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2016 Recap of Founders' Day Hall of Fame Assembly

On September 23, 2016, The Colorado Springs School cemented the connection of the school’s past and present with Founders’ Day. The 2016 celebration of Hall of Fame honorees included: David Rollman, former faculty from 1980 – 1985; C.J (Buchanan) Grace ‘86; and Daryll Fuller ‘88.

As part of the Founders’ Day assembly our Head of School, Aaron Schubach welcomed the audience to the Louisa Performing Arts Center.

Good Morning. Welcome to our Founders’ Day celebration. I’m Aaron Schubach. Head of School. I have a short story to tell.

I have a Fourth Grade son and he, like all fourth graders, asks many questions. Some of these questions are hard to answer, like “why is the letter “h” silent in spaghetti?” Last night, he asked, “What is Founders’ Day about”?

I was so pleased to finally be asked a question to which I solidly knew the answer. I said, “Honoring the traditions, values, former faculty and graduates of CSS”. He didn’t seem that impressed.

He then complained that, as a Fourth Grader, he was being left out of Founders’ Day. We explained to him that two years ago, he was allowed to attend because I was the new head and there was a special welcome. He thought about this for a second and then asked, “OK, so who is the new head?” To which, I answered, “Uh, it is still going to be me”. It was a little bit awkward. Then he said, “Good job, Daddy”.

Not to brag, but I was spot on with my earlier answer, we are here to talk about our history, core values, and welcome the honorees and the alumni from the 1980s who’ve returned to CSS for a reunion this weekend.

Speaking of history, let’s turn our attention to the decade of the 1980s for a moment. These years are hard to explain if you didn’t live through them. Though I’m not a graduate of CSS, I entered high school in 1987 so I consider myself an expert.

Take a walk down memory lane with me, in 1987:

  • Gas was 96 cents a gallon
  • Music was distinctive. I gather from the yearbook pictures at musical tastes ranged from pop music, like the Bangles, to bands that had four letter names like UB40 and INXS. New Wave, Ska, reggae and punk were also popular.
  • In schools in the 1980s, there were emergency drills as we have now, but they involved hiding under the desks to shield ourselves from nuclear blasts.
  • It was a confusing time for clothing, too. Jeans and jean jackets were worn simultaneously in an outfit called the denim tuxedo.
  • Zippers were on clothes literally everywhere, sometimes leading to a pocket, or not! It was hard to tell.
  • The decade wasn’t without it problems, hair was teased relentlessly.

I look forward to hearing new stories about the 1980s from our alumni this weekend. Here is what I know at this point about CSS in the 80s.

  • Greg Johnson was here and he had a beautiful head of hair, which he teased relentlessly.
  • As they do today, teachers and students got along well. Unlike today, they frequently relaxed from the stress of class by taking cigarette breaks together.
  • They balanced this unhealthy choice with ski Fridays at the local Broadmoor ski hill.
  • Perhaps most impressively, through the magic of a system called the unit session plan, ECSs happened multiple times a year and all classes, not just math had 90 minutes blocks that allowed students to dive deeply into the material.
  • The physical structure of campus was significantly different. The building we are in, the Louisa Performing Arts Center and The El Pomar Academic Center were not yet built. Maytag and the Trianon were busy centers of activity. And, because it was a boarding school, the life in the Hutton, Donner and Pourtales dorms framed many aspects of the student experience even for day students.
  • And, just as they do today, the ECSs of the 1980s frequently involved immersion in world languages, study of complicated social issues, and Outdoor Education.

In the 1980s and before, CSS and its faculty believed that students learn best when actively engaged with their teachers, their peers, the world around them, and with themselves. These remain our guiding principles.

Thank you, alums, and past faculty members for joining us today. Welcome back. I look forward to learning more about you and the school’s history over the course of the weekend.

We try to match your energy and spirit with new programs designed to get students ready for their future. We have a duty to innovate. The world is changing fast and our youngest students, (age three) will graduate in the year 2031. What is the world going to be like then?

Like our predecessors in the 1980s and before, we embrace so-called “21st century” skills and technology, but we also believe in the critical thinking and communication skills that come from unplugging from technology. Some of the greatest lessons the school has taught have been not been on the SAT or an AP. They’ve been about navigating in the wilderness. Running a river. Experiencing a new culture. And observing nature.

