Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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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

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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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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