Page 1

Change Coming soon to

Big changes are coming to the school’s newspaper website. Stay tuned in the summer for the new look of Also featured will be Crown Magazine online in full color.





06 60 Years of Change The progress of Valley College

throughout the years.


11 Two Brothers Return From Battle




The Aguirre brothers talk about their experience in Iraq.



12 Monarchs Hold Court on Campus

24 Making Music New School

14 Form Follows Function

34 Music Fundamentals

16 The Studious Parent Life 28 The College 411


| FITNESS | 09 Smart Diet


27 Athletes Online

18 Fashion Budget 30 The Evolution of the Revolution 32 Just For Kicks | ON THE COVER | Photography by Grettel Cortes. Design and layout by Israel Gutierrez. The cover features a wall of past Crown Magazines embedded within the words “Crown Magazine 2009” and “Change”, our theme for this issue.


22 The Big Outdoors



26 Local Dive 21 Mixed Martial Arts

09 SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag




Crown Magazine

The Valley’s Premier Student Magazine Los Angeles Valley College | Spring 2009

| EDITORIAL | Editor in Chief | Elizabeth Palomares Managing Editor | Padma Jones Photo Editor | Grettel Cortes Design Editor | Israel Gutierrez | WRITERS | MarilynBachman TorrieJones ArrikMcQueen BiancaSantillan | PHOTOGRAPHERS | KlaraMiller RubenRivera | ADVISERS | WilliamDauber RodLyons | CONTRIBUTORS | ScottMitchell Photographer SamuelOksner Photographer H.Gore Writer WaynePigford Writer MariaSamuel Writer AstridSeipelt Writer | COPY EDITOR | WillReyes | INFO |


Publication Info

Magazine Info

Crown Magazine is published each Spring for the students of Los Angeles Valley College and its community. Crown retains the right to use all material in all forms in perpetuity. All content is copyright protected.

To get involved in the next issue of Crown Magazine or to contribute, email at or enroll in Journalism 220 Magazine Editing at Valley College.

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

Change is a constant element in our lives. In the recent 2008 election, President Barack Obama’s campaign focused on the changes that we as a nation would need to face. We look to change as a way of freedom from the “norm”. We continuously grow and improve ourselves in different ways as we, students, travel down our ever changing pathways. In this issue of Crown, we will cover the astounding transformation of what was once a farm to what we now call Valley College. Over the years our campus has changed drastically and those changes continue to this day with renovations of older buildings, such as the Foreign Language building, and the opening of the Television Broadcasting building in the fall. We look forward to the day in the not too distant future, when the bungalows that were first built in 1951 will be torn down and construction for new, green buildings, such as a new Media Arts facility will begin. Valley continues to evolve and move forward as technology has become an essential part of the learning process. You will learn about two brothers who both served in Iraq and experienced traumatizing events and how they used those experiences as motivation

to come to Valley. They also sought to positively impact other veterans that had been through similar situations. We will look at “hip-hop culture” and expose its truth in a way that is rarely seen today. There is a history that one must understand in order to give proper recognition to its leaders and to embrace the depths of its movement. We will also take a look at the options available to parents who take on classes at Valley. These parents may have been eager to finish their degree or were forced to go back to school due to the economic crisis. Whatever the reason, you will find that Valley offers plenty of assistance to those who have mastered the art of multi-tasking. As students, we are at times so caught up with the day-to-day activities of our normal lives that we do not notice how rapidly things change before our eyes. We are a part of a world that is forever changing and we are fortunate enough to be a part of a campus where our goals and dreams are achievable. Change is not an obstacle; it is an opportunity to grow. We hope to inspire you and evoke ideas for a brighter tomorrow. Elizabeth, Editor in Chief









Photography by Klara Miller In 2009 Los Angeles Valley College will celebrate its 60th anniversary. A photograph taken in 1936 shows a 145-acre site in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys, as the future home of Los Angeles Valley Junior College. The DuPlessis family owned the property, which housed a dairy farm and had a beautiful old barn and farmhouse bounded on all sides by stately trees, trees that remain to6

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

day. The photo showing the DuPlessis family and dairy farm hangs in the campus museum bungalow, which in its former life served as the first administration building for the college in the fall of 1951. This first crop of students was called Monarchs according to the first articles written in the Valley Star. The Monarchs called this place the “Dream Castle,” and the shaping of this dream continues today.

When the location was chosen in 1949, the post-war nation was in the midst of change, much as it is now. California and other states had begun to adopt the ideal that higher education could belong to everyone. Community and junior colleges were springing up to meet the needs of returning GIs, the disadvantaged, and the female wartime workforce. Leaders of education believed community




The DuPlessis Family on the original campus property.




colleges could function like the public works programs of that era, funded by bonds and taxpayers. The first Director of Valley College was Vierling Kersey; he served as superintendent of public instruction for the State of California from 1929-37. During his tenure as superintendent, the first junior colleges began to appear in California. Los Angeles City College and Fresno Community College were established in 1929, and others followed during his term. Kersey became the Superintendent of the Los Angeles Board of Education in 1937, holding that position until he became the Director of Valley College in 1949 On opening day in 1949 at the Van Nuys High School campus Kersey addressed the first class of 439 students: “You are plowing through the dust and making light of limited facilities…. From the difficulties, the strain and stress of pioneering a new college. a bigger, better stronger institution will emerge. Valley College is on the threshold of a glorious future.” Tuition at Valley in 1949 was a flat fee of $8, according to chemistry Professor Joe Nordmann, one of the remaining members of Valley’s first faculty. Nordmann captured the image of the barn on canvas and his oil painting hangs in the campus museum today. He recalls a group of students who approached Kersey asking, “Dr. Kersey will Valley College credits transfer to

Original milk farm building that stayed until 1951.




Oxford?” Kersey replied, “ When Oxford finds out what Valley College is doing they will raise their standards.” Nordmann describes Kersey as a bloated fellow with a red face and sentences that never ended. In 1951 the campus opened and a small portion of the land was leveled for the 33 bungalows that would serve as temporary classrooms. The new side of the campus was pristine, and the vast expanse stretching out towards Oxnard St. and Coldwater Cyn., had become an overgrown jungle. When it rained water pooled on the low side of the property, the students and faculty called the area Lake Kersey. The entrance to the campus was located on Burbank Boulevard near Fulton Avenue. The campus was covered with thick black asphalt and the bungalows were painted with fresh light green paint, a popular color in the late 40s and early 50s. The bungalows had a camp feeling, simple structures with long rows of ganged windows and high flat ceilings. Young trees were added to the landscape near the bungalows and a palate of pink and red roses filled an area called the patio, adjacent to the gym. The gym was the first building constructed on campus and the hub for all school activities. Additional bungalows had to be added to accommodate the growing student and faculty population.