These traditions are alive and well today:

In the Children’s School, through Fall Adventures and CO Expeditions, we teach students that they can:

  • thrive in new environments
  • see amazing things both large and small, if they take the time to look
  • and that they can rely upon their peers to help them get through challenges

On Middle School seminars, students climb to new heights as they did on 14,000 foot Mount Sherman this past August. On Seminar Two and Three, students learn outside of the classroom, through carefully designed seminars:

Our culminating, 12-day Eighth Grade seminar, the Walkabout, is distinctive not only for the length of the trip and the beauty of Southern Utah but for the level of student leadership and autonomy. By the end, students are charting their own course in the wilderness and ready to chart their own course in high school.

As mentioned previously, in the Upper School, we’ve retained the tradition of Experience Centered Seminars and, now, just like in the 1980s, ECSs depend on the inspiration and talents of our faculty….This year we will embark on six different ECSs, studying:

  • Marine Biology
  • The Desert wilderness
  • French language and culture
  • The criminal justice system
  • Scandinavian politics and economics
  • And high-altitude rocketry

We believe as our predecessors did that – Rigor – Relevance – and Relationships are the keys to a great education.

The Vocal Ensemble of the Upper School then performed Give Us Hope as a musical tribute for the honorees under the direction of our Vocal teacher, Mrs. Kim Schultz.

Mr. Schubach then introduced Vice President of Forum and Model UN member James Kunstle, Class of 2017, to share the biographical journey of former faculty member David Rollman.

David Rollman received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Colorado College and his Masters in English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After teaching for six years at the University of Colorado, while he was working on a Ph.D. he never finished, he came to The Colorado Springs School in 1980.

He taught English at CSS for five years, and in 1985 he took an extended sabbatical from the teaching profession, working for the U.S. Department of State for more than twenty years.

While Mr. Rollman’s nomination was supported by many of his former students, Marron Lee Nelson of the Class of 1985 recalled that David, “was a transformative teacher.”

In the early 1980’s, the Upper School of The Colorado Springs School (CSS) possessed ‘lightning in a bottle.’ Gathered together were some of the most talented educators who worked tirelessly to transform teenagers into lifelong learners. These teachers’ special magic was providing knowledge infused with keenness and humor that lit an inquisitive fuse in many of their pupils.

Despite this eclectic and “deep bench,” there were some absolute standouts that deserve special recognition. David Rollman, was a highly intelligent man whose subject matter at CSS was the written and spoken word. From Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to Beowolf and Shakespeare, David taught college level subjects to young, preoccupied minds. While many who excel in these subject matters may be supercilious, David was never condescending and was unfailingly patient. David struck a right balance of an approachable guru who could make the arcane relevant.

David’s sessions were challenging, and he expected each student to rise to the task. If you were able to get a good grade in his class, you knew it was well earned. David could be pitiless in his evaluation of a paper, but how he assessed was never arbitrary or capricious.

David was a Thespian—a brave man who geared up and attended rehearsal after rehearsal of Guys and Dolls. David’s portrayal of Uncle Arvide, was reminiscent of his teaching style—patient, wise and convincing. David also braved England with a group of teens who were eager to see the real punk scene, traipse around an urban mecca, and generally explore a land 5,000 miles from home. Even with an excitable gaggle of youth, he managed to quiet and focus us while reading Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey on the banks of the Wye.

For many, there are many more formative recollections for which David is directly responsible. However, the memory at the core of this nomination is Latin mischief. CSS offered a Latin block in the early 1980s, and David was the instructor. It was a class that was incredibly challenging and often met with grumbling about dead languages, nerdy botanists, and medical degree dreamers. Latin was taught during the dreary winter term and had many questioning their scholastic abilities. The final was dreaded, and studying seemed futile. The exam was much as expected, as there were many words to conjugate and sentences to translate. As the students all settled into their quiet panic, pencils were furiously scribbling, pages were being flipped back and forth and the clock ticked a drumbeat of a futile purpose. It wasn’t until midway through the exam that one-by-one, student’s heads popped-up in surprise like searching Meerkats. David sat unmoved by the sudden interest in their surroundings and peers. Some giggled, some scowled and I do not know if all responded in any fashion other than to see why everyone else was looking around. A question, I believe for extra credit, was to translate a phrase that (was slightly off color or of a shocking manner). To this day, some still use this phrase when they’re am trying to impress someone when they’re sure they do not understand Latin. To this day, the students search out Latin phrases and words to understand what is hiding in plain sight. To this day, they appreciate the confidence in his class and the impish humor that cut the wheat from the chaff.

