Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Art with heart Los Altos Art Docents create a masterpiece in the classroom


Courtesy of Los Altos Art Docents
The Los Altos Art Docents teach art appreciation and hands-on art lessons in the Los Altos School District, skills they wove into the mural they painted at the district office.

Volunteers with the Los Altos Art Docents teach art with heart.

Founded in 1970 to offset funding cuts to art instruction in public schools, the Los Altos Art Docents comprises 80 volunteers who teach nearly 800 visual art lessons annually to elementary-school-age students in the Los Altos School District.

Although the nonprofit program has thrived for more than four decades, no two years are alike. There are no dramatic shifts in the curriculum from year to year but rather a series of continual tweaks. This year, docents will introduce new lessons for students as well as educational and social activities for themselves.

According to director Kimberly Dickerson, one recent change involves presenting lessons that include instructional strategies for areas in which teachers have been trained.

For example, sixth-graders work in groups, studying ancient works of art and figuring out where they originated. Such assignments not only encourage collaboration - a skill docents are instructed to weave into their lessons - but also complement the social studies curriculum.

"We’re really excited, because it’s a different way for us to bring appreciation lessons to the students," Dickerson said.

But it’s not just the oldest students whose curriculum is being updated - kindergartners will also see a change. This year’s plan includes the full rollout of a drawing and watercolor lesson partially introduced to students the previous year.

"(It) incorporates some techniques to help them draw and do a little bit of painting … and incorporate some of their social studies curriculum - the study of animals and their habitats," Dickerson said "We do this underwater sea scene with them, and that’ll be fun."

The benefits of volunteering

Los Altos Art Docents volunteers reap blessings that go beyond the joys of teaching art and art appreciation to young students - the volunteers enjoy the classroom engagement and the social and educational benefits of the program.

"It makes you smile when you think about the program, because it’s not just about going into the classroom and teaching the kids, it’s also about (docents) learning a bit more about art and having a good time together as well," said publicity coordinator Kristine Bardman.

Over the summer, docents attended a series of art-related camps where they practiced working with wire sculptures and clay. At one camp, docents threw darts to pop paint-filled water balloons attached to a canvas. Volunteers also sharpen their art history and creative skills via field trips throughout the year, most recently to the San Jose Museum of Art.

Bardman said one of the things she likes most about the program is that it’s a group of like-minded people who really enjoy the arts and one another’s company.

"So we see each other socially, we see each other in the classrooms," she said.

Making a mural

One of the larger projects docents have worked on is an 8-foot-by-10-foot mural outside the district office on Covington Road. What started as a team-building exercise in 2012 turned into a yearlong project that took four months to complete. Once they decided to create a mural, docents invited a local muralist to discuss the process with them.

Docents faced several obstacles before they could begin painting, including funding the project. The group applied for a grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation Donor Circle for the Arts and their outreach paid off. After securing funding, they had to agree on a design for the mural.

"Because we teach hands-on art lessons and also art appreciation lessons, we were struggling with how to combine both into one mural," Dickerson said.

Docents wanted to include their signature red apron in the design, which Dickerson described as a "strong symbol" of the program. They also wanted to make sure that it was a project to which many people could contribute.

In the end, the group painted squares with images from many famous works of art, arranged them in a grid pattern and overlaid a picture of the red apron.

Group members set up boards in their office so that docents could drop in and out, each painting different squares. Docents who weren’t able to paint a square for the mural completed other tasks, such as applying a layer of varnish over the final product.

Bardman said students will recognize many of the works of art depicted in the mural, because docents discuss the artists and their masterpieces in their classroom lessons.

New year, new lessons

With a new school year, new lessons and new activities, docents are excited to step back in the classroom.

"The reason why I joined the program, and I think most of the docents joined the program, is because we love being in the classroom with the kids," Bardman said. "So it’s exciting for us to get back to school and get back to teaching lessons."

The Los Altos Art Docents seeks new recruits. No experience or artistic talent is required - the group provides training. Volunteers are asked to commit to teach once a week in the classroom during the school year.

To volunteer, call 947-1195 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For more information, visit losaltosartdocents.org. n

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