The college offered a well rounded curriculum with evening classes, community serviced programs, transfer and a variety of vocational programs. During the 1950s the “Dream Castle” finally started to emerge, with the first phase of the master building plan underway. The group of completed buildings were; chemistry, physics, engineering, foreign language, administration and the library. The simple stucco structures were low one story multi-room buildings. The buildings were aligned on a curved covered pathway designed to flow past the administration building out onto the main quad of the campus. Each building was surrounded by landscaping and wide walkways allowing access to the classroom structures. Professor Richard Raskoff, who was a student in 1956 and later became a faculty member, credits the existing forest and landscape on campus to biology professor George Hale. “Hale planted unusual varieties of trees, Kapok, Liquid Amber, most of the trees on campus,” Raskoff said. Nordmann describes the trees on campus as Hale’s living legacy. The mature campus forest has 1837 trees, a rare tree on campus is the China tree, and is said to have healing properties. By 1963, the third phase of the master building plan was completSPRING 2009 theCROWNmag





Books that were donated for the new library.

Gene Mahn and Maryon Vusich help change the LAVC name.




ed with the addition of eight buildings. Valley College was striving to meet the need of growing student population. According to historians, the San Fernando Valley was considered the 8th largest urban area in the United States and had more than a million in population by 1967. In the late 1960s students protested the war and civil rights rallies filled the campus quad. A huge crowd gathered to mourn the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. Cesar Chavez, President Richard Nixon, Senator Robert Kennedy, Angela Davis, Mayor Sam Yorty, Jane Fonda, and other notable public figure visited the campus. Professor Nordmann describes Valley, “At the peak of its aroma, the classes were large and filled with students. Chemistry was required for so many fields of study, medicine dentistry, and even forestry.” The picture of the changing campus was complete in the 1970s with the addition of a new gymnasium, behavioral science, humanities, and campus center buildings. The formation of the college district removed the junior colleges from the jurisdiction of the high school system. In the late 60s and early 70s the college now offered an extensive curriculum, with programs in health, engineering, motion picture arts, electronics, and other areas. The Valley Star was an award winning newspaper. 8

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009




The 1980s brought a record enrollment of 28,000 students to the campus, and a $10 per unit tuition hike. Enrollment leveled off during the 1990s to about 12,000 students. The college facilities, while adequate, were in need of being updated to meet the challenges of the technological world. The passage of Proposition A and AA in the 2001 and 2003 elections allows Valley to be infused with $286 million for revitalization. The passage of Proposition J in 2008 and the sale of more bonds added additional funds to the mix. The college district has $5.7 billion in bond funding to modernize and improve the nine campuses of the District. The revitalization of the campuses represents one of the nation’s largest sustainable construction efforts. The design standard is to make all new buildings meet the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design buildings) certification standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. The U.S. Green Council is a national non-profit organization whose goal is to set a building standard with buildings designed to reduce energy consumption. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa passed the Green Building Ordinance in Los Angeles, which provides incentives in both the private and public building projects with sustainable construction. The business of state funded



education is perplexing. Did Vierling Kersey imagine the Los Angeles Community College District would pump $9 billion into the local economy yearly, making it a key economic force in the Los Angeles? Angela Feddock of the LACCD, Board of Trustees says, “In this critical economic time, the District’s abilility to create and sustain jobs is more vital than ever before. With steady employment opportunities for large and small contractors our sustainable building program is a major economic stimulus of L.A. County and we remain focused on driving the effort to create even more jobs.” Today, Valley is in the middle of the transformation again. The college will evolve through the phasing process of the 2003 master plan and reveal modern taller structures. The completed buildings include; Monarch Stadium, Maintance and Operations and/ Sheriff’s Station, Concession Stand and Visitors Restrooms, Swimming and Diving pools, Disabled Students Gymnasium, and Allied Health & Sciences Building. All existing buildings on campus will have some form of renovation. The bungalows where the first 1951 students milled about and dreamed of their “Castle” are set for demolition in 2011. The Kersey era will vanish from the campus landscape, and new students will arrive, with dreams of their own.


Smart Diets How Technology Works Outs

by Arrik McQueen | Photography by Grettel Cortes The United States is rich with technological advances in medicine, yet we are one of the least healthy countries in the world. America needs to change its diet for the better - we need to shed a couple of pounds, drop a waist size and get fit as a nation. So what is holding us back? Could it be a lack of education? Or are we simply lacking

the will power needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle? According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming roughly 650,000 lives per year. It is time we Americans take control of our lives. Many of the health problems we encounter can be prevented with exercise and a change in our


Being active is the latest craze in health, and technology is here to help. We often complain of our lack of motivation to get moving, but with gadgets like the Apple iPod, we have more motivation than ever. Applications such as Nike + iPod and iPump compile workout videos and interactive fitness programs that

you can bring with you while on the go. Simply download them to your iPod and play while at the gym or at home to get personal training and feedback. While advances in technology have sparked our interest for exercise, as residents of Los Angeles, we can not forget about the great outdoors available to us. There are a pletho-

SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag


ra of hiking and biking trails to keep the outdoors person busy for months. If looking for a stress-free approach to a healthier lifestyle, yoga may be the answer. “With regular practice, one can learn to relax, breathe fully, and let go of stress so that many of the stress-related health problems we encounter can be avoided” said Sri Hari,


theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

yoga instructor for Yoga Upstairs in Agoura. Yoga has been said to help muscle flexibility, stamina, control of stress levels and more importantly, blood pressure for those prone to heart disease. As we all know, exercising is not the onestop-shop for a healthy lifestyle. A key component is your diet. The simple thing to start with

is to plan your meals and change your eating habits. Eating four to six smaller meals per day helps the body to process the food easier and boosts your metabolism, which in turn aids in weight loss. Switching to whole grains, low fat dairy products, and fibrous foods can help to keep your blood sugar levels down. “Fiber is really good

for the body. It helps keep your cholesterol down... I also cut down my portion sizes, it’s a very healthy choice” said Valley student Octavio Robles. Making these healthy changes to your lifestyle can add years to your life, so get active. Go swimming, go hiking, grab your iPod and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer us.

