What Defines Village Character?

Posted on February 28, 2015 by  
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There are as many descriptions of Los Altos, as there are resident.  Carol & I enjoy hearing about the characteristics residents use to define this community they love so much. The most common title used is that Los Altos is a Village.

There are a number of projects underway around the community.  During each planning phase, the community has had the opportunity to participate in framing what they would like to see improved, and/or retain.

So, what exactly defines Village character?  Well, the Town Crier dove into the subject, and below is a slightly edited version of their article.  Enjoy …

As construction moved toward completion on streetscape improvements in downtown Los Altos, the disruption to traffic – autos and otherwise – became a distant memory after the newly planted flowers began to bloom and pedestrians replaced detour placards.

After all, the impetus for infrastructure improvements was to boost business, draw developers and create a lively and vibrant village for visitors. But before the streetscape construction began, city officials adopted Downtown Design Guidelines, outlining architectural and design elements for the residential and commercial areas within the triangle bordered by Foothill Expressway, San Antonio Road and West Edith Avenue. Read more

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Local Group Brings Young Moms Together

Posted on February 25, 2015 by  
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MUM's in Los AltosIt can be isolating to be a stay-at-home mom of young children – especially in Silicon Valley, where Marissa Mayer received kudos for stepping up to Yahoo Inc.’s top spot as CEO in her third trimester of pregnancy.

While the rewards of seeing your children’s wobbly first steps and being their primary caretaker are immense, there’s no immediate product or daily pat on the back from co-workers.

Wiping runny noses, arbitrating sibling fights or negotiating developmental stages can drain even the toughest mom.

That’s why many turn to support groups like Mothers Uniting Mothers – or MUMs – which meets twice a month at Los Altos United Methodist Church. The 40-plus members who attend the gatherings drop off their children at the church nursery or keep their babies with them. Participating moms then munch on bagels and fruit as they interact.

Parents at Los Altos United Methodist Church founded the longtime club, and many of them now serve as mentor moms. Anne Cross and Sue Delong frequently attend MUMs meetings to guide the small-group discussions.

“This is really the modern-day village,” Delong said. “People don’t lean over the fence anymore, and when you drop your kid off at preschool, the moms don’t hover around” to talk, because they want to get their errands done in a short period of time.

Another MUMs mom said that during the day, she is constantly distracted by her son, making it hard to talk with another adult.

“Here, the conversations are deeper and more interesting,” she said.

The topic for the Jan. 14 meeting focused on last year’s achievements and goals for this year. The Jan. 28 session centered on making scrapbooking cards for Valentine’s Day. The Feb. 11 meeting included a breakout session in which the moms divided into small groups to discuss the topic of the day.

Nancy Yang, member of the MUMs steering committee, started attending the group in 2010, when her son was just a few months old. She now has two sons, ages 4 and 3.

“Before I became a mom, I had been working as a full-time teacher and was around teenagers and adults all day, and was therefore benefiting from the interaction with others,” said Yang, who previously taught English at St. Francis High School in Mountain View. “When I became a mom to my baby, my days became long and lonely.”

Yang said she wondered if she were doing things right as a mother and if she were the only one struggling with all of the uncertainties of parenting.

An acquaintance invited Yang – who moved to the area from Atlanta with her husband in 2006 – to check out MUMs.

“I didn’t hesitate,” she said of accepting the invitation. “I’m so glad I joined, since I have made lifelong friends through this wonderful group.”

MUMs meets 9-11:30 a.m. every other Wednesday in the Creekside Center at Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave. Membership dues are $75 annually.

For more information, email bayareamums@yahoo.com or visit mums.laumc.org

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Oak Students’ Stories Come To Life

Posted on February 18, 2015 by  
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Imagination MachineLaughter filled the Oak Avenue School Multipurpose Room last week as students watched stories they wrote come to life right before their eyes.

Oak’s PTA invited The Imagination Machine, a professional children’s theater company, to perform the children’s works. Oak hosted two assemblies, one for the lower grades and another for the upper grades, during which the troupe acted out stories of a turkey, a brave boy, a pajama-wearing superhero, a zombie-protecting canine and others.

Students submitted stories to The Imagination Machine ahead of the performances, and the group picked a few stories written by kindergartners through sixth-graders that showed a range of imagination. A piano accompanied each performance, adding a soundtrack to the stories.

“We weren’t sure what to expect, but we followed their directions and submitted a big envelope of work,” wrote Principal Amy Romem in an email to the Town Crier. “The end result was fabulous – we laughed the whole time – both at the storylines the kids created and how much the actors crack each other up, too.”

Between each story, the actors explained storytelling techniques, including setting, first-person narrative, plot points and sequels.

“The Imagination Machine program helps us bring home the concept of ‘audience’ for a written piece and hopefully inspire purpose in their writing,” Romem said. “It’s fun, it’s powerful and I think we’ll have them back again in the future.”

After each assembly, the performers introduced the authors of the stories and presented them with certificates of honor. “During and after the performance, the student authors are famous,” Romen said. “Kids high-five them and also dissect what elements of the story that they actually wrote were included or not (in the performances).”

For more information, visit theimaginationmachine.com.

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Montclaire Hosts Science Fair

Posted on February 10, 2015 by  
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Montclaire Science FairStudents at Montclaire Elementary School in Los Altos showcased their talents Jan. 28 at the school’s third annual Science Fair.

Children from all grades submitted project boards that summarized their self-selected experiment to display the day of the fair. Teachers encouraged students to use the scientific method versus simply offering a demonstration.

Participation in the fair is an optional part of the Montclaire enrichment program. Students complete projects at home independently or in teams.

