During the first two days of November, Hispanic cultures partake in the largest celebration that symbolizes a reflection of their deceased loved ones. Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration that honors their gone relatives. Friends and families erect shrines of their deceased and bring belongings that reflects on their past life. Dia De Los Muertos also shares a religious following from the Catholic Church as alters are also aligned with rosaries and scriptures from the Bible.
The events that occur during Dia De Los Muertos are live music, Baile Folclorico de Mexico (Mexican Ballet), face painting, and sugar skull decorations. On the evening of November 2nd the 24th annual Dia De Los Muertos Expo was held at the Druids of Bakersfield hall. The host of the event was Cruz Ramos who also happens to be the dancing instructor. She welcomed everyone to the Dia De Los Muertos event and introduced the first performers.
The first performance consisted of a person representing St. Michael the Archangel and a group of youthful dancers dressed in skeletal clothing. The skeletal dancers positioned themselves on the floor, and the performance began with St. Michael walking in between the dancers blowing his horn. Next, the dancers awake as if they have been startled from the grave. Now the center of the room has skeletons dancing around and gaining the applause from the audience. The dance routine symbolizes the dead trying to reconnect with the living.
Upon the completion of the skeleton dance, The Marcos-Reyes-Band began playing music during the intermission which inspired audience members to get up and dance. The environment was lively for an event honoring the dead. Often, we use the time to honor our deceased by mourning; instead Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration of life through unification.
The next group of dancers were Muriel Ramos’ students from Mount Vernon Elementary School. The dancers wore the traditional face paint with symbols reflecting their deceased loved ones. The audience began clapping with the stomping rhythm of the dancers which could be heard through out the dance hall. Showing resilience towards fatigue, the little dancers kicked, spun, and kept the rhythm till the end. Impressed and astonished by the dancers, the audience could not resist blowing the roof off the venue with cheers and applause. Once the dancers finished, they bowed and made their exit.
The Marcos-Reyes-Band briefly played more music until the next set of dancers was ready to perform. After the band played their last song, the female dancers got into formation and began their routine. Similar to the Mt Vernon Elementary dancers, the females painted half their faces with detailed drawings. The attention of the audience focused more on the bright red dresses that the women wore which was accompanied by a swinging dance routine. The lack of applause did not symbolize a staggering performance; instead the audience was caught in a trance by the visual aspect of the moving dresses. Once the dancers were finished, they bowed and were met with applause.
Once the female dancers cleared the area, the next set of dancers approached wearing old men masks, hats, and ponchos and carryingwooden canes. It was not the local retirement home coming to dance but instead a youthful group of dancers ready to prove that old men can dance. The dance was called “Los Viejitos” (The Old Men) and the concept of the dance is the old men are expressing their discomfort around the idea of death. One dancer collapsed to the floor as the old men kept on walking. But to our surprise, the skeleton dancers came back for an encore to help the old man up. The old man was thankful for the fact that death lent him a hand. Now friends with the skeletons, the old man returned to his group, and to his surprise, they all fainted. Laughter could be heard from the audience followed by applause as the skeletons assisted the old man with dragging his friends off stage.
The final dance involved an illuminated hula hoop enthusiast that represented a free spirit in a red dress as she pranced around a dark room. Multiple colors irradiated as the dancer spun her hoop faster and leaped great distances around the dance floor. Unfamiliar with what the audience was spectating, a dark room cheered as the dancer paused and sprung back into action. Unlike the other performances, the hula hoop routine consisted of one individual, and they delivered an entertaining aspect that Dia De Los Muertos taps into–the creativity of people to express themselves for the ones they miss.
College campuses are filled with terrifying things such as research papers, midterms, group assignments, and professors who hand out homework on the weekends.
On Halloween night students had a great time getting dressed up in the TIL (Transition to Independent Living) and Ash Street dorms to forget about all of those petrifying things.
In the Ash Street dorms participants decorated their dorms for a Halloween decorating contest, the winner received a cash prize. One room had a mini haunted house that you could walk through while they attempted to scare you, and if you were brave enough to step through the spine-chilling walk way you were rewarded with candy in light of the Halloween spirit.
In the TIL dorms, students also decorated the doors with designs that read “Dead Inside, Do Not Enter” and “Caution” tape wrapped around the outside. There was a DJ that playing music in the center of the dorms that had people dancing and having a good time.
As students walked through the dorms they found themselves having a great time, sharing laughs and eating Halloween candy as if they were reliving their childhood days.
Local art students collaborated with English students to raise awareness about the planet’s diminishing drinkable water supply and its unappreciated importance to the sustainment and progress of society.
The gallery was packed, bustling with artists, writers, and their supporters enjoying the exhibit. Many students and instructors also came from nearby classrooms to observe.
