I can remember first hearing about Cate from an alum as a little 7th grader. It was a place up in the mountains in California where everyone loved learning and took rigorous academic schedules, but also where you could take surfing as your school sport, bake cookies at teachers’ homes, and everyone was just like family. Even just the stories I heard about this place, this “Mesa” as she called it, these snip its of her memories as a high schooler, lived on in my mind and seemed so unreal, so magical to me. I held on to everything I knew about Cate but it still wasn’t real to me until the day my dad drove me up the misty Mesa road for the first time in 8th grade. As we walked around campus and met all the teachers and students, Cate proved to be more magical than it had been as my middle school fantasy, and even more as I moved in and became a member of the Cate family.
I love the feeling at Cate. Everyone is incredibly smart and gifted and performing at a very high level, yet the tenor on the Mesa is very relaxed and warm. You can see it in the faces of smiling students and teachers who pass by and say “hello”, or the way kids lay out on the lawn with their ice cream cones in between classes, or feel perfectly at ease immersed in conversation with anyone in the Cate community. At the same time, Cate students are intense, incredibly focused on their studies and passionate about learning in the classroom and beyond. That is why, I think, it is possible to achieve this idyllic balance of true happiness and ease along with such rigor in academics--because Cate kids love to learn. School is not a burden, it’s a passion, and learning extends much further than just the traditional classroom setting. Living with a community of people--faculty and students--who have so many powerful life experiences and deep thoughts and beliefs, and at the same time, are very curious about your own, opens a lot of doors for conversation and opportunities to share with each other. For example, I will never forget two girls, one from China and one from Taiwan, sitting in my room and having an argument about whether Taiwan was part of China or not, and I am constantly prepared to engaged in a conversation en français with my french teacher, even while in line for a piece of lasagna at dinner. Living at school surrounded by such an intellectual community makes learning a life style that I think is very unique to Cate.
I am a tour guide at Cate because as much as I love to write, I haven’t completely expressed why or how much this school means to me and everyone else who has experienced it. I have only given you a small glimpse into my world here at school and its difficult to truly capture the essence of the Mesa just by browsing the website. I love sharing my passion for my school and being able to remind myself just how lucky I am to be here while touring prospective Cate families from around the world!