Secondary News and Updates (09/09/22)

Secondary-School News

A Message from Middle School Director, Mrs. Ridder

Dear Families,

I cannot thank you enough for this incredible start to our school year. It’s mind-boggling that we have been in school for five weeks! The time really has flown by. I am truly grateful to our staff, our families, and our volunteers for helping to make the transition smooth. The students have done an amazing job learning the expectations and the routines that will provide a year of increased student achievement, and they are all on their way to a year of exciting new lessons. I wish I could convey the excitement I get visiting classrooms and seeing all of the innovative units our incredible teachers engage our students in. Despite the construction, the delays, the gas leak, the floods, the COVID outbreaks, and more, our students have learned to navigate their way around it all and are settling into the 2022-23 school year.


Thank you to all of you who are assisting your students in arriving at school on time for their classes. With the inception of our new tardy policy, we are finding that students are less tardy during the day; however, we are seeing a pattern among students who are late each day in the morning. It is very important that students arrive at school on time. We want to ensure your student doesn’t miss out on valuable learning opportunities that happen first thing in the morning. Starting next week, I will begin reaching out to families to see if I can support them in getting their students to school on time.


As we have begun to settle in, our clubs are beginning to take off. It is so fun to see kids excited about Chess Club or Mathcounts after school. They are attending read-throughs for our upcoming production of Little Women, presented by our Drama teacher, the incredible Max Schwartz. Students are joining Cross Country Club, TSA, Robotics, Photography, STEMed Jr., Student Government, NJHS, and countless more after-school programs. Here at STEM, we always believe that a strong Enrichment program enhances our students’ experiences.


It is so wonderful to have volunteers back in the school! Thank you to all of you who are volunteering for middle school lunch. We greatly appreciate the help. If you would like to volunteer, please go to the volunteer page on our website or in the parent newsletter. When you volunteer, please make sure you come to the office, sign in and get a badge. Don’t forget to log your hours so that we can recognize you and thank you. Again thank you for all your help!


  • September 23rd – no school for your students due to a staff professional development day.
  • October 13-14 – Parent-Teacher conferences
  • October 15-23 – Fall Break

One last thing that I would like to mention. We have started to see some behavioral issues with our kids, and this is a normal part of the growth in middle school. I have communicated with many of you over the past couple of weeks, and I have found nothing but support regarding discipline and restorative practices. I cannot thank you enough for this partnership, and I truly appreciate hearing from all of you. If there is anything at all that you would like to discuss regarding the welfare of your student, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. We are all in this together to raise our students to be kind, compassionate community members.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

Headshot of Maura Ridder

A Message from High School Director, Mr. Alsup

Dear STEM Spartan Students and Parents,

Wow, I cannot believe it is September already. The first month of school has been fantastic. I have enjoyed reconnecting with the students and hearing about their summer breaks. I also enjoyed seeing most of you at our annual Back to School Night. I want to thank the parents, students, and staff for the great opening of the school year. Teachers and students have spent the past few weeks establishing relationships with each other and exploring the new curriculum that every student faces as they move up in grade level and subject to the next. Each brings exciting new challenges as students use the prior knowledge gained with the new knowledge learned. This connection is important to students and staff members as we strive to reach our full potential as life-long learners.

On the athletic side, our fall teams are off to an amazing start. Our golf team has been turning in a great performance so far, and will play their next tournament at the Lone Tree golf course on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Our girls’ volleyball team is also off to an excellent start. Last week they came in second place at the Twin Peaks annual Volleyball Invitational. Yesterday they defeated Mile High Academy and have a 4-1 record as we move into league play.

Our Cross Country team is running hard. Last week we had an impressive showing at the Arapahoe Warrior Invite, with several of our runners earning high placements and setting personal-best times. They are in action again this Saturday at the Liberty Bell Invite at Heritage High School. Our boys’ soccer team has been practicing hard in preparation for their first game. On Monday, they will travel to Denver, where we will open our season against DSST Byers.

Finally, eSports is just around the corner. We met with the interested players today and have set up our teams. However, we still have plenty of openings, so if you know of anyone interested in playing, please have them click here. This will take you to a google survey to identify which games you want to play. I will also need them to register for the team. There is a link to the registration form in the survey, or they can click here as well.

This month we have had a few different safety events, starting with the lightning delay, our routine fire drill, and ending with the evacuation on Thursday due to the gas leak on the secondary side. While we have already communicated about those events, as the administrator in charge of safety for our school, I want to emphasize how important safety and security are to all of us. I was thoroughly impressed with both our students and staff yesterday with the way they handled themselves. Yesterday was just another example of why I am so proud to be a STEM Spartan.

