How do Ospreys really feel about Animas?
Animas High School is a college preparatory school that focuses on project-based learning. Just like every high school, it has its highs and lows as well as room for improvement. The best critiques can come from people who have firsthand experience. For this article, the Animas Quill sent an online survey with 30 replies from students on what they had to say about the school. These are the opinions of the 30 students, these are not facts but based on observations and firsthand experiences, gathered from the survey.
One aspect a lot of students enjoy about Animas is the student-teacher relationships within the small school environment. Student teacher relationships are a big part of the school culture and allow students to feel a sense of belonging at Animas. However, the lines tend to blur when some teacher-student relationships go beyond just having a good connection with a teacher, as several students pointed out. When students and teachers start becoming friends, that relationship can lead to some students having more wiggle room in classes with those teachers. For example, if a student advocates for an extension because they had a track meet and weren’t able to finish an assignment, that’s different than a student who knows their teacher outside of school and is given another day because of their “hectic schedule”. There is no problem with students having great relationships with teachers and advisors, a lot of students have made many great relationships with teachers and their advisors. When it comes down to it, you should hold your teacher on a slightly higher pedestal than your friend, and when you don’t, that sense of professionalism is taken away.
The small school environment is the biggest reason most students chose to go to Animas High School and have chosen to stay here. Being in a small school allows for better connections with students and peers, as well as a hands-on approach to school work and projects. When there are only twenty people in a classroom, it is easier to advocate for what you want or need and get that help.
With that small school environment comes some negative parts. As a student, you get the lowdown on everything, good and bad, that happens at Animas. Two major issues 36% of students have found at Animas High School are the substance use and the math program. The critiques given for the math program would be to add more structure, eliminate interdisciplinary projects, be more aware of deadlines in other classes, and not assign too much work during times with major deadlines or exhibitions.
The critiques given to fix the drug use at our school were to do drug searches, give people who are struggling with substance use a non-judgemental place to talk about it with others, have a more zero tolerance structure around offenses with drugs, better supervision, and hold students accountable for their actions. Animas has recently started a Restorative Justice program that has been in effect for two years that has tried to address issues such as drug abuse and have found that this program doesn’t seem to address nor solve these issues and is now looking at different but still inclusive way to solve these issues.
Although there is a lot Animas can improve on, over half of students said they felt prepared for their next year of school or college because they plan on studying in a Humanities field. They also felt prepared with the college prep work through the College Counselor Jess and LINK Coordinator Janae. Some resolutions that could be made at Animas to better prepare people would be to have a math program that is better suited for individuals as well as is useful and relevant to real world situations and SATs, more time with Jess, more workshops or teaching skills to help students become successful in the real world.
Overall, despite Animas’ need for improvement in certain areas of the teaching curriculum and resolutions with conflict inside the school, 70% of surveyed students said they would recommend Animas to a friend. Most people pointed out that they love the schools community but would like to see more repercussions for the use of drugs and would still prefer Animas over Durango High School.