New Year’s Day Fun Run

Posted on December 27, 2014 by  
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New Year Fun Run

Free run, walk, roll 5k race is held every New Year’s Day rain or shine!

The race begins at 9:00 a.m. at the corner of Main Street and State Street. All ages are welcome to attend. No pre-registration required.

Note: Dogs must be on a leash, and please, no bikes!

Contact the Recreation Department for more details at (650) 947-2790.

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Senior Living Option In Los Altos

Posted on December 20, 2014 by  
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TOLASearching for an even more vibrant retirement life? The Terraces at Los Altos offers a new option in senior living and a fresh take on retirement.

Life is easy there, and more convenient. Brand new, maintenance-free residences provide a worry-free way of living. The stylishly designed continuing care retirement community (CCRC) has the comforts of a cozy neighborhood — making it easy to quickly feel at home.

With no yard work, home repairs or housekeeping, seniors at The Terraces can spend more time doing what they love: creating flexible, personalized programs that focus on all areas of their well-being, taking part in stimulating activities with close-knit friends or family or enjoying the multiple cultural excursions offered.

Just beyond The Terraces’ beautiful campus, the surrounding areas also provide a variety of entertainment. Downtown Los Altos’ quaint village atmosphere has unique cafes, salons, boutiques and a bustling seasonal farmer’s market, and nearby Stanford University offers a wealth of educational and cultural activities.

With a progressive approach to retirement, including modern services and amenities that offer life-enriching opportunities, The Terraces takes senior living to a whole new level.

For more information, contact The Terraces at Los Altos at 650-917-9661 or visit www.theterracesatlosaltos.com.

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Local National Hour Of Code Participants

Posted on December 17, 2014 by  
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Hour of CodeLocal schools participated in national Hour of Code activities last week, aiming to spread the desire not just to consume technology, but to help build it.

Hour of Code was designed to promote student opportunities in computer science. According to Jeanne Yu, computer science instructor at Los Altos High School, 90 percent of schools in the U.S. don’t teach computer science, and fewer students are learning how computers work than a decade ago.

However, Los Altos schools are not like most national schools. Students who attend local public schools are exposed to computer science – starting as early as kindergarten.

Hour of Code is scheduled annually during Computer Science Week, when more than 2 million students nationwide engage in coding activities. The movement, organized by Code.org and supported by Apple Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, among other organizations, is a statement that today’s generation of students must learn critical skills needed for 21st-century success.

At Los Altos High, students enrolled in every mathematics class participated in Hour of Code activities last week, ensuring that all students would have exposure to coding.

Los Altos High has offered computer science classes for three years, growing in sections as enrollment increased. The school offers an Intro to Computer Science class and an AP Computer Science class. As of last week, Yu said the College Board approved AP Computer Science Principles, an additional AP offering for high-schoolers.

Local elementary schools also offer a slew of activities to spark early interest in computer science. In each Los Altos School District elementary school, students have access to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lab.

District kindergartners and first-graders manipulated robotic Bee-Bot Floor Robots, which they programmed to move about. Second-graders used ScratchJr programming for activities. Third- through fifth-graders tried programming in Scratch, and sixth-graders highlighted the importance of computer science while working on online Hour of Code activities. Seventh- and eighth-graders took part in lunchtime coding challenges.

At Bullis Charter School, sixth- through eighth-graders participated in a daylong Code-a-Thon. The event paired charter school teachers and a team of eight from Microsoft Corp., who encouraged students fluent in coding to take their work to the next level.

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Modern meets Old World

Posted on December 15, 2014 by  
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Stone CreationsThe company name, Stone Creations, says it all.

The stone, for the most part, is genuine limestone from quarries in France, which is transformed into art pieces by master stone carver Bernard Renaud and his business partner and wife, Linda.

This Franco-British-American couple has combined their expertise to create custom stonework for homes, gardens, wineries and even an olive mill since moving here from France almost three decades ago.

“We fell in love with the energy and possibilities we encountered in the Bay Area and proudly became U.S. citizens,” Linda said. They established their business in 1987 and garnered attention a year later for their stonework in an American Society of Interior Designers show house.

