January 6, 2023

Greetings Ospreys,

Starting this New Year in our new Nest is, quite simply, a dream come true for so many of us. Our first NEST Meeting in the new building may have been delayed by a day due to this week's snowstorms, but that certainly didn't dampen the feeling of appreciation and achievement we felt in welcoming our students, families and special guests on Wednesday morning. View the recording above to hear the powerful speeches from head of school Rebecca Ruland, founder and board member Jesse Hutt, founding humanities teacher Lori Fisher and graduate from the first class Cooper Stowers. It was a treat to have founding head of school Michael Ackerman in attendance, as well as several other key members of the group who brought AHS to life 14 years ago.

We cannot fully express the deep gratitude we feel for our students, alumni and families for choosing our school, our founders for having the vision to create it, our faculty and staff for their tireless work in creating the magic on the daily, our board for doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes, Fort Lewis College and Durango 9R School District for partnering with us, our funders--including the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado--for believing in us, our architects and builders for creating such an inspirational space and the hundreds of volunteers and community partners who have made this journey possible. It has felt amazing to welcome visitors to the Nest this week as folks pop in to marvel at the beauty of our new home. Please don't be shy if you'd like to come visit, too! Join us for next Tuesday evening's Junior Exhibition or the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on January 20. If neither of those work for you, reach out to [email protected] to set up a visit--or just stop by. We've loved seeing so many alumni pop in this week!

Curious to hear what some of our Ospreys are identifying about their favorite aspects of the new building ? Have a look at this fun video from the Animas Quill Media team.

Next Week's Events

Join us for the first TWIGS Parent Coffee of the new year, Monday morning at 8:30am. We'll provide the coffee--feel free to bring your own reusable mug. Monthly TWIGS Coffees provide a great opportunity to learn about what's happening at AHS, connect with other families, chat with Rebecca and share feedback. We look forward to seeing you!

We will have a brief NEST Meeting on Tuesday, with staff sharing information about various Osprey Week options available to students this spring. Look for a family letter early next week with all the details about Osprey Week, which takes place March 13-17. To accommodate the meeting, we'll have a slightly modified schedule on Tuesday as follows:

8:25-9:10  1st period

9:15-10:00  2nd period

10:00-10:35 NEST Meeting

10:35-11:20    3rd period

11:25-12:10    4th period

12:10-1:05    Lunch

1:05-1:50  5th Period

1:55-2:40    6th Period

2:45-3:30    7th Period

Tuesday at lunch, students are invited to join local Project Manager for the Region 9 Economic Development District Heather Otter for a Chew on This! Lunch & Learn session.

That evening from 5-7pm, juniors will share their core class projects from the fall semester at our first Exhibition of Learning in the new Nest. All are welcome; read more below.

Third quarter XBlock classes begin on Wednesday afternoon. Please remember that most XBlock classes take place off campus and students are released from their class location. Our Student Ambassador Team will be excused from XBlock next week so they can gather together to prepare for upcoming Enrollment Events.

Wednesday evening at 5pm, seniors and their families are encouraged to attend the Financial Aid Night with director of career and college counseling Erin Cummins-Roper.

The TWIGS Buds will also meet that evening to continue planning events for 2nd semester that bring our families together in support of our school community. Interested in learning more or joining in on the planning? Email [email protected].

First Exhibition in our New Nest

Za Barrett '23, Animas Quill

Next Tuesday, January 10, from 5-7pm, the junior class will host Animas' first exhibition in our new Nest. At this interactive, multi-subject exhibition, students will display their first-semester projects: home-cooked food, artistic explorations, opinion pieces, and more. 

The legendary Chemistry of Food project will be exhibited on the first floor. Bella Rodriguez, junior project manager for the chemistry exhibition, looks forward to "all of the food that we're going to have, and (being) able to serve it to people." This part of the exhibition will be divided into two areas, the "Osprey Cafe" which Bella describes as "a bakery/lunch area, just kind of serving food to our guests," and the "Animas Test Kitchen," where guests will help decide the winner of a competitive cook off. 

In this semester-long project, juniors explored the chemical processes of cooking and baking food. Each student experimented with a recipe, changing one factor to see how it affected the final product. In the end, everyone contributed a recipe to the class cookbook. "I think my favorite part of this project was just learning about so many different types of baking," recounted junior Shea Davis, who experimented with gluten-free flour in cake. "When I was researching how gluten free stuff works, it was just so weird to look at and nobody has really talked about it before. There's so much behind it!"

While visitors are definitely encouraged to taste and enjoy the juniors' food, Bella does note, "There might be a few things that (guests are) allergic to. I know there's a few items that have peanuts…just be cautious of what you're eating, and if you do have allergies please let us know beforehand."

