Monday, June 30, 2014

Local Family Stymied By Possum That Refuses To Leave

By Burton Cantara, Quilt staff


A Canoga Park family that hired a possum through Craigslist to clean up their yard is now dealing with an unexpected houseguest: the same possum who now has not only stopped working, but has moved in. 

Raul Bracamoron says that for the first few weeks, the “whole situation was ideal” - the possum agreed to clean up the fallen and rotting pomegranates, avocados and oranges from the family’s backyard fruit trees in exchange for a steady diet of rotting pomegranates, avocados and oranges. But when the mammal found a hole at the edge of the back porch, it quickly took up residency in a crawlspace under the young couple’s home - and now refuses to leave. 

“It just hisses at us,” says Marie Bracamoron. “We tried turning the hose on it under there and it really hissed at us, and now the part of the house over that area kind of stinks.” 

What’s worse, says the family, is that the possum - who according to records obtained by the Quilt has also gone by the name “opossum” - has stopped cleaning the yard. 
The alleged squatting possum, or squatsum.

“The alley about a block away is full of feral cat feces, so it’s gorging on those instead. Our backyard is loaded with fallen fruit and now I’ve got to go out there and clean it up,” Raul Bracamoron continues. “And forget the squirrels! They don’t even make a dent in it - in fact, they’re the cause of most of the fruit on the ground in the first place.”

Police told the Bracamorons there is nothing they can do.

“They told me to call Animal Services,” Mrs. Bracamoron said. She did, and officials there advised the couple that the possum can come and go as it pleases - possums are not something they deal with. 

“They told me they have no jurisdiction over wild animals. So apparently this possum is just welcome under my house, anytime it wants, to not eat my rotten fruit if it doesn’t want to, and basically harass my family. I’m a victim in my own home and it’s completely legal.”
The possum, seen here leaving the Bracamorons' residence at
sunset, refused to comment when asked about the situation.

The couple originally agreed the possum would have access to their yard to eat any rotted fruit, for free, if it kept the yard free of organic debris.

“But now it doesn’t do anything,” said Marie. “It stays under the house 90 percent of the day. I really did try to work with it. It goes out about dusk and then it’s back before I get up in the morning. So I told it, you either have to perform or you gotta leave.” The ultimatum didn’t do any good, she reports.

Finally, with nowhere else to turn, they called up a pest removal company to take care of the matter.

“Well, technically not a company,” Mr. Bracamoron concedes. “Do you have any idea what professionals charge?! Anyway, we found this guy on Craigslist who said he could take care of it. And he told us he also installs phone jacks which is good because we need one in the guest room - I mean, he was going to be under the house anyway...”

The guy, who Raul Bracamoron says goes by the name of “Lou,” crawled beneath the cozy, two-bedroom, mid-century home on Saturday morning. 

“I thought it was going to be a pretty quick process, but apparently these things take time,” the homeowner says, noting that as of Monday afternoon, Lou was still under the house. "My wife says he’s been in and out all day, bringing I guess possum-trapping equipment down there," the father of three explains.

“But at least the end is in sight,” sighs Bracamoron as he walks to the backyard, kneels down at the edge of the house and peers through a tangle of cobwebs and cable wires in the crawlspace while training a flashlight beam into the opening before suddenly gasping. 

“Oh, holy crap, is that a mattress? And a portable TV!? And, oh, Jesus - a hot plate?!”

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Record Number of Local Children Crossing Border Into West Hills

By Sherman Farralone, Quilt staff


Dozens of children from Canoga Park have been swarming the Shoup Avenue border into the tony West Hills area of the West San Fernando Valley, overwhelming parks, summer programs, swimming pools, and also tables at that Taco Bell / Pizza Hut restaurant on Saticoy and Fallbrook, according to reports.

The unprecedented escalation in the number of children - some younger than twelve years old - who have been crossing West Hills’ eastern border has become an increasing concern for local residents.

At an emergency meeting of the West Hills Neighborhood Council held on Saturday evening at the Stonefire Grill, council president Bob Rawlins accused Canoga Park’s local government of “actively encouraging children to leave their communities” and travel west - through a concerted word-of-mouth campaign, handbills dispersed at last week’s ‘Third Thursday’ Art Walk event and even misleading online ads.

