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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

Posted Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014 

This piece was originally delivered by Cassidy Jensen '14 as a speech at Castilleja's Founder's Day celebration, and later posted on the website of Stanford's Challenge Success program, which prepares students to become "resilient, successful, meaningful contributors for the 21st century."

On paper, Castilleja is not so different from other schools. There are other private schools, even all-girl schools, that can claim the same benefits and advantages that Casti can. At least, I used to think this was the case.

A few weeks ago, I discussed the practice of Senior Talks with a friend from a different school. Her school is much like Castilleja – small, and all girls – but located in a different state. They also have senior talks, where seniors speak about an important experience or idea that they want to convey to their peers, in a speech that is often moving and deeply personal. However, at my friend’s school, the best senior talks get voted on in a competition to win scholarship money. At Castilleja, the only prize you get for a senior talk or 8th grade speech is flowers – flowers and the comments of teachers and students alike who will tell you “congrats on your speech” and “great speech,” whether you have spoken to them before in your life or not.

This perfectly illustrates the Castilleja difference, which is not our students’ intelligence, not our achievements, not our clubs or sports teams, not even our amazing teachers, but the kindness that permeates all aspects of school life. When I say kindness, I don’t mean that ubiquitous descriptor offered to girls – “she’s so nice." Niceness is politeness, niceness is going through the motions of kindness. When I say kindness, I mean empathy and understanding. I mean that if a girl is found crying in a bathroom, she won’t be ignored, but hugged and reassured. If I miss a class, I can ask a classmate to send me the notes and she will do so without a second thought. These are little things, but important things.

Our teachers work incredibly hard in order to instill in Castilleja girls skills and knowledge that they need to be successful – the ability to consume information critically, to write and speak clearly, to analyze data and construct original solutions to problems. In short, they give us the tools to be great students and great citizens. But what they leave up to us is to be good human beings.

It can be hard to remember – in an age where personal, non-digital interaction is increasingly rare, and efficiency is increasingly important – that your value as a person can’t be defined by what you produce. You’re not your grades, your 100-meter time, your robotics trophies or audience applause – you are how you treat other people. As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

In a book Mr. Smoot’s Rebellion class is reading, a character goes without speaking for decades, because he feels that if no one is listening to him, he might as well not speak at all. As someone who identifies as an introvert, I fully understand that urge. But no one who has had an English class with me in the last few years would call me quiet. When I’m in a place where people listen and respond to what I’m saying, whether I’m talking at lunch, begging Upper Schoolers to submit to Caledonia – which you can still do, by the way – or in a class, I can be outspoken. This is because at Casti, people have learned how to listen, instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.

I hope we never lose that, our ability to listen to each other with undivided attention and sincerely try to understand an opposing point of view. I hope you younger students, even you girls way back there in the sunshine yellow ties, remember that the little things you do for others really make a difference – not only for the people who you help, but for your own growth and sense of self-worth. Reason is all well and good, but compassion – and, of course, conscience, courage, charity, courtesy, and character – are even more essential. Seniors, take this with you when you go to college. Be kind, be smart and be important – but mostly the first one. How you are matters as much as what you do.

Divisiveness and polarization are so common today in politics and religion, and there are tremendous challenges facing our generation as we go about fixing the earth and keeping the peace. Basically, we need as many empathetic and capable women as we can get.

As seniors, we have tried to do all we can to create a culture of compassion. Now it’s up to the rest of you – juniors, underclassmen and the middle school – to make Castilleja known as a place where people are not just good at what they do, but good to each other.

Cassidy Jensen graduated from Castilleja on June 7 and will be attending Georgetown University in the Fall.

Posted Monday, Jun 9, 2014 

At a reception held on June 5, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) presented April C. '15, Jolena M. '15,  Wings Y. '15, Claire H. '16, and Emily B. '16 with the 1st place award in the inaugural House Student App Challenge for their iPhone app, Trext, which aims to improve public safety by providing automatic location check-in for teens and parents. Trext was a Computer Science II ("Making Mobile Apps") final project and a Technovation Challenge Club project. It will be on display in the U.S. Capitol next year and be featured on the U.S. House of Representatives website.

Established by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, this competition is part of a nationwide event that invites high school students from all participating congressional districts to compete by creating and exhibiting their app for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice. It is designed to promote innovation and engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education fields. Apps are judged based on the following criteria: quality of the idea, including creativity and originality; implementation of the idea, including user experience and design; and demonstrated excellence of coding and programming skills.

