Imagining New Strength
For 116 years, Castilleja has educated women and girls to face the important challenges of their generation with courage and determination. This year, as we explore our school-wide theme—IMAGINE—we are reminded of the inspiring vision Eleanor Roosevelt had for the future when she wrote, “With the new day comes new strength.” Whether they are alums from the Class of 1923 or seniors from the Class of 2023, Castilleja graduates have learned to find new strength and imagine a better future.
At this moment in the history of Castilleja, we truly are standing at the threshold of a new era. With our plans to modernize campus and increase enrollment approved, we are eager to embrace each new day. At the same time, as that exciting future gets even closer, we recognize our responsibility to meaningfully reflect on the past.
This issue of Full Circle will carry you through the history of this corner of Old Palo Alto that we all know and love. You will see tributes to the buildings that have served us so well, where generations of faculty and students have learned with each other and from each other. We have news from campus this year, sharing new faces, new accomplishments, and new partnerships. You will also find updates from alums of all ages who are imagining new possibilities.
Anyone who has ever given a senior speech from the stage in the Chapel Theater already knows that coming to the end of your years on the Circle can bring a rush of excitement, appreciation, and nostalgia. As a community, we are facing a moment of tremendous change together, and suddenly it feels as if we all are seniors—we are all feeling those same emotions as we think about saying goodbye to the familiar feel of our campus as we know it now.
At the same time, we can look forward to an updated sustainable campus that will carry our students forward into a future that we can only IMAGINE. In many ways, we are all graduating this June; some will go on to colleges and universities, and others will remain at Castilleja to usher in this new era, first on our temporary campus and then back around our Circle again.
Our mission declares that we prepare students to effect positive change in the world. The students returning to Castilleja in the fall are already changemakers, already contributing to the present and the future. It is exciting to stand on this threshold together, and I look forward to creating the new chapter of Castilleja with all of you.Warmly, Nanci Z. Kauffman
What Is a Sabbatical?
Drawn from the root word sabbath, which means day of rest, sabbaticals arose from the Jewish tradition of smita, which asked farmers to take a one year of rest every seven years.
Nanci KauffmanHA took 10 weeks of sabbatical this year for exploration and restoration.
with Loved Ones
Notes from the Road
I went to Tuscany with childhood friends and to NYC as a Klingenstein Fellow at Teachers College. Both trips created space for reﬂection and new ideas.
I explored Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga. As an ongoing goal, I am learning to live more peacefully.
My family spent time together, allowing us to deepen our bonds and sharpen our competitive game-playing skills!
I tended my succulent garden; enjoyed the views, sounds, and smells of the ocean; and appreciated the outdoors.
COVID disrupted my community connections, so I volunteered for a political campaign and reengaged in the Palo Alto University Rotary Club.
My mind tends to relax when my body is fully engaged in activities like tennis, pickleball, and Barre Class.
For me, resting is sitting under an umbrella in my backyard reading. Latest Novel: The Latecomer.
Throughout my sabbatical, and especially during my fellowship, I explored culturally responsive leadership and the implications for schools.
As we prepare to say farewell to Castilleja’s campus of today, it’s important to reflect on the past and honor the visionaries who already knew the impact Castilleja would have on developing leaders.
Ms. Mary Ishbel Lockey opened Castilleja School in 1907 with the goal of educating women. In 1910, the school moved to its current location, where the foundations of Ms. Lockey’s original plan for a dormitory, a recitation building, a domestic science building, and a gymnasium remain recognizable today.
In 1958, a committee of the Board under the leadership of Mr. Clifford Schink, Chairman, formulated a planning study, “Programs for the Future,” that outlined how the school would continue to offer our outstanding program. Part of that Master Plan included improving or replacing several facilities. In partnership with Ms. Margarita Espinosa, Head of School, the Board embarked on a decades-long project to sustain Castilleja for the next 60 years. At the time, it was the most ambitious plan the school had undertaken.
Under the leadership of Ms. Joan Z. LonerganHA, Head of School from the early 1990s to 2010, Castilleja experienced additional renovations. Projects such as the updated academic building and new athletic facilities transformed the campus, setting the stage for Castilleja to enter the 21st Century.
Today, we confidently move forward knowing that Castilleja maintains its original mission. Then, now, soon, and always, Castilleja is a place for tomorrow’s leaders.
The Castilleja timeline begins...
1910 Recitation Hall
The ceremony for laying the cornerstone of the Recitation Hall—now known as the Gunn Family Administration Building–took place in 1910, when Castilleja moved to its current site.
1958 “Programs for the
The original Castilleja School building came down, paving the way for the building now known as the Arrillaga Family Campus Center
“The construction of a new Residence Hall was the ‘logical first step’ in the ‘Programs for the Future’ plan to update all the facilities on campus.” –Castilleja Newsletter, March 1960.
1962 The new residence hall (above) was formally dedicated on May 24, 1962. It could house 90 students in double rooms with a television lounge on each floor and a “large rumpus room” where students could enjoy Ping Pong, records, and Cokes.
1960s Rhoades Hall, named for longtime trustee and Board Chair Dusty Rhoades, was built in two phases, between 1964 and 1967. In totality, the space boasted of 20 new classrooms, a wide second-floor walkway, the original Espinosa Library, and additional dorm rooms upstairs. Students enjoyed this new area that was shaded by two heritage oak trees. The dedication of Rhoades Hall took place on November 9, 1967. Addressing the school on this occasion, President Emeritus of Mills College, C. Easton Rothwell, said, “Today we dedicate a beautiful and functional new building. This building, in which living has been so wisely and graciously combined with learning, is both a part of Castilleja’s future and a symbol of it. Never in our history as a people has it been more important that living be informed by learning. Never has it been more necessary that learning be related to life.” The opening of Rhoades Hall marked the completion of a major portion of the Master Plan envisioned in “Programs for the Future.”
“The dedication of the new complex on November 9, was indeed an occasion for rejoicing, for giving thanks, for remembrance, and for looking ahead. It is in this inspiring setting that our school year is underway, the traditions dear to all of us seem to take on deeper meaning, our stimulating academic program flourishes, and our students are assuming a more constructive and responsible role in the life of the school community.” –Margarita Espinosa, Castilleja Circle, Fall 1967.
Penny Black, the first Dean of Students and math teacher, reflected on the 1970s as a time of significant and long-term campus investments. She shared that Head of School Don Westmoreland and Trustees Edwin Seipp and Leonard Ely “did so much to further the academic, physical plant, and fiscal growth of the school.”
1979-80 Chapel Renovation
In 1980, the Elizabeth G. Hughes Chapel was renovated to include a real stage, wings, backstage space, and in the basement, a greenroom, dressing rooms, and a costume storage area.
1979-80 1976 1980
1976-1980 The Seipp-Wallace Pavilion and the Ely Fine Arts Center were completed in 1976 and 1980, respectively. These buildings housed the gymnasium, a dance studio, locker rooms, arts classrooms, and a new art gallery. This investment in the school’s facilities lasted several decades; today, students adore the Ely Fine Arts Center as a place of creative inspiration. Edwin Seipp was Chairman of the Board during the planning period before the Castilleja Challenge Campaign began. In 1975, Leonard Ely led the board during the active building portion of the campaign.
Since its opening in the early 1980s, the Anita Seipp Gallery has been a formidable force for teaching and learning, providing a space for the students to present their work to the public together with internationally recognized artists.
1997 Rhoades Hall underwent another renovation, this time focused on updating the science classrooms and converting the Library to what is now the Middle School Lobby and classroom 8–13. Fun fact: what is now the Head of Middle School’s office used to be the senior lounge, shown above.
1993 1996 1997
1996 The possibilities opened up by phasing out the residence program helped create the present outstanding campus facilities. In 1996, the renovated residence became the Arrillaga Family Campus Center, which included expanded department and faculty work space, the new Margarita Espinosa Library, classrooms and a new lab for languages, offices for student publications, a new senior lounge, offices for college counseling and community service, and perhaps most significantly, space for three computer labs and offices for technology staff. The Campus Center was named in honor of the late Frances Cook Arrillaga, former trustee, and her daughter, Laura Arrillaga-Andreesen ’88
2001 Okawa Pool opened in 2001 for swimming and water polo.
2001 2002 2008
2008 Joan Z. Lonergan Fitness and Athletic Center
Recognizing the need for new athletic facilities that would support the growth of Castilleja's student-athletes, the school embarked upon another campaign in the 2000s. The state-ofthe-art Joan Z. Lonergan Fitness and Athletic Center opened in 2008, complete with a two-story gym, a fitness room, a large dance studio, a climbing wall, and a sun-lit gathering space, known as the “fishbowl.”
WHAT DO ROBOTS, BRIDGES, AND HORSES HAVE IN COMMON? THEY’VE ALL PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE
IN THE JOURNEY ERIN O’MALLEY ’09 HAS PURSUED WHILE CHASING IMPACT IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE SPHERE
The story begins in 2005, just a year after Sophia Berger ’06 and Jessa Lee ’06 founded Gatorbotics Team 1700. Erin, a freshman at the time, participated in a variety of activities, noting, “I joined robotics for a week, but between that, volleyball, and horseback riding, it was a lot. I remember not knowing whether I had the time to commit to robotics.” What happened the next day was a pivotal moment in Erin’s life.
While competing in a volleyball game, Erin jumped up for a block and broke her ankle. Rather than dwell on how the injury would prevent her from playing or riding, she recalls, “I got super involved in Gatorbotics and really loved it.” Erin’s involvement only grew; she went on to lead the team and the engineering product development group. This twist in her path changed everything.
The four years of building robots with the Gatorbotics team undoubtedly impacted Erin’s decision to pursue mechanical engineering and engineering leadership in college. During her undergrad years, Erin continued to search for additional ways to have a positive impact by leading her university’s Engineers Without Borders group. This experience took her to Nicaragua, where she spent two summers designing and building bridges in areas that lacked sufficient engineering or physical resources to solve infrastructure challenges. After her college graduation, Erin kept exploring ways to chase impact; this time, she looked to China.
Erin’s two years in China gave her insights into the world of manufacturing sustainability and answered some questions: How are the goods we consume made? Are there ways that both consumers and product developers could improve working conditions and lessen the impact on the planet? After working with dozens of factories to explore those questions and then taking jobs with a startup and companies focused on 3D printing and solar technology, Erin wondered, “Where do I want to go from here?”
