Secondary News and Updates (08/13/21)

Secondary-School News

Greetings from Mrs. Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Middle School Families,

Welcome to the 2021-22 school year! I could not be more excited to welcome you back to school. I am truly honored to move from a nine-year teacher and three-year instructional coach to the role of Middle School Director here at STEM. I am privileged to work with an outstanding Leadership Team, faculty, and staff to make it a smooth transition 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. The Leadership Team has been working all summer to plan for 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. We truly missed our families last year, and we are 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.

If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with our Communications Pathways document, please take a moment to review it. This is the best way to start with locating who to contact with what specific area. We want to make sure you get to the right person to get your questions answered.

I look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting all the middle school families this year! Feel free to reach out and contact me with any concerns or questions.

We Are #STEMStrongerTogether.

Maura T. Ridder, Middle School Director

Greetings from Mr. Ryan Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch High School Families,

Welcome to the 2021-22 school year! My name is Ryan Alsup, and it is truly an honor to be the new High School Director. I have been in education for 20 years, serving as a teacher and administrator. Each stop on my career path has given me valuable experience and has prepared me to help lead our High School students.

The start of an academic year is always an exciting time, and this year is no exception. I want to thank the parents, students, and staff for a great first week of school. Teachers and students have spent the past few days establishing relationships with each other as well as exploring the new curriculum that every student faces as they move up in grade level and subject. This brings with it exciting new challenges as students use the prior knowledge gained with the new knowledge learned. This connection is important to both students and staff members as we strive to reach our full potential as life-long learners.

I am very excited for 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. As a parent myself, I love hearing about my childrens’ day and all the ups and downs they encounter.

Our goal at STEM is to provide personalized service and instruction. To this end, please feel free to share with your student’s teachers, counselor, or me 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, make good decisions, and come to class every day, on time, and prepared to learn.

As the new High School Director, I look forward to meeting each of you. Please feel free to reach out anytime. Be safe, and have a wonderful weekend!

We are #STEMStrongerTogether.

Ryan Alsup, High School Director

Donation and Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering and giving to STEM are vital to the success of our school. Our school has a charter that requires a commitment of 30 volunteer hours per family (15 hours per single-parent family).

To make volunteering easy and seamless, please refer to the Volunteering Basics section that will allow you to set up your volunteer account and keep track of your hours. We are extremely grateful for the time and energy donated by STEM parents each year.

Volunteer Opportunities

Driveline (Earn Double Volunteer Hours):

  • Parent supervisors needed during AM & PM Driveline! sign up here. Arrive 5 minutes early to find parking and grab a vest. Extra incentive: Earn double hours ie: log 60 hours in Driveline. (that’s 30 actual volunteer hours). Click here to sign up.

Spartan Afternoon Program:

A great way to avoid waiting in the afternoon drive-line, and maybe even take your own child home with homework complete. This opportunity is after school and only requires volunteers to monitor students (no tutoring involved). If you are interested, please click here.

TSA Volunteers

To volunteer for TSA or to provide snacks please click here.

Driveline Volunteers

Classroom Wishlists

Click the buttons below to see our Teacher’s Classroom Wish Lists.

School Donations

Both our Elementary and Secondary Offices are always in need of donated items. Click the button below to see what we need and to sign up. Please bring the items to the appropriate front office with a label for what it is for.

Upcoming Events

STEM Best Robotics

Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m.

The STEM Best Robotics club will be holding an informational meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 17 from 7-8 p.m. in the High School Commons.

School Back-to-School Nights

Wednesday, Aug. 18, from 5-7:30 p.m. – Middle School Families 

Thursday, Aug. 19, from 5-7:30 p.m. – High School Families 

Parents are invited to come to school and follow their student’s schedule for the evening. You will attend each of your student’s classes and hear a brief presentation about the class content and expectations from each teacher. Parents ONLY, please.

Please park in the Secondary Parking Lot and enter through the Secondary Entrance (Formerly Middle School Entrance). No sign-up is needed.

Please bring a copy of your student’s schedule so that you can visit the appropriate classrooms. It is not recommended that students attend, as much of the information has already been shared with them and will be repetitive.

Please plan to arrive by 5 p.m. so you can make it to your student’s first class on time.

