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Hillbrook School Alumni Family Association
Annual Alumni Celebration!
Hillbrook School Alumni Event
Friday, May 8th 
3:45 - 7:30pm
Hillbrook School's Alumni BBQ and 3rd annual Alumni Basketball games are scheduled for Friday, May 8th (Mother's Day Weekend).

3:45-4:45 pm: Current "A" team vs. 9th grade Basketball game
4:45-5:45 pm: Young Alumni vs. Older Alumni Basketball game: 
6:00-7:30 pm: BBQ Dinner: 
Cathy Carlson ( to RSVP for the BBQ, and
Scott Sweeney ( to play in the alumni games. 
Help spread the word to other alumni about this fantastic opportunity for great games and great stories. 
Hope to see all Hillbrook Alumni there!

We're always looking for alumni news to spotlight in our annual Hillbrook publications—have you made some waves recently? Spent time abroad? Invented, discovered, or created something amazing? We want to hear from you! Send stories (200-400 words) and photos to Cathy Carlson or Kristina Nakagawa.

We hope you enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and familarizing yourself with our campus at the last alumni celebration, and we hope you'll make the Alumni Celebration an annual tradition. We'd love to hear from you, so please stay in touch.

If you haven't had the opportunity yet, please check out our incredible video, As the Twig is Bent. The film tells the fascinating and heartfelt story about the history of Hillbrook School by alum parent Felice Leeds and P.E. teacher Paul DiMarco at
Alumni Spotlight

Mira Straathof: How Hillbrook Prepared Me

After many hectic months of life at boarding school, I realize what has made me a thriving student in my new environment. Students who attend Cate School bring with them various levels of academic preparation, yet all need critical life skills to succeed. Hillbrook is a source of many of these skills for me.
Participation is one of the most important skills I learned at Hillbrook. Even the simple raising of a hand in class molded me into a person who is willing to debate and actively offer an opinion in class discussion. At Hillbrook, I could not hide in class, and now that I sit in classes with as few as ten peers at a single table, I assure you my teachers see and expect everyone to participate.

Public speaking is also a large component of Hillbrook and Cate cultures. Though I took a debate class at Hillbrook designed to teach students how to speak in front of crowds, there were many other incidences when I learned subconsciously. I held parts in the 4th grade Gold Rush play, and again in my 8th grade musical. I also gained confidence speaking when I took Ms. M’s  drama elective. Experience in public speaking has led me to make an announcement in front of my entire school, participate in Cate’s fall theatrical production, and speak to the entire Board of Trustees as a representative of the freshman class.

Along with public speaking, Hillbrook taught me how to communicate one-on-one with adults. At Cate, I communicate with adults in cases of emergency, with teachers when I have questions or problems with my studies, and with advisors when I need to advocate for myself.

Managing time is also critical to success at Cate. At Hillbrook, I was taught the skill and constantly reminded it. At Cate, no matter how academically prepared a student is, if he writes a three-page essay or studies for a test the night before it is due, he surely will not do well.

Well-developed study routines and note-taking skills are also important. Though one might not need these skills for an entire life, these are skills every student at Cate must know. Mr. Ravizza’s Cornell note-taking skills are the most helpful to me today. I use them for all of my classes. (Cornell notes are very easy to read and organize, so they make studying much easier.) Also, Ms. Pak’s highlighting and annotating method prepared me for the many pages of history textbooks I read each night.

I really enjoy my new life at boarding school and am grateful for way Hillbrook has prepared me for it. My schooling is hard but with critical life skills, I am able to keep up in all classes and excel in several. While my parents like it that I keep up, finishing my studies, to me, means that I have weekend time to shop in Santa Barbara or lounge at the beach.

Mira Straathof
Hillbrook '11
Alumni Photos
Alumni Celebration 5/10/13
12 Images
Published: 5/23/2013
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2015 Bridges Magazine
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Alumni News
Graduation Speech to Class of 2015
Ally Weinstock ('11) returned to Hillbrook as a speaker at graduation, sharing her wisdom and experience with the Class of 2015. 

