CSS Stories

Meet Our Class of 2021 Lifers

Zoe B.
Ethan H.
Aadi N.
Kaylin P.
Whitney R.

Zoe B.

Zoe Bain '21

To Zoe Bain ’21, The Colorado Springs School is a second home, and has been since PreK. Despite continuing on to Sewanee, The University of the South in the fall of 2021, Zoe will forever cherish her days as a CSS Kodiak. When not on stage (or backstage) in the School’s Louisa Performing Arts Center (LPAC), Zoe’s favorite part of campus is the Quad seen here. There, she celebrated countless CSS traditions – ranging from Carnival to the School’s annual Ice Cream Social and Commencement – with friends made while playing sports, participating in clubs and traveling abroad through the Upper School’s Tall Ships Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) and more. To those students looking to discover the CSS difference, Zoe says:

“As I go on to college more than 1,000 miles away from home, I feel comfortable with the idea that I won’t be with my parents for long periods of time. I have CSS to thank for that. If you want an up-close and personal connection as well as a good education, then CSS is the place for you. I had the education of a lifetime here and was introduced to the real world before I even stepped foot into it.”

Ethan H.

Ethan Hedden '21

For Lifer Ethan Hedden ’21, the most influential part of attending CSS has been the hands-on learning component it provides. A student at CSS since PreK, E has always considered himself reserved when it comes to working in large groups. Experiences encountered both in and outside of the classroom, however, as a member of the School’s athletic teams, bouldering club and Band, have successfully stretched E beyond his comfort zone. These opportunities have instilled within him a sense of confidence that will continue to shine during his time as a student at Utah Valley University and throughout life.

“I have grown as a person thanks to CSS. [My] teachers have been the biggest influences on my life and have led to my becoming who I am today. Each one knows their students personally, and not just academically.

Throughout my CSS career, I have learned to work with others. The Great Iron Pour Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) was, by far, the most impactful experience for me. It taught me how to complete – with a group – a task that would have otherwise been impossible alone. [Being] given the chance to do the iron pour ECS a second time as a teacher's assistant also taught me how to successfully lead a group. These relationships will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Aadi N.

Aadi Nashikkar ’21

Aadi Nashikkar ’21, a Lifer since Kindergarten, is the proud recipient of CSS’s 2021 Margaret White Campbell Award, recognizing the academic excellence, leadership, service, and general character of one graduating senior per year. Aadi – now with Stanford University – exhibits each of these qualities, and more. While in the Upper School at CSS, he was nominated captain of the boys’ soccer, Matchwits and Academic World Quest teams, led the way as secretary-general for the School’s Model United Nations (UN) and served for four years on student government, including two consecutive terms as President. Of all these activities, Aadi considers participating in Model UN to be the highlight of his Upper School career due to the opportunities it presented with regard to meeting new people and organizing large-scale events. Aadi’s leadership, service and general moral character are evidenced by his commitment to making the world a better place for others less fortunate than he. As part of this effort, he created a unique program titled All in For AI, which enlists students to teach underserved adolescents about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Computer Science and how to code. The idea for this ongoing project was inspired by Aadi’s own experience struggling to find AI resources designed for high school students.

“I’ve always enjoyed math and [the] sciences,” says Aadi, whose Senior Capstone project likewise centered on using AI – this time to understand human brainwaves.

“Statistics say students in underserved areas and minorities won’t have their voices heard at tech companies, discouraged by various social and economic obstacles. [My] goal is to inspire students, especially those from underrepresented groups, to consider [careers] in AI. Real-world problems require interconnected approaches, yield unexpected results and take time to improve, so getting this experience with AI models now is good preparation for challenging projects in the future. ”

Kaylin P.

Kaylin Patterson '21

Kaylin Patterson ’21 recalls being very shy when she first joined The Colorado Springs School as a Kindergarten student. Fast forward more than 10 years and Kaylin can be found confidently meeting hundreds of new people through clubs and her sorority at the University of Kansas. According to Kaylin, had it not been for CSS – the experiences she had playing sports, traveling beyond the campus walls and volunteering through National Honor Society – she would never have discovered the strong sense of self she possesses today.

“If you truly want to be prepared for the real world, the first step is expanding your horizons outside of the classroom so you can be ready to face it once you get there. I understand that there are many options for schools within Colorado Springs. However, there is truly nothing like CSS when it comes to real-world experiences outside of the classroom for [grades] PreK–12. I loved all my Experience-Centered Seminars (ECSs) at CSS, but the one that impacted me the most was without a doubt our trip to Madagascar in 2019. [My] anxiety and hesitancy quickly gave way to excitement as I learned to embrace the joy of having no idea what we were about to see next. Though the trip was only 18 days, I will remember it for the rest of my life.”

Whitney R.

Whitney Richardi '21

A superstar both on the playing field and in the classroom, Whitney Richardi has participated in all but one competitive girls' sports team offered at The Colorado Springs School. She credits the lessons she learned playing basketball, volleyball, and soccer as fundamental in shaping her career and academic interests. A member of the CSS community since PreK, Whitney chose to continue her education at Texas Christian University, where she hopes to expand her knowledge of athletics and – one day – work for the National Football League (NFL) or United States Olympic Committee.

“Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, love sports or theatre, like programming or literature, CSS offers a wide variety of courses and experiences. Through challenging academics and extracurriculars, like sports, I have developed character and mental toughness. Sports taught me discipline, responsibility, accountability, and so much more, and academics taught me how to manage my time, study hard, and communicate effectively. CSS helped me understand the importance of bringing my own opinions to the table, asking clarifying questions to teachers, and communicating anytime I see an issue or a concern. I have faced many challenges, but each obstacle has helped me grow into the person I am today!”