Empowering Young Women For More Than a Century

Castilleja has called its campus home for over 110 years. While much has changed since that time, the fundamental mission of the school has remained the same: to prepare girls to become confident thinkers and compassionate leaders throughout the world. Our century-long history highlights the many ways in which education has evolved, drastic changes in how our students and faculty live their daily lives, as well as the difficult times our community has overcome. Please join us in exploring the school’s history, which includes navigating pandemics, partnering with the Palo Alto community, and providing critical educational, community service, and athletic opportunities to girls.

From the Spanish Flu to COVID-19



Only a decade after opening its doors, Castilleja had to navigate teaching and learning during its first global pandemic: the Spanish Flu. And just as students in 1918 gathered on the Circle, the school’s central gathering place located in the interior of campus, Castilleja students again came together during the COVID-19 pandemic over 100 years later (this time, with six feet of distancing). We are grateful we could continue to educate our students and keep them healthy throughout challenging times.

Community Partnerships: Engaging in Palo Alto From Thanksgiving Boxes to Ada’s Cafe



From packing Thanksgiving boxes in the 1930s to volunteering with Ada’s Cafe in the 2010s, Castilleja has engaged with the Palo Alto community for generations. Over the years, Castilleja’s partners have included the European Relief Council during World War I, the Red Cross during World War II, and Amnesty International during the 1980s. You can learn more about the school’s history of community engagement and present-day partners here.

From Horse-Drawn Carriages to Caltrain



From horse-drawn carriages to Caltrain, Castilleja students have participated in  some of Palo Alto’s earliest ridesharing. This transformation in how students get to school has continued to the present day. In 2012, Castilleja implemented a robust Traffic Demand Management program to reduce car trips by more than 25%. Today you can find most students relying on walking, biking, shuttles, buses, and Caltrain. You can learn more about this successful program here

From Synchronized Swimming to Competitive Water Polo



Athletic facilities are mainstays in K–12 schools, and for good reason–athletics augment children’s physical and social/emotional development. Castilleja students excel in the classroom and in their athletic endeavors. This is critical at a time when many female athletes still face barriers in high-level competition. Since the 1920s, we have been fortunate to provide our students with access to a pool for their fitness needs. Today, it is home to our competitive water polo and swim teams. An updated pool is one of the exciting elements of our campus modernization plan. Learn more about that plan here.

From Home Economics to STEM Spaces



Education–particularly for girls–has made incredible strides since this photo was taken in the 1950s. Today, we know so much more about how students learn most effectively and what skills will be needed most in the future. This includes access to hands-on, experiential learning in science labs, maker spaces, and gardens. Castilleja’s modernized learning spaces include these features and will provide generations of students with opportunities to create, explore, and innovate.

To learn more about what we have in store for our modernized campus, please click here.