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News

Street crack-sealing project begins Monday, May 4

The City of Los Altos is beginning a city-wide street crack-sealing project on Monday (May 4).

City officials said the traffic impact for this project will be minimal. No streets will be closed and vehicles can resume normal traffic flow shortly aft...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

CHAC appoints new leader

CHAC appoints new leader

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, LCSW, has been named the new executive director of the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). A seasoned nonprofit leader, Nakano-Matsumoto is scheduled to assume duties July 1. She takes over for outgoing executive direct...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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Art with heart Los Altos Art Docents create a masterpiece in the classroom


Courtesy of Los Altos Art Docents
The Los Altos Art Docents teach art appreciation and hands-on art lessons in the Los Altos School District, skills they wove into the mural they painted at the district office.

Volunteers with the Los Altos Art Docents teach art with heart.

Founded in 1970 to offset funding cuts to art instruction in public schools, the Los Altos Art Docents comprises 80 volunteers who teach nearly 800 visual art lessons annually to elementary-school-age students in the Los Altos School District.

Although the nonprofit program has thrived for more than four decades, no two years are alike. There are no dramatic shifts in the curriculum from year to year but rather a series of continual tweaks. This year, docents will introduce new lessons for students as well as educational and social activities for themselves.

According to director Kimberly Dickerson, one recent change involves presenting lessons that include instructional strategies for areas in which teachers have been trained.

For example, sixth-graders work in groups, studying ancient works of art and figuring out where they originated. Such assignments not only encourage collaboration - a skill docents are instructed to weave into their lessons - but also complement the social studies curriculum.

"We’re really excited, because it’s a different way for us to bring appreciation lessons to the students," Dickerson said.

But it’s not just the oldest students whose curriculum is being updated - kindergartners will also see a change. This year’s plan includes the full rollout of a drawing and watercolor lesson partially introduced to students the previous year.

"(It) incorporates some techniques to help them draw and do a little bit of painting … and incorporate some of their social studies curriculum - the study of animals and their habitats," Dickerson said "We do this underwater sea scene with them, and that’ll be fun."

The benefits of volunteering

Los Altos Art Docents volunteers reap blessings that go beyond the joys of teaching art and art appreciation to young students - the volunteers enjoy the classroom engagement and the social and educational benefits of the program.

"It makes you smile when you think about the program, because it’s not just about going into the classroom and teaching the kids, it’s also about (docents) learning a bit more about art and having a good time together as well," said publicity coordinator Kristine Bardman.

Over the summer, docents attended a series of art-related camps where they practiced working with wire sculptures and clay. At one camp, docents threw darts to pop paint-filled water balloons attached to a canvas. Volunteers also sharpen their art history and creative skills via field trips throughout the year, most recently to the San Jose Museum of Art.

Bardman said one of the things she likes most about the program is that it’s a group of like-minded people who really enjoy the arts and one another’s company.

"So we see each other socially, we see each other in the classrooms," she said.

Making a mural

One of the larger projects docents have worked on is an 8-foot-by-10-foot mural outside the district office on Covington Road. What started as a team-building exercise in 2012 turned into a yearlong project that took four months to complete. Once they decided to create a mural, docents invited a local muralist to discuss the process with them.

Docents faced several obstacles before they could begin painting, including funding the project. The group applied for a grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation Donor Circle for the Arts and their outreach paid off. After securing funding, they had to agree on a design for the mural.

"Because we teach hands-on art lessons and also art appreciation lessons, we were struggling with how to combine both into one mural," Dickerson said.

Docents wanted to include their signature red apron in the design, which Dickerson described as a "strong symbol" of the program. They also wanted to make sure that it was a project to which many people could contribute.

In the end, the group painted squares with images from many famous works of art, arranged them in a grid pattern and overlaid a picture of the red apron.

Group members set up boards in their office so that docents could drop in and out, each painting different squares. Docents who weren’t able to paint a square for the mural completed other tasks, such as applying a layer of varnish over the final product.

Bardman said students will recognize many of the works of art depicted in the mural, because docents discuss the artists and their masterpieces in their classroom lessons.

New year, new lessons

With a new school year, new lessons and new activities, docents are excited to step back in the classroom.

"The reason why I joined the program, and I think most of the docents joined the program, is because we love being in the classroom with the kids," Bardman said. "So it’s exciting for us to get back to school and get back to teaching lessons."

The Los Altos Art Docents seeks new recruits. No experience or artistic talent is required - the group provides training. Volunteers are asked to commit to teach once a week in the classroom during the school year.

To volunteer, call 947-1195 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For more information, visit losaltosartdocents.org. n

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