Secondary News and Updates (01/19/24)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A Message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

I hope you all enjoyed our recent four-day weekend and managed to stay warm. We have had quite a soft start to this semester; however, we finished off the week strong, and it feels like students are happy to be back in their routine. We wasted no time jumping right back into events this semester! We held our Spelling Bee on Wednesday and will advance two students to the District Spelling Bee.

Our students will compete in Brain Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Heritage High School. Auditions are coming up on February 7 and 8, for our 12th annual STEM’s Got Talent. The show itself will take place on March 7. Students received an email from me with the details and a sign-up link. Additionally, you can find the information in the newsletter. Finally, our Middle School “Sleep In” Movie Night will occur on Monday, Jan. 29 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Secondary Gym.

Here are a few more updates from the Middle School:

Course Registration Next Week:

The Academic Planning Guide and course selection sheets are available to view on our website. Course selection sheets will remain locked until we complete our course selection assembly next week. After that, our counselors will hold a Parent Information Night on Thursday, Jan. 25. If you have any questions, please hold them until everyone has been presented with all the information. It is a very busy time of year, and our counselors are unavailable to answer individual questions at this time.

Spelling Bee Winners:

Congratulations to Ishaan Barhate and Anirudh Rao for advancing to the DCSD District Spelling Bee! This was no easy feat as it was a very competitive Bee. The District Bee will be held on February 3rd at the Legacy Campus.

Change in Access Grading Policy:

The purpose of implementing Access classes is to focus on our students’ social-emotional learning, build community, support students by establishing meaningful connections with a small group of peers and their teacher, and provide additional time for students to meet with teachers for extra help. The success of any new initiative depends entirely on the school culture, teachers, students, and administration. When everyone involved “buys-in” to this class, the effects can be incredible! This past semester, students in Access class were given a pass/fail grade. Starting this semester, we want to be very clear that in order to pass Access, students must attend at least 80% of their classes. Excessive absences from class is a sufficient reason for a teacher to fail a student.

Important dates and events

  • Middle School Movie Night – Monday, Jan. 29 – 4:30–6:30 p.m.
  • STEM’s Got Talent Auditions – February 7 and 8 – Room 149
  • TSA State Competition – February 22 – 24
  • STEM’s Got Talent Show – March 7
  • Parent Teacher Conferences – March 14-15
  • Spring Break – March 15-24

Thank you all for your continued support as we navigate the middle school years together!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A Message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Spartan Students and families,

Wow, it is hard to believe that we have completed the first semester of school. This is an exciting time of year. The freshmen have completed their first high school finals, the sophomores have finally settled into their daily routines, the juniors begin looking into the future, and the seniors are anxious about graduation and all that it entails. This is a time when our students begin to look forward and plan for their futures.

Now that January is almost over, it is time for the course selection process to begin. The Academic Planning Guide and course selection sheets are available on our website. Please take a close look through the course guide and select courses that best fit your interests and needs. I encourage parents to take an active role in this process. Have conversations about the different courses prior to completing the course selection worksheet. We are proud to offer such a wide variety of courses to fit the needs of all of our students, however, there are times when you will get your alternate courses, so please make sure to select courses you will like and fit your needs. If you have any questions, contact your counselor to help determine the best courses for you.

Students, start saving your money. Our Annual Wish Week is quickly approaching! STEM will host our annual Wish Week March 4th-8th. Our National Honor Society Students are working hard to organize a wonderful week that will include students at all levels. Please stay tuned for additional information!

Parents continue to have a strong influence on their teenagers. STEM staff encourages parents to keep open lines of communication with their teens by maintaining family time to discuss things and share common activities, enforcing consistent rules that help adolescents learn the relationship between independence and responsibility, and showing that education is important by encouraging homework and reading, knowing the student’s teachers, and supporting post-secondary education planning. And please monitor their social media accounts, both the accounts you know they have, and the accounts they may have created without your knowledge.

