Why are these students so excited about this heap of mud and dirt? Because it’s soon to be the permanent new home of the Animas High School community. You’re watching the Local News Network brought to you by Happy Pappy’s Pizza and Wings and Express Employment. On Wednesday, October 13th, students, faculty, alumni, and others gathered to celebrate a bright future for the Animas High School community on the site of their new building.
Animas High School’s a 9-12 project-based learning charter high school. We’re chartered through the Charter School Institute which the state authorizer, so we’re actually not chartered through Durango 9-R. You know, project based learning with our goal of preparing all students for college and career success, whatever that looks like. It could be military, it could be Fort Lewis college, it could be a two year, it could be a four year on the east coast, on the west coast, it really is trying to make sure that all doors are open for our students and we’re not the ones dictating what those doors look like.
Animas opened its doors to its first class of freshmen in the fall of 2009 in a strip mall on North main. The school relocated in 2013 to trailers west on 1-60. Now with the help of a grant awarded by the BEST foundation, Animas High School will settle into a much more suitable home on the campus of Fort Lewis College.
Building Excellent Schools for Today, it’s a grant through Colorado Department of Education that’s funded mainly through the marijuana tax but there’s other funding sources for that that every year all schools in the state of Colorado are open to apply for it but it’s mainly around safety and Animas High School, where we’re at, it’s a terribly unsafe situation for a lot a reasons and so they, you know, they saw that our building is not a place to actually have a high school education that’s safe for our students.
Crowd’s observed a moment of silence and gratitude while the Skyhawk Nation Drum Group performed a land blessing.
Just reckoning with the history of Fort Lewis college back to when you used to be out at the Old Fort and finding ways of recognizing the wrongs of the past but then also honoring the students who are attending currently. but still acknowledging this amazing space that we’re on that, you know, never has necessarily been ours and never will be ours.
Following the land blessing, key members of the Animas and Fort Lewis communities spoke of the exciting potential of the partnership between the two schools. Among the speakers was Dean of the School of Education, Dr. Jennifer Trujillo.
So Dr. Jenny Trujillo, this is her second year as the Dean of the School of Education and she’s a great partner. I mean, she’s already trying to think of ways that we can partner with the School of Education that will be mutually beneficial, not just for Animas but for that School of Education cause it’s- I mean its right there which is awesome that, you know, their undergrads and their masters’ students can come over and actually observe what’s going on and maybe even teach some classes or whatever that looks like. And she was actually- she used to be a faculty there and now she’s taken over as Dean and so knows the program super well, knows us super well which is just an honor and a blessing to be able to have a partner that agrees with what we’re doing.
Gisele Pansze, one of the founders of Animas high school speaking on behalf of the founders, congratulated alumni, students, and faculty. For Pansze and many others in attendance, this celebration was a long time coming.
Gisele Pansze was one of our founders fourteen, fifteen years ago, sat down at the kitchen table and figured out, you know, we need a choice in Durango. Durango High School’s a good comprehensive high school but we need choice. I think all- that saying of all boats rise with the tide is- you know, I think it’s been true in the thirteen years of Animas, as we’ve gotten to be this amazing school, it’s brought up the quality of Durango High School and so we all- we have that cooperatition between the two schools. We all want to be part of this community and Durango 9-R’s seeing that, the BEST grant’s seeing that, the community as a whole Durango’s seeing that and saying, it’s time after two temporary buildings to help Animas be in this facility that matches what we do on a classroom on a day-to-day basis.
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