September 16, 2019
Hello 9th Grade Parents,

Welcome to the first monthly grade-level letter of the year! I hope that your student is coming home with plenty of positive things to say about the transition to Animas High School.

Some of you know that in addition to serving as assistant head of school at AHS, I am also an Osprey Parent to Finn, a junior, and Charlie, who is a freshman. Since I wear both hats, I'll be the parent sending out monthly updates for 9th grade families.

Transitioning from middle school to high school definitely is an adjustment and I'm hoping it's a smooth one so far in your household. My goal in these letters is to help you feel in the know about what's happening for your student and how things work at AHS. Please let me know if there are things I'm forgetting to include!

Core Classes
Each month, I'll reach out to the 9th grade core teachers so I can share a summary about what's happening in Humanities 9, Biology, Math 1 and Digital Arts--the classes all 9th graders take at AHS.

In between monthly letters, you can always check out teachers' Digital Portfolios (we call them "DPs") or reach out directly to faculty members via email. You can find links to DPs and email addresses on the "Faculty & Staff" page under the "Our Staff" tab on the AHS website. DPs are linked below, too--just click through on the green title to go directly to each core teacher's digital portfolio!

As always, the first major project for our 9th graders is exploring social psychology and the cycle of socialization in The Mask Proiect. Before jumping into that, however, we've been taking some time to set up a partnership with the Good Food Collective --a local non-profit that focuses on closing food insecurity gaps in our region through gleaning unused fruit! (We picked almost 300lbs of plums and apricots in just under an hour!) We've also spent time executing Socratic Seminars on "The Function of Education in Society" by Krishnamurti and learning about the growing trend of colleges abolishing grades. We've also taken time to ponder the thinkers, artists, musicians, and others whose work inspires us the most. We're going to study these people in depth throughout the year to help inspire our own work. Ask your student who they're eager to dive deep into this year!

Our first project of the year is exploring the biological needs of adolescents. We are learning about brain anatomy, the nervous and endocrine systems and the development of human brains. This project will culminate in infographics informing the public on the data-based, biological needs of adolescents. Save the date: Exhibition Wednesday, October 9, 5-7pm, location TBA.

​​Math 1 is in the process of completing the first IMP unit, "Patterns," in which students ​are ​​exploring math as the "science of patterns." They have ​been pulling out patterns from real-world and numerical phenomena​, for example: identifying function rules from given data, working with negative coefficients and exponents, etc. Students have been introduced to the Problem of the Week and have been learning to work step by step through ​complex​ math problems. In doing so they have been working on ​understanding problems, ​generating ideas, communicating ​their thinking clearly, and justifying their conclusions.​ Finally, students have been learning to organize and reflect upon their learning through a variety of self-assessment tools. They have begun 1-on-1 conferences, and are in a continual process of preparing for their final ​digital ​unit portfolio​, in which they will provide evidence for their final unit grade​​.​ Daily class agenda​s and resources​ can be found on the Math 1 page on my DP.

In Digital Art we are about to embark on the wonderful world of Digital Portfolios. Students will be creating a portfolio to showcase not only highlighted finished projects but their growth from project to project, semester to semester and year to year. Please remember to check in with my Teacher Digital Portfolio (linked above) to see the day to day details of the magic happening in the classroom.

Career and College Preparation:
Upon looking closely at our last year's 9th Grade Career Exploration Program, we've decided to refine the program to better serve the students. Instead of monthly career exploration field trips as in the last two years, we'll be taking a week in the spring to explore the concept of careers in depth including student interests and their connection to potential careers. More info coming later!

To learn more about career and college prep at AHS, visit our career counselor Janae Hunderman's DP here and college counselor Jess Morrison's here .

During advisory, which meets every Wednesday after lunch, 9th graders participate in a variety of activities that provide academic support, build relationships and positive culture, help them clarify career and college goals and encourage overall wellness. In the first couple of months, we make a point of helping 9th graders get to know each other as well as connecting with older students and adults on campus. All 9th graders are in the process of being paired with a senior through our Bridge Program, which is designed to help our newest students connect with an older student who can provide mentorship and support in the transition to high school.

We do monthly Grade Checks in advisory, where students log in to Infinite Campus to review their academic progress and then check in with advisors about any plans they need to create to address concerns. Students will email parents during Grade Checks with an update; these email conversations can support communication at home about how your student is faring, academically.

Please don't be shy about reaching out to your student's advisor--he or she is a great resource and support for your child and family!

Special Events:
Student-Led Conferences (SLCs)s are on Thursday, October 17th from 3:30 to 6:00. These mid-semester check-ins between students and families are an important, required opportunity to have supported, structured conversations that help students reflect upon and clarify their academic and professional paths. Be on the lookout for a letter with more information about what to expect and an invitation to sign up for a time slot that works for your family.

Hopefully the information here from teachers helps give you ideas about questions to ask in the car or around the dinner table that are a bit more specific than " was school today?" We are loving having the class of 2023 in the Nest!

Libby Cowles