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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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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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