for Life World Run returned to the City of Santa Clarita and served as the only west coast host city. Olympic athletes and even local runners came out to Santa Clarita early Sunday morning to support Wings for Life in achieving their goals. Wings for Life is a spinal cord research foundation, which funds world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe aimed to healing the injured spinal cord.

The Wings for Life world run is unlike any other race: 35 different cities across the globe all began with one start time on Sunday, May 3. Participants around the world all took off at 4 a.m. PST. Thirty minutes into the race, what is know as the “catcher car” moves onto the course and begins to chase the runners. Once the vehicle passes someone, his or her race is considered over.

Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn came out to show her support for the cause.

During the event Vonn said, “It’s definitely something that is very important to me and of course I want to help as much as I can”.

Jesse Billauer, professional surfer and an ambassador for the Wings for Life World run stated, ” It’s cool to put spinal cord injuries out on the map. There are a lot of people that maybe didn’t know anything about that; it could happen to anybody”.

Winners for the Santa Clarita race were Thibault Baronian at 34.3 miles and Shannon Rhalves at 29.6 miles.

Race participant Lemework Ketema won the world title after running a total of 49.7 miles in Austria. Winners are given the choice to run in any of the 32 cities for next year’s race.

Yearly conference at COC hopes to empower women


Boston Scientific of Valencia sponsored the College of the Canyons women’s conference on Saturday March 28. The theme— “Blossom and Bloom: Cultivating Your Personal Growth” with all of the speakers and panelists specifically chosen for their expertise, relevance and ability to inspire.

The event took place at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center and hosted all generations from ages ten and up. The standard lobby in the north lot was eloquently decorated with teapots filled with blossoming flowers to tie in to the theme.

Lisa Welker-Finney, vice president of human resources at Boston Scientific, was asked to be this year’s keynote speaker. Welker-Finney left the women who attended motivated to propel their lives. She expressed that change is not wanted, it’s needed, and how we obtain that change is through passion, optimism and perseverance.

There were other speakers and panelist that went over a variety of different topics to help women become their best selves. The topics included: “Career and person branding,” “Cultivating your life passion,” and “The Generations.”

As with all things in life often, it’s our attitudes that determine the outcomes of what happen in our life, and this event helped to cultivate both women and men’s attitudes and help renew that enthusiasm.

“Give yourself permission to become the person you want to be,” said Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, President of College of the Canyons.




Cougar Café launches new Meatless Monday menu

Fans of foliage rejoice! You can eat meals without meat every Monday now at College of the Canyons.
The Cougar Café launched Meatless Monday on March 2015 to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Meatless Monday was originally invented during World War I as a food saving initiative and was recently relaunched because of the many benefits on both, people’s health and the world.

While going meatless reduces the risk of cancer, heart-disease and obesity, replacing just one meat meal with a plant meal was proven to have a significant impact on the environment.

In fact, producing one pound of red meat has a cost of 280 gallons of water, 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and up to 50 square feet of land from pollution and deforestation.

COC Professor and dietitian Sheri Barke clarifies that “Meatless Monday is not trying to make you go vegan” but is rather an occasional, plant based alternative to raise awareness and promote healthier eating habits. She also emphasized the importance of eating lean protein whether it comes from a plant or an animal, and balance each plate by always including all main food groups. She explained that ideally each meal consists to a quarter of preferably whole grains, a quarter of protein and the remaining half should be vegetables and fruit.

You can try a different meatless meal at the COC cafeteria every Monday from 10:30 am to 2 pm.

The Newhall Aquarium is a free place for fun and learning

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with aquatic wildlife, you don’t have to take a trip to Sea World or to The Aquarium of the Pacific.  Located on Arch Street in Newhall, the Newhall Aquarium is a small place that’s home to some impressive species.

Founder Tony Taymourian started the aquarium over a year ago.  He graduated with a degree in marine biology from USCB and started off doing maintenance work at small public aquariums. This experience taught him how to take proper care of tanks and how to keep animals alive.

He decided to marry his aquarium maintenance skills with his passion for marine life and started a small aquarium of his own.

“I happened to have an opportunity come up.  The owner of this spot knew I was interested in this location and we were able to come up with an agreement.  It took a long time to get all the stuff set up, and this is the final product.  We’re happy with it, but we’re trying to get different tanks, bigger tanks, anything to keep the animals happier.  It’s a small place but it’s a start,” Taynourian says.

The Newhall Aquarium is home to all kinds of sea creatures.  The cold water system in the front of the aquarium contains local California species such as grouper sharks and sting rays.

Other tanks have tropical fish that are imported and delivered by plane.  Since Tony has been involved in the business of aquariums for a while, he can easily import a variety of fish.

“I can pretty much get whatever I want.  When I get some of these things I like other people to be able to see them and appreciate them as well.”

The aquarium’s operations are small for now, but there’s hope to expand in the future.

“We’re definitely talking to people that are considering sponsoring us to get something bigger.  We don’t know where that’s going to go yet, but I think it’ll probably end up going somewhere more large scale.”

For now the aquarium is open everyday of the week except for Thursdays with visiting hours between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tony says the reason for the short hours is due to limited funding for staff.

The staff at the Newhall Aquarium also make trips to elementary schools and bring their creatures along with them. They host private events inside the aquarium and put on “under-the sea” themed birthday parties for kids.

Right now admission is free but donations are highly encouraged. Tony’s goal is to keep admission free for as long as possible so everybody has the opportunity to learn and have fun.

“My mission statement is to be able to be here for the public free of charge, and to be here for the people who can’t afford to spend $30 or $40 at The Aquarium of the Pacific or The Monterrey Bay Aquarium.  Something smaller like this brings the community together.”

For more information visit the Newhall Aquarium Facebook page, or contact them at 818-357-6567.

Got water?

The California drought has critically hit the valley of Santa Clarita through its strong impact on the Castaic Lake and here at College of the Canyons. The lake has experienced a reduction of at least 30 feet of water, causing major concern since this is where Santa Clarita gets its clean water from.

Many Santa Clarita residents have noticed the loss of water through the rapidly decreasing levels at the lake, which goes through 45 miles of pipelines distributed throughout the Santa Clarita Valley and is delivered to homes spread out across the valley.

The loss of water at the lake is truly damaging the future of the Santa Clarita Valley, being that this lake is the valley’s

Castaic Lake 2014. Lower water levels means higher risk for SCV residents.
Castaic Lake 2014. Lower water levels means higher risk for SCV residents.

main reserve for the drinking water distributed throughout the city, the water used to nourish lawns and just the water used for general purposes.

However, while levels are steadily decreasing at the lake, COC is doing many things in its power to save what little water Santa Clarita still has.

College of the Canyons is taking their part in urging a massive amount of students to save water and use it only when necessary. Less and less water is being found to be used on their grass and surrounding areas, and therefore less is running off into the drains and ending up on the sidewalk.

The bathroom has also become quite the place when it comes to wasting water. Sinks and toilets in some of the buildings are currently being updated to provide the most efficient ways of water usage in parts of the college that are very much needed.

With installing the more efficient toilets and sinks, it is estimated COC is saving more than 500 gallons of water a day.

Even the Valencia Town Center and Six Flags Magic Mountain are also starting to take part in the saving of water through using less in each sink and by making toilets more efficient. These are both huge ways to save water that are both practical and cost effective.

Various students were asked on how much water they thought they used at their home on a daily basis. “I honestly have no idea, I can guess about four, maybe five gallons a day” answered COC student Whitney Harris.

A recent study was spread out across the valley and Harris appeared to be close. The study proved that the average American uses six or seven gallons of water throughout the day. When that six or seven is multiplied by the most recently updated population of Santa Clarita, 179,590, that turns into north of 1 million gallons a day in this valley alone.

Santa Clarita is known for its family environment and therefore has a substantial number of houses, condos, and apartment complexes. These places have become major consumers of water and whether the water is used to its full benefit or used in a wasteful manner is up to the occupants of that house.

However even with a nearly five-year drought seeming to be nowhere near done, some citizens haven’t exactly watched their usage.

One step to conserving water through the drought is turning off sprinklers and making sure they don't water the street or sidewalk.
Turning off your sprinklers and not watering the sidewalk help conserve water during this drought.

Many homeowners have still been spotted watering their sidewalks and streets during this “water recession,” an issue that now lies on the shoulders of the Department of Water and Power.

The DWP has actually started fining cities and the city workers in charge of saving water that oversee sprinkler malfunctions on the sidewalks. This is of course in addition to fining residents $300 when they overuse sprinklers and various sources of water, which has been going on for some time now.

Many residents like Castaic resident Alice Loya have taken measures into their own hands.

“I make sure my family is using as little water as possible, we make bottles of water and drink those throughout the day, we have completely cut the use of sprinklers from our lawns and we are definitely using less water throughout the day” said Loya.

Along with saving of water, much needed rain is finally showing up and meteorologists say even more is appearing in the forecast.This is nothing short of fantastic for residents across California as they sigh in relief.

Various reports say it will take quite a bit of water to end this drought, but this recent rain seems to be a start. If the first two months are any indicator, 2015 to be a wet and promising year.


Best places to study in Santa Clarita

By Megan Trawick


A pile of textbooks on the right. A mile long to-do list on the left. The neighbor’s dog is barking, someone is shouting, laughing, or singing at the top of their lungs. If you don’t get out of there in the next five minutes you might start screaming. And all you want to do is study for your mid-term.

For everyone who is looking for their personal perfect study spot, here are some of the best places to study near COC, specially selected for coffee fanatics, foodies and study sessions. Don’t worry, every place has free Wi-Fi (except Way Station Coffee Shop), an inexpensive menu, is within a 15-minute drive from COC and employees don’t care if you’re there for a quick shot of espresso or three hours of studying.

Coffee Fanatics:      

House Roots Coffee Shop

Address: 28452 Constellation Rd, Valencia

Hours: Mon – Thurs Closed / Fri 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. / Sat 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. / Sun 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Distance from COC: 6.1 miles

Specialty: Amazing latte art

Drawback: Small location in a church

This nonprofit coffee shop has the most bizarre store hours, but it is well worth the hassle. Despite its location House Roots Coffee Shop has been featured in LA Weekly’s Top Coffee Shops. “They have a little space on top to study or just hang out, but the focus are the baristas that make this an experience!” said Jonathan C. on Yelp. You know a café is serious about coffee when cortados on are the menu, and House Roots definitely fits the bill. For those who don’t know a cortado is an espresso drink, roughly 4 ounces, with a 1-to-2 espresso to steamed milk ratio. “There is no doubt, this is the best cup of coffee and/or tea that you can purchase in town,” according to Vinh H. on Yelp.

Honu Coffee

Address: 22722 Lyons Ave, Newhall

Hours: Mon – Thurs 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. / Fri – Sat 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Distance from COC: 3.3 miles

Specialty: $4.50 Iced Salted Caramel Mocha

Drawback: No dark roast coffee or gluten free options yet

Honu Coffee is the place to go for the ultimate study combo: a latte and spinach artichoke empanada. The 10 percent discount for professors and students is just the cherry on top. If that isn’t enough to soothe your stress-frayed nerves the white walls, paintings of turtles, smell of coffee and smiling baristas contribute to a sense of calm that permeates throughout. “Great atmosphere, lots of chairs, couches and outlets upstairs makes it a great place to study and relax,” wrote James N. on Yelp. For all you dark roast lovers, have patience. Your perfect coffee is coming soon.