“The Flow of Creativity” was the befitting name for the art exhibit at the Taft College Campus Art Gallery on Thursday, October 20th in which students displayed paintings alongside selected quotes from Charles Fishman’s The Big Thirst. The event was part of the annual “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” project initiated yearly by the Kern County Library network and California State University, Bakersfield.
Local art student presents her piece to observant judges. Students participating in the exhibit were scored by art judges for first, second, and third place prizes provided by facilitating faculty.
Taft College’s Basic Art 1600 students with instructor Deborah Rodenhauser worked interdepartmentally with Kamala Carlson and Danielle Kerr of the English department to create beautiful paintings of all different media based on selected quotes from Fishman’s book. Excerpts from the book, which is written in highly stylized prose, were paraphrased by the English students.
The staff responsible for “Quench: The Flow of Creativity” exhibit. From left Gaysha Smith, Kamala Carlson, Deborah Rodenhauser, and Danielle Kerr
The English 1000 students in Carlson and Kerr’s classes have been assigned to read the book, which is a collection of musings and essays on Fishman’s philosophy about the disparaging and globally fragmented water distribution, as well as data based on his travels and research of the different ways that water is used throughout the world.
Fishman also writes of how the global water supply is becoming–and has become in many regions–irreversibly contaminated as a result of decades of pollution and the careless use of water as a source for waste.
Rodenhauser remarked jokingly, pertaining to America’s ever-intensifying water situation, “It’s as if all of the drugs and pills we washed down the drain in the sixties and seventies are coming back to haunt us!” According to Fishman’s sobering data, she is not far from the reality of things.
Fishman writes, “The new class of micropollutants we are beginning to hear about–infinitesimal, almost molecular traces of plastics, birth control pills, antidepressants–have literally been invisible even to chemists until very recently; you certainly can’t tell if they’re in your water by looking at it or drinking it. The impact of those micropollutants on our health, if any, may remain invisible for years–and may be almost impossible to predict or trace” (8).
Much of the book entails these kinds of warnings against the seemingly grim future of water and its function in our society along with musings from Fishman’s travels to different sacred water supplies throughout the world. The artists that participated in “The Flow of Creativity” were commissioned to create works that reflect his writings through their own creative lenses. Some of the artists were able to share their thoughts on their pieces, the water issues, and art in general.
“Comic artists like Michael Turner, Bret Booth, and Jim Lee really motivated me when I was starting,” says Nashel Tena of her pursuits in visual arts, something she has been passionate about since she was a young child. Her piece is an iridescent, comic-style portrait of a young man inspired by Fishman’s account of a boy that bemoaned a devastating drought in his home country. Tena says that she was very moved by the fact that even though the boy in Fishman’s excerpt yearned for free-flowing water; it has never come. Her piece was one of the few judges’ selections of the evening’s exhibit.
Nashel Tena poses with her colorful piece that won a second-place prize among the paintings, sketches, and mixed media pieces of the exhibit.
“If anyone is looking to pursue art, you have to build a passion for it and really want to improve yourself. Don’t believe people that say ‘you have natural talent.’ You’ve got to work for it. If you really want to work for it, then you can get there. If you want to be good at something, you can be,” she says.
The image drawn by Samuel Rodriguez displays water molecules and an abstract mountain range. It conveyed sophisticated blending techniques and precise attention to detail. “Earth has the water trapped in what is considered a 4th state” Rodriguez says. “Under extreme confinement, water molecules are able to move through energy barriers.” Simply put, water molecules that are normally trapped beneath the earth’s surface also happen to be above the earth.
Ashtian Wright and Samuel Rodriguez pictured with their paraphrase and art piece, respectively.
English student Ashtian Wright was responsible for compiling the paraphrase for the assignment. “We were assigned quotes about water, so I utilized my creative thinking and came up with a descriptive analysis.” Both participants put their skills to the test and produced a detailed illustration about the essence of water.
When asked why she selected the particular excerpt from Fishman’s book that she did, Victoria Fraire, an art history and English literature major at Taft College, said “I liked the way it spoke of how sacred the water is and how it is pictured as something spiritual. For me–when I did my piece–that was a main thing. Water gives life and nobody really values that.”
Victoria Fraire with her award-winning piece “Tree of Life.” She says that her piece was inspired by Fishman’s account of the way that bodies of water are regarded as deeply spiritual and divine in foreign countries.
After finishing her studies at Taft, native Northern Californian Fraire hopes to purse higher education in art and literature at either The University of California, Berkeley or The University of San Francisco. She fondly remembers the renaissance art and architecture of Europe, in places such as Spain and France, from where she has only recently returned this past year. She aspires to study abroad and looks forward to visiting Italy, particularly Venice and Florence.
When asked to advise growing artists, she relays the advice she gives to her artistic eleven-year-old daughter: “Day by day, go outside and look at things. Always keep a sketchbook to sketch whatever catches your eye. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, study it everyday. And always make sure that you’re in the moment.”