This year, we have seen an increase in bullying through social media. There are anonymous Instagram pages where someone is actually accessing your social media, downloading and posting pictures of the students in an embarrassing way. There are anonymous posts where some of the students are bullied relentlessly. These posts are anonymous and can only be stopped if parents monitor social media. And it doesn’t stop with bullying. Earlier this year, we received the tragic news that a student in another nearby school took their own life. They were online and got caught up with an online predator posing as a high school student. Without going into details, the student was put into a compromising situation and didn’t see a way out. And while this was a student at a different school, we are not immune. We have had a couple of situations recently where our own students have fallen victim to similar predatory practices, and had it not been discovered, we may have experienced a similar situation. So please monitor your students’ social media. You wouldn’t let them leave the house without knowing where they are going, and I encourage you to do the same on the internet.

Upcoming Events
Monday, Jan. 22 – Boys basketball vs. Alameda International. JV 4:30 and Varsity 6 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 25 – Course Selection information night, 7p.m. (Middle School 5:30)
Friday, Jan. 26 – Varsity Boys Basketball at Aurora West College Prep
Saturday, Jan. 27 – 9:00 am Cyberpatriot Semifinals; 7 p.m. Winter Formal
Monday, Jan. 29 – 4:30 JV Boys Basketball at Conservatory Green & 6:00 Varsity Boys Basketball at Conservatory Green
Wednesday, Jan. 31 – 10:30 High School Assembly; 4:30 JV Boys Basketball at Addenbrooke Classical Academy; 6:00 Varsity Basketball at Addenbrooke Classical Academy
Friday, Feb. 2 – 4:30 JV Basketball vs. Rocky Mountain Prep-Smart; 6:00 Varsity Basketball at STEM vs Rocky Mountain Prep-Smart

That is all I have for now. Have a wonderful weekend!


Ryan Alsup, High School Director

Proud to be a Spartan!

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.

Love and Logic Parent Information Night

Monday, Jan. 22, from 5-7 p.m. – via Zoom or in-person in the High School Commons

Join us on Monday, Jan. 22, from 5-7 p.m. for our fourth installment of Love and Logic, focusing on Avoiding Power Struggles. The session will be held live in the High School Commons, or via Zoom. Attendees will learn about:

  • That perceived control is a basic human emotional need
  • That we can either give control on our terms or wait for our children to take it from us on their terms
  • Specific guidelines of sharing control through choices
  • Rules for the appropriate use of choices
  • When not to give choices

Middle School Course Selection Information Night

Thursday, Jan. 25, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Middle School Cafeteria

The Middle School Counseling and the Teacher Support Team will be holding a Course Selection Parent Information Night for families with Middle School students, as well as our families with fifth graders who will be staying at STEM for Middle School. Families will get an overview of the Academic Planning Guide, as well as how to help their students select their courses for next year. This is a very important event and all families are strongly encouraged to attend. Please park in the Elementary School or the High School Staff Parking Lot and enter through the Athletics Entrance.

To prepare, please click on the buttons below to review the Academic Planning Guide as well as the corresponding Course Selection Worksheets. Please bring any questions to the Parent Information Night.

High School Course Selection Information Night

Thursday, Jan. 25, from 7-8 p.m. – Middle School Cafeteria

The High School Counseling and the Teacher Support Team will be holding a Course Selection Parent Information Night for families with High School students, as well as our families with eighth graders who will be staying at STEM for High School. Families will get an overview of the Academic Planning Guide, as well as how to help their students select their courses for next year. This is a very important event and all families are strongly encouraged to attend. Please park in the Elementary School or the High School Staff Parking Lot and enter through the Athletics Entrance.

To prepare, please click on the buttons below to review the Academic Planning Guide as well as the corresponding Course Selection Worksheets. Please bring any questions to the Parent Information Night.

Middle School "Sleep-In" Movie Night

Monday, Jan. 29, from 4-6:30 p.m. – Secondary Gym – DATE CHANGE!!

