“Relocating a school is a ton of work and adjustment for staff, students and families; but it will be worth it. This is a great opportunity to be in a cool, unconventional space,” said Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser. “There will be so much more room for our students and staff, which means we can expand our programming and welcome more students who are currently on a waitlist.”Enrollment is open and new families are welcome for the 2023-24 school year.
In December, Durango School District 9-R announced the news to BPHS staff and students and signed a three-year lease with Tech Center Partners, LLC. The location at 150 Tech Center Drive, Suites A and Suite E includes approximately 7,817 square feet of the commercial building, plus the exterior areas and perimeter parking in the lower parking lot. The physical move will take place from April through June this year, and the school will reopen for the new school year in mid-August.
BPHS Principal Samantha Tower said the relocation is a great opportunity to share what the school is… and what it’s not. “There has been an unfortunate perception that because we are an alternative education campus, that BP is ‘the school where the troubled kids go.’ This couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “We are a highly progressive learning model implemented by schools all over the world. Our kids are creative, empowered, out-of-the-box thinkers. They don’t fit into a traditional model, which we love about them, so we personalize the entirety of their educational experience.”
BPHS is a part of the Big Picture Learning Network, a large, international network of schools started in 1995 in the United States. There are now around 65 schools in the U.S. and more than 100 schools around the world. The Durango school has about 90 students, each developing personalized learning plans that include independent projects, content-specific experiences and comprehensive internships each year.
“Big Picture's rigorous and highly personalized approach to education combines academic work with real-world experiences that prepare them for what is next after high school,” said Tower. Students choose their own adventure, with highly personalized and experiential learning tailored to their interests. Each student is paired with an advisor in the school and a mentor in the community. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, kids spend time with their mentor in local businesses pursuing internships and gaining hands-on experience. Tower said many BPHS alumni have been hired into positions in the community by employers such Fort Lewis College and Four Corners Broadcasting.
She continued "Students who are self-disciplined, passionate about a better future for themselves or others, and have a community-oriented approach to life or problem-solving would be a good fit at Big Picture. Students are responsible for their learning and the pace of education that would best suit them. Big Picture will work with you to put tools in your tool box so you can navigate life’s challenges more smoothly – and more successfully than traditional methods prepare you for, in my opinion. Big Picture is an amazing group of students, faculty, and staff, and I really believe in the way they teach students!"
“As we move into this new building, it’s a perfect time to share who we are with the community. We want people to know that our school and young people are extraordinary,” said Tower. “We’re all ready to expand our learning and deepen our impact in the community.”
Principal Samatha Tower, right, and her daughter Liliana Tower, a BPHS freshman,
stand in front of the new Tech Center building on Jan. 12, 2023.