Paz Hilfinger-Pardo's Letter to the Board of Trustees

Dear Ms. Fisher and Castilleja Board of Trustees:

      This is what I cherish in my memories of Castilleja: warm Tuesday afternoons on the circle, lolling about in semi-uniform as we ate snack and prepared for rehearsal of the fall plays Mr. Capron selected and directed; cold mornings walking into Mr. Capron's drama class in the Chapel Theater knowing that, while the cavernous stage might be chilly, the atmosphere would be cozy; the close teacher-student relationship he cultivated with me, and the space he gave me to explore the jungle of Theater—

      Mr. Capron welcomed me to Castilleja at an open house after I was accepted to the school. Mr. Capron sent me on my way at graduation with a wonderful speech and farewell gift. Mr. Capron provided an anchor for me throughout my time at Casti. Now, five years and a Stanford diploma later, I regularly find myself returning to the knowledge I gained from him. Stories of his performances in Amsterdam set fires in my brain, and have become touchstones in my own creative work. He expanded my definition of performance, and set me on the path I now follow as a theater professional.

      Could Mr. Capron really have disappeared from Castilleja? Or, to rephrase: doesn't Castilleja disappear without Mr. Capron? Were he sick, the school would rally around him. Had he decided to leave, he would have told his students, and the school would mourn his loss. I know he isn't sick, and I know he hasn't spoken to his students. The silence surrounding this situation leaves me with only one conclusion: Mr. Capron is being prevented from doing his job. The Castilleja I knew and loved was a community of mutual respect, a community which was open and welcoming—that is to say, a community with an ethos embodied by Bear Capron. Now I think perhaps that Castilleja was a mirage. It is melting away in my memories, and behind it I see its antithesis. Now I see an institution in which beloved teachers disappear, in which the students must start a facebook group in order to gain even a non-explanation from the administration. I hope that my perception is wrong, that this is only a temporary disruption, that Mr. Capron (and with him, my ideal of Castilleja) will return to the campus at 1310 Bryant Street.

      If my perception is right, I will mourn the disappearance of the school I once loved.

      I opened my makeup box as I prepared to go onstage last night, and one of the pieces of confetti which came in my acceptance letter from Casti fell out. I keep good-luck tokens and souvenirs of happy memories in my box to calm myself before performances, and that confetti was one of the first things I put into it. I went to put the fallen piece back in my box, hesitated, and left it lying on my dressing room table. I am asking, for my own sake, for the sake of other women like me (both current students and alums): give me a reason to put that piece of confetti back in its rightful place. Return Bear Capron to the classroom, and tell us openly what happened to take him out of it and why.

Paz Hilfinger-Pardo
Class of 2004

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