Secondary News and Updates (07/28/23)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Middle School Families,

Welcome to the 2023-24 school year! I could not be more excited to welcome you all back to school. I am truly honored to serve in my 12th year at STEM and my third year as the Middle School Director here at STEM. I am privileged to work with an outstanding administration team, faculty, and staff to make it an outstanding year for our students. We are all excited to work closely with you to ensure the success and well-being of all of our middle school students. Our administration team has been working all summer to launch an exciting, successful school year.

STEM School Highlands Ranch is an incredible place to learn and grow. My top priority is to make our staff and students feel a sense of belonging and purpose here. Together, we strive to make connections with students to help them feel valued, accepted, and safe. Our mission, “Never stop innovating” will continue to guide us in providing a rigorous yet nurturing, joyful school environment. Through our Problem-Based Learning Model, our teachers encourage active student inquiry and engagement to foster a lifetime love for learning.

Partnering with families will be imperative this year and a big part of building a positive STEM community. I am forever appreciative and grateful for your support and dedication to our school. We encourage families to stay connected and informed through our parent newsletter each week, and if you have any questions or just want to chat, I am always here.

I look forward to seeing familiar faces and getting to know our new families this year!

In Partnership,

Maura T. Ridder, Middle School Director

A message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch High School Students and Parents,

Welcome back! The custodial and maintenance staff has been working very hard and are nearly ready for the opening of the 2023-24 school year. I hope you and your student(s) are preparing for the first school day. Our new students will begin the school year on Monday, Aug. 7 with our annual Spartan Launch. This is a wonderful opportunity for our NEW to STEM students to find their classrooms and meet their teachers without the crowds. School will begin for the rest of our students on Tuesday, Aug. 8. As you transition from summer to fall, please be prepared to greet old friends and new students alike. We have many new students this year, so let’s make sure we give them a warm Spartan welcome!

When your students report to school, they will be greeted by many friendly faces, some of which will be new to you. I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our new staff members for the 2023-24 school year:

  • Matthew Bellipanni- Social Studies
  • Beth Golden- American Sign Language
  • James Hitch- PE
  • Jennifer Laske- Math
  • Megan Shapiro- Engineering
  • Jackie Viren- Robotics

I would also like to warmly welcome Evan Voorn, who has moved up to high school social studies this year, and Susan Jones, who is our new Athletic Director!

As I mentioned, Susan Jones is taking over as our Athletic Director. I have really enjoyed working with athletics over the past two years and am proud of all that we have accomplished over that time, but I am really excited to watch our programs grow and develop under her leadership. You can reach Mrs. Jones at athletics@ For information on fall sports, please see her section of the newsletter.

I am very excited about this upcoming school year. Your student’s success is my top priority and I believe that parents/guardians play a key role. You are invited to volunteer and/or take a family interest in the variety of opportunities we have for families, to support your student. Invite your students to talk about their day and celebrate their successes. Help your student track his or her learning and discuss ways in which he or she can be engaged in the learning process.

Our goal at STEM is to provide personalized service and instruction. To this end, please feel free to share with your student’s teachers, counselors, and administration any information that will help us better serve your student and your family. Please remind your student to have a safe and healthy day, to stay away from negative influences, to make good decisions, and come to class every day, on time, and prepared to learn.

Be safe, and enjoy the rest of your summer. Go Spartans!

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.

Welcome Back to School Information Sessions

Monday, July 31-Friday, Aug. 4, starting from 12-1 p.m. – Zoom

To help our new and returning families be as prepared as possible for the start of the new school year, we will be offering five Welcome Back to School – Parent Info Sessions the week of Monday, July 31 through Friday, Aug. 4, from 12-1 p.m. each day. Each session will cover important topics, outlined below, that all families should know in order to start the school year off on the right foot. Following a brief presentation on each topic, we will allow families to ask questions related to that topic. Each session will be over Zoom. We will record each session so that it will be available on the website for those who couldn’t attend.

  • Monday, July 31(12-1 p.m.) – Driveline Procedures & PikMyKid (Elementary Families)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 1 (12-1 p.m.) – Getting Informed (Attendance line, using IC, visiting STEM, Student/Parent Handbook, Fees, School Photos, etc.)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 2 (12-1 p.m.) – Getting Connected (Communications Pathways, who to contact when?, communications at STEM, etc.)
  • Thursday, Aug. 3 (12-1 p.m.) – Getting Involved (volunteering, donating, STEM PTO, STEM SAC, etc.)
  • Friday, Aug. 4 (12-1 p.m.) – The STEM Experience (Enrichment and Athletics)

Middle School Math Placement Test

Monday, July 31, from 8:45-10 a.m. – Secondary Lobby

Middle School students who are new to STEM for the 2023-24 school year should take the Math Placement test. Students should check in at the secondary front office at 8:45.

