About Us

At STEM School Highlands Ranch we put innovation in the center of learning to unleash the potential of all students and prepare them for an exponentially changing world.

Welcome to STEM School Highlands Ranch. We are an innovative, FREE, public, charter learning community that exists to innovate K-12 education in order to prepare every student to lead change, solve problems and succeed in an exponentially changing world.

Our Mission

Never Stop Innovating.

Our Vision

We envision a world of exponential possibilities where every child develops the innate knowledge, skills, creativity and character to thrive, lead and succeed in an ever-changing future.

Our Goal

Our goal is not only to prepare students to thrive in the constant world of reinvention, but to lead it.

Core Beliefs

We equip students to succeed in an exponentially changing world. 
We leverage the power of collaboration. 
We relentlessly reinvent and adapt. 
We forge pathways of discovery through continuous inquiry and experimentation. 
We nurture unlimited human potential. 
We ethically and positively impact the world.
FOUNDED 2011

with a Charter from Douglas County School District, we serve students in grades K-12.

STUDENTS: Over 1,700

Our Elementary School serves over 500.
Our Secondary serves over 1,200

SAT SCORES: 10TH IN COLORADO

Our students recorded the highest overall SAT scores among Douglas County Schools in 2019.

RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY

Ranked No. 9 among Colorado High Schools by US News and World Report.

COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (CDE)

Finished with a 95.6% Achievement Rating and an 87% Overall Performance Rating.

JOHN IRWIN SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD

Our students earned five consecutive John Irwin School of Excellence Awards.

STEM_School_HR

We are more than a school

We are a think tank, a learning lab and a catalyst for creativity. We are a haven for continual innovation, creative exploration, and rigorous discovery. We defy definition and break with convention. Because that’s what innovators do.

STEM Students in Engineering Lab

We see school differently

Although our curriculum has a college preparatory focus with emphasis on developing core liberal arts skills in reading, writing, mathematics and science, we use creativity, problem-solving and innovation to inspire and challenge our students.

Theater Students on Stage

We are more than just STEM

We infuse STEM into all classrooms. We challenge students with STEM-based, real-world problem solving fueled by constant exploration, inquiry and discovery.

Student at Competition

We foster innovation

We equip every student, every day in every classroom with the knowledge, skills, confidence and character to thrive in a constantly changing world. By using continuous inquiry, constant discovery and trial and error as critical pathways to new discoveries, we create a culture of safe failure and fearless innovation.

Students at DECA Summit Conference

We empower students

We put students in the driver’s seat of their learning, engaging and empowering them to push their own unique boundaries of innovative learning, thinking and doing.

STEM Students working on a computer

We see teachers at catalysts

Here, teachers are role models and innovation coaches who provide the framework for learning. Our teachers are experts in teaching appropriate use of technology, collaboration, and teamwork that sparks interest in STEM and learning at an early age.

Students Gaming

We innovate and learn together

Here, we leverage the power of collaboration, teamwork and group think to build, design and create solutions to real world problems.

Students Petting Dogs

We’re fostering tomorrow’s innovators, creators and change agents

We work tirelessly to nurture and develop integrity, respect, responsibility and honesty within our students and take pride in encouraging well-rounded student development. Link here for some of our notable student accomplishments over the last school year.

OUR FACULTY

One-hundred percent of our faculty is ranked "Highly Qualified" through the Colorado Department of Education. Monthly staff surveys demonstrate high satisfaction and engagement with our students.

CURRICULUM

Through a rigorous, STEM-based problem-solving curriculum, we foster innovation by teaching concepts, not facts; tapping students, not chalkboards; keeping learning real, personal, hands-on and weaving STEM principles into every subject.

ENROLLMENT

Students are selected through annual lottery. No testing is required. We are a free, public charter school.

COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIPS

We collaborate with community businesses for real-world, authentic learning experiences for all students. We invite innovators, scientists, artists, engineers, government officials, teachers and parents to work with students to enhance learning.

COLLEGE AND CAREER PREP

College Preparatory Counseling is available to all students. Our innovative, Career Discovery Program enables high school students to work in fields of interest and develop real-world career skills and engagement.

TOURS

The school is open for tours every Wednesday at 10 a.m. All tours meet in the middle school lobby. No sign-up is required.

