Mon01262015

News

UPDATED: Missing Los Altos High School student found

UPDATED at 10:20 p.m. Jan. 21: Mountain View Police report that Avendano is safe after being located in Los Angeles County.

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The Mountain View Police Department is looking for 17 year-old Mountain View resident Lizbeth Avendano. Accordin...

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Schools

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposal to exempt ninth-grade student-athletes from taking PE. Students take part in a physical education class at Mount...

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Community

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF


From Midnight Express Instagram
A group of millennial-aged Santas celebrating a night on the town prepare for a safe ride from San Francisco to their South Bay homes, courtesy of Cory Althoff’s new Midnight Express shuttle.

It’s no understatemen...

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Comment

More open than ever: Editorial

One of the Los Altos City Council’s objectives for 2015 is implementing an open-government policy. The title of the policy may be somewhat misleading, because it’s not as if the city has had a closed-government policy. But the new proposal goes beyon...

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Business

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Cassidy Turley, which has offices at 339 S. San Antonio Road, is combining with DTZ following its recent acquisition.

Commercial real estate services companies DTZ and Cassidy Turley have joined forces to operate as a sin...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

JUDY HOFFMANN

JUDY HOFFMANN

Judy Hoffmann passed away unexpectedly October 17, 2014 in New York City. It was only fitting Judy would be traveling and enjoying special adventures in so many different places until the very end.

Judy has lived since 1969 in Los Altos with her h...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View


Suellen Fitzsimmons/Special to the Town Crier
Christopher Tocco stars in TheatreWorks’ “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” which opened last week.

TheatreWorks’ production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is scheduled to run through Feb. 15 at the Mountain View Center fo...

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Spiritual Life

Start something great by ringing in the new year with prayer

There is a tradition, which I’m told originates in the Midwest, that calls for people to pray in the new year. A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house and a number of people stayed up until midnight (approximately two hours pa...

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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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Imparting a back-to-school lesson in kindness


Town Crier File Photo
Being kind to others is a valuable virtue to remind children of as they return to school and meet new classmates.

I spent my first 11 years in Mansfield Center, Conn., a sleepy town in the northeastern part of the state. Right before the seventh grade, my family moved to Los Altos and I enrolled in Egan Junior High School.

Junior high was a culture shock. I always felt 10 steps behind. The curriculum was much more difficult than I was used to – I had always been in advanced classes, but I would spend hours doing my homework each night trying to keep up. And it wasn’t just the academics. I remember coming home on the second day of school telling my mom, “I think we bought the wrong clothes.” Everything was different.

Some people were welcoming, though junior high school isn’t usually the most inclusive place. One girl in particular was downright mean. She pulled all the typical junior-high girl tricks – told her friends not to be friends with me, had them move tables if I sat nearby during lunch and made sure I wasn’t invited to her friends’ birthday parties. I distinctly remember a girl I thought I had become friends with tell me, “I wanted to invite you to my birthday party this weekend, but so-and-so said if you were invited she wouldn’t come.” How do you respond to that?

Despite the drama, I made it through junior high relatively unscathed, attended a private high school and then left for college.

Fifteen years later, I was rolling out my mat in a yoga class in San Francisco and heard someone call my name. I looked around and saw her smiling at me – that girl who had been so mean. After class, we made small talk about where we were living and working. I was friendly but left the conversation wondering: Does she remember all the things she did?

A week later, we ran into each other again at the same yoga class. We talked for a bit. I was friendly but wondered what I was doing there.

In the middle of our conversation, she looked me square in the eye and said: “I am really sorry for how I treated you in junior high. I was awful, and you didn’t deserve any of it.”

I felt tears forming in the corner of my eyes as the memories came flooding back – about being new in school, about feeling left behind, about trying to figure out the maze that was Silicon Valley as a seventh-grader who came from a small town in Connecticut. And then I realized something even greater: She had carried that regret with her all these years, and I had not.

Sure, she probably didn’t think about me every day or worry about how her words and actions had affected me. But the way she looked at me that day, and the way she authentically delivered her apology, made me realize that her behavior had left her with regret. In reality, her behavior had affected her far more than it had affected me.

With the new school year approaching, we often focus on how to have a good year academically – how to be organized, finish homework, study for tests and get good grades. We talk less about how to be a person of character – to err on the side of kindness, as author George Saunders spoke of in his commencement speech at Syracuse University last spring. Look it up, and have a conversation about it with your children.

So, this year, instead of simply asking your children how they will have a better school year in terms of school, sports and activities, ask them how they can become a better person. How can they be a person who is inclusive, has good character and treats others with kindness? To whom will they introduce themselves? How will they actively be part of their school community? What can they do when they see someone sitting alone? Which classmates can they make an effort to get to know?

We all have choices. Learning to err on the side of kindness is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. It is the first step in showing them how to live a life without regret. And that very may well be the most powerful childhood lesson of all.

Ana Homayoun is founder of the Los Altos-based Green Ivy Educational Consulting and author of “The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life” (Perigee Trade, 2012). For more information, visit greenivyed.com.

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