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Posted Friday, Aug 28, 2015 
Meet Julia Odelowo, our new Director of Alumnae Engagement. She's already been very busy meeting as many Alumnae and students as possible--maybe you saw her hosting a delicious breakfast reception up on the balcony during Tie Ceremony--Or maybe you've received an invitation in the mail for Reunion Weekend 2015 (September 25th and 26th.) Regardless, there may be a few things you don't yet know about our new champion of all things Casti-Alumna...





1. Julia is a fourth generation educator - her great grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Sonoma County.

2. Her first "real" job was making cotton candy at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in her hometown.
3. Her dog, Scout, is named for one of her favorite novels, To Kill A Mockingbird.

4. Julia spent a year working at a school in rural Tanzania.
5. She has visited 49/50 states...and looks forward to hosting Castilleja alumnae gatherings in several this year!  Stay tuned for dates and locations.
Posted Monday, Jun 8, 2015 

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 Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015 

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 Thursday, May 21, 2015 

On Founder's Day alumna Pamela Hawley '87 came to campus for an inspiring keynote about her personal journey to the nonprofit sector and her current work as founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, a social entrepreneurship nonprofit organization whose vision is to "create a world where giving and volunteering is a natural part of everyday life."

Pamela's community service began at the age of 12, and has extended into the international realm. She has worked and volunteered in microfinance in remote villages of India, crisis relief for the El Salvador earthquake, digital divide training in the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and sustainable farming in the countryside of Guatemala.

While on campus she spoke about how her Castilleja education and transformative experiences abroad helped her find her passion for a life of service. She also gave listeners a window into her current work with UniversalGiving (an award-winning, web-based nonprofit allowing people to give and volunteer with the top-performing projects and volunteer opportunities across the world) and how her time around the Circle prepared her to thrive.

Wish you'd been at the talk? Watch the video recording here!

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

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

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

Posted Friday, Mar 13, 2015 

On Wednesday, March 11, Castilleja alumna Elizabeth Yin spoke to members of the Technovation Challenge teams. Elizabeth graduated from Castilleja in 2000, where she was an early advocate of and aficionada for technology: she participated in Gatorbotics, developed websites, and determined—with her Casti best friend—someday to develop their own company. She majored in Electrical Engineering in college, worked in the tech field in Japan, earned an MBA, worked for Google, and then reunited with Jennifer Hsieh '00 to found LaunchBit, which they just sold. While on campus Elizabeth advised the students on how to formulate a “pitch” that would elicit financial interest and support from investors, and she spoke candidly about some of the challenges she faced as a young woman in the male-dominated tech field.

Posted Monday, Dec 1, 2014 

In late November, Rachel Skokowski '11 was named as a 2015 Rhodes Scholar. As a student at Castilleja she epitomized our motto “Women Learning, Women Leading” and has continued her outstanding achievements in education and leadership since graduating.

Currently a senior at Princeton University majoring in French, she has a deep commitment to making the arts more relevant and accessible in the modern world. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, she has a superb academic record across the humanities and a commitment to forge strong connections between art museums and local communities, especially to expose underprivileged children to museums and to the beauty of art. She has curated or interned at the Morgan Library and Museum, the Princeton Art Museum and for the Santa Fe Arts Commission, and is a Behrman Undergraduate Fellow. She is also a three-season varsity cross country and varsity track athlete. Her career aspirations are to push the boundaries of art curation. Rachel will do the European Enlightenment Programme within the M.Phil. in Modern Languages at Oxford.  

For more abotu Rachel visit:

We look forward to seeing the impact she will continue to have on the world!

Posted Friday, Aug 15, 2014 

Campus has been a hub of activity all summer with two sessions of summer campers coming to Castilleja each day for singing, playing, and swimming. Laughter emanated from around the Circle as girls enjoyed sunshine and a sense of camaraderie. Whether the girls were experimenting with arts and crafts, playing hide-and-seek, or staging a carwash by Good Court, their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. Several of the counselors were Casti alumnae or long-time campers who are now on staff, leading the cheerful songs, fun classes, and big smiles. To celebrate their final day, families were invited to watch skits, see artwork, and celebrate the fun and learning that went on all summer. See you next year!