Student experiments highlighted multiple science disciplines, with biology and physics leading the pack. Projects ranged from the classic soap bubbles and electrical conductivity to humorous experiments involving siblings, such as “What Is the Best Way to Wake Up a Teenage Brother?” by Olivia Wilcove and Chase Hamel.

A team of scientists who are Montclaire parents judged the projects. This year, judges included representatives from the fields of genetics and computer science.

“Our mission is to nurture a passion for science among our students,” said Michelle Wilcove, parent and Montclaire Parent Teacher Organization enrichment lead. “Here in Silicon Valley, we have vast resources and are home to notable events such as the Google Science Fair and the Foothill College Physics Show. Our hope is that this experience will inspire our students and parents to take advantage of all that the community has to offer.”

 

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Celebrate Love At First Friday

Posted on February 6, 2015 by  
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Ellen BiolsiLos Altos Forward has scheduled a Valentine-themed First Friday event – “Celebrating Love” – 6-8 p.m. Friday in downtown Los Altos.

The evening will feature activities for all ages. Visitors are invited to browse and shop at more than 60 stores and galleries, many of which offer First Friday discounts as well as complimentary refreshments. Participating stores will have red and white balloons out front. Many restaurants will serve a “First Friday Special.”

Live entertainment will include performances by six local bands: Sunday Seven at Le Boulanger, 37th Parallel at Chase Bank, Fully Funded at the Costume Bank, Mollie & Scott at BK Collections, Influx at Linden Tree Books and Mars at On Your Mark.

Programs will be available at the First Friday Headquarters outside Village Stationers at 222 Main St. For a list of participating businesses and more information, visit: losaltosfirstfriday.org

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Two Local Intel Science Talent Finalist

Posted on February 5, 2015 by  
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Steven Wang, left, and Rohith KuditipudiTwo Harker School seniors, Rohith Kuditipudi of Los Altos and Steven Wang of Los Altos Hills, last month reached the finalist stage of the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search.

Kuditipudi and Wang join 40 other high school students from across the United States who will gather in Washington, D.C., in March for the final phase of the competition, with more than $1 million in cash prizes at stake.

While in D.C., the finalists will demonstrate their research before national leaders and key figures in the scientific community. Winners will be announced at an invitation-only gala at the National Building Museum March 10.

Kuditipudi and Wang worked with mentors in the science field on their research, outside their regular school curriculum. Talent Search officials honored Kuditipudi for his work on “Network Based Integration of High-Throughput Gene Expression and Methylation Data Reveals New Insights into NAFLD Progression” and Wang for research on “Computer-Aided Genomic Characterization of Colorectal Cancer Driver Alterations for Oncogenic Transformation of Primary Colon Organoids.”

Kuditipudi said he was originally drawn to the field of bioinformatics/systems biology because he thought it was an area where he “could have a real impact on the world.” For his ongoing project, he works with professionals at UC San Diego and from home when possible.

Wang’s research centered on the computational analysis of large public databases, such as The Cancer Genome Project and the Gene Expression Omnibus, to discover alterations that may drive the progression of colorectal cancer.

“Through a multidimensional analysis of multiple data types over around 600 cancer samples, I discovered new driver genes that could contribute to the initiation of colorectal tumors,” Wang wrote in an email to the Town Crier. “I then tested two of these alterations in an innovative ‘mini-organ’ system called the ‘organoid’ model to test their cancer proliferation potential.”

Wang collaborated with mentors at Stanford University, working full time on weekends and when not in school.

The Intel Science Talent Search, a program of the Society for Science & the Public, is among the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competitions. Alumni have made important contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most-coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science.

For more information, visit student.societyforscience.org/intel-sts.

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A Country Manor In The Hills

Posted on February 4, 2015 by  
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12169 Hilltop Drive, Los Altos Hills 94024
Listed at $3,800,000 / Sold at $3,800,000
6 Beds / 4 Baths / Home: 4,045 sqft / Lot Size: 56,628 sqft +/-
Single Family Detached
Represented: Buyer

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Bridge Programs For Summer

Posted on February 1, 2015 by  
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ALearnSummertime brings a form of freedom, when young people celebrate their freedom in lazy backyard afternoons and attending their camps of choice.

But it also creates a gap. Summer enrichment programming is often the first to go when school districts cut budgets, yet it can be particularly crucial for low-income students at risk of what educators call “summer learning loss,” the achievement gap between those who seek out and pay for summer enrichment activities and those who can’t afford them.

By supporting students from low-income families, local bridge programs contribute to closing the divide. Beyond the regular school year, some motivated local students from socioeconomically challenged families take academic courses over the summer. Partnering with local nonprofits, bridge programs open the doors for students who can’t afford to enroll in academic and social programs in the summer months.

Local nonprofit organizations dedicated to educating and preparing low-income students for high school and college have established bridge programs in recent years.

Peninsula Bridge offers a five-week session every summer. The program provides a bus that begins collecting students at 7 a.m., drops them off at the independent school where the sessions occur and returns them home around 3 p.m.

ALearn, another local bridge program, focuses specifically on math.  ALearn’s programs teach subjects such as algebra, math and geometry. Pairing summer and after-school programs – and linking programs across multiple summers – provides continuity that helps students not just make it successfully through high school, but also go on to college. Low-income students, most of them Latino, spend summers at ALearn learning that a little bit of struggle along the way can be part of success.

Both programs focus on students who face class and income inequalities but demonstrate a hunger to achieve.

For more information on Peninsula Bridge, visit: peninsulabridge.org

For more information on ALearn, visit: alearn.org

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