Gary Horton | Ice Cubes and Education

Gary Horton

Carrie and I experienced a surprise treat the other night as we attended the College of the Canyons Foundation installation dinner, conducted in a second-floor meeting room of the “Cube” – the giant ice skating megaplex purchased by the city a couple of years ago, subsequently renovated into its current mega-impressive form. 

About the COC Foundation in one moment. First, the Cube: I recall when this “is the city wasting its money purchasing an ice-skating rink” thing came up there was a lot of discussion back and forth over the efficacy and fairness of the city sinking $20 million-plus to buy and fix up the place. It seemed a giant $20 million gift to perhaps the most select group of kids and adults in the city: Ice skaters. Typically, a “white demographic” sport – the purchase also seemed to go sideways on the city’s mission of providing recreation opportunities to all. 

The Signal was all-in for the purchase. I thought it was a boondoggle for maybe 200 skaters in town. But the city purchase went through, then they fixed it up, and now, it’s over a year old and there’s all kinds of functions being held there — along with all kinds of sports for all kinds of people. 

Carrie and I were blown away when we opened the door and walked through the expanse of the place. Not one, but three skating rinks. Yoga and karate studios. A restaurant, for heaven’s sake! Private meeting rooms, overlooking what looks like gardens of mature trees. The Cube is an impressive facility by any standard, and that a city such as Santa Clarita should OWN such a place is indeed unique. 

If you haven’t been there – go, just to walk around. It’s plainly amazing. And it’s easy to find – right across from Valencia High School. 

And now, looking at today’s construction costs, the Cube also looks like an absolute bargain. Score one for The Signal’s efforts and the wisdom of the parks and rec people at the city. 

Retrospectively, the Cube fits in nicely with the rest of the city’s recreational goals. We’ve got specialized aquatic centers. Skateboard parks. Huge civic centers filled with multi-purpose facilities and programs. Senior centers. A hundred miles of trails, countless beautiful parks and sports facilities, and thousands of acres of mountains and open space. 

“Awesometown?” Well, pretty darn close, all things considered.  

So, of course we have our own ice-skating megaplex. And even if you don’t skate, there’s hockey games and all sorts of ice sports to watch from high above. And grab a snack and a drink while you’re at it.  

Just bring a sweater … It’s cold in there. 

So, about the COC Foundation holding their installation dinner at the Cube: 

The COC Foundation board is a group of people who’ve chosen to devote their time and effort to raising capital and operational funds to help facilitate the core mission of College of the Canyons. The foundation is often the force behind some of the most amazing capital campaigns at COC, which has brought to our city the Performing Arts Center, the culinary iCUE, the giant University Center, and has helped with outfitting the two beautiful new buildings at the COC Canyon Country site. 

And all these facilities, and all the efforts by the COC Foundation, are every bit as impressive for Santa Clarita Valley residents as the Cube. 

COC, guided by Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, and directed by the governing board and assisted by the foundation board, has built up an SCV-based higher educational system reflecting and supporting the extremely high creative and progressive standards of our city overall. 

During our two-hour meeting at the Cube, I marveled at how far our city and COC has come during the 40 years Carrie and I have lived here. SCV is an amazing place – and, from looking at other surrounding towns, we know it didn’t have to turn out this way. Leaders and residents of very good will have poured their energies and their wealth and their talents into building what is plainly a joy of a city in which to reside.  

Meanwhile, the foundation board’s mission is following this path and continuing to advance the mission of the college. That is, to bring advanced educational opportunities to everyone who wants one. To provide both best-in-class academic and vocational training to anyone, of any age. 

We do that, frankly, through raising money that funds the various programs and capital campaigns of the college. 

Please, when a foundation board member pitches you, consider donating to COC’s many efforts. This is a place where successful lives are built. It’s a great cause. 

We’ve built a progressive city that reflects just goals. Our city provides the fertile soil for folks to grow up and live and thrive. And COC, standing at one of our city’s most impressive corners, is our beacon of educational justice — for all. 

Regardless of any factor, demographic, or even ability to pay, COC is successful in creating advanced education for all. 

Standing in our impressive Cube, surrounded by a forest of trees and streets with recreational paths, while laying plans for the COC Foundation board’s next steps – I couldn’t have felt prouder and more fortunate being an SCV resident. And I don’t ice skate! 

Wow, did Carrie and I make the right choice when we bought our first home here, 40 years ago. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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