November 20, 2015
Kyle Edmondson's Osprey Games team
Greetings Osprey Community,

As we head into our Thanksgiving Break, we want to express our gratitude for all the parents and community members who continue to support our school each and every day.  A particular thanks for those who attended our first annual Osprey Games.  While we are still waiting on the final totals, we are thrilled to report that we raised about $90,000 through the event, which puts us well on our way for our annual fundraising goal for the year.  Truly, we are thankful!

sophomore Humanities students and local veteran after a particularly moving interview for the Truth of War project: Todd Laffaye, Ashley Tyler, Brian McAleer, Mattie Guilette and Courtney Beeman
When we return from the break, students will have two weeks of classes and then a week of preparation for and delivery of Presentations of Learning (POLs).  This time is certainly exciting, full and busy, with multiple end-of-semester Exhibitions and other assessments.  

Senior Humanities students will exhibit their learning at the Animas River Youth Confluence, Tuesday, December 1 from 5:00 to 7:00 at San Juan College in Farmington. This event, which is co-sponsored by AHS and Navajo Preparatory School, will feature student film, music and artwork, as well as a youth-led discussion about the future of the Animas River.

a few student elves "Christmas bombing" Steve's classroom to help him get in the holiday spirit
Juniors in Steve Smith's Chemistry classes will exhibit Animas River water quality data they collected at the Powerhouse Science Center on Friday, December 4 from 5:30 to 6:30; followed by a presentation from Mountain Studies Institute about the Gold King Mine Spill.

senior Summer Brown, winner of this week's Steve Smith lookalike contest (she's the one on the left)
We have invited youth advocate and educator Scott Smith from La Plata Youth Services to share research-based information about drug and alcohol use with our students with a goal of empowering them to make informed and safe choices.  Scott will present to all 9th graders on Tuesday, December 1 during XBlock, and to all 10th graders the following Tuesday at the same time; he will return to AHS in January to work with our juniors and seniors as part of our ongoing efforts promoting wellness.

At PEAK Meeting on Wednesday, December 2, we'll welcome David Tart of Rocky Mountain Animation Labs, who helped animate Pixar films including Toy Story, Finding Nemo and more.  Find out more about his work in this interview from 4CornersTV.

Finally, we are looking for volunteers to help with serving lunch Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays second semester.  If you are available, please contact Bridget at

We hope that you all have a restful and rejuvenating Thanksgiving holiday.  Thanks for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!
Upcoming AHS Events  
View the 2015-16 AHS School Calendar here  

May the Odds be in Our Favor
by Hannah Langford

Mistress of Ceremonies, Ashley Hein (aka "Debbie Development") and her lovely assistant, Aliza Cruz
November 18, 2015. The teams are assembled. The players are ready. The audience is waiting. And oh look, a guy on stilts!  The annual AHS fundraiser commenced at the Strater on November 18, much to the amusement of community members. This year, Animas High School's main fundraiser was organized in a Hunger Games/ Jeopardy/Family Feud style. This event is Animas' main fundraiser for the year, and provides a way for the community to get to know what Animas High School represents and what we hope to do. One community member comments that, "It was great to see the teacher-student relationships firsthand and learn about Animas High School through this interactive style."

the winning team: Camryn Sippy, Alma Wolf, Dave Heerschap and Lawson Nerenberg, plus Liam Foster (not pictured)
Who won? Technically, Dave's team, Hawaii 3.14159, won through dominating during the third and fourth quarter. Their math skills were impeccable, their music recognition skills were stellar, and their Hawaiian outfits were totally gnarly, bro. But in the end, everyone won, either through knowledge of how amazing AHS is, through Oprah-style audience giveaways, or the strong community representation. Because really, if you go to Animas, you always win.

Swervin' Steve Smith Stoke Day
by Lia Henriksen
Students and teachers of AHS came together on Wednesday, November 18 for some great celebration of school culture through hilarious imitations of the renowned junior chemistry teacher, swervin' Steve Smith at our very first Stoke Day! Students dressed as Steve could be seen strutting the hallways, complete with high water pants and wedding rings tied around their necks. Some Steve Smith doppelgangers even went so far as to carry around the classic enormous Tupperware of leftovers that he is known to munch on throughout the day. Overall, this was a great showing of how well we know and love our teachers here at AHS, and Stoke Days like this will continue once a month from here on out-- we'll just have to wait and see what the Stoke Club comes up with next. Thanks AHS students, and in the words of Steve Smith himself, "High legged pants are a necessary precaution in the case of a heavy rain."

Beyond the Nest: Alumna Ellie Ellis
by Lyle Bryson

Ellie Ellis (AHS Class of 2014) attends Pitzer College, a small liberal arts school in Southern California. Pitzer is one of the 5 liberal arts colleges that make up the  Claremont Colleges consortium, in which students can study at each of the different  schools in order to meet requirements for specific majors/emphases.  Currently, Ellie is pursuing a major in Geology, which is only offered through Pomona  College. "Most of my classes are at Pomona," she explains. As part of this consortium,  she's been able to take classes at Pitzer, Pomona, and Claremont McKenna. 

