August 21, 2020
Hello Ospreys,

We've been thinking about the AHS class of 2020 a bunch this week, as many of them pack up and head off to a college experience that is pretty different from they imagined it would be. Online classes, social distancing, maybe a single room--the changes in their first year of college will test the resiliency of these Ospreys. We know some alumni are staying closer to home than originally planned, too. Luckily, our graduates will surely make the best of the situation--just look at the smiles on Greta and Hannah's faces in the photo they sent our way from the dorm room they're sharing at Colorado College. You've got this, Ospreys--and we're here for you!

Many thanks to all our community members who joined us at Osprey Coffee and Happy Hour earlier this week. We are grateful that the feedback we've received thus far on the Osprey Back to School Plan has generally been appreciative and supportive. Our faculty and staff have accomplished so much in the past week and a half, essentially reinventing much about how we structure our teaching and learning at AHS to adjust to our blended learning model--and we are grateful to have one more week to prepare for our students' arrival, so that we will be ready to welcome them with a strong academic program and our uniquely Animas school culture firmly in place.


Schedule for Student Orientation/First Week of School
We will mostly follow our new "regular" schedule for the first week of school, with the exception being Wednesday, when we will focus on culture building activities rather than starting elective class online meetings. Here's what to expect the first week of school:

Monday 8/31:
  • 9th grade on campus 8:25-3:25
  • 10th grade on campus 8:55-3:55
  • no school for 11th and 12th grade

Tuesday 9/1:
  • 9th grade on campus 8:25-3:25
  • 10th grade on campus 8:55-3:55
  • no school for 11th and 12th grade

Wednesday 9/2:
  • Senior Sunrise 7:30 (details coming next week)
  • Advisory Groups meet online 10:00-11:00 (all grades)
  • NEST Meeting online 11:30-12:00 (all grades)

Thursday 9/3:
  • 11th grade on campus 8:25-3:25
  • 12th grade on campus 8:55-3:55
  • core classes begin online meetings for 9th and 10th grades

Friday 9/4:
  • 11th grade on campus 8:25-3:25
  • 12th grade on campus 8:55-3:55
  • core class online meetings for 9th and 10th grades

Juniors and seniors will begin their core class online meetings on Monday, 9/7 and all students will have their first online elective courses on Wednesday 9/9.


Grade-Level Schedules
Please click through to the Fall 2020 Master Schedule to view updated daily schedules for each grade level, using the tabs along the top. Note the following:

  • The focus is on core classes meeting during on-campus days, and individual student schedules will vary depending upon their pod assignment. Students will learn which pod they are in by the end of next week. We have divided 9th and 10th grade into 3 pods and 11th and 12th grade into 4 pods to reduce class sizes. Students will stay with their pods all day in the same classroom spaces, while teachers rotate.

  • All grade level schedules for on-campus days include some Flex Time. This time will be used in a variety of ways depending upon grade level, including world language instruction, college and career counseling, student support, sex education and independent work time.

  • Wednesday is dedicated to online elective class meetings for all grade levels; schedules will vary depending upon which electives each student is taking. All electives will meet online on Wednesdays with the exception of Digital Art, Spanish 1, Spanish 2 and French 1; those four electives will meet in person during days students are on campus.

  • Core classes will meet online at designated times during home-based days for all grades. Students will be expected to log in to online learning activities and teachers will take attendance.

Our hope is that the new schedule we have developed for blended learning will provide ample structure to deliver engaging, rigorous and supportive learning for all.


Individual Student Schedules
Due to a handful of changes in staffing and scheduling, our faculty has made a few changes to our 2020-21 elective offerings. Before we create individual student schedules, all students will need to update their elective requests in Infinite Campus early next week. Stay tuned for a separate email coming your way in the near future with step-by-step instructions.