Posted Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 

On Saturday, August 16, at 7:30pm Casti alumna Sophie Delphis '06 will sing Poulenc's La Voix Humaine in San Francisco (Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento Street). This forty-minute, one-act opera was composed by Francis Poulenc in 1958 for a soprano and orchestra; the theme centers around a jilted woman's last phone conversation with her former lover, and is not to be missed! Tickets are $25, sold only at the door.

Posted Monday, Jul 21, 2014 

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.

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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 05/02/2016 08:00AM

Two Castilleja teams, one Middle School and one Upper School, reached new heights in The Tech Challenge 2016: Taking Flight. An annual contest orchestrated by The Tech Museum in San Jose, this year teams were tasked with building a glider and launching it over a mountain and around a storm cell to drop a payload at a target.

The Middle School Castilleja team, comprised of 7th grade students, was led by Mukki '21. Since January, they have worked every Sunday afternoon, and they even made their own costumes.  The team demonstrated some true Casti teamwork!

Freshmen Olivia, Sophia, and Alyssa's Upper School team 'Technically Challenged' 
won two awards for Judges’ Choice Launcher Design and (for the second time in a row) the Outstanding Engineering Journal Award.

Learn more about the competition and catch a glimpse of the Upper School team at 1:15 in the video posted here.

Posted 04/29/2016 04:31PM

Founder's Day 2016 was a day filled with profound speeches delivered with honesty and courage. The day commenced with a welcome breakfast at Lockey House for alumnae with Kendra Barkoff Lamy '98, our Alumna Keynote speaker. Kendra, former US Press Secretary to Vice President Biden, spoke about perserverance, resilience, and her career in DC to members of the Castilleja community in the Chapel Theater. 

At noon, Castilleja mothers and other special guests found their students on the Circle and sat at long tables dressed in class colors.  The girls, in dress whites, guided guests towards the buffet line as wind played with the decorative class banners around the Circle.  It was a brilliantly sunny day, and one senior exclaimed to another,  "You know its Founder's Day when you've got your squint on!" Students and guests brought a variety of hats and sunglasses and as both a solution to the sun and a fashion statement, some girls wore their napkins on their heads.

Nanci KauffmanHA delivered her opening remarks and shared the story not of Mary Lockey, our founder, but of Margarita Espinosa, Castilleja's second head. Ms. Kauffman spoke of Ms. Espinosa's resiliance, problem-solving, and tough-but-kind manner of interacting with students and staff. The community learned that Castilleja has Ms. Espinosa to thank for hiring beloved teacher Peggy McKeeHA, who is retiring this year.

After singing the Castilleja Song as a community, we heard from four graduating seniors, chosen by their class to speak and share their experience. Paris W., Leena A., Claire H., and Juliet O. delivered geniune and articulate speeches about their growth at Castilleja. Each girl had a unique theme central to her speech. These speeches about lifelong learning, forward progress, authenticity, and courage were interwoven with musical performances given by their peers.

Thanks to all of our amazing employees and volunteers whose hard work helped us celebrate Castilleja's rich history and bright future. 


Posted 04/26/2016 09:37AM

Last Friday was Upper School Trivia Night in the library! The competition was fierce between the three teams, The Ninja Turtles, The USSR and The Quizzards of Oz, as they tested their knowledge of books, grammar, math, science, live challneges, and the fan favorite, Disney and Pixar trivia. Ultimately, the USSR won a close victory with their amazing time through the maze the librarians created. 

Trivia Nights will return next year! 

Posted 05/04/2016 08:00AM

Aly '20, a student in Chinese III, won first place in the 41st CLTAC Mandarin Speech Contest. This speech competition, the largest of its kind in the United States, was sponsored by the Chinese Language Teachers Association of California. Each year the competition attracts over 500 students from elementary school level to college level to compete in San Francisco. Competing with other middle school students who have extensive experience of Mandarin, Aly wrote, memorized and delivered the speech reflecting on the inspirational experience of performing in musicals at Castilleja.


