Secondary News and Updates (05/17/24)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

As the sun sets on another school year, we cannot help but reflect with pride on the incredible journey our students have taken. Their dedication, growth, and resilience have been inspiring! We extend our deepest gratitude for your support throughout the year. Your partnership is essential in creating a positive and enriching learning environment for our students.

Here’s a quick rundown of upcoming events:

  • Monday, May 20 – No school – Senior Graduation: Our graduating class celebrates their achievements on this day, and our faculty will be there to celebrate with them. The school will be closed that day.
  • Wednesday, May 22 – Field Day Fun! – Our students and staff are gearing up for a day of laughter and friendly competition on Wednesday, May 22. Middle School students will follow a skinny blue schedule in the morning and begin field day at 11 a.m.
  • Thursday, May 23 – Last Day Hooray! The school year officially concludes on Thursday, May 23, with dismissal at 11:30 a.m. The 6th and 7th graders will rotate through various activities sponsored by their teachers, and the 8th graders will head to the park for a Welcome to High School Party!
    • 8th Grade Families! If you haven’t yet, please order your student’s class t-shirt through SpartMart using this link. Class T-shirts at $15 and will be distributed at the party. Students must have their order number ready to help with locating the order and distribution. If there are any t-shirts left over, SpartMart will allow students to purchase a t-shirt. However, there is no guarantee that the size they want will be available.
  • June & July – Looking for something fun for your students to do this summer? Consider enrolling them in one of our Enrichment Camps or Athletic Camps.
    • Click here to see all of the Enrichment Offerings this Summer.
    • Click here to see all of the Athletic Offerings this Summer.
  • July – Express Check-In and Lockers! – Our annual Express Check-In will take place in July. Express Check-In is required for all families to complete so that students can begin school in August. More information will be shared in June with the exact dates and how to prepare. Sign-up for Middle School Lockers will also be shared in July in the Parent Newsletter.

Lastly, I would like just remind any families who will not be returning to STEM next school year to please complete the Withdrawal Form in the Weekly Parent Newsletter to assist our Registrar with processing your paperwork. We hope to keep every student with us at STEM. However, we know that family circumstances change, and we want to make that transition process as smooth as possible.

I wish you and your family a restful, refreshing, and enjoyable summer break! See you all in August, ready to embark on a new adventure in learning!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Students and Parents,

I want to begin this newsletter by celebrating the success of our seniors this year. The past week has been dedicated to them, with the Senior Picnic, Senior Lock-In (yes, Ms. Kovalesky, Ms. Shapiro, Mr. Kerwin, Mr. Bragg, and I actually stayed the night in our gym with the seniors), and Senior Honor Night.

And speaking of Honor Night. The Class of 2024 held a high standard for themselves and worked hard to accomplish their goals. These outstanding performances in school were recognized at our Senior Honors Night, where our seniors were recognized for all that they have accomplished over their tenure here.

Next week, we will continue to celebrate our seniors at graduation. Graduation is Monday, May 20, at 10 a.m. at Echo Park. It will be an amazing day (hopefully, the weather holds out!), filled with speeches designed to reflect on the past and inspire for the future. This is truly an accomplished group of young men and women, and I am very proud that I have been here for the past three years to see them develop into the amazing individuals that they have become. Congratulations, Class of 2024! You are an amazing group of students and deserve to be celebrated!

All of these celebrations would not be possible without the work of an amazing team. I would like to thank our high school counseling team for organizing our Senior Honor Night and our Graduation. None of this would have happened without all of you, and I appreciate the countless hours more than you will ever know!

Our graduates are ready for life after high school. They have worked hard for their accomplishments and deserve all that comes their way. However, they could not have done this without the network of people who have helped them out along the way. I would love to thank everyone individually, but there are far too many people to thank. So, I would like to thank our business partners for supporting us as we prepare the students for their futures.

I would like to thank all of our club sponsors and athletic coaches for the time that you have dedicated to our students, mentoring them helping them explore their passions, and learning the life lessons that are so valuable to their future successes. You will have a lasting impact on them, and I cannot thank you enough.

I would like to thank our STEM Staff for all they have done for our students while they were here, some starting in Elementary School. Whether it was the lessons they taught, feeding them great lunches, maintaining their environment, or greeting them with a smile, each one of them has made a significant impact on each of their lives. STEM has become a second home to them, and it is because of them that the students feel that way.

Finally, I would like to thank the parents. It is not easy to raise children in the world today, but our amazing students are a direct reflection of the kind and caring homes that they come from. I recognize that there are a lot of options that you could have selected for your student’s education, but thank you for selecting us. It is an honor and privilege to get to know your students and to be part of their journey.

And while we say goodbye to our seniors, it is always important to continue to look to our future and continue to plan and innovate for the class of 2025 and beyond. The class of 2024 started many new traditions, but the class of 2025 will have opportunities to do that as well. As a staff, we continue to innovate and offer new courses and pathways to meet the needs of our students and offer them opportunities to explore their interests. It is definitely an exciting time to be a STEM Spartan!

