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News

Program aims to help teachers afford housing

The Los Altos School District and Los Altos Community Foundation have joined forces to create an online form for local residents to connect with teachers in need of housing.

The district seeks to help teachers handle the high cost of housing in the ...

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Schools

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Tech Trek campers study the contents of a baby albatross’ stomach to understand the effect plastic can have on the marine ecosystem. The American Association of University Women provided scholarships that enabled seven...

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Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation...

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Sports

It's been a big year for Little League

It's been a big year for Little League


Courtesy of Peter Jewett
The Los Altos & Los Altos Hills Little League’s 10-11 All-Stars won the Section 5 championship July 20. Front, from left: Connor Prahm, Jack Surdey, Jimmy Flynn, Rodrigo Ortiz, Justin Chou, Devan Reynard and Derek Gile....

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Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of m...

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Special Sections

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Succulents are a good choice for a small, low-maintenance garden that needs minimal water. Combine a variety of interesting colors and shapes.

If aches and pains are starting to limit your ability to garden, t...

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Business

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty


I was in an electronics store the other day and at checkout they asked – doing their best “Would you like some fries with that?” routine – if I would like to purchase a warranty.

I never buy a service contract. Most good pr...

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People

ULF STAUBER

Ulf Stauber passed away at his home on July 13; he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ulf was born in Berlinchen, Germany on May 23, 1938. Following the Russian invasion in 1945, he, his mother and two brothers fled to Hamburg where Ulf gre...

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News

Program aims to help teachers afford housing

The Los Altos School District and Los Altos Community Foundation have joined forces to create an online form for local residents to connect with teachers in need of housing.

The district seeks to help teachers handle the high cost of housing in the area. According to district officials, many teache...

Readmore

Business

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty

I was in an electronics store the other day and at checkout they asked – doing their best “Would you like some fries with that?” routine – if I would like to purchase a warranty.

I never buy a service contract. Most good products come with a decent warranty, and if I shop ...

Readmore

Sports

It's been a big year for Little League

It's been a big year for Little League

Courtesy of Peter Jewett
The Los Altos & Los Altos Hills Little League’s 10-11 All-Stars won the Section 5 championship July 20. Front, from left: Connor Prahm, Jack Surdey, Jimmy Flynn, Rodrigo Ortiz, Justin Chou, Devan Reynard and Derek Gile. Middle: Thomas Walker, Alex Fuchs, Jake Skaggs, L...

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Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends. The most important thing ...

Readmore

Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of my neighbors in a small cul-de-sac is renting out a...

Readmore

People

ULF STAUBER

Ulf Stauber passed away at his home on July 13; he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ulf was born in Berlinchen, Germany on May 23, 1938. Following the Russian invasion in 1945, he, his mother and two brothers fled to Hamburg where Ulf grew up. He emigrated to the United States in 1963, l...

Readmore

Schools

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp

Traci Newell/Town Crier
Tech Trek campers study the contents of a baby albatross’ stomach to understand the effect plastic can have on the marine ecosystem. The American Association of University Women provided scholarships that enabled seven local middle-school girls to attend the camp at S...

Readmore

Special Sections

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Succulents are a good choice for a small, low-maintenance garden that needs minimal water. Combine a variety of interesting colors and shapes.

If aches and pains are starting to limit your ability to garden, then gardening industry expert Toni Gattone has a s...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks gets political

TheatreWorks gets political

Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Tasha Lawrence and Richard Prioleau play journalists in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s world premiere of “Confederates,” playing through Aug. 7 at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley recently launched its 47th season with Suzann...

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Obituaries

ULF STAUBER

Ulf Stauber passed away at his home on July 13; he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ulf was born in Berlinchen, Germany on May 23, 1938. Following the Russian invasion in 1945, he, his mother and two brothers fled to Hamburg where Ulf grew up. He emigrated to the United States in 1963, l...

Readmore

Magazine

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The 37th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival expects to draw thousands of people to the downtown village over the weekend. The festival features arts, crafts, food, wine, beer and children’s activities.

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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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