Please take time over the weekend to review the newly updated list of elective choices for 2020-21 so that students can make educated choices in their requests. With our new schedule, many students will find that electives they couldn't take before will now fit into their schedules. Please note that some electives have prerequisites; this is indicated by an asterisk on the elective list and is explained in more detail in the 2020-21 AHS Course Catalog. When making elective requests, please consider graduation requirements, college/career goals and personal interests.
Outdoor Classrooms
Thank you to Durango Devo and Fort Lewis College Cycling for helping us create several outdoor classroom spaces on campus! We are already using the tents for meetings and they are a comfortable alternative to being inside that allows for great air flow.

Osprey Parent and Devo founder Sarah Tescher is spearheading the outdoor classroom effort. Please contact Sarah directly at sarah@durangodevo.com or (970) 779-8480 to help with any of the following:

  • setting up tents Monday 8/24, 8:30am--please remember to wear a mask and maintain social distancing, as per our campus rules

  • donations of tents 10'x10' or larger, 5 gallon buckets, sand, shovels, ropes and stakes to tie down tents (all equipment will be returned but no guarantees that the wind will not damage any tent as they will be left up over the weekends/nights until it gets cold out)


Grading Policy
After moving to pass/fail for all students last spring due to the quick pivot to online learning, we have determined that we will return to our regular letter grade system of assessment this fall. We feel that this system will best support student accountability and motivation in our blended learning model.


XBlock
Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer our physical education XBlock classes this fall. We are not able to transport students to off-campus locations, nor can we create XBlock classes without compromising the efficacy of our plan to keep students in small, consistent groups. We know this will be disappointing to students, and we will bring XBlock back as soon as it is safe to do so. As we require 3 years of XBlock for graduation, this will mean 9th, 10th and 11th grade students will need to enroll in XBlock senior year. Of course, we encourage everyone to continue engaging in healthy physical exercise, and our teachers will build breaks for movement into our on-campus days to support student wellness.


Closed Campus
Students--including seniors--will not be permitted to leave campus during the day without parental permission. Keeping our campus closed for the time being helps ensure that students aren't driving together during the school day, which keeps the integrity of our cohorting in place. While we acknowledge that some of our students will be spending time together outside of school hours, we want to discourage this as much as we reasonably can, for the greater good of our school community. Our goal is to stay open for in-person learning as much as we possibly can!


Back to School Supplies
As always, individual teachers will share information with students about any school supplies that might be required for their classes once school begins. Please be sure to have a laptop computer, a thermometer and a mask ready to go for the first day of school.

Please consider school supply shopping at the Durango Office Depot; when you mention Animas High School at the register, they will make a donation to our school. You can also support AHS by using the AmazonSmile program. Visit amazonsmile.com and select Animas High School as your charitable organization; every eligible purchase you make through AmazonSmile will result in a donation to AHS.

Each student at Animas High School is required to have his/her own laptop computer for school. As a college preparatory school, we put a strong emphasis on teaching students to work effectively with a wide range of technology, especially personal computers. We also expect our students to regularly check their AHS email, as that is how we communicate about important details. Using a phone in place of a laptop computer does not work in an educational setting and it’s important for all students to have access to a computer daily at school.

Students who do not own a laptop can borrow one for the year from AHS. We require a security deposit which will be refunded when the laptop is returned in satisfactory condition, and ask families for whom this creates an economic hardship to reach out to us so we can find a way to help. You can find the Yearly Loaner Laptop Agreement on the AHS website on the "Forms" page under the "Our Families" tab. We also have daily laptop loaners for days when a student’s computer is not available. Completing the 2020 AHS Technology Access Survey by Monday, 8/24 will help us support any families who need help with internet access.

All students and staff will be required to complete an online Daily Health Screening Form each morning before coming to campus.This will help ensure that no one is coming to school with a fever or other symptoms linked COVID-19. Please be sure that your family has an accurate thermometer in good working order before the first day of school. We will check in students each morning, verifying the online form is complete or completing it with them upon arrival. The more students who show up having completed the form at home, the quicker we'll be able to get everyone to class.

