January 7, 2022
Greetings Ospreys,

We'd like to extend a special welcome to the 12 newest Ospreys who have transferred to AHS for the start of our 2nd semester. Classes are underway, with new projects and XBlocks launching this week and we are grateful for our students, staff and families!

Upcoming Events
Juniors are scheduled to host a joint Humanities/Chemistry Exhibition next Wednesday from 5-7pm at the Powerhouse Science Center. Please join them as they present their Humanities Rhetoric, Ideology and the Democratic Experiment Project. Juniors will also share their prototypes of exhibits proposed for our new campus that explore the chemistry of construction materials as well as a variety of aspects of the design and construction that contribute to positive user experience and sustainability.
Staffing Updates
Over the break, Tina Trujillo and Janae Hunderman both accepted exciting new professional positions. While it's never easy to say goodbye to teachers and staff members, we are pleased to share that in both cases, we have already found highly qualified replacements to serve our students.

Tina began teaching at AHS in fall 2015 and has been an integral member our our faculty, most recently teaching Physics, Anatomy, Ecology and Color Guard. We will miss her energetic positivity, passion for science and love for her students and are so glad that young people in the Four Corners region will continue to benefit from her intellect and talents in her new role as Academic Advising and Environmental Pathway Manager at the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative.

"It is with many mixed emotions that I depart from the Nest. The Animas community has raised me from the green, fresh-out-of-college, first-year teacher I was to the woman I am today. Although, I’m joining a new team to pursue my passion of and developing an environmental program and serving the underrepresented students in this region, I will never forget the sense of belonging at Animas. The staff at AHS are some of the finest educators and humans I’ve ever met and the students made every day worth it. Thank you all for your love and keep an eye out for me at coffee shops, Fort Lewis College, and in the halls of the high schools of Southwest Colorado."

Madi Neukirch, who has been student-teaching with us all year as part of her Masters program at Fort Lewis College, will take over all of Tina's duties as a long-term sub for the remainder of the school year. Madi did an amazing job jumping in when Tina was on extended leave and we have utmost confidence in her ability to challenge and support our students moving forward.

We will post the permanent, full-time Physics Teacher position shortly on the Employment Opportunities page of our website to hire for fall 2022. 
Janae joined our faculty in fall 2013 as a Spanish teacher and transitioned to the role leading the newly formed Business Education Connection 18 months ago after serving as the AHS LINK Internship coordinator for several years. Her love for helping students find meaningful work-based learning experiences has led her to accept a position as an education consultant in a shared role between the Colorado Workforce Development Council and Colorado Department of Education’s Postsecondary Workforce Readiness Team. While we are sad to see Janae leave the Nest, we love seeing her take her work to the next level and know that her positive impact will only continue to grow in terms of helping young people across the state discover pathways to careers they find meaningful and rewarding.

Supporting LINK Internships was my first exposure to exactly how powerful and important career exploration is as part of a student-focused educational model. Every student is on their way to the workforce; when education and business collaborate, we can prepare our youth to not only be successful but also to be fulfilled in their future work. The innovative and boundary-pushing model at AHS allowed us to expand the career preparation to include LINK 2.0, Sophomore Inspire Week, Freshman Career Exploration, and eventually supported me to develop the Business Education Connection for our entire Durango community. When I was interviewing for my new role, this region was referred to as one of the few “hot spots” for this work in the state, and I believe that much of this growth was hatched in the Animas Nest. 

I’m happy to announce that we’re bringing in an experienced replacement later this month with Marie Kehm, who will be stepping in as the Work-Based Learning Coordinator for the Business Education Connection. Marie has most recently been the Internship Coordinator at Fort Lewis College's Career Services and has years of experience in career development. Not only that, she’s a former Osprey parent! Please give her some time to get started, but you’ll be able to reach her at [email protected] by the end of this month. I will be supporting Marie throughout this semester to be sure that all students are successful in their LINK Internship placements.

We encourage you all to help us in welcoming Marie aboard and congratulating Tina and Janae on these exciting next steps in their professional lives.
Yearbook and Senior Photos
Seniors Mya Oyler and Maya Olivier have stepped in as co-editors to produce the AHS Yearbook this spring. They are seeking Ospreys who would like to join the Yearbook team and have invited students to complete this survey if they would like to help.

You may remember that Maya is a talented budding professional photographer who took our school photos in the fall. She is now offering families the opportunity to hire her for Senior Portraits. Learn more about rates and packages on Maya's website.
COVID Updates
As we shared in a letter home a couple days ago, unfortunately we are currently seeing significant increases in local COVID-19 positivity rate due in part to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant. High vaccination rates in our school community and strong mitigation strategies (masking, ventilation, etc) are helping to reduce the impact of this spike in cases, but we are still experiencing increases absences. This week, we had 13 new positive cases at AHS (1 9th grader, 3 10th graders, 3 11th graders, 4 seniors and 2 staff members). The vast majority tested positive for COVID before classes began on Tuesday. If your student is experiencing any COVID like symptoms, please keep them home, seek testing and notify AHS at [email protected] or (970) 247-2474. We appreciate the continued excellent communication from our families.

As in the past, we are not able to offer a fully online option for students and families while campus is open for in-person instruction due to staffing and infrastructure limitations. That said, our teachers' use of Digital Portfolios and Google Classroom provides valuable avenues for those needing to stay home.

To register your student for our weekly Tuesday afternoon on-campus COVID testing sign up here. Our school code is C0075 and once registered, students can test weekly without re-registering. Parents must provide consent for students under 18. Students receive $25 for the first test and $10 for each thereafter. Learn more about the program here.

We have made the extremely difficult decision to cancel Osprey Week for this March. While we truly share the disappointment we know many will feel at this news, we feel it is the most prudent choice, given the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. We anticipate that we will see interruptions to learning due to the current spike in cases, and know that having that extra week for academics in the spring will be helpful. Of course, Osprey Week is an important culture-builder and we are looking at various ways to create alternative springtime activities that might meet some of the same goals as Osprey Week, such as shorter grade-level camping trips.

We will continue to prioritize in-person learning as much as possible, and we recognize that we, like schools across the country, are likely to experience some staffing shortages in the coming weeks that may cause a short-term closure. We will continue to provide transparent, timely communication and we are grateful for our families' ongoing understanding and support as we continue to navigate the evolving situation in this, our 5th semester of adapting to COVID's impacts on schools.

“We greatly appreciate everything AHS has done to protect students, family, and the community. The school has truly gone above and beyond to keep everyone as safe as possible, acting as proactive leaders to the community throughout the entire pandemic.”

We hope you all enjoy the weekend and thanks for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!
Upcoming AHS Events

Chemistry and Humanities Exhibition (11th grade): Wed. 1/12, 5-7pm at Powerhouse Science Center

Sexual/Relationship Education (10th grade): Mon. 1/17

Martin Luther King Day (no classes): Mon. 1/17

AHS Board Meeting: Thurs. 1/27, 5:30-7:30pm

Professional Development Day (no classes): Fri. 2/18

Presidents' Day (no classes): Mon. 2/21
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