May 5, 2023

Greetings Ospreys,

What a gift it was to have AHS co-founders Holly Jobson and Jesse Hutt lead a fantastic TWIGS hike around the Fort Lewis College campus this week, sharing stories from the early days of our school's history and reflecting on the efforts of so many that have resulted in our permanent Nest at FLC. Holly and Jesse were deeply moved by connecting with a handful of Animas families who had moved to Durango at least in part because of AHS, and we heard that same story echoed at the TWIGS Happy Hour last night, too, where parents of incoming students gathered with current families at 11th Street Station. We've come a long way since the school's founding in 2009!

Thank you to Mark Mastalski from Mastalski Coaching & Consulting for sharing valuable student success strategies at the Transition to College Workshop for seniors on Wednesday evening. As the class of 2023 puts the finishing touches on their Senior Projects and prepares to fly away (graduation is just two weeks away!), Erin Cummins-Roper is meeting with each senior individually to ensure they have all the pieces in place for their next move, whether that's heading to college, joining the workforce or taking a bit of time to travel and explore.

Next Week's Events

Join us Monday at 8:30am for the final TWIGS Coffee of the school year, a chance to connect with head of school Rebecca Ruland and other families. New families welcome!

We're looking forward to having the juniors back in the Nest when they return from their LINK Internships Monday morning. Niko Peterson has had several articles published in the Durango Herald during his internship, including "With spring in the air, The Hive decides it's thyme for growth with a community garden," featuring Cedar Fisher's work helping to paint a mural and build a beautiful outdoor space during his internship there. Sign up here to contribute to the Junior LINK Welcome Back Breakfast--we could use just a few more items. Thanks to all who have already signed up; please drop off items in the main office Monday morning by 10am.

For Teacher Appreciation Week, which runs next Monday through Friday,TWIGS have planned a variety of fun and celebratory ways to acknowledge how lucky we are to have so many creative, dedicated and brilliant educators at AHS. Huge thanks to the TWIGS Buds for pulling together the plan, with a particular shout out to the leadership Maren Bicknell and Sheryl Bidart have provided.

There are just a few more items TWIGS need to provide the supplies for the five days of activities. Have a look at the Teacher Appreciation Week Sign Up and bring items to the main office on the date specified, please. Thank you for helping our outstanding teachers and staff know just how much we value them!

Be sure to join us for All School Exhibition on Thursday from 4-7pm. It's the biggest celebration of learning of the year and we're excited to open the doors of the Nest to invite the entire community to experience something truly unique in our beautiful new building.

Among other activities, this year's All School Exhibition will include:

  • a shadow puppet performance of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • a book release party for Our Lives on Earth - Writings about Place from the Class of 2024 with proceeds from book sales supporting future outdoor and experiential opportunities for AHS students
  • a salsa and guacamole making competition
  • an Energy Museum, with student-created exhibits that demonstrate a specific piece of technology, science or math as it relates to the energy grid
  • the 1st annual AHS Film Festival, covering diverse topics including innovative education and energy at AHS, the rise of neofascism in internet communities, affordable housing in ski towns, incel culture, virtual reality and mental health and much more
  • a walking gallery tour of student art
  • Senior Project STEM and Humanities expert panels, demonstrating the depth of research and knowledge students have built this semester
  • the AHS Oncology Clinic, where students will share their knowledge of how the study of biology can help alleviate the suffering caused by cancer
  • creative written responses from Spanish 3 students to the novel, El Ekeko: Un Misterio Boliviano, including diaries and sequels en español, por supuesto

All this, plus more, including performances from student musicians and live coverage from our Animas Quill Media reporters. Come ready to engage with students--this is an interactive event that will inspire!

On Friday, we will begin the day after All School Exhibition with a special NEST Meeting guest performance from Denver-based modern soul band Ghost Tapes, thanks to our friends at iAM Music. The special schedule for the day will include shortened class periods:

8:20-9:15 NEST Meeting

9:20-10:05 1st period

10:10-10:55 2nd period

11:00-11:45 3rd period

11:50-12:35  4th period

12:35-1:10  lunch

1:10-1:55  5th period

2:00-2:45  6th period

2:50-3:35  7th period

Senior Project Spotlight

Seniors are wrapping up their Action Projects and turning their attention to TED Talks, the culmination of their Senior Project capstone experience. We encourage everyone to view the TED Talk Schedule, which runs from next Friday May 12 through Thursday May 18, and to attend a few that connect to your personal interests, as these professional presentations truly represent the pinnacle of an Animas education.

Tonight's the night for Cyrus Holt's Open Mic fundraiser at The Hive, which is his Action Project. Stop by at 7pm to join this community event celebrating the power of the spoken word. It's not too late to sign up to perform!