It’s a Grind

Address: 29641 the Old Rd, Castaic

Hours: Mon – Thurs 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. / Fri 5:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. / Sat 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. / Sun 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Distance from COC: 5.9 miles

Specialty: Ensuring a high caffeine dose

Drawback: Having too much fun to work

You are guaranteed an amazing, well-caffeinated drink at this Castaic hole-in-the-wall; especially if Brian is your barista. “This is the best locally owned coffee house in Santa Clarita,” said Cyndi L. on Yelp. From the comfy armchairs in front of a fireplace to the bookshelf filled with queer titles in the back, there’s not a homier coffee shop in town. Locals having been coming to this place for years, and it’s not uncommon to find a novelist pegging away at a book in a corner. Chana Keefer, author of “The Fall” and “One Night with a Rock Star”, spent many hours working on her books at It’s A Grind but she never felt pressured to leave or order another drink. “I had so much fun it was hard to get work,” said Keefer.


California Bakery and Café

Address: 23021 Soledad Cyn Rd, Santa Clarita

Hours: 24/7

Distance from COC: 2.7 miles

Specialty: Fresh donuts

Drawback: Small location and coffee comes from a dispenser

For every night owl procrastinator-extraordinaire out there, this is the place for you. Not only are the donuts and the home-made tamales Yelp famous, the café is also open 24/7. According to the café owner Augustine Prieto, prime hours are from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. when the donuts are baking. If you’re a morning sandwich person, head in around midnight for a fresh breakfast sandwich of ham and egg on croissant. You might even catch Master College students rehearsing for a production. With coffee, fresh juices, donuts and tamales California Bakery and Café has “something for everyone,” said café owner Augustine Prieto.

Way Station Coffee Shop

Address: 24377 Main St, Newhall

Hours: Mon – Sun 5:00 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Distance from COC: 3.5 miles

Specialty: Hash browns is the local favorite

Drawback: No Wi-Fi and challenging parking.

If you’re looking for a good western breakfast before diving into a textbook look no further. Walking into Way Station Coffee Shop, the smell of hash browns washes over you. The buzz of conversation and cooking fills up the room. The row of vinyl bar seats, country music playing on the radio, license plates covering the walls and the juke box in the back lets you step into another world. You’ll keep coming back for the gigantic pancakes, piping hot coffee, pie a la mode or the best orange juice you’ll ever have.

MOD Pizza

Address: 25910 the Old Rd, Valencia

Hours: Sun – Thurs 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. / Fri-Sat 10:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Distance from COC: 1.4 miles

Specialty: Out-of-the-box pizza

Drawback: Can be very noisy inside

For the ultimate elitist pizza experience, head over to MOD Pizza. “It’s the steal of the century – for under $8 you can get as many toppings as you’d like,” said Danielle T. on Yelp.  You won’t be disappointed with choices like the Tristan with mozzarella, asiago, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and pesto or the Mad Dog with mozzarella, pepperoni, mild sausage, crumbled meatballs and MOD red sauce. With no TV blaring, the only noise comes from other pizza-goers and the kitchen. There’s plenty of outdoor seating too, if a baby starts crying or a kid throws a hissy fit. You could even take your meal to-go and sit in a nearby amphitheater on the warm day!

Study Sessions:


Address: 26802 The Old Road, Santa Clarita

Hours: Mon – Fri 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. / Sat – Sun 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Distance from COC: 1 mile

Specialty: Comfortable outdoor seating

Drawback: temperamental Wi-Fi and obnoxious high school kids

Starbucks can either be one of the best places to work, or the worst. The Starbucks on Valencia and The Old Road is one the former; a little caffeinated oasis in the dead brown Santa Clarita winter and summer. Inside is the typical bar with outlets, but outside is a large patio covered by vines, including couches and work tables. A non-fat, decaf, extra foamy latte with one raw sugar and a dash of chocolate should counteract the possible negatives.

Old Town Newhall Library

Address: 24500 Main St, Santa Clarita

Hours: Mon – Thurs 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. / Fri 10:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. / Sat 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. / Sun 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Distance from COC: 3.4 miles

Specialty: Meeting rooms

Drawback: No coffee or food

What makes the Old Town Newhall Library great for studying other than the touch-screen TV’s and the fireplace? Upstairs and to your right there a five big meeting rooms, complete with outlets and a big TV that you can hook to a laptop. Not only are hundreds of resources available on the Internet, but now you also have direct access to thousands of books on every imaginable subject. Each meeting room can be reserved if you have a library card; however, rooms can only be reserved for the same day.

Undergrounds Coffee House

Address: 23841 Newhall Ranch Rd, Valencia

Hours: Mon – Fri 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. / Sat 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. / Sun 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Distance from COC: 2.5 miles

Specialty: Iced dirty chai latte

Drawback: Inside a church and weird Sunday hours

If you’re feeling charitable or broke, Undergrounds Coffee House is the place to go. Everything is donation only, so if you’ve only got two bucks in your pocket, don’t worry! Your mocha will only cost $2, and that money funds non-profits and mission trips. It is located in a church, but “doesn’t feel super ‘churchy’,” according to Dave W. on Yelp. Undergrounds Coffee House was set up for groups, as most of the seating is long tables. There’s also a couple couches in the corner, if your study group likes to be cozy and comfy.

Tattoos are taking a stand against cancer

People with tattoos at times can be stigmatized into being the hardcore, outspoken, rambunctious type. But for one local shop their tattoos are raising a voice for cancer.

Eternal Art Tattoo hosted its second annual Tattoo’s Cure Cancer event, which aimed to raise awareness for the fight against cancer.

The event took place in Canyon Country in November and consisted of 13 tattoo artists from all over Los Angeles.

The tattoos began with tattoo artistsimple ribbon tattoos to more elaborate ones with roses, butterflies and other designs supporting family and friends who’ve struggled with the battle against cancer and survivors.

The prices for the tattoos ranged from $50 to $100 and half of the proceeds went to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles while the other half was distributed to the Go Fund Me site and the local shop.

Adam Guyot, owner and tattoo artist of Eternal Art Tattoo, came up with the concept of Tattoos Cure Cancer when the vision came to him in a dream.

When Guyot found out his father had cancer he envisioned a way to raise money for cancer patients and help people win the battle against cancer.

“My father passed away in 2004 from lung cancer and I actually saw a t-shirt in a dream that said Tattoos Cure Cancer on it and was like wow I’ve got to do something with that,” Guyot said.

Although the idea took 10 years, Guyot brought his dream to life last year when he hosted the first annual Tattoos Cure Cancer in his shop off of Soledad Canyon Road.

All supplies were donated by King Pin, an organization that created biogel disposal rinse cups to keep tattoos stations clean and sanitary.

Families, friends and supporters of the cause came out to get personalized tattoos for fellow family members and loved ones that battled with all types of cancer.

Nathan Giraldo, an attendee and supporter of the cause had a specific idea for his tattoo that evening.

“My grandfather lost his battle with cancer a few years ago, about three years ago, so this is kind of just to honor him,” said Giraldo, who already had a portrait of his grandfather who served in the Korean War tattooed on his arm.

I, myself, chose to get a tattoo for my aunt who passed away a few years back of lymphoma cancer. Although I had never had a tattoo before this, I felt these artists knew what they were doing.

The 13 artists volunteered their time and talent to make the event an overall success and were glad to be a part of something with a greater cause.

They made the event a very welcoming environment to unfamiliar faces and everyone was one big family, which made it easier to agree that getting a tattoo, whether it’s your first or seventh was a good idea because you were getting it for an even greater cause.

The event raised a little over $7,000 and was divided evenly amongst the charities and tattoo shop.

Guyot hopes to raise even more than last year by selling merchandise online through his website

And if you’re not one to get a tattoo, “You can purchase t-shirts, wristbands, hats, beanies, tank tops, all types of silk screen products,” says Guyot to support this important cause.

He will also be traveling to several tattoos shops promoting Tattoos Cure Cancer and dreams of expanding his charity all around U.S.

Guyot and his team are in the process of creating an app that will allows users to pick a tattoo, send it to their local shop, and pay and donate right at the palm of their hand.

“It’s all about really not raising awareness about cancer because everybody’s knows about cancer and that it exists, but it’s more about creating something we can support a family that’s going through their battle with cancer,” says Collette Langston, an employee at Eternal Art Tattoo.

The shop is also raffling off an electric guitar, donated by Legator Guitars, a SoCal based company, this coming Saturday. People can purchase tickets online at for $1 a ticket or 50 tickets for $25 if you missed out on purchasing them at the event.

With this year’s turnout it looks like tattoos just might be the new statement against cancer.

“Teens & Social Media”, a presentation on safely using social media

This article was written by Cougar News Contributor Vanessa Sandoval

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Deputy Josh Dubin and Canyon High School Assistant Principal Sherry Richenbach are trying to uncover the risks to parents and teens using social media with “Teens & Social Media,” a presentation to become smarter, safer and more responsible online.

Dubin has worked at SCV Sherriff Station since 2010 and a member of the Crime Prevention Unit. The specialized group consists of police officers watching social media and post various topics, including suspects they’re looking for and positive things to engage residents in.

Richenbach has been an assistant principal at Canyon High School for two years, and prior to her current position worked at Rancho Pico Junior High, Placerita Junior High and Crenshaw High School as an assistant principal.

“Social media can cause major distractions to learning. The main ones we see are online threat, sexting, child pornography, etc.,” said Richenbach.

To prevent these actions on social media, education is the main key.

“We are focusing on five applications tonight and those are the ones we have seen impact our schools the most and those are Twitter, Kik, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat,” said Richenbach.

As the amount of apps teens use to communicate increases, it's important for both parents and children to understand the accessibility people have to information.
As the amount of apps teens use to communicate increases, it’s important for both parents and children to understand the accessibility people have to information.

Deputy Dubin and Richenbach taught parents how they look like, how to access them, how to create an account and how some of them cannot be monitored for information and themes teens are exposed to

“I’m excited and passionate about social media, more just because the key to it is education. Educating the parents, educating the students before they push send or post a photo that they’ll understand the implication and the imprint that they are making on the Internet,” expressed Richenbach.

Teens will come in contact with something that is not appropriate such as pornography on apps like Kik, a free messaging system that imitates texting,  and Tumblr, a photo-sharing website where users can make their own blog site and customize it. Richenbach also brought up that “about 11 percent of the content [on Tumblr] is pornographic.”

To make sure how to use social media and be prepared for its dangers, parents need to become aware.

“Kik should not be an application that your child should be using because once they send messages it’s very easy to delete them,” said Richenbach. “It does not create a trail and it’s very difficult to monitor as a parent. There are no parental controls on Kik. There’s nothing that can protect your child from sexual predators and this is a huge site for sexual predators to use.”

Teens seeking popularity sometimes show off their body parts online and then make the photos available to the world through these sites and more, including Instagram and Twitter.

“The idea of becoming popular is now exploding on social media and kids are validating their self worth through these varies of applications,” said Richenbach.

Facing the consequences for exploding on social media is giving access to anyone to invade their privacy.

“The power of social media is how a complete stranger can now go through your Instagram and see all your posts,” said Deputy Dubin. “They can know what your dog’s name is, when your birthday is and what your parent’s name is. They can also click on the location while you’re posting pictures or checking in your own house and know exactly where you live.”

Richenbach further stressed the importance of monitoring  public posts and how access to such posts can be detrimental to a child’s safety.

“A dangerous fact on different applications is that people have access to your children 24 hours a day, seven days a week either through instant messaging, texting, blog, photo sharing, twitter, social nets working, etc.”

