Animas High School Opens New Chapter

February 21, 2023

For the first time in its history, Animas High School has permanence. After operating in strip malls and mobile units through its developmental years, the school is finally in its permanent home on the campus of Fort Lewis College. Both students and staff feel an important presence from the school’s new structure. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by ServiceMaster Restore and 2180 Lighting & Design Studio.

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Animas High School is opening the next chapter in its short history and while it's not the last chapter, the opening of the school's new location marks a more sustainable step for the innovation-based school. You're watching the "Local News Network", brought to you by ServiceMaster Restore and 2180 Lighting & Design Studio. I'm Connor Shreve. From opening in a strip mall in 2009 to operating out of two mobile units since 2012, Animas High School's new 40,000 square foot facility on the Fort Lewis College campus marks a new era for the school.

It means sanity. It means a true education. It means the ability to focus and think and have quiet spaces to talk and then inspiration.

Much like the style of education it serves to foster, funding for the school was a collaborative effort, led by a $13.5 million grant from the State Department of Education, as well as the District 9-A bond measure, both of which came in 2020. The Community Foundation serving southwest Colorado chipped in another 4.3 million. Head of school, Rebecca Ruland says the finished product, a sustainably-designed, open floor plan, solar-powered building provides Animas High School and exterior that matches the quality of the curriculum.

Because the core of any institution is what's inside, not what's outside, you know, and I'm somebody that's worked in the bush in Africa for a lot of years and with nothing, no tools physically, but the human spirit, that's your currency and so if you don't have that, the exterior doesn't matter much, right? So now we have both, and yeah, I can't say enough of what an environment means for learning.

The project also required a partnership with Fort Lewis College, on whose campus the Animas High School Building now resides. Ruland says that can only improve opportunities for students of the not-for-profit charter high school.

We, for example, have students from the Education Department here every Thursday, having their class here and then going out into classrooms and learning. The Outdoor Ed Department is also collaborating with us for projects, even the design of the position that I spoke of earlier, but another goal is for our juniors and seniors, if they're eligible, meaning they're passing classes here, to take elective classes at the Fort.

She says the board is focused on adding more innovative ways to work with Fort Lewis College. However, Animas High School evolves in the years to come, Ruland says just having the new building has changed the demeanor of both students and staff.

So, you never underestimate the effect of environment on learning. Relative to our previous location, which were two long modulars, we were on top of each other all the time and there was nowhere to go, really. So it matters, right?

Currently, 200 students take part in Animus High's project-based learning model. The new building allows for about 400 students and Ruland says the high school will expand, but it will be measured and intentional growth. To learn about Animas High School, contact the Dean of Enrollment, Libby Cowles, via email. Thanks for watching this edition of "The Local News Network". I'm Connor Shreve.


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