The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


Bridgette Charaus’s love for movies, music and Indiana Jones

Kalissa Huang

Bridgette Charaus is an AT US history teacher in the History Social-Science department who was new this semester. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing the intricacies and eccentricities of her interests in everything from poetry to pop culture.

Who was your favorite of your teachers when you were a student? What impact did they have on you?

I had two professors in college that I really loved. One was an anthropology professor I had in my first semester of college, who, when he first started the class, had a carousel wheel of slides… and they were images. “Here’s me at Chichen Itza.” “Here’s me in front of the pyramids of Egypt.” Oh my god, I’ve got Indiana Jones as a teacher. He became actually a very good friend, a very dear mentor. I worked on a couple of projects with him. All the teachers who did inspire me were the ones who were just so engaged. They so loved what they were teaching, and that made me want to learn more about them, from them.

What books are on your nightstand and/or coffee table right now?

I have too many. I have a bit of a problem. There’s always a copy of Mary Oliver’s poems. I love her as a poet, and so she’s a constant on my nightstand because I just love to reflect on her writings. Right now, I’m also reading a book by a British author, Simon Schama, who does English history but also art history, called Foreign Bodies, about vaccines and the idea of bodies and foreignness. Some of it is historic; it’s also tied in with COVID.

What is the most impactful interaction you’ve had with a student?

I had one young woman who was very soft-spoken, very nervous to get up and speak in public. I was assisting her with her Capstone paper at Santa Clara University when she was writing about Bobby Kennedy, on the civil rights movement. When she got up to speak about that, the passion and fervor and her voice. She was almost speaking in tears. I mean, it was so powerful. For me, [I love] seeing students when they feel really powerfully about something, something that they really believe.

What is a “fan-favorite” part of your teaching style? In other words, what is it about your classes that students love?

I think they like that I’m very excited about the subject. You know, I try to bring that energy to the classroom. They’ve liked my inclusion of art and music and the interesting links that I try to draw between historic events and also contemporary storytelling.

When you were a little kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to do two things. I wanted to be a carpenter because my grandfather was a carpenter. And I do like to do things with my hands even to this day. The other thing I wanted to do as an archaeologist, because I fell in love with Indiana Jones. That’s sort of what a historian is, you just get to dig around in history in different ways.

What is your favorite piece of media and why? What impact did it have on you?

I am a huge movie junkie and have been since I’ve been little and I love everything from contemporary things to silent. For me, it’s always fascinating to look at how movies not only portray people and situations in the time and context but also they let us dream. They let us imagine for good or bad what life could be like. Things like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, which if you’ve never seen it’s an amazing film. It’s stylistically beautiful and it is just a really fascinating film to watch. The robot in it was actually the model for C-3PO. Also, I love music. There’s a certain piece of music that touches our souls in ways that is hard to explain.

What is one thing you are obsessed with right now?

I’ve always had a really interesting love of all things sort of cemetery related. And so there’s actually this field of study called thanatology, which is a study of death and dying. But one of things I do is I do cemetery photography and things of that nature. To me, learning more about the way that we interact with the idea of death, and especially how, in American society, it’s very dysfunctional. We don’t talk about it much, and there’s a growing movement of trying to bring death into a larger discussion.

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About the Contributors
Avery Neuner
Avery Neuner, Editor of Opinions
Avery Neuner ‘24 is the Editor of Opinions for Counterpoint. She has been writing for Counterpoint for three  years and has been a writer her whole life. In addition to journalism, she is a published author in short story and poetry.

Kalissa Huang
Kalissa Huang, Photographer
Kalissa Huang ‘27 is a photographer for Counterpoint. She is currently a freshman, and enjoys baking, playing sports, playing the cello and, of course, taking photos!

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