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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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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

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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Summer presents opportunities for standardized test prep

I have long been of the mindset that summers should be about lazy afternoons, spontaneous beach trips and good books. While summer decompression is absolutely crucial for school-year success, I’ve also seen how students’ school time commitments – homework, extracurricular activities, athletic obligations, social opportunities and family events – have escalated over the past decade.

Students with intense school commitments, including traveling club sports teams, or those who struggle with learning differences/disabilities can benefit from focusing on standardized test preparation over the summer. Doing so allows them to focus on their individual challenges free of other academic obligations, and, hopefully, to build skills that can benefit them once school begins in the fall.

Students thinking of applying to private high schools may want to prepare for the HSPT, SSAT or ISEE, depending on where they plan to apply. High school students may want to prepare for the SAT or the ACT, depending on their personal strengths and challenges. I generally recommend that they focus energy on preparing for one test rather than splitting efforts.

Following are some key ideas to consider when looking for a good match for standardized test preparation.

• Focus on skill building. Look at standardized test preparation as one piece of a greater puzzle. Perhaps your child needs help with grammar or is still struggling with some fundamental geometry concepts. Consider this an opportunity to address the holes in understanding to achieve a meaningful, long-term impact.

• Understand the importance of mindfulness and stress-relief techniques. All the preparation in the world won’t help if testing anxiety precludes a student from concentrating on test day. It is crucial that students develop key techniques to remain calm and focused, and to learn to regroup when a passage or section seems overly challenging.

• Classroom instruction may not be the most effective use of money or time. Although classroom instruction may be the most affordable way to go, most students have a difficult time staying on task for hours on end (especially in prep classes two to three hours long) and often don’t see a substantial gain in scores.

In classes of 15-20 students, individual strengths and weaknesses may be overlooked, and instructors often teach to the median student. Instructors frequently are unable to discuss all test problems when reviewing the practice tests, so students can easily continue to make the same mistakes.

One-on-one individual preparation, combined with full-length practice tests, would likely provide the best return on investment.

• Make sure that the instructor is a good personality match. An excellent instructor is not just someone who has personally mastered the material, he or she also must be empathetic, patient, approachable and able to explain concepts in multiple ways. Your child should feel comfortable asking questions and be calm and relaxed after sessions.

• Create opportunities for fun. Standardized test prep does not have to be stressful. Make it a family affair – choose an article to read collectively from The New York Times or a weekly magazine and discuss it over dinner. Certain online apps feature short quizzes that test skills and teach ways to improve techniques.

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 in School and Life.” For more information, visit www.greenivyed.com.

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