Elementary News and Updates (08/11/23)

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Director's Update

An Update from Mrs. McElroy, Elementary School Director

Dear STEM Families,

We have had a wonderful start to the school year. Students came back to school ready to learn. The staff wasted no time developing relationships with your children and helping them learn the classroom expectations and routines that will lead them toward a successful school year. During the first few weeks of school, we heavily emphasize behavior expectations including our Spartan characteristics: Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Empathy. Over the next several weeks we will continue emphasizing behavior expectations of STEM. At home, you can help by reviewing our behavior expectations with your student(s).

Back to School Night will be held on Thursday, Aug. 17, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Back to School Night is an opportunity to learn about your student(s) classroom and the expectations for the year. Back to School Night is not the time to discuss your student(s) individual needs. If you need to discuss individual student needs, please reach out to your student’s teacher via email. The schedule for Back to School Night is posted below.

  • 5-5:20 p.m. – Welcome Message in ES Gym
  • 5:30-5:50 p.m. – Session 1: K-5 presentations in the classroom
  • 6-6:20 p.m. – Session 2: K-5 presentations in the classroom (only if needed for families with multiple students)

I also want to thank everyone for their patience with the afternoon driveline. Every year we must teach new staff, students and parents all the procedures of driveline plus work out all hiccups with the system. It takes about 2-3 weeks for the driveline to run efficiently. There are things you can do as parents to help us with driveline, especially after secondary releases at 2:55 p.m.

  • If you do not have a secondary student, you need to pick up your student before 2:55 p.m. This will reduce the wait time for all families when you pick up at your designated time.
  • If you do have secondary students, please communicate that they need to be watching for your car. Reinforce with your elementary student that they need to stay at the class stone. Secondary students are to wait by the south side doors of the middle school cafeteria, not in the wood chips with the elementary students. This helps us locate all of your students.
  • We use the thumbs up/down system to signify that you have all your students. Please only give us a thumbs up if you have all your students.

As the weeks go on, driveline will be finished most days by 3:10 p.m. Thanks again for your continued patience and support as we familiarize everyone with the process.

Here are a few other important reminders:

  • Lost and Found: Each year we donate hundreds of dollars worth of clothing and other lost items. Please help us return lost items to their owners by writing your child’s name on them, such as lunchboxes, water bottles, hoodies/sweatshirts and coats.
  • Picture Day: Picture day will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 15 and Wednesday, Aug. 16. Please be on the lookout for communication from your student’s teacher on which day they are taking pictures.

I look forward to working with you and your student(s) this school year. Please reach out 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.

School Picture Day

Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Wednesday, Aug. 16, from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. – Elementary School Gym

Elementary students will be brought down by class to have their photos taken. Please see the email sent from your student’s teacher as to what day they will have school pictures.

Elementary Back to School Night

Thursday, Aug. 17, 5-7:30 p.m. – Elementary School Gym

Back to School Night is an opportunity to learn about your student(s) classroom and the expectations for the year. Back to School Night is not the time to discuss your student(s) individual needs. If you need to discuss individual student needs, please reach out to your student’s teacher via email. The schedule for Back to School Night is posted below.

  • 5-5:20 p.m. – Welcome Message in ES Gym
  • 5:30-5:50 p.m. – Session 1: K-5 presentations in the classroom
  • 6-6:20 p.m. – Session 2: K-5 presentations in the classroom (only if needed for families with multiple students)

News and Updates

Update to Lightning Delay Radius/Reminder of Procedure

As the weather continues to be unpredictable, we wanted to get our Lightning Delay/Dismissal Policy to families as soon as possible so that you can all prepare. While we are not anticipating any storms, we want everyone to be prepared.

Lightening Delay Procedure:

  • STEM School Highlands Ranch will continue to follow Douglas County School practices and protocols, and we encourage families to use the WeatherBug app to monitor lightning strikes. If lightning is within an 8-mile radius of our building at dismissal, we will hold students in their classrooms until the lightning has passed. Students over the age of 18 may leave if they choose.
  • The lightning is considered to have passed if, after 30 minutes, there is no lightning within a 8-mile radius.
  • When a lightning dismissal is called, we will announce it inside the building and send an email and text via School Messenger and PikMyKid.
    • NEW FOR 2023-24 SCHOOL YEAR: We are asking K-12 families to download the PikMyKid Parent App and set up their account to that they can receive Emergency Notifications.
  • We often need to call a lightning dismissal at 2:20/2:30 p.m. for Elementary or 2:55 p.m. for Secondary, so texts and emails are sent as soon as possible. Please check IC to ensure you are signed up and subscribed to receive texts.
  • DCSD has made an important change to Lightning dismissal protocol: HS students under 18 will no longer be able to pick up younger siblings from a building during inclement weather.
  • Elementary parents who normally pick up their students as a walker may still do so via the Walker Door in Elementary, using the PikMyKid app to announce you are there. Parents may not park in the driveline and then get out to pick up their student via the walker door as this creates a safety hazard due to cars blocking our driveway.

Important Safety Guidelines

  • Parents, once you receive the text or email that we are in a lightning delay, please clear the driveline lanes and the campus, and wait for a notification that the delay is lifted.
  • Do NOT stay in your car or leave your car unattended in the driveline. This is a safety hazard, and we need the parking lot clear.
  • It is important to keep the driveline lanes clear in an emergency.
  • Once conditions on campus are considered safe, students will be released and messages will be sent to families.
  • Please note: Staff are not allowed to leave the building to clear the driveline lanes and the parking lot so we are asking all families to please follow these guidelines, without prompting so that we can keep everyone safe.
  • We will update families as we get closer to the severe weather rolling in.

