Youth chorus focuses on 'music, movement and mindfulness'

Courtesy of Nick Briggs and Kristy Andrews
The Cantabile Youth Singers has 13 seniors graduating this year. Front row, from left: Ryan Chen, Katherine Wei, Josephine Jorgensen, Sophie Dewees and Jessica Carlson. Middle: Samantha Sasaki, Jennifer Jackson, Jerry Zhang and Karuna Dharan. Back: Ninaad Raman, Celia Malone, Ananya Saxena and Elanor Diffenbaugh.

When Elena Sharkova, artistic and managing director of the Los Altos-based chorus Cantabile Youth Singers, noticed that her students seemed exhausted and disconnected coming to rehearsals, she decided to remove all of the chairs from every rehearsal room. Instead, singers can sit on the floor if needed, but Sharkova said they rarely do.

“They constantly explore and learn music with movement, so if they sing a line, they are encouraged – and now really cannot even do it without actually moving with the line,” she said. “It’s music, movement and mindfulness. If you look at the line, how it actually looks in the air, you will be a much better singer because you’re engaging everything.”

Young 'patient hero' teaches classmates about his heart condition

Courtesy of Khan Lab school
Drew Yasutake and his mother, Vivian Vu, show a model of the human heart to Drew’s classmates at the Khan Lab School in 2017.

Looking at 8-year-old Drew Yasutake today, you’d never be able to guess that he was born with a congenital heart defect and had to undergo open heart surgery when he was just a few days old.

Drew was born with a relatively rare heart condition – pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum. The valve that controls blood flow from his heart to his lungs hadn’t formed properly.

Los Altos student recognized for social justice advocacy

Courtesy of Markus Zhang
Los Altos resident Jason Lin hosts a benefit concert for the Tahirih Justice Center. In April, Lin was named a Distinguished Finalist by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Little did Los Altos resident Jason Lin know that one stimulating talk could inspire him to give back to the cause he is passionate about – justice.

“I thought it was time that instead of talking about it in the debate round, maybe I could finally create some change in the real world,” Lin said.

After overcoming obstacles, MVHS alum faces bright future

Kevelyn Duarte” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
In foster care since age 14, Kevelyn Duarte overcame many obstacles on the path to graduation.

When Kevelyn Duarte entered the foster care system at 14 years old, her entire life was upended. Just getting to school each day was a challenge.

Yet Duarte fought to get back on track and last week graduated on time with her class at Mountain View High School.

LAHS grad blazes a trail with campus transgender advocacy

Skyler Riordan” width=
Courtesy of Kathleen Schwartz
Skyler Riordan’s work with Los Altos High administrators led to greater support for transgender students.

When Skyler Riordan walked into Los Altos High School assistant principal Suzanne Woolfolk’s office his freshman year, he wasn’t looking to be an activist or change school policy. Instead, Riordan simply wanted to make sure the school was going to be able to accommodate his needs as a transgender student.

However, by asking for the assistance he needed, Riordan also helped the school develop gender support plans, which other trans students now use.

Alta Vista High School graduate triumphs over challenges

S.M. Lieu/Special to the Town Crier
Timothy Martinez embraces his middle school teacher, Cindy Ventura, after his high school graduation ceremony last week. Martinez was Alta Vista High School’s student commencement speaker.

More than once, teachers told Timothy Martinez that he wasn’t going to graduate from high school on time. That all changed when he moved to Los Altos during his sophomore year and enrolled at Alta Vista High School.

Despite what he had once been told, Martinez successfully graduated in four years and was the student commencement speaker at last week’s graduation ceremony.

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