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Commencement Exercises Honor Class of 2022 Graduates

View the entire Class of 2022 Commencement gallery here and the Facebook Livestream archived video here.

On Thursday, May 26, 2022, families, faculty, alumni, and friends of The Colorado Springs School gathered on the Quad to celebrate the Class of 2022 at CSS's 57th Commencement Exercises.

The ceremony opened with live music from CSS's combined band featuring Middle and Upper School performers along with alumni musicians directed by Brent Moorhead. Following a grand entrance made by CSS faculty, Board of Trustees members, and graduating seniors, the event kicked off with a performance of the National Anthem conducted by Music Teacher Kelsi Adams and sung by the Upper School Vocal Ensemble as well as select 6th graders: Naia M., Elina A-C., April C., Selena G., Sienna H., Sasha T., Maxwell U., and Tyler J.

Afterward, all were invited to join the Band, Class of 2028 and Upper School Vocal Ensemble in the singing of the CSS Alma Mater written by former faculty member Samuel Johnson. The 4th- and 5th-grade choir, accompanied by Kindergarteners, also presented a musical tribute – "Over the Rainbow" – to the senior class.

Upper School Math and History Teacher Josh Gillon, Ph.D., was nominated by the Class of 2022 to present this year's faculty Commencement address (see full Commencement Address below). Dr. Gillon "creates unique learning experiences that invite students into exploring mathematical, economic and historical principles in deep and meaningful ways," said Upper School Director Tila Hidalgo, Ph.D. "He is an example of scholarship and it is no wonder the Class of 2022 is seeking his words of wisdom to mark this transition from high school to their post-secondary pursuits."

In his address, Dr. Gillon touched on the principles of great American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey, also a mentor to CSS's founding headmistress Margaret White Campbell, noting that Dewey's emphasis on problem-based and experiential learning remains a significant part of the school's educational philosophy today. Dr. Gillon offered this year's graduates the following pieces of advice, which originate from Dewey's theories.

"For Dewey, the role of a school is not to teach students the habits of mind that would allow them to thrive everywhere; that’s impossible in any case. As you leave for college...learn new habits and new ways of thinking. You already know how to thrive at CSS. Learn to thrive somewhere else." While learning to thrive, the students were advised to make friends beyond their typical social circles, to develop a broader sense of understanding and problem-solving, to question everything, and to be optimistic.

Families of each graduate were then called to the Trianon Terrace, where they presented their senior with a single-stem rose recognizing the ways in which their student has thrived at CSS. Three students, in particular, were also presented with Longevity Awards. Known as Lifers, these students have attended CSS continuously from Kindergarten – or earlier – through high school, for a total of 13 years or more: Graham Bain (15 years), Sasha Malone (14 years) and Skylar Duncan (13 years).

Additional student awards, including the Faculty Cup and the Margaret White Campbell Award, were granted to graduates Mia Chavez and Finnegan Thompson, respectively (see Student Awards below) for their community involvement and overall sense of character. The latter award was given by a very special guest – Class of ’89 alumnus and a prior recipient of the Margaret White Campbell Award at his own graduation – Carey Cuprisin, M.D. Dr. Cuprisin attended Reed College and completed a semester with NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, before attending medical school at the University of Colorado, obtaining a law degree from the University of Michigan, and completing his medical residency at the University of Chicago. Today, he practices compassionate emergency room care as a Physician in Brighton, Colo.

Three deserving faculty also received awards at Commencement after being nominated by their peers (see Faculty Awards below). They were:

  • Amos White: The Edward E. Ford Foundation Award

  • Marta Kunze: The Mary Flynn Flemke Leadership in Education Award

  • Blisse Beardsley: The Sarah H. Elizabeth Hoiles Memorial Award

In their farewell remarks, Senior Chloe Lee (see Senior Farewell below) recounted the graduating class's high school years interacting with the above faculty and others. Together, the students endured countless assignments, college searches, COVID-related interruptions and more. "All 18 of us stand in front of you today confident that we can make it through the world that waits for nobody," Chloe said. "We’re here not because we know everything about our future lives or possess every little skill we might need, but because our class learned the skills we all need to rely on to keep going: perseverance and resilience."

No doubt prepared to take the next step in their academic careers, the Class of 2022 received the following advice from Head of School Tambi L. Tyler (see Charge to the Class of 2022 below). "Remember to use your voice for good, break away from complacency, seek to take advantage of new opportunities and strive to do your best," she said. "In the end, it's the steps you're willing to take that will ultimately matter."

