Secondary News and Updates (04/14/23)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

A Message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

We have completed all of our middle school state testing, with the exception of a few make ups. A huge shout out to our ES Dean, Jessica Manzanares for all of her hard work coordinating and executing the CMAS for our entire school; it is no small feat. Another shout out to our proctors. It is a daunting undertaking to administer the test, and even more daunting to manage the students after the testing! Finally, thank you and congratulations to all our students for making it through this testing season! We have six weeks left of school, and we intend to make them count!

Hall Passes are Here

Each spring, the warmth and daylight have a curious effect on our students: They become more active —arising from winter sleep and migrating to the hallways! They just cannot seem to stay in the classroom. To address this change in their behavior, we have implemented a hall pass policy. All students leaving the classroom for any reason other than the restroom must complete a hall pass and ask their teacher to sign and date it. Students who need to go to the restroom do not need a pass, but, as is our usual policy, must not be gone longer than five minutes. All teachers and students have been introduced to this policy.

Racist/Homophobic/Sexist Language

As mentioned in previous letters, we continue to struggle with hate based speech in our school. Whether it is spoken, texted, chatted on a social media app, or sent via email, it is happening on a daily basis. We need your help! Please have a discussion with your student about what to do if they hear this kind of speech. We are asking all students to take a stand against racist/homophobic/sexist language. Students should screenshot of save any evidence of hate speech and can show their parents, talk to Mr. Patel or myself, or report it through Safe to Tell. We need to put an end to this and we cannot do it without each and every family’s support.

Middle School Field Day

Ms. Gasser, Ms. Jones, and our Middle School Student Government are busily working on the plans for our second annual Middle School Field Day. It will take place on Wednesday, May 24th. Students will still attend a shortened schedule of all of their classes that day. After lunch, our Field Day will begin. Stay tuned for more details!

Important Upcoming Dates

  • Thursday, April 20th – STEMFEST
  • Thursday, April 24 – Saturday, April 27 – The Little Mermaid Production
  • Wednesday, May 10 – STEM Fine Arts Showcase
  • Thursday, May 18 – Graduation – No School
  • Wednesday, May 26 – Middle School Field Day

Remember, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Have a wonderful weekend.

In partnership,

Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

A Message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Students and Parents,

It is hard to believe that it is already April! The hallways are buzzing with talk of Prom! This is the time of year when students begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

While it is easy to be distracted by the spring events, it is essential that all of our students remain focused on their academics. Earlier this week, I emailed our new Hall Pass system. Clearly, this isn’t something that I want to do as we approach the end of the school year, but I am starting to get concerned for many of our students and need them to remain focused and finish strong.

State Testing is almost complete. Our 9th- and 10th-grade students had the opportunity to take the PSAT last week, and our 11th-graders took the SAT. For anyone who missed it, the make-up day is April 25th.

AP testing is just around the corner! Please click here for the date and time of AP testing. I will send out a more detailed AP schedule in the near future that will include testing rosters and room numbers. For those of student not taking an AP exam, they will follow the normal bell schedule.

Upcoming events:

Prom is here! Prom will take place this weekend at the Millhouse in Castle Rock. Looking at the weather forecast, it looks like there could be snow. Please be careful, as you are out driving that night. After Prom will be at the MAC! Students (and adults) have a lot of fun at the MAC, and it is a wonderful place for After Prom. Plus, it is right next to the Millhouse, which will minimize late-night driving on potentially icy roads. I would like to thank Mrs. Myrick and the Student Government for organizing our Prom and the PTO for After Prom!

The Senior Calendar

  • April 15th- Prom from 7:00-10:00, and After Prom to follow
  • April 21- Senior Lock-in in the secondary gym from 8pm to 7am
  • May 1st- “Chalk the Walk” starting at 4:00
  • May 1st- First day of AP testing
  • May 2nd- Senior Walk 8:15
  • May 11th- Skate Night at Skate City from 6-8. Seniors skate free!
  • May 12th- Senior Picnic from 11:15-3:15.
  • May 17th- Graduation Rehearsal in the Secondary Gym at 3:00
  • May 18th- Graduation at Echo Park Stadium at 10 am!

Additional Important Upcoming Dates

  • Thursday, April 20th – STEMFEST
  • Thursday, April 24 – Saturday, April 27 – The Little Mermaid Production
  • Wednesday, May 10 – STEM Fine Arts Showcase
  • Thursday, May 18 – Graduation – No School

This is definitely a fun time of year, but it can change quickly. Please have fun and be safe Spartans!


