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Hillbrook School Alumni Family Association
Annual Alumni Celebration!
Mark your calendars! The Annual Alumni Celebration is coming up on May 10th, 2013. This year's faculty honoree is Mr. Richard Casserley, who taught math at Hillbrook from 1981-2001.

We're looking for alumni news to spotlight in our annual Alumni Journal—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 The next journal won't be published unitl 2014, but it's never too soon to send in your updates.

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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2013 Alumni Journal
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Alumni News
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. 

Hillbrook Alumni Mackenzie Pridham Selected as Offensive Player of the Year
Congratulations to Hillbrook Alum and Cal Poly Soccer's Junior forward Mackenzie Pridham, who became the first Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year selection in Cal Poly men's soccer program history on Monday afternoon. Pridham, whose 11 goals during the regular season rank second among Big West players and 23rd among NCAA Division I players, was also named to the all-conference first team. Click here to read the announcement by Cal Poly.

Alumni Celebration reconnects Hillbrook students across the years
Hillbrook alums from across the years returned to campus Friday for the Annual Alumni Celebration. The event offered former Hillbrook students and their families an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, reminisce about their time at Hillbrook, play in a alumni basketball game, and enjoy a barbecue dinner.  The gathering was a fun mix of new and older alums, as well as many alum parents, who were just as excited to reconnect with their parent friends. The first student of The Children’s Country School, Richerd Cancilla, was among the alums enjoying the afternoon on campus. Richerd is featured in the award-winning documentary about the early years of Hillbrook School by PE Teacher Paul DiMarco and Alum Parent Felice Leeds, "As the Twig is Bent", which was also shown at the Alumni Celebration. [...]

Retired PE teacher and coach Al Gates was honored during the event for his many years of teaching and coaching at Hillbrook. Al started working at Hillbrook in 1973. Over the next 18 years he coached hundreds of boys in PE and sports, and in the process helped to build the excellent athletic program we are known for today. Al was part of significant changes at Hillbrook, including the creation of the Hillbrook Invitational Basketball Tournament, the development of a robust sports program, and the christening of Founder’s Hall. The stories about Al at Hillbrook are legendary. With his kind heart, sharp mind and big personality he made countless friends and positively impacted hundreds of young lives. [...]

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