With that, Ms. Tyler joined Board of Trustees President Heather Kelly P'30, P'27, Registrar Kelley Jefferson, and Dr. Hidalgo in the presentation of diplomas. The 18 graduating seniors then participated in a cap toss signifying their rite of passage beyond the walls of CSS.

Congratulations to the Class of 2022: Graham Bain, Audrey Barber, Ella Brintnall, Aiden Burke, Mia Chavez, Taryn Codorniz, Skylar Duncan, Grayson Gresham, Henry Gresham, James Holman, Shively Kerek, Chloe Lee, Sasha Malone, Noah Nichols, Essa Sajjad, Izzy Southard, Finnegan Thompson, and Luiza Wléminchx.

Commencement Address
Student Awards
Faculty Awards
Senior Farewell
Charge to the Class of 2022

Commencement Address

presented by Upper School Math & History Teacher Josh Gillon, Ph.D.

As many of you know, Margaret White Campbell became the founding headmistress of CSS in 1962. A student and mentee of the great American philosopher and educational reformer, John Dewey, whom she met while studying education at Columbia University, Campbell brought to CSS Dewey’s emphasis on problem-based and experiential education. It is Dewey’s educational philosophy that continues to define signature CSS programs, such as ECSs and Walkabout, and to influence the approach to experiential learning that teachers here promote.

Today, I would like to make a few brief comments about that educational philosophy and what it means. And, along the way, I’d like to offer to you graduates four pieces of advice that I believe grow out of that philosophy.

Before I get to that, though, it would be fair to ask what an early-twentieth-century theory of education could say to us today. After all, Dewey’s most serious philosophical works were written between 1916 and 1920, over a hundred years ago. It may be worth reflecting briefly on the context in which Dewey was writing and teaching during those years.

There was a deadly, global pandemic, the so-called Spanish flu. That pandemic led to the closing of schools and churches, introduced the idea of social distancing to the American public, and briefly resulted in the banning of large, public gatherings.

The inflation rate was over 15% and was accompanied by increasing unemployment and rapidly growing public debt.

Ethnonationalism was on the rise throughout the world. Major political figures, including Archduke Ferdinand, had openly begun to question the legitimacy of democratic forms of government. These developments, combined with insecurities over moldering military alliances, had recently contributed to a major land war in Europe: World War I. Russia and Ukraine, part of which was ruled by Russia at the time, both played a major role in that war.

Within the United States, political divisions were becoming more pronounced. First-wave feminism was leading many individuals and groups to actively question traditional notions of gender, sexuality, and women’s rights. This, of course, led to disputes about the nature of marriage and whether various kinds of birth control ought to be made more available, especially to women.

Labor unions, most notably the Wobblies, were advocating for ever more progressive public policies, and for the first time in U.S. history, self-professed socialists were starting to have a large influence on both local and national politics.

There were ongoing debates about who should be allowed to vote, and under what conditions.

And, unsurprisingly given everything else that was going on, Americans were increasingly concerned about the role of education in their society. Should schools be public or private? Should they teach civics and the liberal arts or focus on professional skills? Should private schools make themselves accessible to everyone or only to a select few? What role, if any, should schools play in creating better citizens in a democratic society?

It was in that context, so very much like our own, that Dewey developed the ideas about education that he subsequently taught to Margaret White Campbell. Given the similarities between that context and ours, it would be surprising if there weren’t something to be gained by thinking carefully about the educational views that Dewey developed and that became the philosophical foundation of the school you’re graduating from today.

Dewey’s educational theory starts with the observation that the mental activities involved in education—thinking, reasoning, learning, believing, asking questions, searching for answers, etc.—are biological processes that happen in our brains. Consequently, our mental activities must be evaluated as biological processes.

Now, for social animals like humans, the success of a biological process must usually be measured in a social context. Humans don’t live, reproduce, and raise children in isolation. We do these things as parts of communities and societies and, more often than not, as members of institutions like schools. And, so the function of human biological systems is, according to Dewey, just to perform the tasks that make it possible for each of us to survive and thrive in the social contexts in which we happen to find ourselves.

This means that a well-functioning brain is a brain that allows the person it belongs to to thrive in their specific social context. Similarly, good mental activities—good thoughts, beliefs, reasons, questions, and answers—are whichever thoughts, beliefs, reasons, questions, and answers allow a person to thrive in their specific context.

The educational philosophy that grows out of this idea is radically local and defies attempts at standardization. After all, the mental habits, patterns of thought, and methods of inquiry that allow a person to thrive in one social context may be quite different from those that would allow the same person to thrive in other environments, at different times, with different cultures, religious traditions, and institutions. According to Dewey, this is true even regarding our knowledge of the natural sciences. For instance, depending on a CSS student’s hobbies and interests, it might be very important for them to have detailed knowledge of the geology and ecology of the Front Range. It’s almost certainly less important for them to have a similarly detailed knowledge of the Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan.