Stone Creations is known for limestone facades, fireplace mantels and surrounds, kitchen-range hoods, fountains and garden benches. Their designs are both modern – appealing to a younger, tech-based clientele – and Old World. Clients come from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Atherton, Portola Valley, Hillsborough and beyond.

Sara Webber and Victor Martina wanted a fireplace that had the right proportions and Old World aesthetic for the Tuscan-style house they’re building in Los Altos Hills. After a fruitless fireplace search, the couple contacted Stone Creations. Webber gave them a picture she’d torn from a magazine, which Bernard used as the basis for the design. Then, the couple visited the workshop to pick just the right color from among the limestone slabs.

Rebecca and Rod Fallow of Los Altos also wanted a special fireplace surround for their home, which has a Tuscan flair. It posed a special challenge because of the footprint of the house. The scale had to be right, because the entry hall offers a sideways view of the fireplace.

The color was equally important. The couple chose Peruvian travertine from among the countless stone samples at the workshop, so the Renauds imported it especially for them.

“Our goal is to enhance our clients’ dreams, using materials in a way that will enhance their lives and property and be agelessly appropriate,” Linda said. At the time, she was researching eagles on the computer in her office. Why? Because a client wants eagles carved atop his limestone gate pillars and she was looking for just the right pose.

SFor more information, visit:  stonecreationsbayarea.com.

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Hanson Named Los Altan Of The Year

Posted on December 12, 2014 by  
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Kathryn HansonThe Town Crier has named Kathryn Hanson its Los Altan of the Year for 2014.

Hanson, a 33-year Los Altos resident, founded the nonprofit organization ALearn, which has prepared more than 6,500 local underserved youth for college.

ALearn, founded in 2007, pairs educators with struggling middle-schoolers to bring the students up to speed, particularly in math, with an eye to college readiness. The students come from low-income families and most would not have gone to college without support from ALearn. In many cases, ALearn students are the first in their families to pursue a higher education. The result is a direct positive impact on closing the achievement gap.

Hanson combines expertise – 30 years of experience in education and business – with a passion for teaching and serving the underserved.

She was inspired by her Catholic faith and experiences as a youth in Yakima, Wash. – her mother put herself through college and was determined that her six children attend college; her father was a physician who accepted carts of fruit as payment for treating poor migrant workers; and her mother-in-law helped Vietnamese immigrants in the 1970s through her parish.

“You’ve been given gifts, and part of life is giving those gifts back,” Hanson said.

Her husband, Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, shares her passion for business and education. Kirk is considered a pioneer in the study of business ethics and responsibility.

Hanson is a former board member of the Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT), which serves more than 7,500 teachers throughout the Bay Area. She is currently on the board of TUI, an online university.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University, a master’s and a doctorate in English from the University of Chicago and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

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Green Team Hosts Bay Area Conference

Posted on December 9, 2014 by  
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LAHS Green TeamMembers of the Los Altos High School Green Team created a Bay Area-wide conference for students to discuss best practices for ensuring that their schools are as green as can be.

“By high-schoolers, for high-schoolers” was the motto of the Students for Green High Schools Conference held Nov. 17.

Los Altos High Green Team members initiated, organized and ran the conference. Seventy high school students from 10 Bay Area schools gathered at Google to discuss best practices and challenges they face in “greening” their schools’ campuses.

“The idea was to create a collaborative environment where students could share their success stories, ask questions and find solutions to some of the key problems they face implementing green programs at their schools,” said Sruthi Jayakumar, Los Altos High’s Green Team co-president. “We wanted to use this platform as a way to allow students from across the Bay Area to raise their schools to a higher level of environmental sustainability and give them the tools they needed to make a difference.”

Following a welcome by the Green Team leadership and an icebreaker, student teams from four of the 10 schools represented shared their schools’ green initiatives, highlighting what’s working and what isn’t.

Following presentations, participants divided into two sets of themed focus groups – ranging from recycling to composting, community outreach and fundraising – before returning to their school groups and creating an action plan for next steps.

“We were very happy with how the conference turned out,” Jayakumar said. “Many of the students told us that the things they learned were very relevant and helped them create better action plans for the future.”

