• Seniors Admitted to 156 Colleges and Universities

    We are proud of our seniors for their excellence in academics, community service, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. The Class of 2015 has been accepted to the following schools:

    American University Regis University
    Amherst College Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Arizona State University Saint Louis University
    Azusa Pacific University Saint Mary’s College
    Bard College Saint Mary’s College of California
    Bellarmine University Saint Peter’s University
    Belmont University San Diego State University
    Berklee College of Music San Francisco State University
    Boise State University San Jose State University
    Boston College Santa Clara University
    Boston University Seattle Pacific University
    California Institute of the Arts Seattle University
    California Lutheran University Seton Hall University
    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Sonoma State University
    California State University, Chico Southern Methodist University
    California State University, Dominguez Hills St. John’s University- Queens Campus
    California State University, Long Beach Stanford University
    California State University, Los Angeles Stony Brook University
    California State University, Monterey Bay Suffolk University
    California State University, Sacramento Texas Tech University
    California State University, San Bernardino The American University of Paris
    Carnegie Mellon University The Catholic University of America
    Chapman University The George Washington University
    Claremont McKenna College The University of Iowa
    College of Charleston The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    College of Saint Benedict The University of Scranton
    College of the Holy Cross Transylvania University
    Colorado State University Tulane University
    Columbia College Chicago Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara
    Creighton University University of California, Berkeley
    Davidson College University of California, Davis
    Dominican University of California University of California, Irvine
    Drew University University of California, Los Angeles
    Emmanuel College University of California, Merced
    Emory University University of California, Riverside
    Emory University–Oxford College University of California, San Diego
    Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts University of California, Santa Barbara
    Fordham University University of California, Santa Cruz
    George Fox University University of Chicago
    Georgetown University University of Colorado at Boulder
    Goucher College University of Denver
    Humboldt State University University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
    Indiana University at Bloomington University of Kentucky
    Iona College University of La Verne
    Ithaca College University of Louisville
    John Carroll University University of Mary Washington
    Lehigh University University of Maryland, College Park
    Lewis & Clark College University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Linfield College University of Massachusetts, Boston
    Long Island University, Post University of Miami
    Loyola Marymount University University of Michigan
    Loyola University Chicago University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    Loyola University Maryland University of Nevada, Reno
    Macalester College University of Notre Dame
    Manhattan College University of Oregon
    Marquette University University of Pittsburgh
    Marymount California University University of Portland
    Marymount Manhattan College University of Puget Sound
    Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences University of Redlands
    Menlo College University of Rochester
    Michigan Technological University University of San Diego
    Mount Holyoke College University of San Francisco
    New Jersey Institute of Technology University of Southern California
    New York University University of Southern California School of Music
    Northeastern University University of Toronto
    Northern Arizona University University of Vermont
    Northwestern University University of Virginia
    Notre Dame de Namur University University of Washington
    Occidental College University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Ohio Wesleyan University Villanova University
    Oregon State University Western Washington University
    Pace University Westmont College
    Parsons The New School for Design–Paris Wheaton College IL
    Pennsylvania State University, University Park Wheaton College MA
    Pepperdine University Whittier College
    Pine Manor College Whitworth University
    Point Loma Nazarene University Willamette University
    Purdue University Xavier University
  • Sharmaine Sun '15 won a 2015 Scholastic Awards silver medal for her poem "Fixed."

    Senior Wins National Writing Honor

    Sharmaine "May" Sun '15 received a 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards silver medal for her poem "Fixed," which is printed below. She is one of only 19 national poetry medalists from California and one of 269 national poetry medalists from the U.S., Canada, China, Croatia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Korea, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

    Each year, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers partners with more than 100 visual and literary-arts organizations across the country to bring the Scholastic Awards to local communities. Students in grades 7 through 12 apply in 28 categories of art and writing. Submissions are juried by luminaries in the visual and literary arts, some of whom are past award recipients. Panelists look for works that best exemplify originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.

    Last year, students submitted 255,000 works of art and writing. More than 68,000 were recognized at the regional level, and the top 2,000 works in the U.S. earned national medals and were celebrated at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall.

    The Scholastic Awards program provides more than $250,000 in scholarships annually to top awards recipients and their educators. In addition, more than $8 million in scholarships is set aside each year by partnering organizations for recipients of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Seniors earning national medals are eligible to receive scholarships through partnerships with esteemed colleges and universities.

    By Sharmaine Sun '15

    I have a habit of fixing things—
    The heart-shaped wrinkle in the corner of your bed,
    The misplaced curl in the mess of your head,
    The plump pillow I placed in your stead.

    Your breath made a cloud on the mirror—
    I wiped it off.
    Your lips kept humming—
    Though I told you to stop.
    Your letters had mistakes I just couldn’t ignore—
    I edited, you never forgot.

    I cringed when you spoke,
    Your voice, tinged with smoke,
    Had morphed into little more than a croak.
    I turned away when you woke.
    You didn’t show when you broke.

    Your rough touch made me pause,
    All I could feel were your flaws,
    You asked was I happy?
    I wondered who was.

    Then I thought I had fixed the mistake that was you,
    But I shake off the ache
    And now, awake, I see my biggest mistake—
    I tried to fix you.

  • The freshmen turned lessons from <em>Girl Rising</em> into creative expressions.

