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Posted Tuesday, Apr 28, 2015 

To gain a better understanding of how Congress works, over the past three weeks Sophomores have participated in a mock congress focused on improving current issues in the Castilleja community.

The House was comprised of three class sections acting as three committees: Environment and Facility, Schedule and Calendar, and Upper School Curriculum and Electives. The House committees worked hard to draft legislation which they then debated within their committees. The bills that made it out of committee were voted on by the entire house.

The Senate then debated the bills that made it out of the House (five total) to determine which ones were viable and should be amended. The Senate struck down two of the bills and amended two others before moving into the final Senate session, observed by the House. In the last session Senators gave impassioned speeches for and against the proposed bills and amendments. Tensions were high as some attempted to filibuster against bills they vehemently opposed.

In the end, two bills along with their proposed amendments were passed by the Senate, so they will go to conference committee where members from both Houses will try to come to an agreement on one identical bill. If this happens, the bills will be put to vote in both Houses and if they pass they will be presented to President Kauffman for her signature. Women Learning, Women Leading!

Posted Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 

Last week Castilleja's Community Alliance for Identity and Expression (CAIE) Club led the school in participating in the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN's) national Day of Silence. The Day of Silence is a day of solidarity specifically for LGBTQ++ people -- the silence representing standing by those whose voices are silenced through bullying, oppression, fear, and lack of visibility. Being silent on this day shows support for all people who identify with the full range of genders and sexualities. Castilleja members showed their support by being silent, wearing a sticker, or eating around the Rainbow Flag. Teachers respected this day by wearing stickers, planning silent lessons, and respecting the students' choice to be silent. At the end of the day a reception was held as a celebration of breaking the silence. One of the day's organizers remarked, "The amount of support showed by all Castilleja community members was astounding. This marks a first step in the right direction toward accepting all people regardless of their identity."

Posted Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 

Under the guidance of English teacher Valerie Ross, Castilleja threw Shakespeare a bash befitting his 451st birthday. Girls dressed in Shakespearean costumes and partook in a variety of fun festivities. At break there were birthday cupcakes for all, as well as games (including the classic "Pin the Lips on Kenneth Branagh") and prizes. There was also a special performance of scenes from senior Kathleen K.'s upcoming production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Happy birthday Shakespeare!

Posted Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 

Now debuting on the Castilleja stage: A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare! Senior Kathleen K.'s hilarious production of the Bard's well-loved pastoral comedy runs Friday, April 24, at 6pm; Saturday, April 25, at 6pm; and Sunday, April 26, at 2:00 pm in Good Court. Starring a host of talented Upper School students in a beautiful venue, the play will also feature original music composed by Castilleja's Artist-in-Residence Motoko Honda. All ages are more than welcome to romp in the forest. To purchase tickets, click here.

Posted Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015 

Last Friday after school employees enjoyed experimenting with Castilleja's brand new print studio! Our print studio has two working printing presses and an array of moveable type and "printers cuts," pictorial components that add to a design. A group of Middle School students in a Monday afternoon elective have been the first to use the machines. Keep an eye out on campus Wednesday for Shakespearean couplets set in type by Middle School students decorating campus for the bard's birthday!

Posted Thursday, Apr 16, 2015 

Art for the Earth: Art 8 Fashion and Print students designed, created, and installed a 27-foot-long, 7-foot-high installation art project publicizing San Mateo's Earth Week community day. Working as a coordinated team for two weeks, 16 artists considered sustainability in art and the link between material and message, and wrestled with the logistics of large scale sculptural and visual designs. In their piece, a mountain of trash transforms into a multitude of fluttering butterflies adorning the background wall and ascending toward the sky. Carefully designed leaf-edged lettering complements the sculpture.

The art installation is next to Walgreens at 191 East 3rd Avenue, San Mateo. It will be on display through Thursday, April 30.

Posted Friday, Apr 3, 2015 

Folks traveling on the Bryant Street bike route are in for a treat. The 6th graders spent FLEX period Wednesday celebrating National Poetry Month by decorating a brightly colored tree by the Bryant Street bike bollards with poems for the Palo Alto community to enjoy. After hanging poems on the lower branches, they posted a sign inviting passersby to take a poem to read now, or to scan a QR code to read one later. No time to head down to the bike bollards? Pause to enjoy the poems sprinkled on doors and windows around campus!

