LAEF Raises $3.3 million For Schools

Posted on June 29, 2014 by  
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LASD STEMThe Los Altos Educational Foundation recently reached its annual fundraising goal of $3.3 million for the Los Altos School District.

The foundation raises funds to supplement the financial resources of the district to support additional academic and enrichment programs that improve the overall education of students in district schools.

The grant will continue to benefit the following elementary and junior-high programs.

• Los Altos Art Docent lessons.

• Twenty-five hours of library operation per week per elementary school.

• A library coordinator.

• K-3 class-size reduction through small-group literacy aides.

• Elementary school music and physical-education programs. In the next school year, kindergartners will receive lessons from a PE specialist.

• Junior high class-size reductions to 25:1 in English, math, social studies and science courses.

• Elective offerings – seventh- and eighth-graders will choose two electives.

• A junior-high library program, open five periods per day and after school.

The second part of the foundation’s grant, the Innovation Grant, is designated for K-8 programs that promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

The Innovation Grant includes the CSTEM program, which adds computer science education in sixth grade. Nancy Davis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the goal is to expand the CSTEM program from sixth grade into the junior highs.

In addition to CSTEM, the foundation’s Innovation Grant supports the district’s technology integration coach, STEM coach and STEM teacher on each elementary school campus.

The foundation is currently accepting donations for the 2014-2015 school year. Donations may be made online as a one-time gift or via automatically deducted installments.

To donate and for more information, visit


Linden Tree Kicks Off Summer Series

Posted on June 26, 2014 by  
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Steve Chaney and his puppet Cornelius CrowSteve Chaney and his puppet Cornelius Crow launched the Linden Tree Books Summer 2014 Concert Series last week in downtown Los Altos. The pair performed for approximately 50 children and parents gathered in a reading room at the back of the store.

With the aid of “Corny Crow” and two other puppets, ventriloquist Chaney engaged the audience – primarily comprising 4- to 6-year-olds – with songs, animal noises, juggling and jokes for 30 minutes.

“I liked seeing the kids laugh a lot,” parent Ming Hui said.

The performance was the first of nine free weekly shows scheduled at Linden Tree, 265 State St. Performances are slated 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 13.

Event Manager Dee Ellman said Linden Tree is the “heart of Los Altos” and that the concert series is a way to connect with the community. Although admission is free, Ellman encourages attendees to donate a book to benefit Reading Partners, the local literacy organization that matches one-on-one tutors with students who have fallen behind in reading.

“Part of Linden Tree is its world of reading and developing imagination, and Reading Partners helps that mission,” Ellman said.

Ellman added that her favorite part of the concert series is “seeing all the kids that come and the big charge they get from the performers.”

The schedule:

• July 2: MaryLee Sunseri. The singer/guitarist performs popular and original songs and interacts with the audience.

• July 9: Mr. Horsefeathers. Steven Koehler, aka Mr. Horsefeathers, performs magic, juggling and comedy.

• July 16: Nancy Cassidy. She performs folk songs, some of them originals, aimed at audiences of all ages.

• July 23: Andy Z. The musician, storyteller and interactive entertainer is known for his high-energy shows.

• July 30: Jump for Joy with Wiley Rankin. He introduces rhythms through song and dance, encouraging children to participate in the show.

• Aug. 6: Snail People. The duo (Mindy Dillard and Eric McEuen) uses a variety of instruments and genres in its performances.

• Aug. 13: Lori & RJ/Cotton Candy Express. New to the series, the group caps the summer slate with a hands-on musical show.

For more information, call 949-3390 or visit and click the “Events” tab.


Local Grads Launch Volleyball Camp

Posted on June 22, 2014 by  
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Camp A TeamWhen they met in seventh grade at Egan Junior High, Allie Miller and Ashley Watson bonded over volleyball. They became good friends and great players who starred at Los Altos High in the early 2000s.

Although they now live several miles apart – Miller works as a high school counselor in San Francisco and Watson teaches first grade in Campbell – the Los Altos natives have figured out a way to remain close friends and close to the sport they love to play and coach.

“We missed being together and coaching,” said Watson, who coached the freshman team at Palo Alto High two years ago. “We both work at schools and thought, ‘How can we (remedy that) over the summer?’ That’s when we came up with Camp A-Team.”

The volleyball camp for girls ages 8-13 is entering its second summer, with three sessions scheduled the last two weeks of July at Egan. Each session spans four days.

“The first year, the thinking was: ‘Let’s go for it and see how it works,’” said Miller, coach of the St. Ignatius High junior-varsity squad in 2012. “We filled all three sessions, and it was a total hit. We took a lot of notes about things to improve on, and we’re looking forward to year two.”

Camp A-Team is not a big operation – Miller and Watson handle everything from coaching to marketing – but the 2004 Los Altos High graduates said the participants benefit from that.

“Since it’s just the two of us, we try to keep the camps pretty small,” Miller said. Watson added, “We both agreed on keeping the (camper-to-coach) ratio at 6-to-1 to give each girl individual attention.”

Two of the sessions have already reached capacity. “We have a lot of returning girls and a lot of fresh faces,” Miller said. “Most of them are from Los Altos.” For many of the girls, Camp A-Team is “their first experience with volleyball,” Watson said, “and can spark that interest, which is really exciting.”

By focusing on the fundamentals, Miller and Watson said they hope their clinics prepare the girls for playing school and club volleyball. Both acknowledged that the sport has grown more competitive in this area since they were kids.

