Elementary News and Updates (04/14/23)

Elementary-School-News Image

Director Updates

A Message from Mrs. McElroy, Elementary School Director

Dear STEM Families,

I hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather this week. I know I have enjoyed getting outside with the students during recess to enjoy the warm sun. We finished all of our CMAS testing this week with the exception of a couple of make-ups. A huge shout-out to our dean, Jessica Manzanares, who coordinated all of our CMAS testing this year.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will begin creating class lists for next year. During class selection, we take into consideration academic strengths and weaknesses, social-emotional strengths and weaknesses, and the mix of students’ and teachers’ strengths and weaknesses when placing students. The process of placing kids is very thought out, as we want to ensure we have a heterogeneous mix of students in each class. If you would like to provide feedback for the team to consider, you may reach out to Julie Adamek, who will provide you with a copy of the Parent Request Form. All of these forms need to be submitted no later than Monday, May 1.

We have six weeks left in the year and we intend to make all of those count! There are many important events and activities planned. Below are the important dates. Mark your calendar.

Important End-of-Year Dates:

  • April 20th – STEM Fest
  • April 21st – PD Day -No School
  • April 25th – iReady Testing window opens
  • May 1st-5th – Spring Book Fair
  • May 4th – 4th and 5th Grade Choir Concert
  • May 10th – Art Showcase
  • May 15th – Field Day K-2
  • May 16th – Field Day 3-5
  • May 18th – Graduation – No School
  • May 22nd – Kindergarten Continuation
  • May 24th – Last Day of School for Elementary- (half day dismissed at 11:00am K/1 and 11:15am 2nd-5th)

Here are a few other important reminders:

Driveline: Drop off for students is no earlier than 7:10 a.m. There is no adult supervision before 7:10 am. Please wait to drop your student off until the driveline team is out and ready to go. Please pick up your student at the appropriate time. Next year we will reinstate the late pick-up charge for any student who is not picked up at their designated time.

  • Kindie and 1st – 2:20 p.m. (Cars allowed in the parking lot at 2:15 p.m.)
  • 2nd through 5th – 2:35 p.m. (Cars allowed in the parking lot at 2:30 p.m.)
  • Students with secondary siblings -2:55 p.m. (Cars allowed in the parking lot at 2:55 p.m.)

Only students with secondary siblings should be picked up after 2:55 p.m. If your elementary student does not have a secondary sibling, they must be picked up before 2:55 p.m.

Lost and Found: Our lost and found is overflowing with items. Please have your students check the lost and found for missing items.

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.

KOSON/STEM Special Board Meeting

Monday, April 17, starting at 5 p.m. – Zoom

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding a Special Meeting on Monday, April 17, starting at 5 p.m. via Zoom Webinar. The Board will be meeting to review the candidates for the KOSON Chief Innovation Officer position. Click the button below to view the Special Meeting. No Public Comment will take place.

Parent Coffee with Admin
First Grade Ice Cream Social

KOSON/STEM Special Board Meeting

Wednesday, April 19, starting at 5:30 p.m.-12:15 p.m. – KOSON/P-TECH Building

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding a Special Meeting on Wednesday, April 19, starting at 5:30 p.m. to interview the KOSON CIO Finalist(s) in a public session. The meeting will take place in the KOSON/P-TECH Building. No Public Comment will take place but the community is encouraged to attend to listen to the candidate(s).

Fifth Grade Revolutionary War Reenactment

Thursday, April 20, from 9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Practice Day (Elementary Parking Lot)

Wednesday, April 26, from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. – Chatfield State Park (The Plum Creek Picnic Area)

Our fifth graders will be taking part in the annual Revolutionary War Reenactment this April. They’ll be three practice sessions at STEM School Highlands Ranch, in the Elementary Parking Lot, where students will learn how to march, create formations, learn about the dress and the weaponry used during that time. The practices will culminate in the actual reenactment on Wednesday, April 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Chatfield State Park at the Plum Creek Picnic Area. Parents are invited to attend the final reenactment.


