Skip to Main Content

2015 Recap of Founders' Day Hall of Fame Assembly

On October 2, 2015, The Colorado Springs School was honored to mark the connection of the school’s past and present with Founders’ Day. The 2015 celebration of Hall of Fame honorees included: Lynn and Andy Handford, former faculty from 1980 – 1997; a posthumous award for Susan Barker Day ‘70 (represented by dear friends Sandra Elliott ‘70 and Lisa Dortch); and Powys Gadd ‘75.

As part of the Founders’ Day assembly our Head of School, Aaron Schubach stated, “Today is a day to reflect on the school’s history by connecting with individuals shaped by our school and those who shaped our school. We will honor a nurse, a musician, an archaeologist, a mathematician, lovers of the outdoors, nature and beauty – and those with a deep passion for education. We will honor excellence and challenges, pursuits and struggles, we will celebrate friendships, mentors, and colleagues. We will honor a different era of our school’s history and an enduring mission of progressive education.”

Students in the assembly audience were asked to consider if they could one day be in the Hall of Fame. The Vocal Ensemble of the Upper School then performed Hall of Fame by the Script as a musical tribute for the honorees under the direction of our Vocal teacher, Kim Schultz.

Mr. Schubach then introduced the Hall of Fame honorees, Andy and Lynn Handford.

Andy and Lynn Handford are our first honorees. Since I had the privilege of being a new faculty member alongside Andy and his contemporaries, I’ve asked for the honor of making their introduction.

As mentioned, Andy taught math at The Colorado Springs School from 1980 to 1997. He directed both the Experience Centered Seminar program and Mountain Caravan. In addition to teaching and leading programs, Andy served as mentor, advisor to faculty and students. He also served as the faculty representative to the Board of Trustees, and he and Lynn were houseparents in our dorms for many years.

I think of several things when I think of Andy and Lynn Handford– first, let me be very clear in that I think of the wordand’ in that sentence as being a very important word. Even though Andy was the one in the classroom, Andy and Lynn have always worked together to teach kids, to them take them on amazing adventures and to think the best of them. They are a team in every sense of the word and a team that has accomplished a great deal.

Upper School faculty member Greg Johnson notes that many of the highest quality and most impactful ECSs in the school’s history were pioneered by Andy Handford. His standards for student experience and curriculum design are legendary. These seminars include, among many others, the ‘Challenges’ ECS which focused on people with handicaps and developmental disabilities, and the first version of the Habitat ECS which studies poverty and homelessness in our community. Last year’s version led by Anne Taylor and Greg Johnson was a fine iteration of this important program.

The things that most come to mind for me when I think of Andy and Lynn are adventure, fun and inclusivity.

Since it is Founders’ day and we tell stories on Founders’ Day, I’ll share two quick vignettes about the Handfords’ tremendous sense of adventure.

First story: We (Andy and a group of CSS teachers on a private trip) once ran a section of the Colorado River called Westwater. It included a very difficult section called Skull Rapid and the Room of Doom. The usual difficulty of this section varies with the water level between an easy class 1 and a slightly ludicrous class four. When we ran it, it was near record flows and an unofficial 4+. In my mind that means ludicrous +. It was adventurous.

The stakes were high! To one side, there was an literally inescapable river hydraulic feature or eddy called the Room of Doom. In full disclosure, I am a land-based person and these names were freaking me out a bit. Skull Rapid and Room of Doom. I found myself wanting to asking exploratory questions, like, “why do you think they chose to call it Skull Rapid?” Let me cut to chase, so to speak — we started down the rapid. It was scary. Mr. Greg Johnson and I were ahead of the oar raft that Andy was rowing in a small raft and we successfully ran the rapid. As we looked back, the oar raft had caught a huge wave and was hoisted perpendicular to the water’s surface. Completely vertical! When it came down, the bottom part of the raft wasn’t pointing down!

Long story short: there was much swimming after that point, but everyone was unhurt and things turned out ok. Did I mention that the Handfords have a big spirit of adventure?

The second adventurous story is a little more peaceful. Later on during that trip, we were hiking in a remote section of the Canyonlands National Park. Water was scarce in the park as it always is in the summer. As you might know, in the slick rock desert, rain water collects in surface depressions called potholes. As we hiked away from the river into a different section of the canyons, we knew that there wouldn’t be much water there because we hadn’t seen much yet. Cautiously, I wasn’t sure that we should go further away from unknown source of water. Ever the optimist—Andy and Lynn expressed interest in walking further into to one of the most beautiful and remote places in the lower 48 states. As they hiked on into the most remote and difficult part of the canyon, clouds rolled in and it began to rain. After an hour, beautiful, crystal-clear water ran into the potholes. I often think of the word serendipity when I recall this story. Serendipity is defined as: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

This quiet little adventure is one of many ways in which Andy and Lynn’s optimism has pointed them in the right direction.

