Secondary News and Updates (08/18/23)

Secondary-School News

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.

School Accountability Committee (SAC) Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, May 23, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – KOSON/P-TECH Building (Mechatronics Lab)

The meeting will also be available to watch via Zoom as a trial. In-person participation is strongly encouraged to help build engagement. Additionally, those who would like to participate in Public Comment must do so in person.

The purpose of the SAC is to inform, encourage and provide opportunities for parent and community members to be involved in the planning and evaluation of the school’s instructional program and quality improvement processes. The SAC makes recommendations concerning the School’s performance, improvement, priority improvement, or turnaround plan, and meets to discuss the implementation of the School’s plan and other progress pertinent to STEM’s accreditation contract with the Board of Education. The SAC makes recommendations to the director for prioritizing the spending of school money.

DEI Committee Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 24, starting at 4 p.m. – Room ES 206

STEM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will have the first meeting of the year on August 24 at 4:00. We will meet in ES206. We welcome all parents, students, and teachers! Email kate.jackson@ with any questions.

Love and Logic Parent Night

Monday, Aug. 28, from 5-7 p.m. – via Zoom

New for the 2023-24 School Year, our teachers and staff will incorporate guidance and curriculum from Love and Logic, a research-driven, whole-child philosophy founded in 1977 to support student’s social and emotional well-being. Throughout the school year, we will hold several Parent Information Nights to learn about Love and Logic, how it is being incorporated and implemented, and how it can be applied at home. We hope you’ll join us via Zoom.

Session 1: Module 1: Putting an End to Arguing Back-Talk and Begging

Participants will learn:

  • Why arguing, back-talk and begging can place a child at risk for having large emotional and behavioral problems later in life.
  • Practical strategies for ending arguing, back-talk and begging
  • The basics of the Love and Logic approach
  • That mistakes made early in a child’s life provide valuable learning opportunities if handled appropriately by parents
  • The importance of holding children accountable for their poor decisions through the use of logical or natural consequences
  • That mistakes made in life typically have much smaller “price tags” than those made later on

News and Updates

Update from IT Department about Securly

For any device at STEM to connect to our network, a certificate needs to be installed. A certificate or digital certificate is a unique, digitally signed document that authoritatively identifies the identity of an individual or organization. In our case, it associates the certificate with the STEM email. To download the certificate, go to and download the file associated with the operating syhttps://stem. The file is a program to run on the machine, but it only installs the certificate.

Once the certificate is installed and the computer is on STEM’s network, Securly Filter will ask once for the person’s identity. Once logged in with the STEM email account, Securly matches the email and the certificate and it then knows who it is and how the computer should be filtered. This syhttps://stem of identification using a certificate is the same that we have had in the past. We are just using a different vendor for that certificate. If students have issues installing the certificate, please send them to the IT office in RM 164.

NEHS Accepting Applications

The National English Honor Society is looking for new members! Promote English throughout the school by helping out with events like book drives, Elementary book fairs more! Scan the QR code on the NEHS posters to fill out your application, applications are due on September 15.

National English Honor Society Flier

Access Update

Our new ACCESS periods for secondary students started this week. The focus has been on security and the Evolv syhttps://stem, changes in Standards-Based grading, getting an introduction to our counseling team, and an overview of what to expect in ACCESS. Community building has also been a consistent part of our week, and will continue to be a priority in the weeks ahead. ACCESS periods, which occur on Wednesdays and Thursdays each week, provide a time for students to receive extra support from teachers and specialists, participate in social-emotional learning activities, get classwork completed, and to hold school-wide events such as Pep Rallys and other assemblies. For the remainder of August, ACCESS will focus on the following:

Week of Aug 21:

  • (HS) Standards-Based Learning overview and introduction to Mastery Connect, School safety, introduction to journaling
  • (MS) Introduction to goal setting

Week of Aug 28: Bullying

  • (HS) Bullying
  • (MS) Bullying, Setting ACCESS expectations

Secondary Yearbooks are On Sale!

Now is the time! Don’t delay purchasing your Secondary Yearbook for the 2023-24 School Year. Click the button below to place your order by October 31 and only pay $50. After October 31, yearbooks will be $60.

Special ads are also due on October 31 and can be purchased via the link below. Portraits and quotes should be sent to yearbook@s.

Stem Highlands Ranch Senior Yearbook Info

NMSQT and SAT Information for 11th and 12th graders

Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 7:50 a.m. to 12 p.m.

On October 10, 2022, STEM juniors will take the PSAT/NMSQT and STEM seniors will be virtual. The NMSQT is used as a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship Program. For more information about these assessments, please visit

K-8 Typical School Day

  • 6th, 9th, 10th, 12th will have a Virtual day – students will log into Canvas and/or Zoom to complete attendance and coursework per their teacher’s instructions.
  • 11th and 12th-grade students must opt-out
  • Those testing will be responsible for knowing missed content, missed tests or quizzes and project work but will be excused from afternoon assignments/homework.

