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Last updateWed, 29 Jun 2016 8am

News

LAH council weighs short-term occupancy tax

The next time Beyoncé and the Biebs hit up their favorite Los Altos Hills Airbnb listing, the pop stars may discover that the price has jumped – again.

Beyoncé Knowles paid $10,000 per night for her February Super Bowl digs, a contemporary 9,8...

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Schools

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar


Courtesy of SilRay
St. Nicholas School recently added 105 SilRay solar panels to its roof to help reduce energy costs and spread environmental awareness to students.

Los Altos-based SilRay recently completed a solar installation project at St. Nich...

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Community

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end


Bill Almon, a Los Altos Hills environmental activist who led a prominent campaign to shut down the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant and quarry, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Almon was 83.

A native of St. Louis, Mr. Almon earned a bachelor...

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Sports

SF baseball coach switches to softball

After 10 years as St. Francis High’s baseball coach, Mike Oakland is making the switch to softball.

Oakland – who guided the Lancers to three Central Coast Section titles and six consecutive West Catholic Athletic League crowns – w...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Los Altos coyotes must be removed

There have been several coyote attacks in highly populated areas, in broad daylight, in the South Clark Avenue area of Los Altos recently.

These aggressive hunter-scavengers represent a clear danger, not only to pe...

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Special Sections

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Mary Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy...

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Business

Young skaters learn to push,  carve and yield downtown

Young skaters learn to push, carve and yield downtown


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Skateworks instructor Andrew Langi teaches Mountain View resident Carter Cox, 8, the rules of the sidewalk.

You’ve seen them downtown: pint-sized athletes, decked in pads and helmets, learning the etiquette of four-wh...

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People

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren...

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News

LAH council weighs short-term occupancy tax

The next time Beyoncé and the Biebs hit up their favorite Los Altos Hills Airbnb listing, the pop stars may discover that the price has jumped – again.

Beyoncé Knowles paid $10,000 per night for her February Super Bowl digs, a contemporary 9,800-square-foot mansion located off Moody Road. By ...

Readmore

Business

Young skaters learn to push, carve and yield downtown

Young skaters learn to push,  carve and yield downtown

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Skateworks instructor Andrew Langi teaches Mountain View resident Carter Cox, 8, the rules of the sidewalk.

You’ve seen them downtown: pint-sized athletes, decked in pads and helmets, learning the etiquette of four-wheel, two-sneaker navigation from an overseer. But ...

Readmore

Sports

SF baseball coach switches to softball

After 10 years as St. Francis High’s baseball coach, Mike Oakland is making the switch to softball.

Oakland – who guided the Lancers to three Central Coast Section titles and six consecutive West Catholic Athletic League crowns – will try to turn around a softball team coming off ...

Readmore

Community

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon, a Los Altos Hills environmental activist who led a prominent campaign to shut down the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant and quarry, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Almon was 83.

A native of St. Louis, Mr. Almon earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the U....

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Los Altos coyotes must be removed

There have been several coyote attacks in highly populated areas, in broad daylight, in the South Clark Avenue area of Los Altos recently.

These aggressive hunter-scavengers represent a clear danger, not only to pets, but to children and fragile adults. Humans tha...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Islam's holy month of fasting, prayer and charity ends with joyful holiday

For the more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan has begun.

Observed the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (this year beginning at sundown June 6 in the U.S. – dates vary slightly by country), Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer and charitable activities. It is considered on...

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People

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Richard was born in Topeka, Kansas and was a chi...

Readmore

Schools

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

Courtesy of SilRay
St. Nicholas School recently added 105 SilRay solar panels to its roof to help reduce energy costs and spread environmental awareness to students.

Los Altos-based SilRay recently completed a solar installation project at St. Nicholas Catholic School.

Readmore

Special Sections

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Mary Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy Randazzo is improving neighborhoods one house at ...

Readmore

Stepping Out

LA Stage Company reveals lineup for 21st season

Los Altos Stage Company recently announced its lineup for its 21st season, scheduled September to June at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

The season’s lineup features two musicals and three plays.

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Obituaries

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Richard was born in Topeka, Kansas and was a chi...

Readmore

Magazine

Aging Matters: Take preventive steps to avoid slips and falls

Aging Matters: Take preventive steps to avoid slips and falls

Courtesy of silver sneakers
An exercise program like Silver Sneakers Fitness can help seniors with strength, balance and flexibility.

The statistics on seniors who slip and fall are startling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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Bridging the digital divide, one laptop at a time


Photo By: Photo by Corinne Finegan Machatzke/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Photo By Corinne Finegan Machatzke/Special To The Town Crier Silicon for Society volunteer and Los Altos High student Jordan Stout explains a computer concept with help from Almond parent and volunteer interpreter Bertha Vera to Almond parent Sonia Garcia.

