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Issue #17 May 10, 2018

The Student Newspaper of OFL - San Fernando Valley

Signing Day Celebrates Seniors’ Success

Touring Colleges in the Pacific Northwest The Western Undergraduate Exchange opens new opportunities Photos and article by Jack Klein

Starting from top left, going clockwise: Oscar Martinez is going to CSUN! Christie Na is going to UCLA! Masha Shegolevsky is going to UC Irvine! All Senior Signing Day students with their new college shirts; Stefano Vasquez with his new CSUN shirt; (top) Nayelly Tovar and family; (bottom) college pendants; and the table decor. Read the article and see more photos on PG 2.

Community Service in New Orleans Years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, help is still needed By Adilenne Mendez and Aaliyah Wycoff I WANT to start by giving a huge shout-

out to Pathways in Education (PIE) for allowing us to come along for these once in a lifetime and eye-opening experiences. I can definitely say so much about our stay in New Orleans and all the great adventures we experienced, starting with the great chaperones we had and how having these cool adults with us and seeing how they learned, as well as participated, in all activities really inspired us to give our best. As I look back to when we were told about New Orleans and how it was a new trip made as an opportunity to give back to a community miles away from home, I notice how I found myself really intrigued in knowing how things would come to be

and the many tasks that would have to be done. Once we had the New Orleans orientation, I became really excited to hear all about the cool places we’d be visiting and how we would be working hand in hand with the Lower Nine Organization. But the best part was definitely being in Louisiana, in the Lower Ninth itself, and standing and working in the homes of those who were affected by the devastation really made us feel useful. It was eye opening seeing that even after 13 years there was still lots of work to be done in Louisiana. The Lower Ninth Ward was still very damaged and many still can’t come back to their homes and still to this day have to live away from where their home

was. Some peoples’ houses were lifted and actually moved away from the original spot. Since it already is very expensive to pay for the supplies, the organization that we worked with took volunteers to the cost of manpower needed to rebuild the houses. In my group’s experience we got to meet the owner and his wife and kids and I think everyone in my group could feel how great it was to see the people we were helping. The owner was even a chef and brought us lunch one of the days. Although we worked little compared to the great need, I think we can all agree that we felt like we made a positive change that no one can take away from us.

RECENTLY, FROM April 16 through the 21st, Pathways in Education was able to take 34 students just like yourself to universities farther than the normal ones in NorCal College Tours. During the course of the trip, we went to colleges in both West Oregon and Eastern Washington, and were even able to stay in a dormitory. The trip was a huge opportunity for both our school and for Pathways. Since this was a pilot (the first of its kind, a test) trip, only select students were chosen to attend. But due to its


Design Championship Students engineer rollercoasters By Allyia Castro

Creative Arts

» OFL news, PG. 2

Art and poetry By the students of OFL

» creative arts, PG. 4

Entertainment The Lower 9th Ward Living Museum

Television and video game reviews The French Quarter

By Christie Na and Hailie Hanson

Leilani Perez and a baby alligator

Aaliyah Wycoff looks at an alligator

David Mendez and Oscar Esparza paint

Students work on reconstruction

» entertainment, PG. 4


Issue #17  TO THE POINT 2

Senior Signing Day The table decor

Alumnus Maria Arciniega and Assistant Principal Lily Gutierrez

A senior’s view of the event By Christie Na

ON MAY 3rd, Thursday night, graduating seniors gathered at The Odyssey to celebrate their accomplishments of getting into a fouryear university. Teachers, administrators, and families were also there to congratulate their hard work and share the joy. The OFL staff put a lot of effort into making this evening special. The room hada luxurious ambience with grand chandeliers and a great view. The food was amazing with salad for starters, appetizing tofu, chicken or steak entrees, and satisfying cake and ice cream for dessert. After dinner was finished, each student presented a speech and announced which college they’ll be attending this fall. In their speeches, the students shared their

experience throughout high school and their future plans. It was a great moment in which students could verbally express their gratitude to their teachers and families. With the students’ and teachers’ hard work and support from their families, the seniors were able to get into a variety of colleges: CSUs, UCs, and out of state. Seniors also signed a Letter of Intent starting that they will devote their time and energy to obtain a bachelor’s degree as a full-time college student. Students these days do not sign their statement of intent to register with pen and paper as everything is done digitally. But signing a physical copy showed firm resolution for the students to continue to pursue their goals. After making a toast, the students