Posted Monday, Jun 2, 2014 

On Friday, June 6, the Cypress String Quartet offered a master class and worked with the Upper School String Quartet. This master class was open to the entire Castilleja community and took place in the music room (lower level of the Gunn Family Administration Center). This was a fantastic opportunity for music enthusiasts to hear a professional string quartet play and listen to what they had to say about learning music. Attendees also united to support student musicians Rosie C. '16, Elyse G. '17, Greer H. '17, and Simran S. '18. In a thank-you note to the quartet Greer wrote, "Your advice and suggestions will really help us out in our performances, and I will take them forwards into my ensemble life. Your quartet is very inspiring, and your teamwork is admirable to anyone doing groupwork! I am so lucky to have been in this lesson."

Known for its elegant performances, the Cypress String Quartet (Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello) has been praised by Gramophone for its “artistry of uncommon insight and cohesion,” and its sound has been called “beautifully proportioned and powerful” by The Washington Post. The Cypress Quartet was formed in San Francisco in 1996, and maintains a busy national and international tour schedule, making appearances on concert series and in venues including Cal Performances, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, Stanford Lively Arts, the Krannert Center, and the Ravinia Festival. Their collaborators include artists such as Leon Fleisher, Jon Nakamatsu, Awadagin Pratt, Gary Hoffman, Atar Arad, and James Dunham.

The Cypress Quartet members received degrees from many of the world’s finest conservatories before coming together as a group. These include Juilliard School, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Royal College of Music (London), the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After a residency at the Banff Centre and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies of the Aspen Music Festival, the Quartet coached intensively in London with the Amadeus Quartet. Cypress Quartet members play exceptional instruments including violins by Antonio Stradivarius (1681) and Carlos Bergonzi (1733), a viola by Vittorio Bellarosa (1947), and a cello by Hieronymus Amati II (1701).

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Student Life
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 06/05/2015 08:42AM

Frequency 49, of which Castilleja Instrumental Music Director Dr. Leslie Hart is a member, will be presenting a master class on Saturday, June 6th at 11am in the music room for MUSE members and the Castilleja community. They will also rehearse with MUSE and play alongside students at graduation. Frequency 49 is a San Francisco Bay Area-based wind and piano chamber ensemble dedicated to broadening awareness of compelling woodwind repertoire new and true through performances of the highest artistry. Featuring flexible instrumentation, the group explores the interdependent relationship between color and sound unique to this combination of instruments.

Posted 06/03/2015 04:50PM

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon the Class of 2015 gathered at the Lockey Alumnae House for a lunch to celebrate their induction as Castilleja alumnae. Recognizing that graduation on Saturday isn't "goodbye," but rather the beginning of another phase of their relationship with the school, girls shared contact information and promised to keep in touch. Many members of the Class of 2014 returned to campus to welcome their friends to the alumnae community. In addition, four Castilleja employees were inducted as "honorary alums" to celebrate their decade of service to the school: Shannon De La Cruz (Office/Purchasing Manager), Shana Nistler (Spanish Faculty), Maggie Ely Pringle '71 (Alumnae Relations), and Jon Rockman (Science Faculty). Congratulations, everyone, and welcome to the alumnae community!

Posted 06/02/2015 04:06PM

Pooja G. '16 has been volunteering at Rosener House Adult Day Center since she was in eighth grade. Rosener House, a program of Peninsula Volunteers, Inc., is a model adult day program that provides therapeutic activities to older adults facing challenges and limitations including Alzheimer’s and other dementia, early memory loss, stroke, as well as other chronic conditions. What began as a parental directive became a passion for Pooja, who started a club at Castilleja specifically to benefit the Rosener House participants. On any given Wednesday, students can be found helping serve lunch, working on art projects, and in general helping the participants enjoy their Rosener House experience.

Click here to read about Pooja's experience in her own words!

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 06/04/2015 12:49PM

On the 2015 National Spanish Exam, Castilleja students from 8th -12th grades earned a total of 11 gold, 16 silver, and 15 bronze medals, along with 33 honorable mentions. "Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious," said Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, National Director of the Exams, "because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States" with over 154,000 students participating in 2015. ¡Buen trabajo!

