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Posted Friday, Jun 5, 2015 

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 Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015 

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 Friday, May 29, 2015 

On Tuesday night, the 8th grade Theatre class presented their one act play, The Last of the Dragons. This play was written by Castilleja Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Kristin Walter, and everything else was done by the students in this class: directing, stage management, casting, lighting, costumes, set production, and more. The audience was also treated to a sampler of the semester's pieces, including several short films by the Movie Time 8 class. Kudos to everyone for their work throughout the semester to make the arts shine!

Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015 

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 Tuesday, May 19, 2015 
The Visual and Performing Arts Department and the Anita Seipp Gallery welcomes you to the annual Advanced Placement art exhibition.  The work represents selections from the culminating portfolio concentrations of artists in the Advanced Placement classes in Drawing and Painting and Photography. An opening reception will be held in the gallery on Wednesday, May 20 from 6:30 to 7:30.  Refreshments will be served.  The show of over 100 artworks will be up through graduation.  
Posted Monday, May 18, 2015 

The Spring Concert is Thursday, May 21, at 7:30pm in the Chapel Theater. The concert will feature jazz, classical, show tunes, and pop tunes performed by the Middle School and Upper School music ensembles including Show Choir, Sound Sisters, MUSE, Jazz Combo, Flute Choir, and String Quartets. The concert is free and there will be refreshments and a raffle at intermission. The singers and musicians would love your support. See you there!

Posted Thursday, May 7, 2015 

Castilleja's Artist in Residence, composer Motoko Honda, has spent several weeks collaborating with girls in music classes, refining her own music compositions in the gallery, and creating music for the recent student production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Aside from providing private composition lessons to students throughout her residency, Ms. Honda has been working especially closely with students in the Middle School music composition elective and the 9th grade core arts music class, giving feedback and providing tips for composing. She has also been creating a new piece of music for the Upper School Choir and helping to both rehearse and guide students through her piece. To celebrate her time on campus, she provided two inspiring concerts for the Upper Schoolers and Middle Schoolers earlier this week.

 

Posted Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 

Professional jazz double bassist Josh Thurston-Milgrom and drummer Lilian Wu presented a workshop for 6th graders during Flex Block on Wednesday. Josh and Lilian introduced their instruments, played a variety of styles, discussed their role in jazz combos, and gave a hands-on workshop where students asked questions. A few lucky students even joined Josh in a tune! The workshop was presented to encourage girls to play bass and drums. If anyone is interested in learning these or other instruments, please contact Dr. Hart or Mr. Elgasseir.

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 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.

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Student Life
Posted 06/08/2015 09:20AM

Sixty-two young women in white dresses filed into a large white tent in the middle of Castilleja School's central lawn. A small orchestra gently played "Pomp and Circumstance" as each member of the Class of 2015 entered clutching a bouquet of red roses. A stack of red diplomas awaited them on the stage. So began Castilleja School's 108th commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 6.

Friends and family listened as speakers reflected on the education and values Castilleja, an all-girls private school serving grades 6-12, imparted on the graduates.

"With the support of teachers who taught us not what to think but how to think we've learned to observe the world with a critical eye and to question the things that may seem obvious," class valedictorian Jolena Ma said. "The Class of 2015 has formed an incredible and unbreakable bond. An all-encompassing unity and sense of inclusivity."

Friendship was the theme of the day. Keynote speaker Dr. Pam Silver, who graduated from Castilleja in 1970 and is now a professor of biochemistry and systems biology at Harvard Medical School, reflected on what her high school experience meant.

"It was also about friends for life. I'm sure that all of you can point to at least one person that you will remain friends with forever," Silver said in a lighthearted, often humorous speech.

She encouraged the graduates to engage with science as college students. She brought along two examples of her work, a "bionic leaf" that looked more like a glass jar, and a large block of what she described as "cheese."

"It does not look like a leaf but this jar is capable of taking sunlight and like a leaf using it to split water and make hydrogen. The hydrogen is then used by organisms which we've engineered that live in the jar and can make fuel, drugs, or food. This is cheap and has potential for use anywhere in the world and even outer space," she said to impressed murmurs.

The "cheese" served more as a punchline. "One of my graduate students teamed up with a smell artist to make cheese from different parts of their body. So they made toenail cheese, armpit cheese, hair cheese, you get the idea. And they all smell distinct. I can still remember the lovely smell of Christina's big toe cheese."

Silver offered straightforward advice to the graduates.

"When you arrive at a college, everyone seems like a genius. But that's how you seem to them as well. Do not be intimidated, you are all geniuses in your own way. Take risks. I know everyone tells you that, but when I look back at my own success it's because of the risks I took and when I look at the disappointments it's because of the risks I didn't take," she said.

"Don't be too careerist, you won't enjoy yourselves too much and it's only college for heaven's sake. And don't follow the herd. As we often say the beauty of university life is that there really are no rules. You make the rules. And most of all, the world is your oyster. Go invent the future."

Graduates Megan Colford and Chloe Sales were selected by faculty for the Castilleja Award, which goes to the student or students who best exemplify the quality of the "Five Cs" (conscience, courtesy, character, courage and charity).

