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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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The most precious gifts can't be wrapped: Haugh About That?

The energy level over the Christmas season escalated to such a frenetic pitch in the Madden family home that neighbors wondered whether my mom had laced our oatmeal with something. Surveying the laundry list of toys my 10-year-old heart desired, intense hyperactivity overtook my normal calm as I waited for the big day, not knowing that one gift would arrive early and change my life forever.

Dec. 1, 1962, I went to sleep a happy, well-adjusted fourth-grader. I had friends. I blended well with the other green-and-blue-plaid clones at St. Charles Catholic Grammar School. I was my own heroine in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and life was good. But an evil witch decided to sprinkle nerd dust over my blond head and I woke to find my status as socially acceptable wickedly transformed into that of a leper. Apparently, freckles, ponytails and pink-diamond-encrusted, winged-tipped glasses had become uncool overnight.

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. Stronger students feeling the need to illustrate their alpha behavior carefully handpick their pack and collectively gather to attack the weak. During the 1960s, this type of aggression was looked upon as a rite of passage and something kids just had to endure, thus giving true meaning to survival of the fittest.

Seeking ways to hide from the jeers, teasing and physical trauma, I discovered that the best way to make it through the day was to become invisible. Performing the art of duck and cover, I’d conceal my body under my desk in hopes of staying in at recess. Dawdling at the end of the day, I made sure that I was the last excused. And hiding in bushes became my new safe haven as thoughts of running away overtook my imagination – the place where fantasy once flourished.

One day, after peeking around the corner to make sure the coast was clear, I ventured onto the playground. From out of nowhere, a tall, lanky girl ran toward me. Certain that she was about to pour more acid over the newly ripped-apart sores of the day, I ran.

“Jackie, wait,” she cried.

Quickly catching up, I slowed down and closed my eyes, prepared to take another verbal beating. Grabbing my hands, she placed herself in front and in a breathy tone asked, “Would you like to come over to my house today and play?”

Frozen in my tracks, Nan Coughlan’s brown, doe eyes melted the ice sculpture that had become my current home, and loneliness magically dissipated from the lining of my wounded soul. Astonished, I instantly understood that her kindness took great courage. By allowing me into her inner circle and befriending me, she had opened herself up to be the next target for criticism and ridicule.

I’ve often thought of that day and the impact her simple gesture made on the rest of my life. Nan’s kindness brought back lost hope and a feeling of belonging. It also taught me to stand tall and never allow myself to be victimized again.

While I’d like to say that I continued her legacy of compassion, I know, more often than not, that I’ve come up painfully short. The self-imposed ego has a way of blinding you to your surroundings, but it’s time for a change.

The holidays can be joyous, but they can also cause heartache. Not everyone is fortunate to have all they need. Perhaps there’s someone who could use a new friend, and all I’d have to do is open my eyes and reach for their hands. Maybe by simply being aware, I, too, could make a difference in someone’s life.

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