Castilleja School

1310 Bryant Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301


July 31, 2015

Dear Middle School Students and Parents/Guardians:

The 2015-2016 School Year is just around the corner. I hope that the summer has provided time for relaxation as well as opportunities to explore personal interests. I’ve enjoyed reading books recommended by the Middle School students!

This letter outlines important start-of-school information. It is also posted on the Parent Portal. Students in 7th and 8th grades can access information through their Student portals. Sixth grade students do not yet have their email or portal access, so parents/guardians should share appropriate forms, handouts, and information with your daughters.

Schedule, Textbooks, Technology, Supplies, Uniform and Lockers

Academic Class Schedule

Your academic class schedule will be posted on-line in a few days, and you will receive an email from Ms. Gallegos indicating that the schedules are ready. If you go to the Portal and a schedule is not available, please contact Heidi Gallegos at If you find there is an obvious mistake in your schedule, i.e. you are scheduled into the wrong language class, please contact me at Elective sign ups will occur once school begins for 7th and 8th grades; all 6th grade students will take a programming elective in the first rotation.


Our on-line bookstore, MBS, offers both new and used textbooks. When you get your academic schedule go to to see the list of books for your courses and place orders. CUBUS, located in the lower level of the Middle School, offers used texts and uniforms. If you buy your books from somewhere other than MBS or CUBUS, check the exact ISBN and be sure you are getting the correct edition. Every year students who have bought the wrong edition of a book end up buying a second one when they realize the difficulties of not being on the same page as everyone else; we hope you can avoid this needless expense.

We have been making a concerted effort to reduce textbook load and to consider on-line resources when they are a programmatically sound option. Some of the required texts and materials are in this form. MBS is not always able to bill for eReaders, on-line texts, essential on-line technology tools, and other ancillary materials required for classes. Castilleja will bill you for these particular items.


If your daughter still needs a laptop for the start of school, a link to the Technology specifications is on the Parent Portal (Parent Technology Information and Resource Pages). School-owned iPads will be distributed to 8th grade girls during Orientation and to 7th and 6th grades after school has begun.

The iPad Protection Plan form, which outlines an optional protection program covering breakage and repair for iPads, is available on the Parent Portal (near the link for the Required Online Forms). Like any protection plan, it comes in very handy if damage occurs, and many families have found it useful. Please complete the form by Monday, August 17; iPads will not be distributed before forms are completed. 


 The Middle School Supply Lists can be found on the Portals, as well. With the use of laptops and iPads, we have streamlined our supply list to lighten the home-to-school backpack. Please note that Middle School students leave their backpacks or satchels at or in their lockers throughout the day rather than bringing them to classes. This allows for freer movement within and around classrooms and less weight carried during the day. A laptop sleeve is recommended to better protect that piece of equipment, and—if your daughter would like to use a laptop carrier—please see the dimension guidelines on the supply list.


Uniform items, including fitness attire and sweatshirts, can be purchased from Dennis Uniform, either at their store in Redwood City or on-line, or from CUBUS. Some items may be purchased from CastiGear and other retail vendors. Middle School Uniform Guidelines have been revised this year, so please check them carefully. They are posted here, on the Portals, and they can be found in the Student/Parent Handbook.

Class Ties, Planners, and Schoology, our Learning Management System

Class Ties and Castilleja Planners will be distributed at Orientations for 6th and 8th grade students. Seventh grade students will receive these items before their Retreat and parents can take them home. The first tie and planner are included in tuition. Should your daughter misplace her tie or Planner during the school year, replacements can be purchased at CUBUS.

Simplifying the student experience in organizing their variety of courses, assignments, and activities is one of our goals. This fall, we are launching a school-wide learning management system, Schoology, designed to coalesce many systems into one. Most of our 7th and 8th grade students are familiar with Schoology, as they used it in their language classes. Now, students in grades 6-12 will access all of their courses and assignment information via this on-line system.

