March 25, 2016
in a moment of great pride and relief, Steve Jobson slam dunks his Senior Project Thesis, in which he explores the root causes of school shootings and ideas for preventing them
Greetings Osprey Community,

It's the final day of LINK Internships for our juniors, and our seniors have completed and submitted their Senior Project Theses.  These are big milestones for Ospreys.  We loved hearing senior Nicholas Turco reflect on his Senior Project Thesis, through which he's explored the neurobiology of adolescents subjected to the school-to-prison pipeline, in this way:  

I have invested every ounce of what it means to be a student at Animas High School into this project.  I have written these thirty-four pages to speak to an issue that I believe, if addressed, will change the world.

Must be time for spring break!  As a reminder, students will not return to school until Tuesday, April 5, since we have a Professional Development Day for staff on Monday the 4th.  PD Day will be followed by a School Excellence Committee Meeting that evening at 5:00, where SEC will review feedback from our annual parent survey.   

sophomore Avory France paints Haley Benjamin's arm with a very accurate portrayal of the skeletal structure in an anatomy lesson for Biology class
After spring break, our seniors will transition to the second portion of their Senior Project: TED Talks.  Wednesday, April 6 through Tuesday the 12th, all seniors will deliver 30 minute presentations in which they summarize their research, defend their theses and respond to questions and critiques from a panel of peers, teachers and community members.  We encourage you to review the full TED Talk schedule here, to see the rich diversity of topics seniors have addressed in their independent work this semester.  TED Talks are open to the public and are a great way to see just how professional, articulate and poised our students are by the end of their four years at Animas.  Please plan to attend as many as you can!  After TED Talks wrap, seniors will complete the action pieces of their Senior Projects, applying what they've learned in tangible ways.

our Main Office Assistant, Bridget Stowers, flanked by sons Cooper, AHS class of '13, and Finn, class of '19 (and missing Rex, class of '15!)
Looking a bit further ahead, 9th grade students will take the PARCC exams on April 11 though 13.  Sophomores have PSAT and juniors will take the Colorado ACT and CMAS Science exams the week of April 18.  For more details, please refer to the letter about our testing schedule that we sent out to families earlier this week; you can access it on our website here.  

New and returning families, please be sure to complete your Online Registration Packets by April 15 to hold your spot for next year.   Registration materials were sent this past week; please contact AHS Registrar Laurel Rodd at with any questions.  

Hailey, Grace F, Lily and Grace P in their Rotary blazers at the outbound student orientation in Colorado Springs last weekend
Congratulations to sophomores Hailey Voss, Grace Frideger, Lily Bisantz and Grace Pansze, who are
 among 25 students from the Western Slope region selected to study abroad through Rotary Youth Exchange next year.  They will spend junior year living and studying in Austria, Chile, France and Denmark, respectively.  Since Animas is sending four students abroad through the program, we are hoping to return the favor to Rotary by having multiple Osprey families serve as hosts for Rotary exchange students coming to Durango next year.  Host families house exchange students for four months at a time.  Osprey parent Ceci McQuinn, mom to 9th grader Carter and 11th grader George, had this to say about hosting an exchange student this year: We chose to host an exchange student as a way to enrich our family, our community and our school. Sharing our lives with Alessandro was a rewarding experience for our whole family. We look forward to hosting another student! Please contact local Rotary Exchange coordinator Tami Duke at to learn more or volunteer.

We hope you all have a restful and rejuvenating break.  Many thanks for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!
Upcoming AHS Events

LINK Spotlight: Powerhouse Science Center and Weaselskin Equestrian Center
With LINK internships wrapping up today, many juniors are presenting their final projects to teams of mentors and celebrating with mentor lunches. For some though, the internship isn't over as they have been asked to stay! We love how often LINK leads to lasting connections!

Here's Mitchell Anderson at his internship at the Powerhouse Science Center . He chose this internship due to his passion for robotics, which he is exploring every afternoon. He has also discovered a true talent for education as he absolutely enjoys creating engaging science lessons and teaching Durango's 1st graders! His mentors are impressed by Mitchell's level of responsibility and follow through, and are even more excited that Mitchell is planning to continue working at the Powerhouse over the summer! 

Kaylie Hodnett has spent the last three weeks with mentor Jennifer Thurston at Weaselskin Equestrian Center where her original goal was to learn to care for the horses. She is in love with all of the animals at the farm and not only cares for them, but is participating in training the horses as well as creating educational programs for the community. Kaylie hopes to use her new skills doing part time work throughout college. Until then, she'll be spending spring break, Saturdays, and much of her summer at Weaselskin!