News and Updates

Move-Up to Middle School Day Presentation - March 31

Attention Fifth-Grade Families! On Friday, March 31, fifth graders took part in our annual Move up to Middle School Day. Click the button below to view the presentation that was presented to the students. Please reach out to Maura.Ridder@stemk12.org if you have any questions about Middle School at STEM.

New to STEM Middle School Parent Information Night - April 13

Attention Fifth-Grade Families! On Thursday, April 13, families who will be joining/staying at STEM took part in our Welcome to STEM Middle School Parent Information Night. Click the button below to view the presentation that was presented to the families. Please contact Maura.Ridder@stemk12.org if you have any questions about Middle School at STEM.

STEM Partners with The Backpack Society

We are excited to be able to continue our partnership with Backpack Society, a Douglas County based nonprofit that provides meals for students and families with food insecurity or with temporary need. We are one of several schools in the Highlands Ranch area to partner with this organization that provides a wonderful service for our community. This program is available to all families grades K-12 at STEM with a need. Families are not required to live in Douglas County to be eligible – as long as they have a student attending STEM.

Backpack Society offers 2 programs that require registration:

  • Student Program: Students who register will receive a bag with 6 meals, drinks, and snacks each week. Students will pick up their bags at STEM on Thursday afternoons in the front office.
  • Family Program: Families who register for this program will receive a box of groceries, including perishables to help through the weekend. This program requires a family member to pick up the box at Backpack Society headquarters drive-thru at 213 W County Line Road, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

Your information is kept confidential within Backpack Society and STEM’s point of contact, Julie Fletcher. If a family has registered, does not have transportation, and would still like to participate, please contact Julie Fletcher at julie.fletcher@stemk12.org and we can arrange for pick up.

For more information and to register, click the button below.

TIn Partnership,

The STEM Mental Health Team

Dr. Jistine Harrison, Colene Birchfield, Michael Link, Lisa Clay, Libby Rivera, Katie Bouchard

All-Call for Parents to Join the SAC for 2023-24 School Year

Do you want the community to know what’s great about our school and why their kids should attend here? Have you ever had a concern or frustration about our school but didn’t know what you could do to address it or change it? Do you know how to have a voice in what’s going on in our school? Do you know how to actually make a difference in our school? The School Accountability Committee may be the place for you!

The purpose of SAC is to inform, encourage and provide opportunities for parents and community members to be involved in the planning and evaluation of the school’s instructional program and quality improvement processes. SAC meetings give parents and community members a forum to discuss improvements and opportunities for the school.

What does that mean exactly? It means we discuss things like:

  • Budget Priorities
  • Staffing needs
  • Technology
  • Principal Evaluation Tools
  • Community Concerns and Opinions
  • Unified Improvement Plans (the school’s academic goals and action plans The Annual Report
  • Safety Issues
  • Testing
  • Calendars
  • Other items that may be impacting our school

The SAC makes recommendations to the Executive Director and STEM Board of Directors about the above priorities. This is how we can impact what happens in our school. We help influence the decisions that ultimately impact every student in the school, and possibly the district.

We need parent representatives that reflect our school’s amazing diversity to be a part of the SAC. That means you!

Becoming a member of the SAC means:

  • attending the SAC meeting which occurs monthly. The SAC typically meets on the third Wednesday of the month from 5:30-7 p.m., and the time qualifies for volunteer hours.
  • becoming informed about school programs and budgets – specialists may be invited to SAC meetings to help educate the members.
  • becoming a voice for our school.

Each elected member serves a two-year term; however, your role on the committee may change from one year to the next within the elected term. We are currently assembling our SAC Committee for the next school year. The more parents involved, the better!

If you are interested in nominating yourself or another person for SAC, please email sac@stemk12.org by Friday, May 19. We look forward to your participation in our SAC!