And so, for Dewey, the role of a school is not to teach students the habits of mind that would allow them to thrive everywhere; that’s impossible in any case. Rather, the goal is to teach students to thrive here, now, at the stage of life that they’re in. And there’s a certain brute logic to this: a person who hasn’t learned how to thrive somewhere is a person who doesn’t know how to thrive anywhere.

Which brings me to my first piece of Dewey-inspired advice. As you leave for college, you are each about to become part of a new community, with new people and new ideas, new coffee shops and new experiences, new norms and standards of thought and behavior. Immerse yourself in the particularities and idiosyncrasies of that community and learn to thrive within it. Learn new habits and new ways of thinking. Do not come back four years from now with the same questions, the same answers, and the same beliefs you have today. Instead, leave this place and its ways of thinking behind, at least for a time. Make new friends. Break up with your significant other. Start over. You already know how to thrive at CSS. Learn to thrive somewhere else.

Like any animal, humans need a healthy ecosystem in order to flourish, which means, among other things, that one important aspect of flourishing in any community is ensuring that the community itself is healthy. However, as Dewey was acutely aware, the beliefs and ideologies that allow an individual to flourish in any given society might be detrimental to the society overall and, consequently, be self-undermining in the long run.

Dewey’s favorite example of this phenomenon comes from ancient Greece. By the second century BCE, the Greeks had mechanical, clockwork calculators that computed the future apparent positions of astronomical objects. They also had a detailed understanding of the mathematics of conic sections—the exact mathematical concepts that Kepler would use, eighteen hundred years later, to develop his laws of planetary motion. And, they had access to records of astronomical observations similar to those compiled by Tycho Brahe in the sixteenth century, which Kepler based his discoveries on.

So, why didn’t the Greeks discover the laws of planetary motion and accelerate scientific progress by nearly two millennia?

Dewey’s answer to this question is sociological. Among the ancient Greeks, mechanical labor and, consequently, mechanical knowledge were the domain of the lower economic classes. By contrast, knowledge of abstract mathematics was reserved for the economic elite and was usually taught alongside rhetoric and political theory to youth with aspirations in politics.

If at any point those Greeks with a deep knowledge of mathematics had learned the mechanical techniques that had been mastered by the working class, they may very well have made the same breakthroughs in astronomy and physics that came only centuries later. However, the relatively rigid class structure of ancient Greece prevented well-educated members of the elite from taking working-class insights seriously. And, thus, scientific progress was halted.

The lesson Dewey takes from this is that knowledge is not distributed equally throughout society. Even within a relatively small community, members of different social classes require different skills and abilities to thrive and, consequently, often have access to specialized expertise that other groups have less access to, just as some ancient Greeks learned mathematics while others learned mechanics. But since any of the various types of expertise in a community may be required to improve the community’s economic, political, social, artistic, and scientific health, it is crucial for the community as a whole to be responsive to the expertise of individuals from across many different groups and social classes.

Here, then, is my second piece of Dewey-inspired advice: make friends who belong to groups that you do not belong to. Befriend people from different socio-economic backgrounds, different generations, different academic majors, different religious traditions, different racial and ethnic identities, and different political ideologies. Befriend people with disabilities or who are neurodivergent. Then, listen to your new friends. Learn to ask the types of questions that they ask, but that you would never have thought to, and then pay careful attention to how they answer those questions. Take seriously the expertise that they have developed and that has allowed them to thrive in their situations, just as you have learned to thrive in this one. Read banned books, and canceled books, and books that are unpopular among people like yourself. Read them not to refute them, but to learn how to think in ways that are new to you.

Dewey’s most important contemporary critic was the incomparable Bertrand Russell, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 but is, perhaps, best known within academia today for his contributions to the foundations of mathematics. It was Russell who first proved completely and rigorously that the whole of mathematics could be reduced to a few logical rules and a handful of axioms about the nature of sets.

Russell’s primary criticism of Dewey has to do with the idea of truth, especially mathematical truth. When I teach a math class at CSS, I expect to be teaching the same concepts and skills as teachers in Denver, or Buenos Aires, or Tokyo. What I do not expect myself to be doing is teaching whatever methods of calculation are most useful to students living in Colorado Springs, given the distinctive features of our community here. This is because mathematics is fundamentally about what can be proven true through precise techniques of deduction and problem solving, and not at all about which numerical beliefs are most socially advantageous to us.

