July 30, 2021
Greetings Ospreys,

The 2021/22 school year starts in just over 3 weeks and while we've been enjoying the summer break, we're excited about what lies ahead, too. We can't wait to see our students!

We look forward to being together more often this year than last, and are hopeful about the return of key AHS culture-building programs like Student Orientation, Senior Sunrise, Exhibitions of Learning, XBlock, Advisory, Ropes Course Day, Sophomore Inspire Week, Student Clubs, Osprey Week and more. Last year was tough--and we know we're not fully out of the woods yet--but we feel confident that the year ahead promises greater opportunities to support the truly engaging, challenging and transformational educational experience we strive to create for our students.
We're still finalizing decisions around COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as masking, but at this point plan to move forward with in-person learning for all classes, with our regular bell schedule in place 5 days a week. We are in ongoing communication with San Juan Basin Public Health and closely monitoring shifting guidelines from the CDC and CDPHE, which will guide our decision-making process. Stay tuned for more.

COVID vaccines are readily available in our community for those 12 and older. While we are not requiring vaccinations for our students and staff, we recognize that the higher our community participation is the better--both for our school and community at large. To find one of the many convenient COVID-19 clinics in our area visit sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.

Of course, the construction of our new school building is another major source of excitement for us for the year ahead. We are currently on track to relocate to Fort Lewis College in 2022/23 and the year ahead will include plenty of special events marking this milestone transition while acknowledging the community support that has made it possible.
Upcoming Events
We are welcoming approximately 65 new students to the Nest this fall, including a full class of 52 9th graders as well as several 10th and 11th grade transfer students. We look forward to meeting many of them in person at our two New Student/Family Open Houses next week. New families, if you plan to attend please remember to RSVP to libby.cowles@animashighschool.com.

We will welcome AHS alumni, students, families and friends to the Osprey Summer Social on Friday 8/13, 4-5:30 near the site of our future home on the Fort Lewis College campus. Mark your calendar for this informal gathering, which will include an opportunity to walk out to the future school site. We will meet at the picnic shelter near the Bader Snyder dorm complex and light refreshments will be served.

Save the date for Parent/Guardian Orientation on Tuesday 9/7 and the Back-to-School Social on Friday 9/24 and stay tuned for more information about our official Groundbreaking Ceremony, likely in October.
The AHS 2020/21 yearbooks have arrived and we will have them available at the Summer Social on 8/13. Pick yours up there, swing by school 8:30am to 4pm the following week (8/16 through 8/20) or get yours when school begins. We have a few extras available for purchase, $30 cash or check. Email Libby to reserve one if you didn't preorder last spring.

Start of School
Our full staff returns to prepare for the year ahead on Wednesday 8/10. Students return with a staggered start in order to give our incoming 9th graders additional support in their transition to high school. Look for more details about Student Orientation activities over the next couple of weeks and keep the following start dates in mind:

New Staff
You'll see a couple of new faces at the Nest this year, with the addition of Maureen Truax as our Registrar and Front Office Manager and Erin Cummins-Roper as our Director of College and Career Counseling.

We feel lucky to welcome Maureen back to AHS, where she was our Main Office Manager from 2010 to 2012 and Registrar from 2012 to 2015. Maureen's kids Kyle and Corrine both attended AHS in the early days and are now college graduates thriving in their respective careers. Maureen has worked as an academic counselor and registrar at Las Vegas Sports Academy, Andre Agassi College Preparatory School and Democracy Prep. She comes to us with a wealth of institutional knowledge and professional experience that will help her provide skilled support to our students and families. Maureen will staff our front office and serve as your go-to-gal for all things scheduling and records related. She is glad to be back in Durango and at AHS.

"I cannot wait to be interacting with the amazing students everyday as I once did. As not only a former employee but a former parent, I strongly believe in the values and lessons learned here at Animas and look forward to watching the next generation of students grow and learn the way my children once did!"
We are thrilled to welcome Erin to Animas and know that her vast expertise will serve our students well as they explore postsecondary options.

"I am very excited about this next step! My 'why' is all about helping others become the best version of themselves and one of the ways I get to do that is guiding students through the college process."