received a heartwarming gift from OFL. In fancy black bags in the middle of the dining table, students found college t-shirts of the schools they’ll be attending. The rest of the evening ended with group photos of everyone holding up their college t-shirts and socializing with close friends and teachers. We are proud of all the seniors for their hard work to get to this point. Some didn’t even think about going to college, some are first generation college students, and some had personal difficulties. Working towards going to college hasn’t been an easy journey but the seniors persevered and got an opportunity to pursue their dreams. We also thank OFL for making this such an enjoyable and memorable night. We will not forget it!

Emma Poole and family

Saleena Torres and family

Rising Stars Abigail Pridgin and Grace Appleby

Elijah Walker

Jocelyn Santibanez

Engineering Design Challenge

Nora Rose-Hines with her signed letter of intent

It was a rollercoaster of a day as students from OFLs/OFYs all across Southern California competed By Allyia Castro

A DAY filled with tension and excitement for all the teams, players, and staff unraveled in the Engineering Design Challenge. It was a great day for the OFL Reseda team as their hard work and determination brought them 3rd place in the challenge, where they all received gift cards to Target as their prize. They came to redeem their victory after winning first place at their first Engineering Design Challenge where they received Kindles as their prize, but third place seemed to be what they strived for in the end. Their journey to success started with an early morning to what would be an overall productive day. Once everyone was

settled and the day slowly started to begin, the teams were given 15 minutes to come up with a plan and an idea of what their projects would aim to be. After 15 minutes the teams were then given two hours to construct their roller coasters. They were given sheets of cardstock paper and an instructions sheet that listed the points for the different tricks that could be used throughout their roller coaster. The team with the most points would win. The OFL Reseda team came to a halt when their thinking began to get the better of them. During this time the staff began to give them encouragement and helped them to be mindful of the tools they were given.

Jose even gave some words of encouragement to the team telling them to “pretend [they] are the marble” and soon enough the team got back into action. When the examination for the roller coasters began, the staff would come around in groups to inspect, test the roller coasters, and tally the points each team received during the examination process. When it was over, all the teams began to tear apart their two hours of hard work until it turned into crumpled up paper. At the end each team received participation certificates and our very own OFL Reseda team came home with third place medals. That medal was the only prize Desiree Ponciano would not want to share with her mom.

The OFL Reseda team (Christie Na, Damian Contreras, Desiree Ponciano) with their 3rdplace-winning rollercoaster

>>”College Tour” continued from front page overwhelming success, this tour may be open for all qualifying students in the future. This particular trip focused on a program known most commonly as the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). This program allows students in the western region to go to out-of-state schools for a lowered tuition rate. Typically, out-of-state tuition fees are close to, if not more than, double the price for in-state students; under the WUE, out-of-state tuition is closer to the normal in-state price. At Western Oregon University, for example, tuition for an in-state student is ~$7,500 annually, while outof-state tuition is as much as ~$21,000. That’s more than double the normal cost of tuition! However, with the WUE, tuition for out-of-state students is only ~$12,000 annually. This is a huge difference for students who dream of leaving California for college. As a student, this trip was incredibly inspiring,

opening many door to the future. On the trip, we visited a variety of schools from small technology campuses to large liberal arts colleges. In all, we toured Oregon Technical Institute, Portland State, Western Oregon, Eastern Washington, and Washington State University. But don’t think that the trip is all work! Yes, students complete a workbook during the At Multnomah Falls in Portland, Oregon trip, but that is definitely not all that happens. We were able to visit Portland and explore the town, traveling to the famous food trucks and going to Powell’s City of Books, the largest bookstore in the region. In addition we were able to visit Multnomah Falls, gift shops, and much more! If you have not been on any College Tour, we strongly encourage you to sign up for the next one. While you may not go out of state, you still will get to fly, travel, learn about college life and financial aid, and make lots of friends! Portland State University