Besides the fact that social media applications can easily let others see someone else’s information, posting something on the Internet cannot be easily taken down.

“This is just some of the things we are seeing to encourage both parents and students to have dialogue with each other and really think about once you send the sent button there’s no take backs and some of this stuff follows you for years and years,” urged Deputy Dubin. “You may be 15 now, then you’re 25 years old trying to become a police officer, or a nurse and this certainly is going to be part of a conversation 10 years down the road.”

Posting something inappropriate on social media can jeopardize someone’s future based on their actions.

“If you are in a relationship and you’re 15 years old and you, girl or boy, take a naked picture of yourself and send it to your boyfriend or girlfriend, you are actually committing a crime,” said Deputy Dubin. “You are distributing and producing child pornography and all can be charged as a felony. Once you have a felony in your record that severely limits your job opportunities, ability to vote, ability to own a firearm and many other things. So that’s something to think about.”


Run by the Sun

Most people would speed off in the opposite direction if two young-adults came running towards their six-figure car, desperately waving their hands as if partakers in the Ferguson riots.

Despite her slight panic, Elaine Williams rolled down her window, and asked politely how she could offer her help.

My classmate and I had been in dire need of an interviewee who owned an electric car for our news story.

Williams, sitting in her sparkly new Tesla, kindly gave us her email so that we could set-up a date to interview her retired husband, Robert Williams, who bought her the no-gas-needed car.

A few days before this parking lot situation occurred, the U.N. led a climate change meeting in Lima, Peru which intended to lay the groundwork for an international agreement on the reduction of carbon emissions. Officials from over 200 countries came to discuss stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations to a level that would prevent dangerous weather threats.

According to the U.N’s panel assessment, “to have a chance of reversing the Earth’s warming trend before the planet hits the two degree mark, the world needs to slash emissions by 40 to 70 percent by the year 2050, and to near-zero by the end of the century.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday “science has not only spoken; it is shouting from the rooftop…Our planet has a fever, and it is getting hotter every day. We can no longer burn our way to prosperity. We must take climate action now. And the more we delay, the more we will have to pay.”

Evidence and studies over the past two decades show that 97 percent of scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is real, yet some scientists are still skeptical about the impact humans have on the climate.

Despite the opposition from some scientists, many agree with Mr. Ban’s statement that immediate action is necessary. In fact, the world’s two largest economies and largest carbon emitters, the United States and China ––have set ambitious emission reductions goals. President Obama said, “This is a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship and it shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent challenge.”

China is investing heavily in renewable and nuclear energy to lower their emissions. Obama has also made decisive efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and lower carbon emissions, but he has met some challenges along the way.

Both science-denying congress and media members create a false balance in their reporting which explains the divergence between public and scientific opinion regarding the climate because agreeing with the majority of scientists poses as a political liability for congress members, so many choose to play it safe.

The latest surveys, however show that 89 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents and 70 percent of Republicans all believe global warming is happening and that it is at least partly caused by human actions.

So it looks like the majority of the U.S .population does believe that humans have influence on the climate after all, but how do we go about cleaning up the mess we made?

On a large scale, Obama is working on limiting carbon pollution from its largest source—power plants. Also, the Clean Power Plan is giving an advantage to investors, inventors and entrepreneurs who see new opportunity in the move toward clean energy.

On an individual scale, Obama’s plan on reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles has already reaped benefits. According to an article recently released by Politico Magazine, “New vehicles reached an all-time high in fuel economy, hitting 24.1 mpg… Average carbon dioxide emissions reached a new low…The EPA estimates that these standards will save American families more than $8,000 per vehicle in fuel costs by 2025.”

Not only are investments in new clean energy vehicles great for the environment, they can also be good to your wallet!


Santa Clarita resident and retired pilot Robert Williams, has taken authority to be a pioneer in the clean energy movement, while doing his best to lower his family’s carbon footprint through the lifestyle they live.

“We owned two Prius’ before I bought this Tesla for my wife, and after buying my wife’s car, I fell in love and I’m planning on getting another Tesla for myself.” Williams said.

A lot of people believe that electric cars are a hassle and the charging time is an utter inconvenience. With some cars taking up to eight hours to charge, many people would argue that there isn’t enough time in a day, and using gas as fuel is more time efficient. Williams looks at his glass half full however and says, “It’s always an adventure. With charging stations along the coast, they are always located near shopping centers or restaurants so you can get things done while your car gets recharged.” You can find charging stations all around the Santa Clarita Valley, plus engineers are currently working to get battery charging times faster than ever.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 8.33.07 AM

Williams believes that Elon Musk, the creator of Tesla and founder of Space X, is a true visionary. “He’s opened up this source system to other manufacturers so that other companies can go and create the same thing he has.

“Musk has done this because he believes that we’re all on this Earth together. Musk used the analogy of a boat taking on water, he feels like he’s the only one bailing the water. He wants everyone to be able to contribute.” Williams said.

With each Tesla costing as much as $101,500, contributing is a far reach for the average family. Tesla, however, is building a partnership with Panasonic and making a multimillion dollar factory in Reno with plans to reduce cost.

“Prices are going to come down,” Williams explained, “ The reason the Tesla (or any electric car) is so expensive is primarily the batteries, but the cost of those will come down with this multimillion dollar plant they’re making. Once the production of batteries goes up, the prices will drop.”

In fact, Tesla announced that they will be releasing a third-generation model by December 2017 with the target price of $ 35,000 which isn’t very far off from the average transaction price for new vehicles which is currently $31,252, according to

Williams is optimistic that there will be a rapid increase in electric cars once the prices of the car drops, and more people become conscious of the impacts of climate change.

“Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve been pumping carbon into the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. It reminds me of Willie Nelson when someone asked him how he became bankrupt, ‘first slow, and then fast,’.” Robert has seen the negative effects of climate change in his own life, and says that Earth is currently in the fast stage of what’s taken place in the climate.

“I’ve seen the changes that have taken place. I’m a boater, and years ago we used to travel to Catalina and there were blue sharks, fish, and tuna everywhere. You don’t see that anymore, it’s gone.”

Seeing the impacts that climate change has led to, was the force that pushed the Williams family to get energy saving appliances all throughout their house, while going completely solar.

“Since we bought that car, we put a solar system in our home,” Williams said.

With 28 panels in their backyard, the Williams household produces the exact amount of power that they consume, which can be defined as being “Net Zero.”

“We are completely independent. Our electricity bill each month is from 80- 96 cents. And that includes charging our car. Essentially that car runs on the sun… We don’t buy any gas.”

On top of that, the solar panel payback is calculated at five years. That includes both tax credits and gasoline savings.

Although passionate about the clean energy movement, Robert remains realistic.

“Electric vehicles and renewable energy have had tremendous headwind because of what has taken place in Washington. Our legislatures are being influenced by big companies who oppose the movement. I don’t want to get political, but there are corporations who are actually lobbying legislatures to put a tax on solar production. Luckily California, being so progressive, slammed the door on it. The clean energy movement continues to be an uphill battle.

“I’m really proud of the younger generations because they really understand the effects that carbon has on our planet. I’m very optimistic and hopeful that clean energy will prevail,” Williams says.

Although honorable, optimism and a few individuals’ shift to renewable energy is not enough to change the route of climate change. A wide scale shift is needed in order to become even carbon neutral.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry says that it is time to move past the politicization of climate science. “We can’t prevent a large scale disaster if we don’t heed this kind of hard science…The longer we are stuck in a debate over ideology and politics, the more the costs of inaction grow and grow. Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grand kids.”


Fight For it Now

Fight For It Now is an indoor/outdoor boot camp that specializes in helping people lose weight and reach their fitness goals. It all began when a couple, Lyndan and Vanessa Coleman, decided to open their very own boot camp in Santa Clarita. Vanessa, the only certified Beach Body Master trainer in Santa Clarita, wanted to provide the best workout routines for anyone who was interested in targeting their current weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

“I feel our workouts are different because we teach the best of both worlds,” Vanessa says, when she explains that their boot camp incorporates one-on-one training along with fitness routines in which she applies music and encourages her clients to stay fit. They offer Piyo, Iron Man, Cardio and strength training,personal one-on-one training and a variety of other training methods.

Fight for it Now is located in Canyon Country and offers classes Monday through Saturday. Check out their website at and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They offer discounts to COC students as well as discounts for families and friends.

Mini Style Hacker

A Santa Clarita mother of two is the newest sensation on Instagram with her Mini Style Hacker blog.

It all began when she saw “fashion kids” on Instagram wearing Gucci belts and expensive clothes. She then starting mimicking their styles along with other celebrities.  Collette Wixom’s goal is to recreate high fashion outfits for children at an affordable price. With 190,000 followers and counting, Wixom continuously posts photos of the latest fashions.

She finds different ways for her sons to pose for the camera by playing games with them. “You have to be really creative with your play, or it’s all battles, wrestling and sword fights” Wixom says.

Most of the clothing Wixom purchases can be found at local shopping malls as well as Target, Kohl’s, Gap and Baby Gap. As her children grow older, she plans to evolve the blog and include fashion for girls.



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Relay For Life Kick Off Event

On March 22, the Valencia Town Center hosted the Relay For Life Kick Off event.

West Ranch Cheer came to support the event, and the team will attend the relay as well.

The kick off got everybody excited for the upcoming Relay For Life.

Participants were able to sign up for whichever team they wanted to be part of during the relay.

Relay for Life is hosted by the American Cancer Society.

The Relay for Life event is May 17.

The race starts at 9 a.m. and runs 24 hours until 9 a.m. the next day.

The event is open to the public so anybody is welcome to come join!

COC students involved in Hyatt Regency Valencia restaurant renovation

In the fall of 2013, five College of the Canyons students collaborated with Barry Prescott, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Valencia Hotel.

This included a hands-on experience with a hypothetical design and construction budget of $20,000 to redesign and refurbish the Vines Restaurant and Bar located in the hotel.

The changes that were recommended by the students were actually adopted by Prescott.

Kurt Farmer, director of food and beverage services of the Hyatt Regency Valencia, explains in detail the renovation of the restaurant and bar along with the new menu changes that have taken place.

Students struggle with rising gas prices

For the past few years gas prices have been rising and continue that trend today. This causes an issue for students that attend College of the Canyons that commute from further places like the Antelope Valley and the San Fernando Valley.

So why did students with a clear commute decide to take to the freeways? Many of the students say that College of the Canyons is a beautiful campus and its very clean. Another student confirmed that she decided to come to COC because of the ability to get more classes.

The student reactions to gas prices were priceless, ranging from disheartened to flat out angry. Students say they waist at least 100 dollars a week just on gas to get to school.

Many of these students don’t receive financial aid, adding more stress about their empty gas tank. Some of the students don’t drive but they do take the train and public transportation as well. The students that do take public transportation explained how they have to wake up hours earlier than their classes just to make the right bus.

Some students are being proactive about the gas hike. One group of students suggested that more people should carpool to class, and has even pledged to start one with some fellow classmates. Another way to save money on gas is getting most classes on a day or two and only commute two days of the week.

COC to offer semester trip to London

Students interested in traveling to London will have an opportunity to study abroad in Fall 2014.

A trip to England is planned for Sept. 4 through Nov. 14 and is open to all college students with a GPA of at least 2.5 and a minimum of 12 units of college level courses at an accredited college.

In addition to the experience of studying abroad, students will have the opportunity to earn scholarships through the program.

AIFS Ambassador Scholarship is awarding 1,000 scholarships to six students participating in the semester to London.