“We can’t-- we won’t be the West Valley’s dumping ground for other parents’ bored, sweaty children. Not with the property taxes we pay,” he announced to murmurs of agreement. “For God’s sake, we get enough people from Canoga Park visiting West Hills as it is with the damn Walmart here!”

Fancy-schmancy West Hills eatery; the site of last night's emergency meeting of the
West Hills Neighborhood Council. There were many loud, angry voices, and that was
before they got the check and started arguing over who ordered what. Staff photo.
Reached at home by phone, Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council member Hal Plummer admitted he sees nothing wrong in parents "being proactive by suggesting their kids seek out a better summer for themselves” in the neighboring community to the west, but notes that there are plenty of activities in Canoga Park to occupy children.

"We've got Lanark Park and there’s a pool there, I understand,” he said. “And Valerio Street which, while not closed to traffic, everyone uses as a public recreational space - I had to drive around a bounce house set up in the middle of the road there last night. Oh, and we’ve got that little playground up at Parthenia and International. Once the homeless contingent clears out each morning, I presume it’s reasonably safe for kids to play there.

When pressed for specifics regarding the role the CPFNC is rumored to have played in the recent surge, however, the councilman grew irate and vehemently denied any involvement. 

"Why on earth would we encourage our own kids to leave the area?" he asked. "And this thing about paid ads! Ridiculous!”

Paid advertisement.
Others insist that many of the non-area children seen in West Hills aren’t from Canoga Park but rather are residents of communities located further east such as Winnetka and beyond. 

“Some of these kids are making the trip all the way from Reseda,” insists West Hills resident Bill Lowthert, who says two unaccompanied tweens crashed his 6-year old daughter’s birthday party at Taxco Trails Park when the cake and ice cream was about to be served.  “That they’re not stopped somewhere between DeSoto and Shoup makes Canoga Park complicit in allowing them to get here, if you ask me.”

With its lush green lawn and toddler-friendly playground, Taxco Trails Park has become a
popular destination spot for both invited and uninvited birthday party guests. Staff photo.
Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, tempers continued to flare.

“This is getting out of control,” said Foster Tripp III of Rock Ridge Terrace. “I was up at the Lazy J [Ranch Park] the other day practicing my golf swing and a child that I certainly didn’t recognize ran by me kicking a soccer ball. A soccer ball! It completely threw off my rhythm.”

“That’s nothing. I turned my sprinkler on the front lawn yesterday morning before I went out to get my hair done and when I came back that afternoon, there were two kids running around under it,” added Celia Kelsey of Easthaven Lane. “I don’t know who those kids belonged to.”

The meeting went on well on past dinner and into coffee and pie as over fifty West Hills citizens took the podium to air their grievances and describe their own horrific experiences with unchaperoned youngsters allegedly from Canoga Park.

“One of them tagged my dog!” exclaimed Joyce Chadsey, though it was later revealed that her purebred Bichon Frisé was merely marked by spray-paint blowback when he lifted his leg on a bus bench that a non-resident young man was in the middle of defacing.

Shoup Avenue: the Canoga Park/West Hills border. Some residents feel
the crosswalk "encourages" non-residents to cross the street. Staff photo.
“The bottom line is we just don’t have the resources nor certainly the obligation to accommodate all of these children. I’m sorry if Canoga Park miscalculated when they submitted their 2014 summer budget to the LA Parks Department, but that’s not our problem," the council president declared, retaking the lectern near the end of the meeting. "We only have so many free juice boxes to give away, folks. We have a finite number of leathercraft wallet kits, and they’re for pre-enrolled Little Twig campers, not just anyone who shows up at Shadow Ranch Park’s multi-purpose room!”

The meeting adjourned at ten p.m. after a resolution was proposed to put unchaperoned non-West Hills children onto buses headed for the Tennis & Swim Center in Calabasas. It passed unanimously. “Oh, hell, let Calabasas deal with them," Rawlins shrugged. "They’ve got the serious money around here anyway.”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Canoga Park First-Wednesday-of-the-Month Women’s Club Centennial Celebration Begins With All-Out Sunday Night Gala

by Ingomar Schoenborn, Quilt staff

The Canoga Park First Wednesday of the Month Women’s Club started its summer-long 100th anniversary program on Sunday night with a boisterous celebration that merrily rolled along past midnight and was experienced by neighbors far and wide.