Ever the scientist, Erin approached this next step with a personal thesis. It became her mission to acquire more knowledge about the array of businesses focused on addressing climate-based solutions. To prove her thesis, she began business school. There, she learned about the impact of thermal batteries that are run with clean electricity. “Energy supply from renewables is decoupled from demand, and thermal batteries cost-effectively bridge this gap, providing better economics for renewable projects and a credible path to decarbonization for industry,” she excitedly described when explaining the transformative nature of how thermal batteries could change manufacturing processes.
When asked about where she imagines herself after business school, Erin’s reply might intrigue you. “One day, I’d love to start my own equestrian facility and increase access to equestrian sports in the Bay Area,” she mused. Growing up competing in three day eventing in the East Bay, Erin mentioned that the impacts of climate change result in dangerous conditions for horses and people. A facility located in the cooler regions of the Bay Area would “expand access to people who want to learn about horses and how to care for them,” she said.
“I want to continue chasing impact for myself and encourage as many people as possible to pursue impact in their own careers.”
Challenging Injustice in Healthcare
PEDIATRIC RESIDENT RUBY MORENO ’12 ADVOCATES FOR CHANGE IN THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM WHILE INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF DOCTORS
When Ruby Moreno ’12 walked into the Stanford Children’s Hospital for career day in 2010, she never imagined that experience would become such a meaningful touch point in her life. Fast forward 13 years: Ruby is now a resident in pediatrics.
While career day may have planted a seed for Ruby, she had already been tending to her garden. At Castilleja, Ruby participated in the Peninsula Bridge program, Halford Young Women Leaders program, and worked with children through the East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS). “I love working with middle-school-aged children and exposing them to pathways in medicine,” Ruby stated, as she reflected on running Halford’s Science Saturdays activity. Inspired by a summer program she participated in between graduation and starting college, Ruby approached Ms. Hurlbut, then-advisor of Halford, about updating their Science Saturdays curriculum to include a session on anatomy. Since Ruby stayed local for college, she returned to Castilleja those Saturdays to teach middle school girls about science.
Of course, Ruby’s involvement in her community only continued to blossom throughout her undergraduate years. A class about community health ignited something in Ruby: perhaps medicine could be a way to help people heal and live their happiest lives. Realizing that she wanted to treat patients who are underserved by our healthcare system, medical school seemed like a logical next step to fulfill her goal.
ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE
Ruby sought a mission-driven medical program. After joining the group “White Coats for Black Lives,” it became clear to Ruby that she wanted to do more than just practice medicine; she also wanted to advocate for changes in the healthcare system. From engaging in workshops for local middle and high school students interested in medical careers to actively participating in her residency-led DEI committee, Ruby certainly is making a difference. She sits on multiple subcommittees that are focused on “UIM” (Underrepresented in Medicine) recruitment, selection, and retention for increasing representation among both medical residents and faculty. Leading large-scale change requires both individual effort and the power of collective action. Unsurprisingly, Ruby is well poised to move the needle and lift others up in the process.
FROM INSPIRED TO INSPIRATIONAL
The courage Ruby and her colleagues embody to challenge institutional injustice stems from a shared commitment to learning and growth, two qualities Ruby valued during her years at Castilleja. “Coming from an environment like Castilleja, where we weren’t afraid to ask challenging questions, contributed to my ability to advocate for important changes,” she remarked. Sometimes, we must turn inward and ask ourselves pointed questions as we chart our own path. Regardless of which practice Ruby selects, she’s already made an impact.
The pollination of ideas and passion took root in one of her Halford students from many years ago. “It was so exciting to learn that this student is now pre-med in college and seeking a path in medicine,” Ruby joyfully stated. When small seeds are well cared for, they transform into a beautiful garden.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS Junior art students create inspired visions of nature and landscapes in Drawing and Painting class, taught by Deborah TrillingHA. Clockwise from top left: Ava Mitchell ’25, Kavitha Ravi ’24, Sophia Trabanino ’24, and Chloe You ’25.
Music with a Message
Kiran Gandhi remembers that every morning when she boarded the bus to school, Harrison, the bus driver, would change the radio station from classical to hip hop as soon as the doors closed and students waved goodbye to their parents. Sometimes it’s these simple but routine moments that create a lasting imprint on our lives. Kiran Gandhi, an award-winning artist and activist known as Madame Gandhi, would listen to the lyrics of the hip hop songs and notice that even though the artists were rapping about circumstances just blocks away from her home in Manhattan, she was unfamiliar with the reality of her neighbors. It was through this experience that Madame Gandhi fell more deeply in love with music, knowing she could use the medium as a vital opportunity for storytelling.
In October 2022, Madame Gandhi graced Castilleja’s stage with her uplifting, percussive electronic music and positive messages about gender liberation and personal power. As an alum of a girls' school, she emphasized how lucky she and the students in the audience were and are to attend an institution filled with avenues for self discovery and for building self-confidence. Madame Gandhi asked students to reflect on this question: “What lights you up? Take that spark to make the world better. Do this work at a young age so you have the foundation for your true north.”
Castilleja students are known to respond to a question with another question. Often, the inquiry involves a “how?” How do you know what lights you up, and how do you stay motivated? Madame Gandhi advised students to turn within (and put the phone down), to stop seeking validation from others, and to follow their own joy. When we can identify what makes us distinct, we can more readily pursue our
lights you up? Take that spark to make
purpose and personal power, and invest in our particular skill set. For Madame Gandhi, that means “singing ideas that push the planet forward.”
Audience members and students in Upper School art experienced Madame Gandhi’s truth firsthand. During the assembly, Madame Gandhi performed two of her songs live and showed her music video “Waiting for Me,” with a message centered on personal liberation from oppression. After having lunch with students, she joined an art class for an interactive lesson on how to create psychologically safe environments for receiving feedback. One key aspect: emotional intelligence is key to helping others move forward in their artistic pursuits.
A couple of juniors shared their work, such as spoken word or poems, and had the opportunity to hear Madame Gandhi’s reaction to their art. Her response? “You’ve given me glimmers of hope. Thank goodness for your generation.”
the world better.”
—MADAME GANDHIAWARD-WINNING ARTIST AND ACTIVIST KIRAN GANDHI INSPIRES WITH MEANINGFUL LYRICS AND UPLIFTING ADVICE
Inclusive Journalism: Moving Beyond the Headlines
PALO ALTO, CA After two years of Global Week over Zoom, students congregated in the Chapel Theater on the morning of January 3, 2023, excited to explore this year’s theme, Inclusive Journalism: Beyond the Headlines. Due to historic rainfall in the Bay Area that week, two of the four days were moved back to the virtual setting. Students and teachers alike embodied agility—one of Castilleja’s core competencies—as our community continued to engage meaningfully with speakers over Zoom. Luckily, we returned to campus on the final day of Global Week 2023 and culminated the week with a new gathering, Celebrate Casti Stories, that highlighted the diverse array of interests and cultures represented in the student body.
One narrative rang true amongst all of the journalists who spoke to Castilleja and briefly transported us to Uganda, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, and various regions within North America. Inclusive storytelling offers many gifts. Stories give us the ability to inhabit different worlds and to learn from the voices of people whose lives do not mirror our own, but are equally as important. Stories examine injustices, expose conflict, and even express hope. Most of all, stories have the power to cultivate empathy for one another.
INDUSTRY ALUMNAE Kate Eby ’02, Producer at KGO-TV, San Francisco, and Tracy Jan ’94, Deputy Health and Science Editor and former Race & Economy Reporter at The Washington Post, returned to the Chapel Theater to discuss the meaning of inclusive journalism. Both of them stressed the importance of incorporating multiple voices when crafting a story and when deciding which story becomes a headline. Ultimately, they advised that we seek out people with backgrounds and perspectives different from our own, and to always do research and use data to back up the story.
Quotes of the Week
“I often tell people that my work as a journalist reifies my faith in humanity far more than it depletes it…it’s up to us to continue spreading messages of love, to understand people, and to continue empowering the rest of our world to be able to create a better tomorrow.”
ROBERT SAMUELS, Washington Post reporter and author of His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Global Week Speakers
“We have to reach towards each other. Do not abandon the people who tell you about injustices they encounter. Hear their stories and pass them on. Commit to being the kind of person who will form the raft others need to survive. Push past the stereotypes, the simple stories. Learn to live with complexity. Lead with compassion and empathy. That sense of our shared humanity is the greatest gift you can give the world as you reach out to make sure everyone is ok, too.”
DR. JESSICA GOUDEAU, Author of After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America
“How do you tell a story with images? Our personal interests can be an inspiration. Investigate your idea and have a moment of reflection. Ask yourself: what can I add to the collective tale of this topic?”
ANITA POUCHARD SERRA, Photojournalist and visual storyteller
NOTEWORTHY THOUGHTS FROM CHRISTINA GWINHA, DEAN OF FACULTY
Muriel Alarcón, Corrine Chin, Nadja Drost, Kate Eby ’02, Jessica Goudeau, Tracy Jan ’94, Anita Pouchard Serra, Robert Samuels, and Daniella Zalcman
We have learned about the importance of under-reported stories. We have seen pictures of rivers that carry migrants, refugees away. We have been asked: Who is being centered in a story? Who is not? We have heard from a “reluctant mediator.” These speakers have exhorted us to pay attention.
Understanding Race-Conscious Admission in Our Past, Our Present, and Our Future
In the most recent strategic planning process, Castilleja reinforced its commitment to educational leadership with a pillar entitled Beyond the Circle that seeks to establish Castilleja as a resource to a broader audience:
“Drawing from over a century of thoughtful, effective, innovative program development, Castilleja is an enduring resource in girls’ education and is poised to collaborate, share, and learn as a contributing citizen on a local, national, and international level.”
On February 2, 2023, the Castilleja College Counseling department, in partnership with Board Vice Chair Dr. Odette Harris P’22 ’24, took up this commitment to lead Beyond the Circle by hosting a panel entitled Understanding Race-Conscious Admission in Our Past, Our Present, and Our Future. With the Supreme Court considering the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard, and University of North Carolina cases about the long-time practice of race-conscious admission in higher education in America, this panel brought together experts on the topic to reflect on the possible broad ramifications of the court’s final opinion.