SOAR (Seeing Our Adolescents Rise) is Accepting Referrals for Therapy

SOAR is excited to announce that we are growing our Clinical Team and Adventure Therapy program to meet the needs of youth in our community. Here are some major highlights:

  • SOAR now accepts Medicaid (Colorado Access) for individual therapy services.
  • SOAR is accepting individual therapy client referrals. Individual therapy will utilize an adventure-based modality in connection with other clinical theoretical orientations.
  • SOAR has 3 Adventure Group Cohorts starting soon, for middle school & high school. SPACE IS LIMITED!
    • Due to various funding supports, SOAR is able to minimize the cost of this service. Please reach out to adventure@soarcolorado.org to learn more.
  • SOAR’s Engagement Coaching services support our Adventure Therapist’s work with clients and aligns with our regular service fees.
  • SOAR offers bilingual adventure therapy services. SOAR’s team offers therapy and coaching in English and Spanish.
SOAR Adventure Therapy

The Adventure Therapy program provides therapy services in a creative way using the principles of learning through experience. This program focuses on building youth’s ability to manage challenges in their life through developing resilience. The adventure therapy program supports adolescents in developing skills to navigate home and school successfully.


Youth participate in weekly adventure group sessions involving activities such as group team building, hiking, outdoor exploration, and more, designed to help build community and work on group & individual goals.


Youth participate in two (2) individual therapy sessions per month with a Mental Health Clinician in order to support and process group and coaching sessions as they progress toward their goals for therapy.


Youths regularly work with an Adventure Engagement Coach 1:1 to get support, practice skills, and stay focused on their goals. These are in-person sessions in their school, their home, or in the community or check-ins by phone or a virtual meeting platform. *minimum of two (2) per month


Youth are challenged through an all-day adventure filled with activities to cohesively work on the clinical goals they have focused on each month. This is an opportunity for community, growth, and skill-building as youth navigate varied levels of engagement.

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. Please note that a $5 late fee will now be applied to any orders that are placed.

DR Photo Yearbook Graphic

Lunches will be FREE Next School Year

FREE lunches are back for students! Starting in August of 2023, students will once again receive free lunches. Students must chose an entree, fruit/vegetable a milk for the free lunch. Snacks are not free.

While lunches will be free, it is important for families who need additional financial support to still complete the Free/Reduces Lunch application. Those who qualify for FRL status will only receive the additional benefits (free/reduced school fees, free/reduced trips, priority for scholarships in non-FRL field trips or Enrichment programs, and/or graduation fee reductions, etc.) of the program if they complete the application.

In order to assure that the District and STEM receive accurate data, DCSD and STEM are requesting that ALL families complete the FRL application that opens on July 15, regardless of financial status. A new application must be completed each school year. Families can also still apply for this school year using the link below.

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@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@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)

Center for Strength News and Events

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

How to Help a Child with Anxious Feelings

We’ve all felt nervous or worried from time to time and our kids are no exception. Did you know that avoiding anxiety can make it stronger? By helping kids move forward while still feeling anxious, we can help them to do things while afraid.

Literacy Tip of the Week

Assessment Fundamentals: Understanding Testing and Evaluation of Dyslexia

Hosted by DC Kid

Wednesday, April 19 | 6:30 p.m.; Castle Pines Library

Learn about the Dyslexia assessment process in both school and private evaluation settings.

Health and Wellness Resource of the Week

Parent University Recordings

Check out recordings of DCSD’s past Parent University webinars made possible via a partnership with Sky Ridge Medical Center.

DCSD Events

Sources of Strength Ice Cream Social

Hosted by DCSD Health, Wellness and Prevention Department

Tuesday, April 18 | 4-6 p.m.

​​​​​​​This free event is to spread the word about the Sources of Strength program to our greater community, and to come together to have fun and enjoy yummy ice cream. Our Sources Student Leadership Committee will be providing games, crafts, and fun activities for all who attend. This event is open to all ages, we ask that you come ready to have FUN! Sources of Strength is a strength-based, comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention, but impacts other issues such as substance misuse, bullying and violence. It promotes and focuses on connection, help-seeking and resilience through messages of hope, help and strength.

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