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About Us

What are Charter Schools?

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that have the flexibility to be more innovative and are held accountable for student achievement. Below are more facts about Colorado’s charter schools.

Charter School Facts:

  • Charter schools are public schools.
  • Charter schools do not charge tuition.
  • Charter schools use non-discriminatory enrollment practices.
  • There are no “test-in” requirements to attend charter schools.
  • Charter school students must take state mandated standardized tests.
  • Charter schools are subject to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
  • Charter school teachers must be “highly qualified” under NCLB.
  • Charter schools serve a broad range of diverse students, including low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities or other special needs.
  • Colorado charter schools continue to attract a variety of students and are located in diverse geographical areas across the state.

Charter School Funding

The academic success achieved by charter schools is especially impressive in light of the financial challenges they face:

  • On average, charter schools in Colorado spend $480 per student from designated per-pupil operating revenue on facilities costs.
  • School districts finance their facilities using property tax, mill levies, and taxpayer-backed bonds. Charter schools generally do not receive a proportionate share of these monies. As a result, money often comes out of the classroom to pay for buildings.

Our Academics

Academic Rigor

Animas High School is committed to providing a rigorous curriculum that develops students’ knowledge and skills. The mastery of core academic knowledge serves as the foundation for all activities associated with engaging students in their learning at AHS. The traditional liberal arts comprise the core academic knowledge at Animas High School. The core courses are Math/Science (content is primarily algebra, geometry, statistics and calculus for math, and physics, biology, and chemistry for science), and Humanities (English literature and composition, Ancient and Modern World History, US History, geography). The interdisciplinary approach to teaching this content deepens students’ understanding of the subject, because they are more readily able to perceive “threads” between one approach to content and another. Unlike some educational models, where discrete subjects are taught without regard to connectivity, a student at Animas High School would emerge from our programs with a depth of knowledge from a range of disciplinary perspectives. All curriculum is designed to support the development of core academic knowledge, based on Colorado State Standards and provides the benefits typically associated with community centered Project Based Learning. At Animas High School the content will be structured to amplify learning. The design principles are the strategies which make it possible for the students to gain deeper understanding of the content. Specifically the design principles of AHS ensure that each student is engaged, they know the relevance of what they are learning, and they are part of an equitable community where self-motivation, competency and lifelong learning are the norm.

Linking Content to Design Principles

Personalization (Knowing each student as an individual)

Both the process and the content will challenge students at appropriate levels, because students are well-known. This is a proactive approach and includes an ongoing analysis and awareness of each student’s core academic needs and progress as they relate to academic standards. The approach challenges each student at an appropriate level. Within the parameters of each activity, students select topics of particular interest to them, increasing motivation and subject mastery.

  • Small school environment fosters personalized attention and supports students in learning at their unique level.
  • Advisory groups in which every student is known well and encouraged to develop personal strengths and interests.
  • Individualized conferencing where faculty develops individual goals with each student, specific to their needs in each course.

Adult World Connection (Understanding the relevance of high school studies to the “real world”)

The adult-world connection links to content through its emphasis on relevance and authenticity. Students learn how to apply the content through projects, community engagement, and internships. In particular, internships are closely monitored for quality and content. Specific content objectives and outcomes for internships are mapped back to the individual student’s knowledge and skill development needs, and assessed through rubrics tied to standards.

  • Taking students outside the school: Internship requirement for all students, completed in junior year. Feature opportunities to solve adult-world problems using classroom-learned skills.
  • Bringing community members to the school: adults participating in the life of the school and making contributions that improve education for students.
  • Developing a curriculum of place: learning through tangible engagement in local issues.

Common Intellectual Mission (Linking the hands and the mind)

Founded upon our Habits of Heart and Mind, this design principle develops analytical, critical thinking, and problem solving skills in students. This approach teaches students how to think, how to understand an issue from more than one perspective, how to analyze information and understand implications, how to contemplate possibilities, and how to find answers.