In 1985, David left teaching (at CSS). Although it was CSS and the student’s it serves loss, his change in vocation was our Country’s gain.”

He tested with the State Department and began a 20 year career with the Foreign Service. He was posted to Turkey, England, Bulgaria, Korea, Germany and he traveled to the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and Washington, D.C. He has been to every country in the world named “stan.”

After his retirement from the Foreign Service, he returned to his native city of Denver and began teaching part-time at the Kent Denver School in the spring of 2009, and full-time in the 2010-2011 academic year. He still spends his summers working for the State Department in short-term assignments; this year he spent nine weeks at the American Consulate General in Mumbai, India.”

It is our pleasure to solidify David Rollman’s influential place in our school’s history with this award. Mr. Rollman will be presented with his award in front of 120 alumni and guests from the 1980s at a dinner in Maytag Dining Hall tomorrow night. To make the presentation of this award even more special, nearly all of David’s advisees will be there to applaud him!

Mr. Schubach then introduced Outdoor Adventure Club president and captain of the Volleyball team, Kaela Gaylord Class of 2017 to share with us the Founders’ Day Athletic Hall of Fame citation for Darryl Fuller, Class of 1988.

In the 80’s CSS fostered a love of the outdoors and using the natural environment as a learning tool. While at CSS, Darryl Fuller was an athlete in the traditional sense playing both soccer and lacrosse but it is the area of outdoor education that he was nominated.

Darryl took what he learned at CSS about the value of experiential education and using the natural environment as a classroom to create a long career in outdoor education. Darryl pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. After graduating from college, Darryl worked in Northern California conducting group trainings at a high ropes course, he worked for Outward Bound and he worked as a ski patroller at Bear Valley. For the last 17 years he has worked at The Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, Colorado. He is the Director of the Outdoor Program and has served the school as a Science teacher. He teaches his students outdoor education and safety skills, he manages permits and trains staff, he teaches students to learn in nontraditional ways and how to make nature and the outdoors a life-long learning adventure. As is the case of educators in Independent Schools, he has carried many titles including Winter BackCountry Skiing Program Manager. Cycling Coach. Bike Shop Instructor.

In speaking with Head of School at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Jeff Leahy he remarked, “Darryl uses our outdoor program for students to gain skills and confidence that can be taken back into the classroom, he gives them a better understanding of themselves, and memories they will treasure throughout their entire lives. He is a proponent of these activities being safe and effective. Darryl is as knowledgeable as any individual on risk management and purpose. He places our students in position of perceived risk but in safe ways.”

With Darryl, it is hard to draw a line between his professional career and his personal interests as they parallel each other so closely. In his “free time” he goes on long (50 miles+) bike rides and considers himself a bicycle lifestylist. He is an alpine, telemark, Nordic and Backcountry skier. He enjoys mountain and desert backpacking as well as whitewater rafting. He builds trails. As the Founding Chair of Carbondale’s Bicycle, POedestrian, Trails Commission, Darryl has been a community advocate for Carbondale as a “Bike Friendly Community.” Chairing the Environmental Plan for the town’s Environmental Board, Darryl’s volunteerism beats firmly with conservation issues.

Darryl Fuller is a man who has turned his passions into a professional career and a purposeful life. Today, we honor Darryl as a 2016 Founders’ Day Athletic Hall of Fame Honoree. Mr. Fuller will be joining the festivities of the alumni reunion weekend later this evening. As you might guess, he is just now coming out of the woods from leading a student wilderness expedition.”

For the ceremony’s final honoree, Rachel Sagahon, Class of 2017, took the stage to introduce C.J. (Buchanan) Grace, Class of 1986.

