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Posted Friday, Aug 1, 2014 

On Friday afternoon Castilleja's Peninsula Bridge Program concluded with a series of spectacular student performances and a fun-filled reception. Peninsula Bridge is a summer enrichment experience for academically motivated rising fifth-grade girls from under-resourced communities. The girls connect and enjoy learning through language arts, math, art, science, and other activities, including gardening, yoga, dance, field trips, and much more.

As assistants and leaders, Castilleja students design curriculum, engage in program management and development, and mentor the Bridge students. With a variety of leadership opportunities that draw on their personal interests and reinforce their academic learning, Middle and Upper School students help to bring science, art, math, poetry, health, sports, cooking, and myriad other topics to life for the fifth graders. As they cultivate the inquisitive curiosity and budding confidence of the youth around them, Castilleja participants develop leadership skills, gain greater confidence, and experience the lasting rewards of personally meaningful, socially significant service.

Some of the highlights? Nancy L. '17, one of the Casti student leaders, says, "I remember the girls telling us how much they loved spending time with the TAs and playing fun games such as cat and mouse, sharks and minnows, and mafia. The field trips were also one of the highlights, because they gave the Bridge girls the opportunity to explore new environments, such as the beach, a farm, and museums. Of course, they also really enjoyed the lunch. :) In reality, the students loved all of the Peninsula Bridge Program. They received a prompt that asked them to list ten of their favorite things about Bridge, and they covered so much."

And the Bridge girls aren't the only ones who enjoyed the Program: "The TAs definitely loved writing back to the students' journal prompts, and getting to know them. We also loved teaching them new things and showing them different perspectives on many subjects. My favorite part of Bridge was talking to the girls about how their week was going, and learning new things about them. I'll never forget the End of Summer Celebration. It was beautiful, but bittersweet because that's when I felt like I was saying goodbye to such a wonderful moment. I do hope to continue to communicate with the girls."

Watch the slideshow below to get a glimpse of their summer!

Posted Friday, Jul 25, 2014 

Castilleja's Director of Technology, Gabe Lucas, and Academic Technology Support Specialist, Rachel Tennant, presented at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2014 Conference in Atlanta, an education technology conference that had 12,000+ attendees. In a session titled "Flexible Learning and Responsible Oversight with a Hybrid 1:1 iPad Model," they described how Castilleja manages our iPad pilot from grade to grade. The program -- and their presentation -- center on the ideas that a 1:1 iPad program can be scalable from 100 to 1000 (and more) devices and customizable to meet the developmental needs of each grade from K-12. To learn more check out the outline of their conference presentation, or read Castilleja Systems Manager Cameron Johnson's blog here.

Posted Monday, Jul 21, 2014 

On June 15, Sanah Imran '14, Katherine Hobbs '13, and eight other students presented to a group of parents, physicians, and CEOs about their experiences as the first class of Lefteroff Interns at the Fogarty Institute for Innovation. The presentation, title "Rules of the Road: Navigating the Fogarty Institute," highlighted eight key lessons the interns learned during their internship, such as "always bring a pen and paper" and "embrace ugly ducklings."

Each intern spent time working on group and individual projects with one or more of the start-ups in the Institute, heard from influential guest speakers and CEOs, and spent time learning with physicians from El Camino Hospital.

Katherine researched the demographics and regulatory environment in Indonesia for InPress and Prescient devices, and also edited content for Materna Medical's website. Sanah, only a week deep in her internship, has also helped design and edit Materna's website, and is planning to help build new devices for clinical trials.

The Fogarty Institute for Innovation promotes medical innovation by providing support to promising innovators and researchers as they transform their creative ideas into practical solutions to improve patient care. They offer mentorship at every step of the process, coordinating access to intellectual, physical, and financial resources to propel medical concepts from initiation to application. For more information, please visit their website.

Posted Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 

On Casti's campus athletes are taking advantage of the summer to brush up on technique. Castilleja's Varsity coaches are conducting summer clinics for girls. Volleyball Head Coach Jac Heler just completed four days of clinics for both Middle School and Upper School athletes. Softball Coach Robert Burley will run a Middle School clinic August 11th through 15th. For more information click here or contact Athletic Director Mary Jo Pruitt.