While the festivities last night were not an official Canoga Park First Wednesday of the Month Women’s Club event - the clubhouse facilities were rented out for a private affair - it did mark the first of a series of events falling under the umbrella of the club’s fabulous one hundredth anniversary celebration that is scheduled to culminate on October 18th with the Women's Club Centennial Party.
“Celebrating our organization’s one-hundred year existence is a program of events we’ve titled Fellowship Unifies Community and Komplements the Neighborhood - or FUCK the Neighborhood for short,” says Doreen Farber, the Women’s Club’s Vice President in Charge of Neighborhood Cacophony. “While it may be a little bit of a stretch for an acronym, and, yes, we had to fudge the spelling of that last word, it certainly conveys the message we want to send to everyone who lives in the area surrounding our clubhouse,” she chuckles.
“We were a little concerned about the language, but then we realized that it’s mild compared to what the club’s neighbors hear from the parking lot most Saturday nights during the parties or Sunday mornings when the AA meeting lets out - at least according to the messages we routinely get and ignore,” adds Bessie Betelmeyer, Chairperson In Charge Of Rolling Her Eyes While Deleting Complaints On The Answering Machine Without Responding To Them. 

But to those who do complain, Betelmeyer, a Porter Ranch resident, has a message: “My my my, I do wish they’d take to heart the idea behind our centennial celebration. Like Doreen said: Fellowship Unifies Community and Komplements the Neighborhood. Or do I have to spell it out for your readers? I can do it with one finger, dearie.”

"Anything goes" is the only hard and fast rule during The Canoga Park First Wednesday
of The Month Women's Club 100th Anniversary Summer of Events. Staff photo.
Sunday’s inaugural hoop-de-do kicked off shortly after seven p.m. Per usual procedure at the club, as parents inside became increasingly drunk and, if possible, further disinterested in the welfare of their children, more and more peppy young ’uns streamed into the parking lot to yell and scream, blast air horns and set off car alarms in a joyfully unsupervised free-for-all evening of noise and freeze tag.

“Oh, my, yes, children can be quite a handful, as I recall,” laughs Farber and then clears her throat to continue in a more serious tone. “They’re not allowed in the gated community where I live.”

Once the music stopped at 12:15 a.m. and partygoers stumbled to their vehicles to brave the telephone pole and parked car obstacle course leading back home, the surprisingly numerous remaining crew began to clean the premises - a process involving bags filled with hundreds of empty bottles and cans being carried back and forth through the lot and then back and forth again and again, more children screaming, and, despite a parking lot that can accommodate no more than 30 cars, approximately 750-900 car door slams.
Doreen Farber. Photo: Fred Farber.

Hell hath no fury like the unidentified woman scorned in the parking lot at 1:35 a.m., according to neighbor Téodor Pasternak. 

“Yeah, someone pissed her off but good. She was going off on some poor schmuck. ‘Eff this’ and ‘Eff that’ and ‘Eff you, I’m sick of your effing sh_t.’ Just ask anyone in the neighborhood who was trying to sleep on a Sunday night because they have to get up Monday morning and go to work,” says the haggard-looking area resident.

When asked about the lush’s screeching, profanity-laced tirade, Doreen Farber admitted she knew nothing about it. 

“Good heavens - 1:30 in the morning? Oh, no, no, no - I was in bed before the ten o’clock news was over. Besides, I don’t live anywhere near Canoga Park. Now how the dickens would I know what goes on at our clubhouse?!”
The event finally drew to a close at exactly 2:15 this morning, when, following two hours of post-party cleanup noise, drunken, overloud conversation, arguing, laughter and yelling, children running and screaming, tire squealing and the occasional smash of a beer bottle being triumphantly hurled to the ground, the last car rattled over the metal track at the lot’s perimeter, followed by the gate being clanged shut. 

Neighbors indicate they’re excited to learn what the Canoga Park First Wednesday of the Month Women’s Club has in store for them for the rest of the summer.

