Life at Ellis

Student Life

A Comprehensive Experience

Understanding that a rich and challenging program extends beyond the classroom, Ellis offers abundant opportunities for students to develop their own sense of purpose and passion.

Student Traditions

At Ellis, girls forge strong friendships and lifelong memories through on-campus activities, events, and customs that celebrate the culture of the School—and infuse plenty of fun into the regular routine. Whether it’s indulging in mouthwatering plates of food on Heritage Day, watching Lower School students parade around campus in their Halloween costumes, or transforming Upper School student lounges for Color Wars, these beloved Ellis moments create an exciting and enthusiastic environment for students to connect with each other during the school day. For seniors, Kilt Destruction Day, Senior Luncheon, and Senior Class Day mark the beginning of the end of their time at Ellis, and serve as unforgettable memories as they embark on their next chapter.

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  • Green and White Teams

    In their first year at Ellis, every student is assigned to the Green or White team and they stay on the same team throughout their time at Ellis. At the beginning of each school year, students participate in the Green and White games which are hosted by the Ellis Athletic Association. Past games have included relay races, obstacle courses, and dodgeball games.
  • Heritage Day

    Heritage Day is the celebration of different cultures within the School. Students are encouraged to wear clothing from countries that are a part of their heritage and share traditions with their peers. In the Lower School, students participate in different activities throughout the day that teach them about cultures they may know nothing about. The most exciting part of the day, however, is lunch. Parents from all divisions sign up to cook food from countries that they have ties to and bring it in for all students to enjoy. Known as “the best day of the year” to most students, Heritage Day is a day at Ellis that no one wants to miss.
  • Holiday Shop

    Hosted by the Ellis Parents Association, the Holiday Shop happens every December and is a chance for Middle School students to sell items that they have made. Students join the Ellis Entrepreneurs club at the beginning of the year to learn how to price and sell items. Using that knowledge they create items from knitted hats to peppermint bark to jewelry to sell during the Holiday Shop.
  • Senior Privileges

    As students head into their final year at Ellis they are granted Senior Privileges to prepare them for the independence and responsibility that comes with being a college student. Students are allowed to wear their own clothes on Fridays until after Senior Brunch when they participate in Kilt Destruction Day. Once their kilts are quite literally deconstructed, seniors no longer have to wear the uniform to campus. Seniors are also granted “come and go” privileges. If students do not have class, they are not required to be on campus. Many students use this privilege to go grab a coffee or lunch during the day. If they don’t have class before 9:30 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m., seniors are allowed to come in a little later or leave early to pursue other experiences and outside passions.
  • Halloween Parade

    Every year for Halloween, students have the opportunity to dress up in costumes for the day. The highlight of Halloween, however, is the Lower School Halloween parade. Students from pre-kindergarten to grade 4—and even some daycare children—line up and parade through the  Courtyard and Middle and Upper School buildings so that older students, families, and faculty can view and celebrate their costumes.
  • Fine Arts Fest

    A celebration of the arts at Ellis, the Fine Arts Festival is a biennial event that features performances, demonstrations, and workshops. Students involved in the performing arts such as band, orchestra, glee, and dance show off their talents in performances throughout the day. Student work from visual arts classes is displayed throughout the School to encourage those attending to walk around campus and experience their work. Students also give artistic demonstrations. Additionally, the Fine Arts Festival is a time for faculty and students to showcase new technology and maker education methods that are integral to Ellis’ fine arts curriculum.
  • Spirit Week

    Taking place during the week leading up to the homecoming dance, Spirit Week allows students to be out of their uniform and take part in fun activities. Hosted by the Ellis Athletic Association and Upper School Student Council, each day of the week has a different theme or activity. Some themes have included dressing up as twins, a character, or as a tourist. At the end of the week, each grade level participates in Color Wars. Seniors assign each grade in the Upper School a specific color (Ellis green, kiwi brown, etc.) and students work together to creatively decorate their entire grade level lounge with that color.
  • Senior Class Day

    Every year, the senior class picks a day to collectively skip school. Students will use the day to catch up on work, hang out as a class, or just take a much needed day of rest as it typically happens right before AP exams begin.
  • Senior Shenanigans Day

    One of the most anticipated days of the year, Senior Shenanigans Day is exactly as it sounds: a day where the seniors cause shenanigans in the Upper School. Kept a secret from the rest of the students, seniors spend weeks planning out the perfect pranks to pull on each grade level and faculty in the Upper School. Typically, the senior class picks an overall theme for the day and they keep their pranks in line with their chosen theme. Past themes have included “You’ve Been Roasted,” Camp Ellis, and CoachEllis (a play on Coachella). Pranks have ranged from turning the freshman lounge into a nursery, to bringing in dogs, to gift wrapping a teacher’s entire desk.
  • Kilt Destruction Day

    After spending years in the Ellis uniform, students tend to grow tired of the plaid kilt and constant Ellis green. Kilt Destruction Day gives the seniors free reign to transform their Ellis uniform (typically a kilt) into another article of clothing or accessory. Students have made scarves, covered shoes, camera straps, and even a Batman cape and mask.
  • Senior Brunch

    Senior Brunch marks the beginning of graduation season for the senior class. Held at The University Club in Oakland, this rite of passage allows students and their parents to enjoy brunch alongside their sister class and hear speeches from the Head of School, the Head of Upper School, and a faculty member of their choosing.
  • Ellis Lifer Tea