Portland State University

Washington State Univeristy’s football field

Issue #17  TO THE POINT 3

2018 OFL Graduate Speech Speech by Benjamin Eslamieh HELLO PARENTS, teachers and students. My name is Benjamin Eslamieh and I am here to welcome you all to the 2018 Opportunities for Learning graduation. Shout-out to the fish and my brother from work (yes, I work with fish, and no it’s not the fish you eat it’s the pets; saltwater not fresh because I like beauty and exotic things, not some goldfish). Anyways... I am especially proud to graduate because when I started OFL back in late 2015, I was a person who didn’t have much hope in other schools and was just afraid of reality and what my future might be. I was a person who didn’t seem to care what my future would turn into. I was failing all my classes, being a nuisance to my parents and teachers and was just overall, a failure. When you start to go down one route of failure, you start to get comfortable and just inherit it. I was unfortunately that person, until I was suspended from my old school. I wanted to change the person who I was. So I joined a program that helped me get back on my feet: OFL. I have to admit, I didn’t like it there at all for the first few months... until I was welcomed by open arms to an amazing person named Ethan. Ethan was a student who showed me how to stay relaxed and love the school for what it is: a big old family. I started to hang out with others and just start amazing friendships that I still have to this day. Ethan left OFL when I started tenth grade (he was having a child and decided he needed to go work to provide his family), but fortunately we still talk and I tell him that I took his advice to be as real as I can no matter what, and to never change for anyone, remaining true to myself first before anyone else. I took that advice and spread it between all students at OFL. OFL is sometimes called an “independent study” program, but OFL is really what you make it. I found that the school and the people in it are at their best when they get together and get things done together, so I created this wonderful thing my friends and I call the “homework hub.” This is an example of how I spread the mindset of being true and connecting with others by starting a “Discord” for homework; for those who don’t know what Discord is, it’s an app that allows us to communicate with each other. This group allows friends to just hang out and get school work done and, as a matter of fact, the people in the hub have been turning in more units than usual and that allowed them to be here today with me. I’ve learned that we are more powerful connected and together than separated and alone; we need more bridges connecting us, not walls dividing us. But before I started to grow up to become the person I am today, I was a person who would play computer games and act like nothing else existed in the world. I would ignore my mother and chores for countless months. But one day, my mother became too overworked and asked me to work at our family business every saturday. So I decided to give up my pathetic “free” life and start working and providing for my family. I worked

and balanced out homework and school while still trying to be a teenager. The customers really hated me in the beginning since I didn’t know much about saltwater fish and aquariums. Honestly, I really only knew how to lift heavy things. My brother would get in countless fights with my mom saying things like, “Why would you tell him to join the store?” Back then, I would go home and feel absolutely like trash and not be happy at all. But from working with him, I’ve learned that my brother takes his business very seriously so I now understand that something that could potentially ruin it would make him mad. And through it all, I never let the hard times stop me. I worked harder and harder every single day, I just kept swimming and kept swimming, until I was so exhausted that I could barely lift a 25lb water jug. And after I couldn’t lift heavy things anymore, I needed to find another use for myself at the store. I stayed up countless nights watching videos on corals and fish. It took months of training, and working more and more hours, to make me finally understand how to stay dedicated and work hard for goals I wanted in that store, and hopefully it made my brother happy as well; looking at you right now, Daniel! Let me tell you: I have a horrific schedule. I work every day until 8pm, meaning after I leave school I go straight to work. I dealt with my mother leaving America to go back home to Austria, I dealt with depression and all that teenage stuff, but every time I opened the doors to OFL I just felt like I was welcomed. I started caring about school and making sure my grades were good since my new school just felt more like a family than an academic area. Coming from nothing and potentially turning into something much greater than I already set myself to be makes me feel a lot better about myself. I was finally happy. OFL saved me by allowing me to catch up and graduate, and I cannot thank the lovely people here anymore than I already have. It’s a magnificent school that allows people of all different backgrounds, from students who came from schools where they were considered “delinquents”, or were considered as “prey” to bullies and predators, OFL has allowed us to come together under one roof as one. I would like to take this time to thank Leo Portugal, the man who’s helped me throughout these last three years because he changed my thought on school and showed me how to make it fun. Thank you to everyone who helped within these few years: Ethan, Jackie, Nicole, Angie, Kathleen, Josh and Natalie, and of course Mr. LeoPol. Last thing I would like to say is that I appreciate everyone who came, after long months of struggling, through the good and the bad, and especially through government. We did it! I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS. Thank you OFL and thank you all for listening!


