Secondary News and Updates (02/03/23)

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.

High School Winter Formal

Saturday, Feb. 4, from 7-10 p.m. – Secondary Gym

We are excited to share that we have officially moved the High School Winter Formal Dance to the Brand New Secondary Gym. This year’s theme is Casino Royale and is this Saturday, Feb. 4, from 7-10 p.m. Students should enter via the New Athletics Entrance on the West Side of the Campus and park in the Elementary School Parking Lot.

Tickets are being sold during lunch periods for $10. Students who don’t purchase in advance can still purchase a ticket for $20 at the door. Concessions will be free, thanks to generous donations from our community. If you’d like to still donate, click the button below. Donations should be dropped off at the Secondary Front Office with the label “Winter Formal.”

Since this will be our first non-athletic event inside our brand-new facility, we’d like to share the following that all students will need to be aware of and also comply with.

  • No food and drinks will be allowed into the gym. Food and drinks can be consumed in the Secondary Commons area and the Middle School Cafeteria.
  • Due to supply chain impacts, our floor covering has not arrived, so for this first event, black-Vibram-soled shoes, (black-soled high heels, and black-soled dress shoes) will not be permitted on the gym floor as they leave marks and scratches that impact the playing surface.
  • We are short-staffed on our custodial team, so to help keep our building clean and ready to go for school on Monday, all students will only be able to be in the Gym, Middle School Commons and Middle School Cafeteria areas only. (Thank you for your help with this!)

Thank you so much for your help and support!

2023 Winter Formal

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!

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

Student Forum/Information Session

Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 3:15-4 p.m – HS Commons

Calling all students in grades 6-12! Join us for the first Student Forum/Information Session on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 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.

Girls' Soccer Interest Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 6-7 p.m. – HS Commons

Are you interested in joining girls’ soccer? If so, we will have an interest meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 6-7 p.m. in the High School Commons, where we will be gauging interest and reviewing expectations. The meeting is for current and prospective players, and parents are encouraged to come! For those of you who do not know about girls’ soccer, it is open to all high school girls, and all experience levels are welcome! Contact daniel.kerwin@ with any questions. Interested students should complete the below Interest Form.

KOSON/STEM Board of Directors' Meeting

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

The monthly STEM Board of Directors’ Meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Mechatronics Lab of the P-TECH/KOSON Building. The STEM BOD is comprised of parents and community members who volunteer their time. The Board’s role and purpose is to provide oversight of the Executive Director, who implements the policies set forth by the Board. The Board also provides support and direction of STEM’s long-term vision and mission. Additionally, the Board is active in making sure that STEM remains in compliance with all DCSD, state and federal compliance requirements, as well as STEM’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 PTO Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 6:30-8 p.m. – 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.

High School Lacrosse Interest Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 9, from 6-7 p.m – Highlands Ranch High School

This meeting is for High School students and their families who are interested in joining the Boys’ Lacrosse Team. The meeting is in their Cafeteria/Commons area. Please contact nicole.rost@ with any questions.

STEM Theater Presents Jungle Book and Thespian's Theater Festival

Friday, Feb. 10, from 3-10 p.m. – ES Gymnasium and Secondary Commons 

Saturday, Feb. 11, from 2-7:30 p.m.- ES Gymnasium and Secondary Commons

STEM Theater Department is proud to present the middle school production of The Jungle Book as well as an entire Thespian’s Theater Festival complete with stage combat workshops, makeup tutorials, face painting, choreography sessions, a Comedy Club Improv Show, improv workshops, tech demonstrations, crafting stations and more!!! Oh! And pizza will be provided, so students can hang out, have fun, and have dinner before the 6 o’clock show.

Contact: Max.schwartz@

Cost: $15

Secondary Student Mindfulness Campaign

Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. – Middle School Cafeteria and High School Commons

On February 14, our school will be hosting a special Mindfulness campaign on Valentine’s Day with trivia, prizes, and swag in the Middle School and High School cafeterias during lunch. At this time, you can answer questions about your mental health to win prizes, like a ring light that attaches to your phone!

