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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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Student Life
Posted 11/29/2016 12:00PM

Grandparents and Special Friends Day

Before leaving for Thanksgiving Break, the Castilleja Community welcomed grandparents and special friends to visit the school and attend classes with their students. The afternoon reception began with student speeches and performances from both Upper and Middle Schoolers. After greeting their grandfriends on the Circle, students brought them to their next class and were excited to share the Castilleja experience with their guest. Click the photograph or link below to access an album with pictures from the day!* 

*Individual shots of students with grandfriends will be available from Lifetouch at a later date

Posted 11/14/2016 08:00AM

This past weekend, Castilleja Upper School students put on a stellar performance of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods accompanied by a live student musical ensemble. Bravo!


Posted 11/02/2016 08:00AM

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's renown musical fantasia is a profound examination of Fairy Tales, The Power of Myth, and Mythic Archetypes and is a delight for ages 10 and older. Into the Woods features modern twists on a host of well-loved characters -- from the Witch, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood, to Cinderella, her Prince, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Tickets available here for Fri., Nov. 11th at 7:30, Sat., Nov. 12th at 7:30, or Sun., Nov. 13th at 2pm.

Lawrence Tree by Georgia O'Keefe

Posted 09/27/2016 03:06PM

Visit the photo galleries linked below to see and download all the photos from a week full of spirited festivities! (The password is gators)

Pep Rally and Gator Gathering

(includes JV and Varsity Waterpolo and JV Volleyball)

Spirit Week


Posted 12/02/2016 09:52AM

Seventh Grade Science Battles Lego Robots in the Bourn Lab

After studying about how DNA is a code of biological instructions, students programmed Lego Robots to compete in a challenge for survival in the Bourn Lab. This challenge also builds on their learning experiences related to the summer reading book, "Secret Coders" by Gene Yang. Pairs of 7th graders learned to code and direct a robot through several mini-challenges to learn various techniques, then wrote a final program for battle. The final day of this project groups dueled each other to put their programs to the test.


Posted 11/15/2016 11:34AM

Jolie Kemp '17 was awarded the best delegate award at Stanford Model UN Conference.  Jolie represented Saxby Chambliss (R – Georgia) in the 111th Senate, which was one of the historical committees at the conference.  The best delegate award, as the name implies, is awarded to the delegate whom the chair feels is both an active participant and represents her role with great fidelity throughout the weekend.

Jolie was one of the seven members of the Castilleja Model UN club who participated in the Stanford Model UN Conference.  This conference has a mix of both UN committees, crisis committees, and historical committees.  Our students represented Pakistan in the UN committees dealing with issues such as small arms trade, Syrian refugees, and maritime claims in the South China Sea.  We also had delegates on historical and crisis committees addressing the 111th senate, Alexander the Great’s War Cabinet, and the Philippine Revolution.   

Posted 11/10/2016 08:00AM

The entire 9th grade Core Arts class visited SFMoMA and the San Francisco Opera last Thursday as part of their arts program. Students were involved in docent led tours around the modern art section of the museum before experiencing the wonders of Madam Butterfly.

Posted 11/02/2016 09:12AM

The Class of 2021 had the honor of placing a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. A military family in attendance remarked on how moving it was to see our students demonstrate such profound respect. The 8th graders returned Friday from their week of learning in DC.

For more pictures from the weeklong trip, click here!


Posted 10/19/2016 08:00AM
In honor of the International Day of the Girl, GLI ACE Org hosted activities at break to educate the community about issues facing girls globally and raising fund to benefit girls.  The ACE org hosted various activities to bolster awareness and funds to donate.Among other activities, they handed out flyers conveying information about girls' education issues and also gave out lollipops (dubbed by some as 'girls' fortune cookies') that had factoids or quotations about girls such as 
"There is no greater pillar of stability than a strong, free and educated woman, and there is no more inspiring role model than a man who respects and cherishes women and champions their leadership."- Angelina Jolie

Globally, 16 million girls between the ages of 6 and 11 will never attend school compared to 8 million boys (World Bank).
The club also made hair ties and sold them with a raffle ticket for a chance to win a make-up case.  All funds raised wee contributed to support girls' education around the world. To connect with other GLI events nationally, the club contributed to a #solidaritywithgirls with photos to an instagram feed.  
Posted 10/17/2016 03:00PM

The Castilleja community welcomed Pulitzer Prize winning poet, author, and educator Tracy K. Smith as this year’s Arrillaga Family Speaker. Tracy K. Smith is the author of three award winning books of poetry: The Body’s Question, which received the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Duende, recipient of the 2006 James Laughlin Award, and Life on Mars, 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner.  Most recently, she wrote the memoir Ordinary Light (The New York Times Book Review): "a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter."

A Princeton professor, Tracy K. Smith didn’t simply recite her work for an audience of Castilleja students, she illustrated the difference between her poetry and prose by sharing different passages about her father, a Hubble Telescope Engineer, a few from from Ordinary Light (written in prose) and others from Life on Mars (written in verse). By doing so, Smith demonstrated what she attempts to accomplish with each of these two related yet distinct writing styles and shared the nuance of storytelling that can be explored. Answering questions from Castilleja students, she was warm, candid, and genuine in her description of her journey as a writer and artist. Describing a time a mentor didn’t believe in her, Smith was honest about the effect the experience had on her. Yet, she also described the necessity for writers and others to cultivate both the critical and confident inner voices, asserting that we need both (at different times in the process) to succeed. After the assembly, girls lined up to meet Tracy, share their appreciation, and ask more of their many questions for her.


Posted 10/05/2016 08:00AM

The ACE Center hosted the annual Noche de Sólo Español to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and our Spanish speaking community within Castilleja. Those who attended the event were treated to a fascinating presentation on the significance of Day of the Dead in Mexico and introduced to local and global partnerships in predominately Spanishspeaking communities. The night started off with a welcome from ACE Center Director, Stacey Kertsman as she introduced the new global partnership Castilleja has with theMariposa Foundation in the Dominican Republic. This evening was a great opportunity to see how Spanish culture permeates all aspects of the Castilleja Community. 

¡Gracias a todos los que organizaron y contribuyeron a este evento inolvidable! Thank you to those who organized and contributed to this unforgettable event!


Click on the photo below to view a gallery of photos from the night!


Posted 09/28/2016 08:00AM

The Green Team hosted a group of Casti volunteers for the California Coastal Cleanup Day at Bedwell Bayfront Park. This annual state-wide event allows anyone to contribute to coastal preservation and data collection. This year, 18,314 people volunteered worldwide to collect 52,493 pounds of trash from our beaches. The Green team enjoyed walking along the beautiful waterfront, knowing that they contributed to the global effort to protect coastal landscapes.


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