||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2011)|
|Palo Alto, California, USA|
|Motto||Women Learning - Women Leading|
|Founder||Mary Ishbel Lockey|
|Head||Nanci Z. Kauffman|
|Campus||6 acre suburban campus|
Castilleja School is an independent school for girls in grades six through twelve, located in Palo Alto, in the U.S. state of California. Castilleja is the only non-sectarian all-girls middle and high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. The faculty consists of approximately 70 full-time and part-time women and men. Castilleja is a member of the California Association of Independent Schools  and the National Coalition of Girls' Schools .
Castilleja was founded in 1907 by Mary Ishbel Lockey, who was encouraged by Stanford University's first President - David Starr Jordan - to start a school that would offer girls a comprehensive, college preparatory education. The motto Miss Lockey created contains the five Cs that comprise the school’s core values: conscience, courtesy, character, courage, and charity. In 2007, Castilleja celebrated a century of educating girls.
Castilleja’s academic program is college preparatory in nature. Castileja offers a comprehensive liberal arts and science curriculum with programs in foreign languages, including Mandarin Chinese and Latin, and the visual and performing arts, including digital filmmaking, studio art, and dance. In the 2010-11 school year a number of new interdisciplinary courses were added as upper school electives including The Biology and Economics of Cancer, Engineering Sustainable Solutions, Shakespeare: Stage and Page, and Engineering, Programming, and Robotics.
Performing and visual arts are integrated into students’ academic schedules. Students are introduced to and can pursue dance, drama, studio art, chorus, movie-time and photography. Each year, the Upper School puts on a fall play and a spring musical and the Middle School puts on a musical.
In addition, Castilleja’s academic program has two unique components: the Global Program and Fitness and Wellness.
The Global Program at Castilleja aims to infuse global education into every student’s educational experience. The global perspective permeates the school curriculum throughout the year, and each January the entire school devotes a week to an in-depth examination of global issues through speakers, workshops, readings, films, service opportunities, class projects, and panel discussions. In 2010, Castilleja opened the Center for Awareness, Compassion, and Engagement (ACE Center). For example, in 2011, Global Week focused on "Food Justice and Sustainability" and featured speakers including co-founder of Feed Projects Ellen Gustafson.
In their junior year, students travel to a developing country on the Global Investigator Trip. Since the trips began in 2007, students have traveled to India, China, and Guatemala to explore communities and develop a deep understanding of the role of women in these emerging countries. During these trips, students interview women, girls and men from all walks of life, visit local schools, towns and villages, and work on collaborative projects with members of the community.
Castilleja’s Fitness and Wellness Program is designed to help students be “fit for life.” The Fitness and Wellness curriculum is designed to equally emphasize the physical and psychological components of well-being and to engage all students, not just student athletes. Fitness activities include spinning, mat pilates, water aerobics, circuit training, kickboxing, ball-handling sports, rock-climbing, and core conditioning.
Each year the school welcomes several special speakers to campus, including more than 15 during Global Week each January. Recent speakers have included Gloria Steinem (activist and founder Ms.magazine), Jill Bolte Taylor (neuroanatomist and author My Stroke of Insight), Kip Fulbeck (artist, poet, filmmaker), Penny Pritzker '77 (Founder, Classic Residence by Hyatt; National Finance Chair for the Obama presidential campaign), Al Gore (Nobel Laureate and former Vice President), Marissa Mayer (Vice President, Google), Thomas L. Friedman (author, The World is Flat, and Greg Mortensen (author, Three Cups of Tea). In 2010, the school welcomed two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and author ("Half the Sky") Nicholas Kristof, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast Tina Brown, and began the Lockey Alumnae House Speaker Series. The first speakers were Liesl Gernholtz, Director at Human Rights Watch; Mu Soucha, a leader of Cambodia's political opposition, the Sam Rainsy Party; and activist and author Somaly Mam, whose work to stop human traffiking and rescue victims has received international recognition. Additionally, classes welcome guest speakers often from the faculty and staff of Stanford University and Silicon Valley companies.
Castilleja offers 9 sports for Middle School Students and 13 for Upper School Students including basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, cross-country, water polo, golf and softball. In the Middle School, most sports offer multiple teams including Varsity A (VA) and Varsity B (VB). Some sports also over Junior Varsity A and B (JVA and JVB) teams, exclusively for sixth grade students. All students make it onto a team in order to expose students to many different sports before high school. Placements are solely held to correctly place students on an appropriate team. In the Upper School there are Varsity and Junior Varsity teams for most sports.