Thank you very much, everyone.


Ryan Alsup, High School Director
Go Spartans!

Headshot of Ryan Alsup

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 Pictures for Secondary Student IDs

Monday, Sept. 12, from 8:30-11:30 a.m – Elementary School Gym

DR Photo, our school photographer, will be on campus on Monday, Sept. 12, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. in the Elementary School Gymnasium to take photos of any Secondary Students who have not yet had their photos taken to receive their Student ID cards. All students who do not yet have their student ID should get that done on Monday. As a reminder, ALL secondary students should have their ID visible starting on Monday, Sept. 19.

Any students who already received their ID, but have lost them should complete the Secondary Student ID Replacement form so that it can be reprinted by the Secondary Front Office. The first reprint of a student ID is free. Any additional reprints will cost $5 and be charged to the student’s MySchoolBucks account.

Families who would like to purchase prints of their student’s school photo can use the button below to order.

STEM Theater Presents: Little Women

November 10 & 11, at 6:30 p.m., & November 12, at  3 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

Mark your calendars!

Jo March isn’t your typical Victorian lady. She’s indecorous and headstrong, and one day she will be a great American novelist. As she and her sisters grow up in the middle of the Civil War, they strive to be brave, intelligent, and imaginative young women. But as adulthood approaches, each sister must negotiate her private ambitions with society’s expectations. In a war-torn world defined by gender, class, and personal tragedy, Jo March gives us her greatest story: that of the March sisters, four dreamers destined to be imperfect little women.

Tickets are $10. Links to purchase tickets will be provided soon! Contact Max Schwartz (max.schwartz@ with any questions.

News and Updates

Update about Secondary Student IDs

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: If you had your student ID for this school year and already lost it, please complete 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.
  • New student IDs: We will have a student photo day on Monday, Sept. 12 in the ES Gym from 8:30-11:30 a.m. If you’ve already had your photo taken for your ID card, this session is not for you.
  • Lanyards and pouches: For Middle School students, Mrs. Wise and Mrs. Bartlet in the Secondary Front Office will have the lanyards and pouches available to any students who have not yet received one and have an ID already. For High School students, you can receive your lanyard and pouch during your High School Study Hall or lunch period in the High School Commons. Please show your ID to receive it.
    • For High School Students, if you are not able to get your lanyard and pouch this week, students can obtain their lanyard and pouch form the Secondary Front Office starting on Monday.
Thank you to those of you who are already wearing your IDs in a visible manner. Starting on September 19th, all students must have an ID badge visible while on campus.

Secondary Mental Health Screener Coming up in Two Weeks

This year STEM will be taking a proactive approach to addressing student mental health by administering a broad mental health screener to all secondary-level students! The survey is called the Behavior and Emotional Screening Syhttps://stem or BESS and was developed by Pearson Assessments, a nationally recognized assessment organization.

This screener is not meant to diagnose or determine immediate service intentions but for the support team to identify broad support needs and patterns across our school. We hope this will also help us catch kiddos before they “fall through the cracks.” Data collected will be housed securely through our evaluation syhttps://stem and will not be released to anyone outside of the Student Support team or STEM Center for Strength.

During fifth period on Tuesday, Sept. 27, and during 6th period on Wednesday, Sept. 28, teachers will pause class for about 10 minutes so that students may access the survey via email. A make-up time will be provided during study hall periods on Friday for those who were absent or did not have the opportunity to take the assessment.

Once all students have had the opportunity to take the BESS, the support team will sit down and determine how best to intervene on a whole school level, on a grade level, in small groups, and on individual levels if needed. Small group and individual support from this survey are expected to begin after fall break. Consent forms and parent communication will be ensured before any students are placed in skill-building groups or met individually.

For further questions or information, please contact Katie Bouchard, LMSW at katie.bouchard@

Homecoming Court Nominations Open!

Please fill out the form with anyone you would like to nominate in each High School grade level. The form will close after September 15.

Be sure to come to the High School Pep Rally on September 16 to hear the final nominees and the Homecoming Dance on September 24 to meet your Senior Majesties and Homecoming Court!

$50,000 Scholarship Opportunity

Covering the cost of college without writing a single essay? Sounds too good to be true! Niche is giving one student $50,000 to help pay for tuition, housing, books, and other educational expenses. Apply below for your chance to win so you can focus on what matters instead of worrying about finances. Good luck!