Highlights & Awards

  • 2019 Valedictorian Emma Goodwill was named a finalist for the Youth Tech Leader of the Year award at the 19th Annual Colorado Technology Association’s 2019 Apex Awards at Infinity Park Events Center last week.
  • Students attended the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., prior to the Thanksgiving break. The team of students (Shruti Narwaney, Tavin Turner, Isabelle McCall, Gitanjali Rao, Sanjana Sankholkar, Lakshmi Ganapaneni), accompanied by their coach Simi Basu, presented on the topic “Defining the Future by Teaching the Youth.”
  • STEM partnered with Lockheed Martin and the Space Foundation to host the first-ever Junior Space Entrepreneur Program.
  • Bryce Howard won the Rotary Student Recognition Award, which recognizes a student who demonstrates excellence in leadership, community involvement, academics and character.
  • Seventh grader Sidd Aradhya was crowned as STEM’s Champion of the GeoBee. Seventh grader Zach Feldkamp finished second.
  • Crisis Recovery Coordinator Hannah Reese was recognized by the Center for Bright Kids as a recipient of the 2019 Lighthouse Advocacy Award.
  • Senior Grace Ryan was named a National Merit Scholar Finalist and Winner.
  • Teachers Allison Silvaggio and Lauren Harper, along with Help Desk Technician Jessie Hill, were recognized as DCSD Apple Award Winners.
  • STEM’s varsity “A” team opened their conference tournament with an upset of the No. 1 seed Endeavor Academy. The team opened the first half on a 22-12 run and then relied on their defense to hold of a late-game surge to end up winning a close game 28-26 to secure the victory and move on in the tournament for the championship.
  • Gitanjali Rao received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her exemplary volunteer service to her community. The award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.
  • Sophomore Ava Mitchell received an overall superior assessment on her Thespys category at the last chapter event. As a result of this, she qualified to participate in the Thespys awards program, which will take place at the International Thespian Festival.
  • Gitanjali Rao has qualified for the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held in Anaheim, Calif., in May 2020. ISEF is one of the leading science fair competition that attracts participants from all around the globe, who showcase their projects, inventions and innovations in science.  Gitanjali’s project titled “A Novel Approach to Early Directional Diagnosis of Prescription Opioid Addiction” was first in her category of “Biological Sciences” at the Denver Metro Regional Science Fair. Her project further qualified for ISEF and the state fair for being in the Top 3 in the “Best of Fair”, that spanned across all science categories. The project also received a honorable mention for most inventive project category award and she is invited to present her research at the annual Research and Creative Activities Symposium to compete with graduate and undergraduate student projects at CU Denver.
  • Boys Varsity and Junior Varsity team brought home third-place trophies from the All City League Silver and Gold League.
  • Senior Eryn Wheeler became STEM’s first recipient of a NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) Rising Star Award.
  • Gitanjali Rao was named a 2020 Carson Scholar. She was previously honored with a scholarship award and received recognition to acknowledge her continued academic and humanitarian achievements. She was among 8,600 gifted students from across the country who have received this honor.
  • STEM student and Eagle Scout, Ryan Montgomery had the honor of being the Master of Ceremonies at the March 6 Denver Area Council BSA Class of 2019 Eagle Banquet. Over 600 people were in attendance.
  • STEM student Hana Lee was chosen as a finalist in the 15th annual Kiwanis Club of Castle Rock’s Stars of Tomorrow Talent Competition.
  • STEM’s MATHCOUNTS “The Dream Team” advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019-20 Math Video Challenge. STEM had eight teams that worked very hard to create videos during their Math Explorations class.
  • Seventh grader Ashlynn Wainscoat placed second in the annual “The Future of Space” essay contest put on by The Rocky Mountain Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The 2020 writing prompt was “How advanced can you envision space technology and exploration through the next 50 years? What do we need to do now to achieve that?” The essay was open to 7th graders in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. For placing, Wainscoat will receive a cash prize from the AIAA!
  • Students of team Desdemona of Mrs. Allison Doe’s class who were selected as the winning team of the VISA Everywhere Initiative. This was the first time that a high school was chosen to take part in this program and the winning team has won a month-long internship with KITE as well as individual Ipads. Click here to view the winning presentation. Click here to view the initial presentation for the VISA Everywhere Initiative.
  • Freshman Gitanjali Rao took home first place in Senior Micro & Molecular Biology for her submission on Novel Approach to Early Directional Diagnosis of Prescription Opioid Addiction. This was from the Denver Metro Regional Science & Engineering Fair.
  • Second graders Andirudh Krishman, Anirudh Rao, Robin Park and Shriya Madhavan earned honorable mention at the Nation Toshiba Exploravision Challenge for their entry on an idea to save mountain gorillas using bio-sensors. They were the only team in Colorado to receive this recognition. The team introduced an idea for gorillas to get away from poachers by themselves, using biosensors/olfactory-sensors to signal gorillas to move away from danger areas. They used the Engineering Design Process concept taught by their second grade teachers to develop a solution.
