Secondary News and Updates (02/02/24)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

As we navigate the complexities of middle school, fostering a kind and inclusive environment for all students is paramount. February is National Random Acts of Kindness Month, and we want to shine a light on the importance of demonstrating kindness and eliminating hurtful language, both in person and online.

Kindness Matters:

Kindness isn’t just about being nice – it’s about actively creating a positive and supportive environment for everyone. Here are some ways we can encourage our children to be kind:

  • Start at home: Model kindness daily in your interactions with others.
  • Talk about it: Discuss the impact of words and actions, emphasizing inclusivity and empathy.
  • Celebrate acts of kindness: Recognize and praise your child’s kind behavior.
  • Encourage them to listen: Help them develop emotional intelligence to understand and respond to others’ feelings.

Words Hold Power:

Technology and social media offer incredible opportunities for connection, but they can also be breeding grounds for hurtful language. Each day, we are working to teach our students that words, even online, have real-world consequences. We work closely as a team to eliminate racist and sexist language in our school.

Here’s how we can guide our children towards responsible digital citizenship:

  • Open communication: Talk openly about responsible online behavior and respect for others.
  • Digital footprint: Discuss the lasting impact of their online presence and choices.
  • Set expectations: Establish clear technology rules at home, including consequences for cyberbullying or hurtful language.
  • Monitor and guide: Engage with their online activity while respecting their privacy.

Middle school is a learning ground, and sometimes mistakes happen. When students demonstrate hurtful behavior, consequences are essential for accountability and learning. These consequences could include restorative justice practices or disciplinary action. Our goal is not to punish but to guide them toward becoming responsible and respectful individuals.

By partnering with families, we can create a school environment where kindness thrives and hurtful language has no place. We encourage you to continue these conversations at home to empower our children to be compassionate individuals.

Thank you for your partnership in building a positive and inclusive school community.

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Hello Spartan families,

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! I know we are supposed to get snow this weekend, but spring is just around the corner!

February is Black History Month

As the High School Director, one of the things that I am really proud of is our diversity. Our total minority enrollment is around 46%, which is significantly higher than the neighborhood schools around us. Our diversity is an important part of who we are as a school, and is something that is embraced by our students and faculty. As I mentioned, February is Black History Month. Last year, our Student Government celebrated this month by posting historical facts in the hallway. As a former history teacher, I always enjoy reading about things that happened today in history. So, in the spirit of Black History month, here are a few notable items that happened today in history:

  • On February 2, 1839, Edmond Berger patented the spark plug
  • February 2, 1862, the District of Columbia abolishes slavery
  • February 2, 1897, Alfred Cralle patented the Ice Cream Scooper


Kindness is a critical part of our school culture, and is something that we generally are really good at. Generally speaking, I would say that our student body is the kindest students that I have worked with. However, there have been a few situations that we had to deal with. Please help us by reminding your students that teasing, bullying, harassing or using racist or anti semitic slurs is never funny and will not be tolerated. Consequences will be given, including suspensions from school. Earlier this year we hosted an anti-bullying assembly where I asked the students to be upstanders anytime they see something happening. Watching the behavior, laughing at the joke or simple indifference is part of the problem. We need everyone to take a stand to prevent this type of behavior.

February is also National Random Acts of Kindness Month:

Have you ever gone through the drive through, and pulled up to the window to find that the person in front of you paid for your meal? Do you remember how that made you feel? Sometimes small acts of kindness can make a big difference for people. So, in honor of this month, I will close this letter by encouraging all of us, students, parents, community members, to do something kind for someone. If you stop and buy a coffee on your way to school, buy one for a friend. Give someone an unexpected compliment. Any kind act will make that person’s day, and will have a positive impact on yours as well.

Thanks Everyone!

Go Spartans!


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.

Student Forum/Information Session

Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 3:15-4 p.m – HS Commons

Calling all students in grades 6-12! Join us for the Student Forum/Information Session on Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 3:15-4 p.m. in the High School Commons. This is your opportunity to learn more about what’s happening at STEM and get to know our STEM Administration Team. This event is organized by our Student Advisory Council.

KOSON/STEM Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 5:30-7 p.m. – Mechatronics Lab in P-TECH/KOSON Building & Zoom

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding its Monthly Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 5:30-7 p.m. in person and via Zoom.  The BOD is comprised of parents and community members who volunteer their time. The Board’s role and purpose is to provide oversight of the KOSON Schools Chief Innovation Officer, who implements the policies set forth by the Board. The Board also provides support and direction for STEM’s long-term vision and mission. Additionally, the Board is active in making sure that KOSON Schools remains in compliance with all DCSD, state and federal compliance requirements, as well as STEM School Highlands Ranch’s Charter Contract.