Ryan Alsup

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.

KOSON/STEM Special Board Meeting

Monday, April 17, starting at 5 p.m. – Zoom

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding a Special Meeting on Monday, April 17, starting at 5 p.m. via Zoom Webinar. The Board will be meeting to review the candidates for the KOSON Chief Innovation Officer position. Click the button below to view the Special Meeting. No Public Comment will take place.

Parent Coffee with Admin

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!

Dates: 4/18, 4/25, 5/2, 5/9, 5/16

KOSON/STEM Special Board Meeting

Wednesday, April 19, starting at 5:30 p.m.-12:15 p.m. – KOSON/P-TECH Building

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding a Special Meeting on Wednesday, April 19, starting at 5:30 p.m. to interview the KOSON CIO Finalist(s) in a public session. The meeting will take place in the KOSON/P-TECH Building. No Public Comment will take place but the community is encouraged to attend to listen to the candidate(s).

Middle School Spirit Week
Senior Chalk the Walk Event
Senior Walk 23

News and Updates

SOAR (Seeing Our Adolescents Rise) is Accepting Referrals for Therapy

Attention Eighth-Grade Families! On Thursday, April 13, families who will be joining/staying at STEM took part in our Welcome to STEM High School Parent Information Night. Click the button below to view the presentation that was presented to the families. Please contact if you have any questions about High School at STEM.

STEM Partners with The Backpack Society

We are excited to be able to continue our partnership with Backpack Society, a Douglas County based nonprofit that provides meals for students and families with food insecurity or with temporary need. We are one of several schools in the Highlands Ranch area to partner with this organization that provides a wonderful service for our community. This program is available to all families grades K-12 at STEM with a need. Families are not required to live in Douglas County to be eligible – as long as they have a student attending STEM.

Backpack Society offers 2 programs that require registration:

  • Student Program: Students who register will receive a bag with 6 meals, drinks, and snacks each week. Students will pick up their bags at STEM on Thursday afternoons in the front office.
  • Family Program: Families who register for this program will receive a box of groceries, including perishables to help through the weekend. This program requires a family member to pick up the box at Backpack Society headquarters drive-thru at 213 W County Line Road, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

Your information is kept confidential within Backpack Society and STEM’s point of contact, Julie Fletcher. If a family has registered, does not have transportation, and would still like to participate, please contact Julie Fletcher at and we can arrange for pick up.

For more information and to register, click the button below.

TIn Partnership,

The STEM Mental Health Team

Dr. Jistine Harrison, Colene Birchfield, Michael Link, Lisa Clay, Libby Rivera, Katie Bouchard

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

Class of 2023 Ticket Package for Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Friday, April 28 at 6:40pm

Congratulations to the Class of 2023… You’re “Outta Here!” The Rockies would like to invite all graduating students to celebrate their accomplishments at Coors Field! We’re including all grade levels and graduations in this special celebration. Purchase this special ticket package to receive a limited edition Class of 2023 Rockies t-shirt!

Your ticket package Includes:

  • A ticket to watch the Rockies take on the Diamondbacks
  • Limited edition Class of 2023 Rockies t-shirt

For questions or to purchase more than 12 tickets, please call 303-ROCKIES or email

Prices and locations subject to change without notice.

$20.23 Pavilion

Please note: Must purchase Class of 2023 Ticket Package to receive limited edition Colorado Rockies T-
Shirt. T-shirt distribution information will be emailed to all participants one (1) week prior to the event.

Women's $1,000 Scholarship Opportunity

P.E.O., Chapter I.F. Highlands Ranch, is again offering a $1000 scholastic scholarship to a deserving High School woman graduating this year. Click the button below to view the details, requirements, and application. The deadline for applications is May 8, 2023.

Attention Healthcare Enthusiasts!

Are you interested in a health career? Do you have some free time this summer? For students aged 16 – 24, Arapahoe Community College & Community College of Denver are hosting a summer Colorado Health Careers Academy. What an excellent opportunity to learn about different healthcare careers! Plus, you will earn your Basic Life Support (BLS) certification through the program. See the flyer for more details!