I’ve talked about adventure and now I’d like to talk about their sense of fun and inclusivity because the Handfords always bring others along with their fun.The Handfords engaged others in their literal and figurative adventures because they made their adventures irresistible.

Let me give you some examples:

A super-fan at all CSS sporting events – Andy’s distinctive cheers helped our athletes enjoy a distinct home field advantage.

In the school’s dormitories the Handfords’ irrepressible spirit of fun and inclusivity made boarding students feel welcome and close to home. Andy’s advisees knew that they had literally won the advisor lottery and they enjoyed the unconditional loyalty and support with which Andy showered the students in his care.

This support extended to each and every one of his students in the classroom. As a teacher, Andy broke new ground to make his material relevant, interesting and student-centered. He is an educator committed to meeting student needs and making his material light.

He started the tradition of math teachers dressing in costumes that represented math puns at Halloween. These costumes were hard to explain — so let me just share some math puns with you…

The marine biology student took a math course called algae-bra.

The math teacher was a good dancer - he had algorithm.

You get the idea.

Andy and Lynn Handford, it is pleasure to honor you today. You both had tremendous impact on the school’s mission in the school’s dormitories, in the classroom and the real world. We thank you and wish you the best in the future.

Since the Handford’s were unable to attend the full assembly, Upper School faculty member, Mr. Sam Johnson was invited to the stage to read the Handford’s acceptance speech.

Lynn and I regret that we are not here in person to accept this award. I have been battling cancer and have just started a new treatment that necessitates I be in Denver today and Lynn is my chauffeur.

It is with great humility and pride that we accept this recognition of the small part that we have played in the history and evolution of The Colorado Springs School.

The two of us were lucky enough to have spent a large chunk of our shared careers at CSS during the “Camelot Years” of the nineteen eighties. In August of 1980, we arrived at the school along with a dozen other new and eager young teachers and families. Welcomed and mentored by the existing faculty, nobody told us that there were limits to how hard you should work and how hard you should play or that for most people there was delineation between these two activities and the folk engaged in them. Lynn and my school home overlapped, and we shared each other’s roles as houseparent, teacher, advisor, ECS leader and outdoor adventurer. It was amazing to share the pregnancy and arrival of our son, Duncan, with the student and faculty family. He was truly raised by a village. His first babysitters were two of our advisees, and, at 34, he still remembers the student who gave him his first fishing rod. In 1st grade he probably shocked his teacher when he told them that Greg Johnson was also one of his dads. Why should Greg get left out? For six months of the year Greg lived with us. For a dozen of us from the school community, ages 12 to 65, our idea of summer relaxation was to go to Ecuador to climb a mountain and them explore the Galapagos – led by – I’ll leave you to guess.

It is extremely gratifying for us now to see how, in 2015, the early concepts and trials from the 80’s have been shepherded into thoughtfully and intelligently executed programs. Under the guidance and nurture of Head of School, Aaron Schubach, and the continuing outstanding faculty, we see the school immersed in its own Renaissance. Experience based learning is even more a highlight throughout the year. Parents don’t just happen to be around the school but are invited and integrated into programs. The school is building strong, meaningful and well informed relationships not just with neighbors in Colorado but reaching out across the globe. Although the teaching body has changed over the years we still have many connections with current faculty and their families. Walking onto campus still feels like coming home. So if you are ever at a sports event and notice a couple of older CSS supporters being just a little too rambunctious, then you know that we are still adding our two cents to this great community.

Mr. Greg Johnson and his wife, Melissa Hafter, accepted the award on behalf of the Handfords. Student body President, Kristen G. ‘16 shared a piece researched and written by alumna, Becka Jackson ’15 to honor the legacy of Susan Barker Day ’70.

Today, CSS posthumously awards the Founders’ Day Hall of Fame honor to Ms. Susan Barker Day who passed in 2014. Ms. Day was a dedicated nurse and was active with the Episcopal church and the Colorado Springs Conservatory. Ms. Day had a deep love for music, art, and nature. In Ms. Day’s passing she left the school an estate gift of $380,000 so that many years of future students may benefit from the experiential and educational wonders of our school. Ms. Day’s father, Mr. James Day, was a Founding Trustee of the school in 1962.