The Canoga Park First-Wednesday-of-the-Month Women’s Club is located at 7401 Jordan Avenue and is available for rental for, really, whatever you have in mind. The club was founded in 1914 by L.C. Kimball, who recently was reported to have rolled over in her grave.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

News In Brief - June 15, 2014

Canoga Park Teens Celebrate Father’s Day
Hundreds of teenage boys throughout Canoga Park celebrated their first Father’s Day today by glancing at their ringing phones while hanging out with their friends at the gym and saying, “Aw, sh_t yo, it’s my baby’s mama. F_ckeeng I told her I’m busy today an’ sh_t.” Others, spending time, or chilling, with new girlfriends similarly made great shows of dismissing the near-constant phone calls and texts saying, “Naw, that’s just my ex an’ sh_t, she probably buggin’ me about dropping off some f_ckeeng Enfamil an’ sh_t later; bitch is such a f_ckeeng pain in my ass an’ sh_t,” all of which had an inexplicably aphrodisiacal effect on their latest paramours - which experts predict will result in a fresh crop of babies who will be approximately three months old this time next year.

* * * * *
Lanark Pool Announces First Lost Diaper of the Season
Dora the Explorer and her cousin Diego took off for a swim on their own yesterday as Lanark Recreation Center’s Lanark Pool officially recognized the first diaper of the 2014 summer season that had worked itself free from its wearer. Lifeguard Erik O’Sullivan noticed the abandoned didey shortly after it made its way into the deep end of the 60 x 120’ public pool. “At first I thought it was a deflated beach ball,” says O’Sullivan. But when the 20-year-old, on summer break from classes at Pierce College Winnetka, noticed the other swimmers giving the floating mass such a wide berth, he realized what it was. The disposable swim pants, a pair of Pampers Splashers, were removed from the pool quickly with the aid of a net on a long pole, although not before “a bunch of middle-school guys started winging it at one another,” according to O’Sullivan.

* * * * *
CPFNC Organizes Fracking Committee
The Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council has organized a committee to explore the possibility of fracking beneath the Canoga Park Sand Mound. The Mound, a municipally-protected BPOS or big pile of sand at the southeast corner of Vassar and Valerio, is located over a large deposit of natural gas, according to a preliminary study of maps available in the LA Department of Public Works. The plan has already faced opposition from the the Southern California Gas Company which has issued a statement saying, “Yes, that ‘large deposit of natural gas’ is in the pipe delivering natural gas to our customers. Don’t start screwing with it.”

* * * * *
Dog Haus Opens on Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Canoga Parkians have gone to the dogs - the hot dogs, that is. Yesterday the “Dog Haus” at 6501 Topanga Canyon Boulevard officially opened its doors in the space formerly occupied by the Fuji Grill, itself in a former Carl’s Jr restaurant. The first franchise location of the growing Pasadena-based hot dog chain celebrated by inviting locals for a free “Haus Dog” of choice on opening day. DeSoto Avenue resident Brian Rauschebart dropped by with his girlfriend Sarah and each ordered an Old Town Dog. “Yeah, um, I’m kind of used to Pink’s hot dogs...? We generally go to Pink’s after seeing a reeeeeally obscure band at the Mint or after the Thirsty Crow closes down...? So, yeah, kinnnnda used to Pink’s. On LaBrea. In Hollywood. ...But this is good,” concedes Rauschebart, 28. “Oh, honey, you’ve got some carmelized onions in your beard,” adds Sarah.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rappelling for Christ

By Burton Cantara, Quilt Staff


Three athletic figures, silhouetted against the afternoon sun, call to one another as they make the long and steep descent towards the ground. 

“Heads up, Bryan,” one calls out. “Once you drop down another two meters you’re going to hit an updraft.”

“You be careful too - looks like you’re heading into that patch of pine needles we saw on the way up.”

The third, still near the peak, remains quiet as he snaps pictures with his smartphone. Finally, he breaks his silence. “Whoa. I can see all the way to Discount Birds from up here, guys,” he calls out.

But the scene above is not playing out on some craggy cliff way up near the north end of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. 

It’s right here in Canoga Park. What’s more, it’s on top of a church, of all places.

“We opened the roof up to climbers last month,” smiles Pastor Kenneth Johansen of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Canoga Park. “The, uh, the collection plates have been a little light lately.”
A Little Closer To Heaven: A trio of thrill-seekers test their "derring-do" - and their faith - as
they descend from the dizzying heights of the rooftop of St. Paul's of Canoga Park. Staff photo.
It wasn’t a decision the members of the church made rashly, either. Some parishioners thought the idea of using a house of worship as an “extreme” sport venue was a bit unseemly, maybe even sacrilegious or disrespectful. 

But this is a Lutheran church after all, and Lutherans are a genial bunch - renowned for their understanding, compassion and most of all, progressive attitude toward faith and fund-raising. 