    Journey Day Encourages Community Service and Creative Thinking

    On March 12, the students took a break from their regularly scheduled classes for our third Journey Day of the school year. Each class experienced a worthwhile day, which included films, discussions, and mentorship activities.

    The morning program for freshmen included a screening of Girl Rising, a documentary that focuses on the plight of girls’ education around the world. The film features the stories of girls from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Haiti, India, Peru, and Sierra Leone, and the barriers they face in regard to education. After watching the film, Charlotte Gerzanics '18 and Bella Sainz-Portillo '18 led a group discussion with their classmates, and all the freshmen participated in a related art project. In the afternoon, the class performed community-service work at various locations in Monterey County: Dorothy's Kitchen, The Food Bank, Gateway Center, Garland Ranch Regional Park, Robinson Jeffers Tor House, Shelter Outreach, and Shoreline Food Garden.

    The sophomores, along with College Counselor Colleen Murray and Assitant Head of Upper School Dr. Kassandra Thompson Brenot '87, spent the day visiting Santa Clara University and University of California, Berkeley. While on the shuttle bus, the group screened the documentary Miss Representation. Through a series of personal stories, news and advertising clips, the film examines the media's effects on gender stereotypes and the unrealistic portrayal of women in mainstream media. Class officers Jordan Gersh '17, Kira Cruz '17, and Anna Hunt '17 led a discussion after the film. Once the group arrived at Santa Clara, they attended a presentation, toured the campus, visited the bookstore, and met up with alumnae Michaela Scanlon '12 and Nicole Corriveau '14. At UC Berkeley, the sophomores took self-guided tours, visited the bookstore, and talked with alumna Hannah Clevenger '14, who shared about her experiences as a student at Cal.

    The juniors and seniors spent the morning enjoying a film festival. Junior class officers Amira Attia '16, Jayme Chandler '16, and Hannah Grogin '16 selected the films that were included in the festival: America the Beautiful, Between the Folds, Fed Up, Happy, Living on One Dollar, Marion Stoddart: The Work of 1000, The Mindfulness Movie, Saving Otter 501, Shakespeare Behind Bars, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, Makers: Women in Space, Makers: Women in Business, Makers: Women in Hollywood, and Makers: Women in Politics. After watching the films, senior class president Katherine Kamel '15 moderated a panel discussion of professionals from various career fields. During the discussion, our guests shared their educational and professional wisdom. Many of the panelists spoke of how their education and career paths have not been straightforward, but rather filled with twists and turns. In the afternoon, the guests led small-group mentoring sessions during which the juniors and seniors had the opportunity to ask more detailed questions and get to know the panelists better. We're thankful for the professional insight that the following individuals brought to the program:

    Dean of Students Kristi McLaughlin introduces the 2015 Journey Day
    Dean of Students Kristi McLaughlin introduced the 2015 Journey Day Panel.

    We are pleased to be able to offer Journey Days, which provide learning opportunities beyond traditional classes for our students. Click here to view more photos from the day.

  • Christian McEwen, the 2015 writer-in-residence, held writing workshops for students in grades 9 through 12.

    The Slow Approach to Creativity

    Teacher and freelance writer Christian McEwen calls for more tortoises and fewer hares. Her unharried presence seems proof enough that she has benefited from her own teaching methods, which explore the notion that slowing down can actually jump–start the creative process.

    As the 2015 writer-in-residence, McEwen facilitated writing workshops for the Upper School English classes from March 2 through 6. Each session included exercises that not only relax the mind but also help writers experience their surroundings in new ways. She opened the workshop with a meditation, guiding the students through each of the five senses and inviting them to absorb sensory details that often go unnoticed — like the faint taste of coffee on the breath or the hum of the fluorescent lights overhead.

    "The act of attention brings into focus the things you intend to (focus on)," McEwen said. She continued by asking the students about the things they wish they had more time for and encouraged them to make those very things a part of their regular schedules: "Imagine if at the bottom of your to-do list you could add something as large and abstract as sunlight."

    In a second exercise, she had the girls draw a line down the middle of a clean sheet of paper. On the left side, she asked them to draw what stress and busyness feel like to them; on the right, they drew pictures of tranquility and happiness. McEwen reminded the students that the sketches didn't have to be realistic or even something they would want to show others. The point was to clear the head and even make notes that might later be used in their writing.


    Part of what she imparts to students is the benefit of taking time to tune out modern distractions. She referenced a January 2015 article from The Guardian titled "Why the modern world is bad for your brain" and touched on the myth of multitasking. For writers, being "muddle-headed," as she calls it, presents a common obstacle to producing fresh work. She suggested that the students take 10 or 15 minutes out of a busy day to close their eyes and reground themselves to the physical world.

    McEwen grew up in Scotland and now lives in western Massachusetts, where she teaches writing workshops at Williams College. She holds a B.A. in English and American literature from King's College, Cambridge and an M.A. in American literature from University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of several books, including her newest, The Tortoise Diaries: Daily Meditations for Creativity and Slowing Down.

    Click here to view additional photos from McEwen's residency.

  • In Act I of "Much Ado About Nothing," Katie Karpenko '17 played Don Pedro, Faith Tell '17 was Benedick, and Nikki Hoonsbeen '17 was Claudio.

