Students win laptops through scavenger hunt

Two Victor Valley College students became the lucky winners of laptops through a successful Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt event held Thursday.

Cindy Blanco and Timia McDaniel were the first students to solve all the clues set up by the Associated Student Body Council, making them the recipients of two HP laptops.

Blanco, 32, said the scavenger hunt was very challenging, “especially with a kid,” since she took her son along for the fun.


Students were challenged with clues ranging from trivia about campus locations, such as the “United We Stand” monument adjacent to the library, to solving math problems.

“There were a whole bunch of people going in the library, so I knew there was a clue nearby,” said McDaniel, who is a student worker in the library.

McDaniel, 20, said winning a new laptop will have a significant impact on her since she’s transferring to a four-year college after she graduates from VVC this spring.


“I have an old laptop, and it’s very slow, so this is great,” McDaniel said. “I’m feeling happy because this sort of thing doesn’t happen a lot.”

Blanco said she was celebrating when she saw that she’d won because she didn’t have a computer.

“I’m always in the library because I don’t have one at home,” Blanco said. “It’s gonna be perfect if I want to take online classes or need to do a book report.”

Along with the scavenger hunt, a traditional Easter egg hunt was taking place, with 1,000 eggs hidden all over campus, all containing various prizes. Most contained candy treats, while others awarded gift cards.

ASB Public Relations Senator Amber Scott said the events went great, with students coming in hour after hour to participate in the scavenger hunt. “It was really well received by the students. Everyone was having so much fun,” Scott said. “Everybody has a little kid inside of them so it brought that out.”

Apple Valley Kennel Club Dog Show coming to VVC

More than 1,500 dogs will be on the lower campus field of Victor Valley College this weekend for the annual Apple Valley Kennel Club Dog Shows.

Owners and professional dog handlers will be on site showing off their canines — big, small, cuddly, protective — as judging panels review them.

The Apple Valley Kennel Club is licensed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the U.S. which promotes events for purebred dogs. More than 150 AKC breeds will be represented at VVC on Saturday and Sunday.

Among the breeds there, attendees will see Akitas, Beagles, Boxers, Canaans, Doberman Pinschers, French Bulldogs, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Pharaoh Hounds, Poodles, Rottweilers, Samoyeds, Scottish Terriers, Weimaraners, and Whippets.

Tour guides are available and there will be plenty of vendors and food booths for visitors to enjoy. The AVKC will offer a tour for anyone who would like to learn more about dog shows at 10 a.m. Saturday. Those interested may meet at the catalog sales table.

The show will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Judging starts at 8:30 a.m. each day and continues until early afternoon, culminating with Best in Show.

It will be held on the lower campus, at 18422 Bear Valley Road, Victorville.

For more information, including a schedule of breeds, visit

GA-ASI MQ-9B SkyGuardian – TA Flight 07118-1 (General Atomics)

VVC students can become certified Avionics Technicians

GA-ASI MQ-9B SkyGuardian – TA Flight 07118-1 (General Atomics)

Victorville — In two short years, Victor Valley College students interested in Aviation careers can become certified Avionics Technicians for remotely piloted aircraft.  The best part, they get paid during training that will provide them with an opportunity to gain experience and develop a skillset.  Thanks to a $692,000 grant awarded to Victor Valley College from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and a partnership with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), the ETAP (Electronics Technician Apprenticeship Program) will provide valuable career training and skills required for employment opportunities in an in-demand and fast growing industry sector.

“In collaboration with our valued  partner General Atomics, we are  proud of our role in meeting the evolving needs of our high desert economy,” VVC Superintendent/President Dr. Daniel Walden said. “We will continue to increase opportunities for our students to upgrade their skills and improve their prospects for rewarding careers through such programs.”

Like many other employers in the High Desert, relocating and retaining talent has always been a challenge for GA-ASI and will only get tougher as global and national job opportunities increase and supply cannot meet demand for talented professionals. To help solve their needs, the company reached out to Victor Valley College for help and the timing was right. 

