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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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MERIT program: Providing tech tools for collaborative learning



Teachers are all smiles as they learn new skills they can take back to the classroom, courtesy of the MERIT program at the Krause Center for Innovation. Courtesy of Liane Freeman

Two teachers at Branciforte Middle School in Santa Cruz went from being technophobes to technology innovators, not only bolstering instruction in the classroom, but also transforming their entire school. They ended up writing a business plan for a school technology center.

It all started with enrollment in the Krause Center for Innovation’s MERIT (Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology) program at Foothill College. The professional development program for K-12 teachers gives them the tech tools needed to up their instructional game, inspiring them to innovate and try the untried. As a result, teachers and students work more collaboratively and student learning increases dramatically.

“Before I started with MERIT, I didn’t even know Google had apps,” said Lisa Highfill, a Pleasanton fifth-grade teacher who entered the program in 2010. “When I learned how to authentically integrate web tools, my lessons took on a whole new level of engagement and effectiveness. … I now design webpages for teachers and students and create digital lessons that integrate all subjects and project-based learning activities.”

Highfill is now an instructional technology coach with the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Despite the program’s success, MERIT staff wanted a thorough evaluation of the program beyond teacher testimonials. As a result, the program is in the middle of a two-year third-party study to examine effectiveness.

“Preliminary results are excellent,” said Liane Freeman, KCI’s strategy and marketing director.

The 10-month MERIT program culminates in two weeks of intensive training over the summer, with instructors applying their tech tools to actual classroom projects and presenting the projects to one another for feedback.

“We stress free web-based tools,” Freeman said. “You have access wherever you are in your environment.”

Teachers work on projects that emphasize collaboration with students. Last year one instructor set up a business with special-education students to sell items on eBay. Another created a website and ran a campaign with students to keep the Pigeon Point Light Station open.

The MERIT program accepts approximately 50 teachers a year, most from around the Bay Area but some from out of state and overseas. Since its inception in 2001, approximately 800 teachers have participated in the program.

Although most of the operations take place at the KCI campus, MERIT personnel have begun to conduct outreach at schools via “mini-MERIT” programs, Freeman said, including one at Egan Junior High School in Los Altos.

Freeman said the MERIT program is especially vital now in helping instructors adjust to new Common Core State Standards that emphasize not only getting the right answer, but also showing how students arrived at that answer.

“Twenty-first-century learning is all about collaboration, critical-thinking problem solving, communication,” Freeman said. “We’re building a pro-learning community.”

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