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ALLENTOWN, PA (May 18, 2009)-Girl meets boy. Girl and boy decide to go to formal together, the college version of the prom. Girl figures out that boy is two-timing her with the president of her sorority. Juicy confrontations ensue. This is the plot of "The Valley," the explosive and mildly salacious reality television show crafted by Cedar Crest College student Elizabeth Skoczylas for her senior communications project.

Armed with an affection for reality entertainment and a well-rounded education with training in videography, video editing, scriptwriting, and much more-plus experience working on set for Allentown independent film company Independent Dream Machine-Skoczylas delivers 23 minutes of scripted programming featuring the trials and tribulations of Brooke and "screen boyfriend" Edwin, plus a cast of dozens of college classmates and friends.

 Reality TV, it seems, is in her blood.

"A couple of years ago, I was talking about how Cedar Crest needed a "What Not to Wear" TV show but I decided I didn't have the cash to do that. Since I am addicted to reality TV-‘Laguna Beach,' ‘The Hills,' you name it-I figured that I could do my own show here in the valley. I watched every episode of ‘The Hills' and ‘Laguna Beach' and broke them down by length of scene and how they did things," said Skoczylas, who hails from Jamestown, NY.

So just how much reality is there in "The Valley?"

"My favorite part of putting ‘The Valley' together was the editing process. With a reality show, it's common to piece together conversations that didn't actually happen," said Skoczylas. "You take a long conversation and cut it down to one or two minutes, using the most interesting sound bites. While the general direction of the show is scripted, the actors improvise their lines and actions within the scenes."

"The Valley" was filmed primarily in the college dorm rooms of some of the student "actors," as well as at the local hotel where the formal was held. Skoczylas hosted a red carpet premiere of "The Valley" for actors, friends and family on May 6 on campus.

While Skoczylas said she would "love the opportunity" to work on the set of a reality TV show after graduation, she certainly appears to have plenty of options. She served as managing editor of the Cedar Crest College newspaper, The Crestiad, during her senior year, and she has interned as an on-air talent at a radio station near her home in New York. She is leaning toward a career in radio marketing.

Skoczylas' work is part of a very eclectic and ambitious mix of projects undertaken by Cedar Crest College communications students. Elizabeth Kern, of Zionsville, created a lifestyle cookbook complete with approximately 40 recipes for meals, appetizers, desserts, and drinks; photos she took of meals she prepared; suggestions for alternative uses for household cooking ingredients, including using ketchup for polishing copper cookware; party planning tips; and much more.

kern photo

The cookbook which Kern also designed, titled, "Elizabeth's Edibles and Etiquette," is meant to provide quick and easy food and beverage solutions for party hosts as well as college students and others on the go. Many of the recipes, which include such delicacies as shrimp and linguine, meatball submarine sandwiches and taco salad dip, came from family and friends.

"I like to cook and I've always had a problem with cookbooks because most of them don't showcase photos for every recipe they have," said Kern, who said she has enjoyed cooking for many years and especially likes baking. She is a big fan of the Food Network, and is especially fond of the program, "Ace of Cakes." "If you're not a great cook, you need to know what it's supposed to look like. If it doesn't look right, then perhaps you shouldn't be serving it."

In addition to cooking, Kern is very interested in the social aspects of party planning. She will intern at the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce this summer and help them plan a golf outing and mixers. She also enjoys taking still photos, and borrowed her grandfather's old Minolta SLR camera for the cookbook shoot. Like Skoczylas, Kern writes for The Crestiad, though she plans to pursue a career in public relations.

Elizabeth Ortiz, assistant professor of humanities and communications project advisor, was very impressed with both of the projects, and said they are part of a growing trend of students choosing to do innovative work that suits their personalities.

"Traditionally, students would do a research paper that would include content analysis or literary analysis, but we are finding that our students have diverse interests that often lead them beyond the usual," said Ortiz. "Some of our students came in as first-year students and they weren't sure of what they wanted to do or how to do it, but now when you see their research projects, you think, ‘Wow, they're ready to go out in the world and do some things.' Our students want a project that they can show to an employer and say, ‘I've created this.'"

The Communications Department at Cedar Crest College hosted a presentation of senior projects on campus on May 7. Other projects included: "Perceptions of Women in the Media" by Karen Passino of Scranton, PA; "Stay Who You Are: Defining Self-Identity" by Khyla Brandt Flores of Allentown, PA; "CCCWeekly and the Tabloidization of American News" by Leann Pettit of Reading, PA; "Senior Newsreels" by Cory Frederick of Fogelsville, PA; "Women and Tattoos: A Documentary" by Lizz Nagle of Allentown, PA; "How Much Sex Is There? Sex and Sexuality in Magazines" by Rachael Diffenderfer of McAlisterville, PA; and "Negativity in Olympic Gymnastics Interviews" by Amanda Osborn of Allentown, PA.


Last Updated: 5/18/09