Students can also apply for the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship award of $4,000 to $5,000, if they are receiving a Federal PELL Grant.

Courses offered during the trip include: English, History, Psychology, Sociology and Communications – and all classes are UC and CSU transferable.

Students can share a home stay or a student apartment which includes shared bedrooms, a kitchen, living area and bathroom.

Students will also use the London Transportation travel pass which includes bus fare and subterranean trains in travel zones.

Participants can take the European Tour or the Scotland Weekend while in London – the European Tour is a five-day, four-night tour that begins in Paris, and the Scotland Weekend is a four-day, three-night tour through the islands of Scotland.

For more information about dates and upcoming meetings on this event, contact Dr. Claudia Acosta, COC Department Chair of Modern Languages at (661) 362-3530.

Local artist teams with shelter to “Restore Hope”

If you’re looking for a way to help those in need, the opportunity is right here in your home town.

A service called Bridge to Home aims to help restore hope in the lives of those in the homeless community.

The Executive Director, Tim Davis, first got involved with helping the homeless when he was asked to help feed people in Waikiki in 1980. Since then, he has moved to Santa Clarita and helped found the Santa Clarita Community Development Corporation, later renamed Bridge to Home.

The foundation offers a variety of services designed to help clients achieve stable health, residency and employment. It also provides a place to rest and shower, and it serves three fresh meals for more than 40 people each day. Bridge to Home also offers onsite healthcare and education.

Many people in the community have a desire to serve, but just aren’t quite sure how to get started. Davis suggests a few different approaches when it comes to helping out, saying “The best way is to get involved. See our website ( for many ways to volunteer — drive a van, serve a meal, be a host for a morning or evening, join a committee or the Board of Directors.”

A photograph taken by Gary Choppe' for the Souls of Hope Project
A photograph taken by Gary Choppe’ for the Souls of Hope Project

It’s obvious that there are many ways to serve those in need in the community, but one man is using his skill and creativity to help in a unique way.

Photographer, Gary Choppe’ created a compelling exhibit using photographs he took of the many “Souls of Hope” throughout the community.

“I was inspired to create this project because of the need that we have to create awareness in Santa Clarita of the homeless situation,” Choppe’ said. “To date, it is estimated that we have up to one thousand displaced families and individuals in the valley. Many are living in the wash, behind buildings and some in trash cans…”

Bridge to Home offers shelter to so many people facing these harsh realities during the months of November through March; however, Santa Clarita is in need of a shelter that is open all year long.

Choppe’ told Cougar News, “I wanted to tell [the homeless’] intimate stories of the need to keep the facility open year round, and The Souls of Hope Project hopefully will open our community eyes for that need.”

Davis is very hopeful that relief services for those in need will flourish in the near future, saying, “Very exciting times are coming in the next two years as we work with the county and city to locate a place for and open a year round shelter complex.”

Davis and Choppe’ are living proof that all it takes is a few willing individuals taking the initiative to make the community a better place.

Be sure to get involved by serving those in need in the Santa Clarita community, and check out The Souls of Hope Project Gallery Exhibition at the Valencia Library, now through March 5, 2014.

Chipotle: Pioneer to saving Mother Earth

Genetically modified foods have long been known to be controversial for local communities and the environment; non-GMO organic foods are by now known to be a safe way to grow plants for the environment, yet many popular restaurant chains in the Santa Clarita area resist providing such methods for their food this way.

Besides Chipotle, that is.

Growing at a rapid rate much quicker than its competitors, Chipotle has initiated the process of providing non-GMO organic foods through environmentally sustainable methods and has kept solid in their company policy of doing so.

“We only use non-GMO based corn, and all of our other products besides our tortillas are non-GMO based,” says Sandra Charlotte, manager of a local Chipotle restaurant.

Charlotte added that the staff is currently working to change to non-GMO tortillas as well.

This is a major feat for the company, as 88 percent of the world’s corn supply is genetically engineered. The types of GMM (genetically modified maize) can range from corn that is grown to be resistant to certain pesticides to survive through the use of harsh chemicals, to corn that naturally breeds insecticides to ward off the crop-killing bugs.

The amount of pesticides that go into the earth to produce crops that produce the most yield, or profit turnover for the farmer, turn out to be very harmful for the soil and the earth it’s being used on, as well as the waste that results from the use in farming chemicals.

“Food with integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with the respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers,” Chipotle states on its website. “It means serving the very best sustainably raised food possible with an eye to great taste, great nutrition and great value.”

Santa Clarita is a relatively new area in comparison to the rest of Southern California and has since become a major hub for rich corporate chains’ restaurants and eateries. It is not well known how most of these chains obtain their food or how they affect the local environment in doing so, but Chipotle is one well-known player to be a bright star in the eco-friendly field amidst the numerous other businesses in the area.

It may not be a well-known fact as to how much the processes of obtaining the food generally affect the environment, especially on the scale that these big corporations work off of. But it certainly has become a wary topic on how genetically modified foods can be controversial both to our health and the environment in the long term.

“U.S. GMO crops show mix of benefits, concerns,” lays out the latest USDA report on the issue.

Refill your water bottles in Mentry Hall!

Plastic bottles are everywhere, and everyone uses them. Every year, more and more plastic bottles are filling up landfills, which on average take roughly 450 years to biodegrade.

College of the Canyons is looking to combat the problem by installing bottle refilling stations on each floor of Mentry Hall.

The campus has eliminated 2,783 worth of plastic bottles from the landfill with the assistance of the new stations.

The second floor station saved the most by eliminating 1,621 bottles, followed by the third floor with 1,029 bottles. The first floor saved 493 bottles.

These stations use a proximity sensor to acknowledge any plastic bottle introduced to the system and automatically begins filling it.

Refills are free and highly efficient. You will save yourself money, and help the environment at the same time!

The Facilities Department provided funds necessary for the purchase and installation of the stations.

The Associated Student Government has pledged to fund the fillers for the next five years.

The idea originated within the Sustainability Center and soon spread through research and presentations.

Mentry Hall houses the Media Entertainment Arts, Architectural Drafting and Technology, Interior Design, Art, Graphic and Multimedia Design and Photography departments.

Valentine’s Day Fashion

Regardless of your relationship status this year, Valentine’s Day is always a fine day to wear your heart on your sleeve. No matter what stage of plans you’re committing to, your outfit is an important part of the planning. Make this holiday even more special by spending a little extra time thinking about what you want to wear.

Valentine’s can be the perfect time to pull out your impressive pieces, so don’t be afraid to show off that romantic dress or flirty skirt! But you don’t have to feel overwhelmed with options: you can make the day special by keeping your outfit simple and casual as well.

You should first begin by figuring out what you are doing and where you are going. Will you be going fancy with an evening dinner or having a comfortable day out with your girlfriends?

No matter what level your day consists of, we created several outfits that we hope you find fitting.




Don’t open that umbrella inside

For generations superstitions have been apart of our culture. Ranging from avoiding cracks on the sidewalk to not opening an umbrella inside, superstitions have been an answer to our biggest problems and are often as a result of people believing there is something that they can do to control a situation.

Despite any common sense of rational thinking, one COC student describes superstitions as being like a “safety net,” that gives y0u a false sense of comfort.

COC athletes also have a reliance on superstitions. These superstitions mostly are focused on the idea of doing repetitive routines, like warmup chants and wearing the same clothing during a game. Athletes say that it is a “performance,” issue when they do or do not use the superstitions.  That is their motivation behind them.

According to Chris Miner, of College of the Canyons’ facilities staff, her superstitions are based upon her family traditions and her ancestors. This is a common thread in many of the definitions and origins of superstitions.

Overall, we may never know the true value of superstitions but in many ways they help to provide a sense of safety and security that reinforces our cultures reliance on them.


Make the best of your time

Time, time, time. It’s something us students can’t seem to have enough of. Yet, professors lay down all this homework, essays, articles or projects on us, meanwhile our bosses give us more hours, more responsibilities, and more of a headache. So what exactly are we supposed to do?

Time is always passing by, and as students, we need to find ways to somehow grab it and take some control. Sure, there are courses we can take, and lessons to learn, but where can we find the time? Some of us have four classes a day, have to pick up our kids from school, then get ready for our closing shift.

So as a student/worker in the struggle, I dug deep, found some time, did a little research and came up with five easy tips to manage our time a little better, so we can stop stressing out and take this semester by the horns.

Organization can do wonders!

  • It’s a quick, easy way to manage not only your time, but yourself.
  • Buy a planner, it costs no more than five dollars, and it’s an easy way to help you manage your schedule. Write down assignments, appointments, and little notes to yourself to help remind you of what is coming.
  • Prioritize everything!  Find out what is more important and do those things first. Sometimes you will find that the “difficult” task you had to do was the easiest.

“To-do or not to-do?” That is the question.

  • It sounds a little silly, but a to-do list is a great way to get things done faster and more efficiently
  • By planning ahead and creating a list, you have a reminder of what needs to get done, and give yourself the relief of trying to remember what exactly you had to do.

With great power, comes great sacrifice.

  • Unfortunately, you will have to limit yourself to nonessential tasks.
  • This includes: video games, social media, fantasy leagues etc.
  • By doing this you limit your distractions and get things done faster.
  • Don’t worry: Facebook and Twitter will be there when you are done with your homework, study guide, essay and more important responsibilities. So turn it off and get going.


  • Don’t be afraid to take five to ten minutes out of your day to relieve some stress.
  • Sit in your car and crank some music, play catch, find a yo-yo but find a little something to help you relieve some extra stress.
  • Remember, you are the most important thing in your life, so take care of yourself.

Eureka! I have found the answer!

  • Constantly ask and remind yourself of what this is all for.
  • Remember that all this struggle while have an amazing outcome in the end.
  • Whether it is gaining your degree or just advancing yourself in life, constantly remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing.
  • You’ll find that this will motivate you to get things done

So there they are! Just a few ways this student has managed through some difficult times during the semester, and hopefully to help manage yours!

Bite-sized life lessons

Jessica Pineda is a former Cougar News correspondent. Currently, she is in Florida taking part in a Walt Disney World internship program. From time to time, she will write about her experiences in Florida and at the “Magic Kingdom.”

I’ve learned a lot of things during my College Program, and here are some of those lessons condensed into bite size bits!

1.Rejection is no big deal. I applied for several internships and scholarship opportunities only to be rejected by each and every one of them. Sure, it was disappointing at first, but I learned that it is nothing to cry about. Entering a job market, one will be faced with plenty of rejection, but the ones who are resilient and work hard are the ones who succeed.

DCP White Board
My white board has helped me plan out my days here in Orlando!

2. Organization is key. Working over 30 hours a week, apartment chores, laundry, attending two classes, and trying to squeeze in the time to have fun? It seems like too much to do, but making to-do lists and organizing has really helped me manage my time well! Taking just 15 minutes in the morning to roughly plan out your day helps clear your mind. Also, take the time to put things away after you use them. It avoids the rush of trying to find a lost nametag or belt while getting ready for work.

3. The little things are important. At Disney, they are called Magical Moments. Even while working a 9.5 hour shift and having a stressful life situation on my hands outside of work that left me on the verge of tears, a little girl gave me a hug after I told her she looked beautiful in her Princess Aurora gown. That was enough to leave me glowing for the rest of the day, despite what was going on around me. Appreciating many little things turns the day into something extravagant and different.