Update on Standards-Based Learning

STEM School Highlands Ranch is a standards-based learning school. Standards-based learning (SBL) is a way for students to demonstrate mastery of standards, and a way for teachers to determine which standards students still need help to understand. It is a way for parents to determine what their student knows and might be struggling with.

I've picked up my driveline placard. What do I do with it?

Please fold your driveline placard in half and place it on your dashboard as you enter the Secondary School parking lot in the afternoon. Please do not laminate the placard as it creates a glare with the sun and windshield, making it difficult to see.

You will only need the placard in the afternoon for dismissal. If you need a replacement or an additional placard, email support@stemk12.org with Placard in the subject line. Please include your student’s name, grade and number of placards needed.

Need a Carpool? Sign-Up for Way to Go School Pool

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.

Signing up is simple!

  1. Using a computer (not a smartphone or tablet), create an account and enter your address or intersection here. (Your information will only be shared with same school families. To maintain the highest level of privacy and security, each school’s registration link is unique.)
    Add comments to indicate interest, such as “can provide morning rides in exchange for afternoon rides,” “student is in after-school activities,” or “looking for a walk buddy in the mornings.”
  2. Find and contact interested STEM School Highlands Ranch families in your neighborhood or along your drive to/from school.
  3. The more families that register, the more likely you will find good matches. Even if your family doesn’t need a ride, consider signing up to drive other students. Your participation builds a stronger school community.

Privacy and security: STEM School Highlands Ranch and Schoolpool do not run background checks, confirm valid driver’s licenses, or assess insurance coverage on participants. Potential users are advised to screen participants to their personal satisfaction and check their own insurance coverage for carpooling to ensure that they are covered under these voluntary arrangements. Schoolpool does not provide drivers, vehicles, or insurance.

DCSD Express Check-In Open until Sunday, Aug. 6

This is a friendly reminder for ALL families to please complete Express Check-In as soon as they can. In addition to completing DCSD’s Express Check-In, ALL families must complete the STEM Express Check-In Google Form that is located under the Additional School Forms section of the Dashboard.

If you’ve already completed Express Check-In in the DCSD Engage Platform, but did not complete the STEM Express Check-In Google Form that was included in the dashboard, please log back in and complete that form.

That Google Form is critical for all families to complete.

Express Check-In will close on Sunday, Aug. 6. Following the start of school, Express Check-In will open for NEW Families who join STEM after August 8. While Express Check-In is open for a number of weeks, we strongly encourage all families to complete the process early to reduce stress.

Laptops will be provided to all Fifth Graders Next Year

Exciting news! Starting next school year, all fifth-grade students will be provided with a Google Chromebook from STEM in order to complete their work in class. Families will no longer need to provide a laptop for their students. Chromebooks will be distributed at the start of the school year in their classrooms. Please email support@stemk12.org with any questions.

DCSD Free Meals Flyer SY 23-24 UPDATED

Interested in Joining SAC?

If you’re interested in getting involved with our School Accountability Committee and would like to receive meeting notifications, please email sac@stemk12.org to be included on the Meeting Reminder email list. SAC is actively looking for a community member. If you know of anyone from our community who might be interested in being involved, please recommend them to sac@stemk12.org.

Health Room News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some updated information about COVID-19 regarding isolation and precautions for people who have it, and have asked for schools to share the information with families. Click the button below to learn more.

Lunches will be FREE This 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.

DCSD News and Updates

B.A.S.E at STEM is hiring!

We are looking for 2 Program Leaders to work in a busy and fun after-school program. If you or someone you know likes working with kids, has some experience working with children ages 5-12, and is eager to develop and learn new skills in a growing program with a fun, experienced, and dedicated staff, this is the right move for you. Program Leader hours are M-F, 1:30-5:30/6 p.m. Part-time and full-time hours are available during school breaks. This position is a “Select Charter Position” and offers an additional 10% (to hourly base rate) monthly stipend. If you are interested but need more flexibility, we are hiring Program Leader substitutes. Substitutes can work 2-3 days each week. We are also happy to coordinate with STEM who are looking for more hours. Feel free to call or email me for more details or questions at amy.dupays@dcsdk12.org, or (720) 688-2928.

DCSD Board Unanimously Approves MLO/Bond for Ballot

On Tuesday, the DCSD Board of Education voted unanimously to place a $66M Mill Levy Override and $484M Bond on the November 2023 ballot (see the press release). All seven Board directors expressed their strong support and personal dedication to our students and our staff. During public comment the Board heard from students, teachers, neighborhood school principals, charter school principals, business leaders, elected officials and more – and all expressed strong support for additional funding. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to the public comment – the support for YOU, our teachers and staff, from every part of our community was overwhelming.

  • Click here to watch the public comment portion of the meeting.
  • Click here to watch our presentation to the Board where we outlined staff recommendations for a Mill Levy Override and Bond.

The Board also unanimously adopted a compensation resolution that will automatically trigger if the MLO passes. For school district staff, this means pay increases would happen automatically should the MLO pass (with increases being paid retroactively back to July 1). For charter school staff, exact details about pay increases will come from your school’s board and leadership.

To learn more about how additional funding would benefit our schools and our staff, visit www.dcsdk12.org/funding. I also encourage you to read through our MLO/Bond plan.

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