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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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