Secondary News and Updates (01/20/23)

Secondary-School News

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

NEHS Writing Center Dates for Middle and High School Students

Tuesdays from 3-3:30 p.m., in Room 103 and on Google Meets

We are excited to announce that STEM’s Writing Center will be open to all Middle and High School students. Students looking for additional help on their English assignments can join us either in person (Room 103) or over Google Meets after school on Tuesdays from 3-3:30 p.m. Students can sign up for a 15-minute slot during which we can help them with any essay, assignment, or project.

We can’t wait to see you all!

1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/14, 2/21, 2/28, 3,7, 3/21, 3/28, 4/4, 4/11, 4/18, 4/25, 5/2, 5/9, 5/16

Secondary SteMed Fundraiser

January 17-31 – Sixth-Period Classes

From January 17-31, SteMed will be hosting a fundraiser between Middle and High School classes for an up-and-coming cancer hospital in Karachi, Pakistan– Shaukat Khanum Karachi.

Students can bring monetary donations to their 6th-period classes to help support this wonderful cause. The most funds donated from both middle and high school classes will win a pizza party on February 3!

Contact with any questions.

SteMed Pakistan Hospital Fundraiser

NHS Thrift Store

Monday, Jan. 23,  from 4-6 p.m. – Room 230 in the High School Building

National Honor Society is holding a thrift store next Monday, on January 23rd from 4-6 pm in room 230. We would absolutely love it if you could come to support our NHS chapter! All profits will go towards funding our Wish Week at the end of February.

STEM Middle School Spelling Bee

Tuesday, Jan. 24,  from 3:30-6 p.m. – ES Gym

20 students will compete to be crowned STEM’s Spelling Bee champion for the 2022-23 school year. These students will face challenging words on stage for their family, friends, and peers, come to support our school’s elite spellers!

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

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

MS Winter Wonderland Dance

Friday, Jan. 27,  from 6-9 p.m. – Middle School Cafeteria; Elementary School Cafeteria

MS Student Government will host the Winter Wonderland Dance on Friday, Jan. 27, from 6-9 p.m. All students MUST have their Student ID to attend. Please enter through the Elementary lobby doors. Pizza and concessions will be sold for $1 so please bring cash.

* Students are expected to stay on campus unless picked up by an adult. Students will not be allowed to walk off campus during the dance.

We’re also in need of chaperones and donations. See the links below.

Middle School Winter Dance

News and Updates

Academic Scheduling Parent Information Night for Grades 5-7 Recording/Presentation

On Thursday, Jan. 19, the Student Support Services Team presented to families and students in grades 5-7 on the Academic Scheduling Process for the 2023-24 school year. The video recording is to the right. Click the button below to access the slide presentation. Counselors will be working with students the week of January 23 to review courses and to make course selections for next year.

Academic Scheduling Parent Information Night for Grades 8-11 Recording/Presentation

On Thursday, Jan. 19, the Student Support Services Team presented to families and students in grades 8-11 on the Academic Scheduling Process for the 2023-24 school year. The video recording is to the right. Click the button below to access the slide presentation. Counselors will be working with students the week of January 23 to review courses and to make course selections for next year.

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 systems, 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

How Parents of Mathematically Gifted Students Can Nurture a Passion for Mathematics

A failure to find mathematics challenging, interesting, or relevant are significant factors when children lose interest in mathematics. All children, but especially those who are talented in mathematics, must be exposed to material that lights a fire and nurtures their gift.

This session will give parents information that will not only help them develop mathematical thinking in their children but also ideas on how to nurture a passion for mathematics. Ed is a popular presenter at math, homeschool and gifted education conferences around the country and has approached gifted education as a parent, teacher, and school board member.

His students will testify to his ability to make math fun and challenging for them as well as his unique sense of humor which comes through in his classes and workshops. Ed has taught students of all ages and abilities since graduating from Oberlin College in 1974. He has a Master’s degree in Gifted Education from the University of Northern Iowa. Ed’s work is currently being used worldwide and has been translated into several languages, including Chinese and Korean.

How Parents of Mathematically Gifted Students Can Nurture a Passion for Mathematics

Doodle for Google

Calling all creative K-12 students! Doodle for Google is officially open for its 15th year. We are excited to share that this year’s prompt is “I am grateful for…”. Students are encouraged to take a moment to reflect on what’s most important to them.

Students should be prompted to think about:

  • What moments, people, places and things are special to them
  • What or whom can they not imagine living without
  • What are the things that get them through the day

Not sure where to start? Head to for details on how to enter and to find lesson guides and videos to spark creativity!

Submission deadline is March 7 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Doodle for Google

Student Laptops Being Charged in IT Offices

Our IT department has been graciously allowing students to charge their computers in their offices; however, lately, it has become overwhelming for them. We are asking all parents to help support their students in bringing their computers to school charged each day and ensuring that they bring a charger with them to school. Starting Tuesday, Jan. 17, students cannot charge their computers in the IT department.

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.

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

College and Career Newsletter

College and Career Planning Resources Graphic

After Care Program for Secondary Students

Did you know that STEM has an affordable and safe option for your middle or high school student(s) when they need to remain on campus after school or after their club/activity? With the freezing winter temperatures upon us and Colorado’s often unpredictable weather, After Care is peace of mind that your student(s) is warm, able to access water and bathroom, and with a trusted adult in case of an emergency that can be utilized as needed. Drop-ins are welcome!

The After Care program is operated by STEM Enrichment in the Middle School Cafe and is available from 3-6 p.m. every day, school is in session throughout the school year. The cost is only $8/day.*

SmartCare allows parents to know that their student(s) are safe, as well as make easy payments online. Contact to get your student registered with After Care today.