For more information, visit studentsforgreenhighschools.weebly.com.

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Local Solo Sports Go Social

Posted on December 8, 2014 by  
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Social Recreation Groups in Los AltosAs downtown streetlights power off in the early morning, a dedicated group of runners hits the streets of Los Altos to chase the sunrise as it reaches the hills.

“It’s so much fun to get up in the morning and know that there are going to be other people there,” said Los Altos Hills resident Allison Tilley of her motivation to run with a group rather than by herself.

Looking for a challenge after she lost some weight, Tilley took up running in 2010 and shortly after trained for her first marathon. Following that experience, she teamed up with Los Altos running shoe and athletic apparel retailer On Your Mark to lead weekly group runs. Ranging in length from 4 to 17 miles, the four weekly group runs accommodate recreational and competitive runners of all ages and skill levels.

“It’s not just for the elites,” said Micheline Kemist, co-owner of On Your Mark with her husband, Adam. “It’s an everyday people thing.” According to Kemist, the most common reason people shy away from running is because they think it’s too equipment-intensive. A properly fitting and supportive pair of running shoes and a comfortable pair of socks are all you need to begin running, she noted. “We just want you to get out there,” Kemist said.

Whether out for a quick 4-mile run or a strenuous pedal to the Pacific Ocean and back, social sports groups have become a popular recreational choice for many Los Altos residents. Although exercise in itself is a boon to good health, practicing a solo sport as part of a team yields a number of additional unexpected benefits.

Bonds formed between strides are particularly strong among members of the On Your Mark running groups. Members register to run in marathons alongside each other, celebrate life achievements at backyard barbecues and even find work referrals. Some runners are interested in competitive races, Tilley said. Others join a group for the physical exercise or to meet new people after moving into the area. Focused on encouragement instead of pressure, Tilley said the club welcomes all who enjoy running.

GOTRRunners with ambitions to participate in a half-marathon or marathon also find community, motivation, race advice and off-road friendship through the running groups. “It’s a lot harder to run 12 miles by yourself than it is with a group,” Tilley said. “It’s a lot easier to get yourself out the door.”

“We have people in our group who said for weeks and months, ‘I’m going to come,’ until they finally did,” Tilley said, encouraging those new at running to show up for a group run, even if they aren’t confident in their skills. “They have fun, they get out there and just like anything else, they get regular about it.”

Drive along Foothill Expressway on a Saturday morning and you’ll likely pass multiple caravans of cyclists in Lycra jerseys. Weekends and weekdays alike, residents and their Bay Area friends converge on the community to cycle, with many riders choosing to travel as a pack.

“Los Altos is in the middle of some of the nicest roads,” said Robert Sexton, president of the Western Wheelers Bicycle Club. “Foothill is a bicycle highway. … I have never gone down Foothill without seeing another rider.”

Wide and well-maintained bike lanes throughout Los Altos and curving roads with challenging climbs and descents in Los Altos Hills appeal to cyclists eager for a pleasant ride. In fact, many local recreational and touring cycling groups make Los Altos their hub for rides.

“There are plenty of people who like to ride, and it’s a viable way to get around,” Sexton said. “You don’t need any special skills.” Sexton noted that many of the Western Wheelers Bicycle Club’s more than 110 monthly group rides begin in Los Altos – from Shoup and McKenzie parks, Egan Junior High School and Peet’s Coffee & Tea, popular ride starting points where you’ll frequently spot cyclists mingling before and after rides.

Like local running groups, cyclists who join forces appreciate pedaling as a pack as more than a safety measure. “If you need help, you have friends with you,” Sexton said of riding in groups. “On faster rides, there is a lot of wind, and pushing your way through the air is work. … If you want to go fast, you have to work together.”

With more than 1,000 members, Western Wheelers Bicycle Club offers beginners and enthusiasts with an itch for more challenging rides opportunities to unite with riders of similar skill levels

WVTCOnce you start pedaling or running with others, you might not want to stop. Sexton echoed the point, noting that the views from the top of local hills are “amazing” and that friendships forged on road trips could lead to something more – many a marriage has started with a ride together on the road.