In addition to Geology, Ellie is also planning on minoring in Environmental Analysis, which is similar to environmental studies at other colleges but has more of a  policy/societal focus.  Some day, she hopes to participate in and conduct geologic research that relates to  environmental problems that the world is currently facing. "I would like to assist in mine r eclamation and waste cleanup projects like the project that is currently underway at the  Gold King mine and other historic mines in Colorado," claims Ellis, "Acid mine drainage  is an issue that hits close to home and I would love to use my geologic knowledge to  make these cleanups more effective."

"I also am interested in the field of glaciology, which involves glacial mapping and climate change science related to melting of our world's ice caps," she adds, "Whatever I  end up doing, my ultimate goal is to work in outdoor education and preservation so I can  help protect the beautiful places that I love," Ellie proclaims. 

Aside from the academics of Pitzer, Ellie has helped establish and build the fairly new Pitzer Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault. "I'm very involved in Pitzer Advocates  for Survivors of Sexual Assault, which is a peer advocacy group dedicated to supporting  survivors and eliminating rape culture on our campus," she states, "As the warm-line  manager, I assisted in launching our warm-line (which is like a hotline, but we don't  operate 24/7), establishing our office hours, and promoting our presence on campus." 

Additionally, Ellie is a manager at the Shakedown Cafe, which is a student-run, locally sourced, organic cafe on Pitzer's campus. "I help with operational logistics, lead other  employees on shift, and find new local sources for ingredients." She explains, "I have  taken on meat, cheese, and bread sourcing which has required me to find a sustainable  beef source in California (nearly impossible in the drought, may I add)."

And as if this wasn't enough, Ellie is also involved in Pitzer Climbing Club, Outdoor Adventure Club, and dance classes. She claims to have gone on countless outdoor trips  with the first two groups, which included a backpacking trip in Zion National Park and  also summiting Mt Whitney in 3 feet of snow. "I am also learning to lead climb right  now, which is very exciting," she eagerly adds.

And while the California lifestyle seems to be treating Ellie well, she does admit that she becomes homesick now and again. "Honestly, I miss Durango/Colorado life a lot.  Southern California is great and all, but I really miss all of the opportunities of  Colorado," she interjects, "I am glad I went out of state to experience something  different, but it has only confirmed that I am a Colorado person!"

Ellie's advice to each Osprey student is to appreciate the education they're getting while it lasts. "I want Animas students to realize what a unique learning experience they are  provided at Animas High School," she professes, "While I appreciate every single one of  the professors I have had so far, I know I will never have a professor that is as invested in  my learning as the teachers I had at Animas."

In closing, Ellie offers her thoughts on the impact Animas had on the trajectory of her life: "Each day, I am so thankful that I experienced project based learning at the high  school level because I actually REMEMBER and USE the things I learned at  Animas. Learning how to study for big tests and regurgitate information has been hard  for me coming from project-based learning. While Animas may not have prepared me for  college in this category, I COULDN'T CARE LESS because I am was much more  prepared to be an influential member of this community, thanks to the skills Animas  instilled in me."
Animas Students' Photography Featured at Open Shutter Gallery
by Lyle Bryson

Students in Roxy McKnight's Advanced Digital Arts class opened their first photography show alongside students from Montezuma-Cortez High School at Open Shutter Gallery in downtown Durango on November 12. The show featured hand-selected and curated photographs from a handful of Osprey photographers who chose to have their work exhibited in this public setting.

Before presenting their photographs to the Durango community, students learned "how to print photos and cut matte," says senior Will Brako, who has two photos on display at this show.

"It's a rough process," chimed in juniors Cameron Flann and Grant Gibson, who estimated that on top of the hours spent taking and editing their photographs, the matte cutting and framing process took an additional 2 hours.

"Well I'm really sooper [sic] proud that these guys pulled off the show yah," says McKnight, "They did really good on the matte cutting. And I'm just really excited to see  the various projects that were turned out."

For most, this was the first time exhibiting their work in front of a public audience.

Sophomore Clay Kinder was one of these photographers, stating, "This is my first photo show. I feel good about it. We get a public audience in a very public place, instead of just presenting another project at school."

Students, teachers, and community members could all be found basking in the "beautiful work" of these Osprey photographers as the night went on.

Junior Izzy Bonecutter was especially struck by one of the photos, claiming, "Austin's work really hits the heart. Its stars nurture my soul and my love for the outdoors."

It seems that not all in attendance were there for the photos, but maybe for the appeal of the photographers as well. When asked about her thoughts on the show, junior Celia Hale commented, "I love William's pictures and also his face."

If you have the time, drop by Open Shutter Gallery and get a glimpse of the beautiful
products created by these aspiring visual artists.
Ospreys are Thankful for...
by Oli Sakadinsky

"Dave's weird dancing and Kyle's sarcasm. But seriously, my friends and family."
- Senior Bekah Kuster

"My theatre troupe and my 'Little,' Jill."
- Senior Bryce Ward

"Snow for the upcoming ski season."
- Senior Connor Whitesell

"I am thankful for my friends, I am thankful for my family. I am also thankful that I have had so many experiences that have shaped who I am today! Oh, and lollipops."
- Junior Emily Vierling

"I am thankful for living in such an awesome place."
- Sophomore Grace Pansze

"Fuzzy socks."
- Senior Josh Jacques

"My friends, family, and that I live in such a beautiful and wonderful community."
- Freshman Megan Salazar

"Saliva, toilet paper, and color."
- Senior Nick Tarasewicz

For More Photos and Updates...
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