Secondary News and Updates (03/15/24)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

I want to thank our STEM families for your continued support this year. We have had a successful year so far, and our students continue to grow and learn. I also want to thank our entire staff for their relentless dedication to our students – from teaching to mentoring, to extracurricular activities, to volunteering, to field trips, student competitions, spirit days, and their never-ending emotional support for our children. I am so grateful to every member of our STEM family.

That being said, we have had our fair share of challenges this year. We have seen a disproportionate amount of student attachment to phones and digital media, including online games, inappropriate websites, and social media, including Snapchat, Discord, TikTok and Instagram. We truly believe that these platforms are threatening our students’ well-being and interpersonal relationships with peers, teachers, and families.

A recent Surgeon General Advisory describes the current evidence on the impacts of social media on the mental health of children and adolescents:

  • During the week, 1 out of 3 young persons indicated they are on a screen until midnight or later
  • Excess social media use has been linked to diagnosed ADHD in adolescents
  • Some researchers believe that social media exposure over-stimulates the reward center in the brain and can trigger pathways comparable to addiction
  • “Excessive and problematic social media use, such as compulsive or uncontrollable use, has been linked to sleep problems, attention problems, and feelings of exclusion among adolescents.”
  • Social media use at a young age is predictive of a subsequent decrease in life satisfaction for certain developmental stages, specifically a concern for girls 11-13 and boys 14-15
  • Youth who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media face 2x the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes (including depression and anxiety.)
  • “Social media may also perpetuate body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, social comparison, and low self-esteem, especially among adolescent girls.”
  • The Advisory in its entirety: Social Media and Youth Mental Health- The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory- 2023

Spring Break is a perfect time to address these issues. We are doing our best on a daily basis to curb their screen time, but if we are going to win this battle, it must come from the home. I encourage each family to spend quality time with their children and fill their time with lasting memories and meaningful conversations that will build family relationships stronger than their online attachments. I love our middle school children and this school, and I want nothing more than to work together to ensure their emotional and physical well-being.


CMAS testing for 3rd – 8th and 11th graders will take place starting Tuesday, April 2. CMAS is the state assessment given to all students in these grades to measure academic success every spring. As you look forward to the spring, please ensure all appointments, vacations, etc, are scheduled OUTSIDE of the CMAS testing window (4/2 – 4/18) if you have a student in these grades. Please try to be on time so testing can start as planned. Once a testing session has started, students will not be able to access their classroom. Additional information regarding CMAS can be found on our website under state-mandated assessments and on the following links:

I hope you find time to break from your everyday routines, enjoy meaningful family time, and enjoy each other over the next week. I am heading home to spend time with my children as we honor my mother, who recently passed in a Celebration of Life ceremony.

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Spartans and families,

As I sit here in my house watching the snow pile up, it is hard to believe Spring Break is here!

The past few weeks at STEM have been busy. Last week, we participated in Wish Week. The NHS students did a fantastic job organizing an amazing week to celebrate Bella and raise the money needed for her wish to come true. The last I heard, we raised around $15,000, which is enough money to grant two wishes. So not only will Bella and her family go to Disney World, but someone else will also benefit from all of your generosity.

March is Women’s History Month! So, in the spirit of Women’s history, here are a few notable events that took place today in history:

  • Harriet E. Wilson, one of the first female African-American authors, was born in 1825.
  • Marion Cuthbert, one of the founders of the National Association of College Women, was born in 1896.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court Justice, was born today in 1933.

As a school administrator, the safety and security of our students are always my top priority. One of my responsibilities at STEM is safety. I am the person who schedules all of our drills. Some drills are required by code, others required by the district, and others that we simply conduct ourselves to make sure we are prepared if needed. Schools and law enforcement agencies across the state follow the Standard Response Protocol, or SRP for short. This protocol gives us a standard language and also gives us research-based best practices to use in the event of an emergency.

You can find more information about the SRP on the I Love You Guys website. Over the past few weeks, we have conducted several pre-planned drills. We conducted Lockdown, Hold, Secure, and evacuation drills. We also had a pre-planned K-9 search. This is something that we do every year and something that I have done every year in every school I have worked in. As a director, I do not believe we have a drug problem at STEM. And after the K-9 search, I am proud to say nothing was found.