    Shakespeare Comedies Take Center Stage

    The students recently enjoyed two on-campus Shakespeare performances: As You Like It by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival on Tuesday, February 10 and Much Ado About Nothing by our very own Santa Catalina Shakespeare Festival on Thursday, February 19.

    With a five-person cast, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's "Shakespeare on Tour" performed a 55-minute production of As You Like It. Using a small portable set and minimal props, the group gave center stage to the language of Shakespeare. In a few scenes, the actors enlisted student participation, which only upped the entertainment factor. Thanks to Dr. Gerry Kapolka, English department chair, for organizing this event.

    Charlotte Gerzanics '18, Rachel D'Aqui '18, Sylvan Free '18, Kari Hamwey '15, and Catherine Lyche '16 joined the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival cast on stage.
    Charlotte Gerzanics '18, Rachel D'Aqui '18, Sylvan Free '18, Kari Hamwey '15, and Catherine Lyche '16 joined the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival cast on stage.

    In its 25th year, the Santa Catalina Shakespeare Festival continues to bring English literature to life in a collaborative project for the entire Upper School to enjoy. The sophomore class filled the onstage and backstage roles for a performance of Much Ado About Nothing as the freshmen, juniors, seniors, and faculty members filled the audience. Much to the students' delight, English teacher Simon Hunt and Assistant Director of Admission Cecelia Stewart '08 joined the cast as Don Juan and Claudio, respectively. Thanks to English teacher Simon Hunt for directing this year's festival.

    To view additional photos from the event, click here.

  • Santa Catalina's 2015 mock trial team with Mr. Nale and Dr. Lumsden.

    Competition in the Courtroom

    In its third year of competition, the Santa Catalina Mock Trial team finished 2–2 and tied for the third-best record in the 2015 Monterey County Mock Trial. Santa Catalina beat Alvarez and Palma but lost to Salinas and Carmel.

    The team also garnered four individual awards:

    • Giovanna Mitchell '15, outstanding defense attorney
    • Anna Burks '15, outstanding prosecution witness
    • Xiadani Juarez Diaz '15, outstanding defense witness
    • Grace Russell '16, courtroom artist runner-up

    We acknowledge all of the participants for the hard work they put into preparing for the event:

    Anna Burks '15
    Kira Cruz '17
    Jenna Downs '17
    Giselle Espinola-Jiminez '17
    Ruby Gans '17
    Justine How '15
    Emilee Johnston '17
    Xiadani Juarez Diaz '15
    Alyssa Kwon '18
    Courtney Lindly '15
    Giovanna Mitchell '15
    Gianna Nale '17
    Katie Ridgway '16
    Isabella Rivera '18
    Bella Sainz-Portillo '18
    Elsa Sandbach '17
    Daphne Wilson '15

    Courtroom Journalists
    Sitara Masilamani '16
    Collette White '17

    Courtroom Artists
    Ariana Fadel '18
    Grace Russell '16

    Special thanks to attorney coaches Jeff Nale, Jeannine Pacioni, and Matt L'Heureux and to faculty sponsor Dr. Doug Lumsden.

  • <em>Melting</em> by Stell Crall '15

    2015 Scholastic Art Awards

    Congratulations to the 14 Upper School students whose 29 submissions have been honored with 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for the West Region-at-Large, which includes entries from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. This year, we have winners in the following categories: art portfolio, digital art, drawing and illustration, mixed media, painting, poetry, photography, and writing portfolio.

    This is a remarkable achievement for these young artists, whose work was selected by a panel of artists, art educators, and other art professionals as the best work submitted by teenagers throughout the region. Gold Keys are awarded for the highest level of achievement on the regional level and are included in the national competition. Silver Keys are awarded for works worthy of recognition. Honorable Mentions are awarded to works demonstrating artistic potential.

    Abstraction #1 by Victoria Kvitek '16
    Abstraction #1 by Victoria Kvitek '16

    Gold Keys
    Victoria Kvitek '16, photography, Abstraction #1
    Jee Hee Lee '15, digital art, Unity
    Lucy Stowe '16, poetry, a Lifetime (printed below)
    Sharmaine Sun '15, poetry, Remorse
    Sharmaine Sun '15, poetry, Fixed
    Daniella Wilson '15, photography, away

    Silver Keys
    Christine Marella '15, writing portfolio: Blurred, For Her Birthday, Now We Wait, and On the Lake
    Alison Mody '16, photography, Grayscale
    Caitlyn Rodriguez '16, photography, Nikayah
    Lucy Stowe '16, poetry, Autumn
    Sharmaine Sun '15, poetry, Exotic
    Sharmaine Sun '15, writing portfolio: A Little Stain
    Veronica Zelles '16, photography, Reflection

    Honorable Mentions
    Deneen Argueta '16, photography, November 17, 2014 @ 4:30:30
    Stella Crall '15, digital art, Melting
    Stella Crall '15, digital art, Abstraction 1
    Stella Crall '15 digital art, Soaring
    Leslie Gobel '15, art portfolio, Mexico
    Jee Hee Lee '15, drawing and illustration, Blossom
    Jenna Mazza '16, mixed media, Overheard Conversations
    Grace Russell '16, painting, Dimensions
    Grace Russell '16, painting, Five Hours of Smooth Jazz
    Grace Russell '16, painting, My Shadow
    Lucy Stowe '16, poetry, You’re Not Alone
    Sharmaine Sun '15, poetry, Pale
    Sharmaine Sun '15, poetry, The Long-Lost Memory
    Sharmaine Sun '15, poetry, Replacement Parts
    Veronica Zelles '16, photography, Windy
    Veronica Zelles '16, photography, Tire