MS/HS Back To School Night Schedule:

  • Period 2 – 5:15-5:25 p.m.
  • Period 3 – 5:30-5:40 p.m.
  • Period 4 – 5:45-5:55 p.m.
  • Period 5 – 6:00-6:10 p.m.
  • Period 6 – 6:15-6:25 p.m.
  • Period 7 – 6:30-6:40 p.m.
  • Period 8 – 6:45-6:55 p.m.
  • Period 9 – 7:00-7:10 p.m.

School Pictures

Friday, Aug. 20, during the day

Secondary students will go in small groups during their study hall on Friday to get their photos taken by DR Photo. If a student does not have a study hall, they can get their photo taken during their lunch break. Click the button below to order online.

News and Updates

A note from our Student Support Services Team

Hi STEM Secondary Families,

Thank you all so much for your patience this past week as our counseling staff has been working through the myriad of schedule changes for each student. Our team is working around the clock to process all requests. Please allow them the time to get through those requests. If there are still questions and concerns about a student’s schedule, they will respond as soon as they are able. Schedule changes can be made all the way up until August 24.

Thank you,

Christina Wu, Director of Student Support

Check out the newest Clubs and Activities in our Enrichment Programming

We have so many offerings for our students to get involved in clubs and activities at STEM. Click the button below to see all of our offerings. Don’t see something that interests your student? Email Mrs. Sara Phelps (sara.phelps@stemk12.org) to see if that club could be added.

Here are the latest Middle School Clubs that have been added:

Here are the latest High School Clubs that have been added:

Update to our Virtual Weather Day Procedure

In the event that DCSD determines that the district should follow the DCSD Delayed Opening protocol, STEM School Highlands Ranch will abide by its Virtual School Day Policy. When it snows, our school’s operation and instructional expectations will be determined by one of these three scenarios:

  1. Snow Day – Douglas County Schools (check www.dcsdk12.org) calls a snow day – The STEM building is closed and implements a Virtual School Day with 20% of the learning being synchronous. (NEW; STEM will not have Snow Days morning forward)
  2. Late Start Day – Douglas County Schools calls a Late Start day – STEM is closed and implements a Virtual School Day with 20% of the learning being synchronous.
  3. All Schools Open – Douglas County Schools declare Highlands Ranch area schools open – STEM is open and operating to our regular schedule.

Join our STEM Secondary Team

We’re hiring! We need Educational Assistants to join our Secondary Staff for the 2021-22 School Year. We’re also looking for a part-time After School Care Programming Assistant. Click the button below to find out more about each position. We’ve also got an opening in our Elementary School. Click the button below to see all of our job openings.

How to apply

STEP 1: If you are interested in applying for a position, please click here.
STEP 2: Please submit the following to careers@stemk12.org.
  • Application Note, you will need to download this application form, fill it in and save it locally to your computer, then return it via email with the following items:
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • References

Secondary Driveline Placard Request

Every car that enters our East Driveline needs to use a placard. Placards will be pre-printed at the start of the school year and will be made available for pick-up on Thursday, Aug. 5 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Placards must be visible in the front window to assist our driveline staffers with identifying that your car should be in the driveline at that time. In order to be good neighbors, we need to divide our Secondary pick-up into two groups to prevent stacking on Ridgeline Blvd. The first timeslot is from 2:55-3:05 p.m. The second timeslot is from 3:05-3:15 p.m. Please do not enter the parking lot prior to your designated time.

How do I get a placard?

For Secondary only families, please complete the Secondary Driveline Placard Sign-Up form to request your timeslot. Placard Pick-Up is at the Secondary Main Office (formerly Middle School Office). If you would like to take part in our Secondary Carpool Program, please follow the steps below. If you are a family with students in our Elementary and Secondary schools, please reference the Driveline information in the Elementary News/Updates Section.

Secondary Carpool Program

Carpools enjoy special Driveline perks! There is a carpool “express” lane in the East (Secondary) Driveline Loop. Carpools (meaning three or more students, or three or more families riding together) will need to obtain a carpool sticker to use the carpool lane. The school has partnered with “Way To Go: School Pool” to help families find carpool groups. In order to register, follow the instructions below.