There is, as Russell says, an “objectivity in truth and falsehood.”

So, here is my third piece of advice: now and again, between learning to thrive in new communities and acquiring new perspectives and new beliefs, as Dewey would advocate, take the time to ask yourself, directly and sincerely, whether the things you believe are true, as Russell would demand of us. Not useful. Not good. Not socially advantageous. Simply, literally, true.

My final piece of advice is to be an optimist. In nearly every respect, the world is a better place today than it has ever been before. As Dewey himself wrote, “The Golden Age lies ahead of us not behind us. Everywhere new possibilities beckon and arouse courage and effort.”

Lest the parallels between the tragedies of Dewey’s age and our own dissuade you from this optimism, it’s worthwhile to notice the many differences between our era and his.

The Spanish flu was much deadlier than Covid. True, it killed about the same total number of Americans. But, it did so at a time when the population of the U.S. was less than a third of what it is today.

The European wars that Dewey lived through were incomparably more devastating than any wars since. Obviously, the war in Ukraine is a tragedy, particularly for those directly impacted by it. But modern technology, trade, and diplomacy have, on balance, made the international community much safer than it was a century ago.

While the U.S. and other countries still struggle with issues of human rights, democratic representation, ethnonationalism, and access to economic resources, we have made overwhelming progress on many of the most pressing problems of the past. In 1990, about 34% of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today, it’s less than 9%. Women and Black Americans can now vote freely for political candidates of their choosing. In contrast to Dewey’s time, democratic forms of government are now the norm in North America and Western Europe and are slowly spreading, admittedly with some fits and starts, through Asia, Subsaharan Africa, and Eastern Europe. Suicide rates, crime rates, and deaths from natural disasters are all diminished from several decades ago.

Meanwhile, the quality of education has improved everywhere. Today, the global literacy rate is 86% and girls are able to go to school, on average, seven years for every eight years that boys go to school. There are world-class universities in China, Singapore, Australia, and Brazil, which was inconceivable just a century past. Students throughout the United States have access to both public and private schools that offer a diversity of courses that no one in the world had access to several generations ago.

Obviously, the world has real problems. It would be callous to ignore the atrocity committed in Uvalde, Texas, or to turn a blind eye to the challenges posed by a rapidly changing climate. But, these problems have solutions. And the massive improvements in human society over the past century are no accident. They are the consequence of finding solutions. They are the inevitable results of individual human activities undertaken by people trying to improve the quality of their lives and communities, informed by the nuanced, specific expertise of the people who live in those communities. Because of these efforts, history has not repeated, but progressed.

So don’t give in to cynicism or pessimism. Be an optimist. And, as you find yourselves in new communities and contexts throughout your lives, learn to thrive and to help your community thrive to such a degree that it proves your optimism justified.

Student Awards

co-presented by Upper School Director Tila Hidalgo, Ph.D. & Carey L. Cuprisin '89, MD

The Faculty Cup
The Faculty Cup is awarded to one individual whom the faculty recognizes as an exemplary representative of the CSS community.

Ms. Miller writes: “The recipient of this year’s Faculty Cup has been a model student and model citizen throughout her years at CSS, in spite of her notoriety as the perennial ‘weakest link in Quizlet competitions’ in Ms. Hanson’s class. Ms. Hanson also reports that this award recipient has the same Myers-Briggs personality as Princess Leia, so that made me just have to look that up: ‘A classic ESTJ personality type, Leia and this young woman are committed and steadfast, valuing structure in everything from their careers to their family lives. Reliable and assured, these admirable women embrace positions of leadership.’

Well now, ain’t that the truth!

Class president all four years of Upper School; NHS President; Kindergarten/Senior Buddies liaison; undoubtedly perennial Room Mother for her class; volleyball, basketball, and soccer captain. Yup – she definitely embraces those positions of leadership. In fact, her fellow members awarded her the NHS Leadership Award this year.

This unassuming, humble individual drives around town in a bright yellow Hummer, isn’t afraid to don the Kodiak Bear costume to drum up support for the Annual Fund, and is an acclaimed babysitter. Recognized as one of the Gazette’s Best and Brightest amongst us in 2022, she is a superb scholar in all disciplines; an AP Scholar; a self-taught Spanish and Calculus BC student; a peer tutor; and, perhaps most impressively, a founding member and executive secretary for Crossover for Change, a philanthropic organization dedicated to bringing the joy and camaraderie of basketball to a sister school in Uganda. Mia Chavez is the epitome of a Faculty Cup recipient! She is what we should all aspire to be."

