Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Life's big questions pondered in the pit


courtesy of Joe Chan
Students at Almond School convene in a sea of balls to engage in conversations that center around a question or a prompt.

As Almond School principal Erika Benadom’s teachers gathered at the beginning of the school year, they pondered life’s big questions via icebreakers designed to build a sense of relationship and community.

The idea came from SoulPancake, a company that recommends ways to engage with “big think” topics from the realms of philosophy and spirituality. The company suggests exploring such weighty topics while seated in a pit of plastic balls.

Benadom said the scheme “captures the magic that ensues when two people engage in dialogue around a question or prompt.”

After a dry run sans ball pit (not yet a standard feature on local campuses), a teacher urged the school to make one. One shipment of balls later, the teachers were ready to build with students participating. They quickly realized that 1,500 balls – the initial order – only rose knee-height in the box a parent had crafted for their plan.

“We brainstormed how to fix this. … Then brilliance struck. … What if we add playground balls?” Benadom recounted. “The assembly was a great success. The students’ curiosity was piqued and a playful atmosphere arose when the parent putting together the pit tossed balls into the audience. It was electrifying.”

Student volunteers climbed in to jump-start the philosophical conversations – and then had to devise an exit strategy from the vat of balls. Since that first attempt, classrooms have been collecting their own conversation starters for future ball-pit encounters, ranging from “What do you look forward to the most when you wake up each day?” to “What is your pet peeve?”

“This ball pit will be a centerpiece for our school at underscoring our commitment to each other. We’re thinking through how we might recruit a group of students to lead this effort in creating a mobile ball pit that potentially could be marketed to schools around the country,” Benadom said. “The students will be part of designing the business model, improving on the prototype, conducting market research, advertising, budgeting and more.”

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