in Iraq and plenty of battle scares, Aguirre said joining the Marines was one of the best decisions he has made. “... “I was still I a kid when I first went to noticed Iraq,” he my arm and leg said. “I pichad a warm liquid tured running on them, and I it to knew right there and be easy then, I got hit to tell ....” the bad guys from the good guys. But there wasn’t either. [We were fighting against] fathers doing what they needed to do to feed their families.” Aguirre also dealt with pain from back home. He had gone through several surgeries in a German

Noe Aguirre

Noe Aguirre said the scene of his combat injury initially played out like a movie in slow motion. Until the shrapnel and blood snapped everything back into real time. Aguirre was conducting a perimeter check in the streets of Iraq when he turned to check on his unit. His fellow Marines were taking cover on the ground. A bomb detonated and Aguirre’s body was pierced by hundreds of metal pieces, with his lower left arm and leg taking on most of the damage. “I had just finished looking at my map, when I gave a few steps and all of a sudden I felt a pierce,” Aguirre said. “I noticed my arm and leg had warm liquid running on them, and I knew right there and then,

Two brothers return from battle

I got hit.” Upon meeting Aguirre, one could never imagine the astonishing story lying behind this 24-year-old Valley College student. Aguirre is president of the Veteran’s club on campus and informs his members of veteran benefits at school and helps them cope with everyday life. As a two-tour veteran of the six-year war in Iraq, Aguirre sits down with his younger brother Enrique and admits that his four-year duty with the Marines was a long, but necessary detour from school. When Aguirre turned 18 he decided to fight for his country, enlisting in the Marine Corps. It was a decision he made without telling his parents. “My parents didn’t find out until I had already signed the contract and given a date of when I was leaving,” he said. Within a matter of months, Aguirre had to break bad habits, learn to endure hunger pains, take orders, and leave most, if not all, of his freedoms behind. But after his two tours

hospital for his wounds and wanted to reach his younger brother to tell him he was alive. However, his brother Enrique was also suffering back home, from the pain of the unknown. “I was going insane trying to find out what happening with him,” Enrique said. “They told me he was on morphine, and I was wondering if the reason was because they were trying to keep him calm for his last minutes alive. I was nothing but a plane flight away, but they would not allow me to go see him.” Despite the many tough times associated with his service as a war veteran, Aguirre ultimately sees it as a positive step in his journey. “If I could go back in time and have the choice to join or not, I would join,” said Aguirre. “It was an eye opening experience. Before joining, I thought school wasn’t for me and the first I did getting out of the service was sign up for school. I wouldn’t be in this classroom right now if it wasn’t for my experience in the war.”


Enrique Aguirre

Noe & Enrique

by Bianca Santillan | Photography by Grettel Cortes

Story & Photography by Grettel Cortes

MONARCHS HOLD COURT ON CAMPUS Student Athletes Give Back to the Community With summer fast approaching, the question most parents face is how to keep their children entertained while school is out. Summer camps are a practical solution, offering games and activities to keep even the most rambunctious child busy. The Valley College Monarch Summer Camp has offered a comprehensive summer program for community children ages 5 to 15 since 1968. Closed for the last two years due to renovations, Monarch Summer Camp will reopen this summer offering on-campus entertainment, a brand new Aquatics Complex with three pools, several gymna-

siums, multiple athletic fields, a stadium, tennis courts, archery range, arts and crafts, and a theater arts facility. The new improvements have generated excitement among the camp’s users. “I get several e-mails a day asking when the camp will reopen. It has a very good reputation in the community” said Community Services Manager Michael B. Atkin. Monarch Summer Camps organizers recognize that growth and safety are essential parts of every camper’s summer. Many of the camp’s counselors and coaches are Valley athletes and

staff selected for their skills, enthusiasm, common sense, and especially their ability to relate to children and adolescents. All staff are interviewed, submit to fingerprint clearance and take a part in an extensive staff training prior to each summer. The dedicated and qualified staff is what makes Monarch Summer camp so special. Parents can appreciate the level of commitment shown to their children by the college athletes and coaching staff, which are enthusiastic about their jobs. “You can run a camp on a parking lot if you have the right staff!” declares Atkin. Fortunately, Monarch Summer Camp is not on a parking lot, but the full 105 acres of campus. The summer 2009 program will run from June 22 to August 14. For more information call (818) 947-2577 ext. 4172

2009 MONARCH SUMMER CAMPS SCHEDULE & RATES June 22 - August 14 CAMP Day Camp by week



PREPAID $195/wk

REGULAR $210/wk

Day Camp by Day


June 22-Aug 14



All-Sports Day Camp by Week

Weeks 1-8

June 22-Aug 14



All-Sports Day Camp by Day


June 22-Aug 14




Weeks 2-4

June 29-July 17




Weeks 2-8

June 22-Aug 14



Basketball Catalina Island Adventure

Weeks 1-8 Week 5

June 22-Aug 14 call for more info




Weeks 2-4

June 29-July 17




Weeks 5-8

July 20-Aug 14



Fishing Adventure

Week 2

call for more info

Gymnastics Judo Sierra Adventure

Weeks 5-7 Weeks 5-7 Week 7

July 20-Aug 7 Aug 3-Aug 14 call for more info

$195/wk $195/wk

$210/wk $210/wk


Weeks 3-5

July 6-July 24



Springboard Diving

Weeks 7, 8

Aug 3-Aug 14



Tennis Theater Arts

Weeks 1-8 Weeks 1-8

June 22-Aug 14 June 22-Aug 14

$195/wk $195/wk

$210/wk $210/wk

FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION by Elizabeth Palomares In the art world it is said that ‘form follows function,’ nowhere will that be more apparent than with the new twostory 52,000 square foot Media Arts Building soon to be built at Valley College. Today’s fast paced world requires students to be well rounded in their various fields. For the media arts department, this means a conversion of journalism, television broadcasting, cinema and photography. This way, students can be exposed to all aspects of media and obtain the skills required by today’s employers. World-renowned architect Steven Ehrlich will design the highly anticipated media arts facility. Ehrlich has been recognized for his previous accomplishments, such as designing the DreamWorks Studio, Sony Music headquarters, and the UCLA Kinross Staging Building. “I am delighted to be working on this project because it’s for the arts, and the arts stimulate,” said Ehrlich. The architect is looking to design a building that is contemporary in regards to advanced technology and sustainability. Ehrlich is considering a design that will be pleasing to the eye as well as adhering to the guidance principles of the building’s users, which require creative aesthetics as well as functionality, his firm’s specialty. Planning for the Media Arts Building began 14

