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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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