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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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ALearn students pay it forward, return as teaching aides


Courtesy of Kathryn Hanson
Adriana Sanchez and Salvador Chavez hoist a welcome sign for graduates of the ALearn program, which prepares underrepresented students for college.

First-generation college students Adriana Sanchez, Salvador Chavez and Valeria Dominguez can testify to the success of the nonprofit ALearn, which prepares underrepresented students for college.

When ALearn launched its first summer program in 2008, Sanchez was hired as a student teacher during the summer of her junior year, while incoming freshmen Chavez and Dominguez were enrolled as students. Today, these “ALearners,” all graduates of the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, are not only working on completing their college educations, but they also have returned to the program as teaching assistants.

“I decided that the best way to give back to the program was to come back and help, to come back to where it all started for me,” Chavez said.

ALearn, founded in 2008 by Los Altos resident Kathryn Hanson, offers four programs in 12 school districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. It is an annual recipient of the Town Crier’s Holiday Fund.

The hard road

The road from middle school to college isn’t an easy journey for ALearn students. Sanchez returned to assist with the ALearn Catalyst program, which focuses on math skills and college awareness in preparation for the high school-level curriculum.

“I know how it feels to be in their shoes,” she said. “I know how it is to be struggling in school, to be struggling in math. I always needed that help, but I never had it.”

Sanchez graduated from Los Altos High School in 2009 and attended Foothill College for three years before transferring to Santa Clara University. She admits that her educational journey has been difficult, simply because she didn’t have someone to emulate.

“I’m like a role model to them,” she said of ALearn students. “It’s great knowing you had that influence, especially for minority students who don’t have that role model to look up to. … Us being here means a lot to them. They get to feel connected with us because we’ve been through that recently.”

For Chavez and Dominguez, whose first experiences with ALearn were as students, the Catalyst program was more than a jumpstart on their freshman year – it gave them the opportunity to build their confidence before braving the intimidating halls of high school.

“As a student, ALearn impacted me in the way I saw myself,” Chavez said. “I went into the program not very confident in the person that I was – I was always the student sitting in the back. The program pushed me out of my boundaries, it put me in a place that I wasn’t very comfortable with at all. I had to interact with other people, I had to ask teachers for help, and I wasn’t used to doing all that.”

The ALearn program had a similar effect on Dominguez.

“I was really shy, and making new friends from different schools was the best thing that happened that summer,” she said. “I still talk to all of them today. The amazing thing is that we all have something in common – we’re all the first generation in our families to go to college.”

First-generation students

According to Sanchez, Chavez and Dominguez, ALearn encourages students to forge connections with their peers, fostering individual growth and development and preparing them for college.

Over the course of six weeks as a teaching assistant, Dominguez noted the development of her students, from constantly asking the teacher for help to learning how to communicate and help each other.

“That’s what they gained the most, I think – confidence in math, confidence in themselves,” she said.

Chavez said he learned the value of education through the program.

“I decided that education was the best thing for me, and that it was going to bridge a better life for me,” said Chavez, an occupational therapy major at Dominican University.

For more information, visit alearn.org.

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