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Posted Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015 
ASB has decided to recognize those among our community who have become Commuting Superstars. Ms. Nella, from the Fitness and Wellness Department, has taken the Casti challenge of "creative commuting" to a whole new level! ASB has deemed Ms. Nella the first Commuting Superstar of 2015.
Every day Ms. Nella hops onto her collapsable bike, rides over to the train station, and then heads over to Castilleja. She also has her own personal reflections about green commuting: "Going from a 5-day a week single driver to a 5-day a week train/bike rider has been an awesome journey! In addition to the obvious benefits of creating a smaller carbon footprint, my commute is quicker and less stressful, I have the opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the wonders of each morning, and I am able to enjoy moments of solitude and mindfulness to set my intention for the day ahead. This small change has not only helped me contribute to my community, but each day I am reminded about the positive changes it is making in my own life."

Are you our next Commuting Superstar? Know someone who is?  Let ASB know!
Posted Friday, Jan 23, 2015 

The Winter Concert last Thursday was a resounding success. Student performers impressed the audience with a wide array of past and present pieces. The performance featured everything from traditional holiday music, to jazz and blues, to some pop tunes. Musicians hailed from the Middle School and Upper School music ensembles, the Upper School a cappella group The Sounds Sisters, and the world famous employee a cappella group Staff Inflection. Thank you to everyone who came out and saw the show-- the singers and musicians appreciated your support!

Posted Friday, Jan 9, 2015 

While traveling on their Global Investigator Trips, juniors have been noting not only the differences between the United States and the different countries, but also the similarities. While visiting the Chinese village of Nanyaocun, both were brought into focus:

Today, we all woke up either because of the bitter cold or because of the crowing roosters and barking dogs. We all ate a hearty breakfast – many included eggs and fried dough. Breakfast was a great time to bond with our homestay family; we could talk about how we slept, our plans for the day, and how good the food was. After breakfast, we all met at Lily’s house (where the chaperones are staying) to debrief and to prepare for our trip to the local elementary school.

While we were walking to the elementary school, it started snowing! It surprised us because just an hour the earlier the skies were clear and blue. At the elementary school, we were welcomed by kids chanting, “Welcome! Welcome!” in Chinese. We were able to begin to bond with each other when we sang a repeat-after-me song in both Chinese and English. Some groups taught the kids some basic English (like colors, animals, actions, and weather), and others played games such as duck-duck goose. The kids liked to do charades – for example, when we taught them how to say “swim” in English, they all pretended to swim on the wood floor. They were a bit uncontrollable; many of them liked crawling on the floor, wrestling with their friends, pretending to shoot people, and banging their hands on the tables. We noticed that, in contrast to American kindergartens and the Shanghai schools, this school lacked resources and teaching staff. Although this was the case, both the kids and us were extremely enthusiastic and happy to be there. Overall, it was a very fun and humbling experience that we could share with the little kids.

We returned to our home stay families for a quick lunch where they welcomed us back with warm, fresh food (most of it is farmed in/near the village). After lunch, we all set out on a hike to Zhi Yun Si Temple. While we were walking, a cute German Shepard dog began to follow us and we named it Spencer (she ended up following us all the way to the temple). During the 2-hour hike, we enjoyed the picturesque scenery – tall, green mountains and a clear blue lake. The temple was breathtaking. It was built into the hillside and there was a perfect view from our path. Inside the temple, a ceremony was going on inside the Buddha Hall. Monks sat from most junior to most senior and they were playing a prayer song with many instruments such as drums, bells, and even some horns. We were all surprised when after the ceremony the young monks came into the courtyard we were sitting in and began to play soccer. The once foreign and different people became much more familiar and relatable to us. We then climbed the steps (there were tons) up the hillside to the part of the temple where the monks’ dorms were. We could see the entire valley and all the mountains in the entirety of LaShi Lake. On the drive back to the village, Spencer (the dog) tried to follow us – she was successful for a couple kilometers, but after a while, she sat down on the side of the road out and looked at us longingly (everyone was very sad).

Upon returning the village, everyone went back to their home stay families for a delicious dinner and some more time to bond with them. Many of us shared pictures of our own families with them and they shared their pictures with us; it allowed us to bond on a level extending beyond language. For those who don’t speak Chinese, and even for those who do, it was hard to communicate because their Mandarin is limited (most of them speak the NaXi language). Many even resorted to communication by charades and drawing pictures. Overall, it has been a wonderful and enlightening experience and we are all very excited for what tomorrow will bring.

