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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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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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