The judges undoubtedly had a difficult time selecting which pieces would go on to be displayed at the CSUB art exhibit of a similar vein. Winners were also recognized and honored at Charles Fishman’s panel on Thursday, October 27th, at which Fishman appeared to discuss his work and to field questions from readers.
The judges’ selections of the evening were Ashley Ramos and Vicoria Fraire for 1st place; Maria Zavala and Nashel Tena for 2nd Place; Karen Rodriguez, Shelby Jacobson, and Madison Borecco for 3rd place. Listed are paraphrasing writers alongside the visual artists.
On the evening of October 27, the president of Cal State University Bakersfield Dr. Horace Mitchell invited investigative journalist and author of The Big Thirst Charles Fishman to the 10th annual “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” readers program. Dr. Mitchell spoke about the success of “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” saying “It promotes literacy to Kern County students.” Every year students throughout Kern County read enticing works of literature and participate in events that are relevant to the book. Students also get the opportunity to meet the author of the book.
After Dr. Mitchell spoke with the students, he introduced Charles Fishman to the stage. Mr. Fishman was greeted by a round of applause and wasted no time getting into the details of the book. “I’m the guy that ruined your fall semester,” Mr. Fisher stated as he lifted a copy of his book. His statement was met with laughter.
Mr. Fishman also thanked “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” for inviting him to speak with students about water. California is currently in the midst of a drought, and The Big Thirst is the perfect book to enlighten student readers about the importance of water. Mr. Fishman explained the simplicity of his book by saying, “The more water we have, the happier we are. That’s the entire book in less than eighty characters.”
The Big Thirst discusses the water problems on a global scale rather than domestic. Mr. Fishman explained his overall objective for writing the book by studying water from around the world. “I spent 5 years traveling the world trying to understand the water problems,” Mr. Fishman said while mentioning his trips to Italy, India, Australia, and the United States for his project.
During the panel, Mr. Fishman brought up some grueling statistics that served as an eye opener to students. “Four out of ten people don’t have access or have to walk 3 km to get clean water,” he said while talking about his trip to an impoverished region in India. Mr. Fishman did in fact walk 3 km to experience first hand the struggles of obtaining clean drinking water.
Mr. Fishman also says the lack of clean drinking water in India is the result of “failed policies from elected officials promising the Indian people access to clean drinking water.” There are talks of clean water initiatives in every election cycle, but the Indian government contributes very little towards the cause. As a result, people are forced to traverse long distances for clean water.
At the end of the panel, Mr. Fishman encouraged students to ask questions pertaining his research towards his book. Students lined up and began asking questions regarding water conservation methods, traveling experiences, and his overall message to students. One question lingered in reference to his statement “four out of ten people don’t have access to clean water.” “Good evening Mr. Fishman, you mentioned that there is lack of clean water in locations, I assume they are poverty stricken” “Yes, that’s correct,” Mr. Fishman replied. “The United States has a strong economic infrastructure, yet there are cities experiencing contaminated water”; “Mr. Fishman, if money is not the problem, then what is?”
Mr. Fishman began explaining that funding is usually not the reason for lack of clean water, but instead it all boils down to politics. As Mr. Fishman explained earlier, “Leaders in India, for example, do not use their political influence towards clean water.” He also talked about the contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, and how the lack of political intervention lead to negligence towards a clean water system and the result was tragic.
For his closing statement, Mr. Fishman thanked the students and faculty for being involved in the “One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern” and hopes his book informed everybody about the importance of water so that one day we may stop taking it for granted. He then asked students to form a line for his book signing; following this statement, the stampede sound of students gathering around Mr. Fisher could be heard through out the gym.
From October 29th to October 31st, the Feed the Zombies Food Drive was held at 5510 Lombardy Court. The Food Drive is a non-profit event that was created by Kern County resident Cherie Willis to help the homeless in Kern County.
This is the fourth year that Willis has hosted her food drive. Every year she usually receives over 300 canned good items from people in the Kern County community wanting to receive a good scare at her haunted house. On the 30th, Willis had already received over 144 cans of food and was expecting a lot more on Halloween. Every year she has a different theme for her haunted house, and this year’s theme seemed to center more on clowns and the circus.
Willis says she hosts this event to try and show people that Halloween should be “looked upon as a celebration” like Christmas or Thanksgiving because not many people decide to celebrate Halloween anymore. She also does this because more holidays are coming, and not many people will be able to celebrate with food.
Willis says she also decided to do this because she received canned goods from the community when she was younger, so she likes to do the same thing for families that are in a similar situation. Even when her house burned down earlier this year and she lost all of her props for the haunted house, she decided to redo everything and still host the event.