To read more about the Global Investigator Trips in India, Guatemala, China, and France click here.

Posted Friday, Jan 9, 2015 

After a week of very engaging and thought-provoking guests, the bar was high Thursday morning when students and employees walked into the Chapel Theater. As the President and CEO of Mega-Cities Project, which has worked to shorten the lag time between ideas and implementation in urban problem-solving since its founding in 1988, Janice Perlman’s knowledge and passion inspired everyone to engage with the topic of Mega-Cities as both learners and agents of change. A former President of Brazil praises Perlman’s narrative strengths: “She views the poor and their communities as bearers of skills and capacities. She looks beyond the apparent shortcomings to grasp the impalpable assets of individuals and communities.”

Students again spent a large portion of their day working on their grade-level projects. The 6th graders finished practicing and recorded their shadow puppet movies with the help of puppet expert Daniel Barash. The 7th graders visited Brentwood School, where they engaged with their buddies in the garden and in the classroom. In 8th grade, the students finished their art projects and presented them to each other, highlighting a memory or conversation that connected them to their elder buddy. Freshmen continued using the knowledge presented by Michael Moon to help them create interesting and engaging presentations for their year-long Vision and Voice interdisciplinary projects. Sophomores learned to use a new tool for creating visual images: Piktochart. Lastly, the senior class debriefed on their trip to San Francisco and took that knowledge to create concrete ways they can engage with their local community.

Posted Thursday, Jan 8, 2015 

The 2015 Gatorbotics build season has officially started! On Saturday, January 3, the team along with mentors and parents gathered in the dining room to kick off this year's challenge, Recycle Rush, where robots have to stack totes and bins and clear "litter" from the field to score points. After kick off, the team went straight to the Bourn Lab to begin brainstorming potential designs. Good luck Gatorbotics and we can't wait to see this year's robot!

Posted Thursday, Jan 8, 2015 

So far this Global Week the Casti community has covered the "fortification" of cities, looking to various examples of historical cities as reference points for how urban areas around the globe look today.

On Wednesday, the community was asked to think about what cities might look like in the future, starting with our very own Palo Alto. A panel of local leaders -- featuring Jim Keene (Palo Alto City Manager), John Barton (Director of Architectural Design at Stanford University), Karen Kienzle (Director of the Palo Alto Arts Center), Chris Richardson (Director of Program Operations at Downtown Streets Team), and Jean McCown (Assistant Vice President and Director of Community Relations at Stanford University) -- spoke about how their work in the community will translate into the vision of Palo Alto 2020. The panelists addressed inventions that might make cities more accessible -- thanks to self-driving cars -- and increase access to cultural resources. One thing that won't change, they noted, is the responsibility of individuals to vote and to engage with their community so they have a hand in changing their community for the better.

After the panel, each grade spent the majority of the day working on their specific grade-level projects. Sixth graders continued working with Daniel Barash to create their shadow puppet shows. Seventh graders learned about healthy eating by stocking the shelves at the Ecumenical Hunger Program and watching the documentary A Place at the Table. Eighth graders continued working on their letters to their elders and finalizing their art projects. Freshmen collaborated with Michael Moon to develop presentations on their interdisciplinary "Vision and Voice" topics. Sophomores took their city research from the past two days to create an infographic using Piktograph which represents a major issue communities face, and then recommended solutions. And the Senior Class took a field trip to San Francisco to see and learn about the transformation and gentrification of two interesting neighborhoods: Bayview/Hunters Point and the Mission.

Thursday's speakers will look at the Mega-City... join us Thursday evening at 7pm to hear from Janice Perlman, Founder & President of the Mega-Cities Project. Hope to see you there!

Posted Tuesday, Jan 6, 2015 

Juniors are enjoying their Global Investigator Trips, especially the opportunities to experience local customs, culture, and cuisine while collaborating with their peers abroad. Here is a glimpse into Day 3 of the India trip:

The day began bright and early at the Indian Cultural Center with the Roshni girls. We would spend our time sharing sample classes with each other. Castilleja presented activities teaching girls how to critically analyze media. We searched through both Indian and American magazines for coded messages aimed at girls, promoting both positive (healthy, confident, powerful) and negative (light-skinned, unrealistically thin, flawless) ideals. After sharing our findings, we gutted our magazines and armed with colorful pens and poster board, created the kind of images of women we wished to see in the media. After a delicious tea break, we were able to sample a Roshni module. Roshni, as an after school program, aims to teach life skills for women in addition to their academic studies. Thus this particular module aimed to help girls with time management skills. The Roshni girls were eager to show off their knowledge and enthusiasm and truly blew us away. In the process, we were able to share with our Roshni friends the details of our everyday lives as well as what we wish we could do more of. During a delicious lunch, some girls showed off some sweet Indian dances. Some Casti girls, in return, taught them some American dance moves like “The Running Man” and “The Sprinkler”. We giggled at each others’ goofy attempts and clumsy feet. The Roshni girls were eager to teach us phrases in Hindi, which we probably butchered but not for lack of trying. By the end of lunch, we were literally dragged away from each other, us to the tour bus and them to their homes, both groups laughing and waving as we went.

To read more about the Global Investigator Trips in India, Guatemala, China, and France click here.

Posted Monday, Jan 5, 2015 

The Junior Global Investigators are abroad! From France, to China, to India, to Guatemala, the girls are beginning to immerse themselves in the richness of the international experience. Here's what the Guatemala Global Investigators said about the beginning of their trip:

Exciting. Eye-opening. New. Rich. Beautiful. These were the words our fellow classmates used to describe their initial reactions to Guatemala.

The journey to our hotel on Lake Atitlán involved planes, bus, and even a boat ride across the lake. After a late-night flight and windy bus ride, we piled ourselves and our many suitcases into a little boat, catching the lovely breeze amidst the warm weather. Our beautiful hotel awaited us at the end of the lake, complete with papaya juice, warm beds, and a gorgeous view!

After settling we went into the lake town of San Juan. We met the youth at the  library and learned about the town’s history, and we enjoyed our first  Guatemalan meal, complete with beans, rice, and plenty of home-made  tortillas!

Today, we started off with a lovely breakfast and exposure to a parade in honor of Three King’s Day, where ambassadors from the local church travel from house to house bearing baby Jesus. Traditionally, he is kissed on the forehead by each resident, followed by a series of fireworks (which we have heard periodically throughout the city all day).

From the very beginning, Guate has been filled with vibrant sounds: festive music in the town square, roosters crowing in the morning, a trail of drums that followed baby Jesus about the village.

Fascinating for coffee-addicts and non-coffee-drinkers alike was our coffee tour. We learned that there are four different kinds of coffee plants, and even got to taste the coffee plant itself, which was surprisingly sweet! For the remainder of the afternoon, we prepared for skits about the environment to share with the community, and will later spend some time with the Guatemalan youth.

More on that later! Hasta Pronto!
Lea y Kiana

To read more about the Global Investigator Trips, click here.

Posted Friday, Nov 21, 2014 

For the past week, Film 1 students have been working with the library on their "Cinemascope" papers -- a 3-5-page paper based on a topic of their choosing which is either "Cinematic" (film history, history of film movements, etc.) or "Filmic" (one singular film, one filmmaker, etc.). Topics range from "The CSI Effect -- Films and Jury Tampering," to "The Aesthetics of Filmmaker Steve McQueen," to "Hollywood Dog Trainers: Rin Tin-Tin, Lassie, and Uggie." As an added feature, the paper review process included a "Talk with an Expert" on Thursday. Knowing that Castilleja faculty and staff boast an assortment of backgrounds, interests, and specialties, Film 1 students had to "pitch" their paper and its main points to them in a dialogue drawing on their experience and expertise. It proved to be a fun forum for exploring both Film and the Casti community.

Posted Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014 
This past Sunday, 13 Casti Middle School attended our local FIRST Lego League competition at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Castilleja's two teams, Gatorology and Lollipops, competed in multiple rounds of the robot game with the Lego Mindstorms robots they have been working on for the last few months. In addition, they presented an accompanying research project about solving a problem related to learning, talked to a panel of judges about their robot design and programming, and participated in a teamwork activity. Great fun!
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Posted 04/20/2016 08:08AM
A hilarious madcap romp based on the book The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical Lucky Stiff features over 20 Upper School students, an orchestra of eight, superb music direction by Ahmed Elgasseir, and wild choreography by MS Math Teacher Katie Robinson!

Lucky Stiff will be presented in the Chapel Theater:
Friday, April 29, 7:30pm
Saturday, April 30, 7:30pm
Sunday, May 1, 2:00pm

Buy Tickets HERE! 