in May 2002. From the beginning, the building was to be “The crown of Valley College” said Rod Lyons, journalism department chair. Members of the Building Users Group had a vision of creativity without restrictions for the students, wanting this building to be an open space where students from different disciplines could inspire one another and collaborate without any boundaries. Within the walls of this building there will be a live recording studio, mixing stage, graphic design studio, TV studio, radio station, photography lab and studios, and a journalism newsroom all equipped with current state of the art equipment. The BUG also desired that students, faculty, and visitors would have access to the latest technology as well as smart classrooms designed for teaching in this new era. The smart classrooms are configured to facilitate the use of the latest computers, audiovisual equipment, and data projectors. The new facility will allow all professors to take their programs to another level by making sure that every classroom is fully equipped with the best available technology for media arts students. Initial funding for the building was to come from the passage of Proposition A and Proposition AA

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

Courtesy of Ehrlich Architects

An Aesthetic Masterpiece In The Making

Photo by Ruben Rivera

(2001 and 2003 respectively). As time went by, costs of building materials increased considerably and the school needed to prioritize student’s needs. Finding funding for the media arts center was a challenge. With the economy going through a recession and all of the budget cuts, some felt the new Media Arts building may never get off the ground. “We were all ready to go into the construction phase for the Media Arts Center when the project dropped in priority and our funding was cut,” said Dennis Reed, the dean of fine, performing, and media arts. Luckily for Valley students, the Media Arts Building will now be funded by Proposition J, which was passed in the November 2008 election. At the time of publication, there is no set budget, but based on the size of the building and constant changes with technology, the cost is bound to fluctuate. The project is now in the process of getting final approvals. In addition, the BUG will meet again during the summer, and will hire a construction company by the end of this year. “There may be minor changes in regards to where the labs and classrooms will be located, but other than that, not much will change from the original plan,” said Eric Swelstad, department chair of media arts. The BUG now has several difficult decisions to make concerning the best in current technology and computers, wanting flexibility to adapt to new technology over the years. “We are not planning this building for 2009 or 2010, we are planning it for 2020 and beyond,” said Lyons. SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag



We offer business classes for those who want to start a new career such as Medical Billing and Coding. These are the most popular to date... People are out looking for ways to make money...


The Studious

Parent Life Managing School, Work and a Family.


Story & Photography by Grettel Cortes

e often view the greatest jugglers as those who can toss multiple objects in the air continuously without dropping a single one. Masterful skills are required for this type of juggling, but not as much as the dedicated parents who juggle everyday obligations to keep up with their school, job, and families. Many students enrolled at Valley College must do exactly this. If you find yourself going back to school to finish that degree, or if the current job crisis is forcing you to seek training to secure a job, your predicament is a challenging one. It is made even more difficult if you are planning to do this while juggling the needs of children, a demanding boss and household chores. Don’t throw that dream of furthering your education down the drain, as Valley is here for you, offering many services that fulfill the needs of the non-traditional student who has limited time and resources in mind. Even attaining film school certification can be achieved in only a weekend, by enrolling in the two-day Film School class offered through the Valley College Community Extension Program. If your goal is to become a Legal Secretary, or if Medical Billing is your calling, the program offers certified and non-certified short term classes, long term academies and one day workshops for these and other career options conveniently held at night and on Saturdays. “We offer business classes for those who want to start a new career such as Medical Billing and Coding. These are the most popular to date...People are out looking for ways to make money,” said Michael Atkin, community services manager. The Valley College Accelerated Program offers college-level courses in an accelerated format. Students may take classes towards a degree in five-weeks online, in the evenings and during the weekend, making it easier for students who work a full time job or have family obligations. For the studious parent, knowing your child is safe and well cared for provides a great comfort to students working hard at earning a degree. The fully licensed Child Development Center on campus offers day care services, where children can stay safe while parents are busy in class. Children are encouraged to learn by playing during floor time and in the yard. Nutritious meals are provided for the children, and there is no shortage of giggles or a loving embrace when ever a scrape or bruised knee calls for it. “It’s great when we see the parents grow side by side with their children enhancing their education. Each semester we look forward to sharing the child’s and the par-

ent’s school experience. Attending school is a special time for the child and the parent and it is held in the highest regard. We strive to make their time at the Child Developement Center a positve and memorable experience.” Says Child Development Center Director, Terry Teplin. The Child Development Center is currently undertaking a major renovation. The new facility will be called The Family and Child Development Complex, a recognized Leadership Energy Environmental Design (LEED), and will feature three nature based playgrounds and an outside classroom. Completion is scheduled for February 2010.

SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag






With a change in season soon upon us, it is only natural to hunt for new wardrobe additions. But, summer spending does not have to equal breaking the bank. by Astrid Seipelt Photography by Grettel Cortes & Klara Miller

Summer is soon to be upon us, and as the weather warms and gives us a hint of the heat to come, malls all around are stocking up with new seasonal wares. While it isn’t cheap to stock up on summer staples, shopping smart can help you pick up some great buys while staying within a student budget. The San Fernando Valley is bursting with stores where you can buy

clothes that are pre-worn and still in excellent condition, and some of these trading stores are just a short drive from Valley College. Crossroads Trading in Studio City and Buffalo Exchange in Sherman Oaks both offer gear for guys and girls, and by sifting through the racks you are bound to find something suiting your taste for dirt cheap. Amy Gacka, an employee at Crossroads, says that a good amount of college students come into the store looking for deals on clothing, with their carried brands ranging from mall favorite Forever 21 to designer Marc Jacobs. “We’re very selective on the merchandise that we bring in…it’s all what is currently in stores,” said Gacka. “Versus going to the mall,

you should just come here first and see if you can find something you like for a lot cheaper.” Thanks to the Internet, finding new additions for your closet can easily be done at home, and there are numerous deals to be found. Many retailers offer Web exclusives, such as buy one, get one half off, or free shipping if you spend over a set amount. Cash can also be saved on your order by searching for discount codes on sites like However, before you start shopping, make sure you have a good idea of the sizing of merchandise so you can avoid receiving goodies in the mail that you can’t wear. Of course, sales are the best way to save cash on new clothes, though it can be easy to overspend once you feast your eyes on all the red tags. The trick is to go in with a game plan and only buy what you need. Sales are also the best time to stock up on basics that you can wear year round, or save to wear next year. “I look for discounts, like right now I tend to buy dresses when they go on sale and then have it for next season,” said Valley student Daniella Wheeler, 18. “It makes sense, I got [the dress I am wearing] for $5.99 from PacSun, it was $45 [at full price].” After saving a wallet full of cash through thrift stores, the web and sales, you can then invest in more pricey pieces such as jeans, a good coat, and shoes. These items are closet staples, and well worth spending a little extra money on. Though, if you can find these items on sale too, then just keep on saving your hard earned dollars. 20