Ms. Day arrived at CSS in 1967 as a member of one of first classes of CSS. She was musical, creative, and artistic from a young age. These passions began with taking piano lessons and singing in the CSS choir. She also played the flute, created screen-prints, directed a summer camp, wrote plays, ran a newspaper club, and was known to make short films. Her love of music lasted all her life. Later on, she taught piano lessons and joined the Colorado Springs Chorale. Childhood friend, Ellie Hendrie, Class of 1970, remembers that Susan “loved anything that had a flair or was exciting. Her purpose was to share all of that with anybody and everybody.” Her friends characterize her as intellectually curious, daring, and artistic, and they fondly recall her “wicked sense of humor” and the unending laughter that came with her presence.

When asked how Ms. Day would have wanted to be remembered, her friends had a variety of things to say. From her love of beautiful things to her friendships, and from her relationship with the Episcopal Church to her nursing career, it is unmistakable that Susan lived a rich and full life devoted to others. In fact, lifelong friend, Susan Conde, Class of 1970, credits Susan’s love for CSS to her friendships with students and teachers alike. Even when the school was first founded, it has always employed wonderful teachers who evoke curiosity in their students. They encourage self-expression and opportunity, and since Ms. Day was a natural leader, this openness and freedom was much appreciated and long-remembered. Remarking that she had her complexities, Ms. Conde concludes that “she was an extraordinary person, and I’m glad the school will benefit from her generosity.”

Ms. Day’s father, James Day, was a founding member of CSS, and he had a significant influence on Ms. Day’s life. She was always dedicated to him, and the fact that he was so closely tied to the school made her memories of CSS that much sweeter. In giving a Legacy Gift to the school, she has honored our community in the highest way possible: passing down the tradition of learning. The impact of naming The Colorado Springs School in her estate with a gift of $380,000 for scholarships will allow many future students to enjoy all the experiential and educational wonders of our school, just as she did.

During Ms. Day’s time at CSS, her passions in life could only begin to be glimpsed. But as she continued her journey through life, she must have come to the realization that all the alums do: there’s something special about CSS. The deep relationships, the personal teaching style, the unique academic experience – all of these qualities make CSS unforgettable, and these are the characteristics that leave a lasting impression on students’ lives. And what better way to commemorate such a positive experience than to provide the opportunity for others to receive the very same?

Ms. Susan Barker Day is a distinguished woman in our school’s history and today we honor her life as a 2015 Founders’ Day Honoree. We now invite to the stage dear friends, Sandra Elliot from the Class of 1970 and Lisa Dortch.

In accepting Susan Barker Day’s award posthumously, Ms. Elliott encouraged students to look around them and consider the friends with whom they are making memories and to not take their friends for granted. She spoke extemporaneously about lasting friendships and discovering passions as that is what she felt Susan would have said to the students.

Claire S., ’16 introduced the final honoree of the day, Powys Gadd ’75.

Powys Gadd was born and raised in Colorado Springs. She attended The Colorado Springs School from 1971-1975. From 1975-1979 she attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, and while there, she spent a semester in San Miguel D’Allende, Mexico, toured Aztec and Mayan ruins in Mexico, and conducted her own ethnographic study in Chiapas, Mexico. Other than being bitten by a spider monkey, her Chiapas experience was fantastic. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in 1979 with a B.A. in Anthropology with an emphasis on Southwest prehistory and archaeology.

From 1979-1980 she attended graduate schools in Canada and Mexico before completing her M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Denver in 1985. While at DU, she excavated at a pre-Inca site in northern Peru. This was as close to Indiana Jones as she’s ever come! She is credited with finding a beautiful scallop shell and jade necklace and a red-painted human skull. She then became a staff archaeologist for the University of Denver’s Archaeological Research Institute and conducted archaeological surveys throughout Colorado.

After graduating from Denver, she moved to Santa Fe, NM, and worked with a former DU professor on the Kayenta Warfare Project at Navajo National Monument in Arizona. The project sought to explain why archaeological sites were in defensive locations. Among her discoveries there —

A partially woven rug in a kiva, a stick figure made of yucca root, a turkey feather rug, and a cliff dwelling room full of tiny corn cobs. Shortly after that she went to Honduras to work on a ceramic project which was actually very boring but for the boxes of bananas delivered monthly to the house.

Upon returning to Santa Fe, she worked as a staff archaeologist for a contract company and did archaeological surveys in CO, NM and Arizona. Tired of living in her truck with no benefits and an unpredictable work schedule, she left the contract world for a permanent job with the federal government (BLM and USDA Forest Service). Working her way up the ranks, she began on the Santa Fe National Forest, moved to the Gila National Forest, and finally settled on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in north-central Washington where she currently manages the history and archaeology program and works closely with local tribes. During her 28 year career with the Forest Service she has participated in archaeological excavations, surveys, restoration and preservation projects, repatriation of human remains to American Indian tribes, and has hosted numerous public archaeology projects through the agency’s Passport in Time program. She has been recognized nationally for her work and contributions to public archaeology and education.