Wyoming is NOT Real Opinion-Editorial by Ben Eslamieh IT’S A hot day in the month of July. You and your family are driving through Idaho, and out of nowhere, you just start driving in a straight road where the sky is black and there’s nothing around for miles on end. You are driving through what the government wants you to believe is “Wyoming.” You are now a part of some type of testing to understand how gullible the average American is when the government spoon feeds us this lie. The United States is a large place. It’s the third largest country in the world. “Wyoming” is apparently the tenth largest state in the U.S.A. It’s 97,813.56 square miles of land and water, but why is it so empty? The government depicts that Wyoming has a population of 563,626 people. But Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, has a larger population than that. Something is definitely not adding up since you have all this land but such a low population. In comes the evidence that it doesn’t exist since we really haven’t met anyone from this so called state; it’s fake news. Tell me right now that you’ve met a person from Wyoming. I would love to chat with this extraterrestrial being since it’s impossible to meet someone from there because it doesn’t exist. Secondly, we have to take on the big facts about their taxes. “State spending per capita: $9,986 (2nd highest) • Federal aid as a % of revenue: 39.6% (12th highest) • State sales tax rate: 4.00% (tied for 2nd lowest) Wyoming, in addition to not collecting any individual income taxes, is one of just four states that does not collect any corporate income tax.” Why is that? Why is its state income tax the lowest when they can send millions to live there? I have the answer: because it doesn’t exist. “Wyoming” is a “state” that was made by the highest of secret organizations to distract from reality and persuade it is a state. But I won’t be a sheep like the rest of the population. Hear me out: “Wyoming” has this insane super volcano known as Yellowstone that could change the face of the earth. With that much power comes a lot of covering up. These secret societies use this “super volcano” to scare the general public and keep them away from this dangerous illusion we know as “Wyoming.” Anyone who says they are from Wyoming are secretly in the government and are agents sent to your house to murder you. If they represent something else they can be annihilated, vaporized one could say, shout out to Big Brother. Have you ever heard of anyone famous dying in “Wyoming?” If you search that up, it’s all country singers and politicians, basically showing that people who die in “Wyoming” are irrelevant genre singers and government officials. Why is that? Well it’s easy, the government runs this project and puts these singers to make you just

go like “eh” to their death, but not today. If you search up an image of the “Wyoming” border, you’d see an image that shows miles of nothing, a sign that says “Wyoming, like no place on earth.” But why is it when you look at the sky, it seems like there’s a dome around the entire “state.” Well, that’s because it’s a testing for the government’s pleasure. It’s a sickening thing to think about, but it’s very logical. If you ask any immigrant, and trust me I come from a family full of them, and ask them to name all states, the one they always forget about is “Wyoming.” Why is that? Well, my father and mother both said they didn’t really care about that state. They didn’t even know it existed. But that’s exactly what they want you to do: forget about it and carry on with your everyday activities. Have you ever wondered where all your hard earned money ends up? The secret societies’ land of “Wyoming.” They are funding the “state” to equip it against the civilians in case we ever revolt. A private military funded state is something everyone should worry about but they depict it as a “state of happiness” so nobody worries about it. Recently a plane crashed in “Wyoming” leaving no survivors. It’s ironic how the state that doesn’t exist had people fly over it and the people didn’t make it out. It’s simple. Connect the dots. It’s people like the two who died that believed “Wyoming” didn’t exist and were annihilated. The scary truth about this is that something so little can turn into something so scary. “Wyoming” makes the average American nod their head but people like myself and others start to shiver because we know what will happen to all in the United States if we don’t stop this disgusting foundation. If you go on Urban Dictionary, the definition of “Wyoming” is “Supposedly a state in the United States. It is a vast government conspiracy. If you think you are driving through Wyoming, you are really unconscious in a secret government facility where scientists are implanting false memory engrams into your mind. This knowledge is commonly introduced to high school freshmen.” Scary huh, how a widely used dictionary knows the truth better than most American people. Wyoming is just full of people who are being paid to make the average American believe it exists. The thing that scares me the most is how the population of America ignores this state more and more everyday and we keep following exactly what they want. If you are a person who believes Wyoming exists, you are an idiot or a sheep that needs to stop believing the government’s spoon fed lies. If anyone tells you they are from “Wyoming”, they are being paid to tell you that.