4. Build relationships. Make friends and say hello to people at school, work, or anywhere you go. You never know whom you may meet or if you will ever cross paths again! A random guest at work stopped me for a few minutes, and we introduced ourselves and spoke for a while before she went on her way. A few weeks later, I found out she was actually one of my newest coworkers who wanted to see what PhotoPass at Epcot was like before she started. Now, I see her every week. If you’d like to grow within a company or be a good leader, be sure to say hello and socialize with your managers and coworkers. A good leader is also a friend to everyone.

A beautiful tomorrow begins blooming today!

I got to see Minnie Mouse after class one day!
I got to see Minnie Mouse after class one day!

Jessica Pineda is a former Cougar News correspondent. Currently, she is in Florida taking part in a Walt Disney World internship program. From time to time, she will write about her experiences in Florida and at the “Magic Kingdom.”

My Disney College Program experience has been nothing less than amazing and unforgettable. Lately, I have been so occupied with work and planning for the future.

Despite the perk of having the ability to visit the theme parks whenever I’d like, I haven’t had much time to spend there beyond a few hours before my shifts or after class.

You read correctly. Even while living at Walt Disney World, I cannot escape Monday morning 8 a.m. classes, homework, or lectures.

I am enrolled in a Corporate Communications collegiate course and an Exploring Disney Heritage seminar series. Both are classes that I enjoy thoroughly and look forward to waking up at 7 a.m. to go to each week!

In addition, I have been attending Disney Career Development workshops that guide attendees on how to further their career with skills such as resume writing, networking, and much more!

I have also been accepted and will be attending California State University, Fullerton in the fall to study Communications!

Now, I must apply for scholarships, figure out how I will be paying for school, make living arrangements, plan my academic path, and apply for at Disneyland.

In the midst of all this planning, during Disney Heritage, my facilitator told our class a motto I will never forget.

“Bloom where you are planted.”

He meant that, if you have something great planned for the future, one must not forget to first excel where he is presently.

Often times, high school and college students are unenthusiastic about where they are at the time: sitting in a boring lecture, drowning in oceans of homework, or stocking shelves at a retail store—all the while dreaming about where they would ultimately like to be and what they plan to do after graduation.

The reality is, in order to reach that career goal, in order to get accepted to the perfect graduate school or get promoted to that management position, you must go above and beyond in that seemingly irrelevant general education class and part-time cashier job that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near what you “really want to do.”

They are not irrelevant at all.

These positions are the proving grounds for where you would like to end up in the future.

The networking you do and contributions you make now can lead you further down your career path.

In fact, George Kalogridis, the President of the Walt Disney World Resort, began his career bussing tables at Disney’s Contemporary Resort while he was in college.

From there, he climbed up the corporate ladder and is now overseeing a team of over 60,000 Cast Members.

Do everything with passion. Do everything with your best effort.

My role as an intern at Walt Disney World is a stepping-stone. I have been creating magic and learning as much as I can, in the hopes that it will help me grow within the company.

Achieving dreams is an art that requires the perfect balance of planning and doing your best work where you are now.

The attraction poster for Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom!
The attraction poster for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom!

In Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the main character at the end of each phase of history looks forward to what the future holds singing, “There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of everyday, and tomorrow’s just a dream away!”

A great, big, beautiful tomorrow awaits you. So, be sure to dream and work hard today!

Want to see more about my Disney College Program experience? Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr!

COC students adjust to daylight savings time

Students across the globe are experiencing a shift in their internal clocks as their phones and computers have automatically sprung forward an hour.

Daylight Savings Time took place on Sunday at 2 a.m., while most folks were deep in their slumber.

“It’s a little confusing if you don’t know it’s daylight savings time,” said Joel Herrera a COC student. “We lose an hour of sleep so I just go to sleep a little earlier to adjust.”

The time change for students means losing an hour and having to figure out a way to stay awake in class as they try to readjust their circadian rhythms (internal body clocks).

However, some students don’t find it as difficult to adjust to the loss of an hour and were even prepared for it.

“I’m fasting and I keep track of when the sun comes up and goes down, so through that I knew the clocks were getting set back,” said Shayda Azamian, a COC Student.

“It’s pretty good, it’s not too bad, my schedule is not thrown off.”

For those that may find difficulty adjusting, NBC News and Health Magazine gave some tips on feeling fatigue during this time.

Tips included:

–          Setting alarm clocks 5-10 minutes earlier than usual, two or three days out of the week for the two weeks following daylight savings.

–          Avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon.

–          Go catch sunlight immediately after waking up.

–          Avoid bright lights such as computers, cell phones, and the television before going to sleep.

These tips should all help to make the transition slightly easier for everyone experiencing difficulty and will assist in adjusting your body clock.

Daycation Mountain High

BIG PINES— Looking for something to do on your day off? Don’t have a lot of time? The Mountain High Ski Resort is only an hour and a half drive from the Santa Clarita Valley and there is fun for the whole family.

From the 14 freeway you head off into the back roads off of Pearblossom Highway. The scene is beautiful going from desert to snowy hillsides.

Along the route are multiple places to stop off to snow sled, eat and hike with minimal crowds.

The farther up the mountain you go the more people there are. The skiing and snowboarding area is by far the most crowded because of the food and ski lifts.

The resort is offering ski lift passes for only $39.00 in the month of February and there is night skiing offered every Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Big Pines also has a newly opened snow tubing area. The North Pole Tubing Park is the largest in Southern California. It is open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with ticket prices ranging from $20.00 to $99.00.

The bag jump is a fairly new attraction at Mountain High. It is the only freestyle air bag of its kind in southern California. It’s great from beginners or experts to improve their form whether you’re a skier or snowboarder.

The resort also offers a place for the older crowd at the Foggy Goggle Bar where patrons must be 21 and over to enjoy the full bar.

Learn new techniques to handle stress through meditation

Every Monday night in Castaic, Gary Sanders, from Against The Stream, shares the life changing effects that meditation can have on your life.

Through meditation, the residents of Santa Clarita are learning new techniques to help silence their “monkey mind”, the term they use to describe the chaos and stress that life creates.

Learning to cope with stress in a positive way, is helping people to move forward and is having a real impact on how they handle the overwhelming events in their lives.

The free class meets Monday nights at 7:00, at SCVi in Castaic and is an excellent way to put off the days stress.

For more information visit for details about the process that Gary follows during his classes.

Making mistakes and making magic

The things I never leave my apartment without: sneakers, backpack, water bottle, ID, and costume!
The things I never leave my apartment without: sneakers, backpack, water bottle, ID, and costume!

Jessica Pineda is a former Cougar News correspondent. Currently, she is in Florida taking part in a Walt Disney World internship program. From time to time, she will write about her experiences in Florida and at the “Magic Kingdom.”

I am striving to do my best work, create magic, and make the most of my time here. Hopefully, what I am doing here is just the sprout of what I dream will blossom into a career within Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

For college students who aspire to work for The Mouse, the Disney College Program has been suggested as a good springboard to a career with The Walt Disney Company and its affiliates.

But like all other dreamers, going the distance does not come without its hurdles.

Upon my first day of training, nerves and worries had incessantly buzzed in my head like a bee you just can’t shoo away.

It all boiled down to, “This is the company I hope to work with for a long time. The rest of my life depends on this. I have to be perfect.”

This is a toxic way of thinking: a set up for disaster.

My mind was so consumed from worrying about making a wrong step that I wasn’t watching where I was walking. I made more mistakes than I should have, and those mistakes caused excess emotional grief.

The backside of Spaceship Earth at Epcot as seen from the Monorail.

A few days ago, I decided to visit Epcot as a Guest a few hours before my shift started in order to gain a better idea of what Epcot is like from the other perspective. I noted wait times, crowded points, firework viewing spots, and sought the answer to any guest inquiries that I did not know the answer to before.

That exploration session helped me become a more knowledgeable Cast Member.

Before work, I stepped into the locker room to change into my costume. As I shuffled through my Mickey State University backpack to trade my Mickey Mouse sneakers for my work shoes, I came to the horrid realization that I had left the button-up shirt for my costume (my uniform) at my apartment.

Additionally, it turned out I clocked in incorrectly and accidentally pressed a button that would cause an error on not only my schedule, but two other photographers’ as well.

I was focusing so much on trying to improve myself as a Cast Member earlier in the day, yet I made two mistakes within the first few minutes of my shift.

At that point, a manager had noticed that I was not in costume, and said I had to run down to the costuming department as quickly as possible to get another shirt.

On my way downstairs, my eyes started welling up and the tears began rolling down my cheeks.

The worrisome bee inside my head was buzzing up a storm, and I was so disappointed and angry with myself for making such careless mistakes.

The reality was that both of those mistakes were easily fixable and not remotely worth shedding tears for. My coordinators were so patient and kind, assuring me everything was taken care of and I was ready for work. I just had to relax and be careful next time.

“Always look at the bright side of things—learn from it when things go bad,” a custodial Cast Member said to me as I briefly passed him as I walked to my post.

That I did.

This Cast Member did not have an inkling of why I was crying, but little did he know that his words went a long way.

I learned that I needed to relax and have faith in myself. A little pressure to challenge myself is good, but it should not be overwhelming.

It’s OK to make mistakes. In fact, it is the best way to learn.

I owned up to what I did wrong, assessed what I needed to do in order to prevent them, and fully remembered the consequences for not being careful.

There was no need for tears and no need to dwell on something that has already happened.

The buzzing bee of constant worry dwindled down. One could say Jiminy Cricket took its place and faintly reminded me to relax and let my conscience be my guide.

I walked onstage feeling truly refreshed and ready to capture some magic.

The happiest internship on earth

Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom

Jessica Pineda is a former Cougar News correspondent. Currently, she is in Florida taking part in a Walt Disney World internship program. From time to time, she will write about her experiences in Florida and at the “Magic Kingdom.”

A few weeks ago, I traveled 3,000 miles away from home to pursue my dream of living at Disney World  and working for the one and only Mickey Mouse!

I am currently residing in Orlando, Florida this spring semester for the Walt Disney World College Program, in which I take courses taught by Disney facilitators, work at the theme parks, and create magic that will last a lifetime.

My role within Disney is a PhotoPass Photographer at Epcot! I add magic to Guests’ memories by photographing them with icons and beautiful views, taking photos of character meetings and capturing magical moments.

A photo of my boss and me!
A photo of my boss and me!

In the dedication of Disneyland, Walt Disney said, “Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.”

This is my first experience living away from home, travelling to the east coast, paying rent and essentially living and supporting myself as a fully independent adult.

I may be spending five months where children of all ages come to play, but I have a lot of growing up ahead of me as I live, learn, and earn at “Where Dreams Come True”.

I will be posting updates on Cougar News with my experiences and lessons learned on a variety of topics, from Disney news and photos, career building, living on my own, advice, and much more!

Let the Memories Begin!

Santa Clarita United Methodist Church prepares care packages for military serving overseas

Since mid-October, United Methodist Church has been collecting and receiving supplies, magazines, books, and other goods to send care packages to military personnel serving overseas.

These care packages are sent out in order to arrive between Christmas and New Years to show love and support to our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Some of these men and women lose years and could actually die for what they do,” said Michael Wolf member of Santa Clarita United Methodist Church.  “This is just a small way to say thanks and to show we support our troops.”


Empowering Hearts exhibit celebrates ‘iconic’ women

The holidays are upon us evident by all that glitters … and all that gives.

Empowering Hearts gala and exhibit gives single parents in the Santa Clarita Valley tangible and visual inspiration through the holidays and everyday.

