Elementary News and Updates (08/05/22)

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Welcome Back to School from Mrs. McElroy, Interim Elementary School Director

Dear STEM Families and Community,

I hope that everyone had a wonderful, relaxing summer. It is my pleasure to welcome all of our new and returning students and families to STEM for the 2022-23 school year. Staff has spent the last week busily preparing for your student’s arrival. We are excited to have students back in the classroom and hallways, filling them with energy and enthusiasm for learning. It is always our goal to help every student feel welcomed, connected, and a part of the STEM family. Additionally, we strive to challenge each student to grow in their academic abilities and provide them with the skills necessary to be successful.

Amie McElroy

As the new elementary school director this year, I want to give you a brief overview of my background. Before arriving at STEM in the fall of 2020, I spent 13 years as a high school science teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton. After completing my master’s in Educational Leadership, I started at STEM at the height of the pandemic as the K-8 Dean. I immediately fell in love with the STEM community and I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to lead the elementary school as the new director. Through all of my experience in education, I realized my passion for equity, diversity and inclusion. Over the past several years, I have served on various committees to help improve the educational opportunities for all of our students. Most recently, I have been the committee chair of the STEM DEI committee, and I am a voting member on DCSD’s Equity Advisory Council.

As the elementary director, I firmly believe in a whole child approach when it comes to the education of our youth.
I will ensure that teachers provide rich educational opportunities through our Problem-Based Learning model and real-world experiences. We will also continue to emphasize our Spartan characteristics of Empathy, Honesty, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility through our social-emotional curriculum.

I am truly honored to serve as the elementary director and look forward to forming a partnership with you over this next school year. It is truly a privilege to be part of a community where parents, teachers and students care for each other and strive to build positive relationships that support academic and social growth. Please feel free to connect with me by email at amie.mcelroy@stemk12.org if you have any questions or concerns.

In Partnership,
Amie McElroy

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.

Elementary (Grades 1-5) Spartan Launch Set for Monday, Aug. 8

Spartan Launch for Grades 1-12

All new to STEM Elementary School students are invited to spend a portion of their day on Monday, Aug. 8 at STEM to kick off the year. Students will meet all the teachers and staff, tour the school, and engage in STEM activities. No sign-up needed.

  • Students in grades first and second will be invited to attend the morning session from 9-11 a.m.
  • Students in grades third, fourth and fifth will be invited to attend the afternoon session from 12-2 p.m.

Elementary Driveline Placard Pick-Up

Monday, Aug. 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Elementary School Lobby

Every car that enters our Elementary (West) Driveline in the afternoon for pick-up needs to use a placard. Placards will be pre-printed at the start of the school year and will be made available for pick-up on the dates above. If you cannot make this time, don’t worry. You’ll have opportunities to pick up placards during the first week of school.

Placards must be visible in the front window to assist our driveline staffers with identifying the student that needs to get into that car.

Our Elementary School Driveline will use the PikMyKid App for the 2022-23 School Year. PikMyKid is a dismissal program via an APP that provides an additional layer of safety and security to ensure that our students are dismissed to the appropriate parent/guardian on the correct day. Click the button below to find out more about PikMyKid. If you haven’t already, please download the PikMyKid app from the Google Play or Apple store. Please see the PikMyKid page on our website for instructions on how to set up your account.

School Picture Day

Tuesday, Aug. 9 & Wednesday, Aug. 10, during school hours in the Elementary School Gym

Mark your calendars! School Picture Day is the first and second day of school. We want to capture our students looking their best as they return to school. Please note that we will not be doing Kindergarten Photos at this time. We will share a date and time soon when we will capture Kindergarten Student photos. Below is the schedule for each day so that families can prepare.

Tuesday, Aug. 9

Time Teacher / Grade
8:00 am Ms. Wilkerson 2nd
8:15 am Mrs. Brook 2nd

Wednesday, Aug. 10:

Time Teacher / Grade
8:00 am Mrs. Amos 5th
8:15 am Mr. Chang 5th
8:30 am Ms. Addison 5th
8:45 am Ms. Ackley 5th
9:00 am Ms. Slater 2nd
9:15 am Ms. Bench 1st
9:30 am Mrs. Logue 2nd
9:45 am Ms. Ristucci 1st
10:00 am Ms. Grewe 3rd
10:15 am Ms. Schiffman 1st
10:30 am Ms. Mau 3rd
11:15 am Ms. Webster 3rd
11:30 am Ms. Jackson 3rd
12:00 pm Ms. Alascio 1st
1:15 pm Ms. Brost 4th
1:30 pm Ms. Phelps 4th
1:45 pm Mrs. McKinney 4th

Families can pre-order photos using the link via the button below.

This is a preordering site and will shut down following the last picture day we have scheduled (Make-Up days in October and in the Spring). Following that families will have an opportunity to view and order their photos online and have them directly shipped to their home. Additional information will be shared in the future.

Kindergarten Spartan Launch Sign-Up Now Open

Kindergarten Spartan Launch Presentation

Welcome Kindergarten Families,

I hope you have been having a wonderful summer. I can’t believe the start of the school year is right around the corner. I know you are probably eager to know what the first week of school will look like for you incoming kindergarteners. All incoming kindergarteners will be assessed during the first week of school and placed in teacher classrooms. Therefore, you will not know your teacher until Thursday, Aug 11. Our delayed kindergarten start aims to ensure that our classrooms contain a heterogeneous mix of learners, so our teachers can provide exceptional instruction to all students. Please read the information below regarding our Kindergarten Spartan Launch. Please feel free to reach out with any questions.
In Partnership,

Amie McElroy, Elementary Director

All STEM kindergarten students are invited to Kindergarten Spartan Launch. This is an abbreviated school day where students will meet all the teachers and staff, tour the school, engage in STEM activities, and be informally assessed for classroom placement. We ask that all kindergarten students attend ONE SESSION on either of the dates below.

