May 17, 2021
Dear 9th Grade Students and Families,

We are happy to share the details of three exciting 9th grade events coming up in the next few weeks, as we move into the final stretch of this unique 2020-2021 year.

This year, we’ve sincerely missed our traditional opportunities to connect outside of the classroom and welcome 9th graders into the larger Animas culture, which extends beyond our trailer walls and across grade levels, and transcends staff/student distinctions. Osprey Week, Advisory Olympics, and various grade-level field trips had to be canceled due to COVID regulations and limitations, but we are thrilled to end this year on a high note. We have gotten the go ahead to plan two brand new and unique events for the 9th grade, and are also looking forward to both preparing students for and witnessing their Transitional Presentations of Learning, or “TPOLs” in person. Please read on for specific details (including a permission slip to sign and return to

Event #1: Senior Project TED Talks at Animas City Theater, Thursday May 20 and Friday May 21

Instead of attending 9th grade classes virtually this Thursday and Friday, students will view Senior Project TED Talks, either in person at the Animas City Theatre or virtually using this TED Talk Link. (We encourage students to attend at the ACT if possible, as a way to connect with peers outside of our school walls!) This will be an opportunity for 9th graders to get a glimpse into what the current 12th graders are exploring and where the years ahead of them at AHS will take them. We hope this will offer some inspiration around Animas’s capstone Senior Project and what students might want to spend some months researching and exploring in just a few short years!

Days: May 20th AND May 21st, 2021

Times: See detailed schedule. Please arrive at the ACT 5 minutes before the following scheduled times OR click on the 2021 TED Talk Link at the scheduled time:
  • Pod 1: 9:00-10:30
  • Pod 2: 10:30-11:15
  • Pod 3: 12:00-12:45

Where: Animas City Theatre, UPSTAIRS, 128 E College Dr, Durango, CO 81301. OR attend virtually via this TED Talk Link.

What: Watching live.-streamed senior TED Talks, regarding their senior projects. 
What is a TED talk? All students must successfully complete the Senior Project to graduate. Senior Project is an in-depth study of a focused, individually-selected research topic, under the guidance of a Senior Project Advisor. Senior Projects include a college-level research paper, an action project, a thesis defense TED-style talk and an exhibition of learning.

COVID precautions:
  • Jade filters will be running in the theater, and there will be limited attendance, with a max of 28 community members (8 groups only - 6 four person tables and 2 two person tables) in attendance on the ground floor. 
  • Students are required to wear masks and socially distance AND arrive/leave at designated times (above) to avoid mixing of pods. 
  • Social distancing and proper mask use will be enforced by AHS Teaching Staff and Animas City Theatre Staff. Anyone not complying will be asked to leave and have a meeting with his/her/their flock leader and our Head of School, Sean Woytek.
  • Please do not mingle with anyone outside of your POD so that we can keep everyone in person until the end of the school year!

Snacks/Drinks: These will be available for purchase. Bring some pocket change if you’d like. Sit back, nibble on some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Event #2: Field Trip on the Animas River, Monday May 24
This will be a celebratory event that will allow 9th graders to relax and connect outside of a school environment, as well as providing a fun kick-off experience for TPOLs. We'll be walking from DHS to the Animas River and spending some hours on the water - both in structured and unstructured activities.

Day/Time: May 24th, 2021, 8:25am-12:25pm (do not be late, as we’ll be leaving our meeting place soon after 8:25 and walking in pods to sections of the Animas River)

Where (Meeting Place): We will meet at the DHS tennis courts at 8:25am (and will conclude at the same location). Please reference THIS MAP! This location has been chosen to facilitate transportation for students who ride the bus. 

To Bring: full water bottle, close-toed walking shoes, athletic clothes (that could air dry fairly quickly, as we may get a little wet), journal and pen/pencil, snacks (optional), a lunch/$ if personal plans include staying in town after the field trip.

Pods: We will be required to stay in pods for this event. Please do not mingle with anyone outside of your POD so that we can keep everyone in person until the end of the school year!

Staff/contact info: Each pod will have 2 staff members with them. Students and families, see phone numbers below in case of emergency, tardiness, etc.:
  • Pod 1: Stephen Sellers 970-903-5766, / Jenny McKenzie 
  • Pod 2: Torrey Baldwin 970 403-5756 / Dave Farkas 970 317-7291
  • Pod 3: Roxy McKnight 970-247-2474 / Stephanie Guttenplan

Students and parent/guardian, please sign and return this permission slip as soon as possible, and by no later than Tuesday, May 18. Please email a photo/scan of the signed form to For those who prefer to sign and return a physical form, we will be sending copies home with students TODAY.
Please sign and return this ASAP to enable your/your child’s participation.

Event #3: TPOLs, May 25-28 (Prep Week), June 1-4 (TPOLs)

Presentations of Learning are a fundamental part of the AHS student experience. Completing and passing the “TPOL” or “Transitional Presentation of Learning” is both a requirement for moving onto the next grade as well as a valuable opportunity to reflect on and celebrate of the year. It is also a unique opportunity to develop one’s skill with oral presentation, a critical and prized 21st century skill. This is a skill that improves dramatically with practice, and our POLs prepare students to successfully deliver a senior TED talk! In the 9th grade TPOL, students will prepare and deliver a 5-7 minute oral presentation to a panel of teachers and peers on the subject of their growth this year. (Family members are also welcome to attend with an invitation from their student.) Students will spend a week preparing and refining their presentations, including a dress rehearsal on Friday, May 28. 

Days/Times: TPOL Prep (May 25-28) Please reach out as soon as possible if you foresee any difficulty with transportation/attendance on these dates, as there are two additional in-person days this week, compared to our hybrid schedule this year.
  • Tues, May 25, in person, 8:25am-3:25pm 
  • Wed, May 26, in person, 8:25am-3:25pm *additional in-person day
  • Thurs, May 27, virtual, scheduled 1-on-1 conferences 
  • Fri, May 28, in person, 8:25am-1pm (TPOL dress rehearsal, final NEST meeting 12-1). Students should arrive in full professional dress! *additional in-person day

Days/Times: TPOL Presentations (June 1-4). Please reference this schedule for specific times. If you foresee any issues with these dates and or times please reach out to to reschedule as soon as possible. 
  • Tues, June 1, in person (TPOL presentations). 
  • Wed, June 2, in person (TPOL presentations). 
  • Thurs, June 3 (TPOL in person makeup presentations for some students)
  • Fri, June 4 (TPOL in person makeup presentations for some students)

Professional Dress: As a reminder, professional dress is required for TPOLs (and the TPOL dress rehearsal), which means students must wear a button-down shirt and tie, shirt with finished neck, sweater or blouse; a nice pair of slacks (no jeans), skirt or dress; dark socks to match trousers and dress shoes (no sneakers, no excessively high heels). Students: please communicate with an adult at school if procuring professional dress clothes is cost-prohibitive; we will find a way to help.  

We look forward to celebrating this unique year through these upcoming events. And of course, please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.


Torrey Baldwin (Pod 2),
Dave Farkas (Pod 2), 
Roxy McKnight (Pod 3),
Stephen Sellers (Pod 1),

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