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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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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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