Castilleja’s Associate Director of College Counseling, Alyson Tom, who is known nationally not only for her leadership of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Special Interest Group for the National Association of College Admission Counseling, but also as a trusted speaker and educator in this field, moderated the discussion. She was joined by:
Neal Katyal–the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University and former Acting Solicitor General of the United States
Dr. Kelly E. Slay–Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, Slay’s work broadly explores issues of race, diversity, and equity in higher education
Dr. Matthew McGann–Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Amherst College and former Director of Admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Over 350 students, educators, parents, and guardians joined the webinar, and audience questions submitted during registration helped frame the discussion. Our panelists shared a historical and legal overview of race-conscious admission in the United States; they provided an analysis of holistic undergraduate admission and that race-conscious admission policies are only used in more selective colleges. They discussed how the Supreme Court’s potential decisions could have far-reaching implications for ensuring diverse and inclusive learning environments that will have an impact well beyond undergraduate admission, and they reflected on the importance of continuing to educate ourselves about this issue.
Although it is possible that there will be changes within the college application review process in the months to come, Ms. Tom reassures her students that the most important elements for students will remain the same:–Alyson Tom, Castilleja’s Associate Director of College Counseling
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“Be unapologetically yourself. If anyone ever tells you to hide a core part of your identity, they are wrong. You should never feel you need to hide yourself in the college process.”Neal Katyal Georgetown University Dr. Kelly E. Slay Vanderbilt University Dr. Matthew McGann Amherst College
A Hub for Imagination
Castilleja’s beloved Library is more than a home for books. It’s also an important gathering space for our community. Every year students look forward to the fun, creative, and whimsical activities Librarians Jole SeroffHA, Tasha Bergson-Michelson, and Christina Appleberry offer. Students on the Library Advisory Board contribute to planning the activities that inspire imagination and engagement on campus. Some highlights include the 8th annual Edible Book Festival, the Murder Mystery Party in the Alps, and crafts, of course!
COMMUNITY FUN AND ENGAGEMENT:
Bubble Making with the Bourn Lab
Stargazing on the Circle with the Science Department
Fortune Telling Party
Celebration of Casti Authors
Banned Books Week
Poem in Your Pocket Day Puzzles, Letterpress, Weaving, and More
“My friends and I love to trade book recommendations, attend writing workshops, and take on craft projects (from weaving to button-making) in the Casti Library! We also look forward to eating blondies and hearing our fellow student-writers share their work at the Library's annual Celebration of Casti Authors.”–SONIA CHERIAN ’23
“The library is my safe space on campus, as it is for many students. It is just such a warm place. Whether one likes to read or would rather play board games, not to mention the range of fun activities that the library team works hard to put on, there is something for everyone!”–EMAN HUSSAIN ’24
Q&A with Hannah Nguyễn
Where is home for you? San Jose; I grew up in a community with many other Vietnamese refugee families.
Favorite book you’ve read in the last decade? The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It was a mirror for me as a daughter of Vietnamese refugees.
Most recent TV show you binged? Only Murders in the Building.
Who was your most influential teacher? I often say my students are my teachers.
Your favorite subject in school? Math is my first love. I didn’t see myself in the history I was learning in my classes, but I later grew to love history.
Why Castilleja? I wanted to be in a community that doesn’t see DEIJ as a destination but as a journey to which to commit. We may be in different places on the journey, but we have a shared commitment to learn and grow. I also went to a girls’ school, and that experience was so special to me.
Why did you start the DEIJ Student Leadership Council? I wanted to create a space and structure that was explicitly for developing student leadership in DEIJ so that students would have the resources, tools, and skills to achieve their goals.
Favorite Casti lunch? Curry and rice!
What’s a typical weekend like for you? I go to my favorite restaurants, visit my family, and run lots of errands.
Which 5C resonates most with you? Courage. Achieving equity and justice takes courage. Courage is a choice we must make if we ever want to create the world that we want. It takes courage to be imaginative and to unlearn and rebuild.
Something we might not know about you? I have two cats: Sirius Black and Remus Lupin; they’re brothers. I’m a Potterhead.
What superpower do you bring to the ACE Center? Imagination and creativity.
A goal you’re hoping to achieve in the next 5 years? I want to either start or complete a doctorate in education. I love to learn; change excites me. When I’m ready, I want to pursue that.
What’s your vision for the DEIJ Student Leadership Council? I hope that it can be a coalition between all the students who represent different communities on campus and adult stakeholders invested in DEIJ and furthering our mission. The work to intentionally think about inclusion on campus needs to be done together.
A life lesson you hope to share with students? Don’t let the good keep you from being great. Sometimes we settle, and that stops us from being able to imagine more for us or for our world.
How long have you worked in schools? Ten years, I guess since I was allowed to! I got to college and the first thing I wanted to do was work in a local school. I knew in high school that I wanted to be a teacher.
How do you engage in your community? I think of my home community as my family. I go to their celebrations and support their work and small businesses. I like to see what local initiatives are happening and social issues people are organizing around and see how I can support that.
What do affinity spaces mean to you? They’re spaces of empowerment and belonging. I can be myself and not have to pretend. I can tell my story, and people will understand. I feel validated and that my story deserves to be heard; this gives me more courage to share.
What does solidarity mean to you? It’s not a performance. It is not a hashtag. It’s not glamorous work. It’s sacrifice. It’s showing up.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My parents. They taught me the meaning of resilience; they had to persevere through so much and they inspire me to be the best I can be. They’re the most courageous people I know.
“Don’t let the good keep you from being great. Sometimes we settle, and that stops us from being able to imagine more for us or for our world.”
– HANNAH NGUYỄN
Where is home for you? Southern California.
Favorite book you’ve read in the last decade? Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, gave me a lot to think about personally and professionally. I loved the way she wrote with such wisdom, humor, warmth, and self-awareness.
Favorite podcast? S-town. While it’s somewhat controversial, I’ve listened to it several times and I always notice something new each time. It’s a strong example of powerful storytelling that touches on so many themes of human existence.
Who was your most influential teacher? In life, my parents (who also happened to be teachers). At school, my most memorable teacher was Ms. Kearney who taught AP Literature.
Your favorite subject in school? English. I love to escape in a good book.
Q&A with Becca Winslow
Favorite Casti lunch? Anything that includes a big bowl of guacamole.
Impression of Casti traditions? I love them! I think traditions are so important for fostering community.
Favorite part of being an ACE Org advisor? I advise our Halford Young Women’s Leadership Program, and I love seeing our students outside of the classroom. It’s heartwarming to watch genuine relationships develop between the “big sisters’’ and their “little sisters.”
What’s a typical weekend like? Hiking and exploring nature with my husband, 2-year-old son, and 7-year-old rescue dog.
Which 5C resonates most? Charity. My broad definition of charity is someone who practices generosity for the greater good of the community. Charity can be giving your time, your skills, your finances, or even something as simple as offering nonjudgmental and kind words. This helps create a deeper sense of empathy and community.
What learning and leading competency comes naturally to you? Empathy. I seek to understand experiences that are unlike my own. I have a strong curiosity for learning about people, making authentic connections, and finding commonalities.
Your leadership style? I like getting feedback from others, synthesizing those ideas, and making a decision once I’ve heard from all perspectives.
A goal you’re hoping to achieve in the next 5 years? I’d like to deepen our community partnerships and expand our experiential learning opportunities.
What do you imagine for ACE Orgs in the new campus?
I think our ACE Orgs will build off of the strengths of the past, while also introducing new partnerships, deeper engagement opportunities, and more authentic and impactful experiences.
A life lesson to share with students? In life it’s easy to get stuck waiting for the perfect opportunity. Just dive in, and see where the current takes you.
Your superpower? Working in nonprofit organizations for over 10 years, I understand the perspective of our community partners. This helps in the design, implementation, and improvement of our high-impact partnerships.
What does community mean to you? I believe community is formed when people who have shared values are working towards common goals. It’s where you feel a sense of belonging, like, “These are my people!”
Why are community partnerships important? Community partnerships allow us to come together and share our skills, expand our knowledge, grow our networks and our supporters.
Who is your biggest inspiration? My students and their passion, drive, and creativity.
“In life, it’s easy to get stuck waiting for the perfect opportunity. Just dive in, and see where the current takes you.”
– BECCA WINSLOW
During the opening faculty meetings in August of 2021, Wendy Cruz, Castilleja’s Head of Wellness, was struck by what she suspected was a really good idea. At the time, she wasn’t sure exactly where it would take her, but she knew she wanted to follow through on it.
CREATIVITY AND WELLBEING The idea, in its earliest form, was a partnership with Bridget Rigby, the new Director of the Bourn Idea Lab, to add more hands-on learning to her Middle School Wellness curriculum. She explains, “When Bridget introduced herself, she said two things that really caught my attention—that she loved to collaborate and that she felt that creativity supported wellbeing.” From that moment on, Ms. Cruz knew that she wanted to work with Ms. Rigby to make something new to take shape for her students.
Middle School Wellness explores different themes with different grade levels. Sixth graders focus on conflict resolution, building healthy relationships, and a growth mindset. Seventh graders build from that to practice communications skills, self-identity, and mindfulness. Finally, in 8th grade, students expand their habits of self-awareness and self-regulation while pulling from learning they have done in previous years.
SUPPORT SYSTEMS With all of these concepts to choose from, Ms. Cruz knew it was just a matter of time before something took shape. And in reality, it took almost no time at all. “In one of my first 7th grade lessons, we were talking about support systems—what do yours look like, who is in yours, why do we have them.” They talked about how to create solid support systems at school, and as the conversation progressed, many students included their pets within their support systems.
Then it happened. Someone piped up, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a class dog?”
Let’s just stop for a minute. So many of us have been here. We’ve been the child asking for a puppy. We’ve been the adult taking a long, pensive sigh before answering. Maybe we’ve even been both at different points in our lives. No matter who we are, we know how this story usually ends. But Ms. Cruz took everything in a different direction. She simply said, “Yeah, dogs are great.”
The students felt validated, as they should in Wellness class, and they thought the conversation about adding a pet to their support systems at school would end there. Little did they know.
Meet the Pets!
