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News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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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

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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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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