Skip to Google search Skip to Main menu links Skip to Rotating Banner Skip to News Skip to Calendar WEST KERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
TC logoTaft CollegeDedicated to Success!
Sitemap | Faculty | Cougar Tracks | Contact/Email
TC Menu

one-book-one-bakersfield one-book-2


Native American culture is alive in California.


A brilliantly dressed array of representatives from tribes from all over the state–including the Navajo, Lakota, Cherokee, Chumash, and Crow Nations–gathered for two days in a grass clearing on the CSUB campus in revelry and fellowship.

The tribes pitched their canopies in a circle about thirty yards wide and each tribe had dancers to represent them in the middle. Live drum circles played and sang native songs in native languages with pulsating rhythms and visceral tribal singing that was haunting yet powerful.

Fry bread (not “fried” bread) with honey and powdered sugar, delicious Indian tacos with traditional native sauce, and shaved ice were available from the numerous native food vendors that set up around the dance circle. Other merchants included craftspeople selling dreamcatchers, tribal memorabilia, jewelry, and toys for the children.

The event was a time for families, many of whom had native roots or were natives themselves, to celebrate the beauty and peace-loving nature of their culture.

The blistering heat did not seem to disenchant the enraptured dancers who were garbed in a beautifully colored array of heavy traditional clothing along with the flamboyant feathered headwear. The dancers were skilled and athletic in their performances, dancing with the drummers’ beats in perfect synchronicity.  Some songs were for certain age groups only, some for professional dancers only, and some were for everybody as indicated by the emcee.

The underlying theme of the event was an expression of solidarity with the thousands of Indians that have gathered in North Dakota to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which may be built on sacred native lands near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation under Lake Oahe. Protesters argue, as did Sioux Nation representatives at the powwow, that it would contaminate the water and disrupt lands of ancestral significance. Legislation around its building is ongoing and a donation was collected from a representative of the Sioux Nation.


-Richard Raygoza

By Bailey Vega

October 5 is already a special day for fans of the well-beloved and highly popular television series Gilmore Girls, but what Netflix did with coffee shops around the nation in honor of the show’s 16th anniversary made the day even more exciting and memorable.

Photo of Luke's Diner Sign      Photo of promotional "Luke's Diner at Pappy's" banner

One of the hallmarks of the main characters Lorelei and Rory Gilmore is, of course, their complete addiction to coffee—a need for caffeine that is satisfied by Luke’s Diner, the two’s favorite spot to eat in the quirky fictional town of Stars Hollow. Last Wednesday 250 coffee shops around the nation, including Pappy’s Coffee Shop and Caffeine Supreme in Bakersfield, offered fans the chance to start their day like just like a Gilmore when the cafes turned into versions of Luke’s Diner from 7 am-12pm. All of the cities and shops were specifically selected by Netflix in promotion of their upcoming four-part revival of the show titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Each 90-minute episode will air exclusively on Netflix starting Nov. 25.

Photo of TC student Courtney Cloud standing in line for coffee.

TC student Courtney Cloud

Photo of Pappy's Coffee Shop.


Fellow Taft College student Courtney Cloud and I, both devoted fans of the show, headed to the event at Pappy’s Coffee Shop on Rosedale Highway and found that it was nothing short of magical. The café displayed a replica of the Luke’s Diner sign, had twinkly lights in the window just like the iconic storefront from the show, and turned their own menus into Luke’s Diner menus. The employees even dressed the way character Luke Danes appears in nearly every episode, wearing baseball caps and plaid flannel shirts. Pappy’s also passed out free cups of coffee that were wrapped in Luke’s Diner coffee sleeves and were printed with a brand new Lorelei Gilmore quote from one of the revival episodes.

Photo of the replica Luke's Diner coffee cups. Photo of TC students Courtney Cloud and Bailey Vega outside the diner. Photo of coffee cup with Gilmore Girls quote on it.