You'll have an opportunity to learn more about Senior Projects at All School Exhibition where students will showcase the beautiful work they've been completing, from frisbee golf courses to paintings, cookbooks to documentary films.

The evening after All School Exhibition, senior Charlie Bridgham will host another Action Project in support of The Hive, SnowMotion, an annual fundraiser showcasing community-submitted ski/snowboarding films. Athletes are encouraged to submit their edits here. The event will also feature a screening of a short documentary film from fellow seniors Jude Kassay and Jerry Rohrich called "Saving the Skids," which explores the way corporatization and consolidation have impacted workers and communities in ski towns.

2023/24 Student Schedules

New and returning students should continue to peruse the 2023/24 Course Catalog in preparation for course requests, which will begin on Monday May 22 as outlined in the Course Catalog Release Letter.

Erin will host an Online Academic Advising Session for New Students and Families on May 22 at 5:30pm, providing support with making smart choices around electives and supporting families with the process of making course requests in Infinite Campus. Current 9th, 10th and 11th grade students will receive this support in person that day at school.

Over 40 students have expressed interest in exploring Fort Lewis College concurrent enrollment opportunities. Many thanks to Jon Smith from FLC for coming to campus this week to help Erin support students as they consider which classes to take. We are thrilled to see the increase in Ospreys taking advantage of this academically rigorous option, now that they can simply walk to class from our campus, and we are grateful to the Coutts & Clark Western Foundation for their generous financial support, which allow access to it cost-free for our families. It's not too late to sign up for concurrent enrollment for the fall! Reach out to Erin at for more information.

Water in the West Fall Osprey Block

For their fall Osprey Block, which will run from August 28 through September 15 (see updated 23/24 calendar with Osprey Block dates here), Mike Bienkowski, Lori Fisher and Julian Springer will offer Water in the West, an interdisciplinary exploration of the the geology, hydrology, ecology, and politics of water usage relating to the Colorado River. As a capstone experience, they will take the class down the Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River on whitewater rafts the week of September 5. Julian is an experienced raft guide, and Lori have recreational rafting experience in the southwest with family and friends. To keep costs low and allow all students to access this experience, we are hoping to beg and borrow rafting gear for this trip. We will also need a few parents to come with us, as we are hoping to have one adult per boat. If you have gear you are willing to lend, or better yet, want to bring your gear and come along, please fill out the Water in the West Gear Survey. Lori, Julian or Mike will follow up with you before the end of the year. Thanks so much for supporting our Ospreys!

AHS Summer School

All 9th and 10th grade students reviewed their credits and received advising this week to let them know if they are on track for an on-time graduation. We offer a couple of credit recovery options through Summer School for students who are behind. For math or science credit recovery, students can attend a two-week program at AHS. June 20-30, an instructor from Pueblo Community College will be on site Monday through Thursdays 9am to 3pm and Fridays 9am to noon to teach an Advanced Manufacturing course that will include CAD (Autodesk Fusion 360), Intro to 3D Printing, Intro to CNC and Intro to Robotics. Space is limited; contact if interested. Students who need language arts or social studies credit recovery will need to pursue an online option. Reach out to Rebecca for more information.

AHS Board of Directors Names New President

At their most recent meeting the AHS Board of Directors voted in a new President, Jay Grob. Jeff King, the former Board President, has devoted countless hours over the past 7 years and will be moving on. Jeff was instrumental in the push to get AHS into a brand-new, state-of-the-art building on the Fort Lewis College campus and we are so grateful for his years of service to the school.

"In 2016 I joined the Animas High School board with one goal-- build a permanent home for students. I, like many of our incoming freshman, was a bit naive to what my new environment would demand. What I can say as I graduate from Animas is that I believe that I, like our soon to graduate seniors, am richer for the experience and only some of that strength came from what I anticipated when I started this journey. The most important thing that I will walk away with is that this is a special environment where we can allow students and staff the opportunity to explore interests in an environment that fosters life lessons of a rigorous academic approach and accountability while maintaining a high level of intellectual curiosity along the way. We hope that we can also help support a caring environment that allows students to develop an understanding of how to engage peers in an open, honest and empathetic dialog on issues big and small.

Over the last seven years we have been able to develop a mature organization with strong structural leadership and a Board of Directors with the experience to allow the school to grow with the expectations that our students and parents have when the come through the doors each day. Jay Grob is your new Animas High School Board President. Jay is a seasoned professional that will work with the Board and leadership to strive to be what you expect of a leading educational institution and you couldn’t be in better hands going forward.

The message that I leave for all current and future students is simple….Be Brave, take risks, challenge your assumptions and support those peers that are embodying these principles."

Jay joined the AHS Board in 2021, and he is excited for the work ahead as our new President.