Teacher Strikes Continue Across the Country Teachers shouldn’t have to strike (opinion-editorial) By Christie Na

TEACHERS ALL across the U.S. have been going on strike and voicing their disapproval towards the school board’s horribly low pay. Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona went on strike and most recently Colorado had been involved as well. Teachers held up signs saying “Stop Starving Teachers” in response to the lack of support from the school district for their reasonable requests. The teachers requested that they have a two percent raise and $30 per month for health insurance, but the school district stated that they cannot afford it. Instead, they offered to give “$1000 bonuses for this year, cost-of-living-raises next school year, and $50 a month towards health insurance beginning in September 2018”, but some say this isn’t enough (Atencio). This is agreeable as the average national pay for teachers is $59,660 and the average pay in Colorado

Teachers hold such an important role and they need better treatment for the jobs they do. is $52,728 compared to $47,617 under the Colorado Department of Education (Atencio). This is a serious problem as this causes teachers to quit which can leave several absent positions for the school to fill (Atencio). This in turn can have a negative effect on the students’ learning. However, salary wasn’t the only issue on the teachers’ minds. The school board not only underpaid its teachers, but it failed to provide students with the necessary tools

Work Cited to succeed and do well in school. Teachers also have complained about the poor state Atencio, Mariana. “‘As Long as it takes’: Teacher of the textbooks and the lack of computers Strike in Pueblo, Colorado stretches into third (Atencio). Schools usually have computers day”. NBC News. 9 May 2018. Web. 9 May 2018. or iPads on campus or for students to take home which they can use for research and homework. It’s disappointing how the Colorado Department of Education couldn’t provide computers especially when considering that there are students who cannot afford them. Teachers hold such an important role and they need better treatment for the jobs they do. Seeing how the teachers are fighting for the students benefits and not just their own really shows how much they care and are interested in giving their students a better education. If the school board truly cares about students’ Photo by David Zalubowski/AP education, they need to do more than what they’re doing right now.

Issue #17  TO THE POINT 4


Big Boss Man A short story Written and illustrated by Japhet Mondragon

IN A world where Toxic Masculinity, a heinous man, is a man, he scares all men and sleeps with his manly teddy bear when he goes to sleep. His teddy bear is an actual adult bear, that’s how manly he is. He soon gained fame across the land and many manly followers. Soon the world was his, and he called the land Manhood. He went on a rampage after hearing a prophecy that a babe would be born and that this babe would turn Toxic Masculinity’s heart to jelly. He began crushing the dreams of as many newborns as he could, forcing the newborns to become manly and hate tears. Thinking he was rid of the prophecy, doom began to lurk! A sudden cloud of rain clouded the city of Manhood. Rain began to fall and it was a sign of change. Since Toxic’s reign it had never once rained in the land of Manhood. Lightning struck, and Big Boss Man was

born. His name: Brocco Lee. Years passed and Brocco Lee began his journey by causing a ruckus in the town bar. “HEYAH!” Brocco Lee strikes a man! “What was that for that for?” the man asks. “Because I didn’t like the way you looked at me!” Beginning to cry and filled with emotions Brocco Lee cries out, “ Ahhh, such a hideous look!” With a final cry he defeats the man and his gang as tears and emotions came out of his eyes. From this moment on Toxic Masculinity finally noticed Brocco Lee. One day, Brocco Lee arrived at Toxic Masculinity’s doorstep. A “ding ding” rang out as he poked the doorbell. The buzzer answered in a cheery voice, “Who is it?” “It’s Big Boss Man,” replied Brocco Lee. “OHHH GREAT! I THOUGHT IT WAS THE GIRL SCOUTS!!!!” Brocco Lee began to cry. “How dare you talk to me that way!” “Don’t be a girl.” “FINE I WON’T. I’LL MAKE YOU CRY INSTEAD.” Brocco Lee comenced to fight Toxic in the battle of the ages. “HEYAH!” Brocco Lee cried as he was about to take his last punch and (boom!) Toxic began to cry. “NO, stop I‘m sorry, I won’t do anything anymore!” Brocco Lee watched Toxic break out into a pitiful bubble of emotions. Brocco Lee looked at the world and was satisfied with the tears. He had finally ended Toxic Masculinity’s reign through the righteous use of physical violence. Thanks to his bold actions, the world didn’t change, and they all lived bitterly ever after.

