My Year at Casti: A Reflection
Finley is a 2016 Trinity Graduate. She is currently in 7th Grade at Castilleja.
Middle school. Often portrayed as the worst time in a person’s life, thanks to popular books and movies.
Going to Castilleja, I was nervous to say the least. The class size had tripled, and the campus, with it’s many classrooms, pool, gym, and (the best part) a full-fledged cafeteria. I had a different teacher for every class, and was responsible for getting to my classes without the assistance of a teacher. Despite my nervousness, I was also excited. Middle school was going to be an adventure, and I couldn’t wait.
Before school started, I met up with one of my fellow ‘16 classmates for lunch at Town and Country and locker decorating. The idea of a locker was very appealing to me; not having to lug a math book around? Amazing! At the start of the year, my locker was simple and had little personality. Two locker shelves, my books and binders, grey and white chevron patterned wallpaper, and a magnetic mirror.
On August 25, I got into my slightly oversized, sailor styled, all-white outfit, and soon enough I was at Casti. The first thing I did was reunite with my two Trinity classmates. All of us sixth graders were very confused, and we slowly clumped together next to the yellow (the sixth grade color) flag, which was thankfully where we were supposed to be. Our 8th grade “big sisters” had briefly explained the ceremony that was about to commence. All of a sudden, a wave of red boas stampeded across the circle, to the clump of white and dark-green. I faced forward, just in time to see a sea of navy and white hurtle towards us. I identified my big sister, Supriya, who came to a stop in front of me and tied my yellow tie around my neck. After several pictures, we were ushered into the chapel theatre to listen to a speaker. After, we had an all school party on the circle. Songs ranged from cheesy 2010s and new hits. Classes fought against each other in tug-a-war. Cecily introduced me to her friend from soccer, Allison, and we quickly bonded over Les Mis. Suddenly, middle school wasn’t that scary any more.
The next day we started classes. I talked to the new friends I had made and found out that I would be spending ⅞ of my classes without anybody I knew. Some of that old fear was coming back.
I have two special memories of that day. The first was during math. I walked into the math classroom, by myself, empty binder and new notebook. Written on the whiteboard was, “Welcome! Please sit at a table.” I saw other people grouping with their friends at tables. I was relatively late to class (I didn’t remember where the math classroom was, so I had to wait at Cecily’s locker to ask her) so every seat was taken except for one empty table. I sat down, and hoped somebody would come and sit next to me. About fifteen seconds later, two girls walked in together, and sat down across from me. Class started, and our teacher, Mr. J, started talking. About five minutes in, another girl sprinted in, and promptly sat down next to me. It was not uncommon for people to be late to there first class, and there were only a couple of stares. During our work time, we introduced ourselves. Serafina and Ella were the two girls who walked in together, and the course of year.
The second memory occurred after fitness. I checked my planner and found out I had music next. I tried to remember where the music classroom was, but I couldn’t seem to remember. By then, most people were in their classes and I had no idea what to do. I saw a girl who I vaguely remember raising her hand when we were asked who was taking instrumental. She was in a hurry, theatre binder in hand, but I asked her for help anyway. She replied, “Oh, it’s downstairs”, and quickly speed-walked to her class before I could interrogate her any more. “Downstairs” was not a very big hint, but atleast it narrowed down my options. After running around a bit more, I asked an upper school teacher about it. He was very nice and offered to walk me down. I was twenty minutes late by the time I arrived, but I was thankful I did, and I never got lost again.
One of my favorite parts of the year were the after school activities I did. I had decided to join robotics and swimming for the fall season, and water polo for the spring. The sixth graders were split into two teams, with six girls each. I only knew one girl from my french class, and recognized a few from others. Thus began the 5C Turtles’ (very cheesy Casti pun) robotics season.
Who knew that those girls I sat down with that day would become some of my best friends.