  • Senior Fischer Argosino was signed as a Student-Athlete at the Colorado School of Mines, becoming STEM’s first student to sign a National Letter of Intent.
  • STEM Kindies were fortunate to take part in STEM’s 4th Annual Inventor Visit this year with Mr. Ian Bernstein, Founder and inventor of Sphero, Sphero BB-8 and Head of Product and Inventor at Misty Robotics. Although Mr. Ian Bernstein was not able to visit us in person with his robots, the students were able to have a video conference with him and engineer Mr. CP instead. This marked the beginning of the Innovation Unit in which each Kindie had the opportunity to invent something and present their innovations to the US Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Second grader Anirudh Rao and eighth grader Nakita Rane submitted art in the DCSD Digital Art Show and their artwork was chosen to be featured on the DCSD Virtual Art Show this week.
  • Although other competitions were cancelled due to COVID-19, Colorado School of Mines figured out a way to host CS@Mines High School Programming Competition virtually and two teams of the STEM Coding Club competed, taking both first and second place. (1st Place: the Installation Wizards – Dorian Cauwe, Deven Layton, and Joseph Parsons; 2nd Place: Team i – Joshua Boerma, Sawyer Curless, Tristan DeVries)
  • Seventh graders, along their parents and STEM staff, were able to hear from Holocaust survivor and Denver local Fanny Starr. STEM has been fortunate enough to host the Starr family for many years as part of the seventh grade cross-curricular Holocaust unit. Ms. Starr, at 98, is the oldest Holocaust survivor in Colorado who does public speaking. Of her 60 family members, Ms. Starr was among only five to survive the atrocities of the Holocaust.
  • Kindly App Launch: As part of eCybermission STEM-in-Action grant , “Kindly” an anti-cyber-bullying solution was launched virtually which was attended by several students and organizations nationwide including Forbes Ignite, UNICEF, Children’s Kindness Network board members and students from 10 different states, some of whom were featured in Disney’s Marvel Hero episode. A demo of the solution was shown and a partnership with Children’s Kindness Network was established in addition to opening up a challenge for crowd-sourcing and empowering students to code. The implementation steps started in Aug 2019 and about 500-600 hours were spent in addition to promotion, awareness, and planning for the launch event.
  • FBLA Virtual State Conference Winner: FBLA Virtual State Conference was held in late April and the results are in! Junior, Tyler Connelly, took 1st place in Accounting.
  • Senior Nicole Rialsback was awarded the Daniels Scholarship , which provides a four-year annually-renewable college scholarship for graduating high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional character, leadership and a commitment to serving their communities.
  • Senior Alison Thompson became the first STEM Spartan to be nominated and accepted to a U.S. Military Academy, as she was accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy. She received a nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy from U.S. Representative Mike Coffman and a nomination to the U.S. Air Force Academy from U.S. Senator Cory Gardner.
  • Student Gitanjali Rao was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Science List as an inventor to watch for her unique invention that detects lead in drinking water. She was also featured in the Denver Business Journal, KOA Radio Broadcast, Highlands Ranch Herald and the Denver Post. She was profiled on the NBC Today Show and on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She also received the Best of Fair in Denver Regional Science Fair among all middle school students for her project that created a simple device that can detect the onset of prescription addiction using the latest development in human genetics. The solution detects a specific addiction gene protein and antibody, using an automated colorimetry device and an image processing algorithm.  She conducted her research in the Cell and Development Biology lab at University of Colorado, Denver  and will continue to perform further research, tests and shadow graduate students.
  • Holocaust survivor Jack Adler spoke to seventh graders sharing a powerful account of his experiences and spoke about the dangers of bullies and the importance of respecting one another. Mr. Adler has published a book called Y: A Holocaust Narrative; or you can read more about his story here: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/denver-holocaust-survivor-jack-adler
  • STEM hosted its first TEDx event as students gave talks on innovation, adhering to the school’s motto of “Never Stop Innovating.”
  • Students took part in the 2019 National History Day Greater Denver Metro Regionals and took home the following awards: Senior Group Performance (Third Place: Lorelei Haycock, Ashley Stafford, Emily McNicholas Emily, Lilia Ransom, Samantha Lee), Senior Individual Website (First Place: Sophia Watts; Second Place: Julian Knight; Third Place: Grace Bielefeldt), Senior Group Website (First Place: Maria Prosperi, Aimee Swindall, Callan Bendall), Senior Individual Documentary (Second Place: Kenan Korn), Senior Group Documentary (First Place: Jacopo Folgoni Borsa, Daniel Krawciw, Jadyn Lewis), Senior Individual Exhibit (First Place: Sean Mauch), Senior Group Exhibit (Third Place: Isabella Martinez, Lily Falkenberg, Cassidy Hickey)
