Northeast Valley News

Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center Inspires

Free music, dance programs, games provide safe afterschool activities for teens

Photo by Sharlene Celeskey
Alice Cooper and Sheryl Cooper perform at 2014 Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz. All proceeds support their Rock Solid Teen Center.

Sharlene Celeskey, Contemporary Culture Editor

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Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center, overflows with energy as young teens excitedly play on one of four video consoles. A group of older boys engage in a pool game, while at a table nearby two young males enjoy a quiet card game. Musically inclined youth wait patiently on the other side of the room for their turn to play a tune on the upright piano. The game room is large enough that teens can also play dodge ball and basketball. Teens receive instruction in individual music lessons in smaller rooms behind the main room. Young teen girls in leotards are intently practicing their dance moves under the instruction of the center’s dance instructor Hodgie Jo.

Prominently displayed on the game room wall is rock star Alice Cooper. In a black top hat and leather pants complete with skull belt, he holds a parchment scroll with Code of Conduct painted in bright blood red letters. Nine rules are listed on the scroll of the painted fresco at Cooper’s The Rock. Three of the rules talk about respecting yourself, each other, staff and volunteers.

The Complex

The Rock at 32nd Street occupies most of the strip mall on the southeast corner of Thunderbird and 32nd Street in Phoenix, Arizona. The center is a partnership between Genesis Church and Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock. The two share the space with Alice Cooper’s The Rock Teen Center occupying it on weekdays and Genesis Church using the complex on Sundays. Their joint mission is to fully serve the community. Pat Stark, lead pastor of Genesis explains the building also contains a community center that offers free GED test preparation, a full career service with workshops and tutoring after school for first through sixth graders. Sundays the complex becomes a full service church with breakout rooms for Sunday school classes.

Solid Rock History

Alice Cooper and his wife Sheryl Cooper held a dream to open up a teen center to keep kids off the streets. Alice, a musician, and Sheryl, a professional dancer, wanted a place where the youth could express themselves artistically and creativity. Alice and youth pastor Chuck Savale began the Solid Rock Foundation in 1995 and envisioned a teen center where everything would be free. They began fundraising and finally in 2012 with both funds and a plan for free lessons they opened the center.

Teen Center

Solid Rock’s main objective is to support the teen population with a safe, after-school environment. It is open Monday to Friday, 2 p.m.–8 p.m. Mark Savale, teen center director, said, “With schools cutting the arts, we want to be an outlet for music and dance.”

The teen center, including free classes is open to any youth that fills out a membership form, gets their parents’ permission if under 18, and agrees to follow their rules of conduct.

Savale said, “We only had to trespass two students. One of the students was allowed back for good behavior.” He explained when the staff spends so much time on a teen that it takes away from the others, they will have to ask them to leave.

All music lessons (except for band practicing) are one-on-one with either a music teacher employed by the center or by a trained volunteer musician. Teens learn guitar, bass guitar, drums, vocals, song writing, band coaching, keyboards and piano.

The center offers both beginning and intermediate classes in ballet, jazz and hip-hop. Recently Sheryl, even taught an advanced dance class.

Art classes and stage design are also offered on select days. Teen can receive a pre-packaged meal every day and watch a film on movie night. They have the opportunity of performing at the bi-monthly open mic night where family and friends can come and watch.

The Teens

Most of the Teen Center participants come from Greenway or Shea Middle School, Shadow Mountain, Paradise Valley and North Canyon High School. Eighty percent of them reach the center by themselves after school.

Teens come for a variety of reasons and hear about the center mostly by word of mouth. Guitarist Noah Draughon, 15, attends the Arizona Conservatory for Arts & Academics. He said, “I come to practice my music to learn more, and to hang out and play games.” He has been coming here since it first opened after a friend told him about the place.

Ale Moran, a 14-year-old aspiring musician from North Canyon High School, also heard about Solid Rock through a friend who was taking lessons there. Moran said, “I started coming for guitar lessons.” After coming here for a year she switched to playing bass and is currently learning songwriting.

Another teen center musician, Paradise Valley High School student Tony Galvan, 15, found out about the school when he met Alice Cooper at a school board meeting. Galvan went there to get his guitar signed by Cooper who told him about his Solid Rock Teen Center, and Galvan has been coming here for three years.

Rock Teen Center Director

Director Mark Savale, who looks young and almost gets lost among the teens at the center, stays calm even while juggling several things at once during their busy time. He naturally relates to the 12–to-20-year-olds that attend the center’s programs, but he also can be stern and authoritative when needed. His enthusiasm for his job comes through immediately. When he says, “I have the best job in the world — I get to handle music on a daily basis,” he is very believable.

Since Mark is a musician, he understands the musical mind of those attending.

“We just want to make a difference in teens’ young lives with music, dance and mentorship,” he said. Mark plays drums in the rock band Co-Op with Dash Cooper, (Alice’s son,) whom he has known since childhood. (Savale’s father is Solid Rock Foundation co-founcer.)

Mark said, “I have grown up with the organization. I started out volunteering for the celebrity golf tournaments.” Mark became the director of the teen center when it first opened in 2012. The center, which started out slowly, now averages 60-to-80 teens participating per day.

Alice Cooper’s Attic and Thrift Store

The newest edition to The Rock at 32nd Street, Alice Cooper’s thrift store, opened in July 2014. Check at the back of the store where both Alice and wife, Sheryl Cooper have donated personal items. Alice even signed select items like a sealed copy of the “Killer,” album, posters, photos, guitar and clothing. When a sporting goods store went out of business, they eventually decided to donate their leftover stock to the thrift store rather after storing it. All proceeds from the sales fund the teen center.


When enough money is raised, hopefully within a year, Solid Rock will expand into the empty warehouse next to the teen center. They will eventually build a recording studio. Plans are for the teen participants to learn sound engineering, music production and record the teens’ music. Mark said, “It helps them know the work that goes into recording.”

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding 2014

The majority of funding for the free programs at Solid Rock comes from Alice Cooper’s annual Christmas Pudding held each December at Downtown Phoenix’s Comerica Theater. The other major event that nets donations for the center is Alice Cooper’s Rock and Roll Golf Classic.

The first Christmas Pudding debuted in 2000 at Celebrity Theater. Two years later it moved to bigger venue Dodge Theater (now Comerica). The show usually features big name rock performers and showcases teenage dancers and musicians from the Solid Rock teen center. The winners of the best group and best soloist from Alice Cooper’s “Proof in the Pudding,” contest also performs. The most successful shows bringing in the most money were 2012’s show with Johnny Depp and the 2013 concert starring Kiss.

Several of the musicians from Solid Rock’s teen center performed this year and had an exhilarating experience. Moran lists playing at Christmas Pudding as one of her best experiences since she’s been at the center. She said, “It was fun and I loved being backstage. Being on stage was nerve-racking but a great experience.”

Galvan has played in three Christmas shows and said, “It was amazing being able to be backstage and be able to see the lights, set up, and sound checks hours before the show.” This year he was part on the drumming group of teenagers that performed early in the show.

For the past three years, Draughon has also played in Christmas Pudding. He, too, cites the backstage experience as being great and laughs as he adds he also liked the food.

All three share the goal of pursuing careers in music, but they say one of the major reasons they like coming to the center is the staff. Solid Rock staff help them with more than just artistic expression, they say. Both Draughon and Galvan learned better social skills, and a staff member helped Moran find her Christian faith.

Draughon said, “I appreciate the time they (the staff) spend with us.” He sums up the Solid Rock experience by saying, “It has been good for my growth as a person and for my music.”

To take advantage of this free program, other services, or to donate check out:

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Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center Inspires