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CSS Stories

Meet our Lifers, recognized for attending CSS continuously from Kindergarten – or earlier – through high school for 13 years or more

Class of 2023

Andrew H.
Theo M.

Andrew H.

Andrew Hedden '23

Andrew Hedden ‘23, who joined The Colorado Springs School in preschool, became well-known for his athletic abilities during his 16 years at CSS. A triple-threat athlete, he competed in basketball, soccer, and volleyball for the Kodiak athletics program.

Andrew could also often be found in the Carriage House – his favorite spot on campus “because it is a safe place to express yourself through art no matter how rough your day has been,” he said. Andrew’s senior art project – an aluminum casting of a whale – was selected for inclusion in the CSS Permanent Art Collection.

Now attending the University of Oregon, Andrew, whose brother Ethan ‘21 was also a Lifer, credits his time at CSS as truly transformative. One of his biggest takeaways included learning to feel comfortable in his own skin and not just being what others want or expect him to be. “I have grown in every way possible since I have been at CSS my entire life, and it is most of what I know,” he said.

Andrew, who was also a member of the Ursa Major Chapter of the National Honor Society, recognizes his dedicated teachers for their willingness to teach beyond the curriculum, allowing him to dive into specific interests and helping him excel academically. He considers the hands-on learning he acquired at CSS to be one of the greatest parts of his educational journey, leading right up to his Class of 2023 Commencement Exercises.

While planning his Senior Capstone project on discovering success in entrepreneurship, Andrew desired to launch a business he could continue throughout his college career. Maintaining a deep passion for automobiles, he launched Stellar Auto Spa & Services, a mobile car detailing company. “Throughout my project, I learned many new problem-solving skills and how personal integrity is used daily in the business world,” Andrew said. “I also learned how important it is to be a true leader in a business setting.”

Theo M.

Theo Marple '23

For Theo Marple ‘23, one teacher has made “an undeniable lasting effect” on his life since joining The Colorado Springs School in Kindergarten. That teacher is Brent Moorhead, band director and instrumental music teacher, who taught Theo from 4th grade through graduation.

Theo, who joined CSS in Kindergarten, credits Mr. Moorhead for helping him achieve the best version of himself. “His passion and love for music are so strong that they resonate every rehearsal and rub off on each and every musician he directs,” Theo said. ”On top of that, he is one of the most genuinely caring and sympathetic people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

Theo, whose brother Geddy ‘16 and sister Ivy ‘17 were also Lifers, participated in lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. One of his favorite perks about CSS is the 28 acres it sits on. “The size of the campus makes it really easy to go get some air or alone time if needed,” he said.

A highlight of Theo’s time at CSS was Experience-Centered Seminars, an integral part of the Upper School program. Each March, students participate in a three-week-long study that immerses them in academic subjects through a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach. Theo attended the following ECSs: Power to the People: How You Can Change the World, focusing on local, state, and national politics; the Great Iron Pour; Service on an Enchanted Isle, focusing on how Puerto Ricans still face reconstruction from Hurricane Maria; and Arts in Italy to understand the interweaving of art and history and cultural influences on people around Florence over the past 2,000 years.

“My senior ECS to Italy by far impacted me the most as it gave me much-needed perspective to many aspects of life,” said Theo, who is attending the University of Colorado Boulder. “In my opinion, the ECS program is hands down the best part of CSS. This is because of the variety offered between programs and the in-depth learning that occurs. Being able to spend almost a month digging deeper and deeper into one specific subject and getting to do so in a hands-on experiential way is far and away the most effective and fun way I have ever learned.”

Class of 2022

Graham B.
Skylar D.
Sasha M.

Graham B.

Graham Bain '22

Graham Bain ’22 joined The Colorado Springs School (CSS) at the preschool level. Among his favorite CSS traditions is the time he spent preparing for and performing with his classmates and teachers in the Lower School’s annual Dessert Theatre showcase open to students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. As he grew older, Graham channeled his talents out on the CSS playing field, where he competed as a triple-threat athlete in soccer, tennis, and lacrosse. In addition to being involved in Kodiak athletics, Graham’s dedication to academics led to his becoming a member of the Ursa Major Chapter of the National Honor Society and later graduating as an AP Scholar.

Now a student attending Loyola Marymount University, Graham credits CSS’s small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and hands-on learning programs for helping him “to go above and beyond” in his education. “One lesson I learned is that there is more than one path to take,” he says. Graham notes his Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) to Spain as being one of many educational experiences he will never forget. This being Graham’s first time away from home for an extended period – nonetheless living with a homestay family in a foreign country where he was not fully versed in the native tongue – Graham says, “it opened up new opportunities for self-growth. CSS provides opportunities for everyone to expand their interests and push through challenges.”