“We decided the best way to retain talent was to grow our own talent pipeline. Forecasts show the needs for aviation maintenance technicians will exceed the supply of trained personnel beginning in 2021,” said Steve Muir, Director of Field Avionics, GA-ASI. “The California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) grant was exactly what we needed to offer local residents a skill they can take with them anywhere.”

Apprentices in the program are paid full-time competitive wages and offered a comprehensive benefits package. In addition, they will earn 20 college credits and two certificates through Victor Valley College.  In order to qualify for the program, candidates must also be able to obtain a Department of Defense security clearance.

Those who are interested can apply through the High Desert America’s Job Center (760) 552-6550 and need to ask to be scheduled for the CASAS Assessment for the GA-ASI ETAP

Victor Valley College Fire Technology Students utilizing physical fitness equipment newly purchased thanks to a generous grant gifted by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

VVC’s Fire Technology program receives grant from San Manuel

VICTORVILLE — The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians recently granted $98,194 to the Victor Valley College Foundation to help enhance and increase capacity for the Fire Technology program provided at the Victor Valley College Regional Public Safety Training Center. 

Thanks to San Manuel’s generous grant to the A.C.T.S project, funding will allow the Fire Technology department to purchase 25 new SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) packs as well as physical fitness agility training equipment.  Both will provide students the opportunity to be trained on industry standard equipment. Implementation of the A.C.T.S. project will enhance student safety, strengthen career preparation, and support occupational skills and certificate attainment leading to program completion. 

Victor Valley College’s Regional Public Safety Training Center is the only institution in San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego Counties authorized to administer the “Biddle PAT” assessment and has certified more than 2000 candidates. The Biddle PAT is the physical fitness preparedness assessment utilized by more than 41 local Fire departments and agencies.

“While administering the test, we examine a student’s strength, stamina, and physical agility while performing the same functions and tasks of an on-duty fire-fighter.  Being in good health is vital to extending your career in the firefighter service,” said Victor Valley College Program Director Heath Cohen. “The tribe’s generosity in helping us to purchase physical fitness equipment for the Biddle PAT, continues to enrich the professional preparedness of our emergency responder students.  Furthermore, their investment advances the effectiveness of student’s training and greatly enhances workplace knowledge for those who are currently working or eventually seeking employment.”

Additional funds will be used to purchase 25 SCBA packs.  The new packs will replace obsolete equipment, ensuring students are training and have access to the highest quality and most industry-relevant safety gear.  The SCBA pack is a life-saving component of the “turnout gear” worn by firefighters. It provides breathable and cool air which makes the firefighter more comfortable during a hot fire fight and emergency situations.     

“Through this gift, San Manuel is investing in advanced training for our first responders to more effectively safeguard lives in San Bernardino County, which is more important than ever now that California’s “new normal” is a year-round fire season,” said San Manuel Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. “As a Native Serrano people whose aboriginal lands include the High Desert, we are pleased to work with Victor Valley College to benefit multiple communities throughout these lands we hold as sacred.” 

Victor Valley College Regional Public Safety Training Center is a $31.5 million, state-of-the-art training complex specifically designed to support students in the Administration of Justice, Fire Technology, Emergency Medical Services and Correction programs. It provides students a unique and far reaching training opportunity for cooperative emergency scenario cross-training exercises experienced by first responders every day in the normal course of the job. 

For more information about Victor Valley College and the programs available at the Regional Public Safety Training Center, visit To learn about the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, visit

Adult Education proves education has no age limit

Story from Apple Valley Unified School District

With students ranging from ages 18 to 74, the Apple Valley Adult Education program is proving that education has no age limit. The program exists to provide individualized instruction of high school diploma and GED testing, as well as tutoring, computer literacy classes, and assistance with the transition to postsecondary education and the workforce.

“We graduate families,” said program coordinator Adele McClain. “Mother’s and fathers, daughters, and sons, grandparents and grandchildren. They attend high school together and go onto college then elevate and motivate each other in this process.”