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009


Arts A Global Phenomenon Hits Home

A punch is thrown. An uppercut sends the fighter into a rage of retaliation, and he furiously sends his opponent to the floor. In Jujitsu style, they grapple inside a cage as fans scream out in jubilation. This is not a typical fight; it is Mixed Martial Arts, the fastest-growing sport in America and soon to be the number one combat sport in the world. The rise of MMA fighting has all but knocked out boxing, using multiple disciplines such as Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jujitsu, Judo, and various forms of wrestling. Students of all martial art forms now have a realistic outlet for their skills, allowing them to make a living and compete at the highest levels. 
 MMA has found a home in Southern California, with the Total Fighting Alliance the first fighting organization to be sanctioned by the California Athletic Com-

Story & Photography by Ruben Rivera

mission. MMA pioneers Todd Meacham and TFA Vice President Joey Lombardo are leading the way and TFA continues to set the standard for local mixed martial arts.
 While boxing has a more storied history in America, it is clear how MMA is quickly relieving boxing of its title. While some “big name” boxers generate heavy Internet buzz when they are heading into a fight, MMA fighters appear to generate sustained interest, even in the down time periods between fights. Pay-per-view numbers suggest the same trend. In 2006, the Ultimate Fighting Championship broke the pay-per-view all-time records for a single year of business, generating over $222 million in revenue, surpassing boxing.
 MMA has captured the imaginations of dedicated and casual fight fans alike. In short, Boxing may soon be forced to TAP OUT! SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag


The Big Exploring the various local outdoor retreats.



theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

Los Angeles, CA

Opposite: A woman walks up a path in Wilacre Park in Studio City. Although it starts off steep, the wide easy trail meanders through chaparral, walnut woodland, and coastal sage scrub. The park is accessible from Coldwater Canyon Ave. or Fryman Road just off Laurel Canyon Blvd.

Top: A group of hikers walks along Crags Drive Fire Rd next to Malibu Creek in Malibu Creek State Park. The park features 15 miles of streamside trails through oak and sycamore woodlands and chaparral-covered slopes. The main entrance is on Las Virgenes Road near Mulholland Hwy in Malibu.

Right: Sue Ann Pien is silhouetted against a backdrop of mountains as she climbs a route on the “Planet of the Apes� wall in Malibu Creek State Park. This park has many activities to take part in, including hiking, biking, rock-climbing, and camping.

Bottom Left: A man rides his bike up West Mandeville Fire Road in Brentwood, CA. This trail winds up through the Santa Monica Mountains and provides users with ocean views. It can be accessed via Westridge Road in Brentwood.

Middle Left: Amber Noelle, right, and other climbers tackle Boulder 1 at Stoney Point rock climbing and bouldering area in Chatsworth. Located off Topanga Canyon Blvd. just south of the 118 freeway, the area contains many bouldering routes of varying levels and top rope climbs as well. For rock climbing instruction, visit the Rockreation Climbing Center in West LA.

Story & Photography by Klara Miller

The new first family is inspiring people of all ages to get fit. Michelle Obama, with her ever present sleeveless shirts and toned arms, has encouraged people all across the nation to make fitness their new motto. As Angelenos, we have the luxury of being surrounded by numerous mountains where our fitness needs can be met. Whether your interest lies in the water, on a bike, or in climbing the highest peak, Los Angeles is here for you. So I challenge you all to get out there and explore these amazing places that are right in your backyard. SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag



Story & Photography by Scott Mitchell

t is no secret that we live in an ever changing, technological society. For the average musician, keeping up with advancements in the digital world can be daunting. But, for those who can understand it, technology can be a wonderful thing. Today, a talented band coupled with a talented sound engineer can put out a quality album in a few weeks. Thanks to the compatibility of different recording software, the excellent sound quality with computers, the editing capabilities of their recording software and the portability of hard drives, bands


can make great recordings without ever going to a major studio. A band can even make a whole record with none of the members ever having to leave their home or see each other. Take for example, The Bombastic Meatbats. Meet Ed Roth (The Wrench), bassist Kevin Chown (Bubbles), guitarist Jeff Kollman (Worker Bee) and drummer Chad Smith (Galoot), who is also a part of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Meatbats are a true-tothe-core rock band with a funky instrumental edge. Over the course of four days, the Meatbats created most of their album. “We track everything together live, all in a room. Bass and guitar amps in closets, and all hearing one another in headphones,” said Roth. “We’ll go back and make little fixes for big clams, 24

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

but most of what we do is live. We never track with a click, it allows songs to breathe and groove in a way that music today no longer does. It means fixing stuff in the computer and flying things is sometimes impossible, but this band is about playing, not fronting,” Roth went on to say that the album’s quick timeline was a stark contrast to the last Chili Peppers album, which took 13 months of work. “I’ve made records with John Frusciante, guitarist for the Chili Peppers, in five days, because he was prepared and that it was the object of the ses-

cians and producers have had home studios for a long time, it’s a popular concept dating back to the 70s, there was a much greater divide between a serious professional studio setup and a home recording one. A professional studio can cost over $1 million if one adds all the bells and whistles. A small home studio of that era might have just a small mixer and tape machine at a cost of $50,000. Today, that same $50,000 can get you a pile of great recording equipment and a computer setup. With the advent of computer-based recording, an artist can record at home (or wherever he is at that moment with a laptop) and e-mail parts to another band member. This can all

... A band can make a whole record with none of the guys ever having to leave their home, or even see each other ... sion to record quickly and intentionally,” said Roth. “I’ve also made a record with Blink 182 that took 10 months, mainly because they wanted to write and experiment in the studio as we recorded.” Thanks to technological advancements, the Meatbats had a much faster time making their album. The band recorded the basic tracks for 11 songs in three days, which is very fast by most band standards. They then could instantly listen to the songs and decide what, if any, parts were substandard, and either edit them to be better or re-play them to achieve the desired result. While many musi-

be at a high quality of recording, meaning that all those parts recorded at home, or in a hotel, can be used in the final record. Overdubs for the Meatbats were done in Roth’s home studio with the help of Ryan, the band’s sound engineer, and Roth’s piano. The percussion “fixes” were done at Chad’s studio over the course of two days with the entire band present, with the whole process taking approximately one month to complete. If you counted the number of days that the band actually spent in the studio creating the tracks and then cleaning them up, you could do so with the fingers on both hands. Technology has certainly made its mark on musicians.