Middle School Student Government will host a “Sleep In” Movie night in the Secondary Gym on Monday, Jan. 29, starting at 4 p.m. Please complete the survey below to help pick the movie that we will show. All students will need to sign up in MySchoolBucks to attend. The link will be sent to students directly. Tickets are free and concessions will be sold with cash only. See the flier for more information.

2024 HS Winter Formal

Jostens Delivering Graduation Announcements

Friday, Feb. 2, during High School Lunches – High School Commons

Josten’s representatives will be here during the lunches to pass out senior lanyards and graduation announcements for students who ordered.

STEM's Got Talent Auditions

Wednesday, Feb. 7 and Thursday, Feb. 8, from 3-6 p.m. – Location TBD

Calling all of our talented K-12 students!!! It’s time to prepare your audition for our 12th annual STEM’s Got Talent Show!

Auditions will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, February 7th and 8th in room 149 (secondary music room).

Please follow these steps if you are interested in auditioning:

  • Step 1 – Click the button below to complete the audition form and sign up for a time slot.
  • Step 2 – Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Step 3 – show up, on time, on your audition date. Be sure to bring everything. you need for a polished audition, including your background music and/or links.

Contact Mrs. Ridder ( with any questions.

News and Updates

FBLA District 11 Conference Judge Volunteer Request

The FBLA District 11 Conference is coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 7, starting at 7:30 a.m., at the Arapaho Fairgrounds, and they are looking for volunteers from our STEM community to take part in judging students from around the Douglas County School District. If interested, please complete the form via the button below.

WHERE: Arapahoe County Fairgrounds and Events Center. Located at 25690 E Quincy Ave, Aurora, CO 80016. Judges’ registration, breakfast, and briefing will take place in the Events Center Conference Room. Judge’s parking is available in the lot just east of the Events Center.

MEALS: A light breakfast will be provided. Coffee and water will be provided throughout the morning. Please indicate if you will be staying for lunch.

JUDGE’S RESPONSIBILITIES: Each judge will be given a “section” of approximately 10-15 competitors. The judge will be provided with a copy of the event, suggestions about how to interact with the competitors, and a detailed, task-specific score sheet for each student. In a nutshell, you will interact with each student or team and then score and rank them based on how well they accomplished the tasks listed on the score sheets. Judges, please bring a computer, iPad, or phone to complete electronic score sheets.

JUDGES TRAINING: A concise yet thorough training will be provided for our judges before the competition. We will provide you with all the help you need to work with our students at this competition.

January Access Update

To kick off 2024 in ACCESS, lessons will focus on self-reflection on first-semester successes and revisiting/revising students’ goals for semester 2. Students will also participate in some community building, catch up on required iCap assignments, and connect with teachers to get organized with Canvas assignments as they get a couple of weeks into their classes. Middle School specifically will add some lessons around study skills and executive functioning, while High School students get to start the semester with a Pep Rally.

CMAS Testing Information

We’re heading into testing season! Parents, please be sure to check our testing calendar and the State Mandated Testing page on our website to stay in the know of all of the upcoming important dates and how to prepare. Please reach out to with any questions.

Testing Accommodations Information for PSAT and SAT

With the PSAT and SAT tests now all digital, please note how accommodations will work and see if they are still needed for your student:

Timing and Accommodations Chart
Digital SAT Chart

Please contact Julie Fletcher at for any accommodation questions.

Please contact Julie Adamek at for any testing questions.

SAT Essay Opt-In/Opt-Out Information

Attention 11th-Grade Families. Click the button below to submit whether your student will be taking the SAT’s in April with the Essay or without. This form must be completed by Friday, Feb. 2. If your student does not complete the opt-in/opt-out form, they will be ordered to take the SAT without the essay.