We will onboard students at the start of the year. The intent in utilizing this system is to simplify access to information, not to increase time on devices. We will check in frequently with students to ensure that it provides the consistency we seek, and you will hear more as the year progresses. Also note that students will use Schoology; the Portal will still serve as the information access point for parents.

Lockers and Locker Decorations

Locker Assignments will be posted on Monday, August 17, at 9 am, and students can start decorating at that time. Big, Middle and Little Sisters are distributed throughout the Middle School locker area. This is a tangible representation of the community we seek to develop. Each sixth grade student will find a school-issued lock on her locker, and the locker combo, along with lock instructions, will be available at the Front Reception Desk or from Mr. Fuller the morning of the 17th. If you are in 7th or 8th grade and have misplaced your school-issued lock, please see Mr. Fuller.

Decorations should be limited to the interior of the locker. Any decorations added at the start of the year must be removed at the end of the year, except for contact paper. If you choose contact paper, only paper the interior three walls. Paper on the interior of the door itself causes jamming. If you choose wrapping paper, do not use spray or foam adhesives, as all decorations must be removed in June and these glues do not allow for easy removal.


The Online Forms accessible via the Parent Portal include forms for student medical information (medical conditions, allergies, and medications) and a signature form stating school policies regarding Concussions, Steroid use, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Be sure you have completed and submitted all of these Online Forms as they are required before any student can participate in MS Athletics at Castilleja.

If you have any questions either email or call Jessie Starr at

All Grades: Orientation, Opening Meetings and Technology Training, Retreats

At each grade level, we will start the year with a mandatory student/parent Opening Meeting led by the Class Dean at the times designated below. This allows students and at least one parent per family to hear expectations and highlights at the same time. We hope that this approach creates even stronger community and communication. Additionally, students will have either a retreat or orientation to start their year together. See details below. This information will also be posted on the Parent and Student Portal

6th Grade

Opening Meeting

6th grade families may choose one of two sessions for their opening meeting and laptop training. To schedule the session that best meets your needs, click here. Students should bring their fully charged laptop, charger, and admin password to this meeting.  Dress is casual (non-uniform.)

Big/Little Sister Orientation

6th grade students should plan to attend Orientation on Wednesday, August 26, from 9:00 am-1:30 pm. Dress is daily uniform (light blue skirt or navy blue slacks or shorts.) Students should bring their laptops fully charged and lunch will be served.

The Sixth Grade Overnight Retreat will be held on Monday and Tuesday, October 5-6. A letter detailing the retreat and a packing list will be sent once school begins.

7th grade

Opening Meeting

Each 7th grade student and one parent will attend Opening Meeting on Monday, August 24, from 8:00-9:00 am. Students should come prepared for their 7th grade retreat, as they will depart for Happy Valley immediately following this meeting.

On Tuesday, August 25, from 6:00-6:45 pm, parents are asked to attend the Co-Curricular Information Meeting from 6:00-6:45 pm. This meeting will focus on Athletics, Arts (Musical, AWAH, Muse), and Robotics. If your daughter intends to participate in Castilleja activities outside of class, please plan to attend this meeting.


The Seventh Grade Overnight Retreat will be held on Monday and Tuesday, August 24-25. Please download the following:

8th Grade

Opening Meeting

All 8th grade students and one parent will attend their Opening Meeting on Tuesday, August 25, from 5:00-5:45 pm, following the first 8th grade student Orientation (see notes below.)


8th grade student Orientations are on Tuesday, Aug. 25, from 1:00-4:00 pm (followed by Opening Meeting) and Wednesday, Aug. 26, from 9:00 am-1:30 pm. iPads will be issued on Tuesday. Please note that the iPad Protection Plan form needs to be returned prior to iPad issuance. Following the Opening Meeting, parents are asked to attend the Co-Curricular Information Meeting from 6:00-6:45 pm. This meeting will focus on Athletics, Arts (Musical, AWAH, Muse), and Robotics. If your daughter intends to participate in Castilleja activities outside of class, please plan to attend this meeting. Food will be served to parents attending, and we will provide food for the 8th grade girls who need to remain on campus while parents attend the 6 pm meeting.

