The Animas Quill
Exhibitions, Homegurl & Monday dread

The Animas Quill

Freshman Sage Robbins proudly displays his mask at the exhibition./Photo by Mya Oyler

Unmasking Identity

By Mya Oyler

Since Animas opened its doors in 2009, freshmen have started the year with deep self reflection on who they are through the iconic Identity Mask Project. In this project, they write essays about how the forces of socialization have shaped their identities and create a mask to symbolically represent these concepts.

To prepare for this project, the 9th graders studied Bobbie Harro’s “Cycle of Socialization,” among other core texts related to the sociological concepts surrounding identity formation.

The students looked at “agents of socialization” such as parents, peers, schools, religious groups, and media. All of these agents shape our individual beliefs and personality traits. Freshman Julia Glotfelty reflected, “[The purpose of the project] was to learn how we’ve been socialized, which has resulted in me thinking about my surroundings and how they’ve made me who I am.”

Another important aspect of the project was the examination of how different groups in society experience life differently based on the identity categories they are born into, such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. Freshman Harper Jones shared, “This project opened my eyes to the different perspectives and struggles that people different from me go through. I didn’t just learn about myself, but about what others are experiencing in our society.”

The freshmen exhibited their masks and essays at Durango Coffee Company on December 12. Reflecting on his final project, Sage Robbins remarked, “My ultimate goal was to feel comfortable to express my life into an essay and mask that I could show to people.”

For many students, the Mask Project can completely shift their perspective on the world. Rio Edmondson commented, “There was a lot more to this project than just a mask and and essay because you have to hold a mirror up to yourself and think about who you are on a much deeper level.”

Freshman Alexis Hanson shares her project insights with founding AHS Board member Tom Morrissey./Photo courtesy of Libby Cowles


Juniors Sean Madden, Leit Schafer, Lucy Hall, Colby Doughty, Sam Atchison, and Nik Blood with parent Cindy Atchison tour Phoenix Recycling./Photo courtesy of Jessica McCallum

Upcoming Exhibitions

The Chemistry of Single-Use Materials

By Kian Edmondson

With all the environmental crises facing us today, there is a need to focus on the things we can control in our everyday lives. Eleventh grade Chemistry students are wrapping up their study of the life cycle of disposable materials in the U.S. They will exhibit their “Chemistry of Single Use Materials” project on Thursday, January 23 from 5-7 pm in the Animas High School Commons.

The juniors have dug into how our materials are produced, used, and disposed of within our local community. The exhibition will be formatted in a grid with life stages on one axis and materials on the other, allowing audience members to engage with an in-depth exploration of the life cycle of single-use materials.

Students studied how chemical bonding results in the properties of materials. They are collaborating with their peers to create original projects that explore the life cycle of these materials. Some students have chosen to use the project to address a problem or a need and come up with possible solutions.

Junior Mason Zufelt expressed his interest in the potential for his project. His goal is to create custom reusable water bottles with plastic that would otherwise end up in a land ll. He is optimistic about the possibilities, stating “I think that the business opportunities in this eld are huge.” He plans to work with project partner, Anthony Ensor, to turn their work into a business later.

Chemistry teacher Steve Smith shared, “The goal of this project is to have students apply principles of chemistry and recognize how it is relevant to their own lives in an area where they can actually make  changes. I want students to examine their use of single-use materials and the impact of their decisions to re-use them, recycle them, or throw them away.”

The juniors invite you to join them next Thursday to discuss their realizations and examine your own disposal habits.


Sophomores Molly Bachman, Flynn Kruchell, Adrian Griffith, Robert Cossey, and Shaw Kassay vote on resolutions on behalf of their countries./Photo courtesy of Libby Cowles

Model United Nations Conference

By Jacob Pinkerton

Lori Fisher’s sophomores will exhibit their second Model United Nations conference in the Animas High School Commons on February 10 and 11 from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm.

The MUN conference simulates the way the United Nations would approach a global crisis. Each student represents a member nation and must embody that country’s perspective in the conference.

Students study parliamentary procedure, write policy papers, and prepare speeches from their country’s viewpoint to deliver at the conference.

The sophomores completed their first conference in December. It focused on the Venezuelan refugee crisis along with the controversial presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

The second conference in February will address nuclear proliferation and disarmament.

Sophomore Olivia Gilden remarked that she has “learned many things on how the United Nations go about solving a global crisis. It was also a great opportunity to work on my public speaking skills.”

Lori commented on her goals for the project, “I am hoping that students learn just how complex international issues are, that they develop a deeper understanding of the perspective of other nations, and that they begin to see the possibilities for solving the knotty global dilemmas we are tackling.”


New Year, Same Old Editors

Editorial Staff

Welcome to the NEW YEAR. This brings resolutions, promises, and excitement about the 2020 vision that awaits us.

