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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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LAYT introduces youth to acting – and a new culture


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Young actors and actresses rehearse ahead of their auditions for “Arabian Nights.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre encourages mastery, self-confidence and a sense of belonging for students of all ages, according to the aspiring thespians who recently auditioned for the fall production of "Arabian Nights."

Founded in 1990 under the umbrella of the Los Altos Recreation Department, LAYT’s stated goal is to develop skills and interest in the dramatic arts while creating a family environment where all members are respected and well treated.

One alumna of the program, Michaela Schwartz, 22, appeared in 21 LAYT shows and co-produced a documentary, "Dramatized" (2008), for Mountain View’s Freestyle Academy. Now a junior at Chapman University in Southern California, she majors in film production with an emphasis in directing - and she’s still passionate about LAYT.

Schwartz, whose brother Devlin also acted in the troupe, said she made her "absolute closest friends" at LAYT, where she felt empowered to develop confidence and polish her acting skills to land bigger and bigger roles. The adults involved allowed students to "move at a pace that we were more comfortable with," she added.

Acting up: Students learn about other cultures

"Arabian Nights" director Rebecca J. Ennals, artistic director at the San Francisco Shakespeare Theatre, began directing LAYT plays in high school. At LAYT, she has overseen "Great Expectations" and "Little Women."

Ennals said she loves that while LAYT shows sell out and the community supports the program, "it hasn’t totally become a machine."

She first approached Trish Files, LAYT artistic director, with the "Arabian Nights" idea, because "this is about a culture these kids don’t know much about."

"It’s a very ancient and fascinating part of the world," Ennals said of Arabia, adding that acting allows people to become "a temporary expert in … cultural traditions from other countries like India or Persia."

Los Altos High School senior Rachel Bratt snagged the role of Queen Shahrazad, sharing the lead with Rasika Raghavan - LAYT productions always feature two casts.

With rehearsals scheduled 6:30-9 p.m. four times a week, Bratt has developed a system for keeping up with her schoolwork.

"A schedule for doing homework helps keep me caught up," she said. "I have three hours between school and rehearsal, so three hours for a snack and homework. It took me a little while to get used to cramming it in that tight block, but I learned to work well efficiently, and now I look forward to grabbing my script, a pencil and water before running out the door to another fantastic production at LAYT."

Bratt said she is "super-excited" to undertake her second lead part in an LAYT show - she also played Anne in "Anne of Green Gables" in 2012.

"That was probably the best show I have ever been in at LAYT," she said of "Anne of Green Gables." "Not only did it feel professional, but everybody was such a joy to work with. The cast was so close, we really were a family. Even though it’s almost been two years, we still all keep in touch and have regular get-togethers."

Her favorite role was portraying the Dancing Hamburger in "Ramona Quimby" in 2011, which she described as "one of the most fun things I have ever done, hands down."

Supporting cast: Family is key

The recent auditions for "Arabian Nights" drew a cast of young actors and their supportive family members.

"I really didn’t want to do it for a long time," admitted Nils Forstall, 11, whose sister acted before him, but somewhere along the way, "I really started to like acting."

As Nils shared his initial reluctance to take to the stage, his grandmother, Kathy Brown, noted that her daughter Molly loved the theater. The entire family had trekked to Ashland, Ore., to see plays, as well as to New York City to see "Billy Elliot" on Broadway.

Nils had hoped for a medium-size role in "Arabian Nights" - he landed the key part of Abu Hassan.

Los Altos Hills resident Riley Breier, 11, attended the auditions with his mother, Ronda. Riley previously appeared in "Ramona Quimby" as the Old Man, in "Alice" as the Ace of Spades and in "Anne of Green Gables" as Moody Spurgeon MacPherson.

Riley has attended two Peninsula Youth Theatre summer camps and appeared in class plays in grade school.

Los Altos Youth Theatre organizers ask for a commitment, requesting that actors clear their calendars of conflicts (special instances excepted). Riley said he takes learning his lines seriously, noting that he cares about the group and doesn’t want to disappoint them.

"I really love acting," he said. "I wanted to be an actor and wanted to do more intense theater."

"Arabian Nights" is scheduled Oct. 18

through Nov. 3 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

For more information, visit losaltosca.gov/recreation/page/los-altos-youth-theatre. n


Los Altos Youth Theater auditions for Arabian Nights - Photos by Los Altos Town Crier

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