I know there is only a week left of school, but I would like to close this newsletter by reminding our students to be safe. Summer is a dangerous time for teens, so please make sure you have fun but make wise decisions. I look forward to seeing all of you in the fall!


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.

2024 Senior Graduation Ceremony (Facebook Post)
2024 MS Field Day (Instagram Post)

News and Updates

Stem Grad Online Order Flyer
Order your Class T-Shirts (Facebook Post)

Please make sure your student has their order number ready to show to assist with T-Shirt distribution at the Welcome to High School Party. If there are any t-shirts left over, SpartMart will allow students to purchase a t-shirt. However, there is no guarantee that the size they want will be available.

A message from the IT Department

We are always looking for ways to improve our security posture. This coming school year, we are going to implement MFA for all students. The first question that probably comes to mind, my student doesn’t have a phone so how can we do this? U, we can use another source.

We are writing to inform you about an important update regarding the security measures we are implementing to safeguard our students’ online activities.

As part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring a secure digital environment for our students, we will be introducing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all student accounts on our school’s digital platforms, implementation will start at the beginning of the new school year. We will accomplish this by using Clever Classroom MFA.

What is MFA and Why is it Important?

MFA is an additional layer of security that helps protect accounts by requiring multiple forms of verification before granting access. This typically involves something the user knows (like a password) combined with something they have or know (such as a card to scan or the need to identify pictures they have chosen). By implementing MFA, we are enhancing the security of our students’ accounts and reducing the risk of unauthorized access or potential breaches.

What Does This Mean for Your Child?

Starting a couple of weeks after the start of the new school year, your child will be prompted to set up MFA when accessing their school accounts. One of the ways to help the youngest would be to have pictures that have to be chosen after the password. The first screen would show a group of animals and the student would have chosen one after they set up the MFA. The second would show pictures of foods. With the two pictures chosen, they would use these to complete their MFA. There are also options for using Apple Touch ID or Windows Hello if your machine has this configured. We will provide detailed instructions and support to ensure a smooth transition for all students. We will start to send out the detailed instructions prior to the start of the new school year.

How Can You Help?

We kindly ask for your support in helping your child set up MFA for their school accounts. Encourage them to follow the provided instructions and emphasize the importance of keeping their login credentials and authentication methods secure.

Questions or Concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns about the implementation of MFA, please do not hesitate to reach out to We are here to assist you and ensure that this transition is as seamless as possible for your student.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we continue to prioritize the safety and security of our students’ online experiences.

STEM IT Department

Confirming Your Information in IC/Parent Portal

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, we recommend you check to make sure you can access your Parent Portal account and/or set one up if you have not already done so. The document below contains instructions on how to set up your Parent Portal account if you have not already done so.

You will need access to your Parent Portal account to complete Express Check-In for your student(s) in July. The portal also allows you to make contact updates to your profile (phone, email) and allows you to see important information about your student with respect to grades, transcripts, and attendance, among other things.

Watch for updates about Express Check-In on our website this summer and via direct email. An email from the District later in the summer about the exact dates of when Express Check-In will be taking place will also be sent. If you have trouble accessing or setting up your parent portal account, please contact District I.T. at 303-387-0001.

Locker Sign-Up for Rising Fifth Graders

Rising fifth graders staying at STEM for the 2024-25 school year will have the opportunity this June/July to sign up for a locker. Lockers are $5 for the school year and all locks are provided by STEM. The sign-up will be sent via email to all families in June/July so be on the lookout for that this summer. All locker fees will be added to the student’s MySchoolBucks account to then be paid during Express Check-In.

Student Parking Pass Sign-Up/Waitlist

In July, high school students with a valid driver’s license and registered vehicle can sign up for a parking pass. Parking passes cost $50 for the school year. There is no assigned parking. Seniors will be given priority in the order that they sign up, followed by juniors and sophomores. If students receive their driver’s license during the school year, they can put their name on the waitlist, and if there are any available throughout the school year, they can purchase one.

Fees for the parking passes will be added to each student’s MySchoolBucks account and must be paid for before picking up the parking pass in August.

The initial sign-up window will close on Wednesday, July 17, at 12 p.m. Seniors who sign up during this window will receive priority, followed by juniors and sophomores. After Wednesday, the sign-up will be turned into a waitlist, and students will receive a parking pass on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students assigned a parking pass will receive an email after Wednesday, July 17. Notification emails will go out to parents and students.

Senior Parking Space Painting Information

The STEM Administration, in collaboration with High School Student Government, is excited to once again announce the continuation of the tradition of allowing seniors to paint their parking spaces.

Seniors who would like to paint their parking spaces can select that option during the sign-up process. An additional fee of $25 will be added to the student’s MySchoolBucks account and must be paid prior to the space getting painted. Instruction about painting parking spaces will be sent to students directly who have signed up to paint.

The $25 painting fee will be donated to High School Student Government.

Painting of spaces will take place on Wednesday, July 22, and Thursday, July 25, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Additional information on artwork submission, materials, painting tips, design criteria, etc., will be sent to students who signed up to paint in July. All artwork must be approved via the Art Submission Form shared in July.