Medical Career Collaborative - Accepting Applications

Attention, current sophomore high school students! Are you interested in the healthcare industry, but not sure where to begin? The Medical Career Collaborative (MC2) is a multiyear program that provides high school students with healthcare experiences to jumpstart their careers, and provide personal/ professional support. The program is a collaboration with Children’s Hospital Colorado and Denver Health. Learn more by visiting their website. Applications must be submitted by March 6th, 2024 at 5 PM. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Nicole Ryan at

Tutoring Center Available during Access

NEHS, MHS, and SNHS are working together to provide tutoring options for students during Access. We can help you with any English, Math, and Science assignments. The Middle School tutoring center will be in the middle school cafeteria every Wednesday during Access starting at 11am, and the High School tutoring center will be in the high school cafeteria every Thursday during Access at 11am. We hope to see you there!

STEM Internships Available for Second Semester!

Are you looking for an internship to enhance your current Website or Marketing skills? STEM is currently looking for 2 students to support our Communications team with Website and Marketing activities. If you have experience creating a website, or would like to put your savvy marketing skills to work, then reach out to Nicole Ryan at to learn more. We are excited to be able to support two interns during the second semester.

Are you interested in a career in healthcare?

The Colorado Health Careers Academy (CHCA) is an excellent opportunity to learn more about some of the fastest-growing health occupations in Colorado. If you are between the ages of 16-24 and have an interest in the healthcare industry, you are invited to join the academy this summer from June 10th through July 26th. Information sessions are being held monthly with the next opportunity to join on January 9th. More information can be found on the Arapahoe Community College’s Colorado Health Careers Collaborative website. If you need additional information or have questions, please feel free to reach out to Nicole Ryan at

Lower your college costs through ASCENT!

Are you looking to reduce your college costs? Did you know you can attend one of our partner colleges/ universities for one year after your 12th grade and incur no tuition costs? STEM School Highlands Ranch participates in the ASCENT program permitting students to take a 13th year of high school while attending college. Students earn credits toward their degree program while helping to reduce college costs. To be considered, students must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours by the end of their 12th-grade year. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to Nicole Ryan at

Cablenet Aerospace Internship - January 2024

Are you looking for an internship 2nd semester? Cablenet Aerospace, Inc is a contract manufacturer, supplying the Aerospace, Aircraft, Military, Medical, and OEM industries with quality products and services for over 27 years. They are looking for Electronics/ Electro Mechanical and Cable Assembly Technician interns starting in January for their location in the DTC area. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to Ms. Ryan at

Update from IT Department on student email passwords

We are constantly working to make our digital domain safer. One of those is to require strong passwords within our Google domain. We will implement this on 1/14. We are also going to have our minimum character length set to 12. When we push this out, any students who have a weak password will be forced to change their password. We will also begin forcing a password change every 365 days. If a student has not made any password changes in over one year, they will also be forced to change their password.

You can work with your student to change their password in advance and then this will not affect them.

The best strong password is a passphrase. Here are some of the suggestions that Google provides:

  • A lyric from a song or poem
  • A meaningful quote from a movie or speech
  • A passage from a book
  • A series of words that are meaningful to you
  • An abbreviation: Make a password from the first letter of each word in a sentence

Avoid choosing passwords that could be guessed by:

  • People who know you
  • People looking at easily accessible info (like your social media profile)

Click the button below for a Google article about strong passwords.

Create a strong password & a more secure account – Google Account Help.

For about three years, we have used a service that scours the dark web and informs us whenever anyone at our school has their email associated with a breach. When we get this information, we send an email to the student along with their parents, providing them with the info we have been provided. If a password was found, we share this so that the user can know a password that should never be used again.

Help us spread the word! is an online platform that helps connect families with their future schools in their neighborhoods. It is one of the top search platforms that families use when looking for a new school. If you love STEM and what we have to offer your student(s), please consider leaving us a review. Click the button below to visit our school’s profile, where you can leave a review. Thank you in advance!

Comments are closed.