    "Unity," mixed media by Jee Hee Lee '15
    Unity by Jee Hee Lee '15

    a Lifetime
    By Lucy Stowe '16

    Her warm hands wrapped around his strong fingers
    As she stared into his eyes
    She couldn’t help but smile,
    All she knew was that she liked this guy

    When he held her in his arms,
    She giggled and she slept
    Although she thought herself strong, her legs proved inept
    To walk through the halls she would soon forget

    Soon she could run, and soon she got lost
    For the first time in the store
    Walking down the aisles, she didn’t know what for
    He swore he’d never let her out of his sight anymore

    When she turned ten, he thought she was so old
    He treated her like a princess,
    Because he realized he didn’t have an excess
    Of time left with his little girl

    His hairs were turning grey
    When she began high school
    On her second day, he made sure that all the boys knew his rules
    He was no longer the super hero she’d thought was so cool

    Not long after she was born,
    It seemed he was again alone
    He’d have to settle for weekly calls
    Their only communication: the phone

  • Works by Grace Russell '16, Christine Marella '15, Emmy Siletto '17, Madison Gong '18, and Sharmaine Sun '15 (not pictured) were published in the <em>Monterey County Weekly</em>.

    Monterey Weekly Features Work of Five Catalina Students

    Strunk and White would be proud. Four Catalina writers were recently honored for their tight, telling tales. If brevity is a virtue, these students are set.

    In December, Christine Marella '15, Sharmaine Sun '15, Emmy Siletto '17, and Madison Gong '18 received honorable mentions in the Monterey County Weekly's 2014 101-Word Short Story Contest. In addition, a painting by Grace Russell '16 was featured in the cover art for the contest.

    Check out the concise creativity of these writers by clicking the following links to their stories, which were also published in the Weekly's print edition on December 25, 2014.

    "Cold Truth" by Christine Marella '15
    "Color Drains" by Sharmaine Sun '15
    "Of Nightmares and Dreams" by Emmy Siletto '17
    "Night Shift" by Madison Gong '18

    Congratulations to these accomplished writers!

    Russell's painting
    Russell's painting "It Looks Like the Ocean" (bottom, far left) was featured on the cover.
  • 2014 International Film Fest representatives

    Films Address Global Issues

    Every year, Santa Catalina's Peace and Justice Club helps with the International Film Festival, which is put on by the United Nations Association Monterey Bay. This year, we had students involved in several key ways. Maya Pollack '15, Katherine Kamel '15, and Xiadani Juarez Diaz '15 served as student representatives on the film selection committee. Over the summer, they screened all the submissions and participated in a vote to chose the 10 films that made up the 15th annual event on November 6 through 8. These young women also emceed a film festival preview at Santa Catalina on November 5.

    The 2014 festival featured a new component — a student documentary contest, in which three of our students took part. Maya Pollack '15 and Tamara Attia '15 partnered to created the film "Working for Peace," and Agnès Ames '16 submitted "UNA—Global Poverty Street Interviews," which was filmed in San Francisco. These short documentaries, which offer personal perspectives on complex global issues, were two of only three films that won the competition and were shown at the event. Check out our students' inspiring and thought-provoking productions below.

  • Sophomores took the stage during the Halloween Dinner costume contest on October 30, 2014.

    Dining with Monsters, Witches, and Jelly Beans

    Mackenzie Fisher '15

    People are always shocked to find out that at Santa Catalina, we rely on the freshmen to put on the first major tradition of the year. Questions arise such as, "How can you be sure it will run smoothly when you have no idea how the class works together?" or "How do you know that these students will be able to handle the pressure of putting on such a time-honored school event?" In short, we convey the importance of working together to achieve a common goal.

    This year, the freshmen created a Mexican-themed dinner that included music, student and faculty costume contests, a choreographed dance to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller," and an array of costumes including a pineapple, jelly bean jars, and witches. As guests arrived, they walked through a spooky haze emanating from a smoke machine and found the dining room transformed with Halloween decorations and music. The freshmen had put a lot of work into the evening, and it was interesting to see how different personalities shined through in the event. We learned more about the outgoing students in the class, and the performers and comedians really stood out during the costume contest judging.

    Faculty and staff also enjoyed donning their best costumes.
    Faculty and staff also enjoyed donning their best costumes.

    "This event has made our class closer and stronger," said Bella Sainz-Portillo '18, a committee head for the event. "From the first day (of school) when we were all strangers to creating this dinner together, we have grown tremendously as a class. We have learned to trust each other and believe that together we can achieve anything." Sophomore Kira Cruz, who dressed as a character from the movie Clueless, said: "The freshmen worked cohesively to make everything well organized and fun. The costume contest got all the girls involved, and I had a really great time with my own class."

    Wearing the retired Catalina winter kilts, a group of seniors dressed as Santa and his elves and reminisced about the time they planned Halloween Dinner. They remembered their own event and costumes and thought about how this same tradition brought their class together for the first time three years ago. Since then, they have used the skills learned during that event to work together.

