New School Year, New Building, New Ideas


Animas High School has a new building, finally. After starting in a strip mall and moving to modular trailers, the school, through funding from a BEST grant, will now have a permanent location for students. Construction began last spring, and while there is still more to be done, the building already more than shows the promise of a new space for students. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by The Norm Phillips Team, at Draper & Kramer Mortgage and ServiceMaster Restore

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One of the first impressions walking through the halls of the still-under-construction Animas High School: open space and not because walls are missing and windows need to be installed yet. No, the school is designed for cooperative work and a far cry from the strip mall location where Animas High School began or the dark, cramped modulars where the school is located. You're watching the "Local NEWS Network" brought to you by The Norm Phillips Team at Draper & Kramer Mortgage and ServiceMASTER Restore. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

As a charter school, I think we've gone through kind of a predictable set of phases in our development, starting in a strip mall, moving into these modulars over in Twin Buttes, and now having the opportunity to, to come to this beautiful facility of Fort Lewis College. You know, it's going to allow the school to continue meeting its mission of preparing students for post-secondary success and college and, you know, long-term moving to adulthood. I think more exciting, we have a very unique curriculum in the school which is focused on project-based learning. This building will have facilities that will allow us to have more collaboration, different capabilities, makerspaces, and so forth that we just haven't had in the past. And I think even maybe most exciting to me is we will be able to offer our school to a larger number of students as we evolve over the next several years.

Funding for the new building came in part from a $13.7 million BEST grant, a state program that awards funds to schools to help create better, safer places for students to learn. Additional donations also have helped to fund the school's construction so that the building best suits the nature of instruction at Animas High School.

But every classroom has incredible windows looking out at the view. We have a chemistry lab for the first time, official one. So we have been coming up here to Fort Lewis for years, using their facilities for that. Thank you, Fort Lewis College. Well, if you ever tour the building that we're in now which is basically two long modulars with dark rooms and big hallways and a couple of rooms here and there, pretty much everything in this building jumps at us. So we have a community space with a patio that goes out, all the makerspace, and some of the other rooms have like roster openings where they can push their projects outside. I think the art does as well, and the music room has breakout rooms for individual instruments. You know, there's two stories. There's places for people to sit in between classrooms. Right now, there's nothing but standing space, standing room only at the current facility.

Not only will students be able to do their chemistry labs in their own school building. The new space will allow for more partnerships with other community organizations like iAM MUSIC with music rooms for lessons and practice, like Devo to store, maintain, and repair bikes, and two large rooms for new makerspace designed specifically to keep the dust out and the great ideas in. The building may almost be finished, but some of the final work is yet to begin.

One of the things that we're deeply involved in right now is a capital campaign to flesh out some of the spaces that aren't completely ready for us, such as the build-out of one of the decks that's on the second level. And our goal is at $1.5 million. We've raised just about a million dollars, and I want to give kudos to board members, specifically Jessie Hut, and also parent committee that's raised over $100,000. We're still wanting about a half-million dollar more to finish out the space. So there's a link on our website called Elevating the Nest, and that's where our donors are coming. Donations can be given.

All donors will receive recognition on the Donor Wall at the school's entrance. Contributions will allow the school to finish the terrace on the second floor and will pay for future improvements. To learn more about the school or contribute to the Elevating Animas Campaign, visit If you'd like to tour the building, there will be one offered, August 3rd. Thank you for watching this edition of the "Local NEWS Network." I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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