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Health and Wellness Education at Animas High School



Dear Osprey Students and Families,

At Animas High School, we recognize the importance of supporting students as individuals and whole people, paying attention not just to their academic growth but also their physical, social and emotional wellbeing. We take a multifaceted approach to health and wellness education, often working with community partners to provide students resources and knowledge to help students make informed, healthy choices. While we do not have a traditional health class, students are exposed to health and wellness programming through a variety of avenues over the course of their four years with us.

For the 2018-19 school year, we currently have the following health and wellness programming in place:

Mental Health and Social/Emotional Well being

  • There is an abundance of research, such as this piece from Child Trends, that demonstrates the importance of youth having at least one trusted, non-familial adult in their lives. Animas High School intentionally strives to provide this for each of our students through our Advisory program and through our strong student-teacher relationships. In the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data, the vast majority of Animas students (87%) reported that they have at least one adult they can go to with problems–a rate much higher than average.
  • Erin Skyles and Mountain Middle School Behavioral Health Specialist Amy Hackmeier will co-facilitate a Youth Mental Health First Aid training on a Saturday this school year, date TBA. This training will be open to the community at large, and will be free of charge to all who attend.
  • Humanities teacher and School Psychologist Shane Nelson is teaching an Adolescent Development elective this year, and he currently has 27 students in his class, demonstrating strong interest in the subject. Humanities teacher Lori Fisher is once again offering a Psychology elective; this class continues to be popular as well.
  • Thirty students and four staff members were trained in the Sources of Strength curriculum last spring and we will have another training this fall. The mission of the Sources of Strength program is to “provide the highest quality evidence-based prevention for suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help and strength.” Christine Imming, AHS Director of Finance, is teaching an elective called Cultivating Cultural Capital, based on the Sources of Strength curriculum.
  • We will implement the Signs of Suicide program throughout all grades in January, 2019, as we did last year. The Signs of Suicide program provides tools to help youth identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-injury in themselves and their peers.
  • Animas counselor Erin Skyles and La Plata Youth Services’ Youth and Family Specialist Stephanie Smith will facilitate a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) group for interested youth beginning in October. This group will meet during school hours and will be offered free of charge.
  • Erin Skyles, school counselor, is available daily for student support as needed.

Healthy Relationships and Sex Education

Substance Use/Abuse

  • As stated in our Student and Family Handbook, “unlawful possession, sale, or offer of any narcotic/controlled or illegal substance or possession of tobacco/smoking products including but not limited to vape pens or e-cigarettes” “will lead to a mandatory suspension and possible expulsion hearing.”  While we, as a school, focus on prevention and support, we draw a clear line that drugs, alcohol, nicotine and related paraphernalia have absolutely no place on campus or at school events and students who are found with them in their possession are held accountable for violating this important school norm. We have added cameras on our campus to further deter students from making poor choices around substance use and we are noticing a decline in possession/use on campus already, paired with a heightened sense of responsibility among our student body to hold each other accountable for keeping AHS a drug-free zone.
  • Nathan Harmon presented to all students during a NEST Meeting on September 19. Harmon is a nationally recognized motivational speaker who shares his personal story about how substance abuse and self-harming behaviors contributed to a pivotal moment in his life–a drunk driving accident that led to the death of his friend and his incarceration. Harmon presented a powerful narrative that underscored the importance of positive friendships, hard work and belief in oneself.
  • We have ongoing partnerships with local organizations including Celebrating Healthy Communities, La Plata Youth Services and Thriving Youth Programs of San Juan Basin Public Health that help us access evidence-based, resources to inform our work with youth with a focus on asset building and prevention.
  • We provide individualized support for students who have struggled with substance abuse and/or addiction that holds them accountable through coordination of family, school and outside resources.

Physical Health and Wellbeing

  • Our XBlock program has students engaged in a variety of physical exercise once a week for a two hour block of time. We require three years of physical education for graduation, which exceeds the state requirement. This semester, students are enrolled in one of the following XBlock classes, most of which meet off campus: Paddle Boarding, Ultimate Frisbee, Rock Climbing, CrossFit, Mountain Biking, Spinning, Yoga, Tennis, Aerial Acrobatics and Athlete Study Hall.
  • Our staff health consultant, Etoile Hening, R.N., works to ensure all staff are appropriately trained regarding student health and medication needs. Please contact hening@animashighschool.com with updates about medications or significant injuries or illnesses..

Student Clubs that Support Wellness

  • The Animas Restorative Team (ART) is a group of students who have been trained in restorative justice practices and facilitation so that they can help students in conflict with one another or with our community expectations. Through facilitated communication circles, ART helps peers reach workable solutions that support a healthy school community.
  • PRIDE club (formerly Gay Straight Alliance) meets weekly to actively cultivate a culture of acceptance, inclusivity and kindness that welcomes all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Student Council ensures that student voice is represented at all levels of decision making for our school, including the Board of Directors. They also organize events and activities that build positive school culture and serve our broader community.
  • The Bridge Program provides mentorship for 9th graders by pairing them with a junior or senior who helps them navigate the transition to high school.
  • Student Ambassadors uphold our Culture of Excellence by modeling engaged citizenship, giving tours to visitors, helping prospective students and families learn about our school and engaging in service to the community.

There are several additional resources available to families on Erin’s Digital Portfolio, and, of course, we invite you to check in with us as questions about health and wellness emerge. As the year continues, we will undoubtedly come across additional opportunities to infuse health and wellness into our curriculum at AHS and as we do, we will keep you updated. Please feel free to reach out to us with any ideas, resources or feedback you might have as we all work together to give Ospreys the tools they need to lead healthy lives.

All Best,

Erin, Libby and Sean