The Los Angeles Valley College swimming pools have officially been opened to the public. After long delays and problems with construction the new facilities could not have come at a better time. Summer-like weather in spring and a wide array of swimming classes, students and members of the community can be found in the water throughout the day and into the night. The Monarch swim teams held their one and only swim meet of the season against cross valley rivals Pierce College... and won!

Kids can be seen taking private lessons along side senior citizens. Monday through Friday evenings young adults fill the main pool for formal training and workouts. They seem to swim non stop, taking one lap after another as their parents, coaches, and siblings watch on. The men’s and women’s swimming, diving, and water polo teams have a state of the art heated pool to work out and train in. Lifeguards keep a watchful eye over all. Young girls lap the pool underwater and for a moment in time feel like mermaids. 26

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

LOCAL DIVE Story & Photography by Scott Mitchell

Professional Athletes


Story by H.Gore



playing a prank on a teammate. The numh e ber of people followprofessional ing him on Twitter is athlete has nearing a million. Working The Web evolved over Some question the the years; they value of having 24/7 acare bigger, fastcess to our sports stars. er, stronger, and Do we really need or want much more media to see Dhani Jones touring savvy. The physical the planet? Should Charlie Vilchanges can be explained by lanueva be tweeting at halftime advances in training, nutrition, or listening to his coach’s second and a dedication to their sport spurred half strategy? The athlete doesn’t have by incredible salaries. Taking control of a problem with either case, because the their image happened due to necessity. bottom line is it’s still information that Back in the proverbial day, they’re choosing to release. masses. Hello, Internet. athletes and reporters had a working Being able to control the infor Serena Williams, Curt Schilunderstanding of one another, leading mation that goes to the public doesn’t ling, Shaquille O’Neal, and Gilbert to more access for the writers and betalways work out well for the athlete. Arenas are among the wave of athletes ter exposure for the players. Journalists Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks, that have embraced the new media covering Babe Ruth traveled with the Martellus Bennett of the Dallas Cowmovement. Some, like Williams and Yankees by train and intentionally igboys, and UFC President Dana White Kobe Bryant, use personal Web sites. nored The Sultan of Swat’s late-night inhave all come under fire for controverAthletes like Arenas, and Donovan Mcdiscretions while deifying him in print. sial videos posted on Nabb blog, while Chris Bosh uses YouThe days of writers and athletes being Arizona Cardinals backup quarterback Tube. One way or the other, athletes are partners are long gone. As Matt Leinart had his dedicasports have grown into a biltion to football questioned “A popular athlete having marital problion dollar industry, the two when pictures of him partysides have become adversaring with coeds surfaced on lems? Better get this in the paper. Star ies. Facebook. player in a bar? The world needs to know It seems that reThe athletes are willsentment of the athletes by ing to take the occasional about this.” the media increased as the bad with the overall good player’s wages grew. What before was that comes from accepting and using reaching the public while cutting out considered personal or not newsworthy new forms of media. There’s a major the traditional media middleman. became the stories that reporters were difference between embarrassing your One of the biggest users of the looking for. A popular athlete having self and having someone go out of their new digital media is the NBA’s Shamarital problems? Better get this in the way to make you look bad. We still quille O’Neal. Shaq has always underpaper. Star player in a bar? The world need traditional media to report on the stood how to handle journalists, but needs to know about this. games and serve as watchdogs over the he has added life to the final years of The changes in the mindset of leagues, but when it comes to finding his career by using the Internet. Shaq the media made many athletes look for out about the players, it’s always best to has shot videos of himself dancing with alternative methods of reaching the go directly to the source. his kids, romancing a doughnut, and SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag


The College 411 Tips on how to succesfully get through college.

by Padma Jones | Photography by Klara MIller

Whether you are a brand new college student or are transferring to another university, there is one thing on your mind: How am I going to afford college? The thought is almost overbearing as you contemplate tuition, housing, books and all the other odds and ends required to attend college. In this economy, where everyone is pinching their pockets for every last little bit of change, you may wonder, “How can I possibly afford a college education when I can barely afford to read this free magazine?” Before sending yourself into a full-blown meltdown, here is some information that will guide you through college, beginning to end.

Determine Your College Choices

As a California native, you have


theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

many options when it comes to choosing a campus that fits your needs. Learn the differences among the community colleges, Cal State Universities, the UC system, and private college options. Often, the decision rests on the cost of the school. At $20 per unit, the Los Angeles Community College Districts’s fees can’t be beat. In two years you can receive an associate degree and be on your way to a career or transfer to a four-year university. “I chose to attend a community college basically because of the money. It’s much cheaper and the quality is the same,” said Valley student Uvaldo Jimenez. If striving for a bachelors or masters degree, the CSU and UC systems offer top-notch pro-

grams at a competitive price. The statewide CSU fee for a full-time student is currently $3048 per academic year, while the cost of attending a UC campus runs around $7000-$8000 per year.

Apply for Financial Aid

To alleviate some concerns you may have in regards to paying for college, you may want to apply for financial aid. FAFSA is the free application for federal student aid. Its Web site, www., gives you information and step-by-step instructions on how to apply for financial aid. Best of all, it’s free! According to the FAFSA Web site, the amount of aid you are eligible to receive is based on your expected family contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status and the cost of attendance at

spective college’s Web site for important information and application deadline dates. One trick to getting into college is to apply for the spring semester. There are fewer applicants during this time and the probability of getting accepted is much higher than if you were to apply for fall. Do not forget to research housing options, as this is a very important aspect of the college experience, especially if you are moving away from home. Finally, be sure to gather all necessary documents and to apply for admission on time!