Contact: Tera Johnson-Swartz, tera.johnsonswartz@

STEM Monthly SAC Meeting

Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Mechatronics Lab of P-TECH/KOSON Building

The meeting will also be available to watch via Zoom as a trial. In-person participation is strongly encouraged to help build engagement. Additionally, those who would like to participate in Public Comment must do so in person.

The purpose of the SAC is to inform, encourage and provide opportunities for parent and community members to be involved in the planning and evaluation of the school’s instructional program and quality improvement processes. The SAC makes recommendations concerning the School’s performance, improvement, priority improvement, or turnaround plan, and meets to discuss the implementation of the School’s plan and other progress pertinent to STEM’s accreditation contract with the Board of Education. The SAC makes recommendations to the director for prioritizing the spending of school money.

College Night for Junior Students and Parents

Thursday, Feb. 16, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. – HS Commons

This event is to review the college application process for juniors and their parents with College and Career Counselor, Kelli Myrick. 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 Kelli.Myrick@ with any questions.

Parent Coffee with Administration

Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 8-9 a.m. – Elementary Cafeteria

Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 8-9 a.m., in the Elementary School Cafeteria for our monthly Parent Coffee with Administration event. This is our community’s opportunity to meet the team, ask questions and meet with parents. We hope you can join us. Please email if you’d like to attend so we have accurate numbers for the coffee and pastries.

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

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.

STEMShares February

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.

MHS Great STEM Bake-Off

News and Updates

NHS Wish Week T-Shirt Order

Winter Weather Facts/ Resources

Mentors Needed for Business & Resume Workshop

Our high school entrepreneurship class is looking for feedback and advice from adults about their business ideas.

Your support would be online (Google Meets) on the following Fridays, though you are not required to attend all sessions to participate:

  • March 3, 2023 (any duration between 11:30 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.) – Introduction/Initial Discussion
  • March 31, 2023 (any duration between 11:30 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.) – Continued Feedback
  • April 14, 2024 (any duration between 11:30 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.) – Continued Feedback
  • May 8, May 12 or May 15 (between 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.) – Final Presentation

You would work with the same 1-2 groups of students throughout the sessions you are available to attend and mentor them through their ideas. You will be provided a mentor guide with ideas for questions and conservation topics.


If you are not interested in this mentorship, we are additionally seeking in-person professionals for our Resume-Building Workshop on April 6th from 3-4 p.m.

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!

College and Career Newsletter

College and Career Planning Resources Graphic

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@

Calling all Industry Experts, Parents and Community Members!

Career Discovery Information (Facebook Post)

Learn about the NEW Career Discovery Program at STEM

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@

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.

Center for Strength News and Events

Center for Strength - S.O.L.A.C.E.

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

Colorado Crisis Services

Colorado Crisis Services is the statewide behavioral health crisis response syhttps://stem offering residents mental health, substance use or emotional crisis help, information and referrals. Its mission is to strengthen Colorado’s mental health syhttps://stem by providing Coloradans with greater access to crisis services wherever they are at 24/7/365, regardless of ability to pay.

Literary Resource of the Week

Literacy Resources for Parents

This page from the Colorado Department of Education provides reading and literacy tips and recommendations for parents, storytelling resources in audio and video format, and information on how to access your local public library.

Health and Wellness

Heart-Check Certified Recipes

The American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark is an easy way to cut through the clutter and find foods that can be part of a healthy dietary pattern. The iconic Heart-Check mark has been on food packages and in the grocery store since 1995. The Heart-Check mark is also helping everyone find heart-healthy recipes they can make at home. Certified recipes have been evaluated by one of the most trusted health organizations to meet specific nutritional requirements.

Nominations for Douglas County Youth Awards Due March 3

Please nominate a student and pass it along to others! The 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 us identify them by completing the nomination form. Nomination forms are due by March 3, 2023.

The reception honoring nominators and award winners is April 24, 2023, 6-8 pm, Douglas County Miller Building, Castle Rock.

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