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Upper School Division Director

Dr. Tila Hidalgo

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October 22, 2021

As I reflect on this past month, I am again reminded of the panel of students who spoke of their experiences at CSS during our October 13th Open House for prospective families. Seniors Mia C. and Sasha M. along with juniors Landon M. and Zak T. perfectly depicted the outstanding qualities of our Upper School students, embodying the CSS portrait of a graduate as they told their stories with such vulnerability and clarity. Hearing them talk about acquiring a growth mindset, encountering real-world experiences, and developing relevant skills through the many opportunities offered to them by CSS only reinforces the reason I chose to move halfway around the world from Vietnam to work here.

During the panel, these students spoke about both the gifts and challenges of working together in a small community, acknowledging that it’s not always easy. Despite the inevitable conflicts sometimes faced, the nature of teaching and learning at CSS helps our students navigate these challenges and develop a mutual respect for their peers. When I think about the problems present in our world today and the potential issues that threaten our future, adaptability may just be the most important takeaway our graduates possess

Though referred to as “soft skills,” I think of this as a misnomer. Collaborating with others to accomplish common goals and to navigate interpersonal challenges can be HARD work, requiring a lot of practice, growth, and patience. Hearing first-hand from students who have successfully navigated disruption while working alongside their peers – and seeing that they recognize the value in these experiences – makes me proud to be part of the CSS community. I’m honored to stand with our talented faculty to support our Upper School students as they develop these interpersonal skills. 

Another highlight of the student panelists’ reflections was their account of the important lessons they’ve learned through our Experience-Centered Seminars (ECS). These real-world experiences have opened their hearts and minds to learning in ways that simply cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom setting. I love how intentional the ECS program is and the enthusiasm that it encompasses. When the email was sent out last week notifying students of their ECS placement, I knew instantly when they’d received and read it, as the energy and excitement in the halls were palpable. I am eager to see how our students will adapt upon stepping into these experiences later on this spring, and can’t wait to hear how they are shaped by what they learn and do. The skills they gain will serve them well as they continue to determine who it is they wish to become.

When I look at the portrait of a CSS graduate, all of the expectations we set for our students are interwoven within. The work that we do, every day, in the Upper School – helping our students thread the needle and develop characteristics of independent thinking, personal integrity, and ingenuity – paints this portrait for each student. It’s hard work that can, at times, be exhausting, but it’s worth it. And, I am grateful to partner with our parents, students, and Upper School faculty in this work. There is nothing like the joy that comes from a job well done when the end result is so meaningful. 

As a community, we are all committed to helping our students prepare for life beyond CSS. We should feel proud in those unique moments when we hear our students describe what the learning experiences we offer mean to them, and how these opportunities have positively shaped their lives. After all, we are building a future filled with individuals who possess the qualities needed to lead and succeed in this dynamic world.


Dr. Hidalgo

Upper School Spotlight

Emmit G. '24 & Oliver P. '24


Kudos to 10th-graders Emmit G. and Oliver P. on qualifying for the State Mountain Biking Championships! Emmit and Oliver are ranked 11th and 13th, respectively, among sophomore males in Colorado. The State Championship Race will take place on Sunday, October 24, at Durango Mesa beginning at 8:30 a.m. Please join me in congratulating Emmit and Oliver, along with the rest of our mountain biking team, on an amazing season filled with individual growth and group success. Best of luck to our riders on Sunday!

Learn more

Ms. Miller

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I'd like to recognize Ms. Miller. In addition to being a beloved Upper School English teacher for more than 25 years at CSS, Ms. Miller serves as the Capstone advisor to our seniors. Completion of the Capstone – an individualized, student-generated project – is a rigorous process that begins in the fall of students' 12th-grade year and extends through to the spring. On October 13, Ms. Miller gathered with the senior class on the top of the Trianon building to watch the sunrise, eat breakfast and begin brainstorming their preferred Capstone project topics.

Learn about Senior Capstone

Upper School Happenings

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Guest Speaker

A local expert will speak with Upper School students about the dangers of vaping, nicotine, THC, and other addictive behaviors. Presenter Kevin McQueen is UCHealth's lead respiratory director for the southern region and president of the Colorado Respiratory Care Society.

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Service Learning Day

A part of reaching their yearly required Service Learning hours, students will take part in a number of community projects both on campus and with partner agencies throughout the local community, including Care and Share, Venetucci Farm and ReStore.

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Student-led Conferences

Student-led conferences will take place online via Google Meet, and will include each student's respective academic advisor. Over the coming weeks, you can expect to receive an email invitation from your child’s advisor with a request to schedule a virtual meeting. 

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CSS ExEd Expo

See for yourself the types of outdoor adventures and hands-on learning students encounter each and every day through experiential education at CSS.


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Winter Sports Season Begins

The Kodiak basketball season kicks off in mid-November and will continue throughout the winter. Subscribe to athletic alerts at csskodiaks.com.

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Experience-Centered Seminar Parent Meeting

All spring 2022 Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) assignments have been announced. Join us for an ECS parent meeting to learn more.

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Fall Play: Almost, Maine

The Upper School production of Almost, Maine will premier on Friday, November 19, with limited seating and masking requirements for audience-members at each performance. The play, by John Cariani, tells eight stories of one of life's greatest challenges; love, with scenes ranging from sweet and beautiful to hopeful, dramatic and hilarious. Stay tuned for info. on reserving your seat!

The Colorado Springs School

21 Broadmoor Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Work: (719) 434-3570

[email protected] | www.css.org