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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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ALearn supports underserved students via skills, confidence



ALearn graduates Adriana Sanchez, left, and Sal Chavez returned to the program as teaching assistants last summer. The nonprofit organization aims to put underrepresented students on a path to college. Town Crier file photo

ALearn offers a host of programs that provide academic support to underrepresented students, but equally important is the nonprofit agency’s focus on changing their mindsets.

According to ALearn founder and CEO Kathryn Hanson, belief precedes performance.

“If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t,” she said. “We train everyone to change the way they’re thinking about themselves.”

ALearn serves struggling sixth- through ninth-graders, largely from Latino families in low-income school districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, via after-school and summer programs designed to shore them up academically. The organization trains credentialed teachers and college students – many of whom graduate from the program and return as teaching assistants – to emphasize Common Core State Standards. The goal is to create a cycle of learning, inspiration and success through ALearn’s Math Acceleration Program (MAP), MAP Plus, Catalyst to High School and Zoomz, a social network for students who are the first in their families to attend college.

“At the end of the day, it’s the sense that you can achieve – that’s the most important piece for kids,” said Hanson, a Los Altos resident.

The challenges are daunting. ALearn added sixth-graders to its lineup last summer at the request of teachers, who found that their students were already too far behind by the seventh grade. Failure to meet such students’ educational needs is a societal problem with long-term ramifications.

“We have an entire generation that are not getting the education they need to support the workforce,” Hanson said. “What we’re trying to do is change the trajectory for as many kids as we possibly can – get them on the path to college, get them on the path to successful careers.”

High-poverty districts confront additional challenges – gangs, violence, hunger, lack of social services – that result in only 12 percent of Latinos graduating from high school statewide, she said.

Closer to home, the income gap plays out in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, which combines students from the Los Altos School District and the lower-income Mountain View-Whisman School District.

ALearn’s Catalyst to High School summer program addresses that gap by identifying students who could benefit from rigorous math instruction before entering high school. The program’s success is quantifiable – 70 percent of enrolled students pass the district’s algebra test and go straight into geometry. As a bonus, most develop a peer group, gain confidence in their skills and become familiar with teachers and the level of instruction.

“They have eased into high school,” Hanson said.

ALearn used last year’s Town Crier Holiday Fund to expand its programming and plans to do the same in 2014.

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