McClain explained that many students not only want to better understand the steps to enroll in postsecondary education and subsequent career pathways for themselves, but want to understand this transition for their children as well. It is for this reason the program recently established “open-house” style support each Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at which students and families members over the age of 18 can receive assistance and information helpful for applying to college or the workforce. Friday participants can meet with a Victor Valley College bilingual counselor and receive assistance applying for CALJobs or Transitional Assistance benefits.

Melina Bezada is one example of generations learning and growing together. As a single mother to two school-aged students, Bezada graduated from the Apple Valley Adult Education and enrolled at VVC, where she now works as a student worker to bridge partnerships between the college and adult education programs and volunteers with the Transitional Assistance Office and CalWorks.

“ It was really scary coming back to school after being out of the classroom for so long, but I knew I had to do this to make more opportunities for myself,” said Bezada. “I knew I had to be an example for my children. I can’t expect them to want the best for themselves if I wasn’t a good example. I love that I can help other parents like myself overcome their own anxieties about school and help them seize more opportunities for themselves and their children.

“We want people to feel like family here,” McClain said. “Students don’t usually get to Adult Ed because life was easy for them. That’s why we’re set up like a cafe. I know many have a negative view of how school was for them and I want that view to be completely different when they step through these doors.”

The program has expanded from approximately 75 students in 2012-2013, to serve an estimated 600 students in 2018-2019. The program typically has a waiting list but will offer immediate placement for former AVUSD students or students with a referral from a Parent Center or Transitional Assistance program. For more information on enrollment, contact Apple Valley Adult Education at 760-247-1505.

Apple Valley Adult Education is a member of the Victor Valley Adult Education Regional Consortium, which consists of Apple Valley Adult School, Hesperia Adult School, Snowline Adult School, Victor Valley Adult School, and Lucerne Valley Adult School.

VVC trustees discuss plans for new stadium and conference center

VICTORVILLE — The Victor Valley College Board of Trustees discussed a proposal to renovate the college’s football field and build an adjacent multi-purpose conference center during their meeting on March 12.

Director of Facilities, Construction, and Contracts Steve Garcia presented trustees with conceptual plans and renderings of the project, which is estimated to cost $20 million.

According to the plans, new stadium seating would fit 5,000 people — 3,500 on the home side and 1,500 on the visiting side. Plans also include the re-crowning of the field and the installation of a synthetic track, new sod turf, stadium lighting, and a sound system.

The conference center would be built overlooking the field and could be used to hold 500 to 600 people for various college and community events.

Trustees Brandon Wood and Joseph W. Brady both commented that they’d like to “go big” and plan everything carefully to best meet the needs of the local community.

“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it in a way that is lasting, that is going to be functional for many, many years, and that is bigger than what we need it to be today,” Wood said. “I think it would be nice to see a full parking lot and have sold out football games and half the people in the stands are High Desert residents who are just coming to have a good time.”

Brady said the addition of a new conference center “would bring the whole valley together.”

“Let’s be sure we really take everything into account — that there are enough bathrooms and things like that — because we will have enough events here that we want to be sure it’s user-friendly and people want to come back,” Brady said. “I think we have a duty to our students … and we want to keep them here and we want to have events here.”

Wood also pointed out that he previously stated he would not support the construction of a new stadium and conference center until the college moved forward with a “One Stop” building, which VVC broke ground on in June 2018. The “One Stop,” which will consolidate student services (including admissions, counseling, and financial aid) in one building, is scheduled to open in Fall.

Garcia said construction of the stadium and conference center could begin within three years. He also noted that the stadium is not only for athletic events, calling it “an outdoor classroom.”

“It will be used continuously, and it’s all about student success,” Garcia said. “It’s about the image of the college. It’s a complete campus component.”

Victor Valley College students pose along with students from other community colleges around the country in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. after completing a service project cleaning up litter around the monument. (Fabian Guillen)

Victor Valley College student leaders make their voices heard in D.C.

Story by Nicole Fox

WASHINGTON D.C. — Sixteen Victor Valley College students spent six days attending a national leadership conference and discussing critical community college issues with public officials in the nation’s capital earlier this month.