Colford described her classmates as fearless, though now they all face a new and terrifying challenge of taking full control of their lives.

"Our fearlessness does not just come from our classmates, but from our parents who always reminded us to get back up when we're down and to never ever give up," she said. "I don't view this award as a nod to my own personal achievements and abilities, but rather to the environment and family that we as a class created that has allowed all of us to thrive."

"(Castilleja is a place) where everyone is kind and caring and big-hearted," reflected Sales. "That is family. Familiar and warm. And this is what being at Castilleja feels like. It feels like coming home. What matters is that we remember each other. Though my classmates will disperse far and wide we'll remember our roots as we move on."

Head of Castilleja School Nanci Kaufmann, who was a member of the Class of 1974, recounted her reunion with some of her classmates when she turned 50, and urged the students to maintain their connections with their classmates.

"Friendships help us to live better lives. Today you graduate from Castilleja with so many gifts and all of them will matter in the future. But the greatest gift of all is the one I almost forgot to cherish for myself. So don't wait until your 50th birthday to reunite with your Castilleja connections. Grab hold of each other and don't let go," she said.

After the graduates filed out of the tent, with red roses and diplomas in hand, they gathered with family and friends.

"It's been amazing," said graduate Wings Yeung, who was surrounded by her family beaming with pride. "I think I've really learned how to work in a group and form a community, make friends and keep them."

Yeung is going to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she hopes to study electrical engineering and computer science.

Margaret Lane, Megan Colford's mother and a teacher at Castilleja, had the great privilege to witness her daughter and her classmates grow up.

"Teaching her class was a dream. They're one of the brightest and most motivated classes I've had," she said. "I've really seen them grow up. But I have to say that one of the things I've been so grateful for is that my fellow parents have been very supportive. As a group the parents of this class have been very respectful of the teachers and supportive and critical when they needed to be. It's been a really great group of people."

--By Joshua Alvarez, Palo Alto Weekly
Originally Published June 7, 2015

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!

Academics
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 09:45AM

Castilleja celebrated a year of fantastic achievements with Class Day. With speakers acknowledging all students' impressive accomplishments both inside and beyond the classroom, a handful of students and employees also received special recognition for their exceptional engagement:

Distinguished Teaching Awards: Elaine Middleman and Julian Cortella
Distinguished Service Awards: Bertha ValdiviasHA and Stacey Kertsman
The Kathryn Aguirre Worth '79 Faculty Enrichment Grant: Heather Allen Pang '84HA
Paintbrush Dedications: Graham Toben and Josh Genauer

English Awards: Hannah K. '15 and Victoria P. '15
Elyce Melmon Creative Writing Award: Chloe S. '15
Janet Lewis Poetry Award: Caroline H. '15
Pure Mathematics Awards: Yael G. '15 and Wings Y. '15
Applied Mathematics Awards: Jolena M. '15 and Mayuka S. '15
Science Award: Anna V. '15
French Award: Chloe S. '15
Latin Award: Nicole M. '15
Chinese Awards: Hannah K. '15 and Natalie S. '15
Spanish Awards: Megan C. '15 and Kat P. '15
History-Social Science Awards: Alex Z. '15 and Sarah D. '15
Computer Science & Engineering Award: Austin J. '15
Technical Theatre Award: Kat P. '15
Theatre Award: Kathleen K. '15
Choral Music Award: Abby A. '15
Instrumental Music Awards: Hannah K. '15 and Natalie S. '15
Visual Arts Award: Clare T. '15

Women Learning Award: Juliet O. '16
Women Leading Award: Molly L. '16

Alice Lynn Armstrong-Winkel '52 Middle School Athlete of the Year Award: Anika A. '19
Cecilia Burchfiel Krogstad '64 Upper School Athlete of the Year Award: Paige V. '15
Scholar-Athlete Award: Anna Y. '15
John H. Roberts, III Memorial Sportsmanship Award: Anna V. '15

Alumnae Association Leadership Award: Kathleen K. '15
Middle School Citizenship Awards: Divya G. '21, Ananya R. '20, and Athena N. '19

Peggy Booth Award: Eva S. '18
Margarita Espinosa Award: Jordan J. '17
Spirit of '76 Award: Meg J. '16

Middle School Community Action Award: Sophie N. '19
Frances Cook Arrillaga Upper School Community Action Awards: Teni A. '15 and Alex Z. '15
Joan Z. Lonergan Beyond the Circle Awards: Lindsay R. '16, Julie P. '16, and Gwen C. '17

Salutatorian Award: Natalie S. '15
Valedictorian Award: Jolena M. '15
Castilleja Awards: Chloe S. '15 and Megan C. '15

Cum Laude Members from the Class of 2015: Abby A., Kris A., Yael G., Heidi K., Kriti L., Jolena M., Nicole M., Tammy Q., Natalie S., Chloe S., Mayuka S., and Wings Y.

At the end of the ceremony, yearbook leadership revealed this year's yearbook theme: a Casti cookbook! The afternoon concluded with girls swapping both signatures and stories as they reminisced about a fun-filled year.

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 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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