CJ (Buchanan) Grace '86 accepts the 2016 Founders' Day Hall of Fame Award

“C.J. Buchanan Grace attended The Colorado Springs School from age 13 - 18, coming to CSS as an 8th grader. Upon graduation from CSS, she achieved a Bachelor of Arts in History from Loyola University of Chicago before pursuing a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is in the process of receiving her Educational doctorate as she is enrolled at the University of Denver in the Educational Leadership Program.

As shared by her nominator, Justine Moore-Luparello of the Class of 1985,

“CJ’s professional career has focused on transforming public schools with a relentless focus on doing whatever it takes for each child to be successful regardless of race, ethnicity, SES, or linguistic background. CJ tries to give underprivileged children in inner city schools as much personalized instruction as she received at CSS. For her, the level of individual attention provided by CSS is the gold standard to which every school should aspire.

Through Experience Centered Seminars, CJ became bilingual and had opportunities to mentor and teach younger student in French. Later, in college, she learned Spanish. Now she is a bilingual educator with over 20 years of experience demonstrating progressive responsibility and excelling in leadership positions ranging from coordinating the bilingual elementary literacy program in St. Vrain Valley School District to working at the Colorado Department of Education in the Office of Language, Culture, and Equity. She has also led the English Language Acquisition department in Denver Public Schools as a director, and has worked as a principal (ECE-12th grade).

Most recently, CJ was asked by Denver Public Schools to assume leadership of Cheltenham Elementary. As a bilingual elementary school in turnaround status, located at the corner of Colfax and I25, the school has a very diverse student population with close to 100% of its students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Five years ago, Cheltenham was identified as one of the lowest performing schools in Colorado and in August 2015, before CJ took over, the school was still in crisis.

CJ’s commitment to partnering with parents and ensuring the success of each student have stabilized and reshaped the community. The early literacy achievement from 2015-16 increased by over 15% at grades K through 3 and parents are actively involved and advocating as partners. Just last spring, CJ was personally commended by Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston for her outstanding educational leadership and revitalization of Cheltenham Elementary. She also continues to support students statewide through her work on the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education board.

CJ embodies all the rich, experiential education that was provided to her by CSS. She truly exemplifies a purposeful life in education and models the character and values exhibited by The Colorado Springs School’s founders.”

As we mark 30 years from her high school graduation in 1986, please welcome to the stage C.J. (Buchanan) Grace of the Class of 1986, this year’s Founders’ Day Hall of Fame Honoree”

C.J. (Buchanan) Grace came to the stage to give her acceptance speech.

Good afternoon! My name is CJ Grace and I am honored to be standing here today talking to you about The Colorado Springs School and how my experiences here inspired and nurtured me in all aspects of my life. I came to CSS as a boarding student in the 8th grade from Chicago, Illinois and I’ve been involved in education, specifically for emergent bilingual students, for most of my professional career. I’m currently the principal of an urban elementary school in Denver.

As students of CSS, you and I share a common language and a thread of experiences that joins all generations throughout the years. We share sense memories that you might not realize existed until you once again, maybe years later, smell the books in the library, see the sunshine coming through the windows of the Trianon, or feel the warm humidity of Maytag on a wintry morning after a snowstorm. We all know the excitement of starting a new class and can’t wait for a deep dive into a subject for which you feel a great passion. And we also share the dread of starting a new class when you find yourself challenged by a subject that daunts you. We know through muscle memory how Experience Centered Seminars can change your life and the truly special memories created on Mountain Caravan. We are fortunate to be part of such a dynamic and unique community.

One of CSS’s many strengths is that it fosters a mindset of growth and tenacity. When I was here, I learned not just math and English, but discovered I could tackle things I had never conceived of like planning meals for my first ECS; Desert Wilderness. The focus on experiential education and the immense value to be gained from a month studying the ecology and history and cultures of the desert while living in it for an extended period of time—these are ways that education actually seeps into your bones. It becomes part of you. The integrated learning experiences that I first had at CSS are why when I was the principal of a school in Taos, New Mexico, I fought to create a mountaineering program. I knew that the mindset of growth and tenacity could be replicated. If I followed the lead of CSS, through experiential learning, I could create educational experiences for my students that would make them more self-confident, more resilient, and show them that it’s okay to take things on even when they’re difficult and the path forward is not clear. We will grow. And through that growth, we will learn.