Posted 05/03/2016 08:00AM

This year, Middle School scientists commenced the annual Middle School Explo with a field trip to the Don Edwards Natural Wildlife Refuge. To prepare for the trip, interpretive specialist Julie Kahrnoff came to Castilleja to engage the middle school students with an interactive presentation about our local wetlands and watershed. After learning about the conservation issues relating to our local waterways, the Middle School science classes headed out to Don Edwards in Alviso where they had the opportunity to study a variety of tidal and brackish habitats. Students had the opportunity to work both within their own grade level and with students outside of their own class.  In addition to completing a service project and extended learning activity with others in their own grade level, they worked with multi-grade teams to collect data by testing water, soil, and air for variables such as pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity.  The hands-on experience enabled them to prepare for their own upcoming Explo projects by practicing the skills they have learned in class while exploring the connections between the many features of the park's ecosystem.

Photo 1: Multi-grade level groups perform scientific tests to determine the composition and state of the water in the bay.

Photo 2: Led by educators from the Nature Preserve, students learned about invasive plant species and took action to remove them using various gardening tools.

Photo 3: Each grade level had a discipline specific exploration that extended classroom learning. The 7th graders took a look at the many different kinds of creatures that live in the bay waters under the microscope.

Posted 04/28/2016 05:35PM

Bringing an Ancient Site Alive: 6th Graders Study Early Andean Civilization

6th graders from science and history classes joined forces for a week-long interdisciplinary archaeology experience. The students had an opportunity to build on their growing knowledge of archaeology as they took a virtual journey to the ancient Andean site of Chavín de Huantar in Perú. Students learned about the importance of context in interpretation of an archaeological site and how to determine the significance of various artifacts and features of the site.

Students were divided into archaeological teams that included specialists in three different areas: art, architecture, and geography.  They were charged with learning general information about the site in their teams, asking questions to drive their research, and then learning everything they could about their specialty area.  Then as artists, builders, and cartographers, each specialist group constructed a 3D replica of a piece of art, an architectural model, or a map of the surrounding area. These visual aides were used to supplement their teaching to their archaeological teams about their research.  The student archaeologists then shared knowledge about their specialties and put all their knowledge together to discuss the significance of various archaeological findings and construct evidence-based stories about the site.

Sarah Barnum (science 6) and Laura Docter (history 6) continue to collaborate designing interdisciplinary inquiry-based curriculum.  Barnum, who did her Master’s thesis research on the archaeological site of Chavín de Huantar, framed the five days with introductory and closing interactive presentations about her research to model for the girls how a real archaeologist does the work they were learning about and to help the girls answer some of the questions they still wondered about that did not get answered through their own research.

Posted 04/26/2016 08:43AM
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' pinata, 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 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.

Posted 03/30/2016 11:13AM

A record 31 Castilleja students, representing the Netherlands, Finland, Costa Rica, Portugal, and Honduras attended Berkeley's Model United Nations conference in early March, joining over 1500 other high school students from around the world. Students wrote and debated resolutions on issues such as climate change and terrorism in UN committees such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Program. Senior Sarah Abramowitz participated in a historical committee that dealt with reign of Henry VIII. She, along with Junior Elyse Garreau and Freshman Lilly Levin, earned research awards for their position papers written before the conference. Juniors Jolie Kemp and Zannie Whittle earned a commendation (a recognition of their engagement in a very large committee) from their World Health Organization committee chairs.



Posted 03/23/2016 08:06AM
On Tuesday, the Castaruni ACE Org held events to raise awareness about Castilleja's partnership with Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School in Kenya. In addition to fundraising efforts including the sale of Me to We artisan jewelry and a Pizza My Heart restaurant night, a panel of past Kisaruni trip participants spoke about their experiences in Kenya.

Upcoming Events
    • Friday - May 6, 2016 AP Exams
    • Saturday - May 7, 2016 AP Exams
    • Saturday - May 7, 2016 SAT: Most juniors take
    • Sunday - May 8, 2016 AP Exams
    • Monday - May 9, 2016 AP Exams

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