With the help of a tech savvy junior Vanessa, we dived into the world of robot building and programming. Some of the best memories from the year came from robotics. Whether it was the time me and a team mate did nothing for the whole hour and a half except eat corn nuts, or Piper, the most technologically talented, tried to teach me how to code, or when me and another girl spent the practice making a lego flower crown for our robot, Janelle, as Vanessa practically begged us to be productive. We stepped on legos, made a website (5cturtles.org, If you’d like to check it out), ate corn nuts, decorated Vanessa’s locker with streamers, Frozen wrapping paper, and a homemade card as a thank you, and belted out “Roar” to get our anxiety out in the wings before the competition. The Bourn lab was one of the places where I felt at home at my new school.
The thing I was most excited for going into Casti was swimming. I have swimming on a team for five years now, and I was looking forward to swimming for Casti. One of my fondest memories was the freestyle relay at my first swim meet. I was ushered onto the A team at the last second, and one of my fellow robotics team mates was with me, along with Serafina and another girl who was in nearly all my classes.
It’s an amazing feeling; having all of the other Casti girls chanting and screaming your name as you sprint down the pool.
I was excited again, more water polo in the spring. Going into a new sport was scary, but I was also excited to spend more time with my classmates. There were some slightly traumatizing moments, like when Serafina stole the ball and flicked it back to me a little too hard, and when a teammate dropped her phone into the seat belt hole and it played “Total Eclipse of the Heart” the whole van ride to Sacred Heart, but otherwise, some of the memories I made were some of the best all year. Throughout the season, I met two other high schoolers, and idolized another. The three of them were part of the varsity water polo team. The varsity water polo team is one of the best in the area. Not only because of the pure talent the girls have, or the best coach in the world, four time Olympian Brenda Villa, but the sheer dynamic and energy they have. They sit with each other during lunch, even though they are from different grades; they even have an instagram that documents all their practices, games, life, and off-season updates. These girls showed me what it meant to be a true Casti girl, along with being some of the best people I know.
Classes were the one thing I never thought I would miss. They were a step up from 5th grade for sure, but Trinity also prepared me well. During lunch we’d often go on about how our language tests were the worst, and how one fitness teacher was harder than the other. As the year came to an end, I realized that next year I wouldn’t be with the same group. We wouldn’t get to use our inside jokes, or sit at tables together. I wouldn’t be able to trudge upstairs to French with the same girl, or speed-walk back to our lockers to try to get to lunch first. Classes made up the bulk of my time at campus, and I never fully appreciated all the memories from my classes.
Now for the best part: lunch. Ask any Trinity grad what the best part about middle school is, I guarantee they’ll say lunch. Most Casti girls favorite dessert day is Churro Day. Five minutes into lunch, people start lining up near the empty countertop, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the churros. Ten minutes into lunch, tables start discussing who among them will get churros for their table (a popular battle strategy). 15 minutes into lunch, you can start to smell the warm cinnamon sugar, as the cooks take the pastries out of the oven. A second wave of people line up. 17 minutes into lunch, the cooks select some poor soul among them to deliver the tray of hot churros. They get three minutes to mentally prepare themselves. 20 minutes into lunch, that cook takes the hot tray and walks down the aisle to the dessert countertop. 20 minutes and 1 second into lunch, chaos ensues. If you’ve never seen a hoard of middle school girls attack a plate of churros, it’s along the lines of one of those National Geographic shark specials. You might have thought we hadn’t eaten for weeks. The cook pushes through the swarm of girls, a traumatized look on their face. Most of them are grabbing six or seven, for the other girls at their table cheering them on. Most people forget to bring a napkin, so there are usually a couple screams of pain, as people grab a few piping hot pastries. One middle school meeting, our middle school head, Ms. Cameron, made a very serious announcement about how we had a churro issue and that we needed to act like mature young women, and not starving, feral dogs. Lunch can do that to you.
So to my Class of ‘17, look forward to middle school, from now on, you’re also the Class of ‘24.
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