Secondary News and Updates (09/08/23)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

As we enter week six of the school year, thank you for your support in assisting our children in arriving at school on time, as well as your support with discipline issues. It has been lovely receiving such strong support from our parents as we guide our children through the start of middle school. The support from home makes all the difference in the world. When the school can partner with the family, our students win!

Last week, your student may have told you about our Stand Up Against Bullying Assembly. During the assembly, we taught students the difference between conflict and bullying, the different types of bullying, speaking up for themselves and others, and how to be an upstander. If your child is being bullied, please call or email Mr. Barrios (samson.barrios@ or myself (maura.ridder@ so that we can investigate it and work to stop it.

Additionally, our dress code enforcement is in full swing. Please double-check that your child wears his/her ID/lanyard/badge before leaving the house. A good tip is to help your child remember to put their badge in their backpack each evening. If your child forgets his/her badge, they must request a temporary one. After three requests, we are missing a detention for a dress code violation. Thank you for your assistance with this as well. If your student lost their ID, a replacement can be printed by the Secondary Front Office. The first ID replacement is free. Each additional ID that is printed will be $5 and will be added to your student’s MySchoolBucks account.

Upcoming events and helpful reminders:

Spirit Week – September 11-15

  • Monday: Quarantine day – Wear your favorite pajamas
  • Tuesday: Dynamic Duo/Twin Tuesday
  • Wednesday: Dress as your favorite SciFi character
  • Thursday: Color Wars – Astronauts (white) v. Aliens (green)
  • Friday: Barbenheimmer – Barbie or Oppenheimer

Chain of Communication

We understand that conflict occurs in the classroom between students and teachers; this is a natural part of the learning environment, and I am here to support students and families with these conflicts. Please follow our Communications Pathways. If a student has a conflict with a teacher, we ask that the student address it with the teacher first. If he/she needs support from parents, then we encourage families to step in. If, after that step, you need support, please feel free to contact me. Again, I kindly ask that you contact your student’s teacher first. We are all here for our students to thrive, and we must partner together for their success.

Middle School Fall Awards Ceremony – September 20

This year, we will hold two Middle School Awards Ceremonies. The first will be in the fall, and the second will be in February. This year, our first one will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the Secondary Gym. The ceremony will take place during our Access period so that our entire Middle School student body can attend. Parents are most welcome! Please be sure to show up in plenty of time to check in through our Raptor syhttps://stem and retrieve a badge from the front office. A valid ID is required to receive entry into the building.

Important Dates:

  • October 12-13 – Fall Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • October 14-22 – Fall Break

Have a wonderful weekend!

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear High School Families,

Wow, I cannot believe it is September already. Where does the time go? We are entering the time of year when we experience change. Outside, the days are growing shorter, and the weather will begin to change. Someone reminded me today that in 2020, we hit 101 degrees on September 5th and then had a snowstorm on September 8th. While I am not predicting snowstorms anytime soon, the changes are coming.

The school year also changes during September. The first few weeks of school are about reacquainted with one another, reviewing the learning from the previous year, and getting ready to learn the new material. Now that we are a month into school, our teachers are well into the new material, and the first round of assessments has already been given in most classes. Gradebooks should be current, but if they are not, please feel free to reach out to the teachers to get an idea of how you/your student is progressing.

Next week is homecoming week. Our homecoming festivities actually already began with an assembly on Thursday where we played some fun games, and the Homecoming themes were announced. This will be a fun week with plenty of school spirit! We will start the week with Quarantine Day on Monday, followed by Dynamic Duo Day on Tuesday, Sci-Fi Wednesday, Astronaut Thursday (PowderPuff game after school), and Barbenheimer on Friday. There will be more information contained within this newsletter. The week caps off with the Homecoming Dance on Saturday in our Secondary Gym!

This is set up to be a very fun week! However, I would like to remind everyone to please be careful. As I mentioned in previous newsletters last spring, the Prom-Homecoming season is one of the most dangerous times for teen drivers. I know we have really good kids here, but they are kids. Please make sure you know where they are and remind them to be careful.

Thank you very much, everyone.


Ryan Alsup, High School Director
Go Spartans!

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.

Secondary Spirit Week Flier

PTO Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 6:30-8 p.m. – Middle School Cafeteria/Zoom

Join the STEM PTO for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Middle School Cafeteria or via Zoom.  STEM PTO is comprised of parents from the STEM community who work together to help foster a strong sense of community and provide enhancement activities for students, faculty, staff, and families while also helping to increase educational, social and emotional experiences for the members of their families.

STEM PTO is organized to enhance the quality of each student’s education, the school as a whole, and the entire community through the development of resources and the participation of parents, school staff, and the community. Meetings are open for anyone to attend.