“Eventually, pretty much the entire congregation came around," explains the clergyman, "especially after we got notice from Missouri that the residuals on ‘Davey & Goliath’ had finally expired. Man, that kid and his dog were a cash cow, er - a blessing for the entire synod for decades. Decades.”

For a suggested donation of $30, local AMGA-certified climbers can avoid the 5-mile drive to Stoney Point and instead head over to the corner of Jordan and Valerio, in Canoga Park's devout Jordalerio neighborhood, and traverse the north side of the local church, enjoy the view at the top, and then rappel down the south side. Those who aren’t certified can hire a church roof climbing guide to accompany them.

Whether you come for the hymns or the heights, fellowship at St. Paul's comes
in many forms. Also, there's a potluck dinner next Thursday at six. Staff photo.
“This wasn’t what I expected when I received the calling,” says Vicar/Sherpa Mark Salfen as he absentmindedly adjusts his rigging and nervously whistles “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” before taking a group of six women, one celebrating her 50th birthday, up the north face.

The church is open for climbing Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm. Reservations are required. 

“We originally were trying it seven days a week," Johansen explains. "But last Sunday, during my sermon, I was quoting from 1 Thessalonians, 4:16 - you know, ‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God,' and so on - and of course, that’s when one of the climbers reaches the top out there and starts jumping up and down and yelling ‘I made it! I'm here! I’m king of the world.’ 

"Well, that caused quite a scene here in the nave. I thought we were going to have to call an ambulance for poor Gracie Dorchek.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Neighborhood Cleaners Closes Its Doors After 47 Years

By Marlin Gault, Quilt staff


The irons, presses, washers and dryers have all been sold and carted off. All that’s left are a few boxes of bottled cleaning solution, spot removers, brushes and other tools of the trade - and the unclaimed property of a couple dozen customers.

Susie “Cookie” Reyes shrugs as she hangs up the telephone in her nearly empty cleaners shop. 

“Well, I tried everyone one last time.” She’d just finished making nearly twenty-five calls to customers who’d dropped off their cleaning but never returned to claim it, and today at 6 p.m., she’s closing her doors for the last time. “If they get here before then, they’ll get ‘em back for free. No charge. After that, I’m donating everything to Goodwill.”  

Reyes is - or as of this evening, was - the owner and operator of the erstwhile Velvet Cleaners on Saticoy, just east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, in Canoga Park’s bustling Satipanga Business District.

Local business leader Velvet Cleaners, located at 21923 Saticoy Boulevard,
is closing its doors for the last time today after forty-seven years. Staff photo.
“When we opened Velvet Cleaners in 1967, there was more of a demand for velvet cleaners. You see, a lot of people were wearing velvet then.”

Of course, located here in Southern California, she’s had her share of celebrity customers, too - regulars remember a whole wall of framed and signed 8x10s behind the cash register. Her most memorable? 
Susie "Cookie" Reyes out-
side her shop circa 1968. 
“In 1970, the rock & roll group The Partridge Family came in with a rush job - a skunk had gotten on their tour bus and sprayed everything.”

Getting the stink out of their signature velvet costumes in time for a scheduled appearance, or gig, at an exclusive hotel was tricky, but Reyes was up to the challenge. “I managed to take care of all six outfits in twenty-six minutes. Today, well, I’d only have twenty-two minutes.” 

The late 60s into the early 70s were salad days for Cookie and her other velvet cleaners at Velvet Cleaners. But when the crushed velvet craze died down in the early 1970s, business slowed considerably. 

“I had to let most of my velvet cleaners go and did a lot of the velvet cleaning myself. I tried to make up for [the downturn] by specializing in cleaning velvet paintings.  You know, getting dust off, removing fly specks, polishing the frames, like that there. That helped a little bit, I guess,” she says.

Velvet Cleaners experienced a small but appreciable uptick in business in the early 80s after Waldenbooks began selling velvet bookmarks that eventually needed cleaning, but even that wasn’t enough to reverse the decline of Reyes' velvet cleaning business. She’s struggled since and last November made the decision to retire when her lease expires in early June.

If this crying Elvis painting is yours, you've got until 6 p.m. to
pick it up. Otherwise you can claim it at Goodwill. Staff photo.
The owner of Velvet Cleaners thinks back over her velvet-cleaning career of forty-seven years with a certain amount of pride and also with something that is by no means regret - but rather, candid self-realization and honesty, a hallmark of the 79-year old velvet cleaner’s Velvet Cleaners velvet cleaning business.