Posted Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 
In recent years, Castilleja's Commencement speakers have included:
  • Carol Bogart -- Human Rights Activist
  • Carol Jenkins -- Television Newscaster
  • Mona Simpson -- Author
  • Emily White '96 -- Tech Executive and an Alum

This year, Castilleja is pleased to announce that once again it will host an alum -- this time from the world of science. Pam Silver '80 is one of the founders of the Systems Biology Lab at Harvard Medical School, and is the lab's first Director. She is building cell-based machines, designing novel therapeutics, and reengineering photosynthetic bacteria to produce hydrogen and other fuels. Among Pam's most recent innovations is an artificial extracellular matrix that could become a highly effective and safe tool for regenerating bone, muscle, and other tissues. Kriti L. '15 assisted with the research in Pam's lab this past summer.

We look forward to Pam's insights as an alum and as a scientist -- she is eager to share her wisdom with our graduating seniors!

Posted Friday, Mar 27, 2015 

This week Rivarly has taken campus by storm! The juniors and seniors have created a spectacular show of spirit and camaraderie. On Monday seniors showed their springtime joie de vivre by organizing a flashmob to celebrate the end of their uniform days. After busting out some dance moves -- and busting off their traditional garb -- they officially inaugurated their final quarter at Castilleja.

On Tuesday the juniors put on a "royal" display of class pride, decorating the campus with purple galore. There was even a throne for Head of School Nanci Kauffman and Head of Upper School Jim Pickett to celebrate their benevolent reign of the school. Check out the "Queen of Diamonds" playing card featuring Ms. Kauffman's portrait on her office window.

As if campus wasn't zooey enough, on Wednesday the seniors turned the Circle into a circus-- literally. With a theme of "Under the Big Red Top," the Class of 2015 kept the underclassmen "animals" at bay with the aid of faculty ringmasters, replete with three circus tents adorning the center of campus. The seniors even turned the second floor of the Arrillaga Family Campus Center into a miniature animal arena, including blow-up lions, zebras, monkeys, and giraffes.

Tonight is the renowned banquet hosted by the juniors to honor the seniors. This traditional end to Rivaly promises to be an event to remember, with the theme and decorations in the Dining Hall being disclosed only on a "need-to-know" basis in advance. Seniors are on pins and needles until the concept is revealed this evening!

Posted Thursday, Mar 26, 2015 

Come to the Edible Book Festival at the Espinosa Library next week! After school on Monday, March 30 (3:30-6:00pm), the whole Castilleja community is invited to drop by for literary games, treats, and the Edible Book Festival Competition. Everyone is invited to submit a creation made out of food and inspired by a book; everyone who comes to the event can vote on and then sample the delicious creations. See the library website for more information on the Festival and the We Won't Stop Club's book-inspired food drive. Don't delay -- RSVP to today!

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Posted 02/21/2017 08:00AM

Simone Seiver ’13, currently a senior at Yale University, has been named a Gates-Cambridge Scholar for 2017. 

Simone is among the 36 U.S. citizens who have been selected to be part of the 2017 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge.

These 36 individuals from 34 universities will join 54 scholars from other parts of the world who will be announced in early April. The prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in 2000 by a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge, the largest ever single donation to a university in the United Kingdom. Scholars are chosen for their outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential, and commitment to improving the lives of others, among other qualities.

Congratulations, Simone!

Read more here at Yale's news website 


Posted 02/15/2017 10:35AM

Castilleja's Mock Trial team, now in its second year, is seeded third entering this week's quarterfinals of the Santa Clara County Mock Trial Competition. Twenty-four teams entered the competition, and Castilleja finished the first four rounds as the 3-1 team with the highest winning percentage.  The prosecution will be back in action Thursday evening, looking for a conviction on two criminal counts: human trafficking and false imprisonment.  Senior co-captains Cate A. and Valerie H. founded the club with faculty advisor-attorney coach Ann Wagenhals.  Outside attorney coaches are Michelle Melen '01 and Rachel Thomas.

Update!: Mock Trial will be advancing to the county semifinals, competing over winter break.

