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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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Start early and avoid college application mania


Town Crier File Photo
Seeking help from a professional, whether a private counselor or in a high school’s College and Career Center, may ease the stress of the college application process.

I read a funny comic, Zits, that sums up students’ feelings about college applications and essays. The boy is complaining about the weather. His mother suggests that he work on his application and essay. The boy replies that after he finishes, he will then work on learning the U.S. tax code – probably one of the most boring topics to a teenager. I first laughed and then realized that it was not so funny.

What are we asking of our children and students?

We want to make our children look as good as possible on paper. We want them to understand how important the “right college” is for their future. We want them to fill out an application that might have gaps in it. We want perfection. We want to do it for them. We want to write that essay so that the admissions committee will have to take him or her.

My advice to parents: Stay calm. Start early. Don’t fill out their applications for them. College admissions people know who wrote that essay and who filled out those short answers.

Following are tips for taking the stress out of the college admissions process.

• Download a copy of the Common Application – used by more than 400 colleges and universities – as early as when your child hits the eighth grade. It can be useful in directing academic course selections in high school.

• Choose any five schools your child may want to attend and download the supplement.

• Encourage your child to keep a notebook of events that happen to him or her – a record of even minor, small events may prove valuable as the admissions process approaches.

• Urge your child to discuss all aspects of the application with you. It is less daunting if he or she has some idea how to begin to answer the questions.

• Start a list of possible schools.

• Visit my website to access a college application matrix.

• Seek help from professionals, but be careful – there are no laws or guidelines for those hanging out a shingle. Be sure to check credentials and references. If a counselor tells you that his or her students are accepted into every school to which they apply, run the other way.

• Set reasonable goals. Maybe ask to see the first three pages of the application done by Friday night dinner. Do it in pieces.

• Procrastination often means that the child is scared, not lazy. Think about what we are asking children to do – fill out an application that will change their lives. How excited would you be to do this? Remember, they are all talk and show – they love you and their cocoon.

Seek help from a professional if you think your child needs it. Don’t do it yourself – especially because you may not know what should be written.

The application is not about recounting all of your child’s activities. It is not about what you think is important. It is not a brag sheet. It is an essay that will show who he or she is. Let the admissions officers uncover who your child is. In short, don’t hit the admissions people over the head.

Elaine Sigal is a Los Altos resident who has been an educator for more than 35 years. She is founder of MindLaunch, a tutoring, academic advising and college counseling company. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit mindlaunch.com.

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