Homecoming Dance

Saturday, Sept. 16, from 7-10 p.m. – Secondary Gym

Our annual Homecoming Dance will be on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 7-10 p.m. in the Secondary Gym. Tickets will be sold during lunches and Access for $15. Tickets sold at the door will be $25. This year’s theme is Cosmic Night. Homecoming is for students in grades 9-12. If you’d like to donate snacks or drinks for this event, click the button below to sign up. Please bring all items to the Secondary Front Office labeled “Homecoming.” Don’t forget that every donated item worth $20 equates to one volunteer hour.

Love and Logic Parent Night

Monday, Sept. 18, from 5-7 p.m. – via Zoom or in-person in the High School Commons

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 students’ 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 or in-person.

Module 2: Teaching Responsibility without Losing Their Love

Participants will learn:

  • Why children fail to learn responsibility when their parents refuse to let them make affordable mistakes.
  • Why children also fail to learn responsibility when their parents rescue them from the consequences of their poor decisions.
  • Why consequences provided without empathy and love are ineffective.
  • Practical tips for remaining calm and empathetic when children do things that upset us.
  • Practical tips for building and maintaining positive parent-child relationships

France & Germany Interest Meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. – Room 106

This meeting is for those interested (open to high school students currently enrolled in French or having already taken French 4) in the STEM Spring Break trip to France & Germany—future logistics meetings to come. The meeting will be in person in Room 106. Please email Mrs. Tomic for a Google Meets Link if you cannot make it. The trip will take place from March 16-24, 2024. Click the button below to view the PDF for more information about the trip.

Contact: Abby.Tomic@

Please park in the Secondary Parking Lot and enter through the Secondary Main Doors.

Middle School Fall Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. – Secondary Gym

This year, we will be holding two Middle School Awards Ceremonies. The first will be in the fall, and the second will be in February. This year, our first one will be held in the Secondary Gym on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.. The ceremony will occur during our Access period so that our entire middle school student body can attend. Parents are most welcome! Please be sure to show up in plenty of time to check in through our Raptor syhttps://stem and retrieve a badge from the front office.

SAC Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – KOSON/P-TECH Building (Mechatronics Lab)/Zoom

The meeting will also be available to watch via Zoom. 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, Sept. 21, starting at 4 p.m. – Room ES 206

STEM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will have its monthly meeting on September 21, starting at 4:00. We will meet in ES206. We welcome all parents, students, and teachers! Email kate.jackson@ with any questions.

STEM PTO Skate City Night

Thursday, Sept. 21, from 5-7 p.m. – Skate City Littleton

This is a Private Skate City event just for STEM School Highlands Ranch at Skate City Littleton (5801 S Lowell Way, Littleton, CO 80123). Admission is $5 and skate rentals are $3. All waivers will be signed at Skate City drop-off. It’s also Game Card Night where your skater will receive a FREE $10 Game Card with admission. Email PTOevents@ with any questions.

No School - September 22

Friday, Sept. 22 – No School for Professional Development

There will be No School on Friday, Sept. 22, as it is a staff professional development day.

STEM Unicef - Remember the Embers Maui Fundraiser

September 25-29 – Afternoon Driveline

The STEM Unicef Club will be collecting donations during driveline each afternoon during the week of September 25-29 to raise money for the Maui Fires. Click the button below to donate to STEM’s Go Fund Me campaign.

September 27, from 4-7 p.m. – Secondary Gym

STEM Unicef will be hosting a 3×3 Basketball Tournament in the Secondary Gym to raise money for the Maui Wildfires. Email nancy.szczekocki@ or omar.rahin@s. with any questions.

STEM Blast Off 2023

News and Updates

Welcome Carlos Goncalves, New Secondary Computer Science Teacher

Carlos Goncalves holds a master’s degree in Medical Electronics and has earned a Ph.D. in Project Design and Development. With a comprehensive background in Biomedical Engineering and extensive proficiency in overseeing healthcare projects, Carlos Goncalves has not only authored peer-reviewed papers but also secured patents for innovative medical products.

Driven by a fervor for education, Carlos initiated his journey as an educator by teaching design classes at the Colorado School of Mines in 2022. Backed by a robust grasp of both computer science and pedagogy, his classroom transforms into a dynamic center where the enchantment of coding is brought to life through immersive projects, engaging challenges, and collaborative exercises in creative troubleshooting.

During his free time, Carlos finds joy in reading, exploring new destinations through travel, embarking on hikes that connect him with nature, and playing soccer.

