What’s Possible? Castilleja School ViewBook | 1
What’s possible... when girls collaborate to engage in thoughtful conversations and innovative projects in a setting that values diverse life experiences, the playful exchange of ideas, and supportive friendships? 2 | Castilleja School ViewBook
Since 1907, Castilleja has been creating confident thinkers and compassionate leaders in the only non-sectarian girls middle and high school in the Bay Area. Our students develop initiative, agility, and purpose as they listen thoughtfully, explore complex questions, and gain a sense of agency by taking action within our vibrant, inclusive community and beyond. At Castilleja, each girl makes choices and learns skills that will allow her to discover what’s possible for her.
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In the Company of Girls There is a moment for every Castilleja student. At some point, she finds herself standing on the edge of the Circle, the center of our campus, and she looks around, realizing that she is truly at home. Relationships are at the heart of Castilleja, and within those meaningful connections, our students understand that they can share the full extent of their courage, curiosity, and joy with the people around them.
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This happens because, at Castilleja, we put girls at the center of everything we do. Combining over a century of experience with the latest findings about how girls learn best, Castilleja is a school where girls can thrive socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. As a community of learners, Castilleja students explore challenging subjects with fearless abandon and boundless enthusiasm while building lifelong friendships.
The success of the all-girls environment
breaks down barriers for students to
has never been about the absence
pursue careers in STEM. But the moment
of boys; it has always been about the
we are talking about isn’t about glass
steadying and inspiring presence of girls.
ceilings or the change our graduates effect in the world. It comes before all
At Castilleja, the peer connections
that, and it marks an internal shift. It’s
across grades and divisions prepare
the joy that comes when our students
girls to seek out mentors and take
discover that at Castilleja they can really
on leadership roles, which have been
be their full and authentic selves, funny
proven to be critical skills for women in
and focused, determined and dubious,
the workplace and beyond. We know that
strong and compassionate. This moment
graduates of girls’ schools learn how to
is what defines a Castilleja education, but
advocate for themselves, and decades
even more important, it’s what makes
of research prove that this environment
our students special.
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Faculty that Inspires Our teachers rely on both time-tested and cutting-edge knowledge that are specific to the ways girls learn best—with meaningful real-world applications, extensive interdisciplinary connections, and steady attention—ensuring that every student’s voice is heard and amplified. Above all else, our intentional and innovative program is founded on the understanding that deep learning begins with strong relationships and an emphasis on social and emotional wellbeing. Starting there, every day our educators invite students to become intellectual partners through interactive hands-on projects, careful critical analysis, and creative problem solving. One class may be putting Macbeth on trial while another is conducting trials to measure the impact of nitrogen on pea seedlings, and all of our classes are taught by teachers who offer the tools and the space to ask big questions—ones that may take months or even years to answer.
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Castilleja students become intellectual partners. Castilleja School ViewBook | 5
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Acting Locally, Thinking Globally Programming through our ACE Center, which stands for Awareness, Compassion, and Engagement, urges Castilleja students to ask questions that reach beyond their immediate experiences, fostering empathy, activism, and a global perspective. The ACE Center also supports our affinity groups and school-wide diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice initiatives. Two key touch points in our global experiential learning programs include Junior Global Investigator Trips and our annual Global Week, when students attend workshops and presentations about pressing issues, like The Promises and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence and A Seat at the Table: Women, Peace, and Security. Through these meaningful classroom and real-world experiences, our students make relevant connections across communities and disciplines while developing an informed and nuanced global mindset.
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Women Learning, Women Leading. There are confident public speakers, curious investigators, thoughtful observers, and strategic thinkers, and all of these strengths are essential to effective leadership. Across and within the middle school and upper school divisions, our older students serve as mentors to younger students while gaining a deeper understanding of their strengths as leaders. The leadership competencies that we teach are linked to Castilleja’s Antiracist Teaching and Learning Program, so learning to lead at Castilleja involves actively working to create an inclusive community where every voice matters.