Charlie is 28 years old. If you touch Charlie’s nose, he’ll blink and twirl his pigtail. If you hold his hand, he’ll flap his wings. Charlie is really loving and always has his pink heart glasses on. He really hates pickles but loves cookies. Charlie is really soft, and he loves to cuddle. Charlie is very lazy and loves rainy days because he gets to curl up in his cozy bed.
Hey guys! My name is Luscious and I am 35 years young. My pronouns are giga/chad. I have very luscious rainbow locks. I am a unigapenunnisaur. I like hugs and I am decent with children. Adopt me please!
I’m a semi-aquatic, egg-laying spy bot. I’ve got more than just mad skill. I’ve got a beaver tail and bill. All the Casti students swoon when they hear me chitter. Pick up my hat, please. I also love it when you pet a couple places on my back. Adopt me, because I’m Perry… Perry the Platypus! You can call me Agent P.
Birthday: April 8, 1952 (Age 70)
Favorite color: Pink
Favorite animal: Bull
Favorite food: Acorns
Magic power: Flight
Favorite subject: Biology
Favorite class: Wellness P6
Personality: Tall, funny, cool, weird, quirky, built different
Favorite thing to watch: Sturniolo Triplets
Favorite thing to do: Sleep
Favorite movie: Lilo and Stitch
Least favorite food: Cereal
Ms. Cruz met with Ms. Rigby to create a project that allowed students to create their own robotic pets. And now, two years later, Wellness Bots are a highlight of the Wellness program in 7th grade. Throughout the process, students first reflect on their individual support systems, and what makes them effective. Then they work in small groups to design a robotic animal that could offer them comfort. Maybe it can hug, purr, wink, or wag its tail. Eventually, the entire class comes together to combine features from each group’s prototype. Ms. Rigby explains, “As students build their class pets, they gain creative and technological confidence. In the process they also develop skills in mechanical design, visual block programming, and building electronic systems.”
The students think intentionally about the elements of their designs—like light sensors, servo motors, and LEDs. Then they work together to leverage the different components to bring their pets to life and make people happy. So, they aren’t real dogs, but they have a lot of the same features, and they are definitely campus comfort animals.
#COMEASYOUARE IS CASTILLEJA’S SIGNATURE DEIJ COMMUNITY EVENT. THIS YEAR’S EVENT, HOSTED AT THE LOS ALTOS COMMUNITY CENTER, BEGAN WITH A FIRESIDE CHAT WITH KEYNOTE SPEAKER, AUTHOR, AND ACTIVIST MICHELLE MIJUNG KIM.
Michelle MiJung Kim shared her thoughts and answered a wide range of questions related to cross-racial solidarity, which is grounded in championing people we identify with and those with whom we do not. As someone who self-identifies as a queer Korean American immigrant woman, she knows the forces that marginalize her community also harm other ones. “When I march for Black lives,” she told the audience, “I’m also showing up for my own community, because at the shared root of our oppression is white supremacy culture.” Healing, justice, and liberation are as interconnected as the path to breaking the cycle of oppression. This is one reason why the new student-led DEIJ Task Force is so important; students want to be part of the solution to envision sustainable ways to fulfill Castilleja’s commitment to DEIJ. As we commit to the work, Ms. Kim counseled the group to look inward and self-reflect before showing up for others.
People are multidimensional, explained Ms. Kim: “Everyone has both privileged and marginalized aspects of their identity.” Acknowledging this nuance, she asked, “How can we strategically use our privileges to move the work forward?” The path towards equity is full of contradictions, and each of us must show up with integrity as we authentically engage in the work. That includes examining our intersectionality with deep honesty. Ms. Kim wisely said, “We must transform ourselves to transform the world.” When asked about how to begin engaging in DEIJ matters,
Ms. Kim advised attendees to identify one or two issues and work on those deeply. “It will connect to all the other issues at some point,” because inequities are embedded in systems, and when one pillar tumbles, the others quake as well. Further, she acknowledged that binary thinking does not leave room for growth. Instead, it is important to leave room for learning to be messy in the collective journey towards progress. Learning is not always meant to be easy; often, the challenging moments lead to transformation.
The moderator asked how she stays hopeful while engaging in this work. Ms. Kim responded by sharing a well-known phrase from social justice activist Mariame Kaba: “Hope is a discipline.” It takes practice, and it’s important to seek out those who are equally invested in doing the work. “We have to do this work collectively. We can’t do it alone,” Ms. Kim stated emphatically.
In the second half of the event, six students on the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Council (DEILC) Task Force led workshops based on what they learned at last year’s NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). Castilleja students have attended many SDLC conferences, eager to share newly acquired knowledge upon returning to campus. But last fall, the group approached the conference with a new set of intentions. Operating within the Task Force framework, these students committed to undergo leadership training to reflect on what it means to be an antiracist and DEIJ leader at Castilleja and beyond, while collaborating to further DEIJ initiatives on campus. Part of that work included developing the #ComeAsYouAre workshops that invited all attendees–parents, guardians, students, and faculty–to learn, share, and explore through various activities. Waiting for the student-led workshops to begin, one parent turned in her chair, commenting
to another parent, “I love that this is coming from the students.” Indeed, that afternoon, the students transformed and became the teachers.
In one conference room, Naveli Singh ’25 and Julie Sidana ’24 offered participants a framework for their workshop, Race Through a Looking Glass: Finding Affinity and Listening In. Across the hall, Zahra Rohaninejad ’25 and Reagan Raphael ’25 took a deeper dive into the intersectionality of identity by leading an activity that helped participants understand the complexity of how our core identifiers impact our personal experiences. In another room around the corner, Emma Foster ’24 and Analisa Delgado ’24 facilitated a conversation about accessibility, disability justice, and macroaggressions against marginalized groups.
From navigating difficult questions about identity to engaging in important conversations all while fostering a safe and brave space, these student leaders were actively doing the work and spreading hope within the Castilleja community and beyond. Engaging in and creating real change is not easy, but it is necessary to develop a more equitable future. We must find ways to trust that a better tomorrow is on the horizon. One way to build that trust is to grow together as a community through events like #ComeAsYouAre.
Race Through a Looking Glass: Finding Affinity and Listening In
Meeting at the Intersection: Crossroads and Connections Between Our Identities
Ability as an Identifier: The Overlooked Macroaggressions Against The Disabled Community, Its Influence On Other Marginalized Groups, and The Muted Voices Within Our Own Community
“I was so excited to see so many teachers, students, and parents all engaging with DEI, and to see Ms. Nguyễn and all the student leaders' hard work come together.”–Anna Kim ’23
“We learned about intersectionality and the ways it can provide us with privilege and contribute to our oppression. In one workshop activity, we created diagrams centered on different parts of our identities (e.g., race, gender, religion) and how big of a role different identifiers play in our lives, and in what ways they connect to each other.”—Ameena Haque ’26
“Leaving the SDLC conference, I felt a sense of hope and excitement for our community, and am honored to share my learnings and experiences with Castilleja.”—Naveli Singh ’25
ARTS WITH A HEART
This year’s AWAH performance focused on the theme of Resilience. Students chose to benefit Pivotal, a non-profit whose mission is to help young people in and from foster care achieve their educational and career goals.
Love What You Do
LOVE WHAT YOU DO When talking about his career path, Castilleja’s new dance teacher, Karl Kuehn, explains, “My mom always says you have to love what you do because you’re the one who’s going to be doing it.”
Just a few minutes in his class proves that he has followed her advice; Mr. Kuehn loves what he does. As students file into the dance studio, they slip off their shoes. They also seem to slip into both more relaxed and more energized versions of themselves. It’s a little bit counterintuitive to believe that both can be true at the same time, but in Mr. Kuehn’s class, it happens effortlessly.
Mr. Kuehn took his first dance class when he was just three years old. He’d gone to his older sister’s recital, and as he puts it, “I told my parents, ‘I want to do that.’” He admits that they were hesitant at first because in the small town where he grew up, dance classes, as he describes it, “were really spaces for girls.”
Through grade school this fact didn’t slow him down, but by high school, Mr. Kuehn found himself backing away from his identity as a dancer because he was getting bullied about it. Quietly, he began doing more choreography on his own with friends, but it wasn’t until college that he began taking dance classes and performing again. That experience helped him find his way back to his passion. “I started college as a civil engineering major, and I was miserable,” he explains. “But when I took a dance class, I realized I couldn’t escape my passion, and I found great mentors and changed my major.”
EVERYONE CAN DANCE Although he started dancing at a young age, Mr. Kuehn loves being able to teach students who are just starting as seniors in high school as much as he loves teaching students who have been studying for years. “Everyone can dance,”
he says, adding, “There are a lot of preconceived notions of what dance is, but everyone has the skills and ability to dance. I just have to encourage them to have the courage to try, take risks, and keep an open mind. Then they have the skills to figure it out.”
DANCE YOUR LIFE They may also learn a little bit about themselves along the way. In his Middle School Dance 7 class, he outlines what he calls the Personal Timeline Project. First, the students need to identify five key moments that shaped who they are. Then, they need to put together a picture and two or three sentences that describe each moment. Eventually, the students will transform the stages of this timeline into movements, creating a dance autobiography. “The progression goes from moment, to feeling, to movement,” he reminds them, but they are already hard at work making notes in their dance journals.
At Castilleja, Mr. Kuehn hopes to help students pursue their passions. “It doesn’t have to be dance,” he explains. “Maybe they will figure out that they like civil engineering, but I hope they learn something in my class that can help them find the joy that comes from doing something you love.” It’s a worthy goal. After all, they are the ones who are going to be doing it.
THE FUTURE OF SCHOOL-WIDE DANCE PERFORMANCES
Mr. Kuehn will be working with colleagues and student dancers to reimagine a new version of Arts with a Heart, with a new name, that reflects his vision and the VPA department’s vision for the future of the Castilleja dance program. Consideration will be given to the longstanding connection of our dance program to students’ sense of purpose, and opportunities for leadership will evolve as they do in all Castilleja programs.
Queens of the CourtVARSITY VOLLEYBALL 2021–2022
the team earned the fourth seed in Division V CCS playoffs. In the semifinals, the Gators traveled to compete against the number one seed, defeating them 3-0 on their home turf. That game advanced the Gators to CCS Finals, where they came face-to-face with the same team they had beat in last year’s CCS Championship match.
