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Posted Monday, Feb 9, 2015 

Fifteen Castilleja students were among the regional award winners in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition announced on February 2. 

In the Art Division the following students were recognized: Gold Key: Anahita Afshari '15 (Photography) and Emma Glickman '16 (Photography); Silver Key: Jane Choi '15 (Painting); Honorable Mention: Karina Gunadi '15 (Painting), Hanna Knowles '15 (Drawing and Illustration), Tammy Qui '15 (Painting), Mimi Tran Zambetti '16 (Painting), Anna Yu '15 (Painting), and Jessica Zubizarreta '15 (Painting).

In the Writing Division the following students were recognized: Gold KeyHannah Knowles '15 (Writing Portfolio); Silver Key: Gwen Cusing '17 (Poetry), Katie Mishra '18 (Critical Essay), Noel Peng '17 (Poetry), and Margaret Zhang '17 (Poetry, Flash Fiction); Honorable Mention: Caroline Harris '15 (Poetry), Sofia Khu '18 (Personal Essay/Memior), Hannah Knowles '15 (Short Story), and Margaret Zhang '17 (Poetry, Flash Fiction).

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth, and provided opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated. Each year, increasing numbers of teens participate in the program, and become a part of our community–-young artists and writers, filmmakers and photographers, poets, and sculptors, along with countless educators who support and encourage the creative process. Students across America submitted 255,000 original works during our 2014 program year.

Congratulations to all the winners!


Posted Thursday, Feb 5, 2015 

Arts and Entertainment Reporter Elizabeth Schwyzer spent some time with Dance Production Workshop (DPW) students, Arts with a Heart (AwaH) cast members, and employees of Ada's Cafe as they prepared for their upcoming show, "HumanKIND."  

Read the full article here:

Posted Thursday, Feb 5, 2015 

Hannah Knowles '15 was recognized as a 2015 YoungArts Finalist (Writing/Short Story). Hannah was one of 23 students recognized in the Writing category and one of 170 Finalists nationwide selected from a pool of over 11,000 applications. As a Finalist, she was invited to participate in the 34th Annual National Young Arts Week in Miami, Florida where she spent a week taking master classes taught by internationally renowned artists including writers Jenji Kohan and Sam Lipsyte. She is also eligbile to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and honor that will be announced later this year.

Since 1981, the National YoungArts Foundation has nurtured the next generation of artists in the literary, performing, and visual arts. YoungArts awards recognize outstanding student achievement in the cinematic arts, dance, design arts, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing.

Posted Wednesday, Feb 4, 2015 

Senior Kriti L. was selected as one of 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search. The organization boasts, "The Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) is the nation's most prestigious pre-college science competition. Intel STS alumni have made extraordinary 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. Students are selected based upon their scientific research and also on their overall potential as future leaders of the scientific community. Intel STS recognizes 300 students as semifinalists each year and awards them and their schools $1,000 each. From that select pool, 40 finalists are then invited to Washington, DC in March to undergo final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for $1,012,500 in awards, including the three top awards of $150,000 each." You can read the official press release here.

Kriti's project, "A Novel Bacteria Strain and Bioreactor for Practical Arsenic Water Bioremediation," is about creating an inexpensive way to remove arsenic from water. She says, "Arsenic poisoning is a huge problem that affects nearly 137 million people worldwide, and causes liver, bladder, and kidney cancer. The current problem is that arsenic removal is very expensive; so in my research, I set out to create an inexpensive solution. I developed a new strain of bacteria that converts arsenite (a form of arsenic difficult to remove from water) to arsenate (a form of arsenic that's relatively easier to remove from water). I also built an inexpensive bioreactor that uses this strain of bacteria to clean arsenic-contaminated water. In the future, I'm looking forward to hopefully taking this bioreactor to developing countries and villages where arsenic water contamination is a problem. I've always been interested in science ever since I was little. I would always want to find out how things worked, and have always loved asking questions."

Congratulations Kriti, and good luck in the next round!