Posted Monday, Jul 14, 2014 

In Jill Helms' laboratory at Stanford University — past a glass case filled with skulls of mice, ducks and a two-headed pig and shelves stocked with glass beakers and rows of chemicals — a group of high school interns are gathered around a lab work space feverishly working on a set of experiments.

As one intern gently applies a piece of transparent film onto a slide of a mouse tibia sliced as thin as tissue paper, recent Castilleja graduate Stephanie Flamen consults with research assistant Andrew Smith regarding the section of human DNA sequence displayed on her laptop. The sequence has not mutated the way she had hoped.

In her third summer working at the lab, Flamen is helping a group of researchers who are studying the stem cells of hair follicles and how certain proteins in the cells can be stimulated to trigger hair growth and potentially treat baldness, aid cancer patients who have lost hair or help individuals with alopecia.

"When you're bald you are still harboring stem cells, but the hair is in its resting phase. They've lost some signaling that would control the hair to keep growing," Flamen says as she excitedly explained her team's work. "We found a certain protein that could (give signals to cells) and could make hair grow longer, which was so cool because we're like, 'Oh, my God, we found the solution to Rogaine' — or a better version of it."

Flamen is just one of the many young students passionate about science who choose to spend their summers doing internships working directly with graduate and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty who lead publicly and privately funded science research at institutions like Stanford University, University of California, Santa Cruz, Stanford School of Medicine, NASA Ames and Lockheed Martin.

Far from washing glassware and fetching coffee, interns are given the responsibility to directly help with the research, involved in tasks like pipetting bimolecular samples, using high-tech lab equipment, analyzing vast amounts of data and programming. Oftentimes the work is later included in the research's findings in scientific papers.

In their 30 to 40 hours per week for eight to 10 weeks, interns may want to explore a future career; others are curious about the real-world applications of the science they study in school. Some seek job experience and a boost for college applications or the chance to enter their work in national competitions like the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology or the Intel Science Talent Search.

And many of their mentors say the internships not only directly provide more manpower towards their research but give them a chance to inspire the next generation to pursue science and show them that research is far from the stereotype of the "old guy sitting behind a microscope all day."

Click here to read the full article

--By Veronica Weber / Palo Alto Weekly (July 11, 2014)

Posted Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014 

In the July issue of Marie Claire, Casti alumna Emily White '96 is profiled as the Chief Operating Officer at Snapchat -- the wildly popular photo-messaging app that turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook. With Snapchat touted as a company which is "poised to join the ranks of Silicon Valley's most influential," Emily shares how her time at Castilleja helped propel her to her current role:

I was born in Palo Alto, California, and went to Castilleja, an all-girls school there. It was a really formative experience - there were uniforms, small classes, and no boys. It helped me understand that the ideas in your head, and making full use of them, are far more important than how you look or where the boys are.

Click here to read the full article by Yael Kohen!

Posted Monday, Jun 30, 2014 

SSATB, the national organization supporting professional admission practices in independent schools, recently put together a Think Tank on Assessment. The group of forward-thinking admission officers examined how assessment practices will need to change in the future to ensure that the admission processes in independent schools can keep pace with changes in student learning.

The Think Tank just issued their 2014 Think Tank Report, and Castilleja's Partnership for 21st Century Assessment (supported by a grant from The Edward E. Ford Foundation) is profiled on page 20 as a successful foray into the development of new assessment tools. Congratulations to Karen Strobel for her comprehensive leadership of this project, and thank you to The Edward E. Ford Foundation for supporting our work on assessment!

Posted Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 

On Friday afternoon, in the library of Castilleja School in Palo Alto, 52 students sat in their assigned groups and snacked on cookies. As Angi Chau called them up, each team presented the project they had prepared over the past two days. One group explained its interactive quiz about characters in A Jar of Dreams by Yoshiko Ushida, which used LED lights to highlight correct answers. Another group demonstrated how its name tags would help strangers quickly engage and discover common interests, using timed lights and a rotating display.

Angi Chau, Director of Castilleja’s Bourn Idea Lab, is no typical teacher, and neither are her students. The eager presenters consisted of educators and administrators from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, representing independent, charter, and public schools in the Bay Area, Southern California, Washington State, Massachusetts, New York, and Hawaii. They had come for Design, Do, Discover 2014, a two-day workshop on implementing hands-on learning in the classroom, co-presented by Castilleja School and Marymount School, two private all-girls schools.