    Students who have attended Ellis from kindergarten through grade 12 are known as Ellis “Lifers”. While there are only a handful in each class, this select group takes great pride in attending Ellis for their entire academic career. In June of their senior year, Lower School teachers put together a tea for the lifers to reconnect and reminisice about their time spent in Lower School. A video of their fourth grade Lower School musical performance is also played during the tea.
  • Closing Exercises

    At the end of every year, all three divisions gather together to celebrate students’ achievements and send off grades 4, 8, and 12 as they move up to the next division, or chapter of their lives. During Middle and Upper School Closing Exercises, students are presented with awards that they are nominated for by the faculty. Students in Middle School receive awards such as the Community Cup and the English prize. Students in the Upper School receive awards from the English Prize to the Benjamin R. Fisher Cup which is awarded to a student who has given outstanding service to the school. Lower School students participate in the Moving Up Ceremony during Closing Exercises. Each grade level has assigned spots in the auditorium and during the ceremony they move from their current seats to the next grade level.
  • Commencement

    One of the most anticipated events of the year, Commencement is a celebration of the senior class and their final goodbye from The Ellis School. The graduation ceremony is held in the Ellis courtyard and the entire Ellis community is invited to attend as the seniors receive their diplomas and officially become Ellis graduates.

Clubs and Activities

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  • Lower School

    Book Making
    Cooking with a Book
    Let's Dance
    Let's Get Crafty
    Painting Without Brushes

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  • Middle School

    Board Games
    Bollywood Movies
    Chick Flix: Movie Club
    Collage Club
    Eighth Grade Slideshow
    Gardening Club
    Harry Potter Mania
    Lego Club
    Middle School Guild: Community Service Club
    Middle School Student Council
    Party Games
    Readers Anonymous
    Sewing Club
    Student Diversity League
    Tabletop Club
    Tiger Ink Newspaper
    Ukulele Club

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  • Upper School

    Animal Human Alliance
    Astronomy Club
    Brain Bee
    Chess Club
    Creative Writing/Non-Fiction
    Design Club
    Ellis Athletics Association
    Ellis Literary Magazine
    Ellis Theater Company
    Ellisian Fields Yearbook
    Ellisian Times Newspaper
    French Club
    Junior Classical League
    Model United Nations
    Peer Tutoring
    Spanish Club
    Speech and Debate
    Tabletop Club
    Upper School Guild: Community Service Club
    Upper School Student Council

Health and Wellness

Ellis is committed to supporting girls intellectually, emotionally, and physically as they mature. We know that when a student has a healthy mind, body, and spirit—she is prepared and excited to pursue her academic ambitions. At Ellis, our vision is to not only provide an excellent education for every student, but to nurture and develop the well-being of each individual girl so she can thrive in school and in life.

Meet Our Team

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  • Photo of Susanne Osche

    Ms. Susanne Osche 

    School Nurse
  • Photo of Karen Boyer

    Ms. Karen Boyer 

    School Counselor

School Nurse

The School Nurse supports and promotes students' physical health and wellness during school hours.
The nurse is responsible for immediate care of illness and injury, and bridges the gap between healthcare and education to advance academic excellence. The nurse administers prescription and over-the-counter medicines, completes physical health assessments, treats immediate injuries and ailments, manages health forms and emergency action plans, and provides health screenings to students. The nurse also intermittently teaches health classes to students on nutrition, hygiene, body image, and development throughout the course of the year.
A key member of the Ellis Health and Safety Committee, the nurse addresses all health and safety concerns for the School, files incident and accident reports, and keeps track of trends, issues, and epidemics in the region. At Ellis, an open line of communication between families and the nurse is of paramount importance, and parents are consulted on all aspects of at-school care.

School Counselor

The School Counselor offers personalized attention, confidential counseling, classroom instruction on health and wellness, parent education, small group sessions, and developmentally-appropriate guidance to Ellis girls. Whether it’s body image, eating habits, family pressures, or stress relief, the counselor provides tools and suggests strategies that teach students how to set boundaries, reduce stress, resolve conflict, build confidence, and speak for themselves. In addition to independent guidance, the counselor offers parent and family consultations, supplementary support resources and referrals, transition and intervention services, and collaborative teaching in the health curriculum and advisory program.
The Ellis School is committed to providing individual counseling and support services across divisions to serve the social and emotional health of students. 
This individualized attention from the school counselor is available to every student, for ongoing support or one-time care, as they recognize and pursue their academic and personal goals. The counseling office operates a confidential and open-door policy that is part of the circle of care at Ellis.

The Uniform

The uniform is a statement of community and serves to underscore the School motto, Esse Quam Videri: To Be, Rather Than to Seem. At Ellis, we value the inner character of a girl rather than her outside appearance. In uniform, a girl instantly belongs—she is part of a community. She is freed from focusing on her appearance and instead directs her attention to matters of substance. She can find her inner voice, focus on her studies, and become the person she is meant to be. Wearing the Ellis uniform implies pride in the group. In Lower and Middle School, the uniform is neat, comfortable, and flexible, encouraging active play and learning. The Upper School uniform, with its broader array of options, offers each girl subtle and creative ways to express her personal style and school spirit.