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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).

Posted Monday, Jun 2, 2014 

Members of music ensemble MUSE (grades 6-12) attended San Francisco Opera's production of the musical Show Boat on Friday evening to celebrate a year of making music together. Show Boat was composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein II and is based on a novel by Edna Ferber. Tony Award-winning actor Bill Irwin performed the role of Cap’n Andy Hawks and American bass Morris Robinson's performance of "Ol' Man River" reverberated throughout the entire War Memorial Opera House. If you are interested in joining MUSE next year watch for audition information in early fall or contact Dr. Hart.

Posted Thursday, May 29, 2014 

Theatre 2 presented a Character Mask demonstration in the Dance Studio, culminating in a performance of David Mamet's hilarious one-act The Duck Variations! Similar to last year's production of Jean Anouihl's Antigone set at Lockey House, this presentation represented the culmination of the class' work throughout the year and featured  talented actors from '15 and '16!

Posted Friday, May 23, 2014 

At the 8th Grade Stage and Screen eventing, audiences were treated to several short videos offered by our 8th grade MovieTime students, and the 8th grade One Act class presented Alice in Wonderland


Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2014 

On Tuesday night the  AP Art class held their portfolio reception in the Anita Seipp Gallery. The room was packed with families and alumnae. Here the students are shown in front of Hannah Mazonson's work.  The work in the exhibit shows a range of styles and media including Painting, Mixed Media, and Photography. The work will be up through class day. Please stop by and see the amazing work.



Posted Friday, May 16, 2014 

You are cordially invited to the Spring Music Concert on Thursday, May 22nd at 7:30pm in the Chapel Theater! The concert features students from the vocal and instrumental classes and a variety of chamber ensembles such as a newly formed flute quartet and a musical set of sisters. This also marks the final concert for several seniors! Another special treat is that MUSE has transformed into a jazz ensemble with several students taking their very first "solos" in front of an audience. Cookies and treats are available for purchase at intermission to support the Music for the Community Club. All 100 performers hope to see you there!

Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2014 

If you had wandered through the Middle School lobby recently, you might have noticed several dozen sixth graders waving arms and bobbing heads in front of their computers. No, it wasn't spring fever! It was a computer science and physical computing project in which students built electronic "musical instruments" in Scratch that were triggered by attached computer hardware such as a motion-detecting video camera or a PicoBoard. Students explored both computer science and musical notation as they created a program that could be used to play the song "Frère Jacques," either by gesturing in front of their laptop's built-in video camera or by moving the slider on the PicoBoard.

Posted Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 

Come see Finn and Sheinkin's hilarious hit Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, starring a host of talented Upper Schoolers as nervous, nerdy elementary students. A riotous look at the pressures of growing up (and spelling), Spelling Bee features quirky characters, joyous music, and on-stage participation for four lucky members of the audience! Spelling Bee is considered highly enjoyable for the whole family.

Only three performances -- Friday, April 25, at 7:30pm; Saturday, April 26, at 7:30pm; and Sunday, April 27, at 2pm. Get your tickets here!

The illustrious cast includes:

Rona Lisa Perretti – Kathleen K. '15
Vice Principal Panch – Sophie P. '16
Mitch Mahoney – Katja T. '16
Chip Tolentino -- Kenzie M. '17
Logainne Scwartzandgrubbenneire -- Yasmine R. '17
Leaf Coneybear -- Katerina P. '15
William Barfee -- Alanna M. '14
Marcy Park – Natalie B. '17
Olive Ostrovsky -- Megan P. '14
Ensemble – Maggie G. '17
Ensemble – Sara B. '17
Ensemble – Alli P. '17
Ensemble – Mitra A. '16
Ensemble – Valerie H. '17
Ensemble – Grace F. '17
Ensemble – Lexie K. '14
Ensemble – Scout D. '15

Come see them on stage!

Posted Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 

Award-winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang visited Castilleja and shared his work with Upper School art classes. He described his creative process, which includes collaborating with our current artist-in-residence, Lark Pien. Students were able to apply Gene's tips about the relationship between text and images in illustrated books. Next week Gene will visit with the 7th grade, who read his novel American Born Chinese in their English classes.