    The freshmen did a great job creating a fun event for the school. We are sure that in three years, when they are seniors, they, too, will look back and see this event as the starting point to their growth as a class and as a reminder of what is possible when they unite.

    Want to see more photos? View our Halloween Dinner Flickr album.

  • Dr. Alex Pang, a three-time University of Pennsylvania graduate and a Stanford University visiting scholar, spoke about regaining focus in a digital age.

    Managing Modern Distractions

    Courtney Shove

    A promoter of lifelong learning, Santa Catalina provides various educational opportunities for students, faculty, and staff—in and out the classroom. In that same spirit, the school is also eager to provide similar opportunities for Catalina parents. One such occasion came during Parents' Weekend 2014.

    On Saturday, October 25, the Upper School hosted guest speaker Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D., author of The Distraction Addiction and senior consultant at Strategic Business Insights. In a presentation titled "Being Human in the Age of Distraction," he shared some anecdotal and research-based examples of how technology affects the brain and offered ideas for better managing modern technologies.


    Pang said that with the increase in digital technologies, distraction has become commoditized. In fact, most computerized systems are designed to keep users engaged. That's why iPhone apps default to sending push notifications and why Netflix automatically queues the next episode in a series. He recommends regaining focus by silencing notifications and setting time aside for offline tasks.

    "Smart people move between digital and analog tools while they work," Pang said. Knowing which tools are most effective for which tasks is key. For instance, it's probably better to read a legal contract on paper, but skimming a news article online will probably suffice.

    He also distinguished between distraction and "mind wandering." Multitasking and other types of distraction can slow a person down, but mind wandering can actually serve to improve focus. Tapping into the subconscious, mind wandering fosters the imagination, improves the capacity to think about the future and different possibilities, and helps with adaptability and resilience. This kind of "distractedness" is actually refreshing to the mind.

    Pang contends that multitasking is only productive if all the tasks have a common focus (e.g. a musician who sings, plays the guitar, and keeps the crowd engaged at the same time). Things like reading a news article on your phone while watching TV and making dinner would probably be completed faster if done separately.

    Overall, the assumption is that people should always be accessible, which leads to being in "a state of perpetually connected distraction." He suggests creating a central "charging station" at home, where parents and children can leave their phones at certain times and overnight. That way, family members aren't "sleeping with their smartphones" and can fall asleep without checking messages or dozing off while playing phone games. The difficulty is that people are so attached to their handheld devices.

    "When we master a tool, our brains stop treating it as a separate object, but rather an extension of our bodies," Pang said. This is an idea he calls neurological fluidity and might explain why people feel off–kilter when they don't have their phones with them.

    The same challenges plague the workplace, too. There are major businesses that have implemented guidelines that free employees from feeling the need to check their email accounts at all hours. Pang cited Daimler's "email holidays" and the German labor department's no-after-hours-calls-from-managers policy as positive steps. Schools have also gotten on board with digital detox programs that last anywhere from a day to a week.

    While it's not feasible to disconnect completely from the modern world, there are great benefits to being alone with one's thoughts at different times throughout the day. Pang suggested going a walk or taking time to just breath: "Being smart about technology requires spending (some) time without it."

    To learn more, read Pang's blog post about his visit to Santa Catalina.

  • Raising Awareness for Gender Equality

    On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170, declaring October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Since then, various groups around the world have been rallying for gender equality. Groups such as Girl Up and Day of the Girl Summit advocated "11 Days of Action" to increase awareness of girls' education and poverty issues. According to UNESCO data, 57 million of the world's children are not in school, and only 20 percent of low-income countries have achieved gender parity at the primary grade levels.

    As grateful beneficiaries of an all-girls education, the Student Senate leaders decided to join the "11 Days" movement to help their counterparts in other parts of the world. Each day in Assembly, from September 30 through October 14, Senate members shared statistics and other information about gender inequality and invited fellow students to take part in activities to raise awareness of issues such as sex trafficking and gender disparity in education.

    Activities included wearing blue and white ribbons for sex trafficking awareness, personalizing "I need feminism because..." signs, giving a flower to each faculty member as thanks for providing the students with such a solid education, watching informational videos produced by The Girl Effect, giving an update on the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, and inviting male faculty members to read parts of Emma Watson's recent United Nations speech. Helping to spread the word and educate others, many students posted photos of these activities via social media with the #11daysofaction hashtag.

    "It was so amazing to see such powerful young women and faculty be so passionate about gender equality," Tamara Attia '15 said. "It was beautiful to see the importance of feminism to individuals from different genders, races, sexual orientations, and countries. It shows that feminism is important to everyone, no matter where in the world you are from and no matter your background."


    The Wednesday chapel service on October 1 was also dedicated to women's issues. Toni Adeyemi '15 gave a talk about the importance of championing girls' issues beyond the 11-day campaign, and Attia said prayers for the faithful, including special requests for protection and support for girls living in poverty around the world.

    "When a girl as young as 12 is being sold into trafficking, forced into marriage, or being exposed to life-threatening diseases, it is not only an injustice to her but also a violation of basic human rights and an injustice to future generations," Adeyemi said. "But most important, it is a life cut short of all its potential to the human family."

    "Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights." —United Nations Resolution 66/170

  • Dr. Tommy Williams works with students during a MERP trip to Big Creek Reserve.