“It’s all about the power of a story,” states DaAnne Smith, Executive Director for Single Mothers Outreach. “We exist so they can be the heroine of their story,” she continues. Empowering Hearts gala proceeds benefit Single Mothers Outreach providing tangible resources to struggling single parents in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Twelve women were honored as ‘iconic’ figures in their respective fields coupled with 12 artists who applied their hands and their hearts to create a visual story representative of the life story revealed by the exceptional women.

“You learned news skills and tackled each challenge that came your way, hopeful with grace, and you became an example to somebody else,” honoree Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook said.

An array of work ranging from nostalgic photography to contemporary mixed media portrayed the honorees accompanied by a high quality book with each inspiring story of the women authored by Amy Storms. These iconic women include Patsy Ayala, Diana Barnes, Lois Bauccio, Julie Benson, Crystl Bustos, Judi Davidson, Alice Davis, Lisa DeLong, Cheri Fleming, Emily Iland, Kathy Sturkey, and Dr. Dianne Van Hook.

“True Leaders do more than inspire followers. They empower others to fulfill their destinies,” Van Hook says.

This holiday season the community can be inspired by the works of art that helped to empower women to be resilient during life’s hardest challenges from battling cancer, to losing a child, as caregivers and community leaders. A rotating exhibit features the work of artists Phil Althouse, Kirby Lanier, Andreanna Arambula, Kimberly Winberry, Alexis Surratt, Lisa Barr, Yoti Telio, Ted Dayton, Michelle Thompson, Laurie Finkelstein, Lindsay Schlick, TB Greene, and Samantha Hines. The exhibit unveiling began at COC’s Dr. Dianne Van Hook University Center, continuing to COC’s Art Gallery, and displayed at Valencia Library today through Jan. 3, 2013.

During the holidays be inspired through art and discover how 12 resilient, iconic women stared trials in the face and triumphed remaining intact and joyful leaders.

City to hold outreach meeting for new Canyon Country Community Center

The City of Santa Clarita is inviting Canyon Country Residents to attend a public outreach meeting to learn about and to provide feedback on the Canyon Country Community Center from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday Nov. 7, at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex/Activities Center located at 20870 Center Pointe Parkway.

This will be the first time residents will get to share their ideas and recommendations for  future programs, activities and services at the center. The ongoing operations of the center will be flexible and continue to evolve while the community engages in the process.

“The Canyon Country Community Center is a Highly anticipated project, which will provide enriching opportunities in a fun and safe environment for the residents of Canyon Country” said mayor Frank Ferry. “the city of Santa Clarita wants to gather feedback to ensure that the Center’s programming and services are reflective on the needs and desires of the community.”

Locals have already started submitting ideas on such as a “Kids Night Out” event where “Parents drop their kids off for a few hours one evening. The kids watch a movie and do crafts etc. while parents get time to have fun on their own.” The website also features an interactive blog as well as information about upcoming public outreach meetings.

The Canyon Country Community Center, located on Flying Tiger Drive off Sierra Highway, is easily accessible by walking, biking, public transportation or car. It’s designed to provide a hybrid of recreational programming and human services in both a traditional and non-traditional setting. Programs and services will be multi-faceted provided in and around the Center to diverse audiences of children, teens, parents, and seniors.

For more information about the Canyon County Community Center, contact City Recreation Superintendent, Toi Chisom at (661)250-3769 or Community Services Superintendent, Ingrid Hardy at (661) 250-3733. To provide feedback visit

Community Gardens at COC unveiled at ceremony

COC hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for its newest Community Garden area located between Towsley Hall and Aliso Hall at the Valencia campus. After the ribbon was cut, Dr. Dianne Van Hook, Chancellor of the Santa Clarita Community College District and Bruce Fortine, of the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees, planted the first tree at the garden.

Part of the college’s larger Gardens of the Canyons project, the Community Garden area features 26 handmade planter boxes, a water pump irrigation system, compost bins, a storage shed and a deck area that can be used for hosting gardening lectures.

The gardens will also serve as outdoor classrooms and laboratories for both students and community members, helping to foster innovation and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of conservation and sustainability. Five of the garden’s planter boxes have been adopted by the college’s biology department and three have been set aside for use by preschool students enrolled at the College of the Canyons Center for Early Childhood Education (ECE).

A total of 14 gardens are located at the Valencia campus, and seven are at the Canyon Country campus.

Santa Clarita takes action against addiction (Part 2)

For help or more information, visit

A candlelight memorial service was held at Central Park in Saugus for Adam on Good Friday. He would have been 23 years old in June.

During the first few weeks of 2012, five deaths from drug overdose have broken hearts of many in Santa Clarita. In 2011, eleven deaths were attributed to drug overdose. According to Cary Quashen, CEO and Founder of Action Family Counseling, Santa Clarita is the most pro-active community against the issue, which seems to plague upper-middle class families with higher than average income. Communities also reeling from addiction and abuse include Westlake Village, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita. In 2011, Simi Valley had a total of 14 deaths due to drug overdose, according to Quashen.

“I envy ‘normal’ people,” shares Justin, 21. Justin began taking drugs in high school. He was arrested for heroin possession while smoking in his car outside a friend’s home.

Justin and his mom now attend Action Family Counseling meetings on Tuesdays at Canyon High School.

“It’s an addiction of the family,” explains Justin, “because it affects everyone in the family.”

Cary Quashen, has taken”action” mentoring young adults for 30 years in the rehab and recovery process. According to Quashen, he has walked the talk, having now been clean for 31 years to date. Heading the weekly meetings for recovering addicts and their families at Canyon High School, Quashen also travels across the state personally overseeing and interacting with staff and clients. There are currently 14 AFC centers, having opened a new facility in Piru on March 5th. Santa Clarita residents can find the AFC headquarters on Soledad Canyon Road in the former Water Company facility.

Take action now. Heroin will kill you.

For more information, visit

Shopping made easy at the Valencia Town Center

Photo by Trevor Bennett - Cougar News Photojournalist

Straight out of science fiction, white light technology finds a home residing within the Valencia Town Center. Me-Ality is a free, new apparel size-matching service guiding you to your size by brand.

Due to lack of a standard sizing between top clothing manufacturers, consumers end up owning ranging sizes of clothes depending on diverse brand styles. According to statistics, frustration occurs for consumers while in search of a fit that is both flattering and stylish, resulting in confusion and irritation.

Me-Ality claims to eliminate the need to try on hundreds of different sizes and styles of pants with its new Me-Ality Sizing Station.

Containing 196 small antennas, the Me-Ality Sizing Station’s “vertical wand” emits and records radio signals 1,000 times weaker than what a standard cell phone produces. In approximately 10 seconds, the station’s wand rotates around an individual, whom remains fully clothed, and records the radio waves that reflects off the water in their skin.

When the wand’s rotation is complete, Me-Ality will have recorded over 200,000 points of data and, by using 3-D body-imaging, produces precise measurements that generate an individual’s unique shopping guide that also contains their BMI, height, weight, and health risk factors.

The data collected is then analyzed and converted into size and styling recommendations based off sizing specifications database containing local retailers within the Valencia Town Center.

Customers are then able to view their personalized shopping guide on touch-screen monitors surrounding the sizing stations. You can filter the list according to brand, style, price, retailer, and manufacturer. With the added ability to email the guide to yourself, you are able to use any mobile device and refer back to it any time you need.

Many experts believe this technology will increase sales while decreasing return rates.

You can log onto and create a personalized profile where all of your Shopping Guides are stored. Me-Ality will record and track your progress and make easy-to-view reports in body change and health conditions.

Me-Ality is currently the only body scanning system capable of scanning a fully clothed body.

Chronic Cantina

The Westfield Valencia Town Center received a brand new addition in Chronic Cantina.

The restaurant is very similar to the taste and prices from Chronic Tacos, another American fast food chain with a very similar feel to Chipotle. The difference between Chronic Tacos and Chronic Cantina is that the Cantina has a large bar inside, similar to that of a sports bar with multiple displays available for sports games.

Chronic Cantina is located right next to some on the mall’s current favorites, Lazy Dog Cafe and Wokano.

The bar had a large selection of beer with many “on tap” and or bottled. Beers were available in 16 and 24 oz. glass sizes. The specialty drinks ranged from $7 $9, so the prices were comparable to that of a local bar.

The Cantina offers a very different feel from their surrounding competitors. Wokano is certainly known for its sushi, and Lazy Dog focus more on their choices of beer and wide assortments of food. However, Chronic Cantina offers a great variety of mixed drinks with a consistent menu choice of Mexican styled foods.

Chronic Cantina in Valencia

The restaurant does not take reservations, so if you’re interested in visiting it has to be a walk-in visit. They offer complimentary chips and salsa when you order a drink, however when low on chips, they didn’t offer a refill.

We ordered the Fatty Tacos. The dish comes with 2 tacos, choice of meat (beef, chicken, carne asada, or fish) with rice, choice of pinto, black, or refried beans, and the meal was finished with a sweet corn cake. The menu consisted of food that can be found at any local Mexican restaurant, tacos, burritos, taquitos, quesadillas, and an a la carte option in the menu. Both of our meals were close to what we expected, similar to the taste from “Chronic Tacos.” The total cost of food and drinks for two came out to be around $24. Most dishes were in the price range of $6-$15. We both believed that it was a fair price considering it was a sit-down style restaurant located on the patios of the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

One thing that was unique about Chronic Cantina were the Bar and patio, which were able to be combined with sliding doors that opened up for the peak and after-hours crowd.

The location is a very easy place to meet up with friends, and there are plenty of activities to do after you are finished eating. There are many places nearby to grab dessert or go shopping.

Overall, the Chronic Cantina gives a nice addition to the Valencia Mall. With its unique atmosphere and great variety of mixed drinks, it offers an affordable meal for you and your friends.

Upcoming Events In Santa Clarita

Feb. 27 – March 5, 2012

National Pancake Day

1. What: National Pancake Day – Flip for FREE Pancakes!
When: Feb. 28, 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Where: Various IHOP locations

Since the first National Pancake Day was celebrated in 2006, IHOP has raised almost $8 million to support local charities. On Feb. 28, all guests are invited to celebrate National Pancake Day at IHOP and enjoy free Buttermilk pancakes. In return for the free pancakes, guests are asked to donate money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities.

For more info:

R.K. Downs Jazz Fest
R.K. Downs Jazz Festival

2. What: R.K. Downs Jazz Festival
When: Feb. 28, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: West Ranch High School

The RK Downs Jazz Festival was established as a recognition and appreciation of Robert K. Downs, a music educator who laid the foundation for the quality music programs in the William. S. Hart District and College of the Canyons. Today, this festival brings together high school jazz bands to play in a friendly atmosphere. Formerly held at COC, The R.K. Downs Jazz Festival remains free and open to the public.

For more info: contact Brian Leff, Director of Jazz Studies, by email at or call 661-222-1220, ext. 645

Art Exhibition
The Expansive Vision of Hans Burkhardt

3. What: Art Exhibit: The Expansive Vision of Hans Burkhardt (Drawings of an American Master)
When: from now until March 1st, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: College of Canyons Valencia Campus, Mentry Hall Art Gallery

About the artist: Hans Burkhardt (1904 – 1994) was an immigrant from Switzerland and was associated with The New York School and the birth of Abstract Expressionism. In 1937 he moved to Los Angeles creating an art bridge between New York and Los Angeles. Burkhardt’s contribution to the modern art in Los Angeles cannot be denied and is now being fully recognized.

For more info: visit website.

