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Posted Thursday, May 26, 2016 

Over the past week, the Castilleja community has come together in three different events celebrating the artistic endeavors of our students: the Spring Music Concert, the AP Art Show, and the 8th Grade Celebration of the Arts. 

At the Spring Concert, Middle and Upper School students performed songs demonstrating both vocal and instrumental talents. The AP Art Show gave our community a glimpse into the portfolios of some of Castilleja's most dedicated visual artists in the Upper School. At the 8th Grade Celebration of the Arts, we were treated to a evening variety show complete with performances from the Showchoir, a fashion show from Art, Fashion, and Print, screenings of films made in Movietime, and a special Theatre Production. 


Posted Thursday, May 5, 2016 

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 Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016 
On Monday, the Castilleja English Department celebrated Shakespeare's 452nd birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death by facilitating fun and festive student-led activities on the Circle. 

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

Posted Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 
A hilarious madcap romp based on the book The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical Lucky Stiff features over 20 Upper School students, an orchestra of eight, superb music direction by Ahmed Elgasseir, and wild choreography by MS Math Teacher Katie Robinson!

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

Buy Tickets HERE! 

Posted Tuesday, Mar 29, 2016 

Yesterday was Castilleja Library's Third Annual Edible Book Festival! We had a huge turnout and over seventy entries. There were games, a Horcrux Hunt, coloring stations, and of course, cake! Awards were given for the following categories:

Most original -- Areli H. '22 for "Mini Peach" (James and the Giant Peach), Ella L. '21 for "The Book Theft" (The Book Thief).

Best food eaten in a book -- Areli H. '22 for Green Eggs and Ham Cupcakes.

Healthiest -- Ms. Arford's Gardening Elective for The Secret Garden (made entirely of vegetables).

Funniest/punniest -- Christie W. '18 and Kaitlin R. '18 for "Around the World in 80 Lays".

Best simple idea -- Natalia C. '22 and Carolina P. '22 for "Breadcrumbs".

People’s choice -- Eveliena P. '22 for "Madeleine" made of madeleine cookies.

Most Shakespeare-licous -- Naira M. '19 for her Othello themed "Her Virtue is a Web".

Be sure to check Castilleja Library's website or Facebook page for pictures!


Posted Friday, Mar 25, 2016 
This weekend, Gatorbotics won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Oklahoma Regional Competition! Gatorbotics Team 1700 credits their accomplishment to "all our sponsors, mentors, parents, and supporters; we could not have done it without you!"

Hear more from the team's perspective at Gatorbotics Team 1700's facebook page which is linked here

Go Gators!

Posted Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016 
In the spirit of celebrating the Year of the Monkey, students in Castilleja's Chinese program hosted four arts and crafts stations on the Circle during lunch for the whole school to experience the festive atmosphere of the most important Chinese holiday. Students learned how to write calligraphy using writing brushes, make lanterns with red envelopes, cut paper arts and paint cherry blossom trees by blowing ink with straws.   

Posted Friday, Feb 12, 2016 

For two days this week, Phil Kaye, Sarah Kay, and Jamila Woods of Project VOICE joined our campus community. Beginning their visit with a memorable performance, they later broke down their work and process with small-group instructional workshops that challenged and engaged Castilleja students. Project VOICE demonstrated the power a storyteller or poet can have and revealed a couple key 'secrets' to success. In particular, Sarah, Phil, and Jamila encouraged Castilleja students to enjoy themselves while performing, not to fear experimentation, and to use sensory details in their work to connect with an audience, especially when describing abstract concepts.  Thank you, Project VOICE!

Posted Monday, Feb 1, 2016 

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday both Middle and Upper School students presented a vision of a brighter future where quality education is available to all. Castilleja performers paired with Building Futures Now students to artfully deliver facts and testimonials through speeches and a range of dance numbers evoked emotion, reflection, and hope. Congratulations to the Dance Production Workshop, Ms. Shea, Mr. Ochi, and all of our fabulous performers and their families for a fantastic show. 

Arts with a Heart (AwaH) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for a worthy cause by creating an entertaining show utilizing all art forms, including dance, drama, music, and art. We aim to foster engagement in both the local and global community, while being inclusive of the entire Castilleja School student body.

Arts with a Heart 2016 benefitted Building Futures Now in partnership with the Halford Young Women's Leadership Program. Building Futures Now is an after school academic enrichment program based in East Palo Alto for rising 4th graders through college bound students. It provides underserved students with year-round, individualized academic support and mentorship so that they can not only thrive in school, but also engage and give back to their community. Halford is a mentoring program for Castilleja sophomores through seniors which works in partnership with Building Futures Now. Castilleja's US students work with 4th and 5th grade girls every week and help them with their homework, or tackle key topics such as enhancing self-esteem, confronting body-image issues to help each girl develop skills for success and a stronger belief her own capacities. The group also meets one Saturday a month and partners with the Robotics team to plan fun Science Saturdays or engages in exciting off-campus field trips. 

Posted Thursday, Jan 21, 2016 

Skyworks, a painting show by artist Sukey Bryan is on view in the ANITA SEIPP GALLERY of the Ely Fine Arts building. On Feb 9 from 5 to 7 pm a closing reception will be held for Ms Bryan.  She led an art workshop for seniors during global week.  Here is an image of her painting on the circle with students that was on display during Climate Change week.


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Student Life
Posted 05/26/2016 08:00AM

Over the past week, the Castilleja community has come together in three different events celebrating the artistic endeavors of our students: the Spring Music Concert, the AP Art Show, and the 8th Grade Celebration of the Arts. 

At the Spring Concert, Middle and Upper School students performed songs demonstrating both vocal and instrumental talents. The AP Art Show gave our community a glimpse into the portfolios of some of Castilleja's most dedicated visual artists in the Upper School. At the 8th Grade Celebration of the Arts, we were treated to a evening variety show complete with performances from the Showchoir, a fashion show from Art, Fashion, and Print, screenings of films made in Movietime, and a special Theatre Production. 


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 05/23/2016 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
    • Saturday - June 11, 2016 ACT Off Campus

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