Click here to read the full article by Charley Locke on the edSurge site!

Posted Friday, Jun 20, 2014 

On June 10th and 11th, Castilleja hosted CLICK (Creativity, Learning, Innovation, and Collaboration for K-12 Schools), an educational technology conference exploring creative uses of technology in teaching and learning. Teachers, librarians, and other education and technology professionals came from schools around the Bay Area to brainstorm and share ideas. The conference kicked off with an "IMPROV meets TECH" workshop: participants learned how a "Yes, and..." approach helps cultivate an innovative mentality when embracing new technologies. Later, sessions included tips on everything from incorporating Scratch programming into the academic curriculum, to enhancing students' online research skills, to leveraging technology to support 21st-century global citizenship. The conference concluded with the opportunity for colleagues to create "birds of a feather" interest-based discussion groups to continue tackling challenges and sharing innovations throughout the upcoming year. Stay tuned for future opportunities to get involved with technology at Castilleja!

Posted Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 

With crimson bouquets clutched close to crisp white dresses, 61 seniors took the stage amidst the faculty, staff and junior class at Castilleja School's 107th commencement ceremony on Saturday, an occasion that lauded femininity and found inspiration in favorite books and movies.

After those gathered sang "America the Beautiful," Senior Class President and Castilleja Award Winner Smriti Pramanick opened the ceremony with Rudyard Kipling's "If--," a poem she modified at its end to laughter and applause as "Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and -- which is more -- you'll be a woman, my girl!"

Other speakers echoed this emphasis on femininity during the independent, Palo Alto all-girl school's ceremony. Valedictorian Paulette Wolak recounted a humorous anecdote in which the Castilleja girls learned that sexism still abounds in progressive Palo Alto, at least at a bike shop they visited for a senior seminar.

Shock, anger and amusement ensued, Wolak said, when the owner glossed over the changing of tires, his rationale being that women -- "damsels in distress" -- could just wait for a man at the side of the road should they ever encounter bike trouble.

Despite the desire to "chastise the bike shop owner for his insulting words," she said, the girls decided "This was not the appropriate time to 'lean in,'" citing one of Castilleja's favorite phrases from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Instead, they found humor in the situation and settled on displaying courtesy to their host while knowing their capabilities are more than he gave them credit for.

In her speech, Head of School Nanci Kauffman referenced the boldness, independence and authenticity of Katniss Everdeen, a teen female icon and protagonist of the fictional "The Hunger Games," saying, "She sounds an awful lot like a Casti grad!"

"Hunger Games" was one of several pop culture references made on Saturday, including the senior class' choral rendition of "You'll Be in My Heart," from Disney's "Tarzan," and a quote from Winnie the Pooh in Pramanick's speech.

"You can't stay in your corner of the forest, waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes," she said, quoting A.A. Milne's anthropomorphic bear while encouraging her fellow grads not to fear risk.

Healthy risk-taking was also touted in the message from guest speaker Emily White, COO of the popular photo-messaging app Snapchat. She encouraged grads to "take risks that make you excited."

"Never forget how it felt when you were younger," she said, mentioning the "spirit of freedom" and the "permission of youth" that can and should be carried into adulthood.

And every Castilleja senior did carry an air of youthful freedom and jubilation as she walked across the stage to collect her diploma, pausing only to shake hands with the faculty and grin for the flashing camera.

Each graduate also had a substantial cheering section, as bursts of applause and hollers erupted after each name. At the ceremony's close, the school hosted a reception for the families, seating each grad and their loved ones at a table adorned with a framed photograph of the graduate and a decorated graduation cap.

Arthur Zetes stood and cheered loudly for his granddaughter Hannah Mazonson when her name was called. He said he found the ceremony "terrific" but also would like to have heard a mention of the value of wisdom.

"Look for it. Get it. Keep it," he said.

In the coming years, he'll be able to remind his granddaughter of this lesson while she attends Dartmouth in Zete's home state of New Hampshire.

The graduation marked a special moment for Tibi McCann, mother to Cassidy McCann Jensen, and the family's three sets of grandparents.

"She's the first granddaughter to graduate from high school," McCann said tearily.

Mark Bernstein, father of grad Gaelin Sullivan Bernstein, remarked, "Every girl has a sense of purpose and character that are quite unique." He credited teachers who are "dedicated to challenging (students) to do better."

