Mel Palmer's Letter to the Board of Trustees

Dear Ms. Fisher,

      I'm sure you can guess why I am writing to you... but I first wanted to say that I fondly remember our two chances to meet and discuss my time at Castilleja before my graduation. I truly appreciate and respect the fact that you take the time to listen to each senior class; you understand that students know first hand what makes Castilleja great and how it can be improved. So, in this letter, I ask you to do the same thing: listen to the students.

      I am aware that letters and emails from concerned students, alumnae, and parents regarding the 'disappearance' of Bear Capron from campus must be bombarding your mailbox. I'm sure it is overwhelming to be the recipient of such a massive outcry, but I hope that you will hear what they have to say.

      I trust that my fellow letter-writers are doing a great job of explaining why Bear Capron is such an integral part of the school, so I am not going to go into detail about all that he has done for my friends and me. I will point out, however, something that I told you in one of our meetings: the Castilleja girls that do not follow the 'castigirl' stereotype of being super confident, fast learners, and easy-'A'-getters do not get a lot of support from the school. Castilleja caters to those girls that are automatically successful and immediately fit in. Girls that are not so lucky as to quickly find their place on campus can feel alone and overwhelmed, unless they are able to find a personal mentor. Bear Capron is one of the most utilized personal mentors on campus. He is a monumental part of a too-small support system. His sage advice and loving support is not limited just to his advisees and the 'theatre girls'. Instead he generously donates himself to help any girl who feels lost, whether she is struggling with Casti's academics, hasn't found her friend niche, or hasn't stumbled upon her own identity and self-confidence yet. Bear Capron is patient, kind, encouraging, and welcoming. His hugs can make anyone feel at home on campus.

      Although Bear's disappearance greatly disturbs and upsets me (I have cried multiple times), I must admit that one thing has me even more disappointed: the administration's recent way of handling decisions. After fighting to save Latin at the end of last year, I was hoping that the rash decision that almost got rid of Magister Klopacz and his Latin program was a mishandled fluke, a one-time mistake that was not soon to be repeated. However, now that secrecy and hidden intentions are again surrounding the administration as a beloved member of Castilleja is missing, I can't help but feel betrayed. Castilleja is based on the principle 'Women Learning, Women Leading,' where we are taught that we are intelligent women that are capable of making tough decisions and deciding what is right for ourselves. If this is Castilleja's mission, then why doesn't the administration trust that the students can handle being informed? Why would the school hide a decision so meaningful to its students from its students? If you can answer that question, please enlighten me, because I am at a loss. The Castilleja that I used to believe in (and hope still exists) had faith in the competence of its students and valued their opinions. So why does the administration keep hiding such important things? Didn't the Latin scandal show how much students are willing to be involved in (or at least informed of) administrative decisions?

      I understand that the administration runs Castilleja, but the community of students, faculty, alumnae, and parents are what define it. The community should therefore be more involved than it currently is, for they are the ones that experience Castilleja and know it best. Hear what they have to say, because at the moment they are crying out for a fair and transparent trial. Ms. Fisher, I ask you to make sure that the decision process surrounding the disappearance of Bear Capron is handled with care and clear judgment. Trust in the character witnesses that have declared their undying support and love for Bear Capron.

      Thank you for your time in reading this letter (and the many others like it).

Mel Palmer
Class of 2009

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