Sun05292016

News

FAA report

FAA report "a start" in allaying noise onslaught


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Anti-noise advocates exchange informational door hangers to give to neighbors.

A federal report released last week identifies possible solutions to the aircraft noise plaguing South Bay communities.

The Federal Aviation...

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Schools

Almond community packs meals for those in need

Almond community packs meals for those in need


Courtesy of Polly Liu
Almond School families worked together last month to package more than 15,000 meals for the Stop Hunger Now organization. Approximately 85 volunteers, including students in grades K-6, packaged meals of rice, soy, vitamins and...

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Community

Veteran Marie Houghton Mong: Mapping out a long life of doing

Veteran Marie Houghton Mong: Mapping out a long life of doing


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Marie Houghton Mong relaxes with one of her two 16-year-old cats at The Terraces at Los Altos retirement community.

On the average day, Marie Houghton Mong can be found in her attractive and comfortable apartment at T...

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Comment

Blame it on Rio: No Shoes, Please

In 2008, I wrote a column explaining why I thought Beijing was an inappropriate venue for that year’s Summer Olympic Games. I cited health risks: the city’s terrible pollution and the country’s corrupt food supply chain. I also note...

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Special Sections

Upscale modern: Los Altos Hills home honors DNA of originals

Upscale modern: Los Altos Hills home honors DNA of originals


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Melissa and Nick French, right with son Grayson, pooled their talents to design their dream home. Melissa designed the living room sofa and table.

Melissa and Nick French took “do it yourself” to a new dimens...

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Business

ATHENA awards recognize local leadership

ATHENA awards recognize local leadership


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Chamber of Commerce Mountain View presented this year’s ATHENA Leadership Award to Maria Marroquin, left, and Leane Reelfs, right. The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award went to Diana Bautista, center.

Chamber ...

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People

ERNEST TRAUGOTT

ERNEST TRAUGOTT

Resident of Los Altos 
August 18, 1920 - May 11, 2016 

Ernie died peacefully at his home, just a few months short of his 96th birthday. 

Ernie had an amazing life, born in Germany he and his family fled the Nazi's soon after Kristal...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company's 'Arts Razzle-Dazzle' showcases local talent

LA Stage Company's 'Arts Razzle-Dazzle' showcases local talent


Courtesy of Eileen Eng
Mountain View High junior Julia Rogers, 2015 South Bay Teen Idol winner, is slated to perform at Tuesday’s “Arts Razzle-Dazzle” at Bus Barn Theater.

Los Altos Stage Company shines a spotlight on the perfo...

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Spiritual Life

Former St. Nicholas pastor shares his story as exorcist

The Rev. Gary Thomas served the Los Altos faith community as pastor of St. Nicholas Catholic Parish for several years before he announced in 2005 that San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath had assigned him to study in Rome, not unusual for U.S. priests...

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Imparting a back-to-school lesson in kindness


Town Crier File Photo
Being kind to others is a valuable virtue to remind children of as they return to school and meet new classmates.

I spent my first 11 years in Mansfield Center, Conn., a sleepy town in the northeastern part of the state. Right before the seventh grade, my family moved to Los Altos and I enrolled in Egan Junior High School.

Junior high was a culture shock. I always felt 10 steps behind. The curriculum was much more difficult than I was used to – I had always been in advanced classes, but I would spend hours doing my homework each night trying to keep up. And it wasn’t just the academics. I remember coming home on the second day of school telling my mom, “I think we bought the wrong clothes.” Everything was different.

Some people were welcoming, though junior high school isn’t usually the most inclusive place. One girl in particular was downright mean. She pulled all the typical junior-high girl tricks – told her friends not to be friends with me, had them move tables if I sat nearby during lunch and made sure I wasn’t invited to her friends’ birthday parties. I distinctly remember a girl I thought I had become friends with tell me, “I wanted to invite you to my birthday party this weekend, but so-and-so said if you were invited she wouldn’t come.” How do you respond to that?

Despite the drama, I made it through junior high relatively unscathed, attended a private high school and then left for college.

Fifteen years later, I was rolling out my mat in a yoga class in San Francisco and heard someone call my name. I looked around and saw her smiling at me – that girl who had been so mean. After class, we made small talk about where we were living and working. I was friendly but left the conversation wondering: Does she remember all the things she did?

A week later, we ran into each other again at the same yoga class. We talked for a bit. I was friendly but wondered what I was doing there.

In the middle of our conversation, she looked me square in the eye and said: “I am really sorry for how I treated you in junior high. I was awful, and you didn’t deserve any of it.”

I felt tears forming in the corner of my eyes as the memories came flooding back – about being new in school, about feeling left behind, about trying to figure out the maze that was Silicon Valley as a seventh-grader who came from a small town in Connecticut. And then I realized something even greater: She had carried that regret with her all these years, and I had not.

Sure, she probably didn’t think about me every day or worry about how her words and actions had affected me. But the way she looked at me that day, and the way she authentically delivered her apology, made me realize that her behavior had left her with regret. In reality, her behavior had affected her far more than it had affected me.

With the new school year approaching, we often focus on how to have a good year academically – how to be organized, finish homework, study for tests and get good grades. We talk less about how to be a person of character – to err on the side of kindness, as author George Saunders spoke of in his commencement speech at Syracuse University last spring. Look it up, and have a conversation about it with your children.

So, this year, instead of simply asking your children how they will have a better school year in terms of school, sports and activities, ask them how they can become a better person. How can they be a person who is inclusive, has good character and treats others with kindness? To whom will they introduce themselves? How will they actively be part of their school community? What can they do when they see someone sitting alone? Which classmates can they make an effort to get to know?

We all have choices. Learning to err on the side of kindness is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. It is the first step in showing them how to live a life without regret. And that very may well be the most powerful childhood lesson of all.

Ana Homayoun is founder of the Los Altos-based Green Ivy Educational Consulting and author of “The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life” (Perigee Trade, 2012). For more information, visit greenivyed.com.

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