"I am honored to have been elected the next Board President at Animas High School. It has been a pleasure working at AHS for the past two years; I look forward to further collaboration with our board to support school leadership, faculty, staff, students and families in delivering on AHS’s mission of preparing students for college and postsecondary success.

In 2023/24 and beyond, we have the opportunity to increase our focus on what really matters: our students and their AHS experience, as well as our faculty/staff and their development and careers. The pandemic is largely over, the building has been completed, we have been re-authorized by the Colorado Charter School Institute and we have a new school leader up to speed with a very effective new organization and team to drive priorities. We find ourselves in an exciting position!

Finally, I would like to thank Jeff King for his leadership as Board President for the past several years. His steady hand in challenging times and his unwavering commitment to Animas High School was exactly what we needed! He even remained as Board President to guide the completion of our new building after he relocated to San Antonio, Texas the end of last year! Thank you, Jeff!

We are so appreciative of all who continue to serve on the AHS Board as volunteers, dedicating time, talent and passion to ensure the long-range success of the organization. Thank you, Jeff and Jay, for your leadership in this pivotal time for our school!

Staffing Updates

As we gradually grow our enrollment over the next few years, while still maintaining a small school environment, we will add a handful of talented educators to our staff. We also are looking at creative way to shift roles so students are receiving solid support to help them thrive academically while identifying and working towards their postsecondary career and college goals.

Next fall, we'll see a couple of familiar faces in new roles. We were lucky enough to lure Kat Jackson back to AHS this winter after a stint in Australia. Next year, Kat will continue to teach Spanish 2 and will also join the Humanities Department, teaching Humanities 11 alongside one of our new faculty members.

"This semester has been amazing. I have had a chance to teach Spanish and coach students on their humanities and writing tasks. The coaching role has allowed me to connect with students from all grade levels.Teaching a junior humanities block will give me an opportunity to dive deep into projects, critical thinking and discussions. I am passionate about helping my students to become global citizens and think independently and openly. Understanding the successes and failures of the past and the present can help develop students’ ethics and judgements and shape our future. I know I can support students to become better writers and speakers while forming a stronger sense of their beliefs, ideals and values. I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity to support our Ospreys."

Genevieve Buzan-Dansereau has worked alongside Mike Bienkowski and Lauren Lucky in our 9th grade classrooms this year while also teaching Ecology and providing excellent student support. We're pleased to share she will return next fall in a new role, teaching Humanities 9 in partnership with Cameron Elder and providing math support.

 "I’ve spent most of this school year at AHS assisting students in science and math while gaining licensure through the Public Education and Business Coalition. I love how AHS fosters student agency through its philosophy and project-based learning model, and I’m excited to join the community as a full-time teacher next year! This year I’ve assistant-taught across subjects, which has set me up well for the split-position that I’ll be taking on. I’m looking forward to finding cross-curricular connections as I work with students in 9th grade humanities and math support. Please reach out if you have any questions, and I look forward to getting to know you all!"

We'll share more information in next Friday's News from the Nest about the outstanding crew of teachers who will be joining our staff next fall--Humanities Teachers Emma Boone, Peter Bradley and Sarah Brockett, as well as Career & College/CTE Instructor Elliot Baglini. We can't wait for you to meet them!

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

Upcoming Events

Open Mic Poetry: Fri. 5/5, 7pm at The HIVE

Spring Junior Postsecondary Night (11th grade): Tues. 5/9, 5:30pm

AHS Board Meeting: Wed. 5/10, 5:30pm

All School Exhibition: Thurs. 5/11, 4-7pm

NEST Meeting (special schedule): Fri. 5/12

Senior Project TED Talks: Fri. 5/12 through Thurs. 5/18 (view TED Talk Schedule here)

Junior Bears Ears Camping Trip: Mon. 5/15 through Wed. 5/17 (see full details here)

Osprey Theatre Company: This is Me! A Cabaret: Mon. 5/15, 6pm

Final NEST Meeting (special schedule): Thurs. 5/18

Senior Supper: Thurs. 5/18, 5:30pm (sign up here to help!)

Advisory Olympics: Fri. 5/19, 8:30-12:30 at Fort Lewis College

Graduation Rehearsal: Fri. 5/19, 8:30am at Community Concert Hall

Graduation: Fri. 5/19, 4pm at Community Concert Hall

Course Requests for New and Returning Students: Mon. 5/22 (due 6/15)

TPOL Prep (special schedule): Mon. 5/22 and Tues. 5/23

Online Academic Advising Session for New Students and Families: Mon. 5/22, 5:30pm (attend via

Transitional Presentations of Learning: Wed. 5/24 through Tues. 5/30

Last Day of School: Tues. 5/30

Alumni Reunion: Sat. 6/10 Save the Date!

AHS Events Calendar
AHS 2023/24 School Calendar
TWIGS Website
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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