Posted Tuesday, Feb 3, 2015 
On Friday, January 30th, a group of Castilleja middle and high school students participated in an engaging design thinking and leadership workshop hosted in the ACE Center by four students at Stanford University, including one Castilleja alumna. Students engaged in improv games and a hands-on design thinking challenge to creatively improve their school community, which included storytelling, a brainstorm relay race, prototyping, and skits. Then, students reflected on their passions, skills, and the causes they care about, and brought these three areas together in writing their own personal "mission statements."
The workshop was a part of a new Stanford social entrepreneurship initiative entitled "Girls Driving for a Difference" -- four college women will drive an RV across the country this summer and coach even more of these workshops to empower middle school girls around America to become leaders of social change.
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!

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Student Life
Posted 05/18/2016 09:42AM

Last night at the Celebration of Sports Gala the Castilleja community gathered in the Upper Gym to celebrate our many student athletes in both the Middle and Upper Schools.  Each sport and team was recognized and head coaches honored players with awards such as "Breakout Player of the Year", "Best Sportsmanship", and "MVP". Student coaches, Middle School 4-sport athletes, and Upper School 3-sport athletes were recognized, and we heard from student speakers and keynote speaker Brenda Villa who is a four-time Olympian and Castilleja Head Water Polo Coach.

Director of Athletics, Mary Jo Pruitt, had the following to share: "Castilleja Athletics provides student athletes with opportunities to gain valuable leadership and team skills. We strive to give student athletes a fun and competitive atmosphere in which they can flourish. We have outstanding coaches who are committed and work hard to ensure that each individual gains valuable experience. Castilleja student athletes are incredible people who are a joy to watch compete on the court, field, pool, track, and course. Their hard-work and dedication is inspiring. Thank you to everyone who has supported our athletics program this year! Go Gators!"


Many students and families enjoyed our photo booth at the event. To see and download pictures from the photo booth, click here! To access photos, password: gators


Posted 05/09/2016 02:18PM

“Teaching isn’t just what I do,” Mrs. McKee shares with an audience full of her current and former students, colleagues, and friends. “Teaching is really who I am.” Castilleja legend, Mrs. McKee humbly embodies the joy of living one’s calling. Since 1960, Mrs. McKee has been intellectually transporting Casti girls around the world and across the ages. For her, “it is about the story…it is always about the story.” Mrs. McKee brought us the world’s story for nearly fifty years. On a warm Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto, the Castilleja community so beloved by Mrs. McKee came together to celebrate her decades of teaching, her deep impact on the lives of so many, her own vibrant story and its bittersweet growth beyond Bryant Street. Mrs. McKee’s retirement celebration included heartfelt speeches given by family; a variety of musical performances by students, colleagues, and friends; a fun game-show between the honored teacher and Head of School Nanci Kauffman; and a punchy countdown of our favorite “McKeeisms.”

 7) Ladies, just nod your heads and say yes.

6) You guys, you’re taking me to the dentist!

5) This, too, shall pass.

4) I feel like I’m at the dentist getting a root canal!

3) Oh, alas!

2) Altogether, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

1) Well duh, girls!

The room laughed along with a tongue-in-cheek fashion show of McKee’s varied wardrobe through the decades,and glowingly sang together “I’ll Be Seeing You” as the program came to a close. Of her final days teaching the happy girls of Castilleja, Mrs. McKee imparts words of gratitude to the class of 2016: “I will end this year and graduate with you,” she says to them. “It has been a great journey. Thank you.” Mrs. McKee has built her story on a foundation of devotion toward her students. This weekend, many of those students came together to honor that love with their own for a teacher who always put them first.

Named in her honor and reflective of her deep commitment to excellence in teaching, the endowed Peggy McKee History-Social Science Chair will support in perpetuity the salary and benefits of the History-Social Science Department Chair, a role that Peggy herself held for many years.  

We invite you to join us in establishing this landmark testament to one of Castilleja’s finest educators.  Make your gift here






Posted 05/05/2016 08:00AM

Students in Drawing and Painting practicing their life drawing skills with Mr. Smoot's dog, Artemis, as the model. Students also learned about the important role that dogs are playing in the mental and physical well being of humans.