If you’re interested in finding a group to join, review the following options:

Cycling

• Alto Velo Racing Club is an amateur cycling group that supports bike racing in Silicon Valley. The club offers rides that originate from several Los Altos locations.

• Meetup.com is an online social site that lists numerous cycling groups that meet in Los Altos and around the South Bay.

• Undiscovered Country Tours is a Los Altos-based cycling tour business that also offers road-bike rentals and used road bikes for sale.

• Western Wheelers Bicycle Club offers more than 100 rides a month, including many that begin and end in Los Altos.

Running

• Girls on the Run offers a 5K curriculum that inspires girls to establish good lifelong health and fitness habits and develop confidence and independent thinking. The program is currently offered at Covington, Loyola, Montclaire, Pinewood and Springer schools.

 Joy’s Jack Rabbits Track Club is an introductory track and field club that provides group and individual coaching. Participation is open to children, teens and adults.

• Meetup.com is an online social site that lists several running groups that meet in Los Altos and around the South Bay.

• On Your Mark, the downtown Los Altos running shoe and apparel shop, sponsors running groups for individuals of all skill levels.

• West Valley Track Club, Northern California’s oldest track and field, road racing, cross-county and ultrarunning club, offers weekly group runs in the South Bay, including one that begins in Los Altos.

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Annual Harps For The Holidays

Posted on December 5, 2014 by  
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Harpeggio EnsembleCome and enjoy an afternoon of festive holiday harp music at Harpeggio’s annual concert.

The program will feature harp solos and our studio ensemble, which has in recent years provided the sight and sound of more than twenty harps on a single stage. This year’s program will include a variety of fun holiday music, including some well-known carols … the perfect start to your holiday preparations!

Also at the holiday event will be the very entertaining harpist Meko (formerly Mike Walls) making a much-requested return appearance as our guest artist. Meko is an accomplished jazz harpist who comes to us from Central Florida. He tours extensively throughout the world, performing in both the English and Spanish languages. Meko is a two-time prize winner in the International Jazz-Harp Competition, has been consistently in the top 20 on Japanese radio, and has received critical acclaim world-wide. He is founder and director of the International Harp Museum (www.internationalharpmuseum.org) and works to promote the harp worldwide.

Meko was the guest artist at our very first concert in 1999, and this marks his fourth appearance as our guest artist. We are very happy to welcome him back—we know many of our audience will be looking forward to hearing him perform again.

This year’s concert will be held on Saturday, December 6, at 4:00pm at Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Avenue, Los Altos. Click here for a map.

Ticket prices are:

  • General admission $15
  • Seniors 60+ $12
  • Children 4-12 $12

For more information or tickets, or to join their mailing list, please contact Stephanie at (408) 366-8810 or email: events@harpeggio.com

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Waldorf Sponsors Holiday Faire

Posted on December 3, 2014 by  
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Waldorf Holiday FaireWaldorf School of the Peninsula has scheduled it 29th annual Holiday Faire 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 at its Los Altos campus, 11311 Mora Drive.

The event will feature a variety of hands-on activities for the entire family, including dipping beeswax candles, making wreaths with fresh greenery and handcrafting small gifts and holiday decorations from natural materials. Returning this year is the Russian Tea Room, where guests can enjoy tea, treats and quiet music.

In the Gnome Adventure, children can crawl through a passage lined with seasonal vignettes that show gnomes celebrating the four seasons. At the end of the journey, each child will receive a small gem to remind them of the magical journey.

The day will also include a catered buffet and old-fashioned games of skill for younger children, such as Treasure Mountain, Leap of Faith, Troll Bridge and Catapult Castle. Every game will end with a small prize.

A Children’s Workshop will offer youth the opportunity to make gifts such as rolled beeswax candles and jump ropes. A fairy-tale puppet show is scheduled several times during the day.

The holiday boutique will feature more than 10,000 handmade and unique items available for purchase, including European wooden toys, candles, knit scarves, shawls, children’s books, parenting and craft books, yarn and knitting materials, natural arts and craft supplies, dolls and lotions.

Free on-site parking and shuttles to and from nearby lots will be available. For more information, visit waldorfpeninsula.org.

 

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