Elementary News and Updates (01/13/23)

Elementary-School-News Image

A Message from KOSON/STEM BOD Chair and Interim CEO Karen Johnson

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Community,

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors was approached last year with an opportunity from the Douglas County Commissioners to enhance security at our flagship campus through a one-time funding grant to pilot the Evolv Security Syhttps://stem.

Following many meetings, presentations and proposals, the DC Commissioners have approved the following pilot progoram:
A financial grant of over $961,000 to fund three Evolv Syhttps://stems, and cover operational, logistical and staff needs.

The goal of piloting this syhttps://stem is to incorporate innovative technology into our campus to provide a safe and professional learning environment for students and staff. STEM School Highlands Ranch’s mission is to Never Stop Innovating and the KOSON/STEM Board of Directors believes that this pilot program will allow our school to be at the forefront of school security safely and innovatively.

The Evolv Express syhttps://stem is designed to provide fast and efficient screening of individuals to reduce any opportunities for potential threats.We encourage you to learn more by visiting their website.

As we launch this pilot program, we will begin with one syhttps://stem at our new Athletics Entrance that is expected to arrive by the end of January. Two additional syhttps://stems will arrive this spring with the goal of full implementation to start the 2023-24 school year.

We will be working with a team to develop syhttps://stems and processes using the first syhttps://stem to expand the syhttps://stem across our entrances effectively.

We would like to request the involvement of our students, parents and staff to join an Evolv Implementation Committee to assist us with determining goals, expectations and logistics of implementation. If you’re interested in being part of the Committee, please email karen.johnson@https://stemk12.org.

We understand that many in our community will have questions and we will be planning an information night in the coming weeks.

Thank you,

Kelly Reyna, KOSON/STEM BOD Chair
Karen Johnson, Interim CEO KOSON Schools

Director Updates

A Message from Mrs. McElroy, Elementary School Director

Dear STEM Families,

Welcome back to school! Happy 2023! I hope you all had a wonderful break. While I didn’t have big plans for my time off, I did enjoy having time at home with my family. It is hard to believe we are entering the second half of the school year already. As we kick off 2023 and the second semester, here are a few updates and reminders:

New Staff: Over the break, we were able to hire a couple of positions that we have had open all year. I am excited to announce that we hired Libby Rivera, ES Social Worker. Ms. Rivera will spend the next few weeks onboarding and learning everything STEM. Ms. Rivera has created an Amazon Wishlist if you would like to help her set up her new space. We also hired an LSS teacher, Shannon Green. Ms. Green will be working with Kaeli Sandhoff and Dr. Jistine Harrison to transition special education services to her. Finally, we hired an instructional assistant, Emily Fisher. Emily will be working with our 1st and 5th-grade teams.

Arrival and Dismissal: School starts at 7:40 a.m. if you arrive after 7:40 a.m., you will need to sign your student(s) in to have the tardy excused. Afternoon dismissal is staggered. K/1 is dismissed at 2:20 p.m., 2-5 is 2:35 p.m., and secondary dismissal is 2:55 p.m. Please pick your student(s) up at the appropriate time. If you do not have a secondary student, you must pick up your student at either 2:20 p.m. or 2:35 p.m. depending on the grade.

Attendance and Truancy: Attendance in school is required by law for all children over the age of six. All students must be in school for a required number of days each year. When a student is chronically absent from school, this results in the student being truant. The threshold for truancy is 10% of the school year or 17 days. When a student misses more than 10% of the academic year, they are at risk for a loss of learning. By law, STEM is required to send home truancy letters to families of students who are over this 10% threshold at any point during the academic year. This includes all types of absences, excused or unexcused. Extended absences also fall into this category. STEM will approve up to 10 days for an extended absence. Anything over that will not be approved and may result in being unenrolled from STEM. It is crucial that you reach out to the classroom teacher and me if you have an extended absence for anything over three consecutive days.

Behavior Expectations: At STEM, we spend much time teaching and re-teaching behavior expectations and social-emotional skills. It is important to review while also allowing students time to practice these skills and expectations consistently. Ms. J and our amazing instructional assistant team spent the first few days back at school reviewing our behavior expectations and Spartan Characteristics with every class. Please spend some time with your student reviewing the behavior expectations.

Volunteers: We always look for volunteers in the cafeteria, playground, or driveline. Please visit our Get Involved page in the Parent Section of our website for more information and to sign up.