Items to bring:

  • water bottle
  • pencil
  • snack

For any questions or concerns, please contact communication@

KOSON/STEM Board of Directors' Monthly Meeting

Tuesday, Aug. 1, from 5:30-7 p.m – Mechatronics Lab in P-TECH/KOSON Building

The KOSON/STEM Board of Directors will be holding its Monthly Meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 1, from 5:30-7 p.m. via Zoom.  The BOD is comprised of parents and community members who volunteer their time. The Board’s role and purpose is to provide oversight of the KOSON Schools Chief Innovation Officer, who implements the policies set forth by the Board. The Board also provides support and direction for STEM’s long-term vision and mission. Additionally, the Board is active in making sure that KOSON Schools remains in compliance with all DCSD, state and federal compliance requirements, as well as STEM School Highlands Ranch’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

Secondary Driveline Placard Pick-Up

Wednesday, Aug. 2, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Secondary Commons (Athletics Entrance)

Thursday, Aug. 3, from 1-5 p.m. – Secondary Commons (Athletics Entrance)

Monday, Aug. 7, from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. – Elementary and Secondary Lobbies

Families can pick up their Driveline Placards during this time. Please park in the Elementary School Parking lot and enter through the Athletics Entrance to visit the Placard Pick Up Table. All Secondary families must sign-up for one of two timeslots (2:55 p.m., or 3:05 p.m.). Click the button below to sign-up for a timeslot. All families must have a placard to use Driveline and must only come at their designated time. Carpool placards will also be available during this time, but families must complete the Secondary Carpool Sign-Up first, and must meet the requirements of the Carpool program.

Senior Parking Spot Painting

Thursday, Aug 3, and Friday, Aug. 4, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Secondary Student Parking Lot

We’re starting a NEW Tradition at STEM. Seniors who purchase a parking pass will be able to paint a parking space for an additional $25 fee. The parking spot painting event will be on Thursday, Aug. 3, and Friday, Aug. 4. Students will line-up prior to the event at the entrance to the Secondary School Lobby. After confirming that the student has paid for their parking pass and the painting fee, students will then be instructed to pick out their spaces and begin painting.

All artwork must be preapproved by Mr. Alsup and the artwork submission deadline is Wednesday, July 26. Students can submit their artwork at the button below. Please note: While a student has painted the parking space, it will be difficult to enforce this, so we cannot guarantee that a student’s space will not be parked in from time to time. If someone parks in a student’s painted spot, they can check in with the front office to see if the car’s owner can be contacted to have it moved. Students who paint a spot should always use their painted spot.

Secondary Spartan Launch (Grades 6-12)

Monday, Aug. 7, from 9-11 a.m. or 12-2 p.m.

New students to STEM who will be entering secondary school (grades 6-12) are invited to participate in our Secondary Spartan Launch! (this includes first-time students at STEM and first-time students entering Secondary who were in STEM Elementary last year)

Come meet new friends, learn about STEM School’s culture and student expectations, team building, and tour the school. Participation in Spartan Launch will help prepare all new students for their first school day on Tuesday, Aug. 8. This event is for students only. Please enter through the Secondary School Doors.

STEM PTO Presents Movie on the Green

Friday, Aug. 11, starting at 6 p.m. – Playfield

The PTO is excited to move forward with a great start to the new year! We are switching around the first and last event of the year, and with that said, Movie on the Green is back on to kick off the year, with hopefully amazing weather and great attendance!

STEM PTO Fall 23 Encanto Movie Flyer

News and Updates

Enrichment Updates

Club Rush

STEM Secondary School students will have the opportunity to learn about after-school programs during their lunches. More details are coming in the August 4th newsletter.

  • HS Club Rush: Thursday, Aug. 17
  • MS Club Rush: Friday, Aug. 18

Registrations will begin to open up for Secondary students starting in mid-August in conjunction with Club Rush. Most clubs will begin meeting in late August or early September.

Interested in Joining SAC?

If you’re interested in getting involved with our School Accountability Committee and would like to receive meeting notifications, please email sac@ to be included on the Meeting Reminder email list.

DCSD Express Check-In Open until Sunday, Aug. 6

This is a friendly reminder for ALL families to please complete Express Check-In as soon as they can. In addition to completing DCSD’s Express Check-In, ALL families must complete the STEM Express Check-In Google Form that is located under the Additional School Forms section of the Dashboard.