Posted Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 

Georgi Shea's Dance Production Workshop Team recently had the opportunity for an international Skype session with the Mariposa Foundation in the Dominican Republic. Students had a chance to chat with the Executive Director and Founder Patricia Suriel, as well as a handful of the Mariposa girls. After learning about each others' lives and having an impromptu dance party, the DPW Team was very excited to announce to Patricia and the girls how much Arts with a Heart raised this year, and will be sending to the Mariposa Foundation -- an impressive $27,788.77! Congratulations ladies!

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Student Life
Posted 07/17/2014 08:31AM

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 07/14/2014 11:25AM

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 07/03/2014 08:26AM

Upper School Spanish students recently travelled to Sevilla, Spain, to practice their Spanish and to immerse themselves in the traditional culture. The students lived in home stays, took language classes, and visited Córdoba, Granada, and Cádiz. Highlights of the trip included watching Spain participate in the World Cup in a public plaza, and witnessing the historic passing of the crown to Felipe VI. What a trip to remember, or as the girls would say, ¡un viaje para recordar!

Posted 06/18/2014 01:34PM

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

Academics
Posted 07/03/2014 08:26AM

Upper School Spanish students recently travelled to Sevilla, Spain, to practice their Spanish and to immerse themselves in the traditional culture. The students lived in home stays, took language classes, and visited Córdoba, Granada, and Cádiz. Highlights of the trip included watching Spain participate in the World Cup in a public plaza, and witnessing the historic passing of the crown to Felipe VI. What a trip to remember, or as the girls would say, ¡un viaje para recordar!

Posted 06/09/2014 12:17PM

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 05/30/2014 08:06AM

The first annual Castilleja Mobile Apps Pitch Expo took place on Friday, May 23. Computer Science II students presented ten videotaped and live pitches that morning. A panel of industry experts including Evan Goldberg, Talat Imran, Jeff Rothschild, and Ann Johnson provided feedback. Each pitch described how the app addressed some need or opportunity, and demonstrated a portion of the app's functionality. Congratulations to all CS2 students for their hard work and accomplishment this semester!

Posted 05/29/2014 08:27AM

On Wednesday the Advanced Topics Physics class transformed the Middle School Lower Level and the Sunken Patio into a "mini-Exploratorium." The students built exhibits that demonstrate a fundamental science concept, either of their own design or based on an Exploratorium exhibit or activity. Concepts included everything from the density of different gases to the surface tension required to create a bubble. Each station delighted guests, including a group of elementary schoolers from Brentwood School, and the seniors taught all their visitors a thing or two about how scientific principles affect the world around us.

Posted 07/21/2014 08:21AM

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

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

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

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

Posted 07/14/2014 11:25AM

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 05/15/2014 02:53PM

Castilleja Programming Club members Smriti P. '14, Mayuka S. '15, Anna V. '15, and Carly R. '14 enjoyed an afternoon of teaching computer science "unplugged" lessons for Girls to Women, a program that serves under-resourced elementary and early middle school-age girls and their families in East Palo Alto. CS Unplugged introduces students to computer science concepts such as binary numbers and graph coloring using games, puzzles, and other no-technology activities. Several times this semester, Programming Club members have also visited the Girls to Women center to teach Scratch programming and other logical thinking skills using laptops and iPads.

Posted 05/01/2014 01:02PM

While all sophomores developed social enterprise concepts during Global Week, four groups decided to make an intense commitment to prepare a pitch for seed money in front of a panel of external adjudicators. On April 4, the teams proposed the following ideas:

  • "STEMist Doll,"a BFF who sleeps in your bed but lives her life in a virtual world that teaches programming to girls (Lea S., Kavya T., and Katherine S.)
  • "BikeBright," a light that gathers its energy from the wheels of a bicycle donated for a child to ride to school (Molly L., Shivani N., and Heejin H.)
  • "Mezzo," an app designed to optimize food donations from restaurants and farmers' markets to shelters (Heejung C., Claire H., and Aimee A.)
  • "Casti-Jigriti Bridge," a program that raises funds via a fee-based app training program in the US to fund a parallel program in an under-resourced school in Jigriti, India (Julie P. and Nayanika K.)

Mezzo and STEMist were selected to advance to the final round on April 23 to describe their innovations in greater depth. Each team delivered a stellar presentation, and then entertained questions from the audience. A small group of judges experienced with "pitches" attended to give students feedback on their presentations, along with members of Castilleja's Leadership Team.

Congratulations to Mezzo, who received the seed money to launch their app! Stay tuned for news on how their social enterprise is progressing and for opportunities to get involved.

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