November 10, 2023

Greetings Ospreys,

One of the coolest things about being a charter school in our 15th year of operation is that we now have alumni finding success in a wide variety of professional fields, starting families and living interesting adult lives. We love when they circle back--like Emily Vierling '17 did a couple of weeks ago, when she was home visiting her family. Emily graduated from Colorado College in 2020 and is pursuing her dream of being a marine biologist--a dream nurtured at AHS through a LINK Internship studying environmental science in Cost Rica and a Senior Project focused on the impact of anthropogenic noise in oceans on whales. After college, Emily moved up to the Pacific Northwest to work in the field, and she is now studying Marine Mammal Science at the University of Saint Andrews in the UK. We love seeing her chasing her dreams and making a positive impact!

Dylan McClain '15, co-founder of Animas Artisans, has been in the Nest lately, too. Dylan writes, "As a mechanical engineer trained at Colorado School of Mines I approach problem-solving through a creative and realistic perspective. Design iteration is the key to learning the failures within the system. My exploration as a metal, concrete, and wood artisan allows me to consistently refine my techniques and processes so that my work is perfected. It is my ambition to use my skill set to contribute to the Durango community." One way Dylan has been contributing is as a guest teacher in Dave Farkas' Engineering elective here at Animas, where he's shared his metal fabrication and welding expertise with our students. Dylan's LINK Internship with S2O Design as a junior at AHS gave him hands-on experience designing whitewater parks, merging his interest in engineering with his love of outdoor recreation. His Senior Project examined the role of the natural world in fostering mental health and wellbeing.

There is truly something special about having alumni working with our students, and we're grateful to have two on our staff full-time this fall. Riley Woodford '14 has been supporting our students through her excellent work in the Inclusion Department. As a junior at AHS, Riley did her LINK Internship at Needham and Animas Valley Elementary Schools, and after graduating from Colorado State University where she studied History and International Studies, she taught in South Korea. Ande Lloyd '15 started as a student teacher in our Math Department while wrapping up his degree at Western Colorado University and has been part of our faculty since fall 2020. His love for project-based learning and mathematics is infectious. Riley and Ande's unique perspectives as longtime Ospreys help them connect with students and contribute to our school culture in invaluable ways. We're so lucky to have them in the Nest!

With just two weeks of regular classes left in the semester before Exhibitions begin, and three weeks of classes before end-of-semester Presentations of Learning, students are moving into the design stage of project creation in many classes. In Mike Bienkowski's Biology class, freshpeople have created self-contained ecosystems that ensure the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water and the flow energy between producers and consumers in a closed system for a month-long period. They are taking daily observations including both qualitative notes and quantitative data points. By end of semester, they will create a timeline of key events and observations, and graph the quantitative data collected. This will be presented at the Winter Exhibition on December 7 alongside projects that extend what they are learning about what makes ecosystems sustainable “in microcosm” to real world sustainability issues. They are researching an issue of their choice individually and evaluating potential and existing solutions. 

Ninth graders will also present the Humanities 9 Socialization and Identity Project at Winter Exhibition, showcasing individual identity masks and reflective essays that illuminate their take-aways from the sociological inquiry they've engaged in this semester.

Sophomores are building their rockets, in preparation for the Physics/Math 10 Rocketry Exhibition on Wednesday November 29 at Smith Sports Comples. They will exhibit projects from Humanities at Winter Exhibition on December 7. Sophomores in Sarah Brockett's Humanities 10 class are diving into a study of globalization this semester, exploring vastly different high school experiences across the globe, tracking the hidden journey of items such as a t-shirt, or a microchip from its origin to ownership and spending time exploring the impact all this rapid economic growth on natural resources, calculating their own personal eco-footprint. They traveled to the Durango Recycling Center today, and have been enjoying casting their feet in plaster this week for projects to present their learning at Winter Exhibition.

Peter Bradley's Humanities 10 students will host a storytelling exhibition at Winter Exhibition on December 7, with students sharing personal narratives that aim to capture the essence of their adolescent experience, reflect on who they are and who they are becoming. This project, inspired by The Moth storytelling events, will be an opportunity for students to make their voices heard and share with our community who they are. They will choose from a wide-variety of storytelling methods, including art, theater, filmmaking, live storytelling, music or building.

