Last updateTue, 12 Dec 2017 4pm

Hooked on books: Teen tutors boost children's literacy

Danny Vesurai/Special to the Town Crier
Gialon Kasha, right, a Los Altos High junior and member of the Teen Tutors club, dives into the joy of reading with Mustafa Kadiroglu at the Los Altos main library.

A service project launched by a Los Altos High School student has grown bigger than any one student this summer, as high schoolers from across the district come together to help elementary-age students discover the joy of reading.

Los Altos High’s Teen Tutors club, founded by rising senior Javin Pombra, has brought its school-year mission to the Los Altos Library with the Read To Me initiative, founded by senior Jodie Bhattacharya, with local teens providing summer reading practice to kids from across the district, from kindergartners to second-graders.

Let's get quizzical: Homestead team goes national

Colin McNamara/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School’s Quizbowl team placed 15th at the National Scholastic Championship, held last month in Chicago. Pictured, from left, are team members Brandon Herren, William Scott, Alistair Gray and Wade Wong.

Competing against nearly 100 schools, Homestead High School’s Quizbowl team placed 15th at the National Scholastic Championship, held June 10 and 11 in Chicago.

Homestead’s A team comprised Los Altos residents Brandon Herren and William Scott, along with Alistair Gray and Wade Wong. Herren and Scott graduated last month; Gray and Wong are entering their senior years.

Astro superstar explores strange new worlds: Local prof voyages to realm of science fiction


Foothill College astronomy professor Andrew Fraknoi retired June 30 after 25 years on campus, prompting tributes from students and colleagues who recognized not only his teaching at Foothill, but his role as a public intellectual in Silicon Valley and beyond.

St. Francis student wins honors for Zika research

Courtesy of Mythri Ambatipudi
St, Francis High School student Mythri Ambatipudi presents her award-winning research on the Zika virus at an international competition in Los Angeles.

If the phrase “youth science fair” conjures in your mind images of baking soda volcanoes, eggs soaking in Coca-Cola and wobbly Rube Goldberg machines, it’s time to reset your expectations.

Mythri Ambatipudi, a rising senior at St. Francis High School, won a slate of awards this spring for her research on the devastating effects of the Zika virus. Ambatipudi took home the Best in Championship grand prize from the Synopsys Santa Clara County science fair, won second place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, placed at the California State Science Fair and was named an Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius by the California Life Sciences Institute.

Local kids go high-tech at Foothill STEM camp

Photos Jane Ridgeway/Town Crier
Seventh-graders Annabelle Lo, above left, of Loyola School and Abby Berwick of Cupertino Middle School examine the results of a crystal-growing experiment at Foothill College’s STEM Summer Camp. Instructor Adrian Phillips, below right, advises seventh-grader Tanner Muret of Cupertino Middle School on a three-dimensional animated scene on the final day of camp.

Foothill College bustled with unusually youthful energy this month as middle and high school students from across the Bay Area descended on the campus for the fifth annual STEM Summer Camp.

Running in four-day sessions through July 20, the camp offers short, intensive courses in everything from roller-coaster science to the chemistry of cooking. The camp’s focus, said founder Oxana Pantchenko, remains unchanged since its inception: introducing young campers to innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math concepts and equipment and awakening their passions.

Bats and books help local kids beat the heat at the library

Photos Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A Big Brown bat chows down on a mealworm snack beneath the bright lights of a magnifying video projector.

Outside, it may have been a sweltering California afternoon, but inside a darkened room at the Los Altos main library last week, local kids gave their rapt attention to a softer, muted scene.

In serene nighttime sepia tones, a slow-motion video showed a bat curving its body balletically as it hunted a moth, quietly chittering. The packed room of parents and kids, from toddlers in laps to older elementary students, oohed and aahed at the animal’s graceful flight, and a chorus of disappointed groans filled the room when the bat’s prey escaped.

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