*Students that receive FRL benefits can attend After Care at no cost to the parent. FRL contact

Learn about the NEW Career Discovery Program at STEM

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 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

STEM After Prom Committee Volunteers Needed

Hello STEM parents/guardians,

It’s that time of year to start planning our annual After Prom, and we need volunteers. We need help with all aspects, from planning to executing the night of. We have detailed notes from the previous year, and we already have a co-chair who worked on AP last year. So, no experience is needed, just many who want to help make this night safe and fun for our Juniors and Seniors. Family members are welcome to help as well, so grab mom/dad/aunt/uncle/brother/sister to lend a hand.

We can’t continue this STEM tradition without the generous support from our STEM community. Freshman and Sophomore parents/guardians, soon your student will be upperclassmen and getting ready for their prom, so it’s never too early to participate in this amazing event.

Sign up below if you are interested and want to find out more. The first meeting will be scheduled after Fall Break, so keep an eye out for that email.

STEM After Prom Committee

2023 Oratorical Contest Flier

Secondary Yearbook Information

This school year will live forever in your yearbook. Buy a yearbook. It’s easy.

Yearbooks may be purchased at

Enter STEM School Highlands Ranch and click on Buy a Yearbook. Follow the directions online. Enter your name and credit card, debit card or PayPal information, and click

Cost: $55 

If you want to personalize the book, name stamping starts at $6 extra and must be purchased before January 29, 2022.


Contact Michelle Vitale, the STEM Secondary Yearbook Advisor at

After purchase, you will be emailed a confirmation receipt. You may also verify your order at by entering your email in the “Find an Order” field.

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 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.

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
  • 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.

Update about Secondary Student IDs

Your School Directors (Mrs. Ridder and Mr. Alsup) wanted to share the following information with you in regards to Student IDs, Lanyards and the ID pouches.
  • Replacement IDs if lost/stolen: Students who have lost their ID should complete the Secondary Student ID Replacement Form to order a replacement. IDs are free for the first one and $5 for any duplicates. Duplicates will be printed by the front office and students will be notified when they are ready for pick up.
  • Lanyards and pouches: Lanyards and pouches can be picked up at the Secondary Front Office. Please show your student ID to receive one.
Starting on September 19th, all students must have an ID badge visible while on campus.

Help us lower tardies and absences

According to Attendance, Students should miss no more than nine days of school each year to stay engaged, successful, and on track to graduation.

  • Frequent absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a bully or facing some other difficulty.
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
  • By 9th grade, attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th-grade test scores.
  • Missing 10%, or two days a month, over the course of the school year can affect a student’s academic success.

What can you do?

  • Talk about the importance of showing up to school every day.
  • Help your teen maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Try not to schedule dental and non-Covid-19 related medical appointments during the school day.
  • Keep your student healthy
  • If your teens must stay home because they are sick or in quarantine, make sure they have asked teachers for resources and materials to make up for the missed learning time in the classroom. Help your teen stay engaged
  • Find out if your children feel engaged by their classes, and feel safe from bullies and other threats.
  • Make sure your teens are not missing class because of challenges with behavioral issues or school discipline policies. If any of these are problems, contact the school and work with them to find a solution.
  • Monitor your teen’s academic progress and seek help from teachers or tutors when necessary. Make sure teachers know how to contact you.
  • Stay on top of your child’s social contacts. Peer pressure can lead to skipping school, while students without many friends can feel isolated.
  • Encourage your teen to join meaningful after-school activities, including sports and clubs.
  • Notice and support your students if they are showing signs of anxiety. Communicate with the school Visit Attendance Works at for free downloadable resources and tools!
  • Know the school’s attendance policy – incentives and penalties.
  • Check on your teen’s attendance to be sure absences are not adding up.
  • Seek help from school staff, other parents or community agencies if you need support.

Calling all Industry Experts, Parents and Community Members!

Career Discovery Information (Facebook Post)

Secondary Tardy Policy Update/Reminder

Thank you for your patience and positivity during our first two weeks of school. Our students are genuinely excited to come to school, and it is absolutely wonderful to see their smiling faces each day.

This year, I am proud to report that most of our students are arriving at school and to their classes in a timely manner. Starting Monday (baring any impacts from weather), our new breezeway will connect the two buildings, resulting in shorter paths between classes. Now that students have a feel for the distance between their classes, our staff has been instructed to implement STEM’s Tardy Policy.

Center for Strength News and Events

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

How to keep a mental health journal by Mental Health America

Journaling has long been recognized as a way to reduce anxiety, regulate emotions, and break away from obsessive thinking and rumination. Not sure where to begin?

Literary Resource of the Week

World Read Aloud Day is February 1, 2023. Check out these resources to help you celebrate the power of reading aloud all year long.

Health and Wellness

As we navigate the colder months, some of us may be struggling with the “winter blues.” For over 10 million Americans, these mood changes can significantly affect feelings, thoughts, and daily activities. Learn more about seasonal affective disorder and how you can get support or help support a loved one.

Parent University: License To Survive

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.

Apply to Volunteer on the Mill Bond Ad-hoc Exploratory Committee (MBEC)

If you are interested in joining the MBEC, we encourage you to apply! The MBEC membership intentionally reflects a wide variety of experience, involvement, and perspectives from community members across the school district. For example, candidates who are not involved in school activities are encouraged to apply, as are those who are. Candidates who are uncertain whether they support funding or have opposed past funding initiatives are welcome to apply, as are those who support them. We want a range of voices at the table. Click below to learn more and to apply. The deadline for applications is Sunday, Jan. 22.

Comments are closed.