ROAD TO VICTORY
Down two games and neck-to-neck with their opponent in the third game, it was time to dig deep and fight to win the CCS title. In a remarkable turn of events, the Gators rallied to win the third set by two points, keeping them in the game, and leading them to take the crown in five sets. “No matter what they were faced with, they fought to the end,” said Athletic Director Mary Jo Pruitt
THE GOAL OF THE GAME IS TO END UP ON THE QUEEN’S SIDE.
Three players on each side of the court duke it out to win the point and either maintain their rank or move up to the coveted Queen’s side. While this may sound like a medieval-era activity, it’s actually a drill beloved by Castilleja volleyball players. To win “Queen of the Court,” players must think quickly, move with agility, and hustle. This game-like scenario prepares the team to engage mentally and physically with their next opponent. When leading a team, coaches often tell their players to “practice like you play and play like you practice.” Castilleja’s volleyball team clearly embodied this mentality in recent years.
In back-to-back seasons–2021 and 2022–the volleyball team fought tenaciously to earn Division V Central Coast Section (CCS) Championship titles. During the fall of 2021, they swept their opponents, winning each game in both league and championship play 3-0 (you must win three of five sets to win the game). After competing in the Division V CCS Championship, they secured a spot in Northern California (NorCal) Championship bracket play. Due to competitive equity, the team was bumped to a tougher division and earned the number seven seed in Division II. In the second round of the Division II NorCal playoffs, the team courageously battled, narrowly losing the game in five after being down 2-0. However, their remarkable tenacity set the stage for the following year.
MOVING ON UP
After a record-breaking 2021 season, the volleyball team advanced in the WBAL from the Skyline to Foothill League in fall 2022. This meant facing a more competitive lineup in their regular season play and perhaps traveling a harder road to CCS qualifiers. Meanwhile, four long-time players had just graduated, so the team knew they would need to band together, redefine their identity, and build off their successful last season if they wanted to compete in another CCS Championship.
Thankfully, your Gators already knew how to maintain a winning mentality and strategy. Their secret sauce? Never give up. Last fall,
Reflecting on the last two seasons, Ms. Pruitt stated, “Winning a championship is hard. You need a little luck and an unwavering belief that you can do it.” Indeed, it was a season of many triumphs. Faced with tougher competition and increased travel to play on their opponent’s home courts, the volleyball team knew how to proceed. All they had to do was play like they were queens of the court.
“Positive results will occur if everyone plays to their strengths AND focuses on elevating the team dynamic.” Castilleja water polo players are familiar with this notion of teamwork. It’s a concept that they hear their coach, Amy Chinn, talk about every day.
How did Coach Chinn, who began the individual sport of swimming at age 8, become such a proponent of team sports? Once she fell in love with water polo, she realized that when you’re on a team, “It’s cool to be with a group of people who are working to accomplish the same goal.” The camaraderie, coupled with the personal fulfillment of being an athlete, inspired Coach Chinn to expand her involvement in the water polo world and begin coaching.
Any coach knows that balancing individual progress with the needs of a team is an exciting challenge. Coach Chinn walks this tightrope like a gold medalist. Here’s her secret: she creates a team culture where each player has a specific role to play. “Everyone is smart in different ways. You don’t have to do it all yourself. In fact, it’s better that you don’t,” she explains to her team. When you play for Coach Chinn, your understanding of teamwork evolves. She views personal skill development within the framework of the entire team’s success. When one person wins, the team wins, too. Sometimes, though, winning isn’t actually the goal.
Sports are often focused on the end game, but according to Coach Chinn, “The process is the most important part. You can cut corners to get results, but if they’re not going to be longterm results, then that won’t matter as much.” Slow and steady can, indeed, win the race. Player development–both in and out of the water–takes time, commitment, and patience. Luckily for Castilleja, Coach Chinn’s philosophy encompasses all of those elements, and more. “I want our students to grow as athletes and learn to challenge themselves as humans,” she comments, adding that the best part of her job as Assistant Athletic Director is interacting with students and seeing them define and find success in their chosen sport, on their own terms.
Coach Chinn’s impact extends beyond the pool. She is an advisor in the Upper School and cherishes the opportunity to create a microcosm of the Castilleja community with a small group. Knowing firsthand how playing sports expanded her own community as a child, Coach Chinn emphasizes team bonding and mentorship as a way to foster a positive team culture. Encouraging cross-grade relationships is a key part of developing a sense of camaraderie throughout an athlete’s time at Castilleja.
“Ms. Chinn is always smiling and always says ‘hi’ to me around the Circle. Everyone who knows her would agree with me when I say that talking to her makes your day better!”– RILEY STERLING ’24
In Wellness classes, students learn about the intrinsic value of being a teenager. It’s a time of self-reflection, discovery, and growth. For many students, much of this development happens within the structure of athletics. Athletes must quickly adapt to the fact that trying new things means that sometimes, they may not immediately succeed. This is not concerning to Coach Chinn, who advises students to “try it, be bad, and work to get better. Rewards and benefits will come.” Learning to play the long game can make all the difference.
AROUND THE CIRCLE — MIDDLE SCHOOL
AROUND THE CIRCLE — UPPER SCHOOL
Learning, Wellbeing, and Belonging
With the City of Palo Alto’s approval of our Master Plan, we are excited to be moving forward with final designs for our modernized, sustainable campus.
Throughout this process we have been aware of how spaces shape three important elements of the student experiences at Castilleja—learning, wellbeing, and sense of belonging. At the same time, as we look toward new spaces that will support the next century around the Circle, we want to honor the traditions that define and unite our students and alums. Our new interiors will take all of these important elements into account with a design that draws on our traditions and builds community.
The Chapel Theater has been and always will be the place where the entire community gathers. The new campus offers additional spaces for division-wide and grade-level activities. The Middle School and the Upper School spaces both have open areas where the entire division can meet. Then there are also smaller spaces that will be devoted to each grade level. Pulling from our traditional class ties, in the Upper School, these spaces will be defined by the class color and allow each grade to have an informal home base to relax and spend time together.
SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS TO SUPPORT WELLBEING
These grade-level spaces, as well as all other areas in the new buildings, will be constructed from sustainable materials that will enhance the beauty of the spaces while also improving the acoustics. Our team of designers and architects at WRNS have vast experience in sustainable building and in creating spaces for schools. With these two areas of expertise, they understand that the materials contribute to the health and wellbeing of the students in the short term and the planet in the long term. Like the grade-level spaces, the design for these spaces will pull from traditional Castilleja class colors and themes like the Castilleja flower and the Circle.
DEDICATED WELLNESS CENTER
Our dedicated Wellness Center (above) will be easy to access and claim its rightful place as a core element of our program. At the same time, it will be a quieter and calmer oasis, offering different spaces for one-on-one conversations and larger areas to relax and take a break from other daily routines. Castilleja understands that for girls to thrive they need trusted adults. In our Wellness programming, students begin to understand what they need in their individual support network, which helps them find mentors and connections throughout the Castilleja community.
THE CLASS OF 2023
The Next Wanderers
“Our ability to imagine is what makes us human. Imagination is the new frontier, the motivator of change, and the chance to build a better world. We need our imaginations now more than ever.”— MONICA SIDANA ’23, ASB PRESIDENT
SENIOR DIRECTORS FOR ARTS WITH A HEART 2023
“In whose presence do you feel like the person you want to be? Follow that feeling. Who are those people that bring out the very best that is already inside you? And then, tell those people that you love them.”— ANNA BIRMAN ’23, Senior Speech Excerpt
“Open yourself up to being shaped by the people around you. When you see a trait that you admire in someone else, embody that and make it your own.”
— JOSIE O’HARA ’23, Senior Speech Excerpt
“Maintaining the delicate balance between my responsibilities and being playful has helped me take risks and forge stronger connections with friends and family. Play looks different on everyone, so find your unique sources of fun and start now!”
– SOPHIE LAMM ’23, Senior Speech Excerpt
“Try new things and be open to new experiences, even if they do seem scary, and do the things that make you happy even if you’re not very good at them.”
— HANNAH RUCKER ’23, Senior Speech Excerpt
CELEBRATING THE 7s AND 2s
In September 2022, we welcomed Castilleja alums from the Classes of 1952–2022 back to campus for our annual Reunion Weekend. We celebrated individuals and the winner of the Castilleja Cup, the Class of 1972. Be sure to mark your calendars for this year’s reunion event on October 7, 2023, at Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto when we will celebrate classes ending in “8” and “3.”
SAVE THE DATE
Join us for this year’s reunion event on Saturday, October 7, 2023, at Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto, when we will celebrate classes ending in “8” and “3.”
Letting Curiosity Lead the Way
STORIES OF CURIOSITY
Once again this year, Reunion Weekend brought current students and returning alums together in the Chapel Theater. The reunion opened with a panel of five graduates—Nancy Osborne ’67, Holli Berman ’87, Reena Patton ’92, Tene Cage ’97, and Lindsey Wang ’12—who reflected on the role of curiosity in their lives after Castilleja.
Ms. KauffmanHA introduced the panelists, commenting on the fact that when applied in the context of daily life, curiosity often takes the form of a willingness to take risks. Certainly, the alums who sat on the panel proved that concept to be true as they spoke about how curiosity allowed them to stay open to unexpected opportunities and helped them rise to face adversity.
Nancy, who has spent much of her life advocating for equity in access to healthcare, shared that her experience as a mother of a disabled child set her on this course, which then led her toward making a difference on a global level by becoming the Founding Chair of Malaria Partners International and President of the largest Rotary Club in the world.
Holli spoke about the power of choosing the unknown, which she did years ago when she decided to move to Boulder, Colorado, a
place where she knew no one. Now, she has recently retired from her work as a cantor and spiritual counsel, and she and her partner have bought a van and plan to see where life goes next.
Reena spoke about how, surprisingly, taking time off from college led her into music production, which has become her career. She urged alums to be open minded and true to themselves as they make space for the unexpected in life.
Tene followed a more linear path to her current career as a neurosurgeon, but she emphasized that the time she took before starting medical school to work in Ghana shaped her work as a physician.
Lindsey, the youngest of the panelists, shared that her goals have changed greatly. She went to college, sure that she wanted to become a doctor and left as a mechanical engineer. Then soon after graduating, she discovered that her real passion lay in connecting data and policy making.
