Another Choice – The International Baccalaureate

AppleThrough the years residents have come from all over the world, and settled into Los Altos, for a variety of reasons. Having worked with relocating families, over the years, it is interesting to note the number of factors they take into consideration to reach their decision on where to live. Clearly, one top priority item for most families, is access to quality education. Traditionally, those families relocating with children, generally look for communities with excellent educational choices. 

Families, who relocate to Los Altos, have already researched the strong public and private schools in town. Their research is usually done well ahead of the actual move, and in consultation with someone versed in the local education arena. Having served on the Los Altos School Board, Carol & I strive to provide a level of nuanced insight not readily duplicated by other Realtors. On this web site, you will find a summary of public and private schools located within Los Altos, from Kindergarten to High School. Just like each neighborhood has its unique characteristics, each school site has its own unique culture. This statement holds true even when the schools produce similar API results.

However, for global families who relocate often, there are additional education considerations: continuity of a globally available educational program … the International Baccalaureate.

IB World SchoolThe International Baccalaureate (IB), is an international educational foundation founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, and offers three educational programs for children ages 3-19. According to its mission statement, “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

The IB governance is composed of an IB Board of Governors. The Board appoints the Director General, sets the strategic direction of the organization, adopts a mission statement, makes policy, oversees the IB’s financial management, and ensures autonomy and integrity of the IB Diploma Program examinations and other student assessment. The United States currently has the largest number of IB programs (1,029 out of 2,704) offered in both private and public schools.

building_blocks_topInitially, the IB was designed as a Diploma Program which would provide an “internationally acceptable university admissions qualification suitable for the growing mobile population of young people whose parents were part of the world of diplomacy, international and multi-national organizations”. The program was design to offer internationally standardized courses and assessments for students ages 16 to 19. Since 1994, the IB has offered the IB Middle Years Program which is composed of eight subject areas and five areas of interaction and designed for students ages 11 to 16. In 1997, the IB added the IB Primary Years Program for children ages 3 through 10, an inquiry-based program relying on six global disciplinary themes supported by six subject areas.

Locally, the IB Diploma Program (high school degree equivalent) can be found at five regional schools, all located within a 15-30 minute drive from Los Altos. Those schools are: Sequoia High School, in Redwood City, which has been an IB World School since February 2002. Sequoia currently offers the IB Diploma Program to 450 students. Next, Pacific Rim International School, a private school located in San Mateo, has been an IB World School since February 2009 and plans to offer the IB Diploma Program to students this fall. Capuchino High School, in San Bruno, has been an IB World School since July 2003, and has 28 students enrolled in the IB Diploma Program. Andrew Hill High School, in San Jose, has been an IB World School since February 2003. This school currently offers the IB Diploma Program to 31 students. Finally, San Jose High Academy, in San Jose, has been an IB World School since July 1986. It offers both the IB Middle Years Program and the IB Diploma Program to 250 students.

Nearby IB LocationsWhile some concerns have been raised about the IB program in the past, there are many families who consider this an invaluable experience for their children. At the end of the day, having the type of quality educational choices available, in and around Los Altos, is important. We would be more than happy to help you navigate your available options, from schools to housing. As you begin your search, we offer to help you with your questions, when you are ready.


Downtown Friday Night Movies

Posted on August 19, 2009 by  
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August 2009

Friday, August 21, and 28

Los Altos Movie Night

For another wonderful summer event the whole family will enjoy, make sure you venture downtown for the annual Friday Night Movies. Movies are shown on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. The street is closed from 6:00 pm, so you can set out your chairs, sleeping bags, and blankets. Many families bring snacks for the movie, and usually dine at one of the local restaurants for dinner beforehand. The movies usually begin at 8:30 pm.

We have two great family movies remaining for August:

August 21 – Tale of Despereaux

Tale of DespereauxThis is the tale of three unlikely heroes. A brave and virtuous mouse with comically oversized ears who dreams of becoming a knight, his good-hearted rat friend Roscuro, who schemes to leave the darkness of the dungeon, and a bumbling servant girl. Their fates are intertwined with that of a princess in grave danger.

From the children’s bestselling book, this animated adventure comedy features the voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Watson.

August 28 – Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of OZA tornado sweeps Dorothy and her dog Toto over the rainbow and away to a magical land. She embarks on a quest to find the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas. On her adventure along the Yellow Brick Road she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, as well as a very evil witch.