Congratulations, Mia, and thank you for being our role model!

The Margaret White Campbell Award

Presented annually in honor of the founding headmistress of The Colorado Springs School, The Margaret White Campbell Award is granted to one student on behalf of the Upper School Faculty each year and recognizes academic excellence, leadership, service to the CSS community, and general character. Each year, this award is presented to the senior deemed by the Upper School faculty as that young person who best exemplifies the highest model of excellence in all areas.

Ms. Miller writes: “This year’s honoree is most certainly a Renaissance man, an exemplary leader, a performer of many hours of service, and most definitely the epitome of outstanding character. His wide-ranging talents may have him baking in the kitchen one minute, leading a dodgeball match in another, acing a physics test the next, writing a creative homework assignment – just for fun – within another few moments, and then designing a complicated light board for the theater to round out his day. And after all that, if one asked him how his day had gone, he would politely and humbly say, “Oh, it was just fine, you know, just an ordinary ol’ day. How was yours?”

Known as “the only person besides Mr. Thomas who knows the location of every network switch in every building on this campus,” it comes as no surprise that he won the Technology Award last week. And, a Theater award for his incredible lighting prowess sensibly followed with the Science award close behind. In fact, this young man also received the NHS Character award from his fellow members and the NHS Scholarship award from faculty. An AP Scholar with Honor, he served as NHS Treasurer, Forum President and Treasurer, MUN treasurer and Vice President. Obviously, his wealth of leadership, academic knowledge, and service and character accolades goes on and on.

And on top of all that, he’s a really nice person. Profe Kunze thanks him for being the first to understand her jokes in Spanish, and Dr. Gillon was amazed by his willingness to come in on a weekend to build an enigma machine for an ECS on which he wasn’t even a student. Ms. Hanson recounts how when she couldn’t figure something out in AP Bio, she always knew she could go to Finnegan for help, and Ms. Miller appreciates the many, many times when she said, “Finnegan, can you please figure out how this (insert just about any device) works?”

Yes, by now it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows him: Finnegan Thompson is receiving this year’s highest honor, the Margaret White Campbell Award.”

Faculty Awards

presented by Head of School Tambi L. Tyler

The Edward E. Ford Foundation Award
I know many of you have heard the phrase, “the man, the myth, the legend.” This phrase has often signified someone who is exceptional, remarkable, memorable, along with other admirable qualities. Above and beyond the call of duty is personified in this honoree.

This honoree serves CSS with this type of service and never wavers. Their service at CSS is memorable, remarkable, and yes, exceptional. He is known for his “nurturing nature,” his Harkness discussions, and his grooming and genuine care for his students and all things CSS. This honoree virtually lives at CSS, putting tireless hours and effort into the delivery of his pedagogy. He often asks a lot of his students, raises the bar of expectations, and shows them that they are capable well beyond their limits.

His imprint on the tapestry of CSS has yielded amazing student impact. The E.E. Ford Foundation supports independent schools for their loyalty to learning and strong educational programming. They recognize schools for loyalty and commitment to independent school education. I, too, value this quality. It goes without question that this individual has been and is loyal to CSS and its programming and he embodies the mission with poise and strength. He also plans and designs his experiential education with passion and makes sure the 't’s' are crossed and the 'i’s' are dotted. As a long standing faculty member since 1998, he is the guy to call if you want context, support, information, or just a kind word.

Walkabout isn't walkabout without his polish and smile. I know he has brought a smile to my face with just a brief exchange in the teacher’s lounge or a quick chat in the corridor before school.

When asked about this teachers impact, rising 9th grader Wyatt N. noted: “Mr. White makes learning about ancient civilizations fun, not only with activities that make it interesting to learn about, but also with the jokes and really bad puns he makes during class. He is that guy that knows everything and somehow finds a way to make me feel like I can learn anything.”

Yes, you heard it! The winner of the E. E. Ford Foundation award is Mr. Amos White!

The Mary Flynn Flemke Leadership in Education Award
Mary Flynn Flemke served as Head of School for The Colorado Springs School from 1990 to 2000. She later passed away in 2017. Her love, drive, and commitment to CSS lives on in many fruitful projects. From the building of the Louisa Performing Arts Center to her support of families within the Colorado Springs community, her legacy lives on. As a woman and leader of CSS, being amongst the ranks of only two women to ever do so in its 60-year span provides me with great pride.

This next honoree is a woman that I also am quite proud to call a colleague. In my short two-year tenure, we have shared many laughs, we have shared the dance floor, and my late dog – now deceased – shares the same name as her rescue dog Shadow!

