August 4, 2023

Greetings Ospreys,

I hope this letter finds everyone rested and relaxed after a long break. If you are new to Animas High School, we warmly welcome you! If you are returning, we have missed you. Really. 

Our teachers come back next week, and we will begin actively preparing for an epic school year which commences on Monday, August 21.

If you have looked through our staff bios on our website, you know we have some incredible humans who keep coming back for their love of educating young people. We are also excited to welcome several new staff members: 

  • Peter Bradley, joining us from the world of global outdoor expeditions and classroom teaching, will be teaching Grade 10 Humanities
  • Sarah Brockett, joining us from Aztec High School, will be teaching Humanities for grades 10 and 11
  • Emma Boone, joining us from Mountain Middle School, will be teaching grade 11 Humanities
  • Elliot Baglini, joining us from Colorado Timberline Academy, will be working with Erin Cummings-Roper in the College and Career Department as well as teaching two classes
  • Genevieve Buzan-Dansereau, a student teacher at AHS last year, will be teaching grade 9 Humanities as well as working with the Inclusion Department

Our cup runneth over. In this world we live in, educators are in high demand. There is an acute shortage nation-wide. We would like to think that AHS is unique and special enough to attract a different breed of educator who seeks a strong culture, democratic workplace, and an expectation to design learning that engages and inspires young people. I believe that is what we have at AHS. We have the same expectations of ourselves as we do of our students. Work hard--no task is too big or too little. Don't seek to be perfect, but make sure you are continuing to grow and learn. Be better than you were before. Be reflective and, perhaps most importantly, be kind. That’s it. 

We also have a number of professors from the Education Department at Fort Lewis College hosting classes at our school as well as student teachers from both FLC and PEBC joining us. The building will be full of students and staff interested in teaching and learning.

In addition to new staff, we have about ninety new students joining us; sixty will be freshmen and the remaining students are transferring from other high schools. We will dedicate several days the first week of school welcoming and orienting incoming freshmen. One of those days will be off campus participating in a ropes course. Other newcomers will be welcomed by their grade level teams. Unlike previous years, all but grade 9 will jump into a regular academic schedule right away on Monday, August 21. 

As you know, we are launching a new program this year called Osprey Blocks which are deep dives into one topic for a three week period. We have two blocks scheduled this year one starts the second week of school, and the other happens before spring break. During Osprey Blocks, regular classes will not be scheduled. Teachers are working together across grade levels to design engaging experiences and learning for their students. When students successfully complete the academic work of an Osprey Block, they will earn a semester’s worth of credit which can be applied to language, math, science, language arts or social studies, depending on the content of the course. Presently, we have nine options that range from a trip to Mexico with our Spanish faculty to Special Relativity which uses mathematics and logic to develop an understanding of the world and the stunning realities hidden from view. You can see our course catalog for more information.  

Just like classes that have course fees for special materials or activities, most of our Osprey Blocks have a cost. The cost may cover certification in content such as Wilderness First Aid, raft rentals, transportation, food, or overnight trips. AHS has budgeted over $20,000 to offset those costs and has obtained grants from the City of Durango and the Moniker Foundation for the same purpose. Our first priority is to make sure students who qualify for free and reduced lunch do not experience hardship to participate in the Osprey Block of their choice. If any student struggles to pay the cost of their Block, we will work with them and figure out a way to attend the Block of their choice. If the Block your student has chosen has a cost, the instructors will be emailing you next week to let you know more. Parents who want to break up payments over nine months can make those arrangements. Parents who are in a position to donate to the school in support of other students, are welcome and encouraged to do so. One way or another, we will make it happen. It is our goal to make these learning opportunities not only memorable, but in some cases, transformational. If your student is not yet registered for an Osprey Block, contact our registrar, Maureen Truax at [email protected].

Back to School Night is scheduled for August 24 from 5:00-6:30. This is your chance to meet teachers and staff. Please join us. Because we are collocated on the campus of Fort Lewis College, traffic and parking can be a challenge for both schools. Last spring during All School Exhibition, FLC police gave warning tickets to cars parked outside of the AHS lot. Back to School Night this year happens to fall on the evening that FLC students are moving back into the dorms. It should be lively for all of us. We ask, actually we plead, that you carpool, bike, walk or bus to join us. We will have staff out there directing traffic. We are privileged to be on this campus. It is absolutely an inspirational environment. Let’s keep the peace and be good neighbors.

One of the many things that makes charter schools unique is parent involvement. In Colorado, charter schools were authorized for that very reason--to give families a voice in their students' education.  Animas High School is the quintessential example of that. It was founded by a group of parents who had the time, energy and commitment to create an  educational alternative for families in this community. One such parent, Jesse Hutt,  continues to contribute through her work as a board member and her leadership in our successful capital campaign that allowed us to live in this incredible building. That spirit of community makes any school better. The idea that we all have a stake in our success and that  we can be agents of positive change in this institution, is powerful. Just this week, I met with a father whose daughter is joining us next year. Like all of you, he has many talents. He is volunteering to run a very interesting Osprey Block this year (details to be revealed soon) because he wants to be part of this community and the life of his daughter. There are a million ways to get involved. Please look for the TWIGS parent table set up during Back to School Night to learn how you can contribute and carry the torch of parents like Jesse Hutt.