The theme of character was also highlighted Saturday at the school, whose "five C's" -- instilled within the girls throughout their time there -- are conscience, courtesy, character, courage and charity.

As Alina Brown, a Castilleja Award winner, said in her speech to her classmates, "My challenge to you, Class of 2014 ... is to search for people of character who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in."

Kauffman, too, touched on the challenges of making the right choices, a difficulty that can be eased by strong character. She encouraged the girls to ask themselves "What would Katniss do?" in tough situations.

"Guided by the principles of character you share with her," Kauffman said, "I am certain of one thing for sure: The odds will be ever in your favor!"

Originally Posted by Palo Alto Online June 8, 2014
Written by Lena Pressesky, Palo Alto Weekly

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Student Life
Posted 11/20/2015 02:30PM
Guests joined Castilleja students on campus for an afternoon of student speeches, performances, and classroom visits. Click through to view a slideshow of some key photos from today's events.  Official photographs taken of students and guests will be available soon! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Break!

Posted 11/16/2015 02:46PM
The Music Man follows fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he cons the people of River City, Iowa into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys' band he vows to organize - this despite the fact he doesn't know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when he falls for Marian the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by curtain's fall.

Come see the show December 4th and December 5th at 7:30pm or on December 6th at 2:00pm. 

Tickets are $10, register here!
Posted 11/13/2015 08:39AM
On their week-long trip to Washington DC the Class of 2020 had the honor of spending time with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker '77. She spoke to the girls about how her Castilleja education taught her to keep asking questions and continue learning. Sharing that she never could have imagined becoming the Secretary of Commerce while she was at Castilleja, she reminded the girls that they should aim high and be ready for anything.

Eighth graders have been in Washington DC all week! See photos from each of their busy days in the nation's capital here.

Posted 10/30/2015 03:32PM

Happy Halloween! Today students and teachers alike dressed up in creative and colorful costumes. At break we were entertained by a donut eating contest and some great performances! 


Posted 10/20/2015 09:57AM

Last Wednesday, the entire 6th grade class went to Bayfront Park for an opportunity to practice the map reading and compass skills they have recently acquired in science class.  The girls set out in small teams to navigate their way through the park using compasses, detailed topographic maps, and the collective wisdom of their team to find several points along the way.  In addition, each girl was tasked with leading her group at some point throughout the course. This activity was challenging and required spatial orientation, attention to detail, teamwork and courage.  It was a great real world opportunity to supplement the classroom learning and was considered a great success since the girls reported having so much fun doing something so difficult.

Posted 10/13/2015 11:33AM
This week, the History Department and the Library are collaborating to offer all 9th grade students the opportunity to deepen their research skills. Each student has selected one of five current events topics that mirror the themes and locations covered in the Culture & Civilization curriculum. Over the course of the week, we are teaching students how to ask more rigorous questions, use background reading to structure a search strategy, search more effectively, and evaluate sources. 

Through a variety of collaborative and independent tasks, students have room to experiment and develop confidence as they discover how powerful a thoughtful research process can be. Both the Vision and Voice project and later history assignments give them the chance to put these skills to work.
Posted 10/08/2015 10:13AM
6th graders had the chance to play around in the Bourn Lab last week during science class.  They spent two days learning programming with Arduino Boards - learning about inputs and outputs and some simple programming to connect the two.  After learning the basics, the girls were given two challenges: first, design a nightlight to take some sort of input from a sensor (light, motion, touch, sound, switch etc.) and connect that to an led light (or multiple) that would turn on.  Once that was completed, the next challenge was to design a light show using any of the inputs and outputs they had available (including multiple colors of lights, sound, and vibration motor).  The girls had a great time exploring the possibilities and there was lots of trial and error involved.  Once they found the perfect combination their faces lit up both literally and figuratively.

Posted 06/05/2015 04:46PM

Today family and friends gathered to promote 63 members of the Class of 2019 to high school. Maggie C., Sophia Y., Athena N., and Makee A. spoke on behalf of their classmates about friendship, kindness, lessons learned, and the importance of seizing opportunities as they present themselves. Incoming ASB President Paris W. '16 welcomed these rising freshmen to the Upper School, and gave them a glimpse of what high school has in store. Head of Middle School Anne Cameron closed the ceremony by praising the class's camaraderie and resilience, and encouraging the girls to approach their next adventures with the same zeal. Congratulations ladies!