New SAT Testing date for 12th graders

Wednesday, Oct. 11

Those signed up for SAT’s will be taking the SATs on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Those students will be pulled from class.

PSAT 8/9 Information for 7th and 8th Graders

Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 7:40-11 a.m. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, STEM 7th and 8th-grade students that did not opt-out will take the PSAT 8/9. This assessment is not part of state-mandated accountability testing but an opportunity for parents, students, and teachers to see what skills students need to prepare for High School and college. More information about the PSAT 8/9 can be found here. Following testing, students will resume their daily schedule. Students in grades K-5 will follow their normal schedule.  Students in 6th, 9th, 10th and those 12th graders not testing will follow their typical schedules virtually.

Setting up Canvas Parent Observer

One way to do this is to first be logged into your child’s account. Go to “Account” and then “Settings” on the left side. Then on the right side you should see a gray box that says “Pair with Observer.” This will give you a code that you can then enter in your parent Canvas account. You will need to do this from a computer, not a mobile device.

If that does not work for you, email support@, title the email “IT Canvas Observer Support” and include your child’s name and student ID number in the email so that IT can generate a code for you.

Medication Policy Reminders

Middle School Students (6-8)

Middle school students may assume responsibility for bringing to school and administering their own medication providing they carry only enough for one day and have the “Permission to Self-Carry and Self-Admin Medication” form on file in the school office. Students using poor judgment in carrying and taking their own medication will have such medication confiscated by school personnel, and parents or guardian will be notified. A structured plan will then be developed for the administration of the medication. Any parent or guardian who chooses not to sign the permission to carry medication form may request that a structured plan be devised for his or her student.

High School Students (9-12)

High school students may assume the responsibility of bringing to school and administering their own medication, providing they carry only enough for one day. Students who appear to be using poor judgment in carrying and taking their own medication will have such medication confiscated by school personnel, and parents or guardian will be notified. A structured plan will then be developed for the administration of medication. Any parent may also request that a structured plan be devised for their student. On an overnight field trip, students may bring enough medication for the duration of the field trip.

I've picked up my driveline placard. What do I do with it?

Please fold your driveline placard in half and place it on your dashboard as you enter the Secondary School parking lot in the afternoon. Please do not laminate the placard as it creates a glare with the sun and windshield, making it difficult to see.

You will only need the placard in the afternoon for dismissal. If you need a replacement or an additional placard, email support@ with Placard in the subject line. Please include your student’s name, grade and number of placards needed.

Secondary Driveline Placard Pick-Up

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.

Update to Lightning Delay Radius/Reminder of Procedure

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.
    • NEW FOR 2023-24 SCHOOL YEAR: We are asking 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.

Student IDs for the 2023-24 School Year

Your School Directors (Mrs. Ridder and Mr. Alsup) wanted to share the following information with you in regards to Student IDs, Lanyards and the ID pouches.
  • Replacement IDs if lost/stolen: Students who have lost their ID should complete the Secondary Student ID Replacement Form to order a replacement. IDs are free for the first one and $5 for any duplicates. Duplicates will be printed by the front office and students will be notified when they are ready for pick up.
  • Lanyards and pouches: Lanyards and pouches can be picked up at the Secondary Front Office. Please show your student ID to receive one.

Common App 101 and After Grad Packet

important information below and attached for any senior applying to a 4-year university!!! Please make sure you are reading EVERYTHING!!

Common App 101 – This document walks you through setting up your Common App account, adding recommenders for letters of rec, determining additional supplemental essays you will need to write, and anything else college app related! 🙂 Make sure you are adding my contact information for ANY counselor requests in application portals. This is very important!!! If you are asking Ms. Birchfield for your counselor letter, I will still be the one uploading the letter.

I’ve also attached the After Grad Packet with this email. You MUST send me your completed AG Packet if you are requesting a letter of recommendation. I also suggest sending this packet and your resume to teachers that are writing your teacher letters of recommendation.

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.

Need Help with PikMyKid?

We are asking all families, K-12, to please download the PikMyKid Parent App and set up an account. We will continue to use the PikMyKid App for dismissal for Elementary Driveline, and will be adding PikMyKid to our Emergency Messaging platforms for all of K-12. We will not implement the dismissal component for Secondary at this time, and will release more information in the coming months.

If you have set up your account and do not see your student, please click the button below to complete the PikMyKid Help Form so that we can help you.

Need a Carpool? Sign-Up for Way to Go School Pool

Join STEM School Highlands Ranch’s Schoolpool program to connect with other families to drive, walk or bike to school together.