Even though resolutions aren’t usually followed through with, ours aren’t exactly to get a t bod, so we’re con dent in our ability to grow and change this year. To embody the phrase, “new year, new us”, we resolve to: work on concise writing, start innovative and interesting projects, work the word “vehemently” into every editorial we write, become InDesign demi-gods, and inspire motivation in our new and improved staff.

Welcome to the NEW DECADE. It’s exciting to see what the new decade will bring. We hope it brings more peace and justice and creativity and planted trees. We hope it brings less wild res and plastic waste and political division. Let’s all resolve to be less mean and less distracted and less pessimistic in the years to come. Let’s do what we can to ensure that these 20’s are roaring like a Gatsby house party. Vehemently roaring.


World News Haikus

By Quill Staff

Aussie’s up in fames
People saving animals
Stoking climate dread

Sussex stepping back
Media losing their minds
Live and let live, Queen

Iran testing Trump
Citizens fight and protest
WWIII coming?

Winter storm hits South
Eleven souls lost their lives
Brace yourself for snow


Future of Work Exhibition

By Billie Brand

During the fall semester, juniors in Sara Price’s Humanities class worked to identify themes in past labor issues and connect them to future labor issues. The students researched specific topics about the labor market and used their learning to produce professional podcasts including interviews with local experts. “It really helped learning from people that had experience in these fields. It gave me a deeper understanding of the real problems that we’re dealing with in the community,” said junior Willie Jones, who created a podcast on artificial intelligence.

Throughout this project, students examined theIndustrial Revolution, gig economies, and how new technologies impact the workforce. They looked to local, global, and personal sources to find answers to some of these current problems. Junior Ava-Kadence Jennings said: “It was interesting seeing labor issues in the past and seeing how they compared to the present issues in our economy. When we are entering the workforce so soon, it’s important to know about these issues and reflect on them if not try to solve them.”

They presented their work at Fort Lewis College on December 9, which included a speech on the future of labor, short clips played from two of the highlighted podcasts, and a Socratic Seminar, a roundtable discussion with community members on the future of work. .

Humanities teacher Sara Price reflected, “I really appreciated the level of diversity this year in the [podcasts]. I feel like everyone uniquely made them important for themselves. They diverged a lot from the content I taught, which is good. Listening to them all, they’re really relevant to today’s changing economy.”

The podcast themes range from the future of education to the pay gap in professional women’s soccer. You can listen to the podcasts by going to animashighpodcasts.weebly.com or by using the QR codes to the right.

“The Incentive in Equality” by Billie Brand

“No End in Sight” by Garrett Middleton & Milo Ethridge

“The Future of a Woman’s Place in the Workforce” by Ava-Kadence Jennings


Photo courtesy of Britt Blasdell

Britt is Back! Teacher Returns From Maternity Leave

By Sierra Holiday

Animas High School art teacher Britt Blasdell and her new baby, Asher Kailani Blasdell have been inseparable since April 25th, 2019, the day she was born. But Animas art students are thrilled that Britt has finally returned to school for the 2020 Spring semester.

Britt reflects, “Honestly, leaving baby Asher was way harder than I imagined. She feels like air to me and the thought of  giving her to someone else all day, missing her immensely, made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. Luckily, I did miss the liveliness and fun love of all of the teenagers at Animas, and simply being around creative minds and conversation. Between all of my teen and co-worker buddies, my transition back was much easier than I expected. Filled with excitement and love, I came back to a supportive, silly, awesome staff and more-than-mature high-schoolers that truly cared and asked about [my] baby.”

Britt, also spoke about being a new parent, reflecting on the struggles of taking care of yourself and another human: “One of the more challenging things is finding time for yourself, (I mean even to eat or brush your teeth..) Being a working mom/dad is most definitely challenging.

All of you powerful mamas and papas do it out there, so I can too!”

One of the things Britt appreciates most is the  opportunity to be able to spend time with her baby, thanking everyone for their patience: “I really thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being so understanding, caring, and excited for Asher and me, as well as allowing me to take that time off with my baby! You can never get those days back and I beyond treasure them.”

While Britt was on leave, Nisty Tharp was our art teacher and we appreciate her so much for coming and fitting right in! She gained so many new relationships with students and faculty and has definitely become a part of the Animas family. She will be coming in every Friday so Britt can be home with Asher.

We are all so excited to have Britt back in the art room and so proud of her for being so strong and lively in her transition back!


Beautiful Work

Highlights from Nisty Tharp’s 1st Semester Art Electives

“Derek the Deer” by junior Taylor Schermer (india ink, acrylic paint, metallic paint)

“Adventure is Out There” by senior Sage Davis (colored pencil)

“Coy” by sophomore Adrian Griffith (watercolor pencil)

“Octopus” by senior Sierra Holiday (acrylic paint, colored pencil, sharpie)???????


Julia’s colorful “Monsters of Love” brought to life with Sharpies on a snowboard canvas. Bid on this snowboard and others until February 2nd.