Willis usually donates her canned goods to nonprofit organizations, but this year decided to make gift baskets and give them directly to the Bakersfield Homeless Center/Bethany House. She says, “I would like to feed thirty people in one day, then feed ten people overtime.”
Willis’ haunted house is a big success every year that is usually advertised on Kern County’s website for events, Facebook, and even the news. Willis is doing good work for the community and encourages Kern County residents to check out her haunted house and get involved with donating canned goods.
If an earthquake were to happen right now, most people would know to stay indoors until the shaking stops, drop down to the floor and find cover, cover their heads and necks to protect themselves from any debris, and hold onto their cover so they can move with the earthquake until the shaking stops.
To remind students of the proper procedures, Taft College participated in The Great California Shake Out. The Shake Out was held on October 20th, 2016, at 10:20 AM. Students and staff indoors were told by a phone call or email when the Shake Out would start and what to do.
The Shake Out lasted for a few minutes, and students and staff received another phone call or email telling them that the Shake Out was over.
In California, over ten million people in school’s state wide participated in the Shake Out, and over fifty million people participated in a Shake Out nationwide
Students under desks
It was important for Taft College to be involved in the Shake Out because California has a higher risk for experiencing an earthquake than any other state in the country.
The Shake Out is an annual event that allows people to practice procedure while also informing others that are not familiar with what to do in an earthquake, so they can avoid serious injury.
The Shake Out will be held again next year, and hopefully, even more schools will participate in this event that keeps people safe.
The average Californian uses 181 gallons of water a day. With a population of over 30 million, California uses over five billion gallons of water each day. Bakersfield alone uses over 83 million gallons of water a day. This amount of water that California uses has been slowly declining since 1980, but California has still found itself in a severe drought.
California mostly gets its water supply from surface water, but gets a small percentage of water from groundwater. Since California has been in a drought for five years, we have seen the use of groundwater increase exponentially.
Kern County has done a great deal to conserve water by putting restrictions on what Kern County residents can and cannot do when it comes to water. The Kern River has seen improvement because of this, but it’s still not enough.
Taft College decided to start raising awareness on the issue and held a Water Conservation Event on October 19, 2016, to raise awareness to students on campus and the Kern County community.
An obstacle course was set up at the school’s quad where groups of three would try and complete the course without popping a water balloon. Student participants as well as spectators at the event thought this was a fun way to inform students of the need to conserve water while also getting them involved.
Taft College hopes to host more events that raise awareness on the issue of water conservation and hopes that students will spread the word as well.
The Taft College Associated Student Body hosted a costume contest in the quad on Halloween.
Students, faculty, and children who were dressed up lined the steps of the amphitheater for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card or a gift basket.
An ASB officer asked each participant to introduce themselves and identify their costumes, which included an array of iconic characters and creative renderings. The ensembles included Disney, movie, and comic book characters; storybook protagonists; creatures ranging from mystical to eerie; creatively portrayed objects; and even specific body parts.
The contest was judged by the audience members, who voted by show of cheering and applause. The costumes that received the loudest ovations were kept in the running until, after several rounds of voting and elimination, just four groups of contestants were left: a pair of minions from the animated film Despicable Me (one malevolent and purple, the other goofy and yellow), two ornately dressed gypsies, a pair of breasts, and a group that included a baby Cinderella and her fairy godmother accompanied by a child dressed as a blue hot air-balloon.
A baby Cinderella, her fairy godmother, and a hot air balloon child.
Since these costumes were all equally appreciated by the crowd, the ASB members decided to have the participants engage in a dance-off to “The Monster Mash.” The options were narrowed down to Cinderella and company and the gypsies, and the crowd’s final consensus determined the two gypsies to be the winners.
The typical sporting event consists of athletes wearing identical uniforms and referees that are true and honest to both teams. That was not the case on Friday at Taft College’s baseball field.
The 4th Annual Taft College Halloween game featured characters like Captain Underpants, Princess Peach, and even both major 2016 presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Princess Peach (Tyson Canfield)
Captain Underpants (Seth Sorensen)
“It’s a fun event that is good for the chemistry of the team,” said Nick Kawano, third year sophomore.
The two teams, the Ghouls and the Goblins, fought it out in a short exhibition game mostly for bragging rights. In this game the pitchers were not TC’s everyday pitchers, instead they were the position players. The regular pitchers were given their one chance to swing the bats and flash the leather on the field.
As expected, the game was not played as intensely as a normal game would. The umpire, “Crooked Hillary,” made a handful of poor calls and was showered by boos from both dugouts. However, there was still a fair share of nice fielding plays and a 3-run home run off the bat of Richard Ortiz, who dress up as a monk.
Crooked Hillary (Coach DeFreece)
The game was meant for nothing more than a few laughs and a good time. Those who sat in the stands on that cloudy afternoon got just that.