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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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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

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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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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School days: No Shoes, Please

It is commonplace for the school year to begin in mid-August, but it still takes me by surprise. Just like when I notice reminders for December holiday shopping airing well before Thanksgiving, I find myself thinking, “Already?” I realize that the school year ends earlier as a result, but when I see the traffic heating up and kids walking around with their backpacks during August, I still feel as if something is getting cut short. But then again, from a minimized vacation point of view, I know it could be worse.

After graduating from college, I taught English in Japanese public schools for a year, arriving during the sweltering month of August, which is the summer holiday for Japanese students in its entirety.

This being Japan, I was of course sent immediately into a classroom where students from several municipal schools had been enrolled in summer English-language instruction with a newly arrived American sensei. No grades or evaluations were required for the course, but that didn’t necessarily mean those kids didn’t experience pressure and imposition. But together we sweated it out – literally – and no one dared complain, least of all the newly arrived American sensei.

At the time, I thought, “Wow. American kids sure have it easy by comparison.” Here were approximately 35 middle school students, wearing light cotton shirts and blouses with oppressively heavy skirts and pants; the boys all had black military-style caps and shaved heads. I learned later that the uniforms were adaptations of early 20th-century European naval and military dress. The shaved heads were considered a bit archaic even back then – in cosmopolitan Tokyo, for example, male students were allowed a respectful amount of hair on their heads.

But it really wasn’t about the uniforms per se. It was about a bunch of kids – mostly against their collective will – spending two weeks of their already short summer break practicing their limited English skills in a stuffy classroom while temperatures peaked at decidedly over 100 F on a daily, unrelenting basis. That’s a challenge even in shorts and a tank top with your hair styled anyway you like.

This was my intro into a stricter educational system than I had been accustomed to, and it was really only the beginning of a genuinely eye-opening experience.

When my own kids were attending primary and secondary schools, and as I work with middle and high school students today, I still remember that year when I was making the rounds in Japanese classrooms. Sometimes I think what the American system offers by comparison is laudatory, sometimes I think it’s horrible. Regardless, public education is revealing. You can tell a lot about a country’s values by how it chooses to educate its youth, which is why the current U.S. debate over public education – government’s role, cost, curriculum, access and inequality, teachers, family support structure – is so fundamental, going well beyond when a school year begins and ends.

I still feel sorry for kids trudging back to school in mid-August. But ironically enough, year-round schooling doesn’t strike me as such a bad idea, either.

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