Lost and Found: During the break, we donated over 100 pieces of clothing items (coats, hoodies, sweatshirts, etc.). I encourage you to please write your student’s names on their belongings. It helps us return the items when they show up in lost and found. I also encourage you to periodically check the lost and found for items your child may have lost. We also encourage students not to bring items of monetary or sentimental value.

Yearbooks: Families can order the 2022-2023 yearbook by clicking here. Soft-cover books are $21 and hard-cover books are $31.

Parent Coffee with Admin: Save the date. Our monthly coffee with admin is on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 8 a.m., in the Elementary cafeteria. We always appreciate the conversation and feedback from our parent community. I hope to see you there.

I look forward to a great spring semester. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

In Partnership,

Amie McElroy, Elementary Director

Upcoming Events

STEM All-Events Calendar

Please take a moment to check the STEM All-Events Calendar on our website.

There are lots of events already scheduled so please take a moment to take a look at the calendar to familiarize yourself with some of the events at the start of school. This calendar will continue to be updated throughout the summer as we get closer to the start of school.

STEMShares Clothing Drive

January 10-31 – Homeroom Teacher (Elementary)/6th-Period Teacher (Middle School)

STEM Shares is hosting one event every month to give back to our community after May 7th. For the month of January, STEM Shares is hosting a Clothing Drive. We will be collecting clothes from January 10-31. Donations should be in wearable condition and students can donate their clothes to either their homeroom teacher (ES Students) or 6th-period teacher (MS Students). All donations will be given to local homeless shelters.

The class with the most donations will win a pizza party! Please email any questions to studentadvisory@s.https://stemk12.org.

Parent Coffee with Administration

Tuesday, Jan. 17,  from 8-9 a.m. – Elementary School Cafeteria

Join us on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 8-9 a.m., in the Elementary School Cafeteria for our monthly Parent Coffee with Administration event. This is our community’s opportunity to meet the team, ask questions and meet with parents. We hope you can join us.

STEM SAC Meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Mechatronics Lab of P-TECH/KOSON Building

The meeting will also be available to watch via Zoom as a trial. In-person participation is strongly encouraged to help build engagement. Additionally, those who would like to participate in Public Comment must do so in person.

The purpose of the SAC is to inform, encourage and provide opportunities for parent and community members to be involved in the planning and evaluation of the school’s instructional program and quality improvement processes. The SAC makes recommendations concerning the School’s performance, improvement, priority improvement, or turnaround plan, and meets to discuss the implementation of the School’s plan and other progress pertinent to STEM’s accreditation contract with the Board of Education. The SAC makes recommendations to the director for prioritizing the spending of school money.

Middle School Academic Scheduling Parent Information Night for the 2023-24 School Year (Current Grades 5-7)

Thursday, Jan. 19,  from 5:30-6:30 p.m. – MS Cafeteria

This event is for students and their families in grades 5-7 to learn more information about how to prepare for selecting courses for the 2023-24 School Year. The Student Support Services Team will be in hand to present how the process works and answer any questions about course offerings.

Students will be registering for classes for the new school year during the week of January 23. The counselors will also meet with students during that week to complete schedule requests and answer any questions.

Contact Jistine.Harrison@https://stemk12.org with any questions. The session will be available via a Zoom webinar for those who cannot attend in person.

Families should park in the Elementary School Parking Lot and enter through the Middle School Cafeteria Doors.

Science National Honor Society Craft Fair

Friday, Jan. 27,  from 3:30-5 p.m. – Elementary School Gym

Join the S.N.H.S. (Science National Honors Society) for a Craft Fair on Friday, Jan. 27, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Elementary School Gym. It is a Winter-Themed event that encourages students to show their creativity in various arts and crafts. This includes snowflake origami, decorated pine cones, food crafts, and much more! If you want to donate, click the button below to sign-up for donations.

SNHS Craft Fair

STEM's Got Talent Auditions

Wednesday, Jan. 25 & Thursday, Jan 26, from 3-6 p.m. – Room 149

Our 11th annual STEM’s Got Talent Show will occur on March 2, 2023. We are looking for 20 incredible acts. The night will also feature the STEM Staff Annual Lip Sync Performance!

Auditions will take place on January 25 and 26. It is open to all students K-12. To audition for the show, you need to do three things:

  1. Sign up for a time slot here
  2. Prepare your act.
  3. Complete this audition form for the day of your audition.
STEM's Got Talent Audition

News and Updates

SBL Update from Mrs. Gasser (01/13/23)

Welcome Back! I hope that everyone had a great break and is ready to start 2023 off right!