Posted 02/01/2017 12:04PM


Today Castilleja celebrated an amazing group of student-athletes who will take their athletic talent to the collegiate level! Four student-athletes were celebrated today, and one (Natalie Tuck) signed early on November 9th. Amanda McMaster signed an official national letter of intent to compete at the Division I level, while Elizabeth, Elle, and Claire will compete at Division III universities next year. Check out all of their success at Castilleja below:

Amanda McMaster - Soccer - Rice University

2014-2015 - WBAL Co-MVP 

2015-2016 - 1st Team All-League

Position: Goalie, #1




Elizabeth Pang - Softball - Occidental College

2016 - Softball Sportsmanship Award

Played Tennis, Water Polo, and Basketball for Castilleja

Position: 1st base, #13



Elle Kass - Volleyball - Connecticut College

2015 - 1st Team All-League

2016 - 1st Team All-League

Position: Libero, #11




Claire Traum - Track and Field - Bowdoin College

2015 - Honorable Mention XC, 2nd Team All-League Track

2016 - 1st Team All-League Track, 1st Team All-League XC, State Individual Qualifier

Competes in the 400m, 800m, and Long Jump



GO GATORS!! For more photos of the event, click here. password: gators

Posted 01/30/2017 04:28PM

This past Friday, Castilleja students had the opportunity to work with professional musician Victoria Theodore. Victoria is an accomplished pianist, vocalist, songwriter, performer, and producer who has toured with Stevie Wonder and Beyoncé. In her workshop with Upper School choir, she performed and broke down songs for students, invited courageous participation, and offered sage advice that will serve students in and out of the music industry.

For pictures of Victoria workshopping with US Choir, click here. password: gators

Posted 02/17/2017 02:30PM

In 6th grade history class, students are in the midst of a immersive current events unit. After learning how to spot and evaluate fake news, Dr. Docter's classes participated in a fun challenge. To test their skills, 6th graders created content about the ancient world by reviewing their textbooks and writing "two truths and a lie". Afterwards, in a game format students had the opportunity to challenge classmates and put both their ancient history mettle and fake-news spotting skills to the test! 

Pictured, Ella H. '23 reads Junior Scholastic news magazine as part of the current events unit. 

Posted 02/10/2017 05:28PM

The 8th graders have been working on their National History Day projects since December. Each student or group picked a topic relating to the theme Stand Up in History and since then conducted research and created documentaries, papers, websites, exhibits, and even one performance. This week, on February 7th, they celebrated their amazing work and explored American History through the wide variety of projects. 

Students took presentation posters to the next level with careful attention to detail that brought history to life.


On National History Day, the Middle School Lobby was transformed into a museum of activism and courageous social movements throughout history.


Students had the opportunity to share their projects with Head of School, Nanci Kauffman. Ms. Kauffman didn't disappoint and had excellent questions and comments for the presenters.

Ms. Pang's classroom was transformed into a mini documentary film festival screening for student projects.

Here, two students deliver an excellent performance detailing the storied and turbulent history of LGBT rights in our country from Harvey Milk to Ellen Degeneres' receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom...and beyond.

Posted 02/06/2017 12:14PM

This weekend, Castilleja Middle School students participated in the MathCounts competition with 33 other schools at Google headquarters in Mountain View.  Congratulations to our MathCounts team!

Posted 01/10/2017 03:26PM

Last Friday we had even more to celebrate after the end of a successful Global Week. For a very special edition of Maker Fridays, Head of Middle School Anne CameronHA had the honor of cutting the ribbon for our new Middle School Tinkering Nook.

The creation of this new maker space on campus was made possible by a generous donation by Carol and John Giannandrea. Ms. Cameron wielded the giant ceremonial scissors, but the creation of the Nook was the result of hard work and vision from many employees around the Circle.

Mike Cummings, the Bourn Lab's Resident Engineer, led the efforts to put the Nook together with major support from Dan Chapman and everyone in maintenance, Ken Ochi, and folks from our Tech department. HUGE thanks to this team, who worked tirelessly for the weeks before winter break to put everything in place. Special thanks are also due to Angi Chau, Josée BandHA, Anne CameronHA, and Diego Fonstad for their support and close involvement in the process.  Emily Clark will be the main after-school instructor for the Nook and has been hard at work on developing projects and activities. 

Q&A with Angi Chau, Director of Bourn Idea Lab

What is it?

The Middle School Tinkering Nook is sort of a "mini Bourn Lab" stationed in the middle school, so that middle school students have even easier access to tinkering opportunities.

What kind of equipment does it feature?

