Mon09152014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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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

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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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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Kids + coding + fun = CoderDojo


Courtesy of Erik Zhang
Loyola School fifth-grader Erik Zhang uses programming tools such as Unity, above, with guidance from mentors at the CoderDojo program.

I’m a fifth-grader at Loyola School in Los Altos. In the heart of the Silicon Valley, everyone works in the high-tech industry, and many of them start at a very young age. Nevertheless, it’s still unusual to see 40-plus elementary school kids crowding Microsoft Corp.’s Silicon Valley Campus on a Wednesday afternoon, ready to code with laptops in hand. Fortunately, we aren’t child labor for Microsoft. We are here to learn how to code games with the latest programs like Python, Unity or Scratch.

For free.

It is made possible because a new CoderDojo was formed in our area in August 2012. With the tireless efforts of the founding team, many coding sessions like this have been organized for kids my age featuring great corporate sponsorships (like Microsoft, in this case) and countless volunteer mentors to teach.

CoderDojo, founded by Bill Liao and James Whelton, was started in James’ school in early 2011 when he received some publicity after hacking into an iPod Nano. Some younger students expressed an interest in learning how to code. James set up a computer club in his school, where he taught basic CSS and HTML. Later that year he met Bill, an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Together, they decided to make the program into something bigger than just an after-school computer club. They successfully launched the first CoderDojo, which provides free and open learning in programming technology, in June 2011.

Since I started going to CoderDojo, I’ve learned many new programming tools, including Unity and Python, and have developed many games of my own. I have shared these games with my little brother and many of our friends, and they all loved them. I can’t help but feel how lucky I am to have this wonderful opportunity to play with the latest technology, with so many experts walking around available to help whenever I have a problem.

Not many kids my age have this kind of opportunity. In fact, I remember the comments from my dad about the fact that he never touched a computer until he was 20. Even in this day and age, many kids don’t have a computer, let alone the opportunity to learn from the brightest programmers while they are still in elementary school, for free.

What a wonderful contribution CoderDojo and its volunteers are making for the children lucky enough to have this experience. I hope that when I grow up, I will be able to make similar contributions to less-fortunate people.

As the tagline from IBM states, “Smarter Planet” – let’s make our planet smarter, for us and for future generations.

I just added one of the games I coded at CoderDojo to my website at soundisimore.com. Please check it out. I hope you like it.

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