Erin grew up in Bayfield. Her college journey was a bit unconventional, and after transferring institutions several times, she landed at Portland State University where she graduated with honors with a B.S. in Economics. After college, she looked for ways to make a positive impact in the lives of others. She enjoyed coaching youth soccer and volunteering with programs such as SOS Outreach. After a while she realized she was spending much of her free time volunteering with youth and sought out an opportunity to do so professionally. Erin accepted a position with Fort Lewis College's Trio Upward Bound program in 2008 and spent the next 13 years helping low-income and first generation high school students from Durango, Ignacio and Montezuma-Cortez high schools enroll and be successful in college. She believes strongly in creating a society where all people have equitable access to postsecondary education. Erin also has a love for fitness and movement and has been a group fitness instructor for 10 years at the SunUte Community Center where she teaches weightlifting, spin, flow yoga, and functional training. Erin loves spending time mountain biking, camping and wake surfing, ideally with her family and dog. 
Board Updates
Building a permanent facility on the Fort Lewis Campus has increased our board's list of responsibilities and we are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers in this critical role. The AHS Board of Directors held a retreat in July to identify their top priorities for the next 18 months. Moving forward, they will focus on the following in addition to their ongoing work supporting our school's mission and helping our organization thrive:
  • Board recruitment and development
  • Launching a comprehensive campaign to raise the remaining funds for our new facility while strengthening ongoing fundraising for diverse, inspiring programs
  • Strategic planning to determine 5- and 10-year goals for the school
We are pleased to announce the addition of two outstanding new board members who each bring unique talents and experience to our school. Jay Grob is the father of two former charter school student who brings substantial charter school board experience to AHS. For 8 years he served as Vice President of the Board of Directors at Uplift North Hills Preparatory, a K-12 International Baccalaureate World School with 1300 students in Irving, Texas. Its high school consistently ranks among the top public high schools in the country. Jay’s time at North Hills included focus on the school’s strategic planning, fundraising and teacher retention efforts. He supported campus facility planning as well as new primary school building construction, a high school science lab and a multi-purpose meeting/gymnasium. Professionally Jay manages Grob Management Partners, a boutique strategy consulting firm that assists boards and executive management teams on a variety of topics. He also spent 20 years at global consulting firm Bain & Company, where he was a senior partner. He graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Cara Kropp comes to the AHS Board with an educational background as a special education teacher who has worked at Mountain Middle School and Durango High School. In addition, Cara is a familiar face to many due to her bike coaching through Durango Devo. She holds a Masters in Education (M.Ed) and Colorado Department of Education special education and principal licenses. She is currently finishing up an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in School Psychology and will be working as a School Psychologist Intern for San Juan BOCES in the fall. Cara will step in as the chair of our School Excellence Committee. She has been interested in charter schools since 2011, when she was at AHS as an Academic Coach. While at AHS, Cara got the opportunity to work with both students and faculty in the development of many foundational aspects of the school.

"I knew Animas was a special place where students could learn, grow and become the best versions of themselves. It literally has changed students' trajectory of their lives. I am honored to serve on the AHS Board especially, during this pivotal time of growth."
That's it for now, Ospreys--and we know it's plenty! We hope that you all are enjoying family, friends and summer adventures, like our staff are.

We miss your faces! Got a photo from your travels or closer-to-home summer escapades? Send it to Libby so we can share it in the next edition of News from the Nest.

We look forward to seeing you soon and, as always, thanks for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!
Upcoming AHS Events

AHS Open House for New Families: Mon. 8/2, 5-6pm at AHS

AHS Open House for New Families: Tues. 8/3, 10-11am at AHS

Osprey Summer Social: Fri. 8/13, 4-5:30pm at Fort Lewis College's picnic area near future school site

9th Grade Orientation: Mon. 8/23, 8:25am to 3:30pm

9th, 10th and 11th Grade Orientation: Tues. 8/24, 8:25am to 3:30pm

9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Grade Orientation: Tues. 8/25, 8:25am to 3:30pm

Academic Classes Begin: Thurs. 8/26, 8:25am to 3:30pm

NEST Meeting and Student Activity Fair: Wed. 9/1

Parent/Guardian Orientation: Tues. 9/7, 5:30-6:30pm at AHS

XBlock Classes Begin: Wed. 9/8

Back to School Social: Fri. 9/17, 5-7pm
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