During the American Student Association for Community Colleges (ASACC) conference, held March 9 to 12, the students heard from speakers David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research for the American Association of Community Colleges; Jee Hang Lee, vice president for public policy and external relations for the Association of Community College Trustees; and Ralph Nader, an American political activist, author, and attorney.

The students also participate in professional advancement workshops, including one created and taught by VVC Associated Student Body (ASB) Public Relations Senator Amber Scott.

Scott presented “You Can Do It All: Dreams vs. Reality = Balance,” which discussed the difficulties student leaders face and how their goals can be achieved through careful planning and dedication. This presentation was one of the most well-attended at the conference, with more than 75 seats filled and additional students standing in the back to hear Scott speak on what she’s learned about balancing responsibilities with mental and physical health.

“It was exuberating for me to get to help make sure that all students feel empowered,” Scott said. “I know that if I can do it, everyone else can too, so I’m all about building people up.”

In addition to attending the ASACC workshops, the VVC students met with public officials, including a legislative aide from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office and an educational aide from Senator Kamala Harris’s office, Legislative Fellow Dr. Kendrick Davis.

Victor Valley College student leaders met with a legislative aide from Senator Feinstein’s office, discussing issues relevant to community college students. (Victor Valley College)

Davis listened to the students talk about the importance of the Pell Grant and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which involves the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and funding for Federal Work-Study programs.

ASB Secretary Kimberly Aguilar said that they “connected really well” with Davis during the meeting, noting that both Davis and the majority of the students were in tears while sharing their personal stories.

“There was so much raw emotion, so much honesty — it touched with him personally,” Aguilar said. “(I talked about how) going to college meant a lot to me because of what my mom went through immigrating to the U.S. (from Mexico) … She worked so hard for me and my brother to get an education.”

The group also had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Paul Cook and several of his office staff members for dinner.

Congressman Paul Cook speaks with Victor Valley College Associated Student Body Council Public Relations Senator Amber Scott during a student leader trip to Washington D.C.
(Victor Valley College)

“As a former college professor, I really enjoyed getting to spend time with these bright students who had so much to share,” Cook said. “I was able to share and discuss with them how things currently stand for many of the issues that they care about. I was also intrigued listening to their desired career trajectories and feel very enthusiastic about their futures.”

ASB Sciences Senator Alize Young said meeting with Cook, who he said was “very relatable,” was his favorite part of the entire trip.

“He made it clear that they care and that they’re willing to make changes if we fight for it,” Young said. “He told us, ‘leadership chooses you; you don’t choose it.’ That stuck with me.”

Victor Valley College student leaders hold a group meeting to plan what they’ll discuss with public officials they met with while in Washington D.C. to attend a national leadership conference. (Fabian Guillen)

The tenacity exhibited by the students while meeting with elected officials was balanced by their humble service demonstrated during a volunteer activity cleaning up litter addressing the area between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial.  

Victor Valley College student leaders participate in a service learning project through cleaning up litter around the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool while in Washington D.C. for a national leadership conference (Fabian Guillen)

Additionally, the group participated in a somber wreath-laying ceremony for Victor Valley College at Arlington Cemetery, during which four ASB council members presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where all those that are “known but to God” are ceremoniously grieved for and honored as members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Four Victor Valley College student leaders, Christopher Elizondo, Kimberly Aguilar, Summer Robinson and Nicole Fox, presented a wreath on behalf of all VVC students at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. on March 8, 2019. (Fabian Guillen)

Nicole Fox, ASB’s Foundation representative and one of the four ceremony presenters, said the honor was one that she will never forget.

“I now understand more than ever why the soldiers that patrol before the Tomb of the Unknown will march through hurricanes for their unknown brethren. It is out of a respect and loyalty that I can never hope to know the depth of,” Fox said. “Though it was for only a fraction of the time that these soldiers stand for, the weight of the responsibility sat heavy upon my heart.” 