  1. Log into DCSD Infinite Campus Parent Portal, select a student and then click on transportation on the left menu.
  2. Use the secure link to get to the Way To Go site and create an account. For security reasons, this link is the only way to enter the system for STEM School Highlands Ranch. You can register with a nearby intersection instead of your home address.
  3. Using the Way To Go website, create an account to find interested STEM families in your area.
  4. Click the button below to request a Carpool Placard if you will be the one picking up the carpool.

Student Schedules

All sixth through 12th-grade student schedules are available in the Infinite Campus Parent and Student portal. In order to find your student’s schedule and/or teacher assignment, please log in to IC, select your student and then select schedule from the tab options at the top. Your student’s schedule/teacher assignments will appear there. If you have any difficulties viewing your student’s schedule, please reach out to stephanie.webb@stemk12.org.  If you have recently enrolled and do not have a portal account, please reach out to tiffany.klenke@stemk12.org.

If your Secondary student is new to STEM and your student has not made their course selections, you can still do so at the following links for middle school and for high school students.

Did you know?

We will not longer have a High School Entrance. In order to better serve our students, our High School Office has been transformed into the Counseling Offices. This means that our Middle School entrance will now be the Main Secondary Entrance, and our Middle School Office will now be our Secondary Office Suite. All Secondary Students should enter and exit through the Secondary Doors.

2020-21 Secondary Yearbook Information

2020-21 Secondary Yearbooks are ready for pick up!

Families can pick up their yearbooks from the Middle School Office starting the second week of school. We thank you for your patience as we help students and staff adjust back to school. If you didn’t purchase a yearbook and would still like to, we have a limited supply still available. Please bring a check for $55 to the Middle School Office to purchase your yearbook.

Senior Yearbooks Update! If you moved out of state, please email your new address to communications@stemk12.org so we can mail it to you. 2021 Seniors can pick up their yearbooks from the Middle School Front Office.

Whatever you are going through, AllHealth is here to help

AllHealth Network offers mental health services for students and families onsite at STEM School Highlands Ranch with a licensed professional counselor, Kathleen Shook. Kathleen uses evidence-based treatment approaches to talk and play with kids of all ages to help them with anxiety, depression, trauma, and adjusting to life’s changes. Sessions happen during school hours for your convenience and most insurances are accepted.

Additionally, AllHealth Network offers free services such as counseling, support groups and opportunities for social connection to students, families, and community members affected by May 7th at the STEM Center for Strength located at 640 Plaza Dr., Suite 130.

To get connected to any of the services AllHealth has to offer, contact Kathleen at 720-462-9645 or the STEM Center at 720-980-5761.

2021-22 Secondary Yearbook Information

STEM School Highlands Ranch_2022 Senior Important Yearbook Dates and Deadlines
STEM School Highlands Ranch_2022 Yearbook Sales

DCSD Nutrition Services Information

Nutrition Services is excited to start the new 2021-2022 School Year. After a year of so much change, we too are looking forward to a return to “normal” operations. We wanted to make sure all Building Leaders were aware of how Nutrition Services will be operating this year. Below are some highlights of what you can expect from this upcoming year:

  • USDA has extended Meals at No Cost through June 30, 2022. This means that breakfast (where offered) and lunch will continue to be provided at no cost to all students.
  • Remote meal bags will no longer be provided once the school year begins. All meals will be served in school cafeterias to students.
  • Nutrition Services will resume use of our Harvest Bars, allowing self-serve bulk fruit and vegetable options for kids at all levels to increase consumption. Self-Serve procedures are all Tri-County Health Department approved. Hand Sanitizer stations and gloves will be available on all serving lines for customer use.
  • Nutrition Services has raised our starting wages for Kitchen Assistants to $15 per hour and Kitchen Managers to $18.26 per hour to assist in our hiring. Central Office
  • Age-Appropriate Smart Snack-approved Ala Carte items will be served at all school sites in conjunction with breakfast and lunch. Parents can opt-out as well as add limits to their child’s account at any time by contacting Nutrition Services at paula.wilson@dcsdk12.org.

In addition to these operational changes, Nutrition Services will be resuming our fun, in-person events, such as Colorado Proud Day on September 15th, our Turkey Day feast on November 17th, National School Lunch Week October 12-16th and our Nutrition Services Taste of DCSD Open House (timing TBD). We hope to see more of you all this year as we work to provide delicious, nutritious meals alongside a sense of normalcy for our students.

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