To hear more about this year's LINK Internships, pencil in the dates for the LINK Exhibitions!
Tuesday, April 26: Business, Education and Human Services Internships
Wednesday, April 27: STEM Internships
Thursday, April 28: Arts Internships

Let's Talk: Family Conversations about Drugs and Alcohol
by Baylee Beals

On Tuesday, March 22 at Animas High School Spanish teacher Susy Raleigh and School Counselor Arava Geva discussed ways for parents to talk to their teens about drugs. When parents are talking to their teens about drugs, the teens tend to get defensive and uncomfortable. To help conversations go easily Arava suggests these steps:

First, ask your child "Hey can we talk about this?" If they say yes, share what you know about the subject, then ask them what they think. Right now you are simply having a conversation about what you both know.

Don't be afraid to ask your teen clarifying questions. Arava highly suggests using OARS:

O: Open-ended questions help to explore concerns, promote collaboration, and understand the teen's perspective.

A: Affirmations, to support strengths, convey respect and appreciation and deflect discord.

R: Reflectively listen to explore concerns, convey understanding, deflect discord, and elicit change.

S: Summarize to organize discussion, clarify motivation, provide contrast, focus the session, and highlight change talk.

Change talk is when teens make statements that are in favor of change, which suggest that the teen is becoming more ready, willing, and able to make change.

It is very important that parents talk to their teens about drugs, and to keep trying, even when teens try to shut the conversation down. It is also very important to remain calm when talking to your kids. If you are calm they have no reason to not be calm. Arava and Susy hope this will be a helpful guide to all parents when talking to their teens. They are excited to have more of these empowering conversations with parents.

Spanish Staffing Change
by Kate Hallin

As anyone who's ever worked in education knows, abrupt staff changes can be a challenge to both the students and teachers involved.  Although as a student body we are all sad to lose Crystal Pennington as our Spanish 3 and 4 teacher, we shall respect the work which she put into her profession and continue to have a positive outlook on the learning of another language.  The Animas community aims not to mourn the past, but to welcome the future.

Sarah "Sarita" Armstrong not only has her bachelor's in Spanish, but her roots in the Hispanic culture as a member of a family which has been a long-time resident of the southwest.  As both an outdoor educator and student teacher, Sarah has many years of expertise in teaching and interacting with students and is excited to bring a fresh perspective to the Animas environment.  "She's able to hit the ground running and not skip too much of a beat," commented Head of School Sean Woytek, "She already has relationships with students."  

Sarah's ability to connect with students and adapt quickly to the Animas environment made her an ideal choice as an addition to the Spanish department, and this fit is represented well by Sarah's warm reception and optimistic attitude.  To quote Sarah herself, "I'm really excited... I already have projects in my brain... I really think we can finish [this year] strong."
Beyond the Nest: Alumnus Johnny Middleton
By Hannah Langford

Several Osprey alumni visited us this week while on their spring break, and we caught up with 2015 graduate Johnny Middleton. Johnny is currently a freshman at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. He is currently on the mountain rescue team (Western State has the only collegiate licensed mountain rescue team in the United States) and is just getting into rock climbing. Although Johnny is enjoying college, he expresses how he misses the teachers and class sizes at Animas. Most of all, he misses the hands-on learning, where, in college, it can be hard to come by.
What does he plan to do next? "No idea. I don't even know what I'm doing in college right now. That's actually opened my eyes to all the cool things in this world. You think the world is huge, and then you go to college and it just gets so much bigger."
Johnny leaves with one piece of advice: "Make the most of [high school] while it lasts. You aren't going to be here forever, so make it fun and make it count."
After Prom: Call for Parent Volunteers and Donations
The After Prom Committee needs your help to create a special, memorable and safe evening for our students!  The student committee has planned a wonderful prom on Saturday, April 16th at the River Bend Ranch.  These students would love to keep the party going at "Osprey After Prom," an alcohol-free, drug-free, chaperoned event at the Durango Rec Center.  Please help us create wonderful memories for our students!  Junior & Senior Parents--your kids will thank you!  Freshman and Sophomore Parents --pay it forward; help with After Prom now and future parents will volunteer when your student attends prom!  We can't do it without your help! Contact Osprey parent Marla Stills to volunteer or donate:

Volunteer roles : Pick up and delivery of donated food: times TBA before 9:30pm; Set up: 9:30-11pm; Blackjack/poker dealers: 11:15pm-2:00am; Help with activities and food: 11:15pm-2:00am; Clean up: 1:45-2:30am
Please consider making a donation to help with expenses of After Prom. You may onate through the AHS website here ; please indicate that your donation is for "After Prom."  Prefer to pay by check?  Write "After Prom" on the memo line and deliver to the office or email Marla Stills for a donation pick-up!  Prefer to purchase gift cards, prizes or party goods? Contact Marla.
Thank you in advance for your help in creating a fun, special night our students will always remember!  

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