“[I understand] that local coffee shops try to make the restaurant like a second home, and I feel like Luke’s Diner is a second home [to the characters],” said an employee named Sarah, whose family owns Pappy’s Coffee Shop. She said Pappy’s had given out over 400 cups of coffee by 10:00 am, far surpassing their expectations for how many people would be at the event. Netflix contacted the shop in advance and asked if they’d like to be one of only fifteen “pop-up diners” to partake in the event across California. “We wanted to give fans an experience to remember,” she said.

Photo of employee.                        Photo of the character Luke Danes.

While many people waited in the huge line that had formed outside the shop proudly donned Gilmore Girls merchandise t-shirts or cleverly dressed like characters from the show, one mother and daughter duo in attendance were truly like a “real-life Lorelei and Rory” as their very lives bear a striking resemblance to those of the Gilmore girls themselves. Emily, who is a mother in her thirties just like Lorelei Gilmore, brought her daughter Chloe, who is sixteen and the exact age Lorelei’s daughter Rory is in the first season of the series. “When the show first came out, I was a new mom, so I never had time to watch it, but I had always heard things about it,” Emily said. Chloe introduced her mom to watching Gilmore Girls, and now the two enjoy the episodes together, sharing a deep connection to its premise and a charming relation to the endearing mother-daughter dynamic in the show.

Photo of Chloe and Emily.

Daughter and mother Chloe (left) and Emily (right).

Fans were definitely not disappointed by the highly anticipated occasion. “I was really pleasantly surprised to see how many people came out,” said aforementioned Taft College student Courtney Cloud. “It was cool to see all the variety of Gilmore Girls fans there are, and it was a really great way to kick off the revival of the show and to celebrate the 16th anniversary too.”

Even though the event was in Bakersfield, where the hot summer weather still seems to be doing its best to linger on throughout October, things like the crisp chill of the early morning air, the enthusiasm and comradery amongst the various fans, and especially the act of drinking a cup of Luke’s Diner black coffee certainly made the whole experience feel like a dreamy autumn morning in Stars Hollow, Connecticut.

Happy Gilmoreversary!


Veronica Renaker and Alberto Muro


Students cover Bakersfield Business Conference

Black Gold Staff

Two Taft College journalism students had the opportunity to attend the premier business conference of the country and cover the event. The conference was held at California State University, Bakersfield Saturday, October 9.

The two TC students, Alberto Muro and Veronica Renaker, received press passes as would any other media person, which allowed access to the facility and the Main Tent. They were also allowed access to the Press Tent where most of the speakers appeared to answer questions from the media.

Both student reporters were amazed with the sold out event which also included an all-day Honkey Tonk featuring live country western music, a Farmer’s Market featuring local fresh produce, a carousel, Sport Tent, and ice cream bar. But the main attraction to both students was the speakers. Muro, third semester journalism student and editor of the Cougar Echo Online, said, “This is the first time attending the BBC, and it enlightened me in politics and business ethics. I admired Magic Johnson’s talk not only as an entrepreneur but as a peacekeeper to ease tension in the audience.”

Renaker, a second semester journalism student, couldn’t get over how close she could get to all the famous people and how amazed she was at what they had to say and how they inspired the attendees. She, when asked about the conference, said, “I thought it was phenomenal. I loved the Carville and Coulter debate. It was an incredible experience being up close and personal with the speakers. I am looking forward to the conference’s return so I will be able to bring my loved ones who would adore such a spectacular event. Thank you, Brandon Martin, for so graciously giving us the opportunity to attend this year’s Bakersfield Business Conference as aspiring journalists from Taft College.”

The event is sponsored by the law firm of Borton, Petrini, LLP. George Martin, a member of the firm who helped start the conference 30 years ago, was the Master of Ceremonies introducing the well-known speakers appearing in the Main Speaker Tent. His son, Brandon, Communications Director for the conference, in an email wrote that he had fond memories of covering events when he was in college and how he wanted to give that chance to others.

Attendees were treated to such speakers as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Herman Cain, Ben Carson, Lou Holtz, Laura Ingraham, Bobby Jindal, Magic Johnson, Diane Keaton, Wayne LaPierre, Rick Perry, Cal Thomas, Allen West, and many more. Some spoke in the Main Speaker Tent while others spoke in the Political Tent. The event at one time was held every year, but a few years ago, it was changed to every five years.

