Alumni Journeys: traveling poet and writer - Aspen Country Day School


Alumni Journeys: traveling poet and writer

October 6, 2021

Anne Sperry ’76, traveling the country in her tiny home school bus, recalls the (very) early days at ACDS

It’s not often that we hear from an Aardvark who remembers the very earliest days of the school, so it was a pleasure to welcome Anne Sperry to campus as she tours the country in her converted school bus called Poet’s Journey. She led poetry workshops for students, then showed the children her bus (actually a tiny home on wheels).

Anne graduated back when ACDS had a high school. The school was just six years old and had a grand total of 117 students. She remembers pulling pranks (filling up Headmaster Charlie Hemenway’s office with balloons) and reading aloud to the younger children. There were only four students in her senior class, all girls, “and at the graduation ceremony by the ponds, we wore seventies hippie dresses with flowers in our hair, and beads, and sang Carole King songs to the audience.”

After graduating from the University of Denver and working in design in Colorado and Chicago, Anne began appearing in stage productions and in commercials for Kraft Cheese, Quaker Oats, and other top brands. She joined the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, earning her master’s degree in theater while performing Shakespeare plays in repertory, 12 shows a year. Later, as a Montessori school founder, she designed a “Hands Around the World” classroom rug that is used in schools worldwide. When the pandemic hit, Anne decided it was time for a change and is now touring the country in her charming “skoolie” bus while continuing her work as a poet and artist. 

Campus visit: Anne met with various classes and showed children her tiny home bus

Five Questions for Anne Sperry ‘76

Best memories of this school?

On Friday afternoons in the fall, John Denver would come to campus (his children were students here) and sing and play his guitar while we all sat on the grass and sang along. He knew all our names and would always say hello when we saw him in town. And I remember what it felt like to go to school in such a beautiful place. Once they filmed a commercial on campus (below) when the pond was all iced over, and a skater did this ice-fairy dance just as the sun was setting.

This vintage commercial was shot partially on location in Aspen and on the ACDS campus

What was different about ACDS?

I had been at public schools in Aspen and Denver, and when I first moved over here, it was smaller, so I could take a deep breath and just let go of the drama of the cliques — the athletes against the intellectuals, the artists, the hippies. Here it was like we were all just brothers and sisters; and none of that boy-girl dating drama. The school really was a family; Mr. Marlow and Barb (Hugh and Barbara Marlow, teachers and administrators) were the mom and dad, and all the other teachers were young, single, fun, hip. We’d sometimes get talking and even miss a class, just to have a conversation with a teacher. 

Which of the school’s core values resonates with you most?
Perseverance, I mean academically. Because while there was never one-upmanship with classmates, there was a sense that the four of us (seniors) were encouraging each other to do the best we could. We challenged ourselves and each other. 

Also, character. The teachers were amazing examples of character. They all had a sense of humor and just a pure love of children. I never heard of anyone being put down; it was always done in a way of building children up. 

How did this school influence your path?

All the Outward Bound type experiences where I learned to survive alone in the wilderness. That’s where I began to build that inner confidence to be comfortable in any environment, whether it’s spending the night in a snow cave or finding my way in a city. 

Blue team or Green team?
I guess that tradition hadn’t come along yet. We played games, volleyball, and had our ski team, but there weren’t enough of us to be some against the others; it was the big kids against the little kids, just for fun. 

Video tour of Anne’s bus