The humanities portion of the exhibition will be displayed upstairs. In this project, led by Tory Dille, students explored social movements throughout history. Op-eds (opinion writing) and art pieces will be on display through the upstairs hallway. A documentary and extensive timeline of American social movements will be displayed in separate classrooms. 

According to Shea, who was a project manager for the humanities portion, "Everyone was allowed to kind of go in their own direction. We had one group working on a timeline of different social movements in US history. Our art groups were allowed to do basically anything they wanted, so any…social movement. I am focusing on the LGBTQ+ movement, and a lot of other people are doing women's rights, or wolf restoration." Juniors explored a very wide range of topics; some aren't what you'd expect. "My op-ed is on corruption in the film/music industry," described junior Desmond Tsosie. "It focuses a lot on the torture and torment that artists all over face. It focuses a lot on the Wizard of Oz, and Judy Garland's story on that set. I just wanted to spread information about that." 

Shea reflected that the project had a good impact on his worldview. "I think the most impactful part was knowing about how movements can change the course of history. It kind of reaffirms my faith, I guess, in how humans will overcome something that's facing them. It's just amazing to see how we've become more and more progressive over time."

The juniors are hoping for lots of support and attendance on Tuesday, so anyone who's curious is invited to come check out their work!

Steve Smith's Next Adventure

We'd be lying if we didn't say that there's some sadness in sharing the news that chemistry teacher Steve Smith will be stepping away from the Nest for a new professional opportunity soon. Since joining the AHS faculty in 2011, Steve has distinguished himself as an outstanding educator and has inspired hundreds of Ospreys. Not only has he been a rock star in the classroom, Steve has also played a critical role in the new building project, serving on the AHS Building Corporation and providing invaluable teacher perspective in the design process.

"After spending nearly 12 years learning and teaching at Animas High School, I have decided it’s time for me to ‘graduate.’ I can still remember attending my first All-School Exhibition as a candidate for the chemistry teacher position. I was blown away by the professionalism, creativity, excitement and sensory immersion that I experienced in the crowded hallways of the repurposed strip mall. Right then I knew I wanted to be part of the transformational educational movement that AHS was bridging to the greater Durango community. Teaching at AHS, I quickly learned that above all else it is the relationships amongst students, staff and families that define this community and are the foundation for the innovative educational experiences we collectively create. Throughout the past decade-plus working with the amazing faculty and students of AHS I've learned so much, laughed loudly and proudly watched young adults grow intellectually and emotionally.

I am leaving AHS to take a position with La Plata Electric Association working on the Grid Solutions team. I will be working on safely and reliably integrating Distributed Energy Resources (energy storage and smart electrical demand) within our local distribution grid. This new intellectual challenge excites me immensely, and, like with working in science education, I see this position as an opportunity to contribute my talents and passions to the greater societal good.

I leave AHS with deep satisfaction in what we--the students, alumni, parents, and faculty--have collectively created over the past 14 years. And, with boxes literally just unpacked I leave AHS with great excitement for, and a little sadness to be personally missing out on, what the future holds at our beautiful new home adjacent to Fort Lewis College."

Steve will be one of our speakers at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and we hope you'll join us to hear his parting thoughts and that you'll take the opportunity to share your gratitude with him for all he's done for our school over the years. You can reach Steve at [email protected].

It's tempting to fill our entire newsletter with photos this week as every corner we turn there's another tableau worth capturing. Be sure to head on over to the AHS Facebook page and Animas Quill Media Instagram to keep seeing the sweet moments.

Enjoy the weekend and, from the bottom of our hearts, thanks for ALL you do to help Ospreys soar!

Upcoming Events

TWIGS Parent Coffee: Mon. 1/9, 8:30am

Junior Exhibition: Tues. 1/10

NEST Meeting: Osprey Week: Tues. 1/10, 10-10:35am

3rd Quarter XBlock Classes Begin: Wed. 1/11

Student Ambassador Training: Wed. 1/11, 1:40-3:30pm

Senior Financial Aid Night: Wed. 1/11, 5pm

TWIGS Buds Meeting: Wed. 1/11, 5:30pm: email [email protected] for more info

Martin Luther King Holiday (no classes): Mon. 1/16

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: Fri. 1/20, 5:30pm

Online Information Session for Prospective Families: Wed. 1/25, 5:30pm via meet.google.com/shp-devc-fxc; RSVP here

Campus Tour and Information Session for Prospective Families: Thurs. 1/26, 8:45am; RSVP here

TWIGS Happy Hour: Thurs. 1/26, 5:30pm at Zia Cantina

AHS Events Calendar
AHS 2022/23 School Calendar
TWIGS Website
Donate Now to Our New Building Campaign!
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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