The crowd was also treated to a debate between James Carville and Ann Coulter, one very liberal, one very conservative. Carville wanted to say hello to the Democrats at the conference, “all ten of you.” The conference has a tradition of surprise guests at the end. This year was no different with the first being Leroy Petry, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in Afghanistan, second, Army Captain Dan Quinn who disobeyed Army policy to help an Afghan boy ending his career in the army, and the last, Captain Richard Phillips, the subject of the recent Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips who was captured by Somali pirates and rescued by Navy Seals—three American heroes.

Petry, Phillips, and Quinn

Petry, Phillips, and Quinn

Sheriff Joe Arpio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Attendees buying Sheriff Arpaio prisoner underwear

Attendees buying Sheriff Arpaio pink prisoner underwear

Ice cream bar

Ice cream bar

Farmers market

Farmers market

Honky Tonk muscians

Honky Tonk muscians

























Photo of Patti Bench

Patti Bench


By Bailey Vega

Patti Bench worked at Taft College for 27 years, and she still finds ways to support the school even during her retirement. In the nearly three decades she spent at TC, she held numerous positions and was the one who initiated some of our school’s very important achievements. She has been a TC counselor, instructor of psychology, and distance learning coordinator; she retired as the Vice President of Instruction in 2013. Bench started the Distance Learning Program at Taft College and continues to teach psychology to TC students online from her home in the mountains of Kernville, California.

Bench says she is “blissfully retired,” and quilting, one of the things she most loves to spend her time doing now, is a way that she still meaningfully impacts Taft College as well as others. She has been using her talent and creativity to make quilts that benefit the Taft College volleyball team’s Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser for the past several years. She found the pattern for the quilt she made for this October’s fundraiser a year and a half ago and has been excitedly anticipating her donation of the quilt to be raffled off for the fundraiser ever since.

Photo of the quilt Patti Bench made

Patti Bench’s Breast Cancer Awareness Quilt

“This is a cause that’s near to my heart,” she stated affectionately. This is because Bench was actually the very person who started the Breast Cancer Awareness Week and fundraiser at Taft College back in the early 1990s. At that time, she ran a weeklong fundraiser and awareness campaign on campus that was focused on supporting and donating money to the Susan B. Komen Foundation. Bench coordinated the special events and activities for about five years before Kanoe Bandy, the current athletic director and volleyball coach, joined forces with her and eventually took over with the volleyball girls.

Bench is just as passionate about quilting as she is about benefiting others through her creations. “I do things that inspire me,” she said, explaining that she frequently quilts for local charities, fundraisers, and other causes that she feels moved by. For the past five years, she has been making one quilt every month that is donated to be used in hospital Isolettes, incubators that premature babies are laid in. She also makes quilts for local family resource centers in Kernville and Ridgecrest and participates in the Wounded Warrior Quilt Program to which she sends one of her quilts every month to their San Diego branch.

She plans on continuing to make quilts that will benefit the Taft College volleyball team’s Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser in the years to come. “I’m already working on next year’s,” she said enthusiastically. “It’s a special program,” she continued with a warm smile, “so you have to do something special for it.”

The volleyball team will be sponsoring Breast Cancer Awareness Week, which runs from Oct. 10-14. The team will have breast cancer information tables set up from 11:00 am-1:00 pm each day at the cafeteria and in front of the SU building where donations can be made and Breast Cancer Awareness paraphernalia will be sold. The volleyball team will also have a home game dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness on Friday, Oct. 14 at 6:00 pm. Donations are accpected at the door, and all who attend will be given raffle tickets. Patti Bench’s quilt will be raffled off at this event. “Dig for a Cure” T-shirts will be available for purchase at the match as well. The money raised by the volleyball team is donated locally to Taft’s Soroptimist Club which uses the funds to meet the needs of cancer patients in the community.






By Richard Raygoza

The wind was just right for a game on Friday September 16th at Monty Reedy Field when the sun was still high in the sky.