All that is CSS would not be possible were it not for the faculty. That’s not just me sucking up to my teachers, since I’m know some of them are in the room, nor do I say that because I, too, am a teacher. Over the many years since I was a student here, I came to appreciate more and more how much the faculty truly care about the students.

For me, I struggled with math. John Fuller and Andy Handford spent hours outside of the classroom trying to help me with Algebra. John preferred “good procedures” and Andy advocated for “good thinking” and unfortunately, when it came to math, I had neither. I was hopeless. But they wouldn’t give up on me, even when I had given up on myself. What Andy and John, maybe inadvertently, taught me was the power of perseverance. Years later, when attending St John’s College in Santa Fe, I took that lesson and set my mind to mastering Algebra. It wasn’t easy, but at the end of the semester I reached out to John to let him know that I had achieved an A. My teachers’ belief in me had translated into me believing in myself.

When I was a student here, my favorite subject was French. I loved unlocking the code to a foreign language and it was in Cathy Petrick’s French class that I found the first seeds of my life’s work. Consider my surprise when my French teacher asked me to substitute teach for her one day. I was of course flattered, but also shocked that someone I admired so much would see me as a leader. Well, I taught class that day and discovered the thrill that all teachers enjoy: seeing a student have the “ah ha” moment, the epiphany that occurs when the student truly owns their own learning. Of course, I was having an epiphany of my own: I realized that day that I wanted to teach.

Later, as I followed my path, I would envision my mentors for inspiration. I became a school leader, proudly following in the footsteps of my advisors: John Fuller, Todd Horn, and Andy Handford. My mentors and teachers at CSS pushed me to think critically, to work harder academically, and to find ways to engage and impact my community. They showed me the benefits of intellectual excitement. But even these amazing benefits were small things when compared to the immeasurable impact of being nurtured and deeply cared for by such a tight-knit community. To be truly seen and appreciated for who I am.

And like all of you, like all of us, we have flashes of memories that

Current students celebrate Founders' Day

make our CSS experience unique. For me, it was cheering for the unicorns, living in Hutton, camping and caving on Westcott trips, the hop, the leap, and the white bus. Brian. Frog. Only a small group of people knows what these words mean, and that’s as it should be. Because though we share the common language of CSS, we are also always celebrated for our individuality, for our diversity, for our particular gifts and experiences that make us who we are.

In my office, I have a picture on my bookshelf from senior prom and I’ll share a message with you that I often tell my students: Be kind to your friends and mentors because if they’re like the ones I had while I was at CSS, they will be your friends and mentors for the rest of your life.

Thank you.”

Bee F. ‘16 then led the audience in the school’s alma mater. The school’s alma mater was written and composed by former faculty member Mr. Sam Johnson.

80s Alumni attend Founders' Day assembly

Mr. Schubach closed the assembly with the following words:

Thank you for joining us to celebrate the past, present, and future of our fine school and for celebrating our honorees.

Thank you to members of the board of trustees for their stewardship of this fine school.

Thank you, students, for your leadership, your laugher, and for bringing your “a” game to the classrooms, and the fields, courts and stages of CSS. We are going to have fun tonight at Revue and the Bonfire!

Thanks to our fine staff and faculty putting their heart and minds into their teaching and for inspiring our students to be their best selves.

Most importantly—thank you to our dedicated parents for believing in the school’s mission and for investing in your child’s education and for partnering with the school.

Welcome back, alumni and former faculty. A special thank you to Rebecca Yaffe, Class of 1985 and Jennifer Fuller James, Class of 1986 for putting tremendous effort into the coordination of this reunion. This reunion literally would not have happened without your efforts.

And finally, thank you to the incomparable Jessica James, our Director of Advancement and Communications. Thank you for telling our story and the innumerable things you do for us so well.

The honorees, alumni, guests and students gathered in the lobby for cupcakes at the conclusion of the the assembly.

View more photos from the 80s Reunion Weekend and Founders’ Day celebrations.