The First College Ever Opens in Valencia Valley.
Some 800 Students Enroll.
The Signal | Friday, October 3, 1969.
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Today marks the end of the first week of classes at the College of the Canyons.
That's right — College of the Canyons.
Valencia Valley's first and only college is alive and operating with some 800 students, five days a week, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., in Newhall.
The Junior College, for many years a dream, then a possibility, and now a reality, opened its doors and classes began Monday. It is not the first time, though, that those same doors have been open, and many of the students have been through those same doors before.
The new college is located at the Hart High School Newhall Avenue campus — and it will be for a couple of years until a new school is built. Many of the students are Hart High graduates.
Morale is high at the new school, among the students, the faculty and the administration; excitement or anxiety fills the air as everybody is settling down for the very first quarter of college-level instruction in Valencia Valley history.
The college administration is extremely pleased with the turnout. They were expecting between 550 and 700 students, said Dr. Robert C. Rockwell, Superintendent-President of the Junior College District, the man in charge of putting the whole thing together. He gleefully reported that the unexpected large turnout was a "pleasant surprise."
One student, Jerry Pigg, from Castaic and a Hart High graduate, said he thinks the large turnout is partly due to the fact that many Hart High graduates had planned to go to other schools but decided at the last minute, for one reason or another, to come to the junior college.
Classes begin at 4 p.m. and, for about a half hour before classes start, students congregate on the lawn and patio areas around the buildings and talk about classes and the other things students traditionally discuss.
Pigg and two friends, Cheryl Thompson and Ken Seacrest, both of Newhall and Hart High graduates, were sitting on the lawn Wednesday discussing the school and their classes.
"It's more organized than I thought it would be, and tougher too," Cheryl Thompson said. She said she decided to come to the new college because "I work here, I live here and it's close — and I like it."
"A lot of people I talk to bitch a lot about being on the high school campus," Seacrest said, though he added, "It's fine, so far."
The three were talking about all of the "old" people, housewives and working people who traditionally attend night classes at junior colleges.
"It's different going to school with farmers and housewives," Jerry Pigg said.
"A lot of older people get into sociology because they think they'll understand the generation gap better," Seacrest said.
He said he enjoys the teachers much more than in high school. "They relate better, or something."
The three were asked to comment on whether they thought College of the Canyons will be affected by the student problems which seem to be hitting more and more colleges each year.
"I have a feeling Newhall is too conservative for that," Seacrest said.
Pigg agreed and said he doubted if a "Students tor a Democratic Society" chapter (SDS) would get enough support on campus to form a chapter.
The students and administration will be busy the first several weeks forming a student constitution, getting a basketball team started, finding a mascot and selecting cheerleaders.
Rita Hendrixson, a pretty and energetic 19-year-old, is trying out for cheerleader. She likes the new college and is anxious for the Cougars to select a mascot, to find five tall fellows for the basketball team, and finally, to win a few games.
Charles Rheinschmidt, as well as being assistant superintendent, is trying to put together the basketball team. He reports that the school has 15 students signed up, and he hopes to be ready to win the Cougars' first athletic endeavor ever, late next month.
Joe Carmine is another Hart High graduate who works in Newhall during the day and goes to the junior college at night. He is taking 16½ units and has classes four days a week.
"It's kind of good — I like it," Carmine said while lounging on the grass in front of the college, waiting for his classes to begin.
Carmine, like many of the other students, plans to transfer to another college after completing two years' work at College of the Canyons. He will transfer because he wants to major in oceanography, and several of the other students queried wanted to major in fields that require much more specialization than a two-year college can offer.
Gary Ward, 19, of Valencia, went to Valley State College last year where, he said, "Nobody really cared very much." "I think they're trying to make it better here," he added, hopefully.