Durango Telegraph - Out of the box: Animas High School eyes opening day
Out of the box: Animas High School eyes opening day

The animal that is Animas High School is taking shape.

“I think of it as an octopus with each one of those tentacles moving at a million miles an hour,” said Animas High Head of School Michael Ackerman.

Ackerman moved to Durango with his wife from Prescott, Ariz., last spring to take the position. He noted that the new charter school is pulling out the stops to have the school ready for opening day. “We’ve been working 28 hours a day, nine days a week.”

Animas High expects to welcome at least 80 freshman students when it opens its doors Aug. 24. The school will be located north of 32nd Street, in a 9,800-square-foot space that fronts north Main Avenue. The former restaurant/office space is being renovated into several classrooms as well as a central, core area. Each classroom will connect to the common area via a wall of windows, and windows will also replace the garage bay doors on the lower level.

“The windows will give a sense of transparency and flood the classrooms with light and also offer great river views and access,” said Animas High Facilities Coordinator Nancy Heleno.

Based on the successful San Diego-based High Tech High, Animas High’s opening marks the culmination of more than three years of planning. The school’s curriculum centers on project-based, small-group learning environments incorporating the outdoors and real-life situations. A new grade will be added each year for a capacity of 400 students in all. Current staff includes two math-science teachers, two humanities

teachers, a Spanish teacher, a digital arts teacher and a special education teacher.

Ackerman, said there is still space for 20 more students in this year’s class and his major focus is on getting the word out. “I’m just working on getting the message out,” he said. “I’m always surprised to find there are still people who haven’t heard of us yet. We’ve had to find out-of-the-box approaches to letting people know.”

– Missy Votel

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