Everyone on the panel agreed that curiosity is an essential component in finding your own path in life because that path rarely leads exactly where you thought it would when you were in high school.
“Make eye contact, smile, laugh, share your joys and sorrow, share your humanity.”
Since July of 2002, Mid FullerHA has supported the Castilleja community with unmatched care, joy, and conscientiousness. Hailing from a family of mostly boys—with a brother, two sons, and multiple nephews, Mr. Fuller admits he had a lot to learn when he arrived, but glitter and locker decorating quickly became familiar parts of his life. From building the student planner to managing forms to scheduling classrooms to teaching new students how to use their combination locks, Mr. Fuller made everyday life around the Circle run more smoothly. In his time here, Middle School students have taught him important lessons. He explains, “When I came to Castilleja, after being an adult for some time, I re-learned, especially from middle schoolers, that little things mean a lot, often much more than you think. Make eye contact, smile, laugh, share your joys and sorrow, share your humanity.” When asked about advice he has for Castilleja students, he says, “Cultivate and nurture values for yourself and others, like integrity, intellectual growth, generosity, hard work, and kindness. And do something different and new every six months or so. For example on a clear night, stare at the stars for at least 10 minutes and marvel at the beauty of nature.”
Lauren SchryverHA moved frequently throughout her childhood, and one of those new starts led her to try French in high school. This was the beginning of a lifelong love of the language that took her to Bourdeaux to live and teach for two years. By the time she began working at University High School in San Francisco two years later, Mme. Schryver was planning to stay put, but after visiting Castilleja’s campus, she says, “I immediately appreciated the value of a single-sex education as a teacher, and my experience helped shape my curricular choices and even pedagogical approaches. Then when my daughter attended Castilleja, I witnessed first-hand the impact on a student. I know it sounds cliché, but she did find her voice at Castilleja, and that confidence has remained with her ever since.” When asked about a message she would like her students to remember, she immediately said, “I used to carry a pinecone in my coat pocket that my kids had given me when they were young. I kept it for years to remind me to hold what I cherish close. I hope my students can find their own pinecones to keep with them as reminders to seek balance and remember what brings them joy.”
“They have given me so much, including their irreverent humor and hope for the future.”
Deborah TrillingHA supports public education, but she explains: “In graduate school I learned that research shows that girls do better in girls’ schools and boys do better when girls are around.” This knowledge led her to come to Castilleja in 1985, teaching Art History and developing Cultures and Civilizations and Ethics classes, later moving solely into Studio Art. Since then, her classroom has become a refuge for Castilleja students—even those who don’t see themselves as artists. When talking about her method, she describes: “It’s about making the classroom a place of safety and love and enabling all students to experience the joy of creating art, no matter their skill level.” Ms. Trilling watches her students carefully, noticing their work while referring them to artists that could serve as inspiration for each individual student’s journey in art. As she reflects back on what she has learned from her students, she says, “They have given me so much, including their irreverent humor and hope for the future.” Her son told her: “Gen Z has one simple rule: Don’t Be a Jerk.” By following this rule, Castilleja students demonstrate openness, tolerance, humor, optimism, and flexibility. And as Ms. Trilling confirms, “They are easy to love.”
Pictured left, a recent work by Deborah TrillingHA
hope my students can find their own...reminders to seek balance and remember what brings them joy.”
Investing in Friendship
IN MEMORY OF CINDY SWANSON MILLER ’64 (1946–2022)
Many alums list lifelong friendships as one of the enduring gifts of a Castilleja education. Certainly, members of the Class of 1964 have been reflecting on the depth and importance of these relationships after losing their beloved friend and classmate, Cindy Swanson Miller ’64, late last year.
A LIFE OF PURPOSE During her career in fundraising and community relations for local institutions, including the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Peninsula Open Space Trust, Stanford Hospital, and Castilleja School, Cindy fulfilled Castilleja’s mission to lead a life with “a sense of purpose to effect positive change.” Cindy’s classmates still admire the work she put into those organizations, but they remember her even more fondly for the work that she put into building and maintaining friendships.
While at Castilleja, Cindy actively fostered a sense of belonging within her class. Cary Lurie ’64, who was a boarder, explains, “Back then, there was a big divide between day students and boarders, and Cindy broke that down by inviting us to her home over the weekends. She just brought us in like we were family.”
A LEADER AMONG FRIENDS Susan Packard Orr ’64, who met Cindy long before Castilleja when they were Kindergarten classmates, remembers, “She was amazingly friendly and totally sincere.” However, Susan adds what she feels really defined Cindy as a friend, “She worked at her friendships. She sent cards and remembered birthdays. She never let you lose touch with her. She always made the effort to show how much she cared.”
This was true in Kindergarten, true at Castilleja, and true throughout her entire life. Michaele Thunen ’64 recalls, “She was the facilitator,
really the glue that held us all together…thanks to Cindy, our various reunions were huge successes in reconnecting our classmates.” When the Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th Reunion, Cindy pulled together a multi-day celebration in Carmel that deepened and renewed those lifelong connections.
HONORING CINDY It comes as no surprise that her classmates sought each other’s company as they worked to process their grief at the close of last year. On a Zoom call, as they remembered their dear friend, the Class began to think about ways to pay tribute to Cindy and everything she embodied. Because Castilleja was so important to Cindy and because she drew them together, they chose to make a significant donation to the school in her name. Within a matter of only three months, the Class of 1964 came together to raise funds to name the Cynthia Swanson Miller Conference Room on the new campus. One of the ways that women make an impact is by demonstrating the collective power of focused philanthropy. Institutions that serve women and girls rely on this type of support— especially from the women who have benefited and still understand the value of the school’s legacy.
ROOM FOR THE FUTURE This gift truly honors their friend’s spirit, but Susan admits that she feels seeing the room for the first time will be bittersweet. “It will be wonderful, but it will be sad because I wish she could see it, too.” Cindy will not see it, but her friends will, and just as important, generations of future Castilleja students will also see it. There are so many ways that Castilleja students and alums serve as mentors for each other. In this case, Cindy and her classmates are role models for current students—showing the importance of investing, in every way possible, in the relationships that take shape around the Circle.
We’d love to hear from you!
Help us stay in touch by sharing your new contact information and exciting updates on life, work, family, accomplishments, travel, hobbies, and more. Submit your Class Note (75 words or fewer) to appear in the next issue of Full Circle Magazine at: castilleja.org/alumnae
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1959 Mary Woodward Huntsman Vena ’59 recently married David Vena. They live in West Los Angeles, and enjoy playing golf, bridge, and traveling. She’d love to hear from her classmates.
Sarah Morris Pullen ’64 shares: “I went to my home away from home in Klamath Falls, Oregon, about six or seven times this year. I also read 43 books this year, gardened, exercised four times a week, went to the symphony, and had outdoor meals with friends. I am always delighted to Zoom with my high school classmates several times a year. As a recovering enthusiastic community volunteer, I am on the Guild of our local Broadway Rose Theater for the 12th year.”
1963 Sandra Sayre Flattery ’63 shares: “Our four children and seven grandkids are all good, as are we. We resumed travel this year with wonderful trips with National Geographic on Lindblad small ships. In September, we journeyed to the Alaskan and British Columbian Inside Passages observing whales, sea lions, and all manner of wildlife. In November, we cruised on the Sea Quest from Cartagena, Colombia, through the Panama Canal and visited islands.”
Photo: Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point of the continental United States.
Virginia Smedberg ’63 writes: “Opera seems to be continuing to thrive. Life as a musician has resumed, almost as before (we mask, and those who can’t—singers and wind players—test regularly; it is not good if crucial players or singers get sick, so we try to keep them safe.) LIVE music is definitely where it’s at!”
Gail Wilson Zetter ’64 has been pondering the frailties of old age, determined to see beyond them and not be taken down (figuratively, not literally, like stepping on an evil blueberry and falling flat.) She reports: “Every time I get a big hug from any one of my four grandsons, I count my blessings and stop asking questions. We had Christmas in Boston in our daughter and family’s lovely old house. Our son and his family joined us for a really happy family reunion.”
Photo: Gail’s happy family in Boston.
1968 Christie Hunner Shawl ’68 reports: “My son, who received a full scholarship to medical school, is now practicing as a first-year psychiatrist. He resides in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife, Ashley, and my four grandbabies (all under the age of 6.)”
1962 Kathy Sternes Grove ’62 shares: “In 2022, 20 years after taking up the game of golf, I got my first hole in one–something that my husband, a golfer for 70 years, has never done. Professionally, I received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, which is the highest recognition from the FAA for pilots. It is awarded to those who have flown continuously for 50 years without an accident or violation.”
Photos: O’Donnell Golf Club, Palm Springs, November 2022; Birthday party October 2022, with daughters Kelly Groves ’96 and Cortney Groves Hsu ’00 and their families.
1964 Anne Grinnell Lynn ’64 sent a Christmas note and a picture of herself with greatgrandchildren Ella and Avery when she visited the family in Austin, Texas, last October. She noted, “It’s funny how being a great-grandparent puts generational changes in perspective. I was trying to imagine what the world might be like in 2100 when Ella is my age–I couldn’t do it. Everything is moving so fast!” For now, she is grateful to be well and able to do what she wants.
Photo: Anne and her great-grandchildren.
Enid Hardcastle Nuisberger ’64 wrote of great frustration trying to unzip husband Geoffrey’s Thanksgiving turkey costume in time to play Santa. They finally ripped it off, but it was too late. Enid got a mani-pedi and went to Bermuda.
Photo: Gramma Christie.
1969 Diane Brooks Dixon ’69 shares: “I was elected to the California State Assembly in the November 2022 election. I am honored and privileged to serve the people of California and the 72nd District (Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and inland cities of south Orange County.)”
Photo: Swearing in Ceremony.
1971 DeBorah Eaton Beatty ’71 shares: “This has been a year of growth and exploration for me. I’ve started doing in-person workshops on women’s empowerment topics and am having the time of my life! It’s so wonderful to see transformation happen for my clients. I’m also exploring my work as a Color Energist and finding new options for healing my women warriors there. Health has been challenging with my husband’s brain surgery and my emergency gallbladder surgery. We have healed at an astounding rate and are ready to rock on for 2023.”