Carlos Goncalves Headshot

Standards-Based Learning and Mastery Connect Update

A message from Mrs. Gasser, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Now that the school year is well underway, we want to share a bit about where we are with Standards-Based Learning and MasteryConnect. Our Teacher Support Team has been working with our staff on aligning instruction to standards, especially with the release of new 2022 State Standards. Additionally, our teachers have been analyzing data to align units better and ensure that we have data-informed instruction for our students.

Teachers have also been utilizing MasteryConnect K-12 and have been working with students to understand better what their grade represents. In secondary, Access teachers have had class lessons on how to understand MasteryConnect, how to access the grading for each class, and how to determine which lessons still need to be submitted or need to be redone.

All classes K-12 should have at least 1 grade in each subject area, not for each standard. Please make sure to log into Canvas to view your student’s MasteryTracker. The parent portal is very cumbersome. It is suggested that you log into your student’s account and view MasteryTracker in that way.

Secondary Only

Since this is our first year using MasteryConnect, we want to make sure that students understand how to use it and the information that is displayed within it. Because of this, we have decided to remove the Grade tab temporarily. Once students are familiar with MasteryConnect, we will add the Grade tab again and use our Access time to help students navigate between the two.

Additionally, our Access teachers have shown students how to use the calendar feature. In Canvas, when an assignment is created by the teacher, it is placed on the student’s calendar based on the due date. When a student submits the assignment, the assignment name is crossed off on the calendar. If you monitor your student’s Canvas, you can click on their calendar to see which assignments are due and which have or have not been submitted.

As with all new technology, please provide our teachers with grace. We are utilizing our Access time to work with students, and teachers are providing additional opportunities for students to submit or retake assignments. Please contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions or concerns.

AIAA RMS presents The Future of Aerospace

Join the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Rocky Mountain Secction via Zoom as they host a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities within the aerospace industry. September 12th from 6-7:30 p.m. Click the button below to register for the Zoom.

YANA-BackPack Society-Family Field Day

NMSQT Information for 11th 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.

Access Update

Looking ahead to the month of September, students will be busy with a variety of things during their ACCESS periods. They will focus on getting into the routine of utilizing their independent time to monitor their grades and work completion, get ahead on studying and organizing their tasks, and get the opportunity to visit various teachers to get further support as needed. Students can travel between classes to visit teachers if they need help getting make-up assignments, need further support with specific concepts, continue working on a project, and more. We will also have some colleges on campus for students to meet with and learn more about. Students will be able to access these college visitors during the second half of the ACCESS periods. The visiting colleges for September and October are scheduled as follows (and subject to change) and will be in Ms. Myrick’s office from 11-11:40 a.m.:


  • Wednesday, Sept. 20: Colorado College
  • Thursday, Sept. 21: Elon University
  • Thursday, Sept. 28: Colorado School of Mines – There will be a presentation from the admissions counselor in Ms. Graham’s room starting at 11:05 am!


  • Wednesday, Oct. 4: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Thursday, Oct. 5: University of California – Irvine
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11: Hofstra University
  • Thursday, Oct. 26: Regis University

In addition to getting going with independent work time and teacher support and taking advantage of our college visits, students will also participate in social-emotional lessons focused on executive functioning. They will also receive a follow-up on Standards-Based Learning and Mastery Connect. Finally, we get to kick off Homecoming 2023 with our Pep Rally and celebrate our students at our Spring 2023 Awards assembly.

AI & Quantum Computing Courses

The Coding School will be offering two award-winning courses at the forefront of the technological revolution: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence & Introduction to Quantum Computing. Registration deadline is September 15th! Click the button below to register and view the flier.

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

SpartMart needs your feedback!

The SpartMart is looking for feedback on apparel, accessories and food options that it currently sells and what it could sell in the future. Please click the button below to complete the feedback survey. You’ll be helping The Business Club Students improve what SpartMart has to offer so your feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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.

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.

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.

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

iMatter Program

The iMatter program can connect youth (and adults) with a therapist for up to six free virtual counseling sessions that are completely confidential.

Literacy Resource

Overdrive Kids via the Douglas County Libraries

Safely search e-books for readers 12 and younger, including read-alongs for preschoolers. Filter by format, subject, device or reading level.

Health and Wellness Resource

Introducing Family Health Resources on Your Mobile Device

Healthier Generation is excited to launch the Kohl’s Healthy at Home text messaging service, designed to help families prioritize healthy living and thrive. Sign up today to receive tips, activities, and resources for parents and caregivers.

A Project of the Douglas County Youth Initiative

Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. – Colorado State Capitol

Students, grades 9 – 12 are invited to attend Youth Congress. During this event, youth from around Douglas County get to weigh in on issues that affect youth and are of interest to youth. One of the missions of the Youth Congress is to communicate your thoughts, ideas, and solutions to elected and community leaders.

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