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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

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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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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