    Marine Ecology Students Explore Big Sur Waters

    In its second year, the Marine Ecology Research Program (MERP) includes 12 sophomores who have begun learning how to conduct scientific research. What better way to learn what marine scientists do than to observe marine life in its natural setting? To that end, science teachers Dr. Christian Reilly, Paulette Struckman, and Lisa Marrack led the group on an overnight a trip to Big Sur, where they worked with Dr. Tommy Williams, Santa Catalina parent and UCSC research fishery biologist, at Big Creek Reserve.

    After setting up camp on Saturday, September 20, the group snorkeled in one of only a few California streams with a fairly healthy steelhead population. Snorkeling allowed the students to observe steelheads in their natural environment and to examine what the fish were doing as they worked their way upstream. Following their time in the water, the students came up with explanations of the patterns they observed in the fish. Later, they worked their explanations into hypotheses and designed experiments to test them.


    "Steelhead are anadromous fish; they are born in fresh water, move to the ocean for most of their lives, and return to freshwater to spawn," Dr. Reilly said. "For me, it means that they make an important and delicate linkage between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. I see them as the thread that binds together these coastal environments all along the Northeast Pacific."

    On Sunday, September 21, the group pulled some insect traps to see how the insects, which the fish eat, move between the stream environment and the forest. Two kinds of traps were used — pan traps, which catch terrestrial insects falling into the stream, and emerger traps, which catch stream-born insects as they fly out into the surrounding forest. Afterward, the students counted the trapped insects, worked with the data to examine the steelheads' diet, and looked at how statistical data treatments work and why they are necessary.

    Last, the group used an electrofishing rig provided by Dr. Williams and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility to capture a small sample of fish. The students worked with Dr. Williams to weigh and measure the fish and examine their gut contents. This allowed the students to see which insects the fish were actually eating, out of the whole buffet of organisms present in the stream.

    "Working in an outdoor environment helps me in the classroom because it increases my excitement to discover and learn new material," Taylor Moises '17 said. "Being out in the field and really applying what I am taught is so refreshing because it reminds me of how my work at school is connected to the 'real world.'"


    The newest additions to MERP, the following students participated in the trip: Ivy Armijo, Audrey Bennett, Loleï Brenot, Kira Cruz, Jenna Downs, Hee Jung Kang, Jennifer Lafayette, Taylor Moises, Allison Sharpes, Emmy Siletto, Adriana Tatum, and Charlotte Wade. Check out this video to see highlights from the trip — minus the bonfire and s'mores, which were definitely a hit.

    Special thanks to the UC Natural Reserve System for access to the Big Creek Reserve and to Santa Catalina parents Joan and Warren Yu for facilitating access to the Presidio of Monterey's Outdoor Recreation Center.

  • Protecting Our Coastline

    Led by Santa Catalina's R4 environmental club, about 50 students participated in the 30th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day at Del Monte Beach on Saturday, September 20. California's largest volunteer event, the cleanup took place at 850 coastal and inland sites in 55 of the state's 58 counties. According to the The Monterey County Herald, 1,296 volunteers removed 9,920 pounds of waste in Monterey County.


    Given that Catalina is so close to California's magnificent coastline, R4 sponsor Anne O'Dowd said it only made sense for she and the students to be involved in the effort: "We are proud to have served our local and global community by picking up trash along the coast."

    California's project is part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, in which 42 states and 100 countries participate. For more information about coastal stewardship, visit

    Photos by Octavia Dickinson '17

  • Freshmen have lunch with their "big sisters" on the first day of school.

    A Rundown of Week One

    We were so happy to see our new and returning boarding students during move-in last weekend. Then, on Monday, we welcomed the new and returning day students at the Opening Assembly — an exciting week!

    Students lend each other helping hands while moving into the dorms.
    Students lend each other helping hands while moving into the dorms.

    During Opening Weekend, senior "big sisters" were paired with new student "little sisters." They enjoyed campus tours, games on the front lawn, and the annual dinner at Gianni's Pizza. On Monday morning, the students and faculty came together for introductions and announcements at Opening Assembly.

    Opening Assembly
    Opening Assembly

    In the afternoon, the Student Senate organized an all-school rally in the gym. The students cheered from the bleachers as their classmates battled it out in games such as blindfolded musical chairs. At the end of the rally, Student Senate President Krysia Ng '15 took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and called out Dr. Murphy to do the same. In a grand end to the first day of school, Dr. Murphy and son George accepted the challenge.

    What a great first week!

    Students have fun participating in a new twist on musical chairs.
    Students have fun participating in a new twist on musical chairs.
  • (L to R) Jacqueline Gibbs, Susan Williams, Katherine Burkhuch, and Lisa Marrack

    Welcome, New Faculty Members!

    As we begin the 2014–2015 school year, we'd like to introduce our new faculty members. Each comes to us with excellent credentials and great enthusiasm for the school's mission. If you see them on campus, please give them a warm Catalina welcome.

    Katherine Burkhuch is the newest member of the Student Services department. She assists with the Journey program and other cocurricular activities and also serves as a resident faculty member in Thompson Dorm. She is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University, where she completed a B.A. in religious studies and political science.