One day several years ago, then-Los Altos High School student Jack Montgomery and his classmates handed in their AP English papers. The students, by and large, typed their papers on home computers and neatly printed them out. One paper, however, was handwritten.

Montgomery was surprised to learn that day that his classmate didn’t have a computer at home. He and his friend, Tyler Stout, couldn’t believe that in the middle of Silicon Valley, access to technology wasn’t a given.

The two determined to do something to help level the playing field for their fellow students, subsequently launching Silicon for Society, a nonprofit organization that donates computers to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them and provides tutoring to teach them how to use them.

An essential part of the curriculum

Flash forward to a recent Saturday afternoon at Almond School in Los Altos. Two Silicon for Society volunteers – Los Altos High juniors Jordan Stout, younger brother of founder Tyler, and Cole Limbach – ran the second of three computer-training sessions for six Almond parents, all English-language learners.

An equal number of Almond parent volunteers joined them working one-on-one, translating that day’s lesson, “How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation,” from English to Spanish. The previous Saturday’s training focused on basic computer skills such as creating and saving documents.

Some attendees had never used a computer.

As Sonia Garcia, parent of Almond students in the first and sixth grades, related via volunteer interpreter Juan Cesares, “It’s very interesting. I have never taken a class like this and I’m learning a lot. Now I will be able to help my children.”

Almond principal Nancy Davis, who invited Silicon for Society to conduct the sessions for the families, said the school initially focused on fifth- and sixth-grade families, as computers become an essential part of the curriculum in those years. But some of the families receiving the lessons and laptops have younger children, too, so they’ll also benefit, she added.

“We are creating a progressive 21st-century education for our students,” Davis said. “In order to equalize opportunity, we need to ensure access to the tools that support academic success for all students.”

After a third session focused on navigating the Internet and the successful completion of a review test – retakes and supplemental training are available as needed – attendees will receive free laptops delivered to their homes.

Silicon for Society volunteers set up the laptops in the optimal location to access the free Wi-Fi that Google Inc. provides for the city of Mountain View. Attendees also receive a manual and the phone number of a Silicon for Society volunteer for ongoing technical support.

Ongoing training and support

“The most amazing thing is the (Los Altos High students) realized that you can’t hand someone a box and say, ‘Good luck,’” said Janine Wulfsohn, volunteer interpreter at the Almond session and co-chairwoman of Almond’s Translation Committee. “They got from the get-go that you need to also provide a whole series of training. They wrote a manual they use for leading sessions and to train other trainers. It’s a codified, organized class with a specific curriculum. They were just sophomores when they started.”

Wulfsohn said her sixth-grader receives all of his assignments through Edmodo, a private site similar to Facebook. Students are able to ask their teacher questions from home via the site.

“If he didn’t have a computer, he would miss all of this,” she said. “To bring the laptops into people’s homes who don’t have one brings them up to speed with everyone else. At our local middle school, Egan, homework assignments are available online. It’s very hard to be a student without a computer. They have to stay at school after hours to try to finish their work.”

Davis said she sees the program as a win all around. In addition to the families and students benefiting from receiving the technology training and laptops, she sees the student-trainers gaining, too.

“For the high school students who are training others, the benefits are two-fold,” she said. “The students gain a great deal, plus they’re training other young entrepreneurs in teaching techniques and how to continue this essential program.”

Los Altos High School volunteers train their fellow students in computer and Internet use over the course of six 45-minute sessions after school.

“Thankfully, our biggest challenge right now is trying to find students,” Jordan Stout said. “Los Altos is doing well right now, but we need more laptops to help other schools. Our goal is to empower underprivileged youth through the use of technology. A lot of students don’t have the same technology advantages as their classmates. Not having access to technology is a huge impediment to being able to apply to college and get better grades in high school.”

Silicon for Society comprises its two founders, now both in college, several Los Altos High School students and a volunteer at Steve Jobs’ alma mater, Homestead High School. It is affiliated with the nonprofit Los Altos Community Foundation, enabling tax-deductible donations.

Silicon for Society volunteers erase the hard drives of donated laptops and load the Linux operating system. Laptop donations have come from individuals and most recently a local hospice. The group has distributed 30 laptops to date and trained 34 individuals in addition to the six Almond families currently undergoing training.

“I’d like to see it expand beyond our core group of volunteers and to other local schools,” Jordan Stout said. “The more volunteers and laptops we have, the more students we can help.”

To donate a laptop or for more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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