Four Victor Valley College student leaders, Christopher Elizondo, Kimberly Aguilar, Summer Robinson and Nicole Fox, presented a wreath on behalf of all VVC students at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. on March 8, 2019. (Fabian Guillen)
Teams of students from local high schools across the High Desert were tasked with building dog houses during the third annual building competition hosted by Victor Valley College’s Construction Technology department on March 6, 2019.

Victor Valley College hosts high school construction competition

Story by Sophia Mancillas

VICTORVILLE — On Wednesday, March 6th, the Victor Valley College Construction Technology department hosted its third annual building competition between local high school teams.

The Construction and Manufacturing Technology program prepares students for various positions in the construction field, including the opportunity to become self-employed.

The goals of the high school-level building competition were to spread awareness of the opportunities available at VVC and to show how much fun it can be for students who are striving to work in the field of construction, according to Construction Technology Department Chair Anthony Bonato.

“We included some of the alternative schools this year as well, (such as Alta Vista Innovation and Chaparral high schools). A lot of kids in the area are not aware of the programs we offer,” Bonato said. “The goal for us is to be a launching pad between high school and career.”

About 65 students participated from high schools across the High Desert for a total of 18 teams. All were enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE) courses in their high schools. The competition required each team to be creative and work together to build a sturdy dog house.

During the competition, held in the Construction Technology building, the sounds of nails being hammered and power tools cutting through wood took over VVC’s lower campus. The students wore clear safety glasses and tool belts, displaying determination as they worked to build with both speed and accuracy.

The students demonstrated teamwork throughout the competition. For instance, one team member would hold a piece of plywood down while another would hammer it into place.

“They’re applying what they have been learning in class,” said Barstow Unified School District CTE Coordinator Carrie O’Neil. “They’re practicing great career skills that they can take with them.”

After several busy hours filled with sawdust, the teams had created 20 dog houses.

Sultana High School came out on top, winning first place for their exemplar dog house. Two teams from Apple Valley High School took second and third place. The prizes given to the winning schools included tools, a nailing apron, tape measures, and more.

“It’s about getting the kids exposure to the construction side of things and making that link between high school and college,” Sultana CTE teacher Kurt Chapman said. “They get to see how they teach at the college level.”

Despite the pouring rain that Wednesday, a barbeque was held after the competition to commemorate the coming together of local high schools and VVC for the third annual year.

Victor Valley College’s Tropical Research Initiative team is shown here on Wizard Beach, Bastimentos Island, Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Panama, after a nature hike. (Photo courtesy of Abram Campos)

Adventure forward!: Victor Valley College students explore Panama, Costa Rica

In just 36 hours, eight Victor Valley College students went from their normal urban environment to having monkeys climbing all over them while aboard a float on the Panama canal.

The students left for a trip to Central America on January 18 and spent 16 days in the countries of Panama and Costa Rica. The expedition, led by VVC biology professor Dr. Hinrich Kaiser, was made possible through the college’s Tropical Research Initiative.

The students traveling were all enrolled in one of VVC’s biology courses, “Comparative Natural History,” and given the opportunity to explore new environments while being exposed to local wildlife and new cultures.

Student José Yáñez passes a tarantula he uncovered under a log within an indigenous rainforest to a fellow student so she can also experience feeling its hairy legs! (Photo by Hinrich Kaiser)

They began their journey in Panama, where they participated in exotic experiences from the get-go. On their first full day there, they took a float ride on the Panama canal, passing small islands with isolated animal populations, including one inhabited by monkeys.

“…When you come with some fruits and bananas, they come down and they climb all over you,” Kaiser said. “It was a quick change (for the students). They really got thrown in there … For some, it was an amazing experience. They said it brought them to tears.”

One of the students attending the trip is on the autism spectrum and has been an instrumental member of the team, according to Kaiser. This student came up with the group’s slogan for the year: “Adventure forward!” Since he spontaneously exclaimed it while exploring, they’ve adopted it as their theme.

The group continued their adventures in the Boca del Toro Province, a group of islands, and later crossed the border on foot into Costa Rica. They explored beaches, caves and rainforests, all home to various wild animals such as bats, dolphins and poisonous frogs.