Posted 04/29/2016 04:31PM

Founder's Day 2016 was a day filled with profound speeches delivered with honesty and courage. The day commenced with a welcome breakfast at Lockey House for alumnae with Kendra Barkoff Lamy '98, our Alumna Keynote speaker. Kendra, former US Press Secretary to Vice President Biden, spoke about perserverance, resilience, and her career in DC to members of the Castilleja community in the Chapel Theater. 

At noon, Castilleja mothers and other special guests found their students on the Circle and sat at long tables dressed in class colors.  The girls, in dress whites, guided guests towards the buffet line as wind played with the decorative class banners around the Circle.  It was a brilliantly sunny day, and one senior exclaimed to another,  "You know its Founder's Day when you've got your squint on!" Students and guests brought a variety of hats and sunglasses and as both a solution to the sun and a fashion statement, some girls wore their napkins on their heads.

Nanci KauffmanHA delivered her opening remarks and shared the story not of Mary Lockey, our founder, but of Margarita Espinosa, Castilleja's second head. Ms. Kauffman spoke of Ms. Espinosa's resiliance, problem-solving, and tough-but-kind manner of interacting with students and staff. The community learned that Castilleja has Ms. Espinosa to thank for hiring beloved teacher Peggy McKeeHA, who is retiring this year.

After singing the Castilleja Song as a community, we heard from four graduating seniors, chosen by their class to speak and share their experience. Paris W., Leena A., Claire H., and Juliet O. delivered geniune and articulate speeches about their growth at Castilleja. Each girl had a unique theme central to her speech. These speeches about lifelong learning, forward progress, authenticity, and courage were interwoven with musical performances given by their peers.

Thanks to all of our amazing employees and volunteers whose hard work helped us celebrate Castilleja's rich history and bright future. 


Posted 04/26/2016 09:37AM

Last Friday was Upper School Trivia Night in the library! The competition was fierce between the three teams, The Ninja Turtles, The USSR and The Quizzards of Oz, as they tested their knowledge of books, grammar, math, science, live challneges, and the fan favorite, Disney and Pixar trivia. Ultimately, the USSR won a close victory with their amazing time through the maze the librarians created. 

Trivia Nights will return next year! 

Posted 04/22/2016 06:00PM

Castilleja's Earth week kicks off Monday with themed days and fun activities that encourage a continued practice of sustainability. 


Food Day!

A 'Meatless Monday' lunch will be enhanced by a Low Impact Food Fair on the Circle prepared by the Green Team and get ideas for Vegan and Vegetarian recipes!



During lunch, participate in a Recycled Art Interactive Activity!


Water Fair!

At break, help out in the garden. During lunch, enjoy a water-related art display.


Alternative Transportation Day!

Raffle prizes will go to bikers/carpoolers/and other alternative commuters.

Transportation fair at lunch!

All Week

Pot succulent plants to serve as centerpieces at Friday's Founder's Day! The plants will later be repurposed for a vertical garden.

Posted 04/28/2016 05:35PM

Bringing an Ancient Site Alive: 6th Graders Study Early Andean Civilization

6th graders from science and history classes joined forces for a week-long interdisciplinary archaeology experience. The students had an opportunity to build on their growing knowledge of archaeology as they took a virtual journey to the ancient Andean site of Chavín de Huantar in Perú. Students learned about the importance of context in interpretation of an archaeological site and how to determine the significance of various artifacts and features of the site.

Students were divided into archaeological teams that included specialists in three different areas: art, architecture, and geography.  They were charged with learning general information about the site in their teams, asking questions to drive their research, and then learning everything they could about their specialty area.  Then as artists, builders, and cartographers, each specialist group constructed a 3D replica of a piece of art, an architectural model, or a map of the surrounding area. These visual aides were used to supplement their teaching to their archaeological teams about their research.  The student archaeologists then shared knowledge about their specialties and put all their knowledge together to discuss the significance of various archaeological findings and construct evidence-based stories about the site.

Sarah Barnum (science 6) and Laura Docter (history 6) continue to collaborate designing interdisciplinary inquiry-based curriculum.  Barnum, who did her Master’s thesis research on the archaeological site of Chavín de Huantar, framed the five days with introductory and closing interactive presentations about her research to model for the girls how a real archaeologist does the work they were learning about and to help the girls answer some of the questions they still wondered about that did not get answered through their own research.

Posted 04/26/2016 08:43AM
On Monday, the Castilleja English Department celebrated Shakespeare's 452nd birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death by facilitating fun and festive student-led activities on the Circle. 