Farmers Market
Old Town Newhall Farmers' Market

4. What: Farmers’ Market
When: March 1st, 2012, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Where: Old Town Newhall, Main Street

Spring is almost here and it brings the Old Town Newhall Farmers’ Market again! The market will be open every Thursday from 3pm to 7pm. Don’t miss this opportunity to spend Thursday evenings strolling through the colorful, open air market. Take family and friends and come for the live entertainment, share a quick meal and shop for healthy produce and flowers.

For more info: call 661-250-3787 or visit Farmers’ Market Newhall.

business meeting
Valley Industry Association Business to Business Conference and Industry Show

5. What: Valley Industry Association Business to Business Conference and Industry Show
When: March 1st, 2012, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Hyatt Regency Valencia

Annual Business to Business Conference & Industry Show. It includes exhibits, keynote address, breakout sessions and luncheon.
For more info: contact Kathy Norris or 661-294-8088.

Vasquez Rocks
Vazquez Rocks

6. What: Birds of Prey Presentation
When: March 1st, 2012, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Where: Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, Agua Dulce

If you have time and desire to visit a wild area in Santa Clarita Valley, this is where you must go. It is easy to access, easy to climb and these mountains are a favorite to photograph. The rangers offer guided hikes and animal presentations. Vasquez Rocks has been the location of numerous television programs, music videos, and feature films. It’s a great fun!

For more info: call 661-268-0840.

Jimmy Carnelli
Jimmy Carnelli at the Repertpry East Playhouse

7. What: Live at the REP: Jimmy Carnelli
When: March 2, 2012, 7 p.m. reception / 8 p.m. show
Where: Repertory East Playhouse

This Friday Only! Join Jimmy Carnelli and friends for an intimate performance of classic songs from some of famous names in history! From the Rat Pack to old standards of yesteryear, Jimmy will keep your toes-a-tapping all night long.
For more info: visit website.

Film Fest
Friday Night Film Festival

8. What: Friday Night Film Festival
When: March 2, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Where: College of Canyons’ Valencia Campus, Hasley Hall, Room 101

Join COC’s Cinema Room as they screen award winning, thought-provoking films. An introduction will take place before the film and a discussion of the film will follow.

This Friday – “Another Earth” (2011)
Film Summary: Shortly after a strange, Earth-like planet is discovered, gifted astrophysics student Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) accidentally slams her car into the vehicle of John Burroughs (William Mapother), killing his family. After some time, Rhoda and John begin an unlikely romance. But Rhoda starts to wonder what would happen if she could actually visit the new planet in director Mike Cahill’s romantic sci-fi drama.

For more info: Gary Peterson –

SCV Mindful Meditation

9. What: SCV Mindful Meditation Group
When: Date: March 3rd, 2012, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: SCVi Charter School – Multi Purpose Room

Here people practice different meditation techniques each week and then discuss their experiences. Mindful meditation reduces stress and gives the person a sense of calm, peace and balance. No experience necessary, all are welcome. Donation only, no preregistration.
For more info: contact Gary Sanders by 818-693-6843.

Wine Fest
Santa Clarita Wine Festival at Bridgeport Valencia

10. What: Santa Clarita Wine Fest
When: March 3rd, 2012, 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Where: Bridgeport Marketplace, Valencia

The 2nd Annual Santa Clarita Wine Festival returns to SCV on March 3, 2012 with over 400 wines, spirits and brews with a collection of gourmet foods. You will be able to degust wine and food pairings, scotch and more. Also you will enjoy live music, local restaurants, food trucks and hand-chosen wines at the VIP Event. The event benefits the Michael Hoefflin Foundation.

For more info: Santa Clarita Wine Fest. 2012

Celebrating Christmas Around the World

VALENCIA, Calif. – December is famous for one of the main holidays called Christmas. Christmas is a special time for every family to get together and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but have we ever wondered how people from other countries celebrate Christmas?

Christmastime is celebrated differently all over the world, varying by country and region. It is very interesting to learn how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world. I asked some of my international friends to tell us what happens in their countries and families and here are some customs and traditions of celebrating Christmas in different countries.

In France, Christmas is called ‘Noël’. “French people usually have a Christmas tree decorated with red ribbons and white candles. Our father of Christmas is called Père Noël,” shared with us my French friends Jaclyn and Margo. “We also like the tradition of sending Christmas cards to wish everyone good luck and joy, and a happy New Year.” The Christmas dinner is an important family gathering with good meat and the best wine. These days Christmas dinner starts with a strong tasting pate made from goose liver followed by the dish made from seafood – usually lobster and oysters.

In Russia Christmas can be celebrated – either on December 25th or on January 7th. This unusual date is because the Russian Orthodox Church uses the old ‘Julian’ calendar for religious days. Special Christmas food includes cakes, pies and ‘meat dumplings’. “A meatless dinner is served with the most important dish called ‘kutya’,” said Katerina from Russia. “My granny makes ‘kutya’ using berries, wheat or other grains to symbolize immortality, honey and poppy seeds are added to ensure happiness and success.”

In New Zealand, Christmas and Boxing Day are official winter holidays. People celebrate Christmas with traditional Northern-hemisphere winter images and traditional Christmas tree. Several Christmas themed parades are held in New Zealand. The most popular is Auckland’s Santa Parade down Queen Street. “Christmas starts for us with opening gifts in the morning. Then we have special dinner that includes turkey or chicken with all the trimmings,” stated John who lives in Auckland for the last 8 years. “After Christmas meal tea time comes. During this time we discuss with our families what good happened with us in the year that gone.”

In Brazil, father of Christmas is called Papai Noel. A special Brazilian Christmas dinner includes chicken, turkey, ham, rice, salads, fresh and dried fruits, and beer. For the dessert Brazilians enjoy local traditional sweets ‘Brigadeiro’ made of condensed milk and chocolate. “All Brazilians have Christmas trees; and, as we don’t have snow in Brazil, we put cotton over their Christmas tree branch to simulate snow,” shared Nancy from Brazil.

Christmas Day is also a special winter holiday in Nigeria. For this holiday traditional Nigerian meals are prepared according to traditions of each region. “To sweets and cakes we prefer various meat dishes,” stated my Nigerian friend Hebey. “Served with special food, there is a variety of alcoholic drinks like traditional palm wines and beers.” Christmas season in Nigeria is filled with different festivals that involve dancing and singing. Gift giving ceremony in Nigeria often includes money-presents and the flow of gifts from successful people to less ones.

In the multicultural USA people will find various ways of celebrating Christmas. During Christmas time, Americans get together with their families and friends, open Christmas presents, eat special dinners, bake and eat Christmas cakes and cookies. In addition, Americans have Santa Clause who comes on Christmas Eve to give boys and girls presents. In the USA, people also sing Christmas carols to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. A friend of mine, who lives in the USA, writes about Christmas meals, “For Christmas dinner my family has turkey with trimmings; my grandparents prefer Polish sausage called ‘keilbasi’ with cabbage dishes and soups. My husband’s Italian family has lasagna!”

Christmastime is a special time of a year no matter how it is celebrated. It is a time of happiness, love, joy, forgiveness, fun, and spending time with family and also with friends. Charles Dickens said, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” so we all need to honor Christmas in our warm hearts no matter what country we are from. Merry Christmas!

Single Mothers Charity Empowers Women Artists

Artists of all backgrounds gathered at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center Saturday night to celebrate women who have broken through barriers in their journey to success.

The second annual Empowering HeARTs gala and art exhibit features 12 narratives depicting the real life stories of a dozen Santa Clarita women.

Each honoree was nominated by individuals and organizations for their contributions to the community.

Artwork will be on display at the University Center through March. Click to enlarge.

Their stories are accompanied by photographs, paintings and sculptures created by local artists.

The event benefits Single Mothers Outreach, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower single parents and their children by providing help, support and resources that drive families to self-sustainability.

Single Mothers Outreach was founded in 1994 by a single mother seeking connections with other single parents in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The foundation incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit charity four years later.

Today the volunteer-driven organization assists parents with the tools needed to move overcome personal obstacles and to provide better lives for their families.

“No other organization focuses on strengthening parents,” said DaAnne Smith, executive director of Single Mothers Outreach.

DaAnne Smith is executive director of Single Mothers Outreach.

“We have organizations here in Santa Clarita – the Child and Family Center, the Boys & Girls Club, SCV Youth Project – but who takes care of the parents?” asked Smith. “That’s where we come in.”

The foundation provides multiple services, from providing clothing to case management resources to providing technological training for families coming back into the workforce.

One of the key programs Single Mothers Outreach sponsors is Inspire, which helps families afford a little fun time.

“Parents can’t afford to take their kids to Magic Mountain or Disneyland or bowling,” Smith said. “Our charity leverages relationships with our faith-based and business communities to provide some of those values for them.”

Smith explained that surrounding areas have a need for services. She receives phone calls every week from areas outside of Santa Clarita.

“We’re definitely striking a chord for a need not met in this country as the number of single parents is growing,” she said. “We fill in those holes and give them the boost that they need. You strengthen a parent, you strengthen a whole family.”

The Empowering HeARTs Breaking Barriers collection will be on display at the Westfield Valencia Town Center from December through March 2012.

SCV Consignment Sale

SCV Kids Consignment, the largest and most organized kid’s consignment sale in Santa Clarita area held its fall sale recently in Santa Clarita. Offering a fantastic way to buy and sell high quality, new and gently-used children’s items – anything kid related from infancy through pre-teens, only the best kids items in good, working condition that were clean was being sold at a fraction of normal retail price. Everything was highly-organized and easy to find!

Santa Clarita resident Kristin Nelson, a stay-at-home mom of 2 boys, has been running the LA Kids Consignment sale for 7 years. When Kristin noticed that many Santa Clarita Valley residents were participating in the San Fernando sale, Kristin enlisted Stacy Kupfer, a stay-at-home mom of 2 girls, and a Santa Clarita Valley resident to start up a new division of the LA Kids Consignment sale in SCV. Stacy and Kristin started SCV Kids Consignment in 2008. Since then, the SCV Kids Consignment sales have grown to over 400 consignors participating.

Once in the spring and once in the fall, they hold a one-weekend only consignment sale where people can find thousands of new and used kid’s items. The products at the sale come from hundreds of families who sign up to consign and actually earn money for the products that sell. Anyone is welcome to become a consignor and anyone is welcome to shop at the sale.

Neatly organized, the huge facility located in the industrial center of Santa Clarita sold items ranging from furniture to toys. The line of people purchasing items seemed constant throughout the day and ‘even got larger with each day’ Nelson added.

To be eligible for the private pre-sale, the owners ask volunteers work one 3-hour volunteer shift. As a volunteer you will be helping to check in products, arrange products on the sales floor, sort clothing, etc. It’s not hard work but may involve some light lifting.

They offer several programs for sponsors to get exposure to SCV Kids Consignment’s audience. They also customize sponsor packages to meet the sponsors’ needs.
For more information you can log on their website at or call 818-693-3183. You can also add your name to an email list to receive all updates and announcements.

Guest lecturer recounts volunteering inside a women’s prison

As of 2010 approximately 1 out of every 31 U.S. adults is behind bars.

Of those incarcerated over 113,000 are women accounting for approximately 6.5 percent of the total inmate population.

On October 13th COC’s Sociology club presented a lecture from Professor Emeritus Dr. Jane Prather about her experiences volunteering as a teacher inside a women’s prison.

After spending 40 years as a Sociology professor at Cal State Northridge, Dr. Prather decided to use her background as an educator to help female inmates earn associate degrees while still incarcerated.

