Secondary News and Updates (05/19/23)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

A Message from Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

We have had a busy month! Mr. Schwartz directed our first K-12 musical production of The Little Mermaid, our Fine Arts Department put on an art show, and it was a beautiful evening of art, and Mr. Gomez held our spring music concert. We are so fortunate to have such passionate teachers of the arts, and cannot thank you all for coming out and supporting our students for those events.

Our STEM class of 2023 graduated yesterday, and they have definitely taken a piece of our faculty’s hearts with them. Watching a large group of this class of students grow up has been an honor for me and for many of us, and it is always difficult to say goodbye, but we know they will go out there and make STEM proud!

A heartfelt thank you to all of the members of the STEM family for a successful school year. Parents, teachers, staff members, and community partners worked together to provide strong support for our children. It has not been the easiest of years, but we grew and learned despite navigating through some choppy waters. Because of your collective efforts, our middle schoolers showed academic, social, and emotional growth this year.

What’s coming up for the last week of school?

Middle School Awards Ceremony – Tuesday, May 23

Our first awards ceremony will occur on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Secondary Gym. We should finish around 5 p.m. All families have been notified if their child is receiving an award. Remember, the academic awards honor students for grades achieved in the Fall semester. Going forward, we will honor students in September for the spring semester and in January for the fall semester.

Middle School Field Day – Wednesday, May 24

Our second annual Middle School Field Day will occur on Wednesday, May 24. Students will still attend a shortened schedule of all of their classes that day. After lunch, our Field Day will begin. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Ms. Gasser (michelle.gasser@, Ms. Jones (susan.jones@, or myself (maura.ridder@

Last Day/Half Day – Thursday, Mayn 26

Our 6th and 7th-grade students will enjoy a fun last day of school with their teachers, and our 8th-graders will enjoy a Welcome to High School Party at Central Park. Please pick up your student at 11:30 a.m. at STEM.

Remember, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope you all have a wonderful summer, and I look forward to seeing you all in August. To the families who are leaving us, I wish you all nothing but the best in the future.

In partnership,

Middle School Director

A Message from Ryan 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, Mrs. Myrick, Mr. Bragg and I actually stayed the night in our gym with the seniors), and Senior Honor Night.

Then on Thursday, May 18, we celebrated our seniors by hosting an amazing graduation at EchoPark Stadium. The venue was perfect, the weather was fantastic, and the speeches were amazing. The entire week was a lot of fun and was a perfect way to celebrate an amazing group of people. I would like to take a moment to thank Kelli Myrick for making this all happen. Not only is Mrs. Myrick our College and Career Counselor, she is also our High School Student Government Advisor and the person who organized all of the senior events, including Honors Night and Graduation. Thanks!

And speaking of Honor Night. The Class of 2023 held a high standard for themselves and worked hard to accomplish their goals. These outstanding performances in school were recognized at our scholarship night, where our students received $5,392,559 in scholarships! That is pretty impressive for a graduation class of 114 students!

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 and 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 2024 and beyond. The class of 2023 started many new traditions, but the class of 2024 will have opportunities to do that as well, starting with the option to paint your parking spot this summer! 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 of the lessons learned during SteMed’s safe driving campaign. 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, 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.

Monthly DEI Committee Meeting

Thursday, May 25, from 4-5:30 p.m. – Room E215

If you’re interested in getting involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at STEM, we encourage you to attend to find out more information. Email amie.mcelroy@ with questions.

Secondary Last Day of School
STEM Summer Hours

News and Updates

IMPORTANT: Please Make Sure your Parent Portal Accounts are Set Up prior to Summer Break

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Families,

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 via the button 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.

Thank you,

Stacey Lee, Registrar

Transportation & Construction GIRL Day

Here is your opportunity to meet with Superstar Women that are successful architects, engineers, project managers and more! Transportation and Construction GIRL Day is being held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on September 28, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Visit their website for specific event information.

Student Fees Reminder

Our Business Office would like to remind families to please check their MySchoolBucks accounts prior to the end of the school year to pay any remaining balances that may be in your account. The Business Office will be contacting families over the summer individually who still have an outstanding balance but would like to request families to please log into their account now and either pay or set up a payment plan now to reduce the number of families that they have to reach out to.