Posted 11/03/2015 12:00AM
Members of the sophomore class recently teamed up to interview local non-profit leaders on their organizations' respective missions, challenges, and success stories as part of their grade-level "Community Activism" program.  The program formally launches sophomores into designing to effect change in the world. It emphasizes the first two steps in the design thinking process: empathize and define the problem.  As a result, the final product is an info-graphic that identifies community organizations’ self-articulated challenges and opportunities.  

Photo and quote from the Executive Director, Castilleja Alumna Sara Alexander, of local non-profit There With Care:

"Our current goal is to expand our reach and our connections"

From left to right: C. Westly ('18), S. Zoroufy ('18), Castilleja Alumna Sara Alexander, J. Yau ('18), and J. Yang ('18)


"Interviewing Community for Green Foothills was a valuable experience because we were able to practice interacting in a professional manner and because we got to learn about a non-profit organization up close and personal. It was enjoyable not only because we were out of the classroom, but also because we were able to hear answers to questions that we wrote ourselves."
 - Student Interviewer

"I am someone who sees the whole picture.  I can always see the other side.  For me, being an advocate for one slice of the whole focus doesn't resonate with me because I always feel like there is a whole broader set of goals, so to me its important to look at the whole picture, and I feel SPUR is very much about looking at the whole picture."

- Identified as a meaningful quote by student interviewers; Kristy Wang, SPUR


Posted 10/14/2015 07:01AM

On Saturday, October 10th, Music for the Community members Simran ’18, Meher ’20, Kareena ’20, Kaitlin ’18, and Rosie ’16 performed at Town and Country! We set up in front of Kara’s Cupcakes and played for all the lunchtime passersby, who enjoyed listening to Simran’s cello pieces, Kaitlin’s flute pieces, Rosie’s violin pieces, and Meher and Kareena’s violin-cello duet. Similar to our Stanford performance in February 2015, we put out a violin case for donations. We are donating all proceeds to the Music in the Schools Foundation, which provides a fundamental music education for under-resourced children in East Palo Alto. After 45 minutes of playing, we raised $101.25. Big thanks to Town and Country for letting us perform and brighten up the day for those who listened; it makes us so happy that people care about music funding in schools just as much as we do!

Learn more about Music in the Schools here.

See pictures from the event below:

 Learn more about the ACE Music for the Community Organization >>> HERE


Posted 10/07/2015 05:10PM
From left to right: Nicole G. (Grade 12), Tara T. (Grade 12), Kate W. (Grade 12), Jordan J. (Grade 11)


On Friday October 2, several members of the Upper School Green Team attended Know Tomorrow, a free event hosted by Students for a Sustainable Stanford in anticipation of the 2015 UN Climate Negotiations in Paris. Held at the White Plaza on Stanford Campus, Know Tomorrow featured speakers from various environmental organizations such as Communities for a Better Environment and Fossil Free Stanford, information booths run by local non profits and student groups, a performance by the University Marching Band, and more!

The keystone speaker of the evening was former Vice President Al Gore, who spoke passionately about the exponential growth of the environmental movement and the ways in which the current generation can combat climate change in both our local and global communities. Just being in the presence of so many passionate environmentalists was inspiring, and the Casti Green Team looks forward to using the insights and inspiration gained from the event to further advocate for climate action in the Casti community and beyond. To quote Mr.Gore, "Political will is a renewable resource."

Visit the Green Team website to learn more about the list of projects for 2015-16.
Posted 10/05/2015 08:49AM

HE NAMED ME MALALA is an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzai, who was wounded when Taliban gunmen opened fire on her and her friends’ school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

The then 15-year-old teenager, who had been targeted for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education in her region of Swat Valley in Pakistan, was shot in the head, sparking international media outrage.  An educational activist in Pakistan, Yousafzai has since emerged as a leading campaigner for the rights of children worldwide and in December 2014, became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. 

You can view the trailer for the film here. Many thanks to the Danner Family for providing this opportunity!

Please take note that transportation to and from campus will not be provided. This film is rated PG-13. Parents are welcome to accompany students to this event, just reserve an additional ticket!

Register HERE 

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