SSL Certificate

All SchoolMiddle SchoolUpper SchoolAcademicsAthleticsArtsStudent LifeGlobal & Community ProgramsAlumnae


RSS Feeds
Alerts Signup
Posted Monday, Oct 12, 2015 11:19:00 AM

On October 1, Castilleja alumnae reconnected while attending a regional event hosted by Nanci Kauffman in Washington DC. 

During the gathering at Oyamel, the group met restaurant owner, José Andrés, pictured above.

This year, alumnae regional events will take place in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, and Southern California.

Posted Tuesday, Sep 8, 2015 9:03:00 AM

Saima Hasan ’04 has been featured in Harvard Magazine for her work developing a supplementary training program for secondary-school girls in India. With Roshni Acadamy, Saima has set out to better prepare young women for jobs or higher education and she has seen measured success. Despite setbacks and challenges, Saima has forged key partnerships and adapted her business so that she can continue to effect positive change in this region. At Castilleja, Saima served as Student Body President and is remembered as an emerging community organizer always dedicated to ensuring that students felt ownership over their school experience. Read more about Saima and Roshni Academy at Harvard Magazine.

Saima's story has been picked up by additional outlets. Watch a great video about Saima and Roshni here on TimesNow. 


Posted Friday, Aug 28, 2015 6:54:00 PM
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 9:20:00 AM

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 4:50:00 PM

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 10:58:00 AM

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 8:40:00 AM
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 8:18:00 AM

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 11:47:00 AM

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 8:25:52 AM

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!

RSS Feeds Alerts Signup
Student Life
Posted 03/06/2018 08:00AM

Castilleja School Among Nation’s First Schools to Join New Campaign Led by Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project to Bridge Divides, Build Stronger Communities

Castilleja is among the nation’s first schools to join a new national campaign to mobilize middle and high schools to prepare young people to be constructive community members and citizens who create a better world. Led by Harvard’s Making Caring Common project, the Caring Schools #CommonGood campaign aims to motivate schools to take action to help mend our country’s fractures and strengthen democracy.

The campaign seeks to advance the following specific goals by working with schools nationwide:

  1. Deepen students’ care for others and their communities;
  2. Increase equity and access for all students in the college admissions process; and
  3. Reduce excessive achievement pressure in communities where it is detrimental to students.

These goals align with and build on Making Caring Common’s successful Turning the Tide initiative that has engaged more than 175 college admissions offices nationwide.

“Our country is at a crossroads,” said Dr. Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Faculty Director of the Making Caring Common project. “We need to mobilize the great strengths of Americans to prepare young people to build strong, inclusive communities and to protect democracy. This work has perhaps never been more important.”

To join the campaign, schools commit to taking substantial, meaningful action to advance one or more of the campaign’s goals and to engage in a self-assessment or evaluation process to measure the impact of their action(s). Schools that commit to, implement, and evaluate the impact of their efforts will earn a special designation from Making Caring Common.

More information about how schools, parents, and students can join the campaign can be found at

Posted 02/13/2018 10:00AM
Walk around campus on a January afternoon, and you will come across groups of Seniors tuning up their bikes, strumming guitars, building light sculptures, creating letterpress art, and getting to grips with budgeting.  Senior mini-courses are back for the second year! These no-homework, no-grade courses allow Seniors to explore new perspectives, build new skills and expertise, or dive deep into new topics under the guidance of fabulous Castilleja teachers and other experts. This January, students could choose between Bike Mechanics with Mr. Elgasseir, Guitar Basics with Mr. Thurston-Milgrom, Letter Press with Ms. Seroff, Making Lights Sing with Dr. Chau and Mr. Cummings, and Personal Finance with our friends at Next Gen Finance. Another session is planned for March.
Posted 02/12/2018 01:00PM

This past weekend, a cast and crew of 110 students came together for a performance benefiting Human Rights Watch in the 15th annual Arts with a Heart.

Bravo to our fabulous and hard-working cast and crew!

Arts with a Heart is a student-led dance production dedicated to creating awareness about an important social issue while fundraising for a related nonprofit organization.

For more pictures of this year's show, visit here.

Posted 01/29/2018 08:00AM

Castilleja's Mock Trial team, now in its third year, began the Santa Clara County Mock Trial Competition on January 23rd. The criminal case is a murder trial featuring a pretrial argument on the Fourth Amendment. The team had an impressive start in the opening rounds and the prosecution and defense will be back at it again next week. Junior co-captains Jacqueline H. and Madeline W. lead this young but mighty team of ninth and tenth graders along with their faculty advisors, Sue Kim and Jamie Sullivan. Outside attorney coaches are Michelle Melen '01 and Rachel Thomas. 

Posted 03/02/2018 01:00PM

Juniors Reese K. and Niav L. were awarded second place in the American Actuarial Foundation’s Modeling the Future Symposium in New York City on Monday.  This award came with a $15,000 prize ($7,500 each) that they will be able to use towards their college education!