For questions about Senior Parking Spot Painting, please email

Concurrent Enrollment - CSU Extended Studies

STEM has partnered with CSU to bring our students additional concurrent enrollment (CE) opportunities for the 2024-25 school year. For Fall 2024, CSU is offering GEOL 110, Introduction to Geology – Parks and Mountains (GT-SC2) or SOC 100, Introduction to Sociology (GT-SS3). Both are 3 credits and guarantee transfer courses. For more information or to register, please reach out to Nicole Ryan at nicole.ryan@

Computers for Sixth Graders next year

We’re excited to announce that sixth graders at STEM next year will be provided with a laptop from STEM, so they will not need to purchase their own laptop. More information will be shared in the coming months about the type of laptop and distribution.

MSU Fall 2024 Virtual Network Classes

Metropolitan State University, Denver is not enrolling for their Fall 2024 Virtual Network classes. Virtual Network classes are asynchronous online courses, that use the Canvas platform. MSU is offering the courses below for fall. As a reminder tuition is covered by STEM, and there are no additional course fees (excluding textbooks), providing more concurrent enrollment opportunities for our students. If you are interested in registering for Fall 2024, please reach out to Nicole Ryan before summer break at nicole.ryan@

  • AAS 1010: Introduction to Africana Studies (GT- SS3)
  • ANT 1010: Introduction to Biological Anthropology (GT-SC1)
  • ASL 1010: Sign Language I
  • SWK 1050: How to Change the World (GT- SS3)

(GT courses are Guaranteed Transfer courses, and will transfer to all Colorado public colleges and universities. Degree transferability is determined by transferring institution. It is recommended to reach out to the college/ university to ensure it is applicable to your degree plan).

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.

  • NEW – Summer of Emerging Tech by The Coding School. Summer programming is currently open for middle and high school students interested in learning more about quantum computing, emerging tech, data science (HS only) and AI (HS only). Click here for more information and to register.
  • 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.
  • Space Foundation Discovery Center – Are you between the ages of 10 – 14? Are you looking for something to do this summer? If so, join the Space Foundation for two exciting Free student programs. Students will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on educational opportunities, while exploring space activities. Click here to learn more.

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.

Update about Belize Trip Information Meeting

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Families,

I am following up on my previous email about the informational meeting for the Belize trip. I am excited to see how much interest there is in travel!

See the meeting details and register for the meeting by clicking here. Once registered, a Google Meet link for the information meeting will be provided.

Those who register for the meeting will be eligible to receive a $200 tour scholarship and be eligible for Risk-Free Enrollment if they enroll on our tour!

As a reminder for those with questions about this opportunity, all questions will be answered at the meeting. Registration for the meeting is mandatory, so do not wait.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Kent Schnacke & Kathy Dwyer

Reminder of Lightning Delay Policy

As the weather continues to be unpredictable, we wanted to get our Lightning Delay/Dismissal Policy to families as soon as possible so that you can all prepare. While we are not anticipating any storms, we want everyone to be prepared.

Lightening Delay Procedure:

  • STEM School Highlands Ranch will continue to follow Douglas County School practices and protocols, and we encourage families to use the WeatherBug app to monitor lightning strikes. If lightning is within an 8-mile radius of our building at dismissal, we will hold students in their classrooms until the lightning has passed. Students over the age of 18 may leave if they choose.
  • The lightning is considered to have passed if, after 30 minutes, there is no lightning within a 8-mile radius.
  • When a lightning dismissal is called, we will announce it inside the building and send an email and text via School Messenger and PikMyKid.
    • K-12 families to download the PikMyKid Parent App and set up their account to that they can receive Emergency Notifications.
  • We often need to call a lightning dismissal at 2:20/2:30 p.m. for Elementary or 2:55 p.m. for Secondary, so texts and emails are sent as soon as possible. Please check IC to ensure you are signed up and subscribed to receive texts.
  • DCSD has made an important change to Lightning dismissal protocol: HS students under 18 will no longer be able to pick up younger siblings from a building during inclement weather.
  • Elementary parents who normally pick up their students as a walker may still do so via the Walker Door in Elementary, using the PikMyKid app to announce you are there. Parents may not park in the driveline and then get out to pick up their student via the walker door as this creates a safety hazard due to cars blocking our driveway.

Important Safety Guidelines

  • Parents, once you receive the text or email that we are in a lightning delay, please clear the driveline lanes and the campus, and wait for a notification that the delay is lifted.
  • Do NOT stay in your car or leave your car unattended in the driveline. This is a safety hazard, and we need the parking lot clear.
  • It is important to keep the driveline lanes clear in an emergency.
  • Once conditions on campus are considered safe, students will be released and messages will be sent to families.
  • Please note: Staff are not allowed to leave the building to clear the driveline lanes and the parking lot so we are asking all families to please follow these guidelines, without prompting so that we can keep everyone safe.
  • We will update families as we get closer to the severe weather rolling in.

Summer Job Hunt Boot Camp

Arapahoe/ Douglas Works is presenting a no cost Summer Job Hunt Boot Camp supporting young adults aged 14 – 18. Learn from experts gaining skills focused on career exploration, labor market information, resume building and interview skills. Review the attached flyer for more information and to register.

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