Hidden Villa Summer Camps provide safe place for growth

Some Hidden Villa Summer Camps reach beyond the confines of the 1,600-acre preserve. Students participating in a camp in the Sierra, left, ham it up for the camera. Courtesy of hidden villa

Visitors to Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills can find herds of deer frolicking most days, but for a few months every summer, 1,300 K-12 youth enjoy the 1,600-acre preserve as they participate in transformational summer camp experiences.

Hidden Villa Summer Camps are a tradition that continues 69 years after Josephine and Frank Duveneck opened their first camp as a social experiment to foster a more diverse and racially tolerant world.


Mini MERIT programs maximize reach to improve teacher effectiveness

Teachers from all over the Bay Area and beyond learn new strategies at the MERIT program’s two-week training session last July at Foothill College’s Krause Center for Innovation. Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

San Jose middle-school teacher Cristina Bustamante used to lecture in front of her students.

“I had my desk in front of the room where I was the focus of the lesson,” she said. “I was afraid let go and allow students to learn on their own.”


Child Advocates of Silicon Valley provides voice for vulnerable youth

Child Advocates of Silicon Valley paired Justin, left, with Mary McCusker more than a decade ago. Now 15, Justin is in high school and lives with his adoptive family. McCusker served as Justin’s advocate for nine years, until his adoption. They still keep in touch. Courtesy of Mary McCusker

The children served by Child Advocates of Silicon Valley are like all children – they dig in sand boxes, climb trees and dream up a new birthday cake flavor each year.

But some of them face trials taxing beyond even adult standards, including the court process separating them from their families and the burdens that first brought their family into court.


Sky's the Limit Fund hosts stories of tears, triumphs at annual fundraiser

Limit Fund honored Lani Sutherland, above left, with daughter Christy and husband Rick, with the Shining Star award.

The Los Altos-based Sky’s the Limit Fund recently raised more than $100,000 at its fifth annual Reaching for the Stars fundraising breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Palo Alto.

Bay Area broadcaster Raj Mathai served as master of ceremonies of the event, which featured heart-rending testimonials from teens and their families about how wilderness therapy turned their lives around.


Father, son donate early electric car to auto tech program

Courtesy of Bill Palmer III
It still runs: The father-and-son team of Bill Palmer Jr., left, and Bill Palmer III sit in what was arguably the first electric car in Santa Clara County.

Teslas may be all the rage in Los Altos these days, but the electric car in these parts is nothing new. In fact, Los Altos may be home to the first electric vehicle operating in Santa Clara County.

Longtime residents Bill Palmer Jr. and his son, Bill Palmer III, designed and built the car in the mid-1960s. It’s been their pride and joy for decades, but father and son recently determined that it was time to let it go. Two weeks ago on a rainy Friday, the Palmers donated their vehicle to De Anza College’s Automotive Technology Department.


Memory master offers Rotarians methods, tips to remember him by

Randy Gard/Rotary Club of Los Altos
Chester Santos, “International Man of Memory,” demonstrates his techniques for boosting memory skills for a Rotary Club of Los Altos audience Oct. 30.

“International Man of Memory” Chester Santos shared his methods for improving memory with Rotary Club of Los Altos members Oct. 30.

Santos’ tips for boosting memory skills have received national coverage from media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle and CNN. He was named the 2008 USA National Memory Champion.


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