Posted 05/02/2016 08:00AM

Two Castilleja teams, one Middle School and one Upper School, reached new heights in The Tech Challenge 2016: Taking Flight. An annual contest orchestrated by The Tech Museum in San Jose, this year teams were tasked with building a glider and launching it over a mountain and around a storm cell to drop a payload at a target.

The Middle School Castilleja team, comprised of 7th grade students, was led by Mukki '21. Since January, they have worked every Sunday afternoon, and they even made their own costumes.  The team demonstrated some true Casti teamwork!

Freshmen Olivia, Sophia, and Alyssa's Upper School team 'Technically Challenged' 
won two awards for Judges’ Choice Launcher Design and (for the second time in a row) the Outstanding Engineering Journal Award.

Learn more about the competition and catch a glimpse of the Upper School team at 1:15 in the video posted here.

Posted 05/23/2016 08:43AM

As part of their American Political System class, sophomores have participated in a “mock congress” (“The Castilleja Congress”) focused on improving aspects of Castilleja. The House of Representatives was comprised of two class sections acting as two committees (“Environment and Facility” and “Student Life”), while the Senate, also two sections, acted as the upper house two committees (“Campus and Environment” and “Curricular and Extracurricular”). The House committees drafted and debated legislation. 

Students volunteered to play certain leadership roles, such House Speaker, Majority or Minority Leader, Majority or Minority Whip, or Sergeant at Arms. The mock legislative process occurred across six weeks, using two Extended Opportunitiy Periods for the formal House and Senate sessions in the Chapel Theater during which debate and voting occurred: members offered speeches, proposed amendments, and conferred with each other.

This year’s Congress (the “Fourth Castilleja Congress”) passed three bills: HB1 proposes that sex education be added to Wellness curriculum in the Upper School, HB4 suggests that snacks provided by our food service no longer be individual packaging as a way of reducing waste, and HB6 requests that water fountains in Rhodes Hall be upgraded to allow for water bottles to be filled.

After the bills passed Congress, the House and Senate leadership met with President Kauffman last Wednesday to present and discuss the legislation. In this meeting, President Kauffman immediately signed HB4 and HB6 and later signed HB1 after discussing the proposal with the Fitness and Wellness Department.

Although the Casti Congress is only a class activity, it not only introduces students to how Congress functions (using Roberts’ Rules of Order and other formal procedures), but also gives sophomores an opportunity to design and craft real reforms for their school. Ultimately, students both experience how Congress works and have a significant impact on their school in the process.

Posted 05/19/2016 08:00AM

Lelia Glass, a PhD candidate from the Linguistics Department at Stanford, visited Castilleja and delivered presentations about Linguistics to all four sections of freshman English.  Ms. Glass was incredibly passionate about her subject and engaged the entire ninth grade in several exercises about the structure and study of language. Students have just finished reading Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, so they gained greater insight into the authentic African American dialect present in the novel and were especially intrigued by her discussion of African American language systems. They were also curious about the ways different language systems are connected by their historical roots and "vestigial" qualities and were fascinated to learn from Ms. Glass that English and Hindi are closely related under the "Indo-European" language family! 

Posted 05/17/2016 08:00AM

This year, thirteen Castilleja students were among the West Region at Large winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. 

In the art division, the following students were recognized:

Gold Key: Emma Glickman ‘16 (Photography); Gabrielle Occhipinti ‘16 (Photography); Grace Stevenson ‘17 (Photography); and Isabella Wang ‘17 (Painting)

 Silver Key: Emma Glickman ‘16 (Photography); Grace Stephenson ‘17 (Photography);  Mimi Tran-Zambetti ‘16 (Painting); and Isabella Wang ‘17 (Painting)

Honorable MentionTiffany Madruga ‘16 (Painting); Gabrielle Occhipinti ‘16 (Photography); Mimi Tran-Zambetti ‘16 (Painting); and Isabella Wang ‘17 (Drawing and Illustration).


