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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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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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