  • Rigorous project-based learning – Learn by doing, creating, thinking, and presenting. Establishing relevancy of subject matter to real world. Team and individual project work mimic real life.
  • Technical and academic integration. Teaching across disciplines helps to integrate learning. The traditional “college prep” curriculum is infused with high levels of technology, encouraging students to think from multiple perspectives and utilize technology in appropriate ways.
  • Individualized assessment using rubrics, public exhibits of work, and digital portfolios. Performance-based evaluation that assesses both process and product.
  • A culture of excellence, developed through “habits of heart and mind” and strong guiding principles to undergird school management and student attitudes and behavior.

As a school that emphasizes the applied use of technology as a tool to understand liberal arts content, Animas High School places a high value on developing 21st Century skills.

A Culture of Excellence

Insisting on High Standards benefits all students!

“When students enter a family culture, a community culture, or a school culture that demands and supports excellence, they work to fit into that culture. A culture of excellence transcends race, class and geography; it doesn’t matter what color, income, or background the children come from. Once those children enter a culture with a powerful ethic, that ethic becomes their norm. It’s what they know.”

-From Ron Berger, in his An Ethic of Excellence

Habits of Heart and Mind

At Animas High School, we use our Habits of Heart and Mind to help foster our Culture of Excellence.

It is how we go about solving problems, interacting and collaborating with each other.

Habits of Heart and Mind give teachers and students a common language to help them deepen their thinking and relationships with each other. We encourage all members of our community to use these mental processing techniques, and reinforce them to the point where they become “habits.”

Habits of Heart and Mind at Animas High School include:

  • Perspective-Have a point of view; respect and understand the points of view of others. Take a stand, but be willing to listen to other ideas than your own.
  • Advocacy-When you need help, or when you don’t understand, ask questions. When you can’t connect to a project, schedule a meeting with a teacher. Advocate for your classmates, for your community, for your planet.
  • Perseverance– Don’t give up. Learn to work through difficulty.
  • Evidence-Use it to back up your perspective. Require it from others who make claims. Make decisions based on it.
  • Refinement-Take pride in everything you do in class and make it beautiful, whether you are reading, writing, speaking, or creating.

Project Based Learning Is...

  • Learning by doing
  • Learning by creating
  • Learning by thinking
  • Learning by presenting

Projects are “both the magnet to attract and the glue to hold” students’ learning.

-John Dewey, educational philosopher,1859-1952.

Project-based learning allows students to learn through hands-on projects and presentations, deepening the learning process. Working individually, in teams, and in pairs, students learn content and communication skills.

Project-Based learning links the mind and the hands. Teachers pose authentic questions, which are then explored and answered by students.

“Projects require a complex set of competencies such as problem solving, decision-making, time management, research, analysis and synthesis of information, communication, and conflict resolution, especially in a collaborative team environment. But they also require strategies and methods for planning, doing, and completing them.”

-Educational consultant Kimberly Liegel

Our Electives

Animas High School routinely surveys students, teachers and parents to develop academic electives that match student interest, demand and maximize the technological and teaching resources available at school and in our community. Students provide the school with ideas and interest for electives in two different areas:


AHS offers a wide range of elective classes for all students. Electives meet four days a week and allow students to pursue their interests and passions beyond core courses.

Advanced Algebra
Advanced Chemistry 
Advanced Digital Arts
Advanced Physics
Consumer Math
Creative Writing
Environmental Science
Materials Science
Math Foundations
Music Performance
Personal and Career Readiness
Project Application
Studio Art
World Religions


X-Blocks are fitness-based classes that keep us moving and shaking. They meet once a week, on Wednesday afternoons, for a two hour block, which allows us to travel off campus.  Examples of X-Block choices are:


Cross Fit
Field Games
Rock Climbing

Our School Profile

Our Campus

Animas High School is located at Twin Buttes development, entrance 1.7 miles west of the Doubletree Hotel on Hwy 160 in Durango CO. Our buildings include a main office, 20 classrooms, a biology lab, a physics lab, a digital media lab, a student cafeteria/auditorium, numerous faculty and administration offices as well as numerous study nooks, patios and student work areas. A tour of our facilities can always be arranged by calling 970-AHS-AHS4 (970-247-2474).