1983 Sandra Pruitt Ney ’83 shares, “My husband and I are so happy to have moved back to the West Coast. We now live in Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe. I started a children’s clothing company called Will & Ivey eight years ago and am now trying to bring manufacturing to the West Coast. I’d love to connect with any alums in the fashion industry! We opened our first brick and mortar in Lake Tahoe and are having so much fun connecting with the community and tourists. I am on the board of a new nonprofit called Rescued Hearts Ranch. I also work with the local nonprofit caring for foster children and families. Please come visit me in Tahoe! Our store address is 292 Kingsbury Grade #32 Stateline, NV 89449.
1972 Joyce Bogner Bohn ’72 writes: “The Class of 1972 celebrated our 50th Reunion last year. It was really nice to be in contact again with classmates like Lynn Hammond, Kim Bergeson Horton, Beth Johnson Riley, and Barbara Most Weissman. How much our class has changed, yet we still have so much in common. Thanks to Barbara Davis for printing out a collective history for us and to Nancy Ditz Mosbacher for hosting the after-party. And a big shout-out to Mia Mora, who started an environmental group on Facebook called ’Do More.’ Susan Sundby Nicholas and I went to Italy during the summer and spent time with Lise Giansiracusa in Rome.”
Lise, Susan, and Joyce in Rome.
1974 Meg Walker ’74 traveled in 2022 and spent two weeks on the Big Island in Hawaii. During a nighttime visit to Volcanoes National Park, she saw some flowing lava! Meg explored the West and East Coasts with friends and enjoyed beaches, stunning views, and beautiful gardens. She shares: “I’m still enjoying living in San Francisco and working at Sutter Health. Would love to hear from Casti friends!”
’80 shares: “I ran into Katie Hanna
at a Stanford tailgate and Katie’s mother Joyce Hanna ’52 (my mom’s Stanford classmate) at a Peninsula Volunteers gala. I helped my daughter and son-in-law buy their first home in San Luis Obispo. She’s a Marriage and Family Therapist; he is a nurse practitioner in a busy dermatology practice. I continue to enjoy my real estate practice and love all things artistic and expressive. I am ever grateful to Nancy FlowersHA for the writer’s mind she honed in me. Grateful for it all. Blessings!”
Photo: Trip to France and Italy.
1981 Jamie Flaxman ’81 writes: “I am heading out in February 2023 to travel for 14 months, covering all seven continents and more than 45 countries. I love to travel, and this is my dream trip. I will begin in Cape Town, South Africa, and end in South America in April 2024. I have a private Facebook group where you can follow my adventures. Friend me or send me a private message on Facebook, and I will send you an invitation to the group.”
1984 Michelle Riches Helvey ’84 and her husband Ted are the very happy grandparents of eight. She shares, “My work as Head of School at Oakwood School in Morgan Hill continues, and I am finding great meaning and purpose in leadership and family.”
Photo: All together for Thanksgiving in the Bahamas.
1988 Katy McCandless ’88 shares: “I am back in London. Anyone visiting or living in London, please let me know, I would love to see you!”
1989 Sara Beckett Ivy ’89 and her husband Stuart officially became empty nesters in June 2022, after their son, Samuel, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and began his new job with Trackmobile in LaGrange, Georgia. His twin brother, Cade, bought his first home just outside of Athens, Georgia, in May 2021, and currently works as a diesel mechanic and CDL driver. Sara was recently promoted to the role of Compensation & Classification Administrator of the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government. Her parents relocated to a retirement community in Saratoga, California, and she hopes to visit them, the beaches, and the redwood forests in 2023.
Janet Tennyson ’89 transitioned into a new role at Menlo School. After 25 years of teaching Spanish at Menlo High School, she is now one of the Associate Directors of Admissions. She shares that she is enjoying this new chapter!
1991 Neelam Noorani ’91 is living in San Francisco with her husband and 12-year-old daughter and spending time in London. She writes: “I am still practicing international human rights law. I am sending good wishes to all my classmates as we celebrate our half-centennial.”
1993 Carol Ng ’93 visited San Francisco last fall. She shared two highlights: “I took my family to Casti for a visit and enjoyed a small reunion with Lisa Chow, Courtney Dyar, and Leslie Stafford It was my first time taking my family back to Casti since graduation, and my 7-year-old was amazed to see my oval picture. We also visited Napa Valley and had lunch at The Charter Oak restaurant. We enjoyed a lot of laughter and cheer over some great wine and food.”
Leslie Stafford, Courtney Dyar, and Carol Ng in Napa Valley.
1995 Sarah Nissen ’95 is enjoying the winter in Longmont, Colorado, spending time traveling between San Diego and Colorado and goofing off in the snow with her partner, Ian, and her teen son.
Donielle Prince ’91 is excited to share that as of January 2023, she is joining the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to manage their trauma awareness initiatives. This work involves creating resources for youth and the adults who serve them, to better understand the impact of trauma on behavior and overall emotional wellbeing.
1994 Tracy Jan ’94 presented at Casti’s Global Week this year. The night before her presentation, she had dinner with Lisa Kitayama Wallgren and Pratima Sethi. “I also met Lisa and Pratima’s kids—Sabrina ’27, Amelie ’27, and Star ’29—who are currently students at Casti. It’s so surreal that the children of my high school besties are now students at the same school and taller than I am.”
Photos: Catch-up dinner at Taverna; Amelie, Star, Sabrina, and Tracy in the Chapel Theater.
Orlena Fong Shek ’95 shares: “After 15 years, we moved five minutes away to a place with more space and the kids love it. Annabelle, 12, is in 7th grade at Crystal Springs Uplands. Russell, 5, loves being in T-K at West Elementary School. I see Claire Fluhr, Christine Patel, Carol Patel ’93, and Wakako Uritani ’93 from time to time. Earlier this year, my Ringer, Tracy Jan ’94, and I met up! Since the May 2022 publication of Emerging From the Smoke: A Collection of Warrior Voices, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at various venues. Thank you to Ms. MelmonHA and Mr. SmootHA for their inspiration and their incomparable support in the writing of this book. Emerging From the Smoke: A Collection of Warrior Voices is available on Amazon and a percentage of proceeds benefit the Pacific Stroke Association.”
Photo: Family photo for our holiday card.
1996 Sara Alexander ’96 reports: “I’m excited to support education equity in Redwood City, California. I joined the Redwood City Education Foundation in June. We are largely driven by passionate board volunteers. Please reach out if you’d like to help local elementary school students.”
Pratima Sethi ’94 For the eighth year in a row, Suzan Huang Grisanti, Pratima Sethi, Subena Mahal Tilley, and Lisa Kitayama Wallgren spent a weekend with their families in Pajaro Dunes, California.
Photo: Pajaro Dunes, September 2022.
Rebecca Adamson Snider ’96 moved to Denver, Colorado, in July of 2022. “We love our new community, the wildlife, and the majestic outdoors. I fell in love with Boulder during my college years here, and my soul feels like it has returned home.”
Lindsay Austin Louie ’98 finished her termlimited role at the Hewlett Foundation and opened up her own consulting business supporting foundations and philanthropists in all aspects of their work. Lindsay is also enjoying her role on the Castilleja Alumnae Executive Committee. TJ and Kaya keep growing, as kids do, and are now both in middle school. Lindsay writes, “I can’t believe our 25th class reunion is next year since, in my head, I still feel about 25! The 20th Reunion was a blast! I can’t wait to see everyone for the big 2-5.”
Nicole Mans ’98 continues to work as a genetic counselor at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is mom to Karina, 8, and Claire, 6, and spouse to George.
2001 Annie Johnson ’01 recently started a new job as Associate University Librarian at the University of Delaware. She guesses that she’s the only Castilleja alum living in the first state!
1997 Yael Schonbrun ’97 wrote her first book, Work, Parent, Thrive, which hit shelves November 2022. It is an exploration of the ways that work and parenting can enrich each other and offers strategies to get them to do just that. The book features plenty of working parent stories, including several from members of the Castilleja community.
Photo: Work, Parent, Thrive.
1998 Katie Barnes ’98 and her husband, Jeb, are happily raising their two boys, Harrison, 4 1/2, and Henry, 3, on their coastal ranch in San Gregorio, California. They are expecting another baby boy in April. Katie is beginning her seventh year as a Nurse Practitioner with Landmark Health, making house calls for high-risk seniors.
Tara Wilstein ’98 shares: “Over the pandemic, my family made what was going to be a temporary stay in South Florida a permanent move. While I still work in real estate in Boston with my business partner, I’ve also expanded to investment and development in Florida. And luckily, my husband, Joe, was able to continue his job as a partner at Orrick, now on a fully remote basis. Our daughters, Cynthia, 11, and twins, Adrienne and Rose, 7, love the warm weather and year-round swimming!”
2003 Malavika Kumar
’03 is happy to share that she and her husband, Jasjit, welcomed their second baby boy, Gagan, in April 2022; Gobind, 4, is loving his new role as a big brother. “I’m also excited to have started a new job as an appellate research attorney for the 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose, California, where Justice Allison Danner ’89 (Jeannine MarstonHA’s daughter) and Presiding Justice Mary Greenwood (mother of Chela Davila ’15) currently serve as appellate justices.”
2004 Meaghan Fitzgerald ’04 and her husband Neil Goldberg are excited to share the news of the birth of their first child. Charlotte Robyn Goldberg was born on September 14, 2022. Meaghan and family are all doing well. She still works at Meta on the company’s VR and metaverse projects and recently moved into a new home in Seattle. She has been enjoying reconnecting with Castilleja friends who are also recent parents and is always happy to hear from classmates or host visitors in the Seattle area.
Neil, and new daughter Charlotte.
Selina Troesch Munster ’04 moved back to the Bay Area to help build Intuit Ventures, where she focuses on investing in consumer financial technology. Though she misses Los Angeles, she is excited to be back and closer to friends and family.
Paz Pardo ’04 is still in Argentina, raising her 3-½-year-old. She writes: “We’ve been living in the mountains for several years, but moved back to Buenos Aires in March (say hi if you’re coming to town!) My first novel, The Shamshine Blind, was published by Atria Books on February 14, 2023.”