Outstanding Osprey: Junior Auctions Art for Charity

By Rosie Gurnee

One of our favorite Osprey artists, junior Julia Busnardo, has designed a snowboard called “Monsters of Love” for the La Plata County Humane Society “Powder Hounds Art Auction.” Founded by two Durango artists, Ray and Wendy Phillips, 100% of the auction’s proceeds go to the La Plata County Humane society.

Julia wields only a hefty bag of markers to cast spells of cute little alien men into being. She chooses markers because “they are more bold than any other material I have used. When I draw, I like to use pens or markers right away because you can’t erase, so you have to deal with what you have. That forces me to keep a steadier hand and to enjoy whatever it is I make.” This attitude of appreciating one’s own creation speaks to Julia’s worldview. Her gratitude for all kinds of beauty is inspiring.

Part of Julia’s artistic and therapeutic process is listening to music. The lyrics inspire many of the words in her art but many are nonsensical expressions of emotion. Julia reflects nonchalantly about her art: “[It’s] the way that I relax. I’m not thinking about how it will look or turn out.” saying, “coloring is very calming and satisfying, so I basically use my art as coloring pages.”

The public was invited to view Julia’s and 19 other snowboards made by local artists on Friday, January 10th at the Animas Chocolate and Coffee Company. Her art will be on display at Purgatory Sports and will be up for auction online at www.powderhoundsart.com/9 until February 2nd.

Junior Osprey Julia Busnardo exudes pride in her work at the Powder Hounds fundraiser event at Animas Chocolate Company on January 10./Photo by Rosie Gurnee


Mondays Suck: Does It Have to be This Way?

By Ava-Kadence Jennings

Monday: the most relatable day because almost everyone has a deep-rooted hatred for it. Teachers, students, employees, bosses, parents, kids, the lady who handed you your coffee, the guy driving the bus you took to get to work: almost anyone you could think

of hates Monday morning. Why? Mondays are depressing. The weekend has come to an end: parties have stopped, friends have gone home, vacations are over. It’s time to go back to our regularly scheduled long week of responsibilities.

When we start the week, educators and educated alike make excuses. Teachers don’t expect much from their students, and students hope, with every ounce of exhaustion in their body, that they won’t have to do anything that requires much effort.

It’s time to rethink Mondays.

According to a 2014 sleep study at Oxford University, research showed that the teenage brain is biologically set up to go to sleep around midnight and doesn’t feel awake until 9 or 10 am. A study 5 years prior had already proven that when starting school an hour  later, grades in core classes went up by 19%. Despite the improvement seen in student productivity, when the leader of this experiment left the school, the school went back to the early start time from before the experiment.

There have even been congressional resolutions that have recommended schools start at 9 am or later. Studies have shown that delaying school to 8:30 am leads to a higher point percentile in math and reading. Studies in the mid-2000s showed that starting school earlier prevents students from getting the amount of sleep they need, which lowers academic performance.

Many think that simply going to bed earlier will be a cure-all, but this isn’t realistic when you factor in teenage circadian rhythms, social lives, family, work, and sports schedules. On top of busy lives, teens have more hormonal shifts, often preventing them from producing the melatonin needed to have an earlier bedtime. In fact, teenage sleep cycles typically begin two hours after those of adults.

Furthermore, a series of studies with a school district in Wake County, North Carolina show later start times are associated with lowered tv time, fewer absences, and more time spent on homework.

You can’t help but wonder why we ignore this data. Why, when studies shed light on improvement in student productivity and overall health, do we throw it away to go back to something that we know doesn’t function as well?

So what if we changed things?

We can’t just take Monday out of our week, as this creates the same effect on Tuesdays. This is seen after three day weekends in schools specifically. You might take advantage of the weekend to rejuvenate or spend the entire time cleaning, or maybe you took the extra day to hang out with friends, or something to replace the time you would be sleeping. Usually, no matter what you do, coming back isn’t fun.

But if we had a 10 am start on Mondays, it could be one step in the right direction.

Starting late on Mondays could help by allowing people to have a slow but smooth return back to school. It would give students the time to have a relaxed morning, and allow their brains to fully wake up to prepare for school. Then, the day could be used for lessons, lectures or work time to finish things before the week starts. Not only would it be beneficial to have a late start on Mondays, but if schools looked at the research, they would see that starting at 9 am for the rest of the week would create prolonged productivity in students.

This schedule shift would require a shift in the teenage schedule concerning after school activities, clubs, and sports. These programs would need to be shifted to later in the day so students could engage in them, or possibly occur before school. Studies show that working out in the morning boosts your energy for the day, leads you to make healthier choices, improves your mood, and increases your focus.

In a perfect world, we would come up with a plan and everyone would find a way to make this work. School would start later, stores would open and close at different times, after school activities would adjust to the new schedule, and everything would work out perfectly. This can’t happen immediately, but if we shifted things around and gave time to settle in to the new schedule, we would be able to observe the long-term benefits.


The Animas Quill