With the Safety theme, Drive Safe Week is coming up in April. Those of you who have been reading my messages over the past few years know that this is important to me. For the second year, our SteMed club has partnered with the Choose S.A.F.E. program to focus on teen driving safety. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens, and the most dangerous time is from April to September. As a career high school educator, this is a very personal and important initiative, as I have lost far too many students over the years. So, I would like to thank the SteMed students for taking this on. This is very important work and can make a significant impact on all of us.

And with that, I ask that you all have a safe and wonderful Spring Break.


Ryan Alsup, Proud High School Director

Go Spartans!

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.

Spring Break (Facebook Post (Square))

Love and Logic Parent Night

Monday, March 25, from 5-7 p.m. – HS Commons and Zoom

Session Six: Teaching Kids to Complete Chores without Reminders and Without Pay

Participants will learn:

  • The connection between chores, responsibility, self-esteem and academic achievement motivation
  • Practical tips for encouraging children to complete chores through the use of positive noticing, family teamwork and the establishment of a family focus based on serving others
  • Steps for enforcing the completion of chores…without resorting to threats, warnings, anger, or bribes

STEM SAC Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, March 27, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – KOSON/P-TECH Building (Mechatronics Lab)/Zoom

The meeting will also be available to watch via Zoom. 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 parents 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.

DEI Committee Meeting

Thursday, March 28, from 4-5:30 p.m. – Room ES 206

STEM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will have its monthly meeting on Thursday, March 28, starting at 4 p.m. We will meet in ES206. We welcome all parents, students, and teachers! Email kate.jackson@ with any questions.

News and Updates

CMAS Testing Information

CMAS testing for 3rd – 8th and 11th graders will occur starting Tuesday, April 2. CMAS is the state assessment given to all students in these grades to measure academic success every spring. As you look forward to the spring, please make sure all appointments, vacations, etc, are scheduled OUTSIDE of the CMAS testing window (4/2 – 4/18) if you have a student in these grades. Also, please try to be on time so testing can start as planned.

Additional information regarding CMAS can be found on our website under state-mandated assessments.

If you would like to opt your student out, please follow the instructions on the website as soon as possible. If you want to discuss what it means to opt-out your student or have any questions regarding CMAS, please contact Julie Adamek at julie.adamek@

Summer Programming Opportunities

Are you looking for something to do over the summer? Below are a few ideas to get you started. The following organizations are currently taking applications for their summer programs.

  • PreFlight Aviation Camp – applications are now open for the six-day camp (July 15th – 20th) in Windsor, Colorado.
  • SAME (Society of American Military Engineers) / US Air Force Academy Camp – Application is open until March 15th. The week-long, live-in STEM camp is from June 23rd – 29th.
  • UC Denver, GenCyber Summer Camp – Application is currently open for the free online program being held July 15-19.
  • Colorado Health Careers Academy (CHCA) in conjunction with ACC and other healthcare partners are hosting a summer program for students to explore health careers. Information sessions are available through May. If you are interested in a career in healthcare, click here to learn more.
  • CU Science Discovery is offering summer classes for high school students at their CU Boulder and CU Anschutz locations. Programming includes Aerospace, Biotech, Computer Science, Forensics, Neuroscience, Biomed Research, Medical Student Experience and more! Summer Scholarships are available. Learn more on the CU Discovery website.

As a reminder, you can continue earning college credit by taking a course through one of our partner institutions. Please reach out to Nicole Ryan at nicole.ryan@ with questions. Registration for Arapahoe Community College opens March 11th for Summer and Fall courses.

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

NYU GSTEM High School Research Program

July 1-August 9, 2024 – New York City

GSTEM is an NYU summer research program for talented high school juniors interested in STEM. Founded and sponsored by the world-renowned Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, GSTEM offers opportunities for an incredible summer. Our mission is to support those historically underrepresented in STEM including girls and other minorities. Application is open and early deadline is March 15. Final deadline is April 15.

FREE Virtual Exchange STEM Program

The Experiment Digital Leadership in STEM prepares participants to be more civically engaged and lead change. This fully funded six-week summer virtual experience teaches high school students to formulate and implement STEM projects in their local communities. The Experiment Digital is designed to connect hundreds of young people across the United States, Middle East, and North Africa (MENA) region.

Our application to the 2024 Experiment Digital program is now OPEN! To learn more about our program, click here. Spaces are starting to fill, so be sure to share the application with your students. Students and parents/guardians can apply by clicking hereFinal admissions deadline: May 13, 2024

Read and share our program flyer here.

If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or reach out at: We’d love to see your students at The Experiment Digital! Click here to visit the website.

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