SOAR (Seeing Our Adolescents Rise) is Accepting Referrals for Therapy

SOAR is excited to announce that we are growing our Clinical Team and Adventure Therapy program to meet the needs of youth in our community. Here are some major highlights:

  • SOAR now accepts Medicaid (Colorado Access) for individual therapy services.
  • SOAR is accepting individual therapy client referrals. Individual therapy will utilize an adventure-based modality in connection with other clinical theoretical orientations.
  • SOAR has 3 Adventure Group Cohorts starting soon, for middle school & high school. SPACE IS LIMITED!
    • Due to various funding supports, SOAR is able to minimize the cost of this service. Please reach out to to learn more.
  • SOAR’s Engagement Coaching services support our Adventure Therapist’s work with clients and aligns with our regular service fees.
  • SOAR offers bilingual adventure therapy services. SOAR’s team offers therapy and coaching in English and Spanish.
SOAR Adventure Therapy

The Adventure Therapy program provides therapy services in a creative way using the principles of learning through experience. This program focuses on building youth’s ability to manage challenges in their life through developing resilience. The adventure therapy program supports adolescents in developing skills to navigate home and school successfully.


Youth participate in weekly adventure group sessions involving activities such as group team building, hiking, outdoor exploration, and more, designed to help build community and work on group & individual goals.


Youth participate in two (2) individual therapy sessions per month with a Mental Health Clinician in order to support and process group and coaching sessions as they progress toward their goals for therapy.


Youths regularly work with an Adventure Engagement Coach 1:1 to get support, practice skills, and stay focused on their goals. These are in-person sessions in their school, their home, or in the community or check-ins by phone or a virtual meeting platform. *minimum of two (2) per month


Youth are challenged through an all-day adventure filled with activities to cohesively work on the clinical goals they have focused on each month. This is an opportunity for community, growth, and skill-building as youth navigate varied levels of engagement.

All-Call for Parents to Join the SAC for 2023-24 School Year

Do you want the community to know what’s great about our school and why their kids should attend here? Have you ever had a concern or frustration about our school but didn’t know what you could do to address it or change it? Do you know how to have a voice in what’s going on in our school? Do you know how to actually make a difference in our school? The School Accountability Committee may be the place for you!

The purpose of 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. SAC meetings give parents and community members a forum to discuss improvements and opportunities for the school.

What does that mean exactly? It means we discuss things like:

  • Budget Priorities
  • Staffing needs
  • Technology
  • Principal Evaluation Tools
  • Community Concerns and Opinions
  • Unified Improvement Plans (the school’s academic goals and action plans The Annual Report
  • Safety Issues
  • Testing
  • Calendars
  • Other items that may be impacting our school

The SAC makes recommendations to the Executive Director and STEM Board of Directors about the above priorities. This is how we can impact what happens in our school. We help influence the decisions that ultimately impact every student in the school, and possibly the district.

We need parent representatives that reflect our school’s amazing diversity to be a part of the SAC. That means you!

Becoming a member of the SAC means:

  • attending the SAC meeting which occurs monthly. The SAC typically meets on the third Wednesday of the month from 5:30-7 p.m., and the time qualifies for volunteer hours.
  • becoming informed about school programs and budgets – specialists may be invited to SAC meetings to help educate the members.
  • becoming a voice for our school.

Each elected member serves a two-year term; however, your role on the committee may change from one year to the next within the elected term. We are currently assembling our SAC Committee for the next school year. The more parents involved, the better!

If you are interested in nominating yourself or another person for SAC, please email by Friday, May 19. We look forward to your participation in our SAC!

T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge

T-Mobile Foundation Changemaker Challenge

Do you know a young person with a bold new idea to transform your community for the better?

T-Mobile, the T-Mobile Foundation, and Ashoka are teaming up for the fifth Changemaker Challenge, a nationwide contest that gives young leaders the opportunity to take their ideas for creating a more connected, equitable, and sustainable future to the next level.

Now, through May 18, 2023 (8:59 pm PT / 11:59 pm ET) anyone between the ages of 13-18 located in the US or Puerto Rico with bold ideas for driving digital empowerment, putting equity into action, and supporting a thriving planet can enter the Changemaker Challenge.

Why should they apply?

Fifteen finalists will be selected to win up to $15,000 in seed funding and an all-expenses-paid trip to T-Mobile headquarters to participate.