If you’ve already completed Express Check-In in the DCSD Engage Platform, but did not complete the STEM Express Check-In Google Form that was included in the dashboard, please log back in and complete that form.

That Google Form is critical for all families to complete.

Express Check-In will close on Sunday, Aug. 6. Following the start of school, Express Check-In will open for NEW Families who join STEM after August 8. While Express Check-In is open for a number of weeks, we strongly encourage all families to complete the process early to reduce stress.

DCSD Free Meals Flyer SY 23-24 UPDATED

Secondary Locker Sign-Up

For those who haven’t completed this step yet, please click the button below to sign-up for a secondary locker. The yearly fee for a locker is $5 and will be added to the student’s MySchoolBucks account. Lockers are separated by grade level and will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students will receive an email with their locker number and combination.

Secondary Student Parking Pass Waitlist

Students with valid driver’s licenses can put their names on the Parking Pass Waitlist via the button below. Parking passes cost $50 for the school year, and the fee will be added to the student’s MySchoolBucks account. The fee must be paid prior to picking up the parking pass. Students who are approved will receive an email with instructions on how to pick up.

Lunches will be FREE This 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.

Laptop Requirements for 6th-12th grade Students

Laptops are only required for middle and high school students. For STEM laptop purchase recommendations, please click the button below. New for this year! All fifth-grade students will receive a laptop provided by STEM. One important note! Older computers will need a dongle.

Our new wireless structure will require that all computers connect to 5GhZ radio. This may impact students with older computers. Most newer devices already have a wireless card installed that connects to 5GhZ radio. If your computer is older or does not connect to 5GhZ radio, you will have to purchase a WIFI dongle. It can be purchased online or at any tech retailer starting at about $30. Search for “WiFI Dongle 5 GHz.” There should be a lot of options!

Secondary Supply List

There is no designated Secondary Supply List. All Secondary Students will receive supply lists from each teacher, depending on the course, during the first week of school.

PikMyKid for Secondary Families

All families (K-12) will be asked to download the app and set-up a PikMyKid account to their cell phones. Currently, all Elementary families use this platform to assist with Driveline Pick-Up. NEW for this school year, we will be using PikMyKid for Secondary Driveline and as a back-up for Emergency Notifications, so it is imperative that ALL families download and set up their accounts. Click the button below to learn more about PikMyKid. Information on how PikMyKid will be used for Secondary Driveline Pick-Up will be shared in the coming weeks.

Health Room News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some updated information about COVID-19 regarding isolation and precautions for people who have it, and have asked for schools to share the information with families. Click the button below to learn more.

Technology Support News

We are changing our web filtering this school year to Securly. We have filtering set as default when on the network. If a student installs a certificate on their machine, they can get filtering according to their grade level. You can get the installation file by clicking the button below. This only filters when on the school network. All students will join the “Students” WiFi network at the school As long as the student has the certificate installed, they will get filtered correctly.

Athletics News and Updates (Grades 9-12)

Time to Register for Fall Sports

It’s time to register for Fall Sports! All students in grades 9-12 who wish to participate must register and have an up-to-date physical submitted prior to starting any practices or games. Click the button to the right to register.

  • Boy’s Golf – Practice starts July 31
  • Boy’s Soccer – Practice starts on August 7
  • Co-Ed Cross Country – Practice starts on August 7
  • Girls’ Volleyball – Practice starts on August 7

Students who wish to participate in eSports must also register but do not need to submit a physical.

Please note: Now that we are a CHSAA school, students can no longer play for other high schools if we offer the sport at STEM. For the sports we do not offer, such as football, a student can still play for their neighborhood school.

DCSD News and Updates

B.A.S.E at STEM is hiring!

We are looking for 2 Program Leaders to work in a busy and fun after-school program. If you or someone you know likes working with kids, has some experience working with children ages 5-12, and is eager to develop and learn new skills in a growing program with a fun, experienced, and dedicated staff, this is the right move for you. Program Leader hours are M-F, 1:30-5:30/6 p.m. Part-time and full-time hours are available during school breaks. This position is a “Select Charter Position” and offers an additional 10% (to hourly base rate) monthly stipend. If you are interested but need more flexibility, we are hiring Program Leader substitutes. Substitutes can work 2-3 days each week. We are also happy to coordinate with STEM who are looking for more hours. Feel free to call or email me for more details or questions at, or (720) 688-2928.

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