Headmaster Ben Williams launches new school year at Cate with traditional Sunset Ceremony.

Cate School launched the 2013-2014 academic year on Wednesday August 28th with the annual Sunset Ceremony, a tradition started in 2006 by Headmaster Ben Williams. Students, faculty, and members of the Cate community gathered on the lawn in front of Parsonage and High House dormitories as the School’s bell, MacBeth, rang.

As he does each year, Williams read an excerpt from a letter written by one of the School’s earliest graduates, William Shepard Biddle ’18, which prefaces founder Curtis Cate’s book School Days in California. In addition to capturing his own experience as a student at Cate, Biddle contemplates what unites all who at one time or another call Cate home.

A portion of the letter reads: “There is a kinship … between the old school and the new, whose roots go deeper than a few feet into the mesa soil. Instead, they reach far down to the rather crude little school of redwood board and brick chimney, which clung precariously to the foot of the Mesa between Lillingston and Gobernador Canyons; to the gardens of Marion Cate and the orange and eucalyptus groves; to the old boys and teachers, and their loyalties, and ultimately, of course, to Curtis Cate himself, and the principles he made the basis of the school he founded.”

Headmaster Williams asked those gathered to connect themselves “to all that has happened on this Mesa in the past 104 years.”

After the ceremony, underclassmen and faculty formed a receiving line to greet the new senior class. In May, after commencement, faculty will bid farewell to the Class of 2014 in the same location once they’ve received their diplomas.

In addition to returning students, the School welcomes 80 new students this year, 66 of whom are freshmen. Cate students come from 25 states, including Oregon, California, Montana, Missouri, Vermont, and North Carolina and 16 countries including Bahrain, China, Ghana, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

For the 2013-14 academic year, the School has allocated more than $3 million in financial support.


Founded in 1910, Cate School is a grade 9-12, coeducational, college preparatory boarding school in Carpinteria, California. What began as a group of twelve boys and a few teachers has expanded into a 265-student, 65-teacher, deeply academic and talented community with the most diverse student body of any boarding school of its size in the United States. The faculty are experts in their fields: 74% hold advanced degrees, 18% of these have PhDs. Cate is one of this nation’s most selective boarding schools, accepting only 20% applicants each year. 52% of Cate’s most recent graduating class attend the 25 top-ranked colleges and universities in the country. The Cate experience combines academics, athletics, art and co-curricular activities in a close-knit, community setting where students are enriched by their relationships with their teachers and each other. When students leave Cate, they have the tools and the conviction to seek out lives of purpose and meaning.


Sarah Kidwell


1960 Cate Mesa Road

Carpinteria, California 93013


805-684-4127 ext. 241


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