The black-clad Taft College Men’s Soccer Team warmed up in the middle of the field, filling the atmosphere with their spirit and confidence. The pristine white uniforms of the Moorpark College Raiders, opposite the Cougars, reflected brightly under a cloudless sky.

The Cougars dominated the first half, scoring two goals within the first hour of the game and the Raiders defended fiercely for the rest of it. The Cougars huddled up at halftime while head coach Angelo Cutrona stirred them up and laid out the game plan for the second.


“I want you to be hungry lions out there!” Cutrona said.

The men came back with just as much tenacity while Moorpark’s morale clearly waned. Their goalie, however, stayed focused, blocking multiple attempts from the Cougars.

“We have a very fast team this year,” said Cutrona in a post-game interview. “Lots of returning players look forward to facing teams we saw in the playoffs last season.”

The Cougars outclassed the Raiders in both speed and stamina and took the win 3


By Joshua Rivera

A Kern County association is fighting a disease that many residents of Kern County suffer from.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC) meets 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Thursday at First Baptist Church, 220 North St, Taft, to hold a Respite Service.

The services are for both the person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, and the caregiver. Being a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient is hard work, and the service gives the patient a safe environment with social interaction and exercise that also helps with mental stimulation, according to the ADAKC.

The association says the service also helps the caregiver not feel so overwhelmed.

The ADAKC promises that the service “provides guilt free time for yourself while enhancing the quality of life for your family and loved one.”

Yvonne Ludwig, who has been involved with the ADAKC for two years, oversees the respite service at the Baptist Church. She is a respite coordinator, support leader, and councilor for the ADAKC that sees a few patients every meeting.

Ludwig is originally from Germany, and moved to the United States 17 years ago. When Ludwig decided she wanted to go back to school at Bakersfield College, she knew she wanted to help people, and decided to get a job in human services.

She started as an intern for ADAKC before she was hired at the main center in Bakersfield, located at 5500 Olive Drive, where she works full time.

The ADAKC’s main center in Bakersfield holds Respite Services as well, but also holds support groups for: early stage patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, caregivers, and people who used to be caregivers.

The ADAKC center also provides community education about Alzheimer’s and dementia, family caregiver assistance, crisis counseling, and countless other services. Ludwig said she personally sees over 40 patients at ADAKC’s main center.

The ADAKC has been providing services to Kern County since 1982. Its vision is “All in Kern County on the Alzheimer’s journey have the help and support they need.”

By Denae Ayala

From Sept. 25 through Oct. 1, the TC library held their second annual banned books display which was set up for students and faculty members.

“Stand up for your right to read” is the message the American Library Association wanted to get out there for teachers, students, journalists, authors, and readers of all types.

At the TC library there are no banned books, nor will any books be banned. TC students have the freedom to read whatever they want.

Mary Decker, TC’s library technician along with librarian assistant Miranda Tafte  spent a month setting up the display. The display consisted of a variety of books that were banned from libraries and schools. Each book had tabs on them with written reasons  why the book was either challenged or banned.

Students and faculty members were welcome to take a trivia question quiz about the different books that were challenged in schools all around the world. New questions were posted everyday of the week. All correct answers were entered into a drawing for prizes.

“Everyone should be entitled to the First Amendment,” said Decker. She wanted to encourage students to read whatever they feel like reading.

 Mary Decker and Miranda Tafte in front of Banned Books display

Library technician Mary Decker and Miranda Tafte in front of Banned Books display




By Alberto Muro

On Friday evening  residents of Bakersfield made their way to the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame to attend a documentary screening that discussed arising issues in Kern County. The organization known as “Rise Up Be Heard” showed the film “The Naked Truth: Shadow Town”.

Investigative journalism conducted by Rise Up Be Heard allowed viewers to better grasp the unseen problems in Kern County such as police corruption, tainted water systems, immigration, and healthcare access. With the cooperation of Kern County residents, Rise Up Be Heard gathered information presented in the documentary.

With the conclusion of the screening,  the director of the film and journalists approached the stage and had a discussion with the audience about the journey of creating the documentary. The journalists mentioned that they are from California and creating this documentary helped open their eyes to the problems plaguing the state.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »