Archive | Student Work

Book Spine Poetry!

Not a poet? Think again! Anyone can write a book spine poem. All you do is take books and lay them flat so that their spines read like a poem. These poems can be funny, serious, long, or short. See?


by Ms. Seroff


by Claire S. ’19


by Ms. Bergson-Michelson


by Mr. Ahmed


by Paulina A. ’20

by Ms. Tkach

by Ms. Tkach

Some classes and advisories have come into the library to make their own poems, but you can make them at home, too! If you’ve made any great poems, please send us a photo so we can feature them here or on the bulletin board leading up to the second floor.

Posted in Events & Celebrations, Student Work0 Comments

Why Creativity Got Cut – An Essay by Maddie D ’15

Why Creativity Got Cut – An Essay by Maddie D ’15

With all the hype over Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and the release of the new movie based on her book, I was considering what virtues she left out. Roth chose to create Abnegation to represent selflessness and simplicity, Amity to represent peace-keeping and kindness, Candor to represent honesty and justice, Dauntless to represent bravery and protectiveness, and Erudite to represent intelligence and curiosity.

All of these factions were created with the needs of a government in mind. But five virtues seems pretty minimal, whatever you might say about each faction representing a little bit more than just one virtue by extension. Some virtues just aren’t included; most glaringly, creativity.

What would a creativity faction look like? And, perhaps the more interesting question, why would a government not wish to add an “Ingenuity” faction?

In today’s society, Abnegation is the faction of charity workers (and, we would hope, government officials). Amity is the nurses and good-neighbors and maybe even our religious leaders, Dauntless the fireman, police, and military, Candor our justices, lawyers and activists, and Erudite our scholars.

Where are the artists?

Dauntless has tattoo artists, Amity has a few banjo-playing musicians – but what about our inventors? Our politically-charged muralists? Our concert cellists and Alternative song writers? Our great poets and fantasy authors?

The fact is, creativity isn’t in the city-state Roth creates. It’s not too difficult to see why. In a community that values conformity, whose motto is “faction before blood”, and frankly, who wears uniforms – where are the artists, who value individuality and creative expression, to fit in? Artists aren’t, in general, the sort of people who liked to be placed in boxes (the irony of this sentence is not lost on me). In fact, creative people tend to be very disruptive to normative behavior and rigidly organized society.

In today’s society creativity is essential. Our rapidly developing digital age would be entirely impossible without the imaginative foresight that drives this era. But the society Roth describes is largely stagnant. It is too traditional for an Ingenuity faction, too rigid for the out-of-the-box thinkers our age values so highly. In her books, Roth points out that honesty will break the peace, that self-denial will prevent the indulgence of curiosity, that bravery can be both cruel and stupid. Creativity will always clash with tradition. Nobody can value all virtues equally, not even the Divergent. And just as the Divergent are such a threat to the system, so the Ingenuity would be a threat to the conformity and traditionalism of Roth’s society. It’s very difficult to manipulate somebody who values creativity and individuality above all else.

by Maddie D. ’15

Posted in Featured, Student Work0 Comments

Charm & Strange: A Book Review by Katie M ’18

charmstrangeThrough small chapters made up of “matter” and “antimatter,” we see the past and present life of Andrew Winston Winters, a boy of dubious motives.

Through the matter of his mysterious life comes Win, a teenager who has seen too much. He is impenetrable by anyone, especially after a hiker dies in the forest near his exclusive boarding school. Win bolts himself away from everyone, scared of the devil that resides inside of him. His friends must find his key over the course of one fateful night or watch his dark secret destroy him. The evolution of Win and his friends may draw out information they never thought would be revealed.

Drew emerges from the “antimatter” a lost boy following in his brother’s footsteps. Over one dreaded summer his lock-and-keyed secret becomes so heinous that it forces him, his brother, and his cousins to acquit the unspeakable.

This is a exquisite portrayal of teen experiences and is tied together by a beautifully written mystery that will leave you wanting more. This chilling thriller will always keep you on your toes. It is captivating. Thrilling. Provocative. And most of all, one of a kind.

By Katie M. ’18

Posted in Reviews & Recommendations, Student Work0 Comments

The Sixth Faction: Create a Faction for Divergent

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 9.41.30 AM

Wait, what? There’s a sixth faction??? OK, hold up. I wasn’t informed about this… I’m pretty sure there were 5 factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Amity, and Dauntless…yep, that’s 5. Where’s the sixth?

Okay, calm down. There isn’t a sixth faction…yet. Which is why, my dearest Divergent fans, we are giving you the chance to put that nagging voice in your head to sleep! Come on, admit it. You have always thought that some virtues or some personalities were missing from the factions.  That this dystopian Chicago is a bit incomplete. Right? That’s exactly why, in celebration of the budding movie, starting Thursday, March 20, you can come into the library and fill out a form to tell us about your amazing ideas on this “sixth faction.”

This is a contest, just so you know, so get your game on! Our librarian panel will choose the most creative and unique “sixth faction.”  Give us your best go, and make sure to fall within these guidelines:

1.    Come up with a name for your faction!

Ex: Amity

2.    Describe your faction. Tell us some key attributes and how these attributes are manifested in behavior, clothing, etc.

Ex: Abnegation members want their members to be selfless, always putting others before themselves. To show this, they wear grey, plain clothing, greet others with a polite, subtle bow of heads for respect, and are governed by a committee who set a role model of these actions. They are also one of the only people who feed the factionless.

3.    Describe or draw your faction’s symbol.

Ex: Candor’s symbol (like on Four’s tattoo) is scales:

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 9.35.05 AM

4.    A color to identify your faction.

Ex: Blue is identified with Erudite.

5.    Recommend a book from our library that your new faction members would read, or add any other cool information you want to include. (optional)

Ex: Dauntless members begin initiation by jumping off a roof into a black pit, the contents unknown.

6. Make sure to submit your bursting ideas by March 31st , along with your name, if you want to be eligible to win! Every participant can select a faction sticker, designed by our own Elizabeth P. ‘17 and Neha S. ‘17.

If your faction is selected as a winner, we will make a sticker of your faction’s symbol and hand it out at school!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask any of the librarians (Ms. Bergson-Michelson,  Ms. Gomez, or Ms. Seroff).

Get excited!

And if you want to read like a faction member, there is a display of readings in the library appealing to each and every faction (except your sixth one). Go check that out!


The Divergent Crew

By Athena N ’19

Image credits: Elizabeth P. ‘17 and Neha S. ‘17

Posted in Events & Celebrations, Student Work0 Comments

Congratulations to Our Scholastic Art and Writing Award Winners!

Congratulations to Our Scholastic Art and Writing Award Winners!


This year, four Castilleja high school students – Victoria Pu, Caroline Harris, Hannah Knowles and Margaret Zhang – were recognized for writing in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. They have shared some of their stories about what inspired them to write and their personal experiences. Get to know your classmates a little better, and be inspired to write something yourself!

Victoria Pu is a junior this year, and though she says she doesn’t “really consider [herself] a serious ‘outside of school writer,’” she recognizes the 3 weeks she spent at the Young Writers Program at Kenyon College over the summer as a great growth in her appreciation of the craft. She also embodies the night-owl side of a great writer, saying the hardest thing about writing is doing it before 8pm, and references the saying her friends at Kenyon College had of “Espresso, more espresso” of both the most difficult and most enjoyable aspect of writing. Her favorite writers are Dave Eggers, J.D. Salinger, and John Updike (come check them out in the library!), as well as her best friend Hayun Cho. Her words of advice? “It sounds tacky, but: there’s always a story to be found somewhere.”

Caroline Harris is also a junior this year, and her interest in writing sprung up the summer after her freshman year. She attended a creative writing program at Interlochen, where she was able to explore here interests in a supportive community of other writers and work on her personal challenge of writer’s block. Caroline finds changing routine and leaving her comfort zone is a major source of her creative inspiration. She loves to hike, travel, and in general, go on adventures, and of course, read. In terms of writing’s impact on her, she has “often heard that reading builds empathy” and thinks “writing has a similar effect.” Indeed, writing well requires recognizing each side to a story, empathizing with different points of view, and readers feel the emotional impact of the writer’s journey. Caroline recalls a time a stranger approached her after a reading and commented on how touched she was by her poetry; in her words, it was “an incredible feeling, particularly since writing is personal and typically a solitary act.”

Hannah Knowles is also in her junior year, and while she’s always liked English class, she started writing outside of school. She began with poetry, then discovered she enjoyed writing short fiction and essays more, often on ideas she drew from a “sort of journal” filled with things and ideas she “found odd or evocative.” The hardest part about writing for her is sharing it. Critiques are one of the most valuable exercises (second only to actually siting down and writing something) for improving, but it’s always hard because “you’re never sure if it’s “good” or not.” She highly recommends Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, a “gorgeous” novel written in 13 interconnected short stories about a town on the coast of Maine, and wisely reminds us, “The first things you write probably won’t be very good…the only way to get better is to stop procrastinating, sit down, and write whatever you can think of.”

Finally, Margaret Zhang is a freshman this year, and she’s been writing stories since 3rd grade. She first started writing down playdates she had with classmates, everything from “super-scout” training with superpowers and nonhuman friends to dashing around the house on secret missions. She writes for moments and ideas from daily life, epiphanies, “moments [that] just cause [her] to freeze in place for a second,” while everyone else continues on, oblivious. Margaret also credits writing with increasing her capacity for empathy. She says, “Ever since I began writing seriously, I haven’t been able to say I completely dislike anyone,” and reflects this in her writing with her enjoyment of “crafting three-dimensional characters for both sides of a conflict,” leaving the reader with questions about “good” and “bad.”

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to congratulate your classmates when you see them! They’re happy to talk to you!

by Clare T. ’15

Posted in Events & Celebrations, Featured, Student Work0 Comments

Books Into Movies

Books Into Movies

Sure, watching the movie rarely beats reading the book. But how exciting is it to see your favorite novels come to life on the screen? 2013 was a great year for book films – think The Book Thief, Ender’s Game, and Catching Fire – but 2014 promises to be even better! Here are a few titles to look out for.

shailene-woodley-divergent-postersDivergent by Veronica Roth
In theaters: March 21st
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller.

If you liked The Hunger Games and you haven’t already read Divergent, you should go check it out. It is SO GOOD: a cool dystopian setting, fast-paced action, and romantic tension between the 16-year-old protagonist, Tris, and her enigmatic (and very attractive) fighting instructor, Four. When Tris comes of age and has to choose what “faction” of society she will join, she picks the Dauntless, who value courage above all else. But the transition to Dauntless isn’t easy, and Tris has to navigate competition and danger at all turns.

Fun Fact: Theo James is British.

OR_The-Fault-in-Our-Stars-2014-movie-Wallpaper-1280x800-1000x625The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
In theaters: June 6th
Starring: Shailene Woodley (Again! This is definitely her year), Ansel Elgort (who also plays Woodley’s brother in Divergent!).

You can start out your summer break by going to see this adaptation of John Green’s most recent novel, a quirky love story that’s a mixture of funny, sad, and poignant. When 16-year-old Hazel is diagnosed with cancer, her mother forces her to join a support group; there, Hazel meets fellow teen cancer-victim Augustus, whom she quickly begins to fall for. (This movie might make you cry. We warned you.)

Fun Fact: Though various companies own the film rights to other John Green books, The Fault in Our Stars is the only one to become a movie.

giverThe Giver by Lois Lowry
In theaters: August 15th
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift.

The synopsis: “In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world” ( The boy, Jonas, lives in an orderly but bland world where everything about his life is tightly controlled—he has no experience of snow, sunshine, or even color. Obviously, this will all change.

Fun Fact: The movie is being filmed in South Africa.


By Hannah K ’15

Posted in Reviews & Recommendations, Student Work0 Comments

catalog databases research-assistance
recommended-reading events student-publications

New Books – See More on Our Pinterest!

  • (Adult book with app
  • (Adult book with app
  • (Grades 9 and up) La
  • (Adult book with app

Latest Photos


Awards and Recognition

Community Photos!

Upload Your Photo to Flickr! Simply email your photo to photos @ and we will feature it here.

Book Recommendations on Our Pinterest!

  • (Adult book with app
  • (Grades 7 and up) Do
  • (Grades 7 and up) Ai
  • (Grades 3-7) Flora r