Posted 06/03/2015 08:18AM

Last week, five teams pitched their original iPhone apps for a panel of high-tech industry experts at the second annual Castilleja Mobile Apps Pitch Expo. The Expo is the final project presentation for Computer Science II students, who spent spring semester learning how to design and implement mobile applications for the iPhone using Xcode 6, iOS 8, and Apple's newly released language, Swift. The panel, which included Jennifer Fonstad, Diaz Nesamoney, Steven Rosston, and Fred Wang, heard students describe and demo their apps, and then followed up with questions and feedback. The apps presented included TimeTracker (which helps users manage their time by tracking and analyzing time spent on daily tasks), the Casti Menu App (which provides instant access to the lunch menu and the ability to submit feedback on menu items), SpotFinder (which saves time and helps control traffic flow around Castilleja by tracking the availability of parking spaces), ShowerTunes (which helps users reduce their consumption of water while "rocking out" in the shower), and MyProctor (which recreates authentic SAT proctoring conditions without the high cost of private tutoring services).

Posted 06/02/2015 08:57AM

To culminate an interdisciplinary collaboration between the 9th grade core arts and English classes, on Friday students participated in a grade-wide project showcase. Each girl or group chose a Core Arts focus and used it to convey a central theme of their second semester English discussions. Their creations included everything from music compositions, to dance performances, to visual art (both photography and collage), to even a short film. Through their creative work they explored themes as diverse as the disparity between gender roles, the insidious power of social media to decrease situational awareness, and the tension between passion and reason. Valerie Ross, an English teacher involved in bringing the collaboration to life, remarked, "This is a new project for the ninth grade, and it has been a wonderfully rewarding opportunity for the students to creatively express the deep analytical thinking they have been exploring throughout the semester."

--Photo by Jordan Y. '18

Posted 06/02/2015 04:06PM

Pooja G. '16 has been volunteering at Rosener House Adult Day Center since she was in eighth grade. Rosener House, a program of Peninsula Volunteers, Inc., is a model adult day program that provides therapeutic activities to older adults facing challenges and limitations including Alzheimer’s and other dementia, early memory loss, stroke, as well as other chronic conditions. What began as a parental directive became a passion for Pooja, who started a club at Castilleja specifically to benefit the Rosener House participants. On any given Wednesday, students can be found helping serve lunch, working on art projects, and in general helping the participants enjoy their Rosener House experience.

Click here to read about Pooja's experience in her own words!

Posted 05/28/2015 10:02AM

The Dance Production Workshop (DPW) class and the Ada's Cafe ACE org visited their friends at Ada's Cafe this week, continuing their collaboration from this year's Arts with a Heart production! Students enjoyed a wonderful lunch and presented Founder (and Castilleja alumnae association parent) Kathleen Hughes with nametags for the Ada's Associates. DPW designed and created the nametags in the Bourn Lab knowing that it is important to give everyone a name to go with a face in our community. Georgi Shea, the Visual and Performing Arts teacher leading DPW, commented, "It was amazing to see how the students' hard work through Arts with a Heart and the ACE Center can make a difference!"

Posted 05/20/2015 05:22PM

On Wednesday the Advanced Topics Physics classes transformed the Middle School Lower Level into a "mini-Exploratorium." The students built exhibits that demonstrated a fundamental science concept, either of their own design or based on an Exploratorium exhibit or activity. Concepts included mechanics, color and vision, sound and hearing, electricity and magnetism, and the ever-popular crowd-pleaser: giant bubbles! Each station delighted guests (including a group of twenty elementary schoolers from Building Futures Now), and the seniors taught all their visitors a thing or two about how scientific principles affect the world around us.

Posted 05/15/2015 04:45PM

For the final STEMx meeting of the year, Lea S. '16, Rashi B. '18, Sydney L. '18, and Reilly A. '18 shared an "unplugged" coding activity (to introduce computer science concepts without the use of computers) with elementary school-aged girls participating in Girls to Women. Girls to Women is a program based in East Palo Alto that partners with families, other local youth development agencies, and local schools to provide a nurturing environment supporting under-resourced school-aged girls' healthy development. STEMx, which is an ACE org, introduced hands-on activities in science and computer science to Girls to Women participants several times this year, sustaining an arrangement that was established in 2013 by what was then called the Programming Club.

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