The Impact of your giving
These stories of impact are a testament to the hundreds of individuals who share my conviction and passion for the mission of Colorado Rocky Mountain School. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I cannot understate how grateful we are to every donor for their generosity and support of Colorado Rocky Mountain School. Without your dedication and commitment, Colorado Rocky Mountain School would not be in the position it is today to serve our students and continue to fulfill the Holdens’ vision for educating young people prepared to positively impact their world.
- Stan Wattles ‘80, CRMS Board Chair
Discover stories about students and faculty benefiting from your generosity.
Sasha Fielder ‘26
Your support encourages students to reach new heights
Sasha could have taken his love of learning to any boarding school in the world. He chose Colorado Rocky Mountain School because its values align with his: love of learning, optimism, and being outdoors-focused. “CRMS offers a lot of amazing opportunities that other schools don’t have,” explains Sasha. “The small class sizes and close relationships with teachers also appealed to me.”
At CRMS, faculty members Dan Pittz and Matt Bowers have motivated Sasha even more both in and out of the classroom. “Dan is super funny and really good at Spanish. He has inspired me to take my Spanish learning to the next level.” Sasha also cites Dan’s extensive travels throughout the Spanish-speaking world as bringing a richness to the classroom.
Fully immersed in boarding student life, Sasha also connected with faculty member Matt Bowers. “Matt was my biology teacher, dorm parent, and mountain bike coach last year. He has inspired me in lots of ways that someone who was only my classroom teacher couldn’t.”
Sasha has always been curious about the world and how it works. Since elementary school, he’s tried his hardest and challenged himself. This summer he read Annihilation in English, Harry Potter in French, and some of Mujer de Luz in Spanish. “I love learning and love telling people about my experiences and helping them through what I know.” His teachers agree, saying that Sasha is always “completely psyched” for whatever intellectual pursuit is in front of him. Dan Pittz even called Sasha “an academic beast.”
With your support, faculty have the tools they need to ignite students' passions - whether academic, artistic, athletic, or personal.
Pippa Spaan '25
Your support gives students opportunities to try new things and discover their potential
Pippa Spaan ‘25 has come out of her shell at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. She admits she tends to be more reserved and not very outgoing. Like many new students, Pippa was “scared that I wouldn’t fit in.”
Yet when Pippa entered CRMS she made a resolution to be more outgoing and try to get to know everyone. She was met by a community who wanted the same: dormmates invited her to their dorm rooms to hang out. Returning students took her into their groups. Caring dorm parents and faculty inspired her to get more organized and think more broadly about future possibilities. Pippa has grown a lot and caught the attention of friends and faculty. She won the sophomore Community Award in 2023. The faculty annually awards this recognition to four students who embody selflessness, respect, responsibility, and excellence within the CRMS community.
At the presentation of that award, her advisor Volker Krasemann noted, “Pippa has been the center of our advisee group starting with our first community dinner, when she tried to bring my five random advisees together, to get to know them, find common ground between them and make connections. This is what she does, and she always brings her best self to our meetings and dinners.”
For 70 years, CRMS has helped students discover their passions and realize their potential. Small class sizes, caring faculty, challenging outdoor experiences, and rich artistic expression allow students like Pippa to experiment with new opportunities and push themselves into new territory. Even in her first year, Pippa tried new things. “I tried climbing for the first time and loved it. Ended up climbing the whole year! I also tried backpacking and was surprised to learn that I ended up loving that too.” Pippa adds that she will be a dorm head and give cross-country running a go in the fall.
“I want to keep going through life trying as many new things as I can. I feel like at CRMS that’s a very common theme. Everyone is trying new sports, trying new things in classes, going on different trips.”
This year Pippa is excited to meet new students and help them have a welcoming experience like she did. Through intentional community and caring faculty, CRMS creates opportunities for students like Pippa to thrive.
Manny Ramirez '23
Supporting scholarships & financial aid makes a CRMS education accessible to families in need
“Manny loved CRMS. CRMS changed his life. We are very thankful for the great faculty and staff for their serious hard work in educating our child and the level of education that he received. Manny has grown so much during his time at CRMS. He has become very mature and very independent. The CRMS experience helped him to have a very extended view of the world.
We are very thankful for the financial scholarship program which made it possible for him to attend CRMS. Without it, we would not have been able to afford this experience for him.
Thank you CRMS!” - Francisco Ruiz, Manny’s father
Eliot Taft, Faculty
Supporting faculty professional development improves the student learning experience
Lifelong enthusiasm for learning and intellectual growth are essential to the CRMS experience, for both students and teachers. Since 2019, Eliot has taught American Literature and AP English at CRMS, but over the summers he fans his love of literature into flame through a Master’s program at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. Donors to the Annual Fund help make Eliot’s experience and other professional development opportunities possible.
During a recent summer Eliot studied American naturalist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. “My professor was the toughest yet,” he says, “but she gave me lots of positive feedback and was so kind in the process.” Eliot wants to carry that challenging kindness to his students. “I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing and love being a student. I’ll use my experience as a student to enhance my teaching this year in some great ways.”
