Tess ’00 and Aaron ’99: A history as friends, a future as family

In 1999, Tess Vigil ’00 and Aaron Goldhamer ’99 went to Colorado Academy prom together. In 2020, they got married.

What happened during the 21 years in between? A lot.

Vigil went to Columbia University, moved to Los Angeles to teach middle school English, took up fashion designing, started a clothing line, and landed a role in culturally responsive education with Denver Public Schools.

Goldhamer went to Yale University; moved to Washington, D.C., to study law at Georgetown University; became a prominent Denver attorney; ran for the Colorado State House of Representatives; and officiated for 11 wedding ceremonies.

But we’ll get to all of that later. First the prom story….

Tess and Aaron at the prom

Shakespeare, puzzles, and Christmas lights

The theme of the 1999 CA prom was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Appropriately enough, in the 1998 CA production of the Shakespeare play—directed by Tess’s father Angel Vigil, retired Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department—Goldhamer played Demetrius, one of the iconic lovers.

A few weeks before prom, Tess Vigil found a jigsaw puzzle in her CA student mailbox. When she put the puzzle together, she saw a message from Goldhamer: “Will you go to prom with me?”

One piece in the puzzle had the word “yes” written on it, and another piece said “no.” Vigil returned the “yes” piece to Goldhamer’s mailbox.

On the night of the prom, Goldhamer pulled up to Vigil’s house in his 1990 Subaru Legacy, which was glowing. He had strung Christmas lights around the car’s interior, powering them from the cigarette lighter.

They went to prom, had a great time together, and continued seeing each other afterward. They had what Goldhamer calls “a lovely little romance.”

That fall, Vigil started her Senior year at CA, while Goldhamer left for college in Connecticut, and they agreed to end the relationship.

Resolving a “great regret”

It’s fun to hear Goldhamer and Vigil separately tell the story of their relationship, because their stories match almost exactly.

They both say they never lost touch over the two decades, visiting one another at college a few times and reconnecting over holiday breaks, at CA events, and during friends’ weddings.

They both mention Vigil’s mother Sheila Olson—who also taught at CA—and her love for the Green Bay Packers. Despite Goldhamer’s eternal love of the Denver Broncos, he’d often reunite with Tess at Packers viewing parties.

They both say that splitting up in 1999 was the right choice…sort of.

“For years it was one of my biggest regrets,” Goldhamer says. “I spent a lot of time thinking, ‘I really screwed that up. I should’ve stuck with her.’”

When asked about their high school romance, Vigil says, “I didn’t have any starstruck ideas of who I was going to marry at all. We felt like we had to go to college, have careers, explore the world. I’ve never been a romantic fairy-tale type. I’m more practical and realistic.”

Goldhamer agrees that their high school youth made it hard to think about their relationship in the long term. But by 2012, they were both living in Denver again, and he could do something about his “great regret.”

He started going to Steuben’s, where Vigil tended bar, and would sit at the counter, hoping for a chance to chat with her. Several times, over a friendly dinner out, he brought up giving their relationship another shot. She said she didn’t want to date anyone at the moment. He always replied, “Let me know if you change your mind!”

And after about seven years, she did.

“Finally, the timing worked out,” Goldhamer says, “much to my delight.”

They started dating again in the summer of 2019.

“Aaron was so smart and so sweet, and he’s funny, kind of a joker. I was impressed by those qualities,” Vigil says. “When we got together, we’d known each other for so long, that there was no doubt in my mind who he was. I knew that it was serious.”

They married in 2020 and recently welcomed a daughter, Georgia “Gigi” Elizabeth Vigil Goldhamer.


CA super-fans

Both Vigil’s and Goldhamer’s CA connections run deep.

A CA “lifer,” Vigil and her faculty family lived on campus for a time.

Aaron and Tess at Cathy Nabbefeld’s wedding

Five of the wedding ceremonies for which Goldhamer has officiated have a CA connection. For long-time CA College Counselor Cathy Nabbefeld’s wedding on the CA campus, Vigil made the wedding party dresses and bowties, and Goldhamer officiated. CA classmate and long-time friend Shane Boris ’00 served as officiant for Vigil and Goldhamer’s wedding.

You might say they’re CA super-fans.

“CA was amazing, rigorous, and super individualized,” Vigil says. “I have a passion, both professionally and personally, for making sure other people have a really good school experience. This ties back to the good teaching happening at CA. I had an intuitive sense of how good teachers connect with students and make learning relevant, and I experienced it first-hand at CA.”

Goldhamer remembers CA as a place where he could both work hard and have a really great time.

“It was a beautiful campus and a place where people treated each other with kindness. It had incredible teachers, a great arts program, and a really well-rounded set of opportunities,” he says. “Whether it was my experience on the soccer team, in theater, or with academics in general, I learned that working hard to create something you’re proud of is a very rewarding process, and that certainly translates to my legal work today.”

And of course, CA gave them each other.

“Aaron has been such a loyal, consistent person and friend,” Vigil says. “He’s always there for me. I feel so lucky.”

“Tess brightens my life and helps me be a better person. I’m proud of the woman she has become,” Goldhamer says. “I’m just so happy to be with her.”