Castilleja competes in the West Bay Athletic League (WBAL) and Central Coast Section (CCS). For the past seven years the school has won the WBAL Commissioner’s Cup, which recognizes the best athletic program in the league. In the last three years, four athletes have signed national letters of intent to compete at the Division I level and over the past four years over 40 seniors have been recruited for Division I, II and III sports. Castilleja opened a new, multi-level athletic center in January, 2008. The center features two gyms, a cardio room, indoor rock-climbing wall, dance studio, and yoga/spinning studio. Recent athletic highlights include: • California State Division-V Champion, Volleyball • CCS Division V Champion, Cross-Country (3rd consecutive year) • WBAL Champions, Golf and Softball • Finalist CCS Division V, Waterpolo and Basketball
Performing and visual arts are also an important part of Castilleja. Courses include: chorus, theater, drawing & painting, ceramics, design & sculpture, film, and photography, and advanced placement studio art. Students also have the opportunity to play in either the Middle or Upper School orchestra and sing in one of several choirs. Students perform in 4 major productions each year, including Upper and Middle School Musicals, the Upper School Fall Play and Arts with a Heart benefit. Additionally, one-act plays, concerts, and art exhibits are held throughout the year.
Past productions have included, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Once Upon a Mattress, Seussical: The Musical, Kiss Me Kate, The House of Bernarda Alba, and the Music Man. Each year, students also put together the Arts with a Heart benefit performance to raise money for an organization chosen by the student-led Community Service Council. In 2011, this production is being co-produced by students in the new Dance Production Workshop Class and will benefit organizations working to stop bullying. This year, the arts projects include the Middle School Musical production of Annie! and Our Town.
In addition, Castilleja has a 1260 square foot Gallery space used for student shows, professional shows, and leadership opportunities including curatorial experience.
Castilleja offers more than 40 clubs to Middle and Upper School students. These clubs include service clubs such as Amnesty International and Peer Tutoring, cultural clubs such as the Diversity Coalition, and activity clubs such as Classic Movie Club, Art Club. Student publications clubs include "Counterpoint," the official all-school newspaper; "Castilleja Free Press" (the counterpoint to "Counterpoint"); "Casti Me," the online Middle School newspaper; "Flame," the middle school literary and art magazine; "Mochuelo," the upper school literary and art magazine; and "Paintbrush," the yearbook. The student government is very active in both the Middle and Upper School. There is a different government for every class, but there is also a unified government for both the Middle (MSSG, Middle School Student Government) and Upper (ASB, All Student Body) School. Community action is an integral part of student life at Castilleja and every student participates in some sort of self-initiated project each year.
Traditions and School Spirit
Castilleja School students participate in a number of traditions throughout the year, including the Tie Ceremony, Junior-Senior Rivalry, "Ringing," and Founder's Day, all of which complement the academic year and build a strong sense of community. Other traditions include Spirit Week ending with Gator Gathering, Cookie Thursdays, Grandparents' Day, and the Father-Daughter Dinner-Dance.
Although the all-girls environment means that Castilleja lacks a football team, school spirit is not lacking. In fact, in this tight-knit community, school spirit becomes even more prevalent as entire grades compete against one another during school organized spirit weeks. Each grade, six through twelve, is assigned a color which is often used during spirit weeks to show school pride and dress according to a theme like Harry Potter, Food Groups, or Historical Warriors. Sixth graders are marigold yellow, seventh graders are sky blue, eighth-graders are a navy, freshmen are green, sophomores are orange, juniors are purple and seniors are red. During Junior/Senior Rivalry week, the whole school is decked out in red (by the seniors) and purple (by the juniors).
School spirit becomes a more personal tradition as each incoming sixth grader is paired with an eighth grade "big sister". This allows the Castilleja spirit and traditions to be passed on each year. The "big sister" acts as a friend, mentor, and guide, and is a meaningful part of each girl's Castilleja experience.
- Amy Chow, Olympic Gold medalist in gymnastics, Pediatrician
- Pansy Ho, Macau-born heiress and operator of casinos
- Josie Maran, actress and model
- Penny Pritzker, Philanthropist; Founder and Chair of Classic Residence by Hyatt; previously National Finance Chair of Barack Obama's presidential campaign; U.S. Secretary of Commerce
- Grace Slick, singer and songwriter
- Tori Anthony, pole vaulter
- Lindsay Taylor, soccer player and PAC-10 Freshman Player of the Year (2008)
- Nancy Ditz, Olympic marathon runner
- Laura Arrillaga Andreesen, founder and chair of Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund
- Maia Adar
Castilleja is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, and the College Board. In late 2007, the Wall Street Journal identified Castilleja School as one of the world's top 50 schools for its success. In 2009, Castilleja was given the highest accreditation rating by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.  Castilleja was named one of the Bay Area's Best Private Schools by San Jose Magazine.
- Bay Area's Best Private Schools | San Jose Magazine
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2007)|
- Castilleja School
- Castilleja's Robotics Team Website
- Castilleja School's Varsity Basketball Website
- Castilleja School assessed at Private School Review