Finale: Performing Circle

By Arely Mondragon

Taft’s College first annual Performing Circle has came to an end with the last performance of the semester.

The performance was held on April 24 in the quad and included both students and staff at Taft College.

The first to perform was Joey Smith; he performed an incredible acoustic song with his guitar.

The second to perform was geology instructor, Thomas Ware. He played an outstanding song with his guitar.

Next was an amazing dance performed by Vicky Waugh. She performed a tap dance that had the crowd amazed.

Vicky Waugh tap dances for the crowd

The fourth to perform  was sophomore student Vanessa; she also performed tap.

Next up was student Alexander Victoria, he read his poetry that had the audience in awe.

The sixth performance was a color-guard coach at Lincoln High School, Asia Fee. She gave an incredible performance using a rifle and a flag that impressed the crowd.

Asia Fee

Next to perform , was host of Performing Circle and professor at Taft, Brian Jean.He played his very own guitar harpa.

The final performance was from members of the Taft High School Jazz Band. They performed two jazz numbers including “Pick Up The Pieces.”

Video: Vicky Waugh tap dances

Taft’s High School students performed a jazz number.


Alexander Victoria reading his poetry for the audience.


Vanessa tap dancing

Joey Smith playing his guitar.

Taft College Little League Clinic

Coach Maiocco talks to the participants.

Richard Ortiz and Tyler Keith lead the stretching.

By Mark O’Connor

Whether you are 6 years old or 60, baseball is a common ground for all ages. The game is a powerful lesson teacher and something that has to be passed down from generation to generation.

On Sunday, April 9, the Taft College baseball team hosted a clinic for the West Side Little League. Little Leaguers, coaches and parents were invited to take advantage of instruction from Taft College players and coaches.

The group circles up to hear coach.


All that was asked of them to bring to the free clinic was their bat, glove, uniform, a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.

There was an exciting turnout of more than 100 kids, parents, and coaches. The little league kids entered Cougar Field with smiles on their faces and amazement in their eyes when they saw the Taft College players tower over them. Eager to learn and have a good time the little leaguers quickly began to interact with the college athletes.

The participants broke up into several different stations where Taft College ball players looked over and gave instructions on the drills. There were bunting, base running, hitting, infield and outfield drills. Each drill took 10 to 15 minutes and then each group rotated around.



“I like that we get to interact with the players and talk to all the older guys,” said Ryker Scherer, an 11-year-old ball player.
Taft College sophomore Chase Nistor said “,Events like this help the team get involved with the community. It is always good to give back to the kids and help their love for the game grow.”

Cougar coaching staff and players said that being able to hold events like this will help the Cougars get exposure within the community.

Participants said that they were grateful that the coaches and athletes took time out of their day to give back to the kids.

Brendan Halstrom gets eye level with future Hall or Famer

Spring Fling Week

John Irwin and Adrian Diaz enjoy the bounce house.

By Fred Mitchell

The week before Spring Break is usually such a dud. Everyone is on edge waiting for break to be here so that they can hit the beach or get started on some deep cleaning.

But for the students at Taft College, there was an alternative and more exciting way to get through the week before Spring break.

Diaz and Irwin sumo-suited it up.

The school put on a Spring Fling week available for all students with  activities jam packed into four days for students to enjoy. Some of the activities included sumo-suit wrestling, bounce houses, and musical chairs.

Every day of the week there was a list of new activities for students to enjoy.

Professor Retiring at the End of Spring Semester

By Black Gold Staff

Taft College Professor Gary Graupman will be retiring at the end of the spring semester, ending 16 years of service to the West Kern Community College District.

Graupman has taught English, journalism, speech, mass communications, photography, and film studies over the years.

Having been born and raised in Taft, he attended Taft High and Taft College and then worked in the oilfields. He returned to college at California State University, Bakersfield, in 1987 majoring in communications with a minor in English Literature.

Graupman graduated in 1990 and went on to earn a master of arts in English with an emphasis in composition in 1993. He also earned four teaching credentials.