Two individuals of the poison frog, Oophaga pumilio, from the old cemetery on Solarte Island, Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Panama. The color pattern of these frogs is different on each of the islands of the Bocas del Toro Province. (Photo by Hinrich Kaiser)

They got a more personal experience with a few animals thanks to a nonprofit animal rescue owned by German Sibaja, called the Mesoamerican Rescue Center. Sibaja allowed the students to help him with animals in his care. They were tasked with weighing a baby three-toed sloth and releasing snakes and an anteater back into the wild.

“It was a bonus to participate in this wildlife preservation,” Kaiser said.

Students were also exposed to a new way of living during their trip.

“We stayed at an indigenous reserve … in a very non-touristy kind of place. We had to walk up for about a half hour from the main roads and through the jungle to get there,” Kaiser said. “There’s no phone signal [and] no power. These things were very unusual for our students. You are not connected.”

On previous trips, Kaiser has led student groups who are responsible for discovering multiple new species of life in foreign countries. While scientific research plays a major role, Kaiser sees other benefits the trips can provide as well.

“The emphasis here is focused on giving more experiences than the experiences of the research. I’m trying to serve a broader clientele,” he said.

VVC humanities major Heather Macias, who attended the recent trip, can vouch.

“Most students who hear about a trip like this that are in my shoes may be interested, but turned off because they may think taking this class won’t benefit them,” Macias said. “It was intimidating to be the only humanities major, but was also so rewarding. This (trip) may be a good influencer for those non-declared majors as well.”

The group has plans for future trips and how to achieve enough funding to support their goals.  Kaiser said he would like to take students to Madagascar next year, which will require additional fundraising.

“(The Associated Student Body) has been a great support for every one of these trips,” Kaiser said, explaining that ASB has traditionally donated $10,000 to the Tropical Research Initiative each year. “That’s very useful for how the students are able to afford this, but one of the challenges is still money.”

He and the students who attended the recent trip are working on producing an 18-month calendar with some of the wildlife photos they took. The calendar will be a gift for those who make financial contributions to the research initiative. Their hope is to raise an additional $10,000 toward the next trip.

According to participants, the experience of the trip is challenging, educational and highly rewarding.

“We (spent) at least 18 hours a day for 16 days together, encountering different attitudes, likes and dislikes, tiredness, hungriness, fears and anxieties,” Macias said. “It was an amazing learning experience. It challenged me to face many fears and discomforts. I experienced and gained an abundant amount of love and knowledge for nature.”

CONTACT: Robert A. Sewell, Director of Marketing and Public Relations | Victor Valley College

E: | T: 760.245.4271 ext. 2395 | C: 909.208.8515

CONTACT: Charity Lindsey – (760) 245-4271 ext 2619;

VVC’s ‘Comedy & Magic’ show set for March 2

Victor Valley College will host “An Evening of Comedy and Magic,” a crowd favorite show featuring world famous performers on March 2. The event will start at 7:30 p.m. in the VVC Performing Arts Center (Building 54).

This family-friendly show, which is sponsored by the Associated Student Body, will include entertainment from comedy magicians Chipper Lowell and Nick Paul and illusionist Mark Bennick.

With an unusual blend of stand-up, improvisation and twisted visual magic, Chipper Lowell has twice been honored with “Comedy Magician of the Year” by the International Magicians Society and named one of the “Top Funniest Magicians” performing today by Magic Magazine.

Chipper will host the show, accompanied by Nick Paul, an award-winning corporate magician, and Mark Bennick, who won “Las Vegas Has Talent” and has performed astonishing illusions around the world.

This show has sold out for the past 10 years and tickets are going fast!

Regular admission for the show is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for children. Tickets are available online at

VVC is located at 18422 Bear Valley Road in Victorville.

For VVC employees only:

College employees may purchase one general ticket, at regular price, and receive additional tickets for their entire (immediate) family – FOR FREE (while supplies last). To access this special, call (760) 245-4271 ext. 2395 or visit the Auxiliary Services Office in Building 44 to prepay and reserve your tickets or purchase your ticket online at