Debbie Jackson & Darrell Pridemore Memorial Scholarship Foundation

The Debbie Jackson & Darrell Pridemore Memorial Scholarship Foundation was originally founded in 2005 to promote and present scholarships to area high school seniors who have overcome adversity in their lives and have dreams of higher education in order to achieve the careers of their choice. The foundations founders and members are passionate in helping graduating students accomplish their dreams and goals and thru the foundation we thrive on seeing seniors who are passionate and believe in themselves in going forward into the world with an education that will benefit themselves and everyone around them.

The scholarship is a one-time award of $2,000-$4,000. High School students are encouraged to apply on or before April 21. Click the button below to view the application as well as instructions no how to submit it. Winners will be announced the first week of May, with a presentation to follow right after.

College and Career Newsletter

College and Career Planning Resources Graphic

Seniors: Make sure you are filling out the college acceptance form in the newsletter! Later this month a new form will be created for you to list your after-graduation plans that will be read at graduation, but the current form is for every school you have been admitted to. There is also a graphic that gives all the dates of senior events – please make sure you look that over and let me know if you have any questions!

Juniors: Make sure you are completing your After Grad Packet and sending that to me. Once I have received this, we can schedule your first official college meeting. There is a section for you of resources – this includes the AG Packet, Junior Night College presentation, and a walk-through of setting up your Common App account.

Make a difference in your community through the YouthBoard program!

The YouthBoard program is completely free and takes place in the evenings during the next school year. As part of the program, students will:

  • Direct thousands of dollars into their community
  • Develop leadership skills that will help them be successful in the future
  • Create meaningful connections with other young people
  • Learn the power of their voice to create change
  • Complete 60 hours of community service

Students who are passionate about making their community a better place should apply online by April 16th.

Please contact with any questions.

Internship Opportunities

Are you looking for a Summer Internship? Are you a junior or senior looking for a Fall or Spring Internship? If so, this message is for you!! Internships are an excellent opportunity for our Juniors and Seniors to explore various career fields while earning high school credit!

We are now interviewing for Summer internships for the following companies (see flyer for more information):

Calibre Engineering

Panther Electronics

If you are interested in any of the summer internships above or an internship within the Sheriff’s department, please contact Nicole Ryan at Please do not reach out to the company directly.

For Fall and Spring internships, please schedule an appointment with Nicole Ryan to discuss industry interests and next steps at

Lunches will be FREE Next School Year

FREE lunches are back for students! Starting in August of 2023, students will once again receive free lunches. Students must chose an entree, fruit/vegetable a milk for the free lunch. Snacks are not free.

While lunches will be free, it is important for families who need additional financial support to still complete the Free/Reduces Lunch application. Those who qualify for FRL status will only receive the additional benefits (free/reduced school fees, free/reduced trips, priority for scholarships in non-FRL field trips or Enrichment programs, and/or graduation fee reductions, etc.) of the program if they complete the application.

In order to assure that the District and STEM receive accurate data, DCSD and STEM are requesting that ALL families complete the FRL application that opens on July 15, regardless of financial status. A new application must be completed each school year. Families can also still apply for this school year using the link below.

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.

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

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.

Center for Strength News and Events

Center for Strength '23 Community Hiking Club

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

How to Help a Child with Anxious Feelings

We’ve all felt nervous or worried from time to time and our kids are no exception. Did you know that avoiding anxiety can make it stronger? By helping kids move forward while still feeling anxious, we can help them to do things while afraid.

Literacy Tip of the Week

Assessment Fundamentals: Understanding Testing and Evaluation of Dyslexia

Hosted by DC Kid

Wednesday, April 19 | 6:30 p.m.; Castle Pines Library

Learn about the Dyslexia assessment process in both school and private evaluation settings.

Health and Wellness Resource of the Week

Parent University Recordings

Check out recordings of DCSD’s past Parent University webinars made possible via a partnership with Sky Ridge Medical Center.

DCSD Events

Sources of Strength Ice Cream Social

Hosted by DCSD Health, Wellness and Prevention Department

Tuesday, April 18 | 4-6 p.m.

​​​​​​​This free event is to spread the word about the Sources of Strength program to our greater community, and to come together to have fun and enjoy yummy ice cream. Our Sources Student Leadership Committee will be providing games, crafts, and fun activities for all who attend. This event is open to all ages, we ask that you come ready to have FUN! Sources of Strength is a strength-based, comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention, but impacts other issues such as substance misuse, bullying and violence. It promotes and focuses on connection, help-seeking and resilience through messages of hope, help and strength.

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