Graduate on Time

your college. Make sure to pay attention to deadlines, as it can make or break you. As Financial Aid Student Lab Assistant Alex Jibaja said, “The number one mistake students make is that they start their applications late. They don’t meet the priority deadlines and this could cause them to not get their financial aid when they need it.” Don’t wait. Check out your financial aid options and apply!

Discover Scholarship Opportunities

There are many opportunities for students to receive scholarships. Check your college’s financial aid office and Web site for chances to apply. “Students should do more research for scholarships, it doesn’t have to be reported to the IRS!” said Financial Aid Student Lab Assistant Arthur Asa-

tryan. One option is a Cal Grant, which offers up to $9,700 a year in guaranteed funds, and you don’t have to pay it back. Another is The Foundation and Community Relations Office at Valley, who awards scholarships to students. Their Web site,, can provide you with information as to the best times to complete an application. Scholarships that are specifically designed for your college or major are also available. Talk to your advisor and search the Web. There are plenty of options waiting for you.

Get in to College

Here is where you complete the exciting task of applying to college. At this point, you have determined which schools interest you. Check your pro-

Most students attend college with the idea of being able to graduate in two to four years but this does not always happen. To help ensure that your two years does not turn into five, make sure you fully understand your chosen program and talk to an advisor about your educational goals. Check your college catalog, which outlines requirements for graduating. Certain degrees, such as an associate, require 60 semester units plus several required classes. To graduate on time, you may need to take on a full load (12 units) and attend intersessions, especially if you are a working student. With continued communication between you and your advisor, a carefully scheduled curriculum plan can get you in and out of college and on your way to future career goals in no time. Getting into college and then graduating is an exciting and life changing event for you. Simple choices such as researching your student loan options, visiting the financial aid office on campus and speaking to advisors can make your college experience less frazzled and ultimately more enjoyable.

SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag


HIP HOP the Evolution of the Revolution the truth revealed

by Padma Jones

It was March 10, 1983. MTV, for the first time, launched a pop-music video made by a black artist: Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It was the event that changed music television as we know it, breaking the barriers of color and bringing pop, R&B and hip-hop to homes across America. Although this sparked the country’s first glimpse into hip-hop, the birth of this culture had been well underway for many years. The 1970s brought about two of what many call the most influential people in hip-hop culture: Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc. Bambaataa, respectfully known as the God Father and Grand Father of hip-hop culture, was a DJ from the South


theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

Bronx who coined the term “Hip-Hop” and spread the word about this new style of music and culture. He created a group originally called the Organization, which was later referred to as the Zulu Nation. Kool Herc, a Jamaican born DJ known as the father of hip-hop, brought it to the Bronx with his two turntables and massive sound system known as the herculoids. His claim to fame was the creation of a break beat, where the vocals of a song would stop, but the beat would continue, providing non-stop music for the B-boy enthusiasts. Their goals were similar, to create something positive for the neighborhood thugs. This was the beginning of hip-hop culture.

Photo by Klara Miller

hip-hop, in all its essence, is not what we are seeing today. It was not originally just about baggy pants, offensive music or choreographed dance pieces. It was about the gathering of people from different cultures and races and the celebration of life with the usage of what is now known as the four elements of hip-hop; MC’ing, DJ’ing, B-boying and graffiti. This culture was a way of life for the people who struggled in a world of violence and poverty. Hip-hop gave them a purpose and the ability to feel alive when nothing else could. “It’s about a celebration of people and the love of where you come from and the love of this thing music, this thing dance, this thing rap, this thing graffiti, it is that,” said Popin Pete, member of the world-renowned Electric Boogaloos dance crew. “Hip-hop in the original sense of the word is ruined by corporate America thinking that they can make an almighty dollar and chip away the essence of what it’s really about.” Despite its current large scale acclaim, the core of hip-

hop culture is at an all-time low. We are now at a point when the current hip-hop trend needs to converge with its original purpose before it’s lost forever. In order for us to truly live in this culture and to claim it, we must take the time to lift up its roots and to discover what lies beneath it.

Photo by Klara Miller

Today, more than ever, we lay witness to a transformation from a past when very little hip-hop was featured on TV, the radio or magazines, to now, when the commercialization of this culture is at its peak. With the sudden outbreak of recent reality TV shows such as “America’s Best Dance Crew” and “Superstars of Dance,” the face of hip-hop has expanded far across the globe, becoming the latest trend for people of all ages and backgrounds. Phrases such as “that’s tight” and “that’s dope or sic” have become part of everyday language. “As far as hip-hop overall; fashion, slang, dance etc., it’s not just in the hood anymore. The culture has spread and influenced everything,” said Steven Stanton, member of the Groovaloos dance group who represented the USA and won “Superstars of Dance.” In a world where this culture was once scarcely presented to the masses, its current popularity provides proof of its now worldwide acceptance. To some, it is a new way of life. For others, the commercialization of hip-hop has led us astray. True

Photo by Padma Jones SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag


Photography by Ruben Rivera by Torrie Jones

"Your kicks tell the world who you are," Valley College student Marcus Brown says, a pair of black Pumas with neon pink, green and blue designs on his feet. "They can make you stand out from the crowd.” Ever since Run-DMC "Walk(ed) This Way" in "My Adidas" back in 1986, the sneaker culture has been a vibrant part of youth expression. Rocking their trademark white-and-black Adidas Superstars, Run-DMC made the shell-toed shoe a must have for young men desiring an air of urban cool. Like many other elements of black youth culture, this phenomenon has gone global. Today, you can find boutiques devoted to sneaker freaks in nearly every major urban metropolis on the planet. In Los Angeles, the fashion trend is hugely popular. Look down long enough— preferably while sitting—and you'll see many of your fellow students participating in and adding to sneaker culture here at Valley. The rise in popularity of sneaker culture coincides with, and is in large part due, to the rise of hip-hop culture.



theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

But way before Nelly got to stomping in his Air Force 1’s — back when Philip Knight was still making Nikes by hand with a waffle iron — tennis shoes served a mostly utilitarian function. Shocking as it seems, people actually played tennis or some other sport in them. Keds and the Converse Chuck Taylors gained popularity with young people starting in the 50s, but both were simple shoes featuring a basic rubber sole with a solid colored canvas top. Sneakers were slow to evolve; it was not until the late 70s that Converse released its "Dr. J" basketball shoes, named after the afro-donning, high-flying Julius Erving, and technology took steps towards modernizing the sneaker. Then in 1984, Michael Jordan revolutionized the game of basketball with his stellar ability and general lack of respect for Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity. His signature shoe, the Air Jordan—much like himself on the court— fused high performance with breathtaking style. The Air Jordan design ushered in a new era of shoe sophistication. This turned the comfy symbols of casualness

into miniature marvels of modern architecture overnight. For Valley student Cody Williams, Air Jordans hold a rarefied place in his sneaker collection. “My favorite pair of shoes in the world are my grape colored Air Jordan V’s,” Williams said. “My second favorite pair are the ones I got on, the Jordan II’s.” Since the Air Jordans were released in 1985, the culture has matured considerably. As the hip-hop generation gets older, jobs and money, exclusivity has become a way for Flight Club LA-shopping, eBay-bidding sneaker geeks to separate themselves from the fairweather Shoe Pavilion crowd. As a result, sneakers have turned into an expensive obsession for many connoisseurs. The aforementioned Air Force 1’s, with their simple yet classic design, regularly fetch over $1,000 per pair, depending on the designer and how many shoes were released to the public. "Nowadays, whatever is limited is the in thing," said Chris Lozano, an employee of Undefeated Silverlake, a L.A. based shoe boutique chain catering to the most discerning of collectors. "That's why when we do a collaboration with Converse or Puma or Nike, those shoes sell out the same day. We're

the only place that carries our collaborative shoes, and people want to be the only one in their circle that has a certain pair of sneakers." Outside of New York City, nowhere else rivals L.A. in terms of places to buy exclusive kicks. "Collectors in L.A. aren't that unique compared to any other collectors in the country, or even in the world for that matter, but we are fortunate," Lozano said. "Next to New York, which is the Mecca of sneaker culture, we're like the next biggest thing." Many students make the pilgrimage over the hill and into the city to highprofile sneaker shops such as the charter Undefeated store on La Brea and First in L.A., Sportie LA on Melrose, and RIF in Little Tokyo. At these shops, shoe prices range from the hundreds to the thousands. No one ever said exclusivity was cheap, but just having a nice pair of shoes from Foot Locker isn’t enough to be labeled a bona fide sneakerhead. “Kicks is like music,” said Valley student Michael Payton. “Just like a great song, a great pair of shoes can get played out if they’re overexposed. A unique pair of shoes that nobody’s seen before says a lot about a person without them having to say anything.”

SPRING 2009 theCROWNmag


by Torrie Jones Photography by Ruben Rivera

Music Fundamentals

How Valley gets its students in tune.

The music industry is undergoing a major transformation, caused primarily by the development of technologies that have changed how music is created and consumed. In the pre-digital 1970s and 80s, music engineers spent countless hours editing the bad notes out of takes by splicing huge reels of tape with a razorblade. Today’s engineers, on the other hand, make the same edits in seconds working “in the box,” using music software such as Pro Tools or Reason. Likewise, the ritualistic trek music fans used to make to their nearest Sam Goody or local mom and pop record store has been replaced by songs downloaded from iTunes in a matter of clicks. Yet for all this technology, a mastery of the lessons from our analog past is vital in order to keep music progressing into the future. Here at Valley College, the Music Department offers a curriculum that blends traditional music instruction with contemporary recording techniques in a communal environment, preparing students with different goals and backgrounds for success in the rapidly evolving music field. “The Department gives you a strong foundation in the basics to expand upon later,” said music major Anna Avetisyan. As with Avetisyan, many music students come to Valley to complete lower division coursework with the goal of transferring to a four-year such as UCLA, USC or Cal Arts. Although Valley does not compete with the aforementioned universities in terms of prestige, when it comes to quality of education there are plenty of advantages to studying at Valley beyond the financial. “It can be kind of intimidating going out of high school right into a four-year university,” Valley music teacher Chauncey Madden said. “We’re very open and very friendly here. We have smaller classes, so there’s a better chance to learn the material more effectively.” There are two distinctive degree paths offered in the Music Department: an associate degree in music and an associate degree in commercial music. The former prepares students to be a star in the classroom as a teacher, the latter primes students to be stars in the recording studio or on stage. Upon completion of an A.A in music, students will be equipped with the fundamentals of traditional music. A 34

theCROWNmag SPRING 2009

strong base in classical music theory and instrumental performance is provided for those wanting to teach, compose or perform Western art music for a living. Conversely, the A.A. in commercial music preps its participants for careers in the music industry. Students learn how to craft pop songs, produce beats, and mix music on industry-standard equipment. Classes falling under the commercial music umbrella, such as introduction to electronic music, commercial music techniques and recording arts workshop, focus on the way contemporary music is trending. Both degrees set students up to be competitive transfer applicants for the top university music programs. “Most of the students who transfer to four-year universities come back and tell us that they felt very prepared, in fact, I would say over-prepared in some cases, but hey that’s a good thing,” Madden said. The low-key department, housed in a nondescript building on the far west edge of campus, is also an inviting place for nontraditional students looking for a musical outlet. At age 63, Mary Piser has come back to Valley to take music classes after 40 years in the nursing industry. She’s returning to the school after obtaining her Registered Nurse license from Valley in the mid 1970s. Despite the comfortable living that being a nurse executive provided, Piser always yearned to follow her true obsession, teaching music. “I was wrapped up in climbing the corporate ladder and supporting my family,” Piser said while walking out of her college choir class. “For years I wanted to work in music. It wasn’t the most financially viable option when I was raising my kids, but now that they are grown and I’m retired, I finally have the time to do what I wanted to do all along.” Piser is working towards her associate degree in Music. Music theory, musicianship, and choir are among the classes she is taking. Piser is well aware that she’s one of the older students in her classes. But in her eyes, that makes the experience richer. “I’m in my 60s, and we have people studying in the department older than that. There’s also high school kids here getting AP music theory credit. All ages are well represented. It’s really wonderful.” There are plenty of schools in the Los Angeles area that focus on training the next generation of music professionals. But the combination of affordability, student diversity, faculty expertise and smaller class sizes make the Los Angeles Valley Music Department a hidden gem among a crowded field.

Crown Magazine Spring 2009  
Crown Magazine Spring 2009  

The Valley's Premier Student Magazine