Juniors will present their Humanities 11 projects at Winter Exhibition on December 7. Students in both Sarah Brocket and Emma Boone's classes have selected an historical topic or event from early American history that has two sides and relates to a modern day topic that also has two sides. Selected topics involve a clash of ideology or value systems. They are collecting primary and secondary sources that showcase multiple viewpoints on this topic historically and in modern day and will curate a museum-quality visual, auditory and written display to objectively demonstrate the arguments and beliefs of both sides. Students will also determine their own personal opinions on their topic based on their historical investigation. Finally, they will research organizations that support social reform in the topic of their choice and share with the audience how they can get involved with this organization to make a difference in modern American society.

Juniors may also present Art of Chemistry Projects at Winter Exhibition, though they are assessing timing to see if a January exhibition may be better. Stay tuned.

Seniors will not present at Winter Exhibition, though their college admissions essay will be on display in the upstairs hallway, as will projects from Osprey Block.

In addition to the Rocketry Exhibition and Winter Exhibition, we are presenting a Media Arts Exhibition on Thursday, November 30 at the Smiley Building. Students in Journalism, Digital Art, Comedic Performance, Studio Art, Painting, Drawing and Ceramics electives will present their work.

We encourage everyone to attend Exhibitions, as they truly serve as community celebrations where student learning is made visible. All are welcome, including prospective families and community members!

Next Week's Events

Julian Springer's Geology students will be back out in the field Monday, traveling up the Animas Valley for the day to study sedimentary rocks and deposits, earth history and our region's more recent geologic history.

Families are invited to join the November Online TWIGS "Coffee" Monday evening at 6pm. Join us for our monthly gathering with Rebecca--a chance to connect with other families, hear school updates and share questions and ideas. This month's coffee is online and in the evening, to accommodate those who are not able to join us at morning coffees. Join the meeting via or dial in at

(347) 437-2663 (PIN: ‪661 777 011#‬).

Juniors began their preparation for LINK Internships today, completing informational interview prep along with a tour of the Fort Lewis College campus. They will travel to the Southern Ute Career Fair on Tuesday.

The Advancement Committee meets Tuesday at 1pm and the AHS Board of Directors meets Thursday evening at 5:30pm.

AHS Enrollment

The January 2024 Intent to Enroll form is now open for students who would like to transfer to AHS for 2nd semester. Fall 2024 enrollment opens January 17 and 8th grade families are encouraged to visit with us to learn more and see if AHS is the best fit. The next Campus Tour is Tuesday, November 28 at 5:30pm. RSVP here. Contact [email protected] with enrollment questions, or if your student is planning to transfer from AHS to another school for 2nd semester.

Finally, we are seeing increased incidents of COVID in our community and want to remind folks of the following guidelines:

  • Stay home and test for COVID-19 if you are experiencing sore throat, fever, cough, congestion, vomiting or diarrhea
  • If you test negative, mask when you have above symptoms
  • Stay home and isolate for 5 days if you test positive; follow with 5 days of masking

Free COVID tests are available at

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!

Upcoming Events

Fall Dance: TONIGHT, 6-8pm at AHS

TWIGS Parent Evening Coffee (online): Mon. 11/13, 6pm online via

Advancement Committee Meeting: Tues. 11/14, 1pm

AHS Board Meeting: Thurs. 11/16, 5:30pm

Thanksgiving Break: Mon. 11/20 through Fri. 11/24

AHS Campus Tour: Tues. 11/28, 530pm; RSVP here

Physics/Math 10 Rocketry Project Exhibition of Learning: Wed. 11/29, 3:30pm at Smith Sports Complex, 700 Talon Lane

TWIGS Happy Hour: Wed. 11/29, 6pm at Ska Brewing

Media Arts Exhibition of Learning: Thurs. 11/30, 5:30pm at the Smiley Building, 1309 East 3rd Avenue

Winter Exhibition of Learning: Thurs. 12/7 at AHS

Presentations of Learning: Wed. 12/13 through Fri. 12/15

Winter Break: Mon. 12/18 through Mon. 1/1

Professional Development Day (no classes): Tues. 1/2

First Day of 2nd Semester: Wed. 1/3

Fall 2024 Enrollment Opens: Wed. 1/17

AHS 2023/24 School Calendar
22/23 Daily Schedule
AHS Events Calendar
Animas High School prepares all students for college and postsecondary success by creating critical thinkers and engaged citizens through an innovative, student-centered, project-based curriculum. We accomplish this through:
Rigorous academics, where all students are prepared for college success
Culture of excellence, where students are held to high expectations
Strong student-faculty relationships, where students are well known.
Engaging learning, where students see the relevance in their education

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