Yearly Archives: 2019

Paul J. Willis’s ‘To Build a Trail’ Author Ponders Love and Wonder in Essay Collection

Paul J. Willis is acquainted with tragedy and loss. During the Tea Fire in 2008, Willis watched a wall of wind-driven flame sweep toward his faculty house on the Westmont College campus where he has lived and taught English since 1988. The house — and everything in it — was destroyed. more

PROMOTING DIVERSITY: Westmont welcomes its most diverse class yet as Class of 2023 begins their journey

Westmont College — the Christian, liberal arts school that sits at the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains — seems to be attracting more and more students from different backgrounds, as the college welcomed last week one of its largest and most diverse classes. more

Two Young Life Students Awarded Full Scholarships to Westmont

Luke Perez of Santa Maria and Joseph Helm of Palm Desert, who had both planned to attend a community college, will begin at Westmont College this fall after receiving Westmont’s 2019 Young Life Scholarships… more.

DREAMING BIG Hundreds of young singers line up on Cabrillo for a chance at becoming the next “American Idol”

A long line of young musical talent gathered outside the Santa Barbara Veterans’ Memorial Building on Cabrillo Blvd. Friday morning, each eager to become the next American Idol. The singing competition TV series stopped by Santa Barbara for its Bus Tour auditions, an initial try-out for the show’s producers before the televised rounds where contestants sing before the show’s three judges. … 18-year-old Westmont College freshman Sara Sivulka was also among the local talent. Originally from Serbia, Ms. Sivulka is a lifelong “American Idol” fan and expressed gratitude at the opportunity to finally fulfill one of her long-held ambition. more

Pioneer in special education in Yucaipa dies at 91

Ella Marie Harty, a pioneer in special education in the Yucaipa public school system, died on Tuesday, Aug. 6. She was 91. Born in Portland, Oregon, to Clyde and Gertrude Wiley, the family moved to California in the 1930s, where she lived the rest of her life. Harty received a bachelor’s degree in education from Westmont College and a master’s in school administration from Azusa Pacific University. In the mid-1960s, she started the children’s ministry at Forest Home Christian Conference Center in Forest Falls. more


At the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains, about 75 individuals came together Tuesday evening to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The empathy of the attendants at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 25th Annual Sadako Peace Day pierced through space and time. It was as if the years that have gone by since the bombings, 74 of them, and the miles between Santa Barbara and Japan, 6,000 of them, vanished, bringing the spirits of those who lost their lives to the ceremony in Westmont College. The combined death toll of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ranges from 130,000 to 230,000. Estimates of the lives that the initial blasts took are 70,000 for Hiroshima and 40,000 for Nagasaki. However, the detrimental effects of the bombs — Little Boy on Hiroshima and Fat Man on Nagasaki — did not stop there. Over time, the two atomic bombs also claimed the lives of those affected by the radiation. more

Westmont Ridley-Tree Art Museum Features Cutting-Edge Potter

The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art has organized a touring retrospective exhibit of Don Reitz, one of the most experimental and ingenious ceramic artists of the last century. Spontaneous Response: The Innovative Ceramics of Don Reitz runs Aug. 29 through Nov. 9 with a reception, 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29. more

University School principal was a tall man with a big heart

University School Principal Troy Knechtel was 6 feet, 10 inches tall. …

Knechtel died on July 23 in Flat Rock, North Carolina, from the effects of multiple system atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder he was diagnosed with last year. He was 55.

Knechtel was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1963, and aided by his stature, played basketball at Hemet High School, Westmont College and professionally in Germany and Brazil, according to his biography on the Groce Funeral Home website. more

Nathan Huff: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Engagingly familiar, yet teaming with off the wall dynamics, Nathan Huff: Tyhe Stories We Tell Ourselves will be center stage at Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery’s 1st Thursday festivities on August 1st from 5 to 8pm. Huff a familiar face in local art circles has his hand in many mediums from painting to sculpture, to teaching art at Westmont. more

National Charity League Conejo Valley Chapter honors seniors

Tess Adkins Feiler attended La Reina High School, where she played volleyball for four years, served as a member of the Multi- cultural Club, Change-maker Leadership Team and as an altar server. During her six years in NCL, Tess held the offices of vice president and treasurer. She has earned the Yellow Rosebud Award, Yellow Rose Award, Hourglass Award, Heart of Gold Award, Young Adult Bronze Award and President’s Volunteer Service Award. She volunteered at Los Robles Regional Medical Center for two years. Tess will attend Westmont College. Savannah attended Oak Park High School, where she was an AP Scholar and a member of California Scholarship Foundation. more