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Castilleja values and nurtures every kind of leader. Castilleja School ViewBook | 9
Castilleja School educates motivated young women to become confident thinkers and compassionate leaders with a sense of purpose to effect change in the world.
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Relationships are at the heart of Castilleja. Castilleja School ViewBook | 11
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Athletics Castilleja coaches understand what our student-athletes need to build mental strength and perform at their highest level. They understand how to motivate girls, working diligently to teach leadership, selfconfidence, wellbeing, collaboration, and resilience. Mentorship begins in Middle School, with Upper School students assisting the coaches, and younger studentathletes see the future ahead of them as competitors and leaders. And best of all, at Castilleja the girls’ teams aren’t just part of what we do, they are everything we do. Your child’s team will be at the core of our planning, and our entire community comes out strong to support our student-athletes, whether they are just starting a new sport in 6th grade or getting recruited at the collegiate level. With eleven sports offered each year and three-quarters of our students participating in at least one season, there is a place for every athlete to thrive within our athletic program.
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Visual and Performing Arts By developing their creativity, Castilleja students gain confidence in their own voices and perspectives. We offer students a strong base and broad exposure in Middle School, so they can drive their own creative processes and guide our community’s collective growth as Upper Schoolers. The Middle School musical is a rite of passage, with the vast majority of students participating at some point, and each year the Upper School presents a play and a musical that are chosen by the student-run advisory board, giving students a powerful sense of agency. The dance department offers classes through all grade levels, and student leaders produce “Arts with a Heart,” an annual multimedia dance show. All students learn to play guitar and sing as a shared experience in Middle School, which provides foundational confidence as musicians at Castilleja and throughout life. Visual artists can rise through advanced 2-D and 3-D classes, participating in and curating shows in the Anita Seipp Gallery. At Castilleja, we feel the arts are a way to explore who you are and how you want to live in the world by taking rewarding risks and asking brave questions.
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Maker Spaces and Robotics The Bourn Idea Lab, Castilleja’s primary maker space, engineering design studio, and robotics lab, and our Tinkering Nook provide countless opportunities for students to explore, innovate, and engage in hands-on problem solving. Classroom teachers collaborate with the Bourn team to incorporate engineering and experiential learning into their programs. Gatorbotics, one of the first girls robotics teams in the Bay Area, takes new programming and design challenges each year, with older students filling all leadership roles and teaching newer students skills and strategy. Girls who never would have imagined finding a space to thrive on co-ed teams dive in at Castilleja and rise through the ranks with the support and encouragement of their peers and industry mentors. Many use this exposure and foundation to pursue STEM fields in college and beyond.
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Middle School Electives, Upper Schools ACE Orgs, Clubs, and Affinity Groups At all grade levels, students have the opportunity to pursue new passions, engage with the community beyond Castilleja, and explore meaningful questions with each other. Middle School electives offer students and faculty opportunities to connect over different ideas and activities, such as creative writing, organic gardening, and visual art. In the Upper School, our student-led ACE Orgs provide avenues for activism and outreach with groups like Human Rights Watch, which acts globally, and Life Moves, which invest in supporting the local unhoused community. Affinity groups offer spaces where students who identify as a member of a group that is often in the minority to experience that identity in the majority. Affinity groups also often lead community cultural celebrations. All of these different ways to come together at Castilleja allow students and employees to connect and act with authenticity and purpose.
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Beloved Traditions While traditions have evolved at Castilleja, the sentiment and excitement surrounding them remain the same. Celebrations such as the Tie Ceremony on the first day of school, Junior-Senior Banquet and Rivalry, Spirit Week, and Founder’s Day all serve to strengthen the bond between students. As our students experience these rites of passage, they learn that they belong to a community of students and alumnae who are united by these traditions. Whether decked out in a silly costume or participating in a time-honored ceremony, Castilleja students across divisions relish the joy of developing memories and friendships that last a lifetime. Everyone remembers her time on the Circle.
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Castilleja School 1310 Bryant Street Palo Alto, CA 94301
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