Poem by Hailie Hanson I’ve heard so many stories about you… You loved to draw… I love to draw too… I’ve seen your art, it puts me in awe… Daddy said you guys would ride horses… Along the countryside and camp… You saved daddy from a cliff ’cause of the horse… All the obstacles you would course through… You seemed to be an amazing person… What I would do to meet you… Just once would be enough… I don’t think it would make our life worsen… But who knows, as I know the chaos theory… But we would have so much in common… We would be best friends… Even though I never met you… I still love you just as much… Your grandson was named after you… We all love you a bunch… I don’t think there’s a day where me, your mom, or daddy… Don’t think about you.. How could we not… I wanna meet my grandaddy… Daddy wants his daddy back… I would want mine back too… Because I always knew… That I’ll never meet you… You were so young… You’re death stung… But at least the family got memories… To hold on to… Before you left… I think we would all... Rather feel the pain of missing you… Than not feeling at all.... We all love you Grampa Perry… We will never forget you…

By Hailie Hanson her childhood friend, Chloe, after not speaking to her for five years. When they reunite, the two set out to find Chloe’s other friend who is missing, Rachel Amber. Max repeatedly uses her powers, still confused about the tornado visions she keeps having. Doing so, they find themselves stuck in the middle of a million other situations. This game’s plot revolves around the butterfly effect and chaos theory and the consequences of time travel, so make sure to really be cautious and observant when playing it. As you play, you explore various locations in the fictional setting of Arcadia Bay and communicate with its citizens. Dialogue exchanges can be rewound, and once an event is reset, you can use what you learned about people to manipulate them and/or make them feel better. In some instances, choices in dialogue will alter and affect the story through short or long-term consequences. For each one of the choices, something good in the short-term could turn out worse later. The time travel power is also used to solve puzzles in creative ways. I encourage you to play this as it is a really good game that was made by geniuses. Many Youtubers have played it and it’s also worth watching other people play (especially if you are unable to play yourself). WARNING: It is a very emotional game.


Poem by Grace Appleby Water Water is not wet Wet is not water Water Water ends in R Rawr Water

A TV series reviewed By Christie Na

THE GOOD Place is a comedy TV show starring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, William Jackson Harper, and D’Arcy Carden. The Good Place takes place in heaven where only people who have the highest points accumulated from



Art by Masha Shegolevsky

The Good Place

A video game reviewed


Illustration of her little sister by Hailie Hanson


Life is Strange

LIFE IS Strange is a science-fiction adventure game that takes you into the life of the main character, Max Caulfield, and her best friend, Chloe Price (my personal favorite character). The most interesting mechanic in this video game comes from Max discovering she can rewind time after having a dream about a tornado destroying the city. The same day, she runs into

To my Grandpa Perry


extraordinary humanitarian deeds are allowed to live. It’s very difficult to get to live in the Good Place as even mediocre people who have not committed any bad sins are sent to suffer eternal torture in the Bad Place. However, the main character, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), is confused for another person and gets mistakenly put in the Good Place. At first, I didn’t have great expectations for this show as I thought that the plot would be predictable and typical. But I was entirely wrong as this show has many unexpected turns and twists. The seemingly perfect characters hold surpassing flaws. Furthermore, the viewers are made to focus entirely on whether or not Eleanor will get to remain in the Good Place and whether she’ll actually change into a good person. However, the most shocking and game changing piece of information is discovered only at the end. Netflix only had season 1 of The Good Place but season 2 can be found in NBC and Hulu. I’m certain that season 2 is as good if not better, and hopefully, Netflix will upload season 2 soon.


This is the official newspaper of Opportunities for Learning charter schools in the San Fernando Valley. All words are written by OFL students. Find us online, in full color at

To the Point #17  

A newspaper created by the students of Opportunities for Learning charter schools in the San Fernando Valley.

To the Point #17  

A newspaper created by the students of Opportunities for Learning charter schools in the San Fernando Valley.