Secondary News and Updates (01/27/23)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

What a week! We held auditions for The Little Mermaid and STEM’s Got Talent. Our students competed and will advance to the Brain Bowl Championship Tournament. We held our Spelling Bee and will advance two students to the District Spelling Bee, and, finally, our Middle School Dance this Friday promises to be one of celebration!

Next week, we will formally open our brand-new gymnasium, and we hope that you can join us for our Grand Opening party on Wednesday. Our counseling team will hold Course Registration with your students all next week. Busy and exciting times here at STEM!

I think the best news I have, however, is that our Dean’s office has been quiet this week, so quiet that you could hear a pin drop! Our students are growing, and we could not be more pleased!

Here are a few updates from the Middle School:

Course Registration Next Week

Our Course Registration for the fall will take place next week with our middle school students. We held a parent meeting on January 19th to discuss course requirements and the registration process. Forms were sent home, are available online, and are available at the secondary office. Please be sure to assist your child in filling out their courses and bringing their form to school for the registration event. Students should select classes based on the current classes in which they are enrolled, their performance in current classes, their projected HS plan, their projected college aspirations, and discussion with their parents and their counselor.

Grand Opening of the Gymnasium – Wednesday, Feb. 1 – 4:45 p.m.

Please join us for the Grand Opening, Ribbon Cutting, and first home basketball game in our new gym next Wednesday! The ribbon cutting will take place outside the new doors to the building and we ask everyone to arrive at 4:45 p.m. We will have student tours, free hot dogs and nachos, a half-court shooting contest, club representation, State of STEM information, and more! The varsity basketball game will begin at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited, and I hope to see you there!

Important Upcoming Dates

Wish Week – Monday, Feb. 27 – Friday, March 3
STEM’s Got Talent – Thursday, March 2
Parent Conferences – Thursday evening, March 9th and Friday morning, March 10th
Spring Break – March 11-19

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

Ryan Alsup, High School Director

Hello Spartan families,

It has been a busy time here at STEM! This is the time of year when we begin looking forward to the future. Our seniors begin celebrating the lasts, the last spirit weeks, the last high school competitions, the last dances, and other last-school events. For the rest of our students, we begin planning for the next school year. And this begins with course selection. Earlier this month, we hosted a High School Course Selection Night. This week, our students were given a similar presentation in their classes and should be ready to select courses for next year. We hope that students and families will discuss the options and that the students will come to school next week prepared to make their selections. Please remember we follow a demand scheduling model, meaning that we offer courses based on student demand. With that in mind, it is critical that they sign up for courses that they want or need. Schedule changes will be difficult to make.

Athletics Update

The wait is almost over. The gym will open on Wednesday, Feb. 1! Please join us that night for our grand opening! The festivities begin at 4:45 p.m. We would love to see as many people as possible to celebrate this big event. Tours and food will be provided, and we will host our first basketball game against Addenbrook Classical Academy at 6 p.m.! There is additional information for the event in this newsletter.


The spring eSports season is ready to begin. We have a few students already registered, but we are looking for more people. So, if you love to play video games and are interested in playing competitively for the school, this is the sport for you. Students can play Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Rocket League, League of Legends, NBA 2K, Hearthstone, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 3, and Madden NFL. Registration for the spring season is already open and will close on February 4th, so if you want to play, please register now at this link. Once again, the registration deadline is February 4th. This is a hard deadline, as we are required to have our members loaded into the syhttps://stem before the start of the season. We are not able to load players who register late. If you have any questions, please contact coach Ryan Price at ryan.price@

Looking ahead to spring sports. The spring season is almost here. Most sports begin at the end of February, but some of our coaches may offer preseason training. This year we are offering Girls’ Soccer, Boys’ Volleyball, Girls’ Tennis, and Boys’ and Girls’ track. If you are interested in playing any of these, the spring registration is now open. Please visit our athletics website or click here to register. We also have a co-op boys lacrosse team with Highlands Ranch, but if you are interested in playing, you will need to register on their website.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Proud to be a Spartan!

Ryan Alsup, High School 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.

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 studentadvisory@s.

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!

1/31, 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 https://stemed@s. with any questions.

SteMed Pakistan Hospital Fundraiser

6th Grade Keystone Field Trip Parent Info Meeting (Zoom)

Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 6-6:30 p.m. – Zoom

If parents are interested in sending their students on either 6th Grade Keystone Science School Field Trip, they should attend the virtual meeting to learn about the trip and ask any questions about it. The meeting will be held over Zoom, then the sign-up for the trip will go live at 7 p.m. after the meeting.

Contact evan.voorn@ OR stephanie.hart@ with any questions.

STEMShares UNICEF Project Angel Heart Event

Friday, Feb. 24, from 3-5 p.m. – HS Commons

As part of the STEMShares initiative to give back to our community, STEM UNICEF is hosting February’s STEMShares Event. UNICEF invites the whole school to decorate meal bags for Project Angel Heart. Join the Student Advisory Council in the High School Commons on Friday, Feb. 24, from 3-5 p.m. No sign-up is necessary.

Math Honor Society Pi Bake-Off

Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 3-5 p.m. – HS Commons

Do you like baking? Do you think you can make the best pie? Do you want to win $25? Bake the best pie (dessert or savory) and compete against your classmates on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 3-5 p.m. in the High School Commons during the annual Great STEM Bake-off! The esteemed judges, Mr. Moore, Ms. White, and Mr. Kerwin, will judge your pie based on creativity, taste, and presentation! This event is open to all students and families.

NHS Wish Week is Coming Up! February 27-March 3

NHS Wish Week Calendar 2023
NHS Wish Week - Meet Colton!_Page
NHS Wish Week - Meet Colton!_Page

News and Updates

NHS Wish Week T-Shirt Order

National English Honor Society Monthly Literary Competition

NEHS is proud to announce the monthly Literary Competition. You can submit any art or piece of writing to sophia.marks@s. and make the subject “February Literary Competition – [Art or Writing] and [Grade].” Our theme for this month will be Love! The winner will receive a $20 Target gift card! Please submit by February 28th!

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 syhttps://stems, 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 ashley.westfall@

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 hiroko.ichijo@ 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 ashley.westfall@

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

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 michelle.vitale@

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 ashley.westfall@ 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)

Center for Strength News and Events

Center for Strength - S.O.L.A.C.E.
Center for Strength - Green Leaf Society

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

What Every Child Needs for Mental Health

Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.

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

National Wear Red Day

February 3 is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and to help save lives.

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