Camp A-Team has scheduled morning sessions 9 a.m. to noon July 21-24 and July 28-31; the afternoon session is slated 1-4 p.m. July 28-31. Cost is $350 per session, which includes a camp T-shirt. Egan is located at 100 W. Portola Ave., Los Altos. To register and for more information, visit


Center Update Hits Halfway Point

Posted on June 18, 2014 by  
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Los Altos Community Center PlanThe Los Altos City Council last week inched past the midpoint of updating the city’s plan to build a new community center.

Last week’s session comes on the heels of an effort to gather public input as part of the 10-month timeline that began in January. The outreach effort included workshops and various stakeholder meetings to determine publicly desired elements for a Hillview replacement. The city plans to conduct a public survey later this summer to gauge voter support for a bond measure to fund the effort.

The council voted unanimously in favor of including indoor amenities and services for a proposed 55,600-square-foot community center space for large group activities – such as classes and camps – lounges for seniors and teens and gathering areas for the public. Approximately 7,000 square feet would be allocated for fitness facilities. Other elements, such as kitchen space and a pair of multipurpose rooms, were listed as well.

Like the city’s 2009 master plan, the council opted to forego providing space in the new center for any outside organizations now leasing space at Hillview.

The council also approved a checklist of site criteria for city-hired consultant Anderson Brulé Architects (ABA) to use when mapping various financial scenarios and site layout possibilities in coming months. Criteria included connectivity to the downtown area and an emphasis on establishing a multigenerational facility. Other standards approved included safe bike, vehicle and pedestrian access to the site; maximizing shared use of program elements; a “viable, functioning” apricot orchard; and a 30-foot building height limit.

Finally, the council directed ABA to return with a range of site layout scenarios for the community center and related facilities like the soccer field and a host of underground and grade-level parking considerations. The council requested a menu of options ranging from minimal and less costly options to moderate and more ambitious scenarios to consider at a future date.

Per the council’s direction, the scenarios will also examine facility placement in the southeast quadrant of the civic center campus – where Hillview currently sits – and the northwest quadrant that currently houses the police station, the Los Altos Youth Center and other existing civic facilities.


Relay For Life Happening This Weekend

Posted on June 11, 2014 by  
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Los Altos Relay For LifeThis year’s Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Relay for Life is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Saturday at Egan Middle School, 100 West Portola Ave. The 24-hour event is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Registration begins at 9 a.m., followed by opening remarks and a dove release at 10 a.m. The first lap is a Survivor Lap, featuring a parade of the 26 participating teams. Throughout the day, participants will circle the track to raise funds for cancer patient support and research. The event includes food, music and family entertainment.

The candle-lit luminaria ceremony is set to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday to the sounds of bagpipe.

All are invited to participant, any time of day or night. Supporters have raised $66,600 to date and donations are accepted through August. Pre-registration is not necessary. For more information, visit:


Springer, Blach win GreenTown Challenge

Posted on June 6, 2014 by  
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kids-riding-bikesSpringer and Blach Junior High schools took top honors in GreenTown Los Altos’ 2014 Drive Less/Greenest Schools Challenge, which ended May 7, National Bike to School Day.

Springer Walk or Wheel (WoW) parent volunteer Kacey Fitzpatrick coordinated parent signups for the Drive Less Challenge. Springer, which had more than double the number of parent registrants as its nearest competitor, won the challenge with 65 percent of students walking or wheeling to school May 7.

Blach won in the Middle School category for the second year in a row, with nearly 70 percent of students arriving at school via foot or bicycle.

According to event organizers, Loyola School continued to make strides with its WoW program, winning “Most Improved Elementary School” with a significant increase from last year and more than 50 percent of students walking or cycling to school.

Loyola WoW parent lead Azar Silver developed a “Driver-Less License” to encourage Loyola students to participate in the two-week challenge. Volunteers stamped students’ licenses each day as they arrived at school and distributed prizes on Bike to School Day.

Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis authorized bicycle patrol officers to visit schools during this year’s Drive Less Challenge. The officers, present during the morning commute, provided encouragement for students who walked or biked to school.

GreenTown’s WoW program engages parent volunteers at each of the local elementary and middle schools to urge students to walk, bike or carpool to school.

Los Altos School District, Bullis Charter School and Montclaire Elementary School teachers report how children get to school each May, enabling GreenTown to assess program progress and effectiveness over time. Since the start of the WoW program, green trips to school are up across the district.

For more information, visit


‘Company’ starts up at Bus Barn Theater

Posted on June 1, 2014 by  
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The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s production of “Company” includes Jennifer Mitchell as Kathy and Adam Cotugno as BobbyThe Los Altos Stage Company is slated to present Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical “Company” Thursday through June 28 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, “Company” is the story of Bobby, a 30-something bachelor, and his inability to commit to a long-term relationship – even with himself.

Witnessing the trials and tribulations of his friends – five married, once-married or soon-to-be-married couples – Bobby struggles to understand the reason for couplehood. Eventually, he comes to believe that while relationships are far from perfect, they are a necessary part of life.

“Company” is recognized as one of the first musicals to address adult themes and relationships.

“Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems,” Sondheim said. “These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theater, and then here we are with ‘Company’ talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.”

Performances are scheduled 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m. June 11 and 25 and 3 p.m. June 8, 15 and 22. Thursday’s show is a preview; Friday is opening night. Tickets are $18-$38.

For tickets and more information, call 941-0551 or visit