This dual Oscar winning film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy, Frank Morgan as the Wizard, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and of course Toto and the Munchkins.

Special note:  Along with this family classic there will be a costume contest, treats and fun filled entertainment.


Finding a cup of Joe in Los Altos

Cup of JoeEvery morning, as Carol & I start our day, we usually swing by one of the coffee houses here in Los Altos for a great cup of Joe. Carol prefers a “half-caf cappuccino”, while I order a four shot latte. The great thing about Los Altos is that each business district has one or more great coffee locales to meet up with friends, or grab some “nectar of the gods” to go.

From major chains, like Starbuck’s or Peets’, to sit down cafes, there is something for everyone. In this post, I thought it would be helpful to point out some of the selections you may want to explore. Just like every neighborhood has its unique characteristics, each location has its own set of characters.


Peet’s Coffee & Tea

Peet's on State StreetOn the day Alfred Peet opened his first coffee store on the corner of Walnut and Vine Streets in Berkeley, CA, he quietly began a revolution in the way Americans experienced the taste and quality of their coffee. By 1969, Peet’s Coffee & Tea became a gathering place for coffee devotees. Alfred Peet further catalyzed the specialty coffee movement when he mentored and inspired a generation of coffee entrepreneurs, including the founders of Starbucks, whom he supplied with Peet’s roasted beans during their first years of operation.

Over the past four decades, Peet’s growth has been fueled by ever-increasing numbers of coffee lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the nation. With each generation of Peet’s leadership, we have remained true to the quality tenets of our founder, inspired by the same unrelenting pursuit of quality.

Los Altos is fortunate to have two Peet’s locations in town. In addition to the devotees who walk to town, the downtown site located on State Street, is a haven for a lot of the bicycle riders who ride Foothill Expressway. The second site can be found on El Camino, near the interception of San Antonio, next to Chef Chu’s. These two venues do a lot of business. They serve coffee is both has full body and complex flavors. The El Camino location has more seating, while the downtown location is great for strolling, while enjoying your cup of Joe.



Starbucks on Main StreetWith three locations in town, Starbucks can be found in North, Mid, and South Los Altos. From its humble beginnings in 1971, to the international powerhouse it has become, Starbucks has strived to give its patrons a consistent product at each store. The original Starbucks was opened in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, in 1971 by three partners: English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker. The three friends knew, and were inspired by, Alfred Peet (as mentioned above) to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment.

From Starbucks’ founding in Seattle as a local coffee bean roaster and retailer, the company has expanded rapidly. In the 1990s, Starbucks was opening a new store every workday, a pace that continued into the 2000s. The first store outside the United States or Canada opened in the mid-’90s, and overseas stores now constitute almost one third of Starbucks’ stores.

As part of its efforts to gain a more local image and change its current culture, in the second half of 2009, Starbucks will be experimenting at three locations in Seattle by removing its logo and name from all products in the stores. Instead, the locations will be called by their intersections, such as 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, and will use local products for decoration, sell wine and beer and encourage live musical performances. If the local test works, it may be rolled out nationwide. We may eventually see changes to our three locations here in Los Altos.


Main Street Cafe

Main Street Cafe - DowntownThis downtown business is one of “the” meeting place for many of the residents in Los Altos. It serves good coffee, has wonderful treats, and you can also order delicious items for breakfast and lunch. The most compelling draw of Main Street Cafe, are the many tables available for small and large groups use. Here residents come to meet, share stories, and plan activities. The atmosphere is very comfortable, and in the good weather, it’s nice to sit outside and watch the world of Los Altos go by on the main drag.

This is a great place to unwind and pass the time. They have local art on display and good selection of books. There are current magazines to browse through while you’re eating, and they also have books available to browse through. Maybe it’s because of the bookstore element, everybody generally speaks quietly. Occasionally, the café brings in speakers and authors, who enjoy mingling with patrons and signing their books.

After a good cup of coffee, and maybe something to nibble on, we recommend taking some time to explore some of the lesser known corners of Los Altos. If you happen to be in North Los Altos, you may want to take a stroll along the Hetch-Hetchy pathway off of Los Altos Avenue. In Mid Los Altos, there is a new ropes course for kids at Heritage Oaks Park. Finally, in South Los Altos, you may want to take a meandering hike from the Highlands neighborhood into Rancho San Antonio Park … you might just bump into us on the trail on Saturday mornings.