Recap of 50th Anniversay Celebrations
The accomplished artist stepped onto the campus of The Colorado Springs School (CSS) for the first time since graduating 33 years ago. She stood in the very spot on the school’s historic terrace where she received her diploma, and was flooded by memories of that day. Rebecca Dahl DeVere ’79, Arts Hall of Fame honoree, was invited to return to campus for the school’s 50th Anniversary celebrated September 7 – 10, 2012. On Friday, in front of an assembly of currents students, parents, faculty/staff and alumni, she shared her love and appreciation of the school. Rebecca moved the audience with her story of a school where adults (teachers) took the time to really know students. In particular, she recounted her struggles with math and spoke of her brilliant math teacher, Jim Flanders. Mr. Flanders encouraged her to carry a math journal like she did for art. He tapped Rebecca’s passion and understanding for art to teach her math. In an art exhibit displayed for the 50th Anniversary, DeVere used her old Math journal as part of her paintings. The painting showcase layered backgrounds of math equations and drawings that allowed her artistic mind to succeed in math. The paintings complement her most recent exhibition of work, Coming of Age: A Childhood Series, now on display in Washington, and took inspiration from childhood writings and drawings.
As Patrick Shearn accepted his award, he remarked, “I took more English classes at CSS than I did art classes. Literacy is key in today’s culture.” Patrick is a principle in Poetic Kinetics, a Southern California-based company, known for large-scale public art installations.
“I am deeply touched,” commented Ned Aldrich, “This is a testament to following one’s dream.” Following the ceremony, Ned visited with several students and alumni, as well as former, long-time CSS art teacher, Dottie Lirette. Residing in Golden, Colorado, Ned has returned several times as a visiting artist at CSS. He paints mainly with oils, and his art depicts wildlife from around the world.
John Goodman, a Hollywood animator, with Rhythm and Hues Studio, was unable to attend.
Honored with acceptance into the school’s inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame, Jennifer Cogswell ’72, Matt Field ’81, and Katharin Binkowski Collings ’87 were nominated for their distinction in athletics, both at CSS and nationally.
“CSS taught me to believe in myself,” said Matt Field ‘81, Athletic Hall of Fame honoree. He then encouraged current students to, “create your own opportunities.” Field is credited with founding the lacrosse program at CSS and continues to be an avid lacrosse player in Marin, California. He is the managing director of acquisitions and dispositions for TMG in San Francisco.
“I have learned that a balance of sports for physical wellness and mental clarity, good social skills, and a good education have been key to success,” said Jennifer Cogswell, Athletic Hall of Fame honoree. Cogswell is an active sportswoman and highly awarded athlete in multiple sports, including: lacrosse, field hockey, squash, skiing, golf, soccer, softball, ice hockey, figure skating, hiking, backpacking, and rockclimbing. She is a professional photographer and videographer living in New England.
Katharin Binkowski Collings, the final inductee into the Athletic Hall of Fame, was a collegiate and national figure skater and was unable to attend the ceremony. She is now a skating coach in Pennsylvania.
To recognize those whose service to CSS or accomplishments in the world deeply reflect the spirit of the school’s Founders, the 2012 Founders’ Day honorees were Al Adams, a former teacher and Debbie Scaling Kiley ’76.
“The heart and the soul at CSS are still the same. It is evident in the amazing quality relationships,” Al Adams, Founders’ Day honoree observed. “Student success occurs when every student is fully known – cared for, cared about, and celebrated.”
Adams is known as a top educator in the independent school world. He was lauded during The Colorado Springs School’s 50th Anniversary for espousing the pioneering values of the school’s founders. He was a teacher, coach, and administrator for a decade in the 1970’s. He helped found the Children’s School before it became part of CSS and co-created the nationally acclaimed middle school model. Over the course of the weekend, alumni, former faculty and current faculty spoke exuberantly about his academic innovations which included taking a lead role in implementing the Unit-Session Plan and teaming with colleagues to lead progressive education. Susan Coe Adams, Al’s wife and a former French teacher at CSS, Ava Heinrichsdorff, a retired CSS teacher of English and Philosophy, and Susan Coville-Hall, a former CSS French teacher, were among the pioneering, early faculty in attendance.
In academic circles, Mr. Adams served for 23 years as the Head of School at Lick-Wilmerding in San Francisco. He is not only known for coining the term, “private school with a public purpose,” but has encouraged private schools nationally to live this mantra. “It is a moral imperative to be a private school with a public purpose,” said Adams to CSS Faculty and Staff on Friday afternoon.
The Colorado Springs School fully embraces its role in raising the overall educational profile of Colorado Springs. This past summer, CSS launched an outreach camp for under-served 7th grade students in area charter schools. The Colorado Springs School offered its expertise and track record of preparing students for college by designing REACH. The program guided 33 students in its pilot year and offered a 3-week workshop in communications and robotics, through themes of exploration and discovery.
Throughout the weekend, alumni gathered for REUNION receptions, and the Class of 1982, organized by class agent, Candy Pierce Covnat ’82, celebrated its thirtieth class reunion. Candy proudly engages alumni in the life of the school and fondly is celebrating her daughter, Robyn’s, senior year. Robyn has been at CSS for 15 years and was a member of the first preschool class. To this day, CSS enrolls students age 3 – grade 12.
On Saturday night, the school hosted its Celebrate Our Gifts Gala & Auction. Chaired by current parent, Romilly Bethart, the event attracted more than 200 people and raised more than $60,000 to support life-changing experiences for students. Former Denver Bronco, Reggie Rivers, served as the auctioneer.
On Monday, the school hosted a ceremonial first day of school. The occasion marked precisely fifty years to the date that the school opened with 23 girls in grades 7-9. On September 10, 1962, Mary Duell ‘68, Susan Fielder Mears ‘66, and Heather Cogswell Olson ‘66 were among the original students enrolled in the school and attended the ceremony. The gloriously sunny morning, with the historic Trianon and the mountainous backdrop, commenced a perfect closure to the weekend’s celebrations. The three hundred and two current students enrolled at CSS filled the lawn and applauded jubilantly as the plaza was dedicated as the Janet LeCompte Founders’ Plaza, in memory of Mrs. LeCompte’s instrumental leadership in founding the school. In addition, City Council members, Lisa Czeladtko, Brandy Williams, Jan Martin, and County Commissioners, Sallie Clark and Amy Lathen attended the ceremony. A proclamation honoring CSS was read by Councilwoman Czeladtko.
About The Colorado Springs School (CSS)
CSS offers an experiential educational curriculum for age 3 – grade 12 students. Through superior academics and mentoring, The Colorado Springs School prepares students to think independently and to meet the needs of a dynamic world with leadership, ingenuity, problem-solving skills, and personal integrity. CSS is accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools and is a proud member of the National Association of Independent Schools.
Photos by: Jessica L. James, Director of Communications, The Colorado Springs School