Thu10022014

News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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Is the Christmas tree religious?

Is the Christmas tree religious? I am losing sleep, stressing over this question. About two weeks ago I took my kids to their secular private school and the PTA moms were lining the hallway with Christmas decorations. I asked one mom if there would be something for Hanukah and after a momentary blank stare she said, "Uh, yeah, sure, we could put up a menorah."

Fortunately, the next morning an electric menorah and tinseled Jewish star were hung in the hallway. Though I was relieved, part of me felt uncomfortable about the whole thing. That I had to ask for this took a slight bite out of the latke. It wasn't until I noticed the Christmas trees in every classroom, did my head spin like a dreidel.

To me, this was a classic case of church and state. Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas trees. But I must draw the glittery line at school. After much persecution for what one believed, our forefathers had the right idea when they came up with that one. One reigning religion does not teach tolerance to others - never has, never will. I had initially decided on a secular school for many reasons, one being diversity. I wanted my kids to be exposed to all walks, jogs, runs, ethnicities and cultures in life.

After being dragged to Silicon Valley because of a job opportunity, there was nothing like a Christmas tree in my child's classroom to make me want to escape back to the East.

There were many Jewish families in our small town in Connecticut, and many more Christian and Catholic families who kept their trees in their living rooms.

I went to the next PTA meeting.

"I'm a strong supporter of separating church and state," I said. "It's inappropriate to have a tree in every class."

"Well, it's been a tradition at this school," said PTA CEO.

"But this is not a Catholic school. This is a secular school. The Christmas tree is a religious - ..." CEO mom stopped me. "The Christmas tree is not religious."

Huh? Since when? When did I miss this news event? If that were the case then why aren't trees brought in the home in February? And isn't that pointy thing on top of the tree called the "Star of Bethlehem" and isn't this star symbolic of the "coming of the Lord," Bethlehem being the birthplace of Jesus Christ? And why is it called a "Christmas" tree?

"I disagree," I said.

"Well, we can't please everyone." Heads bobbed. Then CEO mom said, "Why don't you bring some Hanukah things?"

Defeated, I bobbed my head, too. I was in the minority. But what became more distressing to me was that these moms had absolutely no idea. They were bought, wrapped and sent to the school of commercialism of Christmas, where they believe that Santa and a tinseled tree have no religious connotation to themselves and others. They have no idea that I have an uncle-in-law who won't step foot in a house that has a Christmas tree because his parents were killed in the Holocaust. They have no idea of the negative symbolism the tree can exude to any practicing Jew.

Luckily my kids care about their heritage and are looking forward to Hanukah. I think they may even feel somewhat special because they are the only ones in school who are "different."

If giving children an identity is a strong foundation for their lives, then this holiday season will reemphasize to them how important it is to be proud of who you are.

In January I will be exchanging my license plates on my car for California ones. My current ones are from Connecticut, "The Constitution State." Because I am in one minority and because I otherwise love this school, I will have to decide if I want to give up part of the constitution.

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