    Jacqueline Gibbs has joined our Religious Studies department, where she teaches the freshman scripture class. She also lives as a resident faculty member in Greer Dorm. For the past 10 years, she taught religious studies at Our Lady of Good Counsel Academy in White Plains, New York. She has a master's degree in religious education from Fordham University, a master's in theology from London University, and a bachelor's in education and religious studies from Surrey University in the U.K.

    Lisa Marrack has joined the science department, where she teaches biology and chemistry. She also serves as a sophomore advisor and resident faculty member. She and husband Dean worked at Catalina from 1998 to 2001, and they have returned to campus, where they live in an apartment on the hill with their two children. Daughter Emalia Partlow is in grade 8 at Santa Catalina. Lisa has a master's degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and a bachelor's in geology from Williams College. Currently, she is finishing a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Susan Williams has returned to the science department as well. Last year, she filled in for Meredith Mikell while Meredith was on maternity leave, and now Susan has joined us full time, teaching chemistry and biology and serving as a junior advisor. She has a Ph.D. in microbiology from Montana State University and a B.S. in biology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She is the mother of Isabelle Williams '11 and Emma Williams in grade 11.

  • Cecily Donovan '15 stands among the Peruvian mountains.

    Rising Senior Reflects on Service Trip to Peru

    Cecily Donovan '15

    From the moment we arrived in Peru to the moment we left, our journey was filled with surprises and amazing experiences that could not be replicated anywhere else, or with anyone else. When we landed in Cusco, the elevation was 11,000 feet, and immediately the altitude struck us. A dizzying sensation buzzed around our heads as we walked through the city’s pre-Incan streets. Our first trip was to a pre-Columbian ruin overlooking Cusco. As we entered the grounds, we were greeted by majestic beasts — alpacas. We were astounded; maybe it was the altitude, but those extraordinary creatures seemed to serve as our own personal welcome party. They stared as we approached, snapping pictures, using up about half of our memory cards. The good-natured Alpacas were a foreshadowing of the friendliness and hospitality we would experience during the trip.

    Simone Villalobos '03, one of the trip chaperones, enjoys meeting the alpacas.
    Simone Villalobos '03, one of the trip chaperones, enjoys meeting the alpacas.

    For the first few days, our lifeblood was coca tea, an herbal tea used by Peruvians to cure altitude sickness. And it worked! Had we been without it, our days working at a rural elementary school might have been a lot less enjoyable. But our time there was one of the most meaningful experiences we had. None of the children spoke English, and though some in our group had excellent Spanish skills, I was not one of them. I speak French, which didn’t prove to be helpful. I knew only the essential Spanish phrases (hello, goodbye, please, thank you, bathroom), but the Peruvian children worked hard to teach me. My vocabulary increased from five to 15 in three days, which allowed me to string together awkward sentences that made all the kids laugh. We played soccer, volleyball, and tag on two teams: Los Chicos and Las Chicas. After three days of refurbishing furniture, harvesting potatoes, and teaching the children English, we formed a bond with them that was hard to break. When we departed, the children gave us handmade bracelets and bear hugs. We left them with computers and other equipment for their school and knew they would be put to good use. The welcoming, rustic school overlooking the Andes Mountains made a lasting impression on us.

    The Catalina group worked with these children at a rural schhol outside of Cusco.
    The Catalina group worked with these children at a rural school outside of Cusco.

    The following days were spent in Cusco, where we explored the markets and bought exotic mementos. My favorite outing was with my close friend Emily Lin '15, Mr. and Dr. Hunt, and Ms. Villalobos. We trekked to the city’s bohemian district. As we ventured along the twisty cobblestone streets, we saw a side of the city that was unlike anything we had experienced yet. As we walked up a final set of stairs and looked down upon the sprawling city at sundown, we were greeted with an overwhelming sense of wonder. A rainbow, whose colors happen to appear on the flag of Cusco, glittered over the city, which we learned was designed in the shape of a puma. The outline of the animal became apparent with our nearly bird’s-eye view of the streets. Cusco came alive under our feet.

    Our last day in the highlands, we took a train through the cloud forests to a small mountain town; the scenery was straight out of The Jungle Book. Buses drove us up a winding road, scarier than the Pacific Coast Highway, leading up to the highlight of my trip. We stepped into the humid air and walked along a path until we came to the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. Among mountains that seemed to be independent of gravity was Machu Picchu. The ancient stones and terraces were so pristine and amazing that it took my breath away. Carefully clinging to the rocks and nervously glancing at the abyss on either side of me (because the Incas did not build railings for tourists afraid of heights), I watched as the scenery flowed into my memory as the most stunning thing I had ever witnessed. And just like our amazing trip, no one picture could ever do it justice.

    Photos by Willow Wallace '15

  • With these three cakes, the seniors honored their favorite childhood TV shows.

    A Tradition of Many Colors

    Courtney Shove

    Aside from the blooming flowers and manicured greenery, the Catalina campus is rarely more colorful and full of energy than on the day of Spirit Day/Cake Auction. Each spring, the students sport class T-shirts of green, blue, yellow, and red while homemade cakes of infinite color palettes parade in front of bidding teenagers.

    The afternoon of May 28 began with a junior-senior kickball game, which the seniors won 2–1 after four innings. During halftime, flecks of green and blue took over the athletic field as the freshmen and sophomores performed the entertainment. As tradition dictates, cheer and chants were shouted and water balloons thrown.