When nominating her for this award, her colleague wrote: "I would like to nominate my fine colleague for The Mary Flynn Flemke Award. She is a dedicated teacher, willing to take on multiple levels of Spanish whenever the need arises, supporting her colleagues along the way. She's nurtured new world language teachers as the department chair, and she readily offers both personal and professional help to all of her colleagues at the drop of a hat. Her students admire her language skills and rely on her for outside support whenever called for.

As junior class sponsor for many, many years, I affectionately have dubbed her The Perpetual Prom Queen, for she most certainly has attended more proms than any other faculty, and she perennially guides the juniors through the strenuous and often melodramatic process of orchestrating this annual, traditional event. She also serves on the unofficial Upper School Joy Committee, providing festive decor and special treats to enliven and boost faculty morale. She is a dedicated wife, mother, and stepmother who takes all the roles in her life to heart. She has brought a Spanish-speaking, El Salvadoran flair to our entire CSS community, and she deserves sincere recognition.”

Mi corazón se estremece y me da gran or gullo Honorarte Señora Marta Kunze con el galardón Mary Flynn Flemke.

Translation: "It warms my heart and brings me great pride to honor Señora Marta Kunze with the Mary Flynn Flemke Award."

The Sarah H. Elizabeth Hoiles Memorial Award
This next award was established in 1997 by the Hoiles family in honor of their late daughter Sarah H. Elizabeth Hoiles, who they lost due to tragedy. Yet, their love for CSS and their daughter lives on in the form of this faculty award. CSS held the honor of having Sarah in its 1994 graduating class, and her sisters Gail Hoiles Sanchez and Jill Hoiles in the graduating classes of 1998 and 2002, respectively.

In the late 19th century, it was customary to wear hats. Hats were a symbol of control and regulation. From the straw hat of summer to the felt hat of winter, it was stylish and common.

Fun fact: It was in 1869 that hats debuted in Major League Baseball. This next honoree is often wearing many hats and hits a home run with every task she embarks upon. This individual has been involved with nearly every aspect of student life and engagement: advising, coaching volleyball and soccer, heading student leadership opportunities, planning and executing events, executing community service, assisting with mountain biking, cross curricular planning, and many other tasks. She also is a skilled Outdoor Education and Walkabout leader, and takes on challenges with grit and determination. Just to add one more hat to the mix! Did we mention that this individual likes to paddle board?

This inspiring teacher is living her childhood dream of being an educator. As early as ten years old, she was creating math quizzes for her brother and helping her classmates with their math. She has a caring demeanor to match her organization, knowledge, and passion!

Senior Skylar Duncan notes: “Ms. Beardsley. 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. 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 as I head off for college.”

This is why it gives me great privilege to honor Ms. Blisse Beardsley as the winner of The Sarah H. Elizabeth Hoiles Memorial Award.

Senior Farewell

presented by Chloe Lee '22

Since day one, resilience is what has held the Class of 2022 together. We were first introduced to this idea through our elementary school teachers who told us that if a task was hard, all we had to do was try and try again, and somehow we would get it done.

Then, a few years later at an assembly, Coach Vaughan introduced our student body to the “Got Grit?” t-shirts that most of our seniors have hanging in their closets. Now, we know that resilience and perseverance are a requirement for growing up and living in this world. At some point in our lives, perseverance stopped being a choice, and we were all forced to be resilient. There was no finite point in time where we were told what would happen or it was explained to us that we had no more choice in the matter; instead, it happened gradually like the slow climb up the side of a mountain.

By the time we finished Middle School, we began to learn that perseverance is a required life skill. All of a sudden, we were thrown into freshman hall, which at the time had two wooden benches that you couldn’t sit on unless you wanted to hit your head or back on the hooks directly above them.

Five of us were new, and everyone else was tasked with making those five feel welcome. As the year continued, small spats of petty drama filled the halls but, for the most part, our class focused on bonding. I remember, on multiple occasions, Aiden and Henry invited our entire class to go to dinner and a movie. So, we all climbed out of our parents' cars and piled into the restaurant. Everyone would begin matching tables together so that we could sit in a group, and awkwardly, we would make conversation before heading afterward to a movie.

In our freshman year, we really got to know each other as people who each have unique personalities; we began making solid friendships that would last through the entirety of high school.

Of course, in sophomore year, COVID-19 played a deeply significant part in our growing up. Sophomore year was the year that spring break turned into two weeks of vacation, which became a month of quarantine, and then more of isolation. For what felt like an eternity, we were confined to our homes, shuffling from our beds to our kitchens, to our desks, and finally back to our beds to go to sleep for the night, just to wake up and do it again the next day. But, that was the least of our problems.