The Modeling the Future competition asked students to write a paper that forecasts the impact of autonomous vehicles on the transportation industry, insurance industry, and society at large.  They were selected as finalists in December based on their original submission.  They received feedback from the judges, revised their paper and presented their findings to a panel of 12 judges representing actuaries from across the country. 


Posted 02/28/2018 05:00PM

"Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Shakespeare?"

With one hand on the play, sophomores swore in with these words as Macbeth faced trial for his crimes.

In this vivid roleplaying activity for English II, each class divides up into prosecution and defense with students becoming lawyers and key characters who can provide testimony for or against Macbeth.

Judges Smith and Sherouse presided over the trials, with teachers, juniors, and seniors serving as jurors.



Posted 02/05/2018 09:45AM

Five Castilleja students have been named recipients of 2018 Scholastic Writing Awards. Congratulations to juniors Sophia N., Sophie N.-L., Alyssa S., Angie W., and senior Ella N! These students' award-winning essays, short stories, and pieces of investigative journalism were named among the best of the west in this annual writing competition. Sophie, Sophia, and Ella each had pieces honored as "Gold Key" winners, and these works will advance to national competition. 

Posted 01/30/2018 05:00PM
Today was the final day of a mini-course for seniors on basic bicycle maintenance, affectionately known going forward as the Casti Bike Kitchen
Our special guest today was Arthur Rodriguez of We diagnosed and fixed a number of problems with two different student bikes. The students also went through a checklist of safety issues with bikes. 
Posted 02/12/2018 01:00PM

This past weekend, a cast and crew of 110 students came together for a performance benefiting Human Rights Watch in the 15th annual Arts with a Heart.

Bravo to our fabulous and hard-working cast and crew!

Arts with a Heart is a student-led dance production dedicated to creating awareness about an important social issue while fundraising for a related nonprofit organization.

For more pictures of this year's show, visit here.

Posted 01/16/2018 07:40PM

Today, our students were excited to welcome our 2018 Arrillaga Family Speaker, Mr. Bryan Stevenson, who spoke to us about his work as a lawyer challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Among the many takeaways Mr. Stevenson shared with us today was a roadmap for how we can effect change: by getting proximate to the people and the issues we need to understand and want to address; by questioning the narratives we accept about poverty and justice, by being hopeful; and by doing uncomfortable and inconvenient things. In closing, he offered us the reminder that justice, not wealth, is the antithesis of poverty.


Posted 01/05/2018 10:00AM

"When I think about why I do the work I do, I actually think of my privilege first. All of my ability to affect any change, that’s what I use. Because no one in this room is privileged or disadvantaged; we have multiple identities that are intersecting—not equally, not identically, but humanly."

-Alison Park, founder of Blink Consulting, at this morning's Local Challenges; Local Solutions Panel


Our Local Challenges; Local Solutions Panel this morning was moderated by Head of School Nanci Kauffman. Joining us were:

Peter Fortenbaugh, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. BGCP provides the low-income youth of East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park, and Redwood City with opportunities that enable them to achieve school success.

Alison Park, founder of Blink Consulting. Blink is an educational consultancy that is critically rethinking diversity. Since 2009, Blink has collaborated with over 90 schools, as well as various community-based, government, and for-profit organizations to help create communities where all children, youth, and adults can thrive.

Raymond Plaza is the Director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at Santa Clara University. He works closely with many groups across campus to design strategies for the recruitment and retention of individuals from underrepresented groups.

Posted 01/04/2018 03:00PM

"What we know from data is that opportunity gaps are what drive achievement gaps.

There are kids who have access to elevators running at the speed of a bullet train versus kids that are on escalators moving very smoothly from floor to floor...and then there are some kids who are on stairwells with missing handrails and broken steps. And we are saying EVERYONE has to get to floor 16, or college graduation, at the same time. How could you possibly get there all at the same time if you're using drastically different modes of transportation? What we as researchers and educators and policymakers have been doing is comparing at what speed students get to that top floor, ignoring, often, the radical difference in modes of transportation to that top floor. "

- Dr. Prudence L. Carter, Dean and Professor of the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Education


Our Thursday Global Week keynote speaker Dr. Carter's research agenda focuses on causes of and solutions to enduring social and cultural inequalities among social groups, especially in education and schooling. Specifically, she examines academic and mobility differences influenced by the dynamics of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in the U.S. and global society. Her expertise spans issues of youth identity and educational well-being; urban poverty, social and cultural inequality, and the sociocultural and organizational contexts of schools.

She is also an award-winning author, elected member of the National Academy of Education and the Sociological Research Association, Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and Board member and Program Committee chairperson for the William T. Grant Foundation.

Upcoming Events

© 2014 Castilleja School    |   1310 Bryant Street    |    Palo Alto, CA 94301    |    650 328 3160    |    Contact Us     |    Careers    |    
email page print page small type large type
   |     Search
powered by finalsite