Wednesday is Big/Little Sister Orientation from 9:00 am-1:30 pm, and the 8th grade girls will spend the day mentoring and getting to know their Little Sisters better so that they can serve as resources and older friends as the year progresses. Attire for Orientations is daily uniform (not free dress, as in previous years.)


The Eighth Grade Retreat to Washington, DC, will be held November 7-13. The mandatory parent/student meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 27, from 7:00-8:30 pm. Thanks to all of you who have been keeping up with payments for this trip. Please contact WorldStrides with any questions about your bill.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled for Tuesday through Friday, October 20-23. Information regarding on-line conference registration will be sent home after the start of the year via Middle School Notes. Students will attend class on Tuesday the 20th, but they do not attend regular classes the 22nd through the 24th. 7th and 8th grade students should not make plans for Wednesday or Thursday, as we are arranging Community Action activities. No students attend classes on Friday, October 23. More info to follow as soon as details are confirmed so that you can make your plans, as well.

Student and Parent Handbook

The Student and Parent Handbook is ready to review online. Be sure to read it carefully before school starts and please print and return the signed Handbook Agreement form to “Student Services” on or before Monday, August 17, 2015 verifying that you have read, understood, and agree with the contents. It is your contract with the school. While many sections have received minor edits, the following areas have been more substantially revised: Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement, Rounding of Grades, Academic Reports, Tutoring, Uniform Guidelines, Student Athlete Policy Requirements, Emergency-use epiPens, and Transportation.

First Day of Classes, Tie Ceremony, CSA Meetings

Orientations, Opening Meetings, and the 7th grade retreat occur on Monday-Wednesday, August 24-26, and the First Day of Classes begins on Thursday, August 27, at 8:00 a.m. with the Tie Ceremony on the Circle, followed by a welcome assembly for students. Students, remember to bring your schedule the first day of class. Please wear your Dress White uniform on this opening day along with single-colored (blue, black, white or brown), clean, flat, closed-toe, closed-heel shoes. (No boots with Dress Whites.) Sixth Graders, remember to bring your yellow tie untied for your Big Sister to tie! Parents are encouraged to attend the Tie Ceremony. When students are dismissed to their assembly, there will be a coffee hosted by the CSA followed by grade level parent meetings. Dismissal on Thursday, August 27, is at 3 pm; Dismissal on Friday, August 28, is at 2:25 pm.

Picture Day

Pictures will be taken throughout the day on Friday, August 28 in the Upper Gym. You will receive your school ID during your photo session. Online access to pictures will be available approximately 3-4 weeks later.

Employee Information

We are very pleased to welcome new members to our staff and faculty, and information will be posted soon on the Parent Portal to learn more about these new Castilleja faculty and staff members.

Please read the Counseling Services Information from our Director of Counseling and Social and Emotional Learning, Terese Brennan-Marquez. She and our School Counselor, Annie Dornbush, provide essential services to our community.

As a reminder, each grade level has a Class Dean who leads the grade level team of teachers and works with individual students and parents. The Deans are Christina Gwin (6), Eugenie Paick (7), and Tiffany Crist-Studley (8). The Deans will work closely with their grade level team, Advisors, and with the Head of Middle School for the smooth operation of the program.

Fall always signals new beginnings, fresh opportunities, and exciting changes; this year is no exception. I look forward to seeing you all in just a few short weeks. For now, there’s still plenty of time for summer pursuits. See you all soon!


Anne Cameron

Head of Middle School

P.S. Please note that the last day of school for Middle School is Friday, June 3. Our Eighth grade students are promoted on that day, and Promotion is a mandatory Middle School event. Please make summer plans accordingly. Commencement for seniors, held on Saturday, June 4, is an optional event for Middle School students. Be sure to visit the Parent Portal as it is regularly updated with information about the school year.


Forms to be submitted by Monday, August 17, 2015

All forms go to the attention of Student Services

Important Information posted on-line for all students and parents


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