Animas High School prepares all students for college and postsecondary success by creating critical thinkers and engaged citizens through an innovative, student-centered, project-based curriculum.

Choosing Animas High School doesn’t take a leap of faith. AHS is an intelligent choice for a relevant, rigorous education. Animas High School is a free, public charter school open to all where students are academically, socially, emotionally intelligent young adults with professional, articulate presentation skills who know how to advocate for themselves. AHS prides itself in its open dialogue where all perspectives are welcome. Students are well known in Animas High School’s inclusive, small school setting.

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Curious to learn more about project-based learning? “Electrified Education,” a short film by Bella Austin, Emma Burnett and Rosie LeCompte, AHS class of 2025, captures the interdisciplinary Energy Project they experienced as sophomores in the spring of 2023.  


Where students are prepared for college and career success.

  • Traditional academic learning is held to a higher standard through authentic problem solving and critical thinking.
  • Learning is relevant to the world around us. Students find connections to their lives and community.
  • Writing and communication skills are developed with college-level writing assignments.
  • Graduation requirements for all meet competitive college admission requirements.
  • Concurrent enrollment allows opportunities to take college classes for AHS and college credit.


Where students are held to high expectations.

  • Professionalism is learned through exhibitions and presentations of learning.
  • Select student ambassadors represent self, school and community through tours, shadow days and marketing efforts.
  • Expectation and reinforcement of positive, inclusive peer interaction.
  • Accountability embodies kindness and problem solving through solution-oriented thinking.
  • Decision-making relies upon student voice, where students learn advocacy and the importance of multiple perspectives.


Where students are well known.

  • Students are are known exceptionally well by their Faculty Advisor who supports their personal and academic growth. Grade-level Advisory Groups of 10-15 students meet weekly as a group for their entire time at AHS.
  • X-Block is a weekly student class to support health and wellness through community-sponsored activities: dance, mountain biking, yoga, swimming, rock climbing, paddle boarding, hiking, frisbee, and more!
  • Osprey Week is an annual week-long educational adventure, where the classroom is beyond school walls.
  • Grade-level camping/rafting trips, ropes courses and wilderness-based outdoor experiential activities build relationships.


Where students see the relevance of their education.

  • Senior project features college-level writing and thesis defense.
  • Exhibitions give student experience engaging with authentic, professional audiences.
  • Interdisciplinary learning integrates Humanities, Science, and Math content in projects that answer real world questions that professionals are asking.
  • Through community interaction, students engage authentic, professional audiences who work in the area of study.

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Allison Ragsdale


Freshman students are supported in their transition to high school expectations by building self-awareness and confidence through persistence and advocacy.

Sample Project: Trebuchet Tournament

Ninth grade students collaborate in small groups to design and construct trebuchets, ancient siege machines, to explore the kinematics of projectile motion. The trebuchets are put to the test in a student-designed tournament where the winner is the group with the trebuchet that launches a projectile, not only the farthest distance, but also the most consistently.


• Understanding of mechanical advantage, energy, energy transfer, and projectile motion
• Understanding of the engineering design process
• Understanding of basic carpentry, working with power tools and confidence in building


• Learning and practicing collaboration with peers
• Learning and practicing communication of ideas and needs
• Developing critical thinking and problem solving
• Strengthening creativity

Sophomore year, students find their place in community through effort, collaboration and refinement.

Sample Project: Genocide in the Modern Era

After the Holocaust, the world said emphatically, “Never again!” Despite this initial resolve, genocides continue. There are many lessons to be learned in this ultimate crime against humanity. Students explore the darkest aspects of human behavior, and those points of light who resisted in the face of enormous oppression. Students discover why we are capable of these acts, warning signs, and hopefully, how to prevent them from happening again. This project culminates in the creation of a genocide museum, where students craft engaging, informative, and interactive exhibits.


• Research and learn how to find, organize, synthesize complex information.
• Apply theoretical frameworks (8 Stages of Genocide) to other examples.
• Understand how genocide happens by addressing historical causes, short term pressures, human psychology, and propaganda.


• Through small group collaboration, a public genocide exhibition is created to educate the public on genocide and its prevention.
• Students learn psychological forces that create violent and anti-social behaviors, and learn strategies for avoiding or combating these forces.

Junior year, students independently refine their future path with self-directed college and career goals.

Sample Project: With Justice for All

In the 11th grade Humanities “With Justice for All” project, students studied moral and political philosophies that have influenced the United States justice system, and then chose to focus on one issue of injustice within our own community: Homelessness. After extensive field research, students organized a consortium of speakers, films
and art projects, and a community meal and clothing drive to generate more compassion, understanding and resources for our houseless community. The event brought together over 300 community members and various partner organizations to discuss possible solutions as well as provide resources for individuals experiencing homelessness.


• Debate social issue that involves security, liberty and equality
• Analyze divergent viewpoints, determine justifications for resolutions
• Write an op-ed article which argues why your resolution is just
• Create a provocative, rhetorical poster to promote thesis resolution


• Become knowledgeable about a current, national issue
• Learn to compassionately discuss polarizing issues with civil discourse

Seniors are the cultural student leaders of AHS, developing leadership while preparing for their next steps into the adult world.

Sample Project: Senior Project

During Senior Project, students use the skills they have built during their years at AHS to tackle a problem of their choosing. Students develop a research question, then answer that question through college-level research. A 10-20 page Senior Thesis is a cogent and complex argument that synthesizes their research. The Senior Presentation is an engaging TED talk style format. Finally, students design and execute their own Community Project, as they engage with our community and develop their own interests and passions.


• Develop college level research and writing skills.
• Craft and deliver an engaging and informative presentation that successfully communicates complex research to a lay audience.
• Effectively use community connections and manage time and resources to accomplish their project goals.


• Students learn to deeply explore their own interests, and apply and develop those interests in a broader context.
• Research and communicate research results through speech and writing.