“Yeah, if I had to do it over, maybe I wouldn’t have limited myself to one fabric.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Election Day, 2014! The First One, The One In June!

Posted by Owen Smouth, editor-in-Chief, Canoga Park Quilt


It’s Election Day, and California can’t elect and re-elect and re-re-elect a big wad of ineffectual, counterproductive jackasses without your help!  Do your part and get out there and vote today! Remember, when in doubt about a particular proposition, vote for the way that it will further raise taxes, because that’s just what we do here in Southern California! We'll never get to a magical 65% sales tax without your help!


• Island Pacific Market - 20922 Roscoe Blvd.
Voting booths located between iced salmon heads and oyster tank. Show ballot stub for a free packet of ginger yam Bing-Bang Yahooeys

• MAX Scrap Metal & Recycling - 21608 Nordhoff St.
Look for huge industrial electromagnet suspended from crane. Booths located beneath. Remember, your vote will not be counted unless you take a selfie with the vintage 70s-era fiberglas McDonaldland Captain Crook head out front.

• Urgent Care Canoga Park - 20905 Sherman Way
Three voting booths located in waiting area between woman sitting with screaming toddler and man with uncomfortable look on his face and hands over his crotch.

• Mildred’s Frutas y Postres y Brooms - West end of Lanark Street at Topanga Canyon, south side of street
One voting booth located in back of converted delivery truck. Show ballot stub for 10% off a rag mop made from that bag of old t-shirts you left outside Goodwill after they were closed for the night.

• Big Lots - 21910 Sherman Way
Waaaay in the back of the shipping container in the parking lot. Flashlights not provided.

• Lanark Pool - 21817 Strathern St.
Located in deep end. Voters are required to shower before entering voting booths. 

• Coin Laundry - 5360 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Last three dryers on south wall have been temporarily converted to voting booths. Note: Bring your own quarters to vote, change machine for laundromat customers only.

If you are unsure as to which particular voting location you are closest to, simply follow any senior citizen you see walking outside today. Chances are they are heading to a polling place.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Teachers Run Out The Clock Celebrating Students’ Inconsequentially Significant Milestones

By Nita Keswick, Quilt staff


A graduation ceremony was held today at Canoga Park Elementary School, commemorating students’ completion of fifth grade and marking their transition to local middle schools when the 2014/2015 school year begins in mid-August. 

Commencement began this morning at 8:30 a.m. following the popular “Breakfast in the Classroom” program and according to residents as far away as Owensmouth and Gault “seemed to go on forever.” The feel-good event featured speeches, the slow recitation of students’ names during presentation of certificates of graduation, or diplomas, bearing each student's name as well as a scratch-and-sniff sticker of a smiling banana that reads 'Awesome Job!', more speeches, songs, and more speeches, all broadcast over Canoga Park Elementary’s famous window-rattling 128 dB public announcement system retrofitted from a World War II-era air raid siren and affectionately nicknamed “Ol’ Blarey.”

“We make sure to read each students’ name carefully and slowly to avoid mispronunciations and to give each child a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, sometimes even repeating names,” explains Judy Maxwell, a teacher’s aide at the school. “Also, it helps to kill time.”

The rarely-seen front entrance of Canoga Park Elementary.
As for the words of inspiration and encouragement read to the kids at the beginning of the ceremony, at the mid-way point during the ‘M’ names, and at the end, after each child has been presented with his or her own mimeographed award: “It’s actually the same speech over and over,” Maxwell admits with a good-natured shrug. “No one seems to notice.” 

While the school year doesn’t officially end at Canoga Park Elementary until June 5th, the ceremony was held today since Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be filled with ceremonies marking the graduations of all the other grades into the following grades.

“It’s important to recognize these achievements at the grade school level no matter how completely ridiculous, artificial and meaningless they may seem to you or me,” says Maxwell of the momentous occasion. “This may be one of only six chances - well, nine if you count middle school - for these kids to experience a graduation ceremony. According to what we’re seeing, before finishing twelfth grade, many of these kids will have dropped--”

“--Hey! HEY!” interrupts school principal Frank Guinto, with a nervous laugh. “Judy, let’s send you on a Starbucks run, hmm?”