Some of us got sick and restless in isolation, and we yearned for ways to socialize again. If I'm being honest, I don't remember much of our Sophomore year. But, I do remember people beginning to reach out and connect more, especially once we knew that isolation was inevitable. Still, we tried our best to stay in touch.

Later, in our junior year, challenges continued to try and slow us down. In the middle of January, the dead of winter, we all sat outside for up to 90 minutes, three times a week or maybe even more. Benson’s Creek had become one of the most enthralling, but dreaded classes, as the virus had pushed us out of the classroom into the outdoors to learn U.S. history. The cold of winter had completely set in, and we all sat outside taking notes about the Oil Barons in the 1800s. Of course, Mr. Benson did all he could to keep us warm and comfortable–for a few days we had a fire pit–he brought out hot water with cider or hot chocolate mix–and even a propane fueled heater that we would all huddle around.

Junior year came with a lot of “firsts” for our class. It was the first time we had to sit outside in 40-degree weather to learn history; it was the first time we had to take AP tests; it was the first time we took the actual ACT or SAT, not just a practice test in our gym; and it was, for the majority of us, the first time we realized that we were growing up. The class of 2021 had all made their senior pages for the yearbook; they picked out their suits and dresses for graduation, they completed their Capstone, and we got to watch them through it all. By the end of the year, though, we realized that it was our turn.

Imagine this: It’s summer, the grass is greener than it’s been all year, the birds are chirping, and a group of 18 seniors are gathered in Mr. Playe’s office. It’s awkward. He’s new, and we are all a bit skeptical and angry about being at school in the beginning of August, but Mr. Playe asks us if we are ready to graduate. In unison, we all respond with a timid “no.” This is a first for Mr. Playe, too. It’s most of our first interactions with each other in the school as seniors, we were there first thing in the morning, and this was Mr. Playe’s first time hearing an entire class say they were not ready to graduate.

Then, I remember the clear feeling of horror and anxiety, and pure fear, the day of our senior retreat. Not only did we have graduation and college decisions looming over our heads, but now we also had to worry about Capstone and senior traditions. After completing all of these tasks, I must say that we did find joy and excitement and fulfillment in college decisions and senior traditions.

For instance, we all ate donuts on the top of the Trianon while watching the sunrise, which we almost missed because the doors to the roof were locked. We all made decisions for our future, and we all rejoiced and celebrated college acceptances. There are a lot of “firsts” in senior year. Since the start of the year, the class of 2022 has grown up a bit, and thankfully, now, after lots of preparation and encouragement, we are all ready to graduate and move into the world as adults. This is astounding since ten months ago, most of us told Mr. Playe that we were scared of growing up.

The only possible way I can describe senior year is as a complete and total fever dream, and this is how it starts: we realize it is our time to grow up. We are almost adults, but we aren’t really adults. We still feel like children running rampant on the school playground with scrapes on our knees and elbows and food stained faces. This year, we had obligations to everyone and everything: Mr. Playe needs your college essay, Ms. Miller needs us to read 10 pages tonight, Mr. Andujar needs you in the theater, Coach needs you on the field.

We put in the work, we did what was asked of us and sometimes more, and we persevered through it all. Of course, things got hard, for we had sports, performances, community service, school, homework, and an entire life on top of it all, but all 18 of us, every senior in our class, managed to do it all.

Since College Boot Camp in the beginning of August, our class has most definitely grown up and has begun to develop into the adults of the future. We have come a long way from being the class that caused the ant problem in freshman hall because we didn’t clean up after ourselves. By the way, senior hall was kept clean!...well, enough. In reality, the seniors have all grown into themselves, and all of them have grown into good people, people who will leave The Colorado Springs School in order to change the world and make a positive difference.

We had to make a lot of hard decisions this year, and we had to persevere, especially when things became hard or tiresome. Life changed drastically for every single one of us standing in front of you today, and if I am being completely honest with you, we are terrified. I stand by what I said that first day of College Boot Camp: I wasn’t ready to graduate then, none of us were, but now, after all this time – a final school year, and on our final day here at CSS all together – I believe that we are all ready to graduate and move on, regardless of how terrifying it is. We made it through high school and pushed through everything that we did not want to do and things we were anxious about doing. Here we are nonetheless, all 18 of us stand in front of you today confident that we can make it through the world that waits for nobody.

We’re here not because we know everything about our future lives or possess every little skill we might need, but because our class learned the skills we all need to rely on to keep going: perseverance and resilience.

We can do this!