When not working for the Forest Service, Powys often spends her weekends conducting archaeological surveys for The Nature Conservancy or the local land trust, mountain biking and road cycling, kayaking the mighty Columbia River, or photographing the natural beauty of north-central Washington.

This afternoon, our very own 4th and 5th graders will participate in an exercise to map artifacts (on the Quad) with today’s honoree, Powys Gadd. What a fitting connection to her induction into the Hall of Fame as she was merely 8 years old when she started her dream of becoming an archaeologist! Maybe today she will inspire a new generation of diggers and dreamers.

As we mark 40 years from your high school graduation, please let us honor you, Powys Gadd as a 2015 Founders’ Day Honoree.

Powys gave her acceptance speech to the audience of 5th -12th grade students.

Thank you Mr. Schubach and members of the Founders Day committee for selecting my nomination. It’s an honor to be with you today and here’s why. This school changed my life and it is the reason I am a successful and respected archaeologist today.

I come from humble beginnings. I was born and raised in Colorado Springs; Skyway to be exact, and I attended public schools. But early on there was a problem with school. I couldn’t read because of dyslexia and I couldn’t understand basic math. Because of that I was placed in the “slow group”, a remedial group of kids who had obvious learning and behavior issues. They tried to “fix” us through repeated testing and hours of academic exercises while other kids in the “normal” classes had art, music…and were generally destined for great things. The message was loud and clear; we were stupid and had no future. Once in that group you stayed there. It was no better in Junior High, but all of that changed in 1971. My father came to The Colorado Springs School for Girls to read and teach students about poetry. He was so impressed by the school and the students attending, that my parents decided to see if I could get in. To do so I had to take a test. I was scared to death and while I don’t remember the test specifically, I do remember that it was an essay that took ALL DAY. But I loved essays because they allowed me to express myself without the pressure of standardized testing.

I got in and was awarded a partial scholarship. My first memory of CSS is of Margaret Campbell putting her arm around my shoulder and showing me to the uniform closet. I picked out my clothes and was officially “in”. My classes were small, the teachers were excited about teaching, and for the first time, I enjoyed learning and felt valued and self-confident. By the end of my first semester I was awarded a full academic scholarship which covered my remaining years at CSS.

Very quickly I realized that I wasn’t dumb but just learned things differently and CSS, was different. I tried hard and figured out how to cope with my dyslexia by learning to scan words and developed a sort of photographic memory for recalling where test answers were on any given page of a text book. At graduation in 1975 I was awarded the school’s first Faculty Cup which was given to a student who exemplified the values of CSS. When I left the school I knew too that my dream of becoming an archaeologist was possible simply because CSS cared about me.

I went on to Fort Lewis College where I received my B.A. in Anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology. This was followed immediately by graduate studies in Canada and Mexico where I dabbled in the subfields of Anthropology (e.g., archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology, and ethnography). I completed my M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Denver which almost didn’t happen because my graduate record exam (GRE) scores were so low. But here’s what CSS taught me to do: show Denver that, while I don’t do well on standardized tests, I’m persistent and can write. So I wrote the Anthropology Department chairman a letter and I attached research papers I’d written. Voila! I got in and after one year, I was awarded a research assistantship which helped pay for the rest of my time there.

While at DU I participated in archaeological projects throughout Colorado and even Peru which is as close as I’ve gotten to being “Indiana Jones” or some sort of Hollywood depiction of an archaeologist. After getting my M.A., I did research in Navajo National Monument and Honduras with two former professors before getting a job as an archaeologist with the U.S. Forest Service. For the past 28 years I’ve worked my way up through the ranks to my current position as Heritage Program Manager and Tribal Relations Coordinator for two National Forests in Washington state.

For nearly 40 years now, I’ve been living my dream of working outdoors recording and saving archaeological and historic sites for the American people. When I teach archaeology to the public, I know that if I can dissuade one person from looting an archaeological site, I’ve done my job.

Yes, I am from a different era at CSS, but my story of struggle and success may be your own. If it is, don’t give up, work hard, pursue your interests, and someday give back what CSS gave you. “Pay it forward”.

To close the ceremony Mr. Sam Johnson sang the school’s alma mater.

View pictures from the day’s festivities.