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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Local educator helps students overcome fear of public speaking


Photos Nuinui Teo/Special to the Town Crier
Local educator Matt Abrahams’ book, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out,” offers techniques to overcome public-speaking phobias.

Less than 10 seconds into his first speech before an audience, Matt Abrahams ripped his pants.

Competing in a speech tournament as a sophomore in high school, he attempted to demonstrate a karate kick.

“I was so nervous about possible outcomes before my speech that I forgot to change my pants into ones that would allow for movement,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the rough start, the Los Altos resident’s first experience didn’t deter him from mastering the art of public speaking.

Abrahams, now a communication instructor at Stanford University and a speech communication instructor at De Anza College, wrote a book about public speaking, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out: 35 Techniques for Confident, Calm, and Competent Presenting” (Kendall Hunt, 2012), aimed at helping people control their anxiety before – and while – addressing a crowd.

“I wrote the book out of frustration,” he said. “There was so much research that had been done about anxiety and public speaking, but it was all locked away in academic journals that people don’t really get to see.”

Abrahams started off in the tech industry, never thinking he would end up as a communications teacher. But the experience he gained working as a businessman helped him realize the importance of communication.

“You saw really talented, bright people not succeeding because of their lack of communication skills,” he said. “And you saw people who weren’t succeeding.”

Abraham said people will sometimes build their entire lives around their fear of public speaking.

“A lot of people feel powerless in the face of anxiety,” he said. “They get nervous about being nervous, and it spirals out of control. It helps people just to have a sense of agency.”

Tongue twisters

Although Abrahams is a confident, experienced speaker, he said he still employs various tactics to manage his pre-speech anxiety. Before a speech, you might find him backstage, quietly muttering tongue twisters.

His favorite: “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, and on that slitted sheet I sit.”

“You can’t say a tongue twister without being in the present moment,” Abrahams said. “Also, it makes me focus even more because if I mess up, I say a bad word.”

Although most of Abrahams’ students are college age or older, he volunteers at his son’s elementary school, Covington, introducing public speaking at an early age.

“The stakes are different, the consequences are different, but the anxiety is the same,” he said of students’ burgeoning public-speaking assignments.

According to Abrahams, an increasing number of schools are catching on to the importance of developing public-speaking skills early.

“The schools are doing such a good job of getting kids up there and presenting,” he said. “I think I’ll be out of a job soon.”

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