“I was looking for something where I felt like I could volunteer and use the talents that I have. I feel like I’m contributing to somebody’s life and to society.”

Funded by the Marymount organization of nuns, Dr. Prather volunteers at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in New York.

“I’m a volunteer because no state or federal money can be used to teach college classes for prisoners.”

Women in prison face many hardships that differ from men including unique healthcare requirements, pregnancy and child-care issues and complex relationships with male guards.

“[In maximum-security prisons] one third of women prisoners are in for murder… another third are in for accomplices to murder… one fifth are in for drugs and about 15 percent are in for major theft [of]… large sums of money.”

Dr. Prather is particularly interested in prison reform,

“In California and New York… we are spending more on prisons than on higher education which is a very serious problem.  We could do a lot more with ankle bracelets and let people out earlier. Particularly for women in maximum security where most of them have not had a long list of offenses.”

“Many prisoners are mentally ill when they enter prison and rather than just imprison them we need more [out-patient] drug treatment programs.”

“Also we need improved parole boards. There is a notion [among parole board members] that men commit more crimes than women and if a women commits a crime than she must really be… the pitts… and sometimes they actually extend sentences.”

Dr. Prather also reflected on how her view of female prison inmates has changed,

“I thought I would see them much more as good people and bad people… criminals and others… and I began to realize all of us make mistakes and do something impulsively and maybe any of us could be in their shoes.”

A video presentation providing additional information regarding Dr. Prather’s work volunteering at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women can be found at the following link:

City Dedicates Golden Valley Road Bridge Mural

The “Connecting Through the Arts” project allowed 395 individuals from local schools to band together to create a mural that represents the Santa Clarita Valley.

The mural, located underneath the Golden Valley Road bridge that crosses Soledad Canyon Road, boasts a community-oriented theme.

“I think it builds community,” Marc Kolodziejczyk, executive director of the Special Children’s Art Foundation, said during a dedication ceremony Saturday at the Santa Clarita Activities Center.

“It brings a sense of community to children with special needs, the students that are tutoring them, anybody who’s involved in the project,” he said. “It allows them to feel like they participated in something that’s way bigger than anything that they could have accomplished alone.

“We want our special-needs kids to have opportunities to feel like they are contributing to their community,” he said.

“We’re very proud,” said Golden Valley High School Assistant Principal Eran Zeevi. “We’ve taken our kids on field trips to see the mural and they’re loving it.”

“People will pass by it every day, thousands, and they can see this great public art work that represents art in Santa Clarita,” said Dr. Michael Millar, chairman of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission. “You can look in there and see our public art projects, Magic Mountain, our California Bear, and it’s helpful to know that our local students participated in it.”

Master Filmmaker and Storyteller speaks at COC

The Cinema Department hosted legendary filmmaker and master storyteller Don Hahn Friday in Hasley Hall. Hahn is known for producing such films as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Lion King.’ His documentary ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty was followed by a question and answer session.

Hahn was born in Chicago, the son of a Lutheran minister. When he was 3 his family moved to Bellflower where he went to school and shot his first animated shorts in the high school film club. He graduated from North Hollywood High School and later studied at Cal State Northridge.

“It’s funny when you start out a career you kind of head off on this white water rafting journey and you are prepared but you never know what’s around the next bend” Han shared, ‘and so I think most of my life has been about going with the flow, and taking advantage of opportunities as they come along and letting yourself grow in ways that you didn’t expect.”

Han started out as a music major and an art minor and getting into film was a surprise to him. “I got really seduced by it and loved it” Han said, “ and moved into producing and loved that too so it’s really about keeping your eyes open and growing as a human being and being the best you that you can be, being authentic to yourself and your own gifts.”

“Waking Sleeping Beauty,” which chronicled the perfect storm of people and circumstances that led to Disney’s animation renaissance in the 1980’s and 90’s, played to rave reviews at film festivals in Telluride, Toronto, and the Hamptons, where it won the audience award for best documentary. The film was recently released theatrically in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco in March 2010.

Hahn’s second documentary, “Hand Held,” was a personal undertaking and was in the making for many years. “Projects take many times 5 years to complete so you should never base what you film on ‘trends’ but rather what you ‘are passionate about’ Hahn said.

“Hand Held” is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of Boston Globe photographer Mike Carroll, from his horrific discovery of pediatric AIDS in Romanian orphanages to his subsequent 20-year odyssey fighting against stultifying bureaucracy to bring aid to forgotten children halfway around the world.

“Be genuine, be yourself, be of the moment, tell your story today, don’t worry about how it’s seen tomorrow and express yourself” were some of his final comments. “First and foremost I’d like to be remembered as a good dad and father to my girl” Hahn expressed, “because that’s the most important thing to me, and secondly that I was able to corral a lot of great artists together and make some movies that thankfully, have turned out to be popular and accepted by the audience, so that’s all, that’s plenty.”

Three To Six Months – A Story of Joy Throughout A Life of Trials and Tribulations

“To preserve a man alive in the midst of so many chances and hostilities, is as great a miracle as to create him.” — Jeremy Taylor

This miracle once walked through COC’s very halls.
Brandon Chandler was an inspirational man who battled through twenty-two years of his life disguising his anguishing pain with a never-ending smile.

The beginning of 2011 brought Chandler news he had been fighting since he was seven-year old. Diagnosed with stage four-liver cancer, that being the last of three cancers throughout his life, Chandler was given three-to-six months to live. Upon hearing the news, his close friends and family urged him to tell his story.

Looking back, it was the year 1999 that brought Chandler a friendship that would one day bring his story to life. Brandon Morris was a freshman with a desire to produce motion pictures. So with Chandler as the “big film guy on campus,” as Morris said, it was inevitable that their creative minds would one day cross paths. It was here Morris recalled Chandler’s ability to bring the best out of him and all those he interacted with. Morris said, “to me, Brandon has always been an inspiration…he has always been someone there to push me creatively, personally, and spiritually.”

It wasn’t long before Chandler and Morris began making films together. As their friendship began to grow, Morris found himself in the midst of Chandler’s second cancer. From age seven to nineteen, Chandler had fought stage-four Neuroblastoma cancer. Now Morris watched as his courageous friend took on Thyroid cancer with a smile. Morris continually watched Chandler, amazed by his ability to remain joyful throughout all his trials.

Twelve years into the present and three bouts of cancer later, Chandler was twenty-eight. Inspired by his friends “real, raw, emotional, heart-wrenching story,” Morris approached Chandler with a request to preserve his years of endeavors. It took some convincing to actually get this overtly humble man to agree. However, with the understanding that “his story was going to be bigger than himself,” as Morris said, Chandler stood next to his friend’s side throughout the production of the last film they would create together.

It was Morris’ vision to create a cancer story that would leave audiences with Chandler’s message. As a man of faith, Chandler was equipped with a tool that he continually pulled from the Bible’s book of Paul—joy. It was not only Chandler but also his entire family who fought their trials with the ability to apply comedy and faith throughout years of devastating tribulations.

With his vision in place, Morris knew the film required interviews with Chandler’s family. Their words would transport the audience throughout Chandler’s life long journey. As a result, Morris explained that their words became some of the most grueling parts of the film. It was during the family interviews that Morris not only discovered Chandler’s diagnosed life span of three to six months, but later faced his own trails in the editing room.

Chandler had been present throughout the entire interviewing process. He had watched as his family sat talking to a camera lens re-living memories of him as though he were already gone. His family’s farewell words were causing them to already live the inevitable future that stood before them. These interviews began to bring out emotions.

Throughout his entire life Brandon Chandler had suppressed his pain, but Morris needed Chandler to succumb to the emotions his pain created in order to tell his true story. To let go of his calm and collective composure for his diaries was difficult for Chandler in the start. However, he soon began to unfurl and express his pain and worries openly. As a man of God, Chandler began to understand that this film could be his shot at bringing just one person to the lord,” says Morris.

Morris explained that he would always ponder the last three months of Chandler’s life, wondering what was really going on in his mind. “I think that is one of the great mysteries of this film,” Morris said.

After Chandler passed in early April, Morris re-entered his video diaries in order to pull together his last words for the film’s trailer. Scrolling through the most recent entries, Morris was hit with “eye-opening” emotions as he watched his friend express his pain in ways he had never seen. Morris explained, “ Within that minute and thirty seconds of the teaser, I wanted to grab people and go this is real…this is not a cancer story you’ve ever heard before.”

Three-to-Six Months has now been released to the Sundance festival in honor of Brandon Chandler and his story that stands as a message to all. Live life joyfully throughout all your trials Chandler would say.

A chapter that served Chandler best sums up his life of courage and endurance.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

– James chapter 1:12

Movie Trailer Courtesy of Brandon Morris

A Delicious Mash Up

A great combination of burgers and cupcakes are hard to come by, but when two Food Network winners paired up on Tuesday afternoon, the outcome was victorious.

In January 2011, Kim Thurman and her partner competed and won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, allowing them to start their first storefront bakery, Bake You Happy.

A year prior to that a Los Angeles-based food truck, Grill Em All was announced as the season one winner of another Food Network show, The Great Food Truck Race.

Thurman thought it would be a good idea to bring a food truck to Valencia for customers to enjoy, so she contacted the guys of Grill Em All.

It wasn’t long before an award winning mash up of heavy metal hamburgers and gourmet cupcakes began.

Unknowingly, the first event turned out to be a huge success and inspired the duo to give it another go.

Fans and first time customers lined up in the summer heat to get a taste of the famous cupcakes and juicy seven-ounce burgers.

“This is my first time to the truck, so I’m excited,” a customer waiting in line said.

“I went to the last event and it was really good,” said another customer.

To catch Grill Em All on the road, log onto for more information on their upcoming locations. And be sure to stop by Bake You Happy in the Barnes and Noble shopping center for a sweet treat, or log onto

Santa Clarita Turns Out For Lexus of Valencia Jazz and Blues Concert

On Friday, August 26th the annual Lexus of Valencia Jazz and Blues Concert Series gave people the last chance to enjoy world class jazz and blues music in the heart of Santa Clarita. This was the 13th year when the Lexus of Valencia Jazz and Blues concert gathered the best jazz and blues musicians on the streets of Santa Clarita Valley and offered diverse activities for local children and adults.

The Lexus of Valencia Jazz and Blues Concert Series finished its summer concert series with the Tom Nolan Band. The show went from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Town Center Drive and McBean Parkway. Tom Nolan Band presented the best mix of their own original compositions and classic dance tunes of jazz, blues, rhythm and soul music. The band brought people to their feet with a world-class vocals and a wonderful show.

Earlier, the traditional Lexus of Valencia Jazz and Blues Concert Series presented some top jazz and blues vocalists like Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps, Michael John and the Bottom Line, Dona Oxford, Lori Andrews and Jazz Harp Quartet, and new musical artists Artwork Jamal, and the energetic blues singer Shari Puorto.

Besides amazing music, the Jazz and Blues concert series offered locals a great variety of activities for the family. Kids enjoyed pizza from BJ’s Restaurant while adults had their fill of wines and beers. “I think that’s great that our community offers such amazing concerts like this one. Even though it’s hot tonight, we all enjoy awesome music, dance and have great time with our friends and families,’’ said a concertgoer who comes to this concert every year.

The purpose of the Lexus Jazz and Blues Concert is to raise money for local charities. The Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley received proceeds from the event. During the last 13 years of Lexus Jazz and Blues Concerts more than 20 different charities have received financial aid from these concerts.