Looking for help getting your student to and from school to after-school activities, or want to find a buddy to commute to school with? STEM School Highlands Ranch is pleased to once again partner with Schoolpool, a free program to make it easier to get to school.

Signing up is simple!

  1. Using a computer (not a smartphone or tablet), create an account and enter your address or intersection here. (Your information will only be shared with same school families. To maintain the highest level of privacy and security, each school’s registration link is unique.)
    Add comments to indicate interest, such as “can provide morning rides in exchange for afternoon rides,” “student is in after-school activities,” or “looking for a walk buddy in the mornings.”
  2. Find and contact interested STEM School Highlands Ranch families in your neighborhood or along your drive to/from school.
  3. The more families that register, the more likely you will find good matches. Even if your family doesn’t need a ride, consider signing up to drive other students. Your participation builds a stronger school community.

Privacy and security: STEM School Highlands Ranch and Schoolpool do not run background checks, confirm valid driver’s licenses, or assess insurance coverage on participants. Potential users are advised to screen participants to their personal satisfaction and check their own insurance coverage for carpooling to ensure that they are covered under these voluntary arrangements. Schoolpool does not provide drivers, vehicles, or insurance.

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.

DCSD Free Meals Flyer SY 23-24 UPDATED

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.

DCSD Board Unanimously Approves MLO/Bond for Ballot

On Tuesday, the DCSD Board of Education voted unanimously to place a $66M Mill Levy Override and $484M Bond on the November 2023 ballot (see the press release). All seven Board directors expressed their strong support and personal dedication to our students and our staff. During public comment the Board heard from students, teachers, neighborhood school principals, charter school principals, business leaders, elected officials and more – and all expressed strong support for additional funding. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to the public comment – the support for YOU, our teachers and staff, from every part of our community was overwhelming.

  • Click here to watch the public comment portion of the meeting.
  • Click here to watch our presentation to the Board where we outlined staff recommendations for a Mill Levy Override and Bond.

The Board also unanimously adopted a compensation resolution that will automatically trigger if the MLO passes. For school district staff, this means pay increases would happen automatically should the MLO pass (with increases being paid retroactively back to July 1). For charter school staff, exact details about pay increases will come from your school’s board and leadership.

To learn more about how additional funding would benefit our schools and our staff, visit I also encourage you to read through our MLO/Bond plan.

Mental Health Resource

Parenting With Courage: Brain Science (Colorado Parent Magazine)

So, let’s get into this month’s pillar of Courageous Parenting. Now, brace yourselves because I’m about to share a parenting secret that can, if you allow it to, completely transform how you parent, and therefore how much peace you experience in your home. Ready? The first pillar is that ALL BEHAVIOR IS THE RESULT OF AN UNMET NEED. Understanding this truth will bring generosity, empathy, and a renewed feeling of connection to your family life.

Literacy Resource

Castle Rock Library Grand Opening – Saturday, August 26, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Celebrate the Castle Rock Library’s Grand Opening! Pop in and explore their new digs, including state-of-the-art meeting and event spaces; Kids Corner and The Ranch playscape, sponsored by Castle Rock Rotary Club; the new Archives & Local History space and Sjostrom History Lounge reading room; and other beautiful new features, while also enjoying lots of fun treats. No registration is required.

Health and Wellness Resource

Second Annual Yana Fitfest

Saturday, Aug. 26, from 8:30-11:30 am – Civic Green Park, Highlands Ranch

Bring your family and friends for a morning of movement, connection, and fun. All proceeds benefit the local non-profit You Are Not Alone. Free to attend.

Leaders for Douglas County Schools Cohort

DCSD now accepts applications for the 2023 Leaders for Douglas County Schools Cohort. Leaders for Douglas County Schools is a program designed to allow Douglas County School District parents/guardians and community members to deepen their knowledge and understanding of our district’s mission, operations and strategic priorities. The program is especially appropriate for those who are interested in becoming more active participants in their child’s school or the school district as a whole in order to provide the brightest futures possible for every one of the 63,000 students across Douglas County School District. We would like to offer you the opportunity to sign up for this year’s LDCS. We will be limiting the cohort to 30 people. If you are interested in joining the cohort, fill out the form below (the form includes additional information such as cohort meeting dates and times.

Serve on the DCSEAC

The Douglas County Special Education Advisory Committee (DCSEAC) is a group of parents and guardians who work in close collaboration with DCSD Special Education Leadership to help support the students and families served by the Special Education Program. Join DCSEAC to get more involved, to make great connections, and to become better informed. If interested, fill out the DCSEAC Application and review the Commitment Agreement.

Application Deadline: Thursday, August 24.

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