Annual Alumni Celebration - BBQ and Basketball!
Friday, May 8th, 3:45 - 7:30pm
Hillbrook School's Alumni BBQ and 3rd annual Alumni Basketball games are scheduled for Friday, May 8th (Mother's Day Weekend). 

3:45-4:45 pm: Current "A" team vs. 9th grade Basketball game
4:45-5:45 pm: Young Alumni vs. Older Alumni Basketball game 
6:00-7:30 pm: BBQ Dinner
Cathy Carlson ( to RSVP for the BBQ, and 
Scott Sweeney ( to play in the alumni games. 
Help spread the word to other alumni about this fantastic opportunity for great games and great stories. 
Hope to see all Hillbrook Alumni there!

Class of 2014 Graduate Mei Mei Chang Shares Design Process
Mei-Mei Chang, a graduate from 2014, visited the 8th grade science class as a guest speaker earlier this school year. She spoke to the class about a pneumatic potato launcher she made out of pvc pipe. The launcher is quite a challenging piece of equipment to both design and build and our 8th grade class marveled at the fine craftsmanship Mei-Mei put into this device. Having just finishing a design challenge themselves-rocket building-Mei-Mei was able to share her own design process to help the students prepare for their culminating presentation reports. This was an incredibly valuable visit as the students were able to see how the skills they were practicing can be applied to other projects as well. Mei-Mei discussed her design process and the challenges she faced along the way. She shared the multiple iterations of her launcher and the importance of research and seeking advice from expert builders to improve a design. 
After sharing her design process, the students eagerly followed her outside to demonstrate the launcher's capabilities. Students collected data to correlate the effect of angle and air pressure on the distance the potato is launched. They had their hands full as they set about to measure the distance-well over 90 meters for the longest launch. This lesson in projectile motion was an extension of this physics unit and a practical application of their recent rocket flight analysis. Mei-Mei also primed the students for their upcoming air pressure unit as she adeptly shared how the gas laws she learned in 8th grade apply to the function of this potato launcher. The 8th grade is grateful to Mei-Mei for taking the time to build this launcher and to return to Hillbrook to teach this invaluable lesson.

Class of 2010 Alum Jimmy Castles Ties for 2nd at State Golf Championship
Jimmy Castles, a 2010 graduate of Hillbrook School and graduating senior at Bellarmine College Prep, shot a 3-under 68 to tie for second at the state golf championship. The championship, which included 54 of the state's best golfers, was held on June 4th at San Gabriel Country Club in San Gabriel.

Castles started his round on the 10th hole, with one birdie and one bogey before making his move on the front nine. He birdied 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 and bogeyed 4 and 9 to finish just one stroke off the lead.

Jimmy qualified for state at the Northern Califorina championships in Roseville on May 19th, shooting a 1-over 73 which tied him for ninth overall. 

Congrats Jimmy!!

Alumni Celebration 2014 Information
Join Hillbrook alumni, alumni parents, faculty and friends for an afternoon and evening of fun on Friday, May 9! All are welcome for this festive reunion, so please spread the word!

The event will consist of the return of  our annual alumni basketball game, campus tours, mingling, networking, and a family style barbecue dinner. Additionally, we will be honoring a beloved teacher: TBA!

Here is a schedule of events:
3:45 – 4:45: Hillbrook “A” team vs. 9th grade alumni basketball game
4:45 – 5:45: 9th/10th grade alumni vs. older alumni basketball game
5:45 – 6:30: Tours, Hillbrook History Walk, Reconnecting with old and new friends & teachers
6:30 – 6:45: Remarks from Head of School Mark Silver, and recognition of our faculty honoree
6:45 – 8:00: Family Style Barbecue Dinner
Please RSVP directly to this invitation to let us know that you are coming and email Scott Sweeney at if you’d like to participate in the Basketball Game.
If you have questions, please email Karen Brein at

Will you be featured in the Alumni Journal?
Calling all alumni! 

We're now accepting submissions for the 2013 Alumni Journal. Send updates and photos to We want to hear about marriages, births, graduations, jobs... anything! You may even be picked to be featured in a feature article.

All submissions are due by March 22nd. 
More News
2013 Alumni Journal
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