The summer months are a busy time of year for the Business Office as they close out the 2022-23 school year and get everything in order for the new year. Your help in this matter is greatly appreciated. Please email ashley.westfall@ if you have any questions about fees or your MySchoolBucks account.

In partnership,

The STEM Business Office

Adjusted High School Schedule on May 24

On Wednesday, May 24, our Middle School students will be holding a Field Day. Since some of our teachers teach both Middle and High School, I’ve had to make an adjustment to the class schedule for our high school students to ensure that their instructional time is not interrupted.

All Secondary students will follow a shortened Blue Day schedule in the morning (see below). Starting at 11 a.m., High School students will then follow an abbreviated Gold Day schedule (also shown below). Students will still go to their normal lunch period.

Thursday, May 25, is a half day, and the high school students will spend the day at the park welcoming our new rising 9th graders to High School. Please let me know if you have any questions. This information was also shared with students directly.

Thank you,

Ryan Alsup, High School Director

Wednesday, May 24
Period 2 (Blue Day) 7:50-8:30 a.m. (All Secondary Students)
Period 4 (Blue Day) 8:35-9:20 a.m. (All Secondary Students)
Period 6 (Blue Day) 9:25-10:10 a.m. (All Secondary Students)
Period 8 (Blue Day) 10:15-11 a.m. (All Secondary Students)
11 a.m.-2:55 p.m. – Middle School Students will start Field Day
Period 7 (Gold Day) 11-11:30 a.m. – A Lunch (HS Students)

11:35 a.m.-12:05 p.m. – B Lunch (HS Students)

12:10-12:40 p.m. – C Lunch (HS Students)

Period 3 (Gold Day) 12:45-1:25 p.m.
Period 5 (Gold Day) 1:30-2:10 p.m.
Period 9 (Gold Day) 2:15-2:55 p.m.

Still Time to Buy a Secondary Yearbook

Yearbooks are here! Yearbooks were available for pick-up starting on Thursday, May 11, and will be available for pick-up through Wednesday, May 17, during lunch in both the Middle School Cafeteria and the High School Commons. Didn’t get your yearbook yet? Not to worry! Yearbooks will be sold through Spart Mart. Click the button below to purchase.

Let's Journey to Mars!

What are your summer plans? Are you wondering what to do with your time this summer? Why not participate in the International Mission to Mars: Design Class and Competition? Join others in a virtual program led by experts in the industry and explore life on Mars. As part of the program, you will work as a virtual team to design your own mission to Mars.

If you want to learn more about the program, please email Nicole Ryan at nicole.ryan@ You can review the flier via the button below for information on the program and the summer schedule. Also, take a peek at the following video from the 2022 teams.

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 julie.fletcher@ 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

Attention Aerospace Enthusiasts!

Mark your calendars for the Pathfinder Aerospace Conference being held at the Colorado School of Mines being held on Saturday, Sept. 16. The conference is open to all high school and college students. For more information, see the flier or visit the conference site via the buttons below.

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.

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.

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.

Center for Strength News and Events

C4S - Summer Hours

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

SAFY Mobile Crisis Response

SAFY Mobile Crisis Response is the crisis team, contracted through Colorado Crisis Services / 988, to provide mobile crisis services for five counties including Douglas County. They respond to crisis calls within an hour of dispatch from the crisis hotline and respond to any self-defined mental health crisis. They can respond to schools, residences, and anywhere in the community for clients of all ages.

Literacy Tip of the Week

25 Resources and Idea to Help Students Read More During the Summer

During the past school year, your child’s school has supported and encouraged independent reading to build your child’s fluency, vocabulary, and enjoyment of reading. And you’ve likely done the same thing at home. Summer is the perfect time to think about how to support your child’s independent reading through the hot weeks ahead.

Health and Wellness Resource of the Week

Local Farmers Market and Pick-Your-Own Guide

If you haven’t shopped at a Farmers Market before, you are in for a treat. Wear comfortable shoes, bring your own bags and plenty of water, and don’t forget sunscreen. Some stands don’t accept credit cards, so stop at the ATM before you go.


Youth Activation Committee Open House

Hosted by Special Olympics Colorado

Sunday, May 21 | 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Boondocks, Parker

Come learn how Douglas County youth can get involved in Unified Sports partnerships via Special Olympics Colorado. Lunch will be provided.

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