The Culture of CCA
by Kaylee Kinninger
Canyon Crest Academy's campus clearly reflects the student body’s collective culture. Not many students can can boast that their school has an Edgar Allen Poe poem recited on their stairs or colorful trash cans to swallow up wrappers and bottles or a chalkboard that at one point screamed “tell Hannah Walker I Love Her”, “join the quidditch team”, and “become famous”. Of course, for students at CCA, the words quidditch and famous do not raise any red flags; the Harry Potter inspired game is actually quite popular and the possibility of fame is within reach for the many talented students. Sports may not be immediately represented within the campus, but they are championed around the Legacy Wall in 3D scenes on the side of the counseling office. All around campus the well-rounded interests of the students can be taken in without even seeing them with their snapbacks, vibrant hair, black doc-martins and high tops, and Kate Spade purses. Even the gum ingrained in the floors around the school adds to the very life and spirit of CCA, spitting “We are rebels”.
The growing population of the school speaks to CCA’s reputation as an academy with high test scores, outstanding AP Exam pass rates, and a rigorous academic agenda. Although the academic reputation of the school may lead parents to choose CCA for their children, it is often CCA’s open, inclusive, and creative environment that draws in talented and highly motivated teens. Ashton Tu, a transfer student from Torrey Pines, feels at CCA it is “way easier to talk to people. I just think people are nicer and more open in general.” Ashton made the decision to alter her high school experience and leave Torrey Pines before her junior year because of CCA’s conservatory program which has given her the opportunity to pursue her interests in cinema. She also left Torrey in search of a more welcoming culture: “I definitely have a lot more genuine friends now...I like all the creative people here.”
Whether experiencing the jubilation of foamy bubble baths during finals, attending a play in which friends speak in Elizabethan rhetoric or listening to singers battle it out in Raven Idol, it becomes clear that CCA’s celebrative culture is a rarity, one that needs to be protected and nurtured. Hannah Gonzalez, a senior, commented on the growing population at CCA: “The vibe is changing a little bit with all the new freshman but overall it's going to stay the same because the culture comes from all the people that live in Carmel Valley...I think overall it will stay really quirky.” Though some students still continue to select CCA for its four by four schedule rather than its offbeat atmosphere, as evident by freshman Ali Youel's choice to attend CCA “mainly [because of] the schedule and some of the academics”, hopefully incoming students will choose CCA so as to be apart of and contribute to the idiosyncratic vibe. As long as there is a consistent flow of students who want to push boundaries, CCA will continue to be a haven for the quirky and have an environment conducive to open discussions, progress and innovation.
CCA’s unique culture affects students past their high school careers. Alumni Katie Finkbeiner, who was a part of vocal conservatory commented that “CCA helped me grow as a person by letting me express myself more.” At CCA she was not only able to be involved in extracurriculars which she was genuinely passionate about and which culminated in a senior recital where she shared that passion with her friends and family, but she was also able to experience the rare moments which only CCA has to offer. Finkbeiner noted, “One of my most memorable moments at CCA was wellness day...when we all formed the conga line during third period. It felt like I was apart of this big community where everyone accepts everyone, and I just remember thinking how special CCA is and how much I was going to miss it next year. It made me realize how fortunate I was to be there.” Yes, we are all fortunate to attend a school where collectivity and community are celebrated and the unique talents of students are not merely tolerated but accepted. Whether a student is a poet, an artist, a soccer player, a Boggle enthusiast (if you were unaware, there is a Boggle club), etc., Canyon Crest Academy has a place for that student to thrive and further contribute to the eclectic culture of the school.