Secondary News and Updates (09/22/23)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

Happy Fall! Only three weeks until Fall Break! Time sure flies when you are having fun. Seriously, I genuinely love this job, and as much as it ages me daily, there is nothing else I would rather do than work with your children. I wanted to thank you for sharing them and for trusting us with your most prized possessions.

Here are a few important updates and reminders:

October Count Day

The official count day this year is Monday, Oct. 2. The count window runs from September 25 to October 9. Our budget is based on the number of students counted during this period. We are asking all families to please try their best to have your child attend during the count window days, especially on Monday, Oct. 2.

Please Monitor your Child’s Technology

Unfortunately, I have spent the past two weeks disciplining students for improper and inappropriate use of technology. Students are sending explicit texts and emails. Students are sharing explicit photos and videos. Some parents are shocked because their child does not have texting capabilities. Please know there are apps wherein students can sign up for free and text each other. Students are also sharing extremely inappropriate things on Discord. I am asking for your vigilance. Please help educate your child, and please keep tabs on what they are sharing, where they are sharing it, and with whom.

Fall Parent/Teacher Conferences

This year’s fall conferences will occur on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 3:30-7 p.m. in the Middle School Cafe and Commons. The second day of conferences is Friday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Please check the parent newsletter for additional details.

Please: No Food Delivery Services for Middle Schoolers

Food delivery from Grub Hub, DoorDash, or any other place is NOT allowed in Middle School. Please speak to your child and explain that they may not order food to school. If a parent wants to drop off something for a child, that is a parent’s choice and can be done so by leaving the items at the Student Drop-Off Table in the Secondary Lobby.

Volunteers Needed for Our Athletic Events

A really fun way to get into the school spirit is to attend an athletic event! And, hey, while you are at it, why not help with the doors, collect tickets, or sell concessions? We are always looking for parent volunteers to come out and support our student-athletes. To become a parent volunteer, please complete this Volunteer Application. Once completed and a cleared background check is on file, you can sign-up for events and track your hours. Please check the newsletter and the website calendar for our athletic dates and times.

Thank you in advance!

PTO Blast-Off is Next Thursday

Blast Off is around the corner, and we would LOVE to have you join us to make this event a success!

  • Date/Time: Thursday, Sept. 28, 4-7 p.m.
  • Location: Secondary parking lot near the field area.
  • Entry is FREE, courtesy of the PTO. This carnival-type event will have a video truck, bounce houses, face painting, and henna tattoos. The SpartMart will also be there selling STEM apparel. We will give each attendee a ticket for a free hip pop. “What about Cheezus” food truck will be onsite for food purchases.

Important Dates

  • September 28 – PTO’s Blast Off at 4 p.m.
  • October 2 – DCSD Official Count Day – ALL STUDENTS IN ATTENDANCE
  • October 13-14 – Parent Teacher Conferences
  • October 15-23 – Fall Break

Have a wonderful weekend!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM students and families,

A lot has happened at STEM since my last newsletter, but perhaps the biggest item was Homecoming Week. Homecoming was a huge success. The festivities started the prior week with our homecoming assembly. The students did a great I would like to thank all of our staff who volunteered to help our students make this an amazing week. Whether it was coaching a powderpuff team the cheerleading team, participating in the assembly, or chaperoning the dance, we really appreciate all that you do to make this happen. I would like to extend a special thank you to Kelli Myrick for all that she does to support our students. Finally, I would like to thank our student government students for organizing the events and putting in countless hours to make it all happen.

This year, we are enforcing our ID requirement for all students. So far, it has gone fairly well, but some of our students tend to forget to wear them. Parents, please remind your students that they need to have their IDs on them and visible at all times. We have provided lanyards, so they should have a way to wear them. Also, starting next week, any 10th-12th grade students (we are closed campus for 9th grade) wishing to leave campus during lunch, off periods, or to take a class off-site will be required to use their IDs to scan out. This is a safety feature I have implemented in other schools, as it helps us track who is in the building anytime we have an emergency.

Looking ahead: Next week, our Unicef club will host a student versus staff dodgeball game during Thursday’s access. All proceeds from this event will go to the Maui Fