February 6, 2018 | Newsletter

Greetings from Dr. Brenot

A collage by Art 2 student Ava Owens '20.

Dear parents,

Earlier this winter, the father of one of our students sent me a link to the animated short film Alike by Spanish animators Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez. The seven minute-long short captured my attention through its powerful simplicity; the message is loud and clear, even though not a single word of dialogue is uttered. In the film, a child's innate joy, curiosity, and creativity is progressively squelched by daily life in a monotonous, colorless dystopia.

As parents and educators, we must guard our children against this—hectic schedules, burdensome expectations, and lack of sleep can and will destroy our children's exuberance for life. We must remind our girls that they can achieve great things while still being their creative selves. As the parent who shared it with me wrote, "If we can teach our girls to embrace all pursuits, all knowledge, whatever they love, whatever their passion … and not turn it into drudgery, then we will have succeeded as parents and as educators and mentors. This embodies what I think about Santa Catalina."

A 2016 study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology ("Everyday Creative Activity as a Path to Flourishing") found that people flourish even through simple, short bits of everyday creativity. Creativity, then, seemingly helps to cultivate positive psychological functioning. For me, that means: "Being creative is good for you!"

Each human is a creative being. Creativity helps us be complete. It's natural, and yet extraordinary at the same time. Our girls intrinsically know and embrace this; perhaps this is why they love painting birthday posters for their friends in the art room, curating and sharing Pinterest boards, snapping and posting artful photos of their meals and whereabouts on social media, and spending countless hours planning and making costumes for their little ring sisters for Ring Week. From the music that the Reverb club produces, to the photography and artwork of Ms. Avery and Ms. Lerner's students, to the robot that our robotics team is designing and building, to the myriad ways our students express themselves in and out of the classroom, creativity is alive and well on our campus.

How, then, do we safeguard our girls' creativity? How can we help them further access, reveal, and nurture it? It starts with each of us adults; our children need to witness our creative selves in action. Let us not be like the exhausted, automated but good-intentioned father in Alive. We can be creative through even simple things. As the photographer DeWitt Jones states in his video Everyday Creativity, "Every act has the potential to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary."

I hope you will take just 10 minutes this week to watch the film Alive, and to read the brief article "13 Simple Habits to Nurture Your Creativity," which we will be sharing with your daughters through the Journey program. Talk about the film and creativity with them, and partner with us in encouraging them to be the creative, extraordinary beings they are meant to be. The film has certainly spurred me to think about how we educate our girls and to reflect on the blessings of creativity; I hope it will for you, too. Let's all make 2018 our most creative year yet. Lastly, thank you, Stephen Schwerdfeger, for sharing the video link with me, and for your inspiring words.



Kassandra T. Brenot '87, Ph.D.

Head of Upper School

Interested in learning more? Here are some links:

40 Ways to Boost Your Creativity (video: 3m, 46s)

Your Elusive Creative Genius, TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (19m, 25s)

Pinterest Ideas about Creativity (Pinterest board)

Ten TED Talks for Creatives (article)

News and Notes


Cheer on Brita Sigourney '08 at the Olympics!

Brita Sigourney '08

Brita, a freestyle skier, is headed to her second Winter Olympics. She's competing in the women's halfpipe on February 18-19, and plans to walk in the Opening Ceremony on February 9. We join her sister, Elsbeth Sigourney '01, and her mom, Julie Brandlin Sigourney '72, in wishing Brita the best of luck! #catalinagirlscan


Vote for Santa Catalina!

Catalina has been nominated for Best School in the Monterey County Weekly's Best of 2018 contest. Please vote for us! Voting ends February 21.


Construction on Mark Thomas Drive

Major construction work will begin on Mark Thomas Drive in the next few weeks that will affect traffic around campus. We will keep you informed about the start date, alternate routes to and from campus, and other details as they become available to us. Please select and bookmark this link for construction information and updates relevant to our school community.

Facebook is making changes. Don't miss our posts! 

Facebook recently announced that it is changing its news feed to feature more posts from friends and family and fewer posts from pages like ours. To make sure you don't miss a beat, please opt to see us first in your news feed. On the Santa Catalina School page click the "Following" button and select "See First" under "In Your News Feed." (Please see the screenshot at left.)

Our Facebook page is an important way for us to share all the wonderful moments that happen at school every day. Thanks for following!

Around Campus

Take a trip to China

Santa Catalina is sponsoring a student trip to China from June 8–21. The two-week trip to Shanghai and Beijing, chaperoned by Mandarin teacher Bo Covington, offers a wide variety of cultural, historical, and present-day exposure to this important country. The cost is $4,250 and includes airfare, hotels, meals, transportation in China, and guides. The reservation deadline is February 26. Please download the itinerary for more information.


Welcome to Ring Week!

This week, seniors and juniors celebrate the much-loved tradition of Ring Week. Seniors have been enthusiastically preparing for this week, and the juniors eagerly await Wednesday's kickoff to the festivities. Learn more about this long-standing tradition.


Junior wins Poetry Out Loud

Four students competed in Santa Catalina's Poetry Out Loud contest on January 26, each of them reciting two poems from memory on the stage of the PAC. Molly Gilbert '19 was declared the winner, and advances to the county contest on February 10. Watch excerpts from their performances.


Library hosts author talk with local writer

Robin Gregory, author of the award-winning young adult novel The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, visited Santa Catalina's library on January 25 for a one-hour chat about the process of writing. See what advice she had for students.


Art club starts service activity at Seaside school

Maya Pruthi '19, head of the Art and Art History Club, organized a new service project with Highland Elementary School in Seaside. The club's members made their first visit on January 26, teaching young girls about van Gogh and leading them in a watercoloring activity with "Starry Night." Read more and see photos from the event.


Student Senate welcomes freshman class officers

Sophia Oh, Angelia Shi, and Ashley Liu received the "light of leadership" during an induction ceremony on January 17. Read more.


Art and photography students learn from the masters

Art 2 and Art History students visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on January 29 for guided tours of several exhibits. Read about the trip and see photos.


On January 25, photography students visited the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts in Carmel for an exhibit titled "Through Beginner's Eyes." Says photo teacher Claire Lerner: "Students just recently completed their abstract assignment and were excited to see professional abstract photographic prints of such high caliber. These beautiful and thought-provoking images inspired many wonderful conversations during and after our visit." See photos.

Food for Your Well-Being

In coordination with Catalina's new health and wellness initiative, Bon Appétit has begun a series of activities called For Your Well-Being. The first entry, held January 29, was about the importance of balancing the calories that you eat with those that you burn. Lunch that day included a chance to swap spaghetti pasta for spaghetti squash and alfredo sauce for a chickpea rosemary marinara. They also served baked green bean fries, a healthier way to get your French fry kick. Please enjoy these recipes for the spaghetti squash and green beans.

February has two For Your Well-Being activities: One is about healthy fats that are plant-based, featuring a DIY oil infusion activity. The other is about healthy hydration, where we will serve different types of spa water.

In the Bookstore

Back by popular demand, this Vineyard Vines tote bag features the school logo on the body of the bag, as well as on the silk trim. Cost: $75.

Bookstore hours:

  • 9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • 12:00–4:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday


Help spread the word about Benefit Celebration

The Annual Benefit Celebration is on Saturday, March 10, at 5:30 p.m. Invitations will be mailed soon, but in the meantime, check out our Benefit Celebration Event Page on Facebook. Please share the event to help spread the word using the hashtag #catalinabenefitgoesgreen2018.


We are excited to offer a sustainable dinner menu this year from Bon Appétit with a fantastic dessert auction provided by local bakers and a wine tasting featuring your favorite wineries. Read more about what's in store, including the Count-Me-Ins.


Class of '60 establishes Endowment for Tuition Assistance

The Class of 1960 has announced a scholarship endowment project with over $1.5 million in verbal commitments, pledges, and gifts in place so far. By creating this endowment fund, the class has come together to ensure that there will always be a Class of '60 scholar to experience the same education and camaraderie they enjoyed during their time here. The class is currently positioned to build one of the largest endowments for tuition assistance at the school thanks to their collective efforts.

Joan Stafford Haynes '60 echoed the sentiments of many of her classmates in writing, "What a great class we have and how much fun it is to think we are giving the lifelong friendships we have enjoyed for so many years to all our Class of 1960 scholars going forward."

Student Life

Transportation for boarding students

Parents, please remember that our transportation policy for resident students going to regularly scheduled medical and dental appointments is for them to take taxis. We always make every effort, however, to go above and beyond our policy to provide your daughters with transportation. Our policy is the following:

In the event of an emergency or serious illness, the student will be accompanied by a faculty member to the appropriate medical facility. Students will be sent by cab to routine medical or dental appointments. In this case, each student is given a voucher for the cab fare, and you will be billed through our Business Office (page 20, Student Family Handbook 2017-2018).

If the nurses in our Health Center arrange your daughter's appointment(s), they will do their best to schedule the appointments when school can provide transportation. This is not always possible, however, and in such cases your daughter will need to take a cab. If your daughter is 18 or older, she may arrange on her own to take an Uber if she complies with Uber's terms of service. (Please note that Uber does not need to comply with state requirements for background checks for drivers who transport minors.) If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dr. Kassandra Brenot, head of Upper School, at


Seniors are going to Disneyland!

Parents should have received information via email about seniors' Disney Grad Nite in May. If you did not receive the information, or if you have any questions, please email Katherine Burkhuch, dean of students, at


Weekend activities for boarding and day students

The following activities are offered to students in February. (Subject to change depending on student interest.)

  • February 10 – Cooking class with Dr. Nancy Hunt
  • February 10 – Zumba
  • February 10 – Ring Dinner
  • February 17 – Make traditional dumplings with Bo Covington for Chinese New Year

Upcoming Events

Wednesday - February 7, 2018
Friday - February 9, 2018
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Saturday - February 10, 2018
8:00 AM
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Dining Room
Thursday - February 15, 2018
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Math & Science Center
Friday - February 16, 2018
9:35 AM - 10:05 AM
Math & Science Center
2:40 PM - 5:00 PM
Thursday - February 22, 2018
1:00 PM - 2:50 PM
Friday - February 23, 2018
Monday - March 5, 2018

Photo of the Month

Students in Chapel

Students kicked off Black History Month during Chapel on January 31. Throughout February, the Students of Color club will highlight the extraordinary accomplishments of black men and women. Already we have learned about Rosa Parks, Venus and Serena Williams, and Langston Hughes.


Santa Catalina School

1500 Mark Thomas Drive, Monterey, CA 93940