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Summer Meltdown: Bands play to help Yes I Can social inclusion program

Headliner Trapt, Stephen Perkins' drum circle pack the GVHS amphitheater

Posted: May 11, 2008 1:06 a.m.
Updated: July 12, 2008 5:04 a.m.

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The outdoor amphitheater at Golden Valley High School in Canyon Country was transformed into a concert stage as nearly a dozen rock groups performed during the Summer Meltdown concert Saturday afternoon and night.

The music festival, which was headlined by Trapt and featured Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction, Guilt by Association and Surface Rising, was produced by the William S. Hart Union High School District's Yes I Can program, pairing students with special needs with general education mentors as a way to build social skills.

The roughly 200 Yes I Can students at Saugus, Golden Valley and Canyon high schools spend much of the school year planning and organizing the concert, currently in its fifth year.

Bret Lieberman, the Yes I Can advisor at Golden Valley High School, said the year-long project benefits the teenagers, as they build social skills and understand the importance of determination.

"It's a concert for the youth by the youth," he said about the concert, officially known as the "Summer Meltdown Autism Awareness and Social Inclusion Concert."

However, Lieberman was unable to give exact numbers on how many music fans attended the concert, nor how much money it brought in for the Yes I Can program, which has been held at the local high schools for the past seven years.

On Saturday, the Yes I Can students were busy putting together the last-minute preparations before the line of concert-goers were let in to the concert at 2 p.m.

Mark Bryce, a Golden Valley High School sophomore, is a mentor in the program.

Bryce, 16, said a teacher recommended he get involved in Yes I Can because of its benefits.

In his one year, Bryce said he's learned about tolerance and understanding cultures and the differences between them.

Learning how to organize a major rock concert with others is also a skill he's picked up.

"I've learned how to come together as a family," he said, referring to his classmates.

For Saturday's concert, Bryce worked with his classmate, Max Stockner, a Golden Valley High School senior, to setup the concert equipment on stage.

The two even worked with other students to build the stage on Friday.

Stockner, who has been involved in the program since his freshman year, said he's become a better person because of it.

"I used to be really pissed off," the 18-year-old said. "After the program and other stuff, I became more mellow and a better person."

He said taking part in organizing Summer Meltdown has been fun and looks forward to returning in future years to attend and help where he can.

"I will be coming back next year," he said.

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