Meetings are open to anyone to attend. Anyone who would like to address the Board Members must sign-up in advance by completing the Public Comment Form no later than 12 p.m. the day of each Board meeting. If written testimony or a handout is submitted, presenters are asked to supply one (1) copy via email to

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.

Mikron Technology Internship Info Session

Thursday, Feb. 8, from (10:45-11:25 a.m.) – HS Commons

If you are looking for a summer internship, come learn about the Mikron Group opportunity. They will be at the campus on February 8th during Access at 10:30 a.m. in the High School Commons. If you will be attending, please complete the Google form below.

College Night for Junior Students and Parents

Monday, Feb. 12, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. – HS Commons

Reviewing the college application process for juniors and their parents with College and Career Counselor, Kelli Myrick. Come learn about where to begin when searching for a university, what all will be required to submit for college applications, and how Mrs. Myrick will support you throughout the next few years! (Presentation will be added to the College Website and repeated during the fall of senior year for those that cannot attend) Contact:

France & Germany Logistics Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 13, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Room 106

We will be going over some of the details and important logistics for the Spring Break France & Germany trip. There are some critical forms that will need to be filled out for the district. You may fill them out in advance and email them to me ( or I will also have them printed at our meeting.

STEM PTO Monthly Meeting

Monday, Feb. 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. – Zoom

Join the STEM PTO for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. via Zoom.  STEM PTO is comprised of parents from the STEM community who work together to help foster a strong sense of community and provide enhancement activities for students, faculty, staff, and families while also helping to increase educational, social and emotional experiences for the members of their families.

STEM PTO is organized to enhance the quality of each student’s education, the school as a whole, and the entire community through the development of resources and the participation of parents, school staff, and the community. Meetings are open for anyone to attend.

DEI Committee Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 15, from 4-5:30 p.m. – Room ES 206

STEM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will have its monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, starting at 4:00. We will meet in ES206. We welcome all parents, students, and teachers! Email with any questions.

News and Updates

Middle and High School Academic Course Registration Parent Information Night

On Thursday, Jan. 25, our Middle and High School Counseling Teams gave presentations on the Academic Course Selection Process and the Academic Planning Guide. Below are the PDFs of each presentation. Also, click the button below to see the Special Edition Newsletter that went out earlier in the week, explaining all about our High School programs available to students in 9th-12th grade. If, after reviewing the presentations and the Special Edition Newsletter you still have questions, please email Students in grades 5-11 will receive these same presentations during Access next week.

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.

February Access Update

February ACCESS is going to be exciting as we look ahead to the 2024-25 school year. We can’t believe the time for students to register for classes is already here! In the Middle School and High School ACCESS periods, students will participate in an assembly with the School Counselors to learn about the registration process, Academic Planning Guides, requirements for classes, and hear about various pathways offered through STEM for specific interests. Students will then be registering for classes for next year. In addition, secondary students will kick off Wish Week with another assembly and be provided with study hall time to focus on iCap requirement completion, check grade progress, meet with teachers if needed, and continue progressing through their coursework.

College and Career Newsletter

College and Career Planning Resources Graphic

2024 Douglas County Outstanding Youth Award Nominations

The Outstanding Youth Award recognizes teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 who have overcome personal adversity and created positive change in their lives. The Youth Awards focus on teenagers who have triumphed over great odds and serve as inspirations and role models. If you know young people who would be good candidates for the Youth Awards, please help identify them by completing the nomination form. Award winners receive a cash gift! Nomination forms are due by Friday, March 29.

Altitude Driver Safety Foundation

Announcing BOLT Summer Camp - June 10-13, 2024

the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz is offering Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training (BOLT) camp June 10 – 13, 2024.

BOLT is a camp for high schoolers that teaches students about the diverse careers available in biomedical engineering and STEM. BOLT is designed to introduce students to biomedical engineering design and leadership topics. Campers will learn about what biomedical engineering is, dive into the theory of general engineering principles, and get a sneak peek of cutting-edge research taking place at the Anschutz Medical Campus. There will be several hands-on activities to introduce and demonstrate concepts in circuitry, prosthetics control, and tissue engineering. Student teams will work together to design, build, test, and iterate to create a device prototype to compete in a design competition the last day of camp.

BOLT alumni: if you are interested in being a camp leader please reach out to Camp leaders will assist with the coordination of camp activities and have opportunities to engage with current bioengineering students and faculty.

There are a limited number of scholarships and seats so be sure to register soon!

BOLT Camp Details:

  • Who: The camp is open to all students entering 9-12 grade in Fall 2024
  • Dates: June 10 – 13, 2024
  • Times: 8:00-4:30 with 1-hour lunch break
  • Cost: $900 (scholarship applications due March 15, 2024)
  • Location: Anschutz Medical Campus, 12705 E. Montview Blv, Aurora, CO
  • Supplies: Lunch and all supplies are provided

If you have any other BOLT questions, please email Kate Hoch at

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!

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