While he was challenged academically, Graham also appreciates the chance to have grown mentally and emotionally throughout his time at CSS. He attests to learning many life lessons along the way, including methods for adapting to complex situations.

Skylar D.

Skylar Duncan '22

Throughout her time at CSS, Skylar Duncan '22 – a Lifer since Kindergarten – gained critical insight into her desired career path in business. For her Senior Capstone Project titled "Secrets to Success: Navigating the Inner Workings of Colorado Springs’ Luxury Dealerships," Skylar took a deep dive into the business behind owning a car dealership.

"This Capstone experience prepared me for the real world; [for] leaving CSS and everything I’ve ever known. Being immersed in the business world for a couple of weeks confirms and excites me for my future plans of majoring in business and the endless opportunities it will provide," says Skylar, who matriculated to the University of Denver upon graduating from The Colorado Springs School. "CSS has taught me to be adaptable and flexible for whatever comes next."

During her Capstone, she spent time in various departments – ranging from parts, service and mechanics to sales and the business office – at a local dealership over a period of three weeks. While her Capstone project motivated her for the future, one teacher in particular, Ms. Blisse Beardsley, inspired her daily. Skylar notes, "Not only was she an amazing teacher, but she has always been there to talk about any sort of problem, whether in life or in school.”

Skylar, who attended three separate math classes taught by Ms. Beardsley as a student in CSS’s Middle and Upper School divisions, says of her favorite teacher, "Her optimism and excitement for everything always made me look forward to coming to school. I hope to adopt her constant enthusiasm and positive outlook on life."

Sasha M.

Sasha Malone '22

Prior to heading off to Tulane University as a freshman in the honors program, Sasha Malone ’22 took part in her all-time favorite tradition at The Colorado Springs School: an outdoor Commencement ceremony with the school’s beautiful Trianon as its backdrop. This time, it was Sasha who proudly took to the Trianon Terrace stage just as she watched her sister, Peyton, do in 2019. The historic Trianon building is Sasha’s favorite part of the 28-acre CSS campus.

Sasha, who joined The Colorado Springs School in PreKindergarten, quickly found her niche and became well-rounded in athletics, academics and service – the three pillars of a CSS education. When not playing volleyball or soccer, she participated in theatre performances and earned induction as a member of the Ursa Major Chapter of the National Honor Society as well. To say her teachers had a positive impact on her would be an understatement. “I think the teachers at CSS are the best thing about the school,” she says. “They genuinely care about their students’ well-being and success, which is not something most schools can say.”

Service to others remains one of Sasha’s biggest passions today. Beyond the walls of CSS, she taught Kindergarten and first grade at Temple Shalom and served on the board for the nonprofit known as Crossover for Change, which aims to foster confidence, empowerment, and leadership through sport among young women in developing countries. Her final Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS), Service on the Enchanted Isle, in March 2022 also gave Sasha the opportunity to not only learn about the political situation in Puerto Rico but also to understand how the island has been affected by numerous natural disasters. “The most memorable part of this ECS was when we helped build the foundation for a new bedroom for two little boys whose home had been destroyed by Hurricane Maria,” Sasha says. “They were so appreciative of everything we did for them, even if it seemed like something small to us.”

Class of 2021

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, Aadi served as secretary-general for Model United Nations (UN), president of Forum, captain of the Matchwits/Knowledge Bowl, varsity boys’ soccer and Academic World Quest teams, and president of the Kodiaks Investing in the Community through Service (KICS) club. He also played varsity boys’ basketball. 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. He credits the hands-on opportunities offered at CSS as having played a major part in his successful transition to young adulthood. "CSS molds to you, and you grow into it,” he said.

As a junior participating in the Upper School’s Wilderness Emergency Medicine seminar in Santa Cruz Island, California, Aadi says, ”[It] took me outside of the walls of a concrete classroom to the forest, where the rules are all different. [Being] on the ground with someone who is (feigning) having a punctured lung, signs of shock, and declining LOC, makes you connect directly to what you’ve read and written in your notebook, remember medical terminology and treatments, and understand the mechanisms of injury and the body [to] synthesize solutions with the resources on hand.”

“There is support for investigating anything you want [at CSS], and you will be guided along the way by teachers and students who have gone through the process before you," adds Aadi, who – while in high school – created the unique program, All in For AI, which enlists students to teach underserved adolescents about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Computer Science and how to code. "A bit intimidating at first, you [graduate] more aware of yourself and with a new set of skills, academic and personal."

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!”