Charge to the Class of 2022

presented by Head of School Tambi L. Tyler

Well, parents, guardians, friends, faculty, and staff, today is a day that we celebrate the graduates. It's a day to honor the full commitment that it takes to complete rigorous coursework, challenging experiential opportunities and long-term consistency towards growth. It is an important day! From preschool to today, there is no doubt that this is a momentous occasion.

Some may be able to remember their child’s first steps and when you look at them today your heart swells for what they will embark upon next. Parents, you have trusted us with your children and walked alongside them to see them to this moment. It is here where we celebrate, honor, commend, and provide one last charge on behalf of this fine institution and its tremendously talented faculty and staff. It is to that end that we must trust our students with what’s next. There's a need for their imprint, impact, and their provocation of change and greatness. Each student on this stage has a next.

The loveliness of this day is encamped in the decisions and the purpose that is on the horizon. Yet, there has to be some level of discomfort as parents, guardians, and maybe even the students themselves realize the uncertainty of what’s next. But, this is all a part of the beauty of breaking away from familiar and marching towards purpose and destiny. It is easy to settle. To just do nothing and rest into complacency and sink into quiet pleasure and it is a meaningless path that many take. Yet, our graduates have applied themselves and met challenges with hard work, dedication, and exuded grit, leadership, and resiliency.

Parents, I stand before you as a mother. As a parent, there is a deeply overwhelming feeling that lives on the inside of you that no one can describe. You want to protect, secure, and provide everything. Truth be told you don’t always get it right. And, we most certainly don’t consistently get the affirmation that we need.

This thought brings me to a true story about when my son, who is now 22, was old enough for preschool. My baby, my last born, the one with the baby brown eyes that can melt any girl's heart and melt mine by just saying “Mom” was old enough for school. I cherished every moment with him. He was a good baby. He fell asleep in his own bed before turning one-year-old; he was an early walker; and he was the type of student-athlete that handled a ball of any shape like an all-star. We have the ribbons and medals to prove it. His first word was “ball”. I am sure some of you may be able to look at the graduates and remember some of the same or similar moments of accomplishment.

I was devastated to know my child (my baby!) was going to school. Yes, I have been an educator for more than 25 years and I had these feelings. His every whimper and his fretful cries were my responsibility. I enjoyed being the “shero” in his story. He had me eating out of his hand. I was undone by the idea of giving a role to someone else. I remember walking down the corridor with him to his class for the first time. I fought back tears. I had mommy guilt and I was sure that he was secretly judging me for every ounce of the experience. I was overly communicative about our connection. I had an annoying way of confirming every action hoping he would validate the experience as, “Okay”. I wanted him to say “Mommy, it’s okay”. But, I also wanted him to cling to my leg and let me know no one would take my place. Yes, I had some sort of insecure mommy complex. Remember, I said we don’t always get it right! I remember bending down to hug him one last time before releasing him to go to his Kindergarten class thinking for sure, “This is where he will break down at the idea of our separation.” However, that’s not what happened! Without as much as a glance, he hugged me and said “Bye Mom” and ran down the hall. There I stood confused and sure I didn’t know this child. And, just like that, he was growing up without me. And not even my mom's guilt would stand in the way of what’s next. As my son ran down the hall with a smile, I learned how selfish my thinking was.

If I didn’t let go he wouldn’t grow. If I didn’t trust his next steps were essential, he would be void of discovery. If I didn’t know that this is only the beginning of a series of next steps.

Parents and guardians I would like to render the thought that: it is okay to not know what is next.

Graduates, today you are ready to take your next steps. Our world needs you. With every headline we read, we realize that we need you. You must be provoked beyond this stage to make a difference and connect with the dynamics of our world no matter how messy it may be.

Purpose doesn’t just happen. There is a seed in each of you. Follow that seed of passion into new idioms and fields of thought. If you do, you will take the necessary action to find your purpose.

Remember to: use your voice for good; break away from complacency; seek to take advantage of new opportunities; strive to do your best.

King Claudius in Hamlet is a chief minister. There is a scene in Hamlet where he gives advice to his son, Laertes. He gives his blessing and advice on how to behave at university. It is there that you will find a famous line. “To thine own self be true.”

To be true to self: your next steps are yours to take; seek to be the best and highest version of yourself; connect the dots that compel you to be kind and willing to serve; don’t let challenges stop you from problem-solving and critical thinking.

In the end, it's the steps you're willing to take that will ultimately matter.

If you are able to do anything that truly matters, you cannot be swayed by whether people like you.

I leave you with the words of Robert Frost in The Road Less Traveled:

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Class of 2022, the journey begins with your next steps!