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New Animas High School building set to open in January

$19.1 million project includes 40,500 square feet with science lab, universal workshop and makerspace
Construction of the new Animas High School on the Fort Lewis College campus is nearing completion. Students are expected to begin classes in the new building on Jan. 3. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The new Animas High School building on the Fort Lewis College campus will be complete in time for the winter semester.

Faculty are expected to move into the building on Dec. 16, and students will begin classes on Jan. 3.

The $19.1 million project broke ground in October 2021. The building, which was designed by Anderson Mason Dale Architects, includes features conducive to Animas’ project-based education model.

The building was primarily funded through the Building Excellent Schools Today Grant from the Colorado Department of Education. The grant allocated $13.7 million to the project. Other funding was raised through a capital campaign, which brought in close to $1 million and Ballot Issue 4A, which allocated $2.5 million.

In April, the original move-in period was slated for October 2022. However, the building process was delayed because of worker illnesses. If workers were sick it would often delay construction by a week, said Head of School Rebecca Ruland.

Ruland also said city water issues also prevented the school from opening earlier, however, those problems have been resolved.

Animas High School will have its first day of classes in its new location on Jan. 3. Construction delays kept the new school building from being ready for its original October finish date. (Courtesy of Anderson Mason Dale Architects)

Ruland is happy with how the project turned out and said the new building will have a positive impact for students.

“The space we’re in now is very crowded. There’s no breakout space for students to study. Basically, there are no unused classrooms,” Ruland said.

The 40,500-square-foot structure has two floors, with a common space flowing through the building’s central spine and ending in an atrium at the southern end.

Support staff and administration offices will be spread throughout the building but will encompass a large portion of the bottom floor.

A two-story atrium will be used as a multipurpose room and common area where students can eat lunch and present projects. The space will feature a projector, surround-sound stereo system and a warming kitchen.

“It’s a beautiful and inspirational space for the students,” Ruland said.

Construction on the new Animas High School located on the Fort Lewis College campus is nearing completion. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

She said students and faculty are excited to move into a location that is significantly larger than the two modular buildings the school currently occupies.

Other new additions to the school include an upstairs science lab, a universal workshop and a makerspace.

The makerspace and universal workshop are housed on the school’s bottom floor. Garage doors allow students to easily move projects from one place to another if needed. The shops will allow access to tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters.

Ruland said an outdoor patio on the second floor won’t be ready by the move-in date. The patio will be finished over time, she said, but it wasn’t a priority before getting students moved in.

AHS enrolls 198 students, and the new building is constructed to accommodate about 400 students.

There will be a ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20 that is open to the public.

“We’re really grateful for the funds the community raised and a shoutout to the board members and staff who made this possible,” Ruland said.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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