Stephanie Leung ’09 lives in San Francisco next to Lake Merced. She shares: “If you’re in the area and are looking for a Casti alum to hike Fort Funston with, hang out at the H Mart, or visit the driving range at Harding Park, please reach out! My partner, Will, and I got married last June. We danced the night away to Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift with friends, family, and a few of my 2009 Casti sisters! When I’m not busy working from home, you’ll find me in child’s pose at the local yoga studio or begrudgingly training for a half marathon.”
Photo: Audrey Loke, Hannah Towne, Stephanie Leung, Kennedy Flanders, and Diane Rodden at Stephanie’s wedding in Palos Verdes, California, in June 2022.
Tahirah Rasheed ’04 co-curated an art exhibit, “Resting Our Eyes,” that opened in January 2023, at the ICA in San Francisco. The exhibit is a multimedia show that positions Black leisure, adornment, and beauty as radical and necessary acts. Tahirah thanks Deborah TrillingHA, among many other of her teachers and mentors at Castilleja, for seeing her for her creativity, vision, and talent. This is not the beginning, or the end, of her career in art and she is so grateful to share it with her communities.
Joudeh in San Diego, California, in November. Casti folks in attendance included maidof-honor Hanna Burch, sister Roshanne Malekmadani ’13, Shelley Kind, Erin O’Malley, Elke Teichmann, Grace Chen ’11, and Jessica Matthys ’13
Photo: Hanna, Erin, Shelley, Arienne, and Elke dancing the night away!
Elke Teichmann ’09 is in her fifth year at Castilleja, working in the Communications Department. She moved to San Francisco and is happy to be closer to many of her classmates!
2011 Annie Cardinal ’11 writes: “A year ago, my husband Glenn and I reflected upon our priorities in life and decided to quit our jobs to travel and spend time with family and friends. We’ve since visited Portugal, Alaska, New Mexico, and folks all across the country during our ‘radical sabbatical.’ We’ve become quite adept at flying with only a personal item on Spirit Airlines! I’ve taken up watercolors and urban sketching to capture my journeys and everyday life, and am also regularly bouldering indoors (a love sparked by Casti’s climbing wall.) It’s been wonderful to take a step back from work and reflect on what really matters to us.”
Photo: Annie and Glenn exploring Lisbon, Portugal, in May 2022.
Rachel Skokowski ’11 started a new role as the Curator of the Janet Turner Print Museum at Chico State. Her second exhibition this past semester was, "Making Her Mark: Women Printmakers at The Turner." She shared, “There were some fabulous women artists in the exhibition, and it was personally a wonderful opportunity for me to put together so many of the passions that started at Castilleja: art, feminism, and social justice.”
2016 Shivani Nishar ’16 reports that her Castilleja friendships kept her strong and connected during the pandemic. “Our latest #WLWL trip included Rhode Islanders (Natalie Sands & Shivani), Cambridgers (Leena Ambady & Tara Thakurta) and a New Yorker (Molly Ledwith) meeting up for a fall weekend getaway in New Hampshire! We hiked, visited a llama farm, and celebrated Molly’s birthday over cake and a homemade pasta dinner that–dare we say–rivals Castilleja’s illustrious pasta bar. We are enjoying making memories as East Coasters and hope many more friends join us!”
2018 Sydney Loew ’18 shares, “After graduating from the University of Southern California’s Iovine and Young Academy, I’m excited to begin working at Disney’s Yellow Shoes internal ad agency this year. In addition, I’ll be developing new tools and brand strategies for Wisepops: the world’s leading onsite marketing platform. I have Castilleja to thank for teaching me the resilience, communication skills, and confidence required to help chart the beginning of my career.”
Faculty & Staff Updates
Stacey KertsmanHA misses the Circle, but she continues to spread the ACE Center’s mission as an equity and inclusion consultant. She supports institutions, companies, and schools making longterm commitments to social equity and justice. A recent Stanford project and subsequent NGO client workshop took her back to West Africa, where memories of preparing for the Senegal Global Investigator Trip came flooding back to her. Cheers to the Class of 2021 who adventured there!
Ayanna Gandhi ’22 just started her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. She is majoring in International Relations and minoring in Legal Studies & History. Ayanna has been enjoying her time on the South Asia Society Board, managing the South Asian performing arts teams on campus. She has also been playing a lot of tennis and exploring her new favorite city, Philadelphia.
Photo: Ayanna (left) with her friends at Homecoming vs. Yale!
Areli Hernandez ’22 is an Esport player at Ohio Wesleyan University and competes for both the fall and the spring teams.
May 24, 1950–December 22, 2022
Bear CapronHA died at home in Mountain View, CA on December 22, with his husband of 30 years, composer Alva Henderson, at his side. Having attended Addison Elementary in Palo Alto before moving with his family to Washington, DC, Mr. CapronHA returned to the Bay Area to start college in 1968, but then left the following year to study acting in New York City. At age 20, he set off with his backpack to explore Europe and settled in Amsterdam and performed all over Europe, to great acclaim. He moved home to California after 18 years in Holland to be closer to his family and to Alva, the love of his life. Mr. CapronHA headed the drama program at Castilleja for 20 years, during which time he directed more than 40 student productions. His skill as a teacher—combining high standards with his love of playfulness, creativity, and human connection—inspired generations of students. In October 2022, he published a collection of essays and stories from his life, the title of which—Easy to Love—says it all.
November 19, 1928–June 20, 2022
Mercedes McCaffreyHA was born in Bilbao, Spain, the fifth of six children. Her Basque family was uprooted during the Spanish Civil War, and she remembered how the sky lit up during the bombing of Guernica. Sra. McCaffrey remained devoted to her roots there, returning every summer throughout her lifetime. With few career paths open to her as she came of age, she chose to become a teacher—a happy accident because this truly was her calling. In 1963, she married Terence McCaffrey of Dublin, Ireland, and they immigrated to the United States. She arrived at Castilleja in 1971 and taught Spanish to a generation of students. Her daughter, Teresa McCaffrey ’82, explains that her love of the community and the students is what kept her at Castilleja for 20 years. Alums remember that Sra. McCaffrey had a gift for making them feel seen and valued. As someone who led a life that crossed through different cultures and countries, she was always attentive to how her students’ identities shaped their experiences inside and outside of her classroom. Colleague Nancy FlowersHA explains, “Mercedes embodied all of the 5Cs, but most of all, she was courteous. She had an intuition about what her students needed, and she inspired generosity in others.” Her husband feels one word describes her best: cariñosa, or loving.
Bernard A. Newcomb
10, 1943–January 29, 2023
An angel funder who loved life, family, adventure, and giving to help others, Bernard A. Newcomb passed away on January 29, at his home just across Bryant Street, with his wife Gerry (Marshall) Newcomb by his side. Mr. Newcomb grew up in the small town of Scio, Oregon, and although he was born with congenital cataracts and legally blind, nothing held him back. He was the first in his family to complete university education when he graduated from the University of Oregon. A pioneer in systems development, he co-founded E*TRADE. When the company went public, Newcomb described it as a “14-year overnight success.” He took his earnings and invested them heavily in people, causes, and institutions, including Castilleja. Many of our donors at Castilleja have benefited directly from the school because their children or grandchildren attended as students. Mr. Newcomb and his wife Gerry were inspired to support the school for other reasons, among them that they believed in the mission and they appreciated the cheerful students passing by their home each morning and afternoon. At Castilleja, we benefit from their generosity every day when we gather in the Newcomb Conference Room. He will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to cross his witty path.
FOREVER IN OUR CIRCLE
Joan Ackermann Satt ’50
Deborah Bourke Apperson ’72
Joan Chenoweth Myers ’59
Megan Grogan Anderson ’74
Susan Maxfield May ’49
Julie McKenna ’78
Carol Nielson Nelson ’48
Kristie Orup Driscoll ’77
Marion Roth Oppenheimer ’41
Judith Sterling Plunkett ’62
Cynthia Swanson Miller ’64
Lori Wolfe ’82
Mother of Ayanna Cage Carey ’93 and Tene Cage ’97
Father of Ayanna Carey ’93 and Tene Cage ’97
Melissa Baten Caswell
Mother of Lainie Caswell ’13
Mother of Maggie Pringle Grauer ’71
Husband of Betty Lee Fortenbaugh ’86
Mother of Teresa McCaffrey ’82
Bernard A. Newcomb
Nanci KauffmanHA Head of School
Josée BandHA Director of New Campus Design for Learning
Christina GwinHA Dean of Faculty
Nadia Johnson Assistant Head of School for Curriculum and Community
Sue KimHA Director of Advancement
Kathy Layendecker Associate Head of School for Finance and Operations
Jill LeeHA Director of Admission, Tuition Assistance, and Summer Programming
Emily McElhinney Director of Communications and Community Relations
Anne Rubin Head of Upper School
Laura Zappas Head of Middle School
This issue was written and produced by Emily McElhinney and Elke Teichmann ’09 with contributions by Tanya Campbell Temple, Sue KimHA, photography by Sara Coburn and Elke Teichmann ’09, and graphic design by Kris Loew P’18 ’20.
Many thanks to Castilleja alumnae for their updates and photos. Special thanks to Erin O’Malley ’09 and Ruby Moreno ’12 for sharing their stories with us. Thank you to Heather Pang ’84HA and Sara Croll ’05, authors of Castilleja: Celebrating a Century. Thank you to Nancy Osborne ’67, Holli Berman ’87, Reena Patton ’92, Tene Cage ’97, and Lindsey Wang ’12 for joining our alumnae panels. Thank you to Cary Lurie ’64, Susan Packard Orr ’64, and Michaele Thunen ’64 for sharing their memories of Cindy Swanson Miller ’64. Thank you to Kate Eby ’02 and Tracy Jan ’94 for speaking during Global Week. Thanks also to the Arrillaga-Morris Family Foundation for sponsoring speaker Madame Gandhi. The Communication and Advancement Teams greatly appreciate the faculty, staff, and students who contributed to the stories and artwork.
Board of Trustees
Zac Zeitlin, Chair
Odette Harris, Vice-Chair
Megan Jones Bell ’00
Lindsay Austin Louie ’98
Andie Navarro Sobrato ’08
Eugenie Van Wynen
Alumnae Association Executive Committee
Lindsay Austin Louie ’98, President
Kristin Bell ’95
Claire Fischer Fluhr ’95
Sydney Larson ’03
Carol Patel ’93
Melissa Riofrio ’85
Sylvia Rodriguez ’08
Marian Washington Williams ’94