Right now, we have two 3D printers—different models from the ones in the Bourn Lab because we are always looking to learn new things! There will also be a large set of littleBits for lots of fun tinkering activities with electronics. We are hoping to find out from our middle school students what they want to do in the Nook, so they can help us figure out what to stock there!

When can I use the Nook?!

 This week, the Nook will be open on Tuesday after school (3:15pm-4:30pm) as another "soft opening" for the space. Then moving forwards, it will be open two days a week after school—either Tues/Thurs or Wed/Thurs. We will send an email to announce the days once they are confirmed. 

 Since it's in the middle school, teachers will also be able to more easily integrate tinkering and making into their classes so you might see the Nook open during the school day too! 

Maker Fridays will continue to be held in the main Bourn Lab on Fridays (and Ms. Clark will be there for that too!). But there may be special occasions when we decide to move Maker Fridays to the Nook, so look out for that!




Posted 02/13/2017 11:28AM

Bravo to our student performers who delivered three energetic and touching performances this weekend for Arts with a Heart 2017. This year's theme was Head, Heart, Humanity: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness and the show (produced in partnership with ArtLifting) benefitted the CHC (Children's Health Council of Palo Alto).

Nicole O. '17 is a member of the Advanced Dance Production Workshop class and a senior executive producer for Arts with a Heart. "I am so grateful to have been a part of Arts with a Heart these past six years—first a performer and now a producer. I have learned countless skills, from costuming to teaching effective leadership skills, that I know will help me even beyond our production." she shares. "Every year we support an incredible cause, and this year's theme of erasing the stigma of mental health is a particularly important issue in our immediate community, the Palo Alto community and beyond. We're dedicated to erasing the stigma of mental health, and we hope we can use the power of art to change lives," Nicole continued.

Visual and Performing Arts faculty member and Arts with a Heart Director Georgianna Shea reflects "Nothing makes me feel more confident about the future than seeing 120 young women work selflessly for such an important reason. Through their efforts, these students are helping to a erase the stigma of mental illness in the Castilleja community, the Palo Alto community and the Global community."

Posted 01/09/2017 08:00AM

Our Global Investigators will be back on Castilleja's campus Wednesday after a week-plus of learning and leading in India, China, and the Dominican Republic. Here are some photo highlights from their experiences.


Global Investigator Trips 2017/ Dominican Republic

A day of cooking and partnership building with The Mariposa DR Foundation.

Photo by Mark Tuschman

Exploring the Dominican Republic's natural beauty.
Global Investigator Trips 2017/ China
Leading a fun arts and crafts lesson with schoolchildren.
Snapshot from a day of learning about biofuels and enjoying a delicious meal cooked with biogas.
Global Investigator Trips 2017/ India

Meeting and getting to know our Roshni partners.
Exploring New Dehli
Posted 01/06/2017 06:10PM

Global Week 2017: Migration ended with a grand finale today. The morning began with an engaging discussion with Human Rights Watch deputy program director, Tom Porteous, and European Union Ambassador in Mexico, Andrew Standley. Throughout the late morning and early afternoon students completed and presented their various grade level projects. The whole community gathered in the afternoon to share their projects and join in inspired celebration with At the Table with Dr. King.

For more photos, visit our Facebook Page!

Posted 01/05/2017 12:05PM

"The toughest border is the one between our heads, our hearts, and our hands"- Rev. Deborah Lee at Castilleja's "Migration Beyond the Law" Global Week panel discussion.

This morning's panel was moderated by Cécile Shea and also included the voices of Victoria Tinoco, Mamy Najurama and RefugePoint's Sasha Chanoff.

Reverend Deborah Lee is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who has worked at the intersection of faith and social justice for over 25 years. With his humanitarian organization RefugePoint, Sasha Chanoff finds lasting solutions for the world's most at risk refugees. Mamy Najurama works as a Behavioral Health Technician and escaped the Democratic Republic of Congo with her mother and six younger siblings with the help of Sasha Chanoff and Sheikha Ali. Victoria Tinoco is an Immigration Paralegal whose passion to help the undocumented community stems from her family's own journey. The panel was moderated by Cécile Shea, a former U.S. diplomat and current non-resident senior fellow in security and diplomacy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Upcoming Events
    • Friday - March 3, 2017 CAIE Pride Dance 8:00 PM to 10:00 PMDining Room, Loc: Dining Room, Please park with care
    • Saturday - March 11, 2017 SAT 7:30 AM to 1:30 PMOff Campus

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