  • First graders participated in a Toshiba Exploravision National Challenge and received a Honorable Mention award, which places their project among the top 10% of all projects submitted for the competition. They submitted a solution to solve the problem of recycling sorting where only 60% of recycled items are truly recyclable. Their solution called the Intelligent Recycling System uses a camera based sensor combined with bar code scanners and Artificial intelligence based machine language learning tool that trains the system to identify common recyclable materials and sorts them efficiently. To make it better for our school and create awareness, they also designed visual posters, which were added in the elementary halls.
  • The Synchronous Learning Center (SYNK) at STEM  was recently featured in the U.S. Department of Education’s #RethinkSchool series at https://blog.ed.gov. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the nation to rethink school. #RethinkSchool: Family Relationship Opened Door to “Synchronous Learning” Between Colorado Schools (U.S. Dept. of Education Blog)
  • Riveting Connections Presents: 3-D Printing and STEM School
  • High School DECA Team competed at the State Competition, with two students (Dylan Jones and Adil Khan) placing fourthing in the Travel and Tourism event, receiving an invitation to the national competition.
  • Future City Colorado: STEM School Highlands Ranch MS students won 4th place at the Regional competition for Future City Colorado competition (https://futurecity.org/colorado) at School of Mines. Congratulations to students: Kaley K. (6th grade), Jatin P. (8th), Ethan F. (8th), Taekyung K. (8th) & Coach: Mrs. Simi Basu. Their theme was Powering Our Future! They designed a resilient power grid for their future city that can withstand and quickly recover from the impacts of a natural disaster. This was their first time competing and students did an amazing job. Read more about it HERE.
  • Matchwits: Congratulations to STEM students Paul Harmston, Parker Mowery, Aldrin Feliciano, Michal Bodzianowski, Vrishank Bikkumalla for placing 7th out of 28 school in the Rocky Mountain PBS Matchwits Qualification Tournament. The top 16 schools have now advanced to the On-Air Tournament in Pueblo, November 2-4. The STEM team is scheduled to compete the morning of November 3. Learn more about the competition by watching this short video.
  • BEST Robotics: Congratulations to the STEM HS BEST Robotics team who had their strongest performance ever at their Hub competition. First place in Robot Game, first place for the overall BEST Award, first place in Sportsmanship, and winners of the Founders Award for Creative Robot Design. This was one of the hardest robot challenges in memory and this team really rose to the occasion, under the guidance of parent/mentors Nikki and Scott Baird. The team will move on to Regionals in early December. Also, a strong day for the Middle School team, in only their second year, whose hard work led to being named a Regionals Alternate.
  • FIRST Robotics: The FIRST Robotics Team competed in the First Out of State Regionals in Oklahoma City, finishing 26th out of 62 teams.
  • High School Computer Science Teacher Cameron Ryan received the 2018 Broncos Tackle STEM Coach of the Month Award presented at the Colorado Technology Association’s Apex Awards. He was one of three finalists across the state honored at the annual black tie banquet. Two STEM students also won recognition there, Reade Webb and Jordon Monk, for their outstanding accomplishments in both school and Careerwise.
  • A team of students and teachers were honored to be guest speakers at the National Cybersecurity Symposium in Colorado Springs. Middle School student Tavin T. and Senior Julia M. both presented, along with teachers Simi Basu and Cameron Ryan.
  • STEM was recognized for innovation and collaboration as a finalist in the Excellence in Technology Enabled Learning category at the Colorado Succeeds celebration. The Succeeds Prize is the most prestigious awards and recognition event for Colorado’s public schools and educators, aimed at scaling successful innovations and practices across Colorado.
  • In addition to being named a World-Leading Leader in Education and recognized for our Career Discovery Program, our students were featured on Fox31 Denver and MHI Solutions industry trade publication. Our students, teachers, and staff continue to set the bar for our fearless educational model that never stops innovating. In addition, our athletic program and Enrichment offerings continue to grow, providing new and exciting opportunities for students.
  • John Irwin Schools of Excellence Awards
  • CyberPatriots Competition: Middle School students take 1st and 2nd in State.
  • STEM High School takes first place in ACT scores among Douglas County Schools
  • Increased our rank on Colorado School Grades from 11th to 9th out of 345 in Colorado high schools.
  • National History Day: STEM students place 6th in the entire nation in the Senior Division.
  • Future Business Leaders of America: School receives Chapter of the Year award.
  • Students featured on front page of Denver Post for their collaborative synchronous learning.
  • Technology Students Association: Our TSA teams placed first in 23 categories at the State competition.
  • Theater: STEM’s creative theater department brings the first-ever high school immersion theater presentation to Colorado.  Denver Post article about the play “Hotel Ten.”
  • Career Discovery: Nearly 40 students at school employed in professional work environments for credit and real-world life experience.
  • America’s Top Young Scientist: STEM 7th grader receives national award as “America’s top young scientist” for inventing a quick, low-cost test to detect lead-contaminated water. Gitanjali Rao was selected from 10 finalists who had spent three months collaborating with scientists to develop their ideas.