I wanted to provide an update on Standards Based Learning and some expectations for the second semester.

For Elementary Parents

You can review your student’s progress on MasteryConnect by following the link that was emailed to you in September. The trackers are designed to keep the student data from the first semester so that we can track growth. You should be able to see the progress that your child is making in each subject area.

You can switch from subject to subject to see your student’s mastery and to determine areas for growth. These are great conversation starters for you and your child. Most elementary school classrooms have students set goals using their MasteryTracker. Be sure to ask your student to share their progress with you.

For Secondary Parents

This week teachers will be sharing second-semester expectations with students regarding SBL through a canvas announcement. Although these expectations were in place at the beginning of the year, teachers provided students with support and scaffolds as there was a natural learning curve with SBL.


  • Learning Opportunities – If a student does not do well on a Demonstration of Knowledge assignment, they will need to complete the learning opportunities before having the opportunity for a retake. It is in the best interest of the student to complete the learning opportunities when assigned so that they do not have to go back and complete them to have a retake.
  • Deadline – teachers will communicate unit deadlines to students via a Canvas announcement. Most deadlines will be two weeks after the end of the unit so that students have opportunities for retakes or resubmissions. Once the deadline has passed, the student will not be able to submit an assignment or retake the demonstration of knowledge unless they have permission from the teacher.
  • Observer in Canvas – You must become an observer in Canvas to receive email notifications when teachers post announcements. This will let you know when the unit deadline is and how your student can make sure they have their work submitted.

In each unit, the teacher will determine which standard or standards they are assessing and then will provide feedback to students along the way. Teachers will collect assignments and assessments throughout the unit that demonstrate knowledge of the standard and enter them into the Canvas grade book. Students should monitor their grade book for feedback and to see their demonstration of knowledge grades.

Please have grace with our teachers while they are learning our new grading syhttps://stems, as there might be a few hiccups along the way. We ask students to politely email their teachers with grading questions and clarification. If you have any questions about grading or Standards Based Learning, please click here.

Secondary MasteryConnect Update

We currently have 12 teachers in secondary who have begun piloting MasteryConnect. I will be reaching out to parents and students in those classes in the next few weeks to walk through what the pilot will look like. We will be gathering feedback from students and parents throughout this process to determine if MasteryConnect meets our needs moving forward.

In Partnership,

Michelle Gasser, Director of Professional Development

Elementary Yearbook Reminder

Don’t forget!! Order your Elementary Yearbook today using the link below. Soft-cover yearbooks at $21 and hard-cover yearbooks are $31.

DR Photo Yearbook Graphic

Student Fees Reminder

Reminder!! If you haven’t yet, please log into your MySchoolBucks account to pay your student’s fees. We currently have approximately $30,000 in outstanding student fees, and we anticipate that is due to the technical issues at the start of the school year with Express Check-In. If you have questions about your student’s fees or want to get on a payment plan, please email ashley.westfall@https://stemk12.org.

Reminder about Early Pick-Up Times

Reminder STEM Families! If you’re coming to pick up your student early, please do so before 1:45 p.m. Please do not come after 1:45 p.m. to pick up your student early. Exceptions will only be made for parents picking up students in the health room or who were called by the front office to pick up their student.

Unscheduled pick-ups after 1:45 p.m. interfere with driveline operations, as well as make it difficult for the front office to assist. Thank you for your understanding in helping to make our operations in the front office run smoothly.

Free Chromebooks for Free-Reduced Lunch Students

We are happy to share that we will be offering students who are part of the Free and Reduced Lunch program the opportunity to get a Free Chromebook if the following parameters are met:

  • Chromebook is signed out by a parent
  • The student must remain enrolled at STEM for three years. (if the student leaves STEM during those three years, they will need to return the laptop)

Laptops can be kept over the summer. For more information, please email ashley.westfall@https://stemk12.org to confirm your Free and Reduced Lunch Program status. Not sure if you qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch? DCSD recommends that you apply regardless so that they can assist you further. Click the button below to access the application.

Calling all Industry Experts, Parents and Community Members!

Career Discovery Information (Facebook Post)

Don't forget to order your school photos

School photos have been uploaded for families to view. Families can access their photos by visiting the link below, selecting the School Portrait Proofs link, and when prompted enter their private password in the following format: studentid#.

A Message from the School Nurse

Click the button below to read an important letter from CDPHE about immunizations. This information was also sent to all families via School Messenger.

Winter Bike to Work Day with waytogo!

Keep your car on ice on Winter Bike to Work Day!

With 300 days of sunshine a year, the Denver region is a great place to bike — even in winter months! Join thousands of commuters on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, for Winter Bike to Work Day, and do your health a favor by pledging to swap a ride in your car for a ride on your bike.

Register to ride at BikeToWorkDay.co and be automatically entered to win prizes to keep you cozy during the chilly winter months. Working from home? You can still participate with folks across Colorado by rethinking how you get to the grocery store, the gym or the school drop-off line!

Way2Go Winter Bike to Work

Updated Snow Day Policy

As the winter season approaches, we want to announce updates to the current Virtual School Day for Inclement Weather policy. Last spring, one of our STEM students presented a proposal and justification regarding changes to our current Virtual School Day policy. As a result, the administration and Board of Directors determined that a change is recommended to the Snow Day Policy. We appreciate the leadership and voice our STEM students display and are happy to announce that STEM will follow the DCSD Snow Day policy with a closure. STEM also reserves the right to modify the calendar, schedule, or this policy, due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or construction that interrupts the required instructional minutes as set forth by the Colorado Department of Education. The following is a reminder of the current policies.

Late Start Schedule

STEM does not mimic the Late Start Policy and schedule put forth by DCSD. In the event that Douglas County calls for a Delayed Opening, STEM’s Virtual School Day Policy will take effect.

Virtual School Day for Inclement Weather

If DCSD determines that the district should follow the Delayed Opening protocol, STEM School Highlands Ranch will abide by its Virtual School Day Policy. When it snows, our school’s operation and instructional expectations will be determined by one of these three scenarios:

  • Updated: Snow Day – Douglas County Schools calls a snow day – STEM is closed (check www.dcsdk12.org)
  • Late Start Day – Douglas County Schools calls a Late Start day – STEM is closed and implements a Virtual School Day.
  • All Schools Open – Douglas County Schools declare Highlands Ranch area schools open – STEM is open and operating to our regular schedule.

Connect with other Parents

In case you didn’t know, families have specific Class Pages on Facebook where they can connect with other families from their student’s grade. You can find all of the different class pages on our Get Connected page of the Parent section of our website. Click the button below to see them.

Please note that these pages are administered by other parents and not by STEM.

Center for Strength News and Events

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

27 Health New Years Resolutions to Make in 2023

New Year’s resolutions are full of expectations—some healthy, others not so much. Common goals like eating healthier or losing weight are admirable, but there are plenty of other goals you can set in 2023 as well, like upping your sleep regimen, talking with a friend every day, or going on more walks.

Literary Resource of the Week

Sora eBook Library

DCSD students and staff can browse and enjoy eBooks and audiobooks anytime, anywhere, on any device. Students and staff login with their universal credentials to check out 3 titles at a time for a two-week lending period. After the lending period, the titles are automatically returned to the shelf! Click below to learn more. Visit https://soraapp.com in your web browser or download the free Sora app from the Apple App or Google Play stores to access Sora on a mobile device. Use school setup code douglasco.

Health and Wellness

How to Help Kids Make New Years Resolutions (Parents Magazine)

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for adults! Here are some practical ways to help your children make achievable goals for the new year.

Health and Wellness

Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. | Online

This is a free online event made possible via a partnership between the Douglas County School District, Sky Ridge Medical Center, and South Metro Safety Foundation. Please register beforehand to receive information on joining the webinar.

This webinar is offered to parents and teens who are ready to start the driving permit process. All beginning drivers are welcome to attend.

For Parents:

  • A better understanding of the learn-to-drive process.
  • How to become more effectively involved in the driving process.
  • What to teach, where, and how.

For Teens:

  • A clearer perspective of the driving process.
  • How to keep your driver’s license.
  • How to survive the greatest potential risks of driving.

Douglas County Youth Initiative

Attention High Schoolers! Your voices are needed on the Douglas County Youth Initiative Advisory Board! Students who will be in 9th through 12th grade in the fall of 2023 are invited to submit their application to serve as a Youth Advisor. Students should attend a public, charter, private or home school within Douglas County and be available for monthly meetings and periodic functions. Applications are due Sunday, Jan. 15, so apply today!

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