WTS Colorado Scholarship Opportunity

The WTS Colorado 2022-2023 Scholarship applications are now being accepted and are due October 15, 2022. WTS Colorado is excited to o ̃er six scholarships
to female students interested in pursuing a career in the transportation field. We are excited to o ̃er two graduate-level scholarships ($5,000), two undergraduate-level scholarships ($4,000), a junior college/trade school scholarship ($1,500), and a high school-level scholarship ($1,500) to motivate students eager to make a meaningful contribution in the transportation arena.

Scholarship winners will receive recognition at the WTS Colorado Annual Awards Luncheon and Gala as well as consideration for WTS International scholarships with
awards up to $10,000. For additional information, please email the WTS Colorado Scholarship and Student Outreach Committee:

Join Science National Honor Society

Science National Honor Society is looking for STEM High Schoolers who have a passion for science! We have meetings every other Friday, starting September 16 in Ms. Walbek’s room (131) from 3-3:45 p.m. We do many activities, celebrations, and fund-raisers all surrounding science. If accepted, members must pay a small entry fee and regularly participate to get a graduation cord by their graduating year.

To apply:

Have a great day, Spartans!

Your SNHS Officer Team

SNHS Membership Poster

A Message from Mrs. Gasser about Standards-Based Learning

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Michelle Gasser and I am the Director of Professional Development. Part of my role is providing support to our community on Standards Based Learning (SBL). Over the past two years, we have worked hard to support our parent community on why we are switching our grading syhttps://stem to Standards-Based Learning and what that will mean for your students.

For our elementary school students, not much is going to change. Our K-5 teachers have done SBL in some form or another since the elementary school opened its doors. What we will be doing differently this year is that we will provide more details as to which standards students have mastered and which standards they are still struggling with. Through the use of MasteryConnect, an SBL grade book through Canvas, teachers can report on each standard for each subject area. This allows a teacher to determine exactly what a student needs to work on and communicate that with parents.

For our secondary parents, I have created this handout that helps break down what you will see on canvas for your child. In each unit, the teacher will determine which standard or standards they are assessing and then will provide feedback to students along the way. Teachers will collect assignments and assessments throughout the unit demonstrating knowledge of the standard and enter them into the Canvas grade book. Students should monitor their grade book for feedback and their demonstration of knowledge grades.

Please have grace with our teachers while they are learning our new grading syhttps://stems, as there might be a few hiccups along the way. We ask students to politely email their teachers with grading questions and clarification. If you have any questions about grading or Standards-Based Learning, please check out our webpage for more information. You can also email me directly at michelle.gasser@

Connect with other Parents

In case you didn’t know, families have specific Class Pages on Facebook where they can connect with other families from their student’s grade. You can find all of the different class pages on our Get Connected page of the Parent section of our website. Click the button below to see them.

Please note that these pages are administered by other parents and not by STEM.

Hiring for an IT Help Desk Technician

Our IT/Technology Support Team is hiring! They’re looking for a part-time IT technician to help during the school year from 7:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and then from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday in the summer months. If you or someone you know is a good fit for this position, please check out the job description via the button below and follow the steps to apply.

Calling all Industry Experts, Parents and Community Members!

Career Discovery Information (Facebook Post)

Secondary Tardy Policy Update/Reminder

Thank you for your patience and positivity during our first two weeks of school. Our students are genuinely excited to come to school, and it is absolutely wonderful to see their smiling faces each day.

This year, I am proud to report that most of our students are arriving at school and to their classes in a timely manner. Starting Monday (baring any impacts from weather), our new breezeway will connect the two buildings, resulting in shorter paths between classes. Now that students have a feel for the distance between their classes, our staff has been instructed to implement STEM’s Tardy Policy.

Independent Study Courses for Seniors

STEM Students have an opportunity to enroll in the Quantum Computing Course offered by MIT and UC Berkeley and a NEW Machine Learning Course with the Department of Defense. Please enroll using the links below if you are interested in signing up. Students receive STEM credit upon successful completion of the course. Both courses are through Independent Study.

Quantum Course Registration

Described by alumni as ‘”life-changing” and “the best course ever,” applications are now open for our Introduction to Quantum Computing course with IBM Quantum.

Taught by quantum researchers at MIT and UC Berkeley, the course is open to high school students and above, including university students and members of the workforce. In this course, students will:

  • Develop foundational knowledge and skills in quantum computing, including learning quantum mechanics and how to code on a real quantum computer
  • Hear from leading quantum experts from top universities, companies and national labs, such as IBM, Harvard, and NASA
  • Be eligible for quantum internships and research following the course
  • Join an international cohort of future quantum leaders

Registration closes September 10, so apply soon.