Students took a whack at a 'Poor Yorick' pinata, tried to pin the lips on Kenneth Branagh, and filled out Shakespeare mad libs.  Sonnets were celebrated through both writing and reading contests. Throughout break, several upper school students in costumes and party hats wearing colorful signs encouraged their peers to pick a famous Shakespearean insult and hurl it at them.

Posted 04/21/2016 03:46PM

The 9th grade history classes are in a new unit on Global Realignments.  To help them gain context for the beginning of the twentieth century, C&C history classes took over Spieker Field, re-enacted the uncertain alliances that tumbled the world into war, endured the interminable stalemate that was trench warfare, and settled global power politics with a WWI role play.  They had flags, ammunition, borders to protect, and in the end, ideals and casualties to mourn.  

Posted 04/20/2016 04:00PM

For the past four years, Castilleja has had a very successful C-STEAM program in which students heard from adults working in the fields of science and technology. In response to student requests, this year a C-HUM program consisting of presentations by professionals working in humanities fields was created. Today, Upper School students learned from the experiences of writers, filmmakers, activists, judges, business owners, artists, cooks, pastors, firefighters, analysts, therapists, leaders of NGOs, FBI agents, and more. Most  speakers are Casti alums, and all have compelling stories to tell. 

As Bill Smoot noted in his email regarding C-HUM to students, "Even if you are a person strongly oriented toward either STEAM or the humanities, it is worth remembering that enlightenment in both science and the humanities is important for being a well-rounded person and an informed citizen of the 21st century C-STEAM day is important for humanities students and C-HUM day is important for science students. We are happy this year to provide both."

We are incredibly thankful to all of our guest speakers who took the time to mentor our students today and bravely share not only moments of success but also how they dealt with challenges and setbacks along the way. 

For more photos, visit Castilleja's Facebook page!


Posted 04/26/2016 10:44AM

On April 25th four students from the Girls Learn International (GLI) Ace Org and their advisor represented Castilleja at the annual Feminist Majority Foundation and MS. Magazine Luncheon. The girls listened to thoughtful speeches by various women leaders from around the nation. The students left truly impacted and empowered by one speaker in particular, Dr. Mender Mandefro. Dr. Mender Mandefro was the producer of the movie DIFRET, an award winning movie that emphasizes the need for an end for child brides in Ethiopia. In addition throughout the luncheon, the girls volunteered, and interacted with other students who lead Girls Learn International clubs in their respective high schools. Be on the look out for further GLI programming around the circle in 2016 - 2017.

Posted 04/11/2016 12:42PM
This week Castilleja hosts 6 students and 2 teachers from China's Shanghai No. 3 Girls School for cultural and educational exchange.  This week's visit is one of many between Castilleja and Shanghai No. 3 throughout the past decade.  
This past Saturday, April 9, the Shanghai No. 3 students attended the FIRST Robotics Competition at San Jose State University to watch our Gatorbotics team compete against top robotics students worldwide.  Over the coming week, both Casti girls and Shanghai No. 3 girls will share in one another's experiences in school and at home.

Posted 03/30/2016 11:13AM

A record 31 Castilleja students, representing the Netherlands, Finland, Costa Rica, Portugal, and Honduras attended Berkeley's Model United Nations conference in early March, joining over 1500 other high school students from around the world. Students wrote and debated resolutions on issues such as climate change and terrorism in UN committees such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Program. Senior Sarah Abramowitz participated in a historical committee that dealt with reign of Henry VIII. She, along with Junior Elyse Garreau and Freshman Lilly Levin, earned research awards for their position papers written before the conference. Juniors Jolie Kemp and Zannie Whittle earned a commendation (a recognition of their engagement in a very large committee) from their World Health Organization committee chairs.



Posted 03/23/2016 08:06AM
On Tuesday, the Castaruni ACE Org held events to raise awareness about Castilleja's partnership with Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School in Kenya. In addition to fundraising efforts including the sale of Me to We artisan jewelry and a Pizza My Heart restaurant night, a panel of past Kisaruni trip participants spoke about their experiences in Kenya.

Upcoming Events
    • Monday - May 2, 2016 AP Exams
    • Tuesday - May 3, 2016 AP Exams
    • Wednesday - May 4, 2016 AP Exams
    • Thursday - May 5, 2016 AP Exams
    • Friday - May 6, 2016 AP Exams

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