Features of Our Building

School Security
Monitoring & surveillance systems
Lockdown hardware
Community access to Commons

ADA & Access
Adequate & overflow parking
Designated delivery venue
Ramp access into each building

LEED Gold Certified building
Reduced operational costs
Conservation of resources
Healthy & productive environments

Energy Efficiency
Low-E windows
Roof & building insulation upgrades
Water conservation system
Low-flow fixtures

Materials Use
Durability & design efficiency
Sustainable & regional materials
Recycled construction waste

Indoor Air Quality
Comprehensive ventilation system
Low VOC sealants, carpets & paints
Thermostat controlled environment

21st Century Classrooms State of the art science labs
Wired & wireless networking
Smart Boards & mounted projectors

State of the Art Science Labs
Upgraded lab equipment
Safe chemical storage
Adequate safety equipment

Future Expansion
Location on the site allows future expansion as needs grow

Technology at AHS

IT Network at AHS

We have engineered a network that incorporates all the key security and program applications necessary to support Animas High School’s educational model. Our campus is a completely wireless environment with secure access points and a powerful internet signal present throughout our building. We have the ability to monitor the web and protect our network with powerful firewalls and web filters, designed to keep our students safe and secure. We understand the loss of critical information can be devastating and we have designed a redundant network, powered by efficient servers with back-up power supplies to keep our programs up and running.

We have taken fail-safe measure to ensure our staff can facilitate technological strategies that are based upon our students needs and will include the demands for both web based software and powerful, client side applications. Our classrooms will contain essential supporting tools and resources our teachers can employ in lessons and projects. To support more advanced needs and provide our students a place to work on presentations and projects we facilitate a computer digital media lab with cutting edge, 21st century applications. We have built a system that can be scaled up as we grow, that is engineered to the needs of our students, staff and sufficiently supports our educational methods. We are excited to offer this access, security and infrastructure to the AHS community.

Laptops at AHS

All students are required to have a laptop and a USB thumb drive.

What if I want to bring my laptop?

Students are always welcome to bring their own technology with them to school. If a student wishes to use their own laptop at AHS it should meet the following minimum criteria:

  • It must be tough, sturdy, rugged, and able to take more than one hard knock because students are students!
  • Laptops should not exceed 5 years of age.
  • AHS campus is completely wireless and students are able to access the internet anywhere. Student laptops are required to support wireless 802.11/G at a minimum. Wireless 802.11/B is no longer supported on AHS campus.
  • It should have adequate RAM (minimum 2GB) by today’s standards. 4GB and more is recommended.
  • A VGA port for an external monitor/projector is sometimes required for presentations.
  • Make sure your student’s laptop has a reasonable battery life, 2 hours or more.
  • Windows 7 or 10 based machines are currently recommend.
  • AHS is on a Google Apps for Education platform. This includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Drive, Calendar, Gmail and more. Microsoft Office and Adobe suites are nice but not required as the Google platform takes care of most of this.
  • Mac, Chromebook or PC? There’s plenty of information online that argues the value of one over the other. However, students and staff utilize all platforms/operating systems at Animas High School every day.

What if I don’t have a laptop?

  •  If a student does not have access to a laptop, they may procure one from Animas High School for the school year . The school requires a refundable security deposit for all students looking to utilize a school supplied laptop.

Email and Cloud Storage

Animas High School provides every student with a Google ID on our Google Apps for Education platform. All ID’s include:

  • an Gmail account
  • Unlimited cloud storage via Google Drive where students can safely and securely store all their files as well as create and share Docs, Spreadsheets, Forms, Slideshows and more!
  • Google Calendars, Sites, Groups, Contacts, as well as the option to create a Google+ account.

The Google Apps platform allows quick and safe integration for effective learning tools that we utilize here at AHS. Teachers and students can communicate and work efficiently together in a paperless environment. Via this platform AHS aims to save money and our ecosystem by using less paper. In addition students can access their files and assignments anywhere at any time (provided internet access). Less accidents and excuses, more learning!


If you have further questions regarding technology at AHS please email us at

Informational Brochure