Machine Learning Course:

STEM students are also eligible to take the high school Introduction to Machine Learning course, sponsored by the Department of Defense, The format will be identical to that of the quantum course.

Girls in Aviation Day at Wings Over the Rockies

Girls in Aviation Day event will be at Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight at Centennial Airport on Saturday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Unlike some of the past events that had structured activities, a large portion of this year is geared more toward giving girls the opportunity to get a closer look at career opportunities in aviation and aerospace. There will be representatives from airlines, flight schools, and aerospace colleges and companies to talk one on one with and learn from like a career fair. This event is free for girls 8-18, so please RSVP, any parents who wish to accompany them throughout the event will need to pay the $12 entrance fee for Wings Over the Rockies.

NMSQT, SAT and PSAT 8/9 Coming Up on October 12

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

On October 12, 2022, STEM juniors will take the PSAT/NMSQT and STEM seniors that signed up will take the SAT. These assessments are not part of state-mandated accountability testing, but an opportunity for students to improve SAT scores or practice for the SAT. The NMSQT is used as a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship Program. For more information about these assessments please visit

Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 7:40-11 a.m. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022 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 in order 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.

Secondary Yearbook Information

This school year will live forever in your yearbook. Buy a yearbook. It’s easy.

Yearbooks may be purchased at

Enter STEM School Highlands Ranch and click on Buy a
Yearbook. Follow the directions online. Enter your name and credit card, debit card or PayPal information, and click

Cost: $45 until October 31, 2022, $55 thereafter

If you want to personalize the book, namestamping starts at $6 extra and must be purchased before January 29, 2022.


Contact Michelle Vitale the STEM Secondary Yearbook Advisor at michelle.vitale@

After purchase, you will be emailed a confirmation receipt. You may also verify your order at by entering your email in the “Find an Order” field.

Powderpuff and Powderpuff Cheer info!

Info below about Powderpuff and Powderpuff cheer! If you have any questions about Powderpuff or Powderpuff cheer feel free to contact Alex Rogers at

Calling all High School girls!

Do you want to participate in the most exciting battle of the classes in school? Join STEM’s powderpuff team where the freshmen and juniors will take on the sophomores and seniors in a game of flag football! Show your school spirit by playing in this thrilling game during the week of Homecoming, Wednesday, Sept. 21!

If you are interested in participating, fill out this survey which will be open until Wednesday, Aug. 31. After you have signed up, a follow-up email will include the amount in cash you must bring to Mrs. Myrick (Room 124) no later than the September 5. This will cover a personalized powderpuff shirt with your name and number on the back.

We will have a team meeting on September 2 after school, so please attend. Details will be sent out in a future email to those who have signed up.

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you there!

Spartan Boys,

The time for honor has come again. Powderpuff is coming on September 21, and you know what that means: cheer time!

Join the magnificent Powderpuff cheer crew today to cheer on our wonderful teams!

If you are interested, click here to fill out a form to sign up. Registration will be open until Wednesday, August 31st! Emails on an informational meeting will be sent out after sign-up closes.

Let’s go, cheerleaders!

Mrs. Myrick

School Lunches are NOT Free This Year

Over the last two years, the USDA has provided school waivers that provide meals at no cost to the students. Those waivers expired after the 2021-22 School year ends. This means that a return to paid meals will begin August 8, 2022 for students that do not qualify for Free or Reduces Meal Benefits. DCSD is asking that ALL families please complete the Free or Reduced Lunch Application. While you’re completing the application, please make sure to check the box that allows for the information to be shared with your student’s school. Sharing this information with STEM allows for your student to be eligible for more benefits throughout the school year.

If a family does not qualify for FRL, the meals will cost the following:

$3.75 – Elementary

$4 – Middle School

All meal prices include an entree, fruit, veggies and milk. Ala carte options are available at all schools and prices vary by option. Students pay for school lunches through their MySchoolBucks account.

STEM B.A.S.E. is Hiring

STEM BASE is URGENTLY hiring! We are looking for 1 Program Assitant Manager, and 2 Senior Program Leaders to work in a busy and fun program. If you or someone you know is looking to develop management skills and gain experience in a growing program with a fun, experienced, and dedicated staff, this is the right move for you. The Assistant Manager position is a “Select Charter Postion” with offers an additional 10% monthly pay stipend, 30 hours per week and full time hours on school breaks. Sr Program Leader hours are M-F 1:30-5:30/6. Part-time and full-time hours are available during school breaks. Happy to coordinate BASE managers who have staff looking for more hours. Feel free to call or email me for more details or questions. /(720) 688-2928.

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