We are requiring face coverings for all students and staff. Please refer to the Osprey Back to School Plan for a full description of what to look for when purchasing or making a fabric mask. Buffs, bandanas and other neck gaiters are not acceptable replacements for tight-fitting masks. Please be sure to get a well-fitting, multi-layered mask without exhaust valves before school begins.

This is a time that calls upon us all to consider the greater good of the community as a whole, and we are asking all our families to please help keep everyone safe by having conversations at home about the importance of respecting AHS' health and safety guidelines as we return to school. We have been humbled by the outpouring of concern and support for our staff, and we love our students. The bottom line is we all must sacrifice a little independence and freedom at this moment in history to help keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible so that we can keep our school open. We know that our community's care for one another will serve us well in this effort.
Staffing Updates

We are excited to share news of a small flurry of staffing changes for the year ahead.

First, the sad news--science teacher Kurt Pattison will not be returning to AHS this fall as he's decided to pursue a new career opportunity. Kurt has been an integral part of the AHS faculty since 2016 and we will miss his wry humor, compassionate nature and engineering wizardry.

Tina Hott got married over the summer, and is now Tina Trujillo (congratulations, Tina and Skylar!). Tina will move into 10th grade Physics, where Kurt had planned to be, which has students in the class of 2023 lucky enough to have Tina for a second year in a row. She says, "I’m almost as elated to be diving back into the world of Physics as I am to be staying on with Animas High School! I could not be more proud to be stretching my brain around today’s hurdles with such a unique and talented group of humans."

Moving Tina to Physics left a hole in Biology, which she'd planned to teach; luckily, our faculty is agile, and Dave Farkas will move to 9th grade Biology. Dave writes, "I am thrilled to be teaching biology and joining the 9th grade team! I love science and love working with students on engaging projects incorporating students as co-designers. I know many of this year's incoming freshmen and I am thrilled to connect with the entire class."
If you're tracking all the changes, you'll notice this leaves an opening in the 10th grade math position, which, drumroll, please....we're happy to say we've filled with our first-ever AHS alumnus teacher! Ande Lloyd has been hired to teach 10th grade Math. Ande is a familiar face around the Nest, having graduated in 2015 and then completed his student teaching through Western Colorado University alongside Kyle Edmondson right here at AHS last year.

Ande shares, "I was sold on project-based learning in my 9th grade Humanities class. In this class, I learned how powerful-project based learning can be because it is a process where students take ownership of their learning. In my time as a student at Animas, I felt empowered, loved by my teachers and challenged to broaden my understanding of the world. I believe that modern education is project-based learning. My experiences at AHS prepared me to be a productive citizen in the 21st century, as well as inspired me to pursue education and come back to complete my student teaching." We are so fortunate to have Ande back in the Nest this fall!
Wrapping up the staffing updates, we're excited to have Jenny McKenzie teaching Spanish once again at AHS. As we shared last spring, Jenny spent the past three years living in Barcelona, teaching language to students online. Jenny was part of the AHS faculty before her time in Spain, and we're thrilled to have her back.



Finally, we are seeking the perfect candidate for an Academic Coach position that remains open in our Inclusion Department. Please read more about the position here and help us spread the word.


We are looking forward to welcoming students back soon and hope that everyone enjoys this final stretch of summer break.. Thank you for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!
Upcoming AHS Events

AHS Board Meeting: Thurs. 8/27, 4:30pm via meet.google.com/rfh-tqws-jra 


First Day of 2020-21 School Year: Mon. 8/31

First Day of Classes for 9th and 10th Grade: Mon. 8/31

Senior Sunrise, Advisory Meetings and NEST Meeting: Wed. 9/2

First Day of Classes for 11th and 12th Grade: Thurs. 9/3

Labor Day (no classes): Mon. 9/7

First Day of Elective Classes: Wed. 9/9

SAT (12th graders): Wed. 9/23
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