    Next up was the auction. As the girls made their way from the field to Sullivan Court, the seniors unveiled 14 cakes of various shapes and sizes. This year’s culinary themes included Coca-Cola, Finding Nemo, a 1960s-era Volkswagen bus, and an erupting volcano. After several rounds of back-and-forth bids from the class officers and faculty members, the cakes were sold for a total of $2,161. As its final gift to the school, the Class of 2014 directed the funds to a filtration system for the campus drinking fountains and to memorial funds honoring Tony Capodicci and James Teagardin — whose bright personalities are dearly missed.

    To view more photos from the events, click here.

  • Upper and Middle School students gather for a "Bring Back Our Girls" rally on May 28, 2014.

    Standing in Solidarity for Nigerian Schoolgirls

    Courtney Shove

    Momentum for the Bring Back Our Girls campaign has mounted since the Boko Haram kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls on April 15. A month and a half later, more than 200 are still missing. On May 28, Santa Catalina students decided they had had enough.

    That day, the Upper School Senate officers hosted a #BringBackOurGirls rally on the athletic field. The goal of the rally was to raise awareness of the mass abduction in Nigeria and to show support for women's educational rights around the world. Students in grades 6 through 12 participated by gathering together and wearing the color red, which the girls' mothers have adopted to symbolize their plight.

    Before the rally, Toni Adeyemi '15 prepares for her speech.
    Toni Adeyemi '15 practices for her speech before the rally.

    Toni Adeyemi '15, Krysia Ng '15, Willow Wallace '15, and Tamara Attia '15 led the event, which included a reading of Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" and a special prayer said partly in Yoruba, a Niger–Congo language. Adeyemi, whose parents are Nigerian, opened with a powerful message recounting the recent events in Nigeria and explained why the students should take action.

    "We here today are answering a global, collective call to promote and protect girls' education everywhere, so that every single girl in the world has the opportunity to live to her full potential just like (we do) here at Santa Catalina," Adeyemi said in her speech.

    Throughout the rally, the majority of the Upper School girls held signs with the names of their Nigerian counterparts. Other students held banners with phrases such as "Together We Stand," "Enough is Enough," and "She Could Have Been Your Sister." At the end of the rally, Ng asked the students holding the girls' names to come forward and stand on a red line made of yarn. Indeed, the line of students was long — a clear visual representation of just how many Nigerian girls have been abducted. In fact, the number of Nigerian girls who are still missing nearly equals the number of Upper School girls at Santa Catalina.

    After the rally, Ng provided the students and teachers with information on how to stay involved with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. She encouraged them:

    • to continue to spread the word through social media.
    • to change their online profile photos to the Bring Back Our Girls icon, which can be download here.
    • to sign relevant petitions.
    • to contact U.S. senators and congressmen.
    • to wear the color red on Tuesday, June 2 (the first day of Upper School final exams) as a sign of solidarity.

    The rally was so moving that several faculty members shared their reflections with the student body the following day. In an email to students and faculty, Paul Elliott, director of athletics, said: "The rally, we all felt it, we had to. Wet cheeks and proud hearts."

    In Assembly on May 29, Dan Place, Upper School history chair, said:

    "I want to talk for a moment about the rally yesterday because it was important; it mattered. One of the reasons it was important, one of the reasons it mattered, was because it struck me as a perfect example of the meaning and value of diversity in education. There are still people who think diversity is really a form of charity — a chance to let the minority kids be with the majority kids or to let the poor kids be with the rich kids. But, of course, that's not it at all. In fact, diversity is an essential component of a good education. It is an opportunity to be with people from all walks of life, to share with each other, to learn from each other.

    "Probably many of you are so used to diversity that you didn’t notice it yesterday, but I did. Think about the four young women who were in front of you on that field. One was an African-American girl with family in Nigeria, one was as Asian girl who had crossed the biggest ocean in the world to be a part of you, one was a home-schooled white girl from northern California, and one was a Muslim girl whose parents live in Saudi Arabia. They think that what is happening in Nigeria is important, that it matters. And look what they did together."

    To see more rally photos, view this Flickr album. To watch video of the event, check out the local TV coverage from KION and KSBW.

  • <em>Catalinan</em> editors Tandy Johnson '14, Emma Russell '14, and Joyce Chan '14 gather with Randy Whitchurch, to whom the 2014 yearbook was dedicated.

    Math + Water = Life

    Randy Whitchurch is not one to draw attention to himself, but he rarely goes unnoticed in his bright yellow fleece jacket. When the yearbook editors called his name in Assembly on Tuesday, May 20, he was caught off guard — and without his trademark fleece. Shy of the limelight, Mr. Whitchurch humbly made his way to the podium to accept the honor of having the 2014 Catalinan dedicated to him.

    On a daily basis, he quietly goes about his business in the classroom and at the swimming pool. In addition to teaching algebra and geometry, he coaches the junior varsity water polo and swim teams. Mr. Whitchurch, who began teaching at Catalina in 2007, does what he loves and does it well. For him, life is simply about his two loves: math and water.

    “Whether it is talking about life, helping students with math homework, or taking students out paddleboarding on the weekends, Mr. Whitchurch is always happy to contribute to the lives of everyone on campus,” editors Joyce Chan ’14, Tandy Johnson ’14, and Emma Russell ’14 wrote in the yearbook inscription.

    Congratulations to Mr. Whitchurch!

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