Eliot’s love of learning stems from his parents, both high school teachers, and his travels. He recently spent three weeks in Belize interacting with four distinct cultures. “Next summer I will take classes at Bread Loaf’s Monterrey, California campus. In my final year, I will finish at their Oxford campus. Thanks to CRMS donors, I can apply my experiences as a student to enhance students' learning at CRMS.”
Tashi Jackson '22
CRMS Community, Faculty Help Tashi Grow in Self-Discovery
Starting at the beginning of my freshman year, I was a nervous wreck who found CRMS to be unconventional and foreign to anything I had ever experienced before. At first I felt a bit lost in this unfamiliar community and unsure about my place in it. But as I pushed myself more and more out of my comfort zone I made space for more self-discovery and more profound experiences that CRMS had to offer.
I feel that I’ve grown so much since my first wilderness trip and I thank CRMS for fueling its students with a zest for adventure and positive risk-taking mindsets. Students learn to develop skills in active participation, accountability, and the constant pursuit of personal development.
I’ve become so invested in the school's leading commitment to inclusion, responsibility, and engagement that I plan to uphold these traits wherever I end up.
Hear from fellow donors and learn about the impact of your gift.
Brad Baetz P‘23, ‘25, ‘27
“Being married to a middle school teacher and knowing what they put into it, I appreciate the caring embrace of the CRMS faculty and knowing that my child is out there in the world and he’s being challenged and he’s being cared for. You combine that high-quality education and caring environment with the outdoors and it gives the kids a real opportunity to discover who they are and what they can become.”
Mags Miller '90
“Every time I get to interact with a student at CRMS it really gives me hope, honestly. My legacy is CRMS and the students that go through the school. I will give everything I have to it for as long as I can.”
Mark Clark P‘99, ‘05
“During my time at CRMS I've been lucky to talk to many of my old students who have been "branded" by the Old Bar Fork Ranch. To a person, their experiences here didn't just allow them to find 'meaning' in their lives but really helped them to 'experience being more fully alive' ... just as our school has done for me.”
C.J. Morton ‘84
Alumnus pays it forward supporting access to quality education
In 2022, C.J. started looking for other ways to impact young people by providing them with a solid education. At his wife Heidi’s suggestion, he revisited the impact CRMS had on him and how they might give future students a similar life-transforming experience. As a result, they have pledged an annual gift of $80,000 to CRMS scholarships and financial aid.
“CRMS was more important than college for me,” says C.J. “ I’m still friends with lots of the people. I still feel part of that community. With our giving, I’m really hoping to reach out to those who might never have the opportunity to come to a school like CRMS.”
With over 45% of students receiving scholarships or financial aid in a given year, the Morton’s gift will strengthen CRMS’s commitment to admitting talented, motivated, and adventurous students, regardless of family resources.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to support than students at CRMS. I know at CRMS, our giving is going directly to those students, and that’s what’s important to me and my family.”
Michelle Bonfils Thibeault ‘93
“The reason I like to support CRMS is because I continue to appreciate the generosity of the teachers in and outside of the classroom as well as the perspective I developed thanks to the amazing experiences CRMS offers. The contributions to developing the whole person at CRMS is invaluable and I want to be a part of keeping that opportunity available to future generations.”
Bill Parzybok ‘61
CRMS Makes Life-Altering Impact on Three Generations of the Parzybok Family
In June 2022 my grandson, Charles England ‘22, became the sixth member of our family to graduate from Colorado Rocky Mountain School. Those that have graduated include me, my brother Steve Parzybok ‘63, my cousin Kevin Sink ‘78, my nephews Wyatt Currlin-Parzybok ‘89 and Hayes Parzbok’99, and my grandson Charles ‘22, As you can imagine we have a long and positive association with the school. I have visited with all of them, (except my brother Steve, who passed away in 1999) regarding the impact CRMS had on them. There are strong common themes among all of us.
There is uniform consensus among us that CRMS was a positive life-altering experience that has impacted each of us. It was challenging in many ways but is viewed as one of the best years of all our lives - a time of growth, learning and self-knowledge. As one family member said, “We were pushed to the limits of human strength and mental toughness.” The academic life was just as demanding as climbing mountains and the rugged wilderness trips. There was instilled in all of us an insatiable love of nature and the great outdoors. Mt. Sopris throughout the seasons and the sound and beauty of the Crystal River are indelible memories. The Wilderness trips were true learning experiences that not only challenged our perseverance but enhanced many character-building qualities.
Responsibility, self-discipline, self-reliance, and accountability were common themes along with the importance of teamwork and a sense of community. The school culture embraced the strong values of kindness and respect in all our interactions.
Family members also mention often how we grew our independence to think for ourselves and our leadership skills. We appreciate the physical work like maintaining ditches, tending gardens, repairing trails, and building structures. One great memory for me was being on the work crew that made the bricks for the iconic Adobe art building…talk about memories. We learned that work won’t kill us but will make us stronger physically and mentally.
Last, and certainly not least, is the impact of the faculty and the academic program on our growth. There is nothing quite like the faculty member who brought topics to life and helped guide us through difficult subjects while challenging us to always do our best. We all have stories of the positive impact one or more faculty members had on us.
Colorado Rocky Mountain School is in our DNA and will always be.