Graupman worked in special education teaching severely disabled students for 11 years with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office and the Kern High School District at Stockdale High. In 2001, he accepted a position at Taft College teaching English. He later moved to speech and journalism and became the advisor for the school paper and the only advisor for the Black Gold magazine when the journalism program was revamped.

His hobbies include photography, travel, theater, and music, especially the blues. He and his wife Glenda have traveled to many countries including England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Australia, Spain, and Italy.

To celebrate his retirement, he and his wife are planning a trip to Amsterdam to board a ship for a Baltic cruise and after, spend a week in Paris. They also have two blues festivals planned.

Later this summer, Graupman will attend Camp Shakespeare which he claims, “It is lame, but a lot of fun,” held at Cedar City, Utah. Then he and his wife will go to South Lake Tahoe to attend the Shakespeare festival there.

Graupman commented about Taft College that the only thing he doesn’t like about Taft College is the drive as he lives in Bakersfield.

When asked about his car — a 2005 Lexus LS430, which has only 100,000 miles – Graupman said. ”I’m going to drive it until the wheels fall off. I may even want to be buried in it.”

He has fond memories of Taft College.

“The people are the reason the college is such a great place,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the students and working with staff and faculty.”

He and his wife plan on traveling and enjoying their retirement years and hearing a lot of music and seeing a lot of plays.



Musical Chairs and Pizza

By Arely Mondragon

Spring Fling Week kicked off this Monday at Taft College with an event called Musical Chairs and Pizza. Participants in the game were treated to Domino’s pizza with the winner of each round receiving a Domino’s gift card.

The event was hosted by Taft’s College Associated Student Body, led by ASB advisor Myisha Cutrona and the ASB officers. Participants in the musical chairs played with zeal and dedication. Some actually went down fighting.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s event is Inflatable Obstacles will begin both days at 10 a.m. at the Quad. Thursday the ASB is hosting a pool and ping pong tournament, will start at 4 p.m. at the Student Union. Thursday graciously funded by TC Foundation, Celebrating the Music of a Forgotten People, featuring Native American drummers and dancers, will begin noon at the Quad.

4th Annual Triple Play Dinner

Eric Brynes at Triple Play Dinner

By Mark O’Connor

The Historic Fort in Taft held host to Taft College alumni, faculty, and local business owners on January 27. The occasion was the 4th annual Triple Play Dinner & Auction that benefits Taft College’s Athletic programs.

Cougar student-athletes sat and served the attendees who payed 60 dollars per ticket and 500 dollars if they wanted a sponsor table.

Softball women servers

Dayton Wilson delivering food

The man who led the prayer before people began eating was Mike Osthimer, former Taft football player during the 1979-80 season. This was Mike’s third time attending the dinner and said he has seen major improvement in the organization and the involvement in the community. “The dinner has improved drastically as an event. Not only for our student athletes, but also the items that are available to bid on get better and better.”

Mike Osthimer leads the prayer

Along with the opportunity for folks to catch up on old times the dinner also provided people the chance to bid on sports memorabilia and local business items. There were two auctions going on at the same time, one live auction that people can bid on and a silent auction. While the head baseball coach, Vince Maiocco, was auctioning off items people could also big on small items like gift baskets and Cougar gear. Some of the bigger items included a picture of legendary Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax along with an autograph and a football signed by Buffalo Bills’ punter Colton Schmidt.

Sandy Koufax autograph and picture ready to get auctioned off

Colton Schimdt autographed football

However the main event of the evening was not the auction or even the food. It was former 11 year major league outfield Eric Byrnes. Byrnes played on a number of different major league teams his most dominant was with the 2007 NL West champs Arizona D-Backs hitting 21 home runs, scoring 103 runs and stealing 50 bases. Since retirement he has been a studio analyst on MLB Network and is an avid endurance runner.

As guest speaker Byrnes talked about his life story, trip to the bigs, and life after the bigs. The attendants of the dinner were also treated to a forty-five minute documentary entitled “Diamond to the Rough”. This documentary chronicles his running of the 2016 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley, USA to Auburn, Ca. “The most important thing that endurance running has taught me that putting one foot in front of the other is the only way to get from one place to another,” said Byrnes.