Available session options will be:

August 9

  • AM Session from 8:30-10 a.m.
  • PM Session from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

August 10

  • AM Session from 8:30-10 a.m.
  • PM Session from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

August 11

  • AM Session from 8:30-10 a.m.

Please use the link below to sign-up for one of the sessions listed above. If you have more than one child entering kindergarten, please sign-up for each student individually.

Parents will receive classroom and teacher notification on the afternoon of Thursday, Aug.11. The first day of kindergarten will be on Friday, Aug. 12. To ease parents and students in the initial drop-off and the transition into kindergarten, Friday, Aug. 12 will be a half day from 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

The first full day of kindergarten will be Monday, Aug. 15 (7:40 a.m. – 2:25 p.m.). Teachers will meet students out front of the Elementary School Entrance driveline drop-off area. Please be on the lookout for an email from our kindergarten team of teachers later this summer.

News and Updates

WayToGo Carpool Information

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Join STEM School Highlands Ranch’s Schoolpool program to connect with other families to drive, walk or bike to school together. 

Looking for help getting your student to and from school to after-school activities, or want to find a buddy to commute to school with? STEM School Highlands Ranch is pleased to once again partner with Schoolpool, a free program to make it easier to get to school.

Enrichment Update

Greetings! My name is Melanie FitzRoy. I have been on staff with STEM School Highlands Ranch since 2017 in a variety of roles, including Educational Assistant in elementary and middle school, Lead In-House Substitute K-12. My daughter started at STEM in 5th grade and is now an incoming Sophomore. Before my time at STEM, my career focused around design, marketing and event planning. Registration for many of the elementary clubs will begin opening up next week, like FLL, Destination Imagination, Game Club and several more.

Registration for Fall Enrichment is open for the following Elementary programs:

  • Ballet
  • Chess
  • Fencing
  • HipHop
  • Theater
  • Yoga

More registrations coming soon!

We are looking for interested coaches/parent volunteers to help facilitate the following Elementary clubs at STEM this fall:

  • First Lego League (Lego Robotics)
  • Destination Imagination

If you want more information on coaching/volunteer opportunities with our school-based clubs, contact Melanie FitzRoy at melanie.fitzroy@stemk12.org. Click the button below to start registering for clubs.

School Lunches will NOT be Free Next Year

Over the last two years, the USDA has provided school waivers that provide meals at no cost to the students. Those waivers will expire after the 2021-22 School year ends. This means that a return to paid meals will begin August 8, 2022 for students that do not qualify for Free or Reduces Meal Benefits. DCSD is asking that ALL families please complete the Free or Reduced Lunch Application. While you’re completing the application, please make sure to check the box that allows for the information to be shared with your student’s school. Sharing this information with STEM allows for your student to be eligible for more benefits throughout the school year.

If a family does not qualify for FRL, the meals will cost the following:

$3.25 – Elementary

$3.75 – Middle School

All meal prices include an entree, fruit, veggies and milk. Ala carte options are available at all schools and prices vary by option. Students pay for school lunches through their MySchoolBucks account.

Student Fees Update

Student fees have been uploaded to MySchoolBucks. Families should see all fees in their account when they log in. If you have any questions about your account, please email Ashley.Westfall@stemk12.org.

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.

News from DCSD about Funding Challenges

Do you know how STEM gets funded? Not many people know. As a free, public charter school in the Douglas County School District, we receive funding through Per Pupil Revenue (PPR). That means for each student we get a predetermined (by the State) amount of money. That money is then used to cover our operating costs, which include facilities, teacher/staff salaries and more. DCSD is one of the lowest-funded school districts in the state.

Any funding for capital improvements like the CHSAA Gym/Building Remodel Project is funded through Bond money that STEM receives from investors. Teacher/staff salaries cannot be paid using that money.

In order for STEM, and the other schools within DCSD, to provide competitive teacher/staff salaries, DCSD must find other ways to find funding. One avenue is through a Mill Levy Override (MLO) or a Bond. DCSD has established a committee to explore these funding options and we wanted to provide our community with information in order to stay informed and to help spread the word.

Elementary Quick Start Guides and School Supply List

Each year our grade levels put together Quick Start Guides for families to use as a reference to prepare for the start of school. Please take a moment to review each guide prior to the start of school.

STEM B.A.S.E. is Hiring

STEM BASE is URGENTLY hiring! We are looking for 1 Program Assitant Manager and 2 Senior Program Leaders to work in a busy and fun program. If you or someone you know is looking to develop management skills and gain experience in a growing program with a fun, experienced, and dedicated staff, this is the right move for you. The Assistant Manager position is a “Select Charter Position” that offers an additional 10% monthly pay stipend, 30 hours per week and full time hours on school breaks. Sr Program Leader hours are M-F 1:30-5:30/6. Part-time and full-time hours are available during school breaks. Happy to coordinate BASE managers who have staff looking for more hours. Feel free to call or email me for more details or questions. amy.dupays@dcsdk12.org /(720) 688-2928.

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