In the writing division, the following students were recognized:

Gold KeySara Bell ‘17 (Poetry, Journalism); Riya Berry ‘18 (Critical Essay); and Noel Peng ‘17 (Poetry)

Silver KeyRiya Berry ‘18 (Humor); Gwen Cusing ‘17 (Poetry); Sho Sho Leigh Ho ‘19 (Personal Essay/Memoir, Short Story, Poetry); Katie Mishra ‘18 (Critical Essay); and Margaret Zhang ‘17 (Poetry, Journalism, Flash Fiction)

Honorable MentionSara Bell ‘17 (Personal Essay/Memoir, Poetry); Gwen Cusing ‘17 (Journalism); Sho Sho Leigh Ho ‘19 (Short Story, Poetry); Noel Peng ‘17 (Poetry); and Margaret Zhang ‘17 (Poetry, Personal Essay/Memoir).

Read more on the library website!

Posted 05/16/2016 04:16PM

On Monday, Students in the Biology and Economics of Cancer class presented their final projects to the Castilleja community. Modeled after Exploratorium and Tech Museum exhibits, these hands-on projects were designed to teach a concept or relay information.  There were three groups of students and each led a different interactive session relating to Cancer Biology. One group taught anatomy and physiology through a challenge wherein participants were charged with correctly identifying and placing vital organs (made of fabric vacuum sealed in plastic) into a human body outline (created on the laser cutter).  Another group focused on cancer treatment and led community members through a cancer diagnosis. Participants learned about treatments and statistics for the cancer they chose to learn more about through an interactive laser-cut and 3D printed model complete with programmed LED lights. Yet another group created a board game that shared information regarding cancer prevention including everyday actions that could eventually lead to or help fight against cancer. 

Posted 05/25/2016 08:00AM
Senior Seminars kicked off on Wednesday May 18th with personal finance workshops. Educators from the educational nonprofit Next Generation Personal Finance and economics teacher Ms. Hammer taught seniors about college budget management, credit scores, and banking. In the afternoon, Stanford gynecologist Dr. Sophia Yen spoke to seniors about contraception and the state-by-state laws concerning reproductive health. The day concluded with a discussion on leadership and community by Ms. Kauffman.
On Thursday May 19th, seniors listened to a panel of recent Castilleja Alumni give advice to college-bound seniors. Seniors also attended a self-defense workshop led by Andre Salvage to learn how to physically defend themselves from assault. Lastly, seniors were able to choose between electives on voter registration, personal health and wellness, and car mechanics (changing a tire). In the afternoon, seniors walked to lunches hosted at Castilleja faculty's houses both to learn life skills such as sewing and to enjoy time with their beloved teachers. Afterwards, seniors returned to campus to talk to other Castilleja faculty members about their life experiences and advice for high school graduates.
Seniors Seminars concluded with a photo-decorating activity with music and TBT hashtags in the cafeteria.

Posted 05/12/2016 08:00AM

On Tuesday afternoon, the kindergarten students from Brentwood Academy in East Palo Alto joined their Castilleja 7th grade "big" buddies for an afternoon spent singing, dancing, playing field games, touring the Castilleja campus, and saying goodbye to each other for the year. Now in our 4th year of partnership work with Brentwood Academy, we are starting to feel like this work is very meaningful for our 7th graders and for the Kindergarten community alike.  We start the year by prompting the 7th graders with a question, "how do I partner within my community?" and through the year our 7th grade students grow so much as they discover what this means to each of them individually.  It is wonderful to watch this relationship flourish and, as many of the Castilleja community can attest to, it is such a joy to see 100 kindergarten faces and their teachers enjoying our campus as much as we do. 

Like Castilleja School on Facebook!

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.

Upcoming Events
    • Wednesday - May 25, 2016 Middle School Field Day during MS FLEX Block 1:30 PM to 3:15 PM
    • Saturday - June 11, 2016 ACT Off Campus

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