Look for more details of all things Animas each Friday in the News for the Nest. Here’s to growing and learning together all of 2023/24!

With Respect,

Rebecca Ruland

Head of School

Looking for information we have shared out about transportation, meal service, student activities, student schedules, school supplies? Click here for recent issues of News from the Nest.

  • Complete the AHS Meal Benefit Application, even if you think you won't qualify for free/reduced meals
  • Register for the Hub Bus if your student will ride it this year
  • Registration for AHS Mountain Biking Team is open now
  • Durango High School Fall Sports Teams meetings are on August 7; only students who have been cleared by the athletic office prior to Monday morning will be allowed to participate
  • Volleyball: 9-11:30am & 1-3pm; DHSMain Gym
  • Football: 3:30-5:45pm; DHS Stadium Field
  • Softball 8-10am; DHS Softball Field
  • Cross Country: 9-11:30am; DHS Stadium Track
  • Cheer/Dance: 4-6pm; Riverview Elementary
  • Boys Tennis: 4-6pm; DHS Tennis Courts 
  • Boys Soccer: 6-8pm; DHS Stadium Field
  • 23/24 DHS Athletics Parents Meeting will take place at DHS Auditorium on Tuesday August 15 at 6pm; this will be the only parent meeting for the school year, so winter and spring sports parents should plan to attend

Seeking River Gear for Water in the West Osprey Block

Through the Water in the West Osprey Block, students will explore the geology, hydrology, ecology and politics of water usage relating to the Colorado River. As a capstone experience, the group will boat down the Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River on whitewater rafts the week of September 5. Julian Springer is an experienced raft guide, and Lori Fisher has recreational rafting experience; they will lead the course along with Mike Bienkowski.

To keep our 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 would be willing to let us use your gear, or better yet, to bring your gear and come along, please fill out the Water in the West Gear Needs Survey. Please contact [email protected] with questions.

Student Schedules

Login to Infinite Campus (IC) to view 2023/24 student schedules.

  • contact our registrar Maureen Truax at [email protected] if you're having any difficulty logging into IC
  • email Maureen if you don't see a fall Osprey Block
  • students may now request course changes by using the Add/Drop Form

Classes begin on Monday, August 21 for all 10th, 11th and 12th grade students; 9th graders will have orientation activities August 21-22, and will begin classes on Wednesday, August 23.

Our staff is savoring the last little stretch of their summer breaks, which they've filled with a great variety of adventures, travels and activities.

Journalism teacher Jessica McCallum spent time in Costa Rica with her family, including rising sophomore Luca. Riley Woodford, who graduated from AHS in 2014 and now works in our Inclusion Department, got engaged! Math 9 teacher Lauren Lucky traveled to Honduras with her daughters Haley, who will be a senior, and Naomi, who will be a sophomore. Our dean of college and career counseling, Erin Cummins-Roper, mastered the art of wakeboarding--check out that look of concentration!

Joy Kilpatrick, our theater teacher, visited her alma matter, the University of Miami--visiting the theater while there, naturally. Cameron Elder, our Humanities 9 teacher, visited Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London with her sisters and mom, and saw the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream"--the same on she produced with rising sophomores last spring!

Counselor Erin Skyles got out on the river and on the oars, boating with her sweet family. Our outdoor education director, Ashley Carruth, naturally got up into the mountains plenty, finding snow to ski well into July. Dave Farkas, our dean of students, paddled all summer, kayaking with friends and clients.

Melissa Machicek, substitute extraordinaire, hiked, jeeped and caught a George Strait concert with her son Cooper, class of 2022, while visiting with family in Texas. Registrar Maureen Truax stacked over 100 bales of hay and got in plenty of time riding her horse.

And last but certainly not least, art teacher Britt Blasdell enjoyed plenty of lake time with her daughters.

Like Rebecca said, our staff is made up of incredible humans and we're so grateful for them!

Join Our Team!

We are currently seeking excellent candidates for three positions in our Inclusion Department to help provide excellent support for students.

  • Full Time One-on-One Paraprofessional/Academic Coach
  • Part Time School Speech Language Pathologist
  • Part Time School Occupational Therapist

We also are seeking Substitute Teachers. Full job descriptions and information about how to apply can be found on our website under Employment Opportunities. Email cover letter and resumé to [email protected] and help us spread the word!

Looking forward to welcoming our students back soon. Thanks for all you do to help the Ospreys soar!

Upcoming Events

Staff Orientation: Wed. 8/9 through Fri. 8/18

First Day of 23/24 School Year (all grades): Mon. 8/21

Back-to-School Open House: Thurs. 8/24, 5pm--save the date!

Fall Osprey Blocks: Mon. 8/28 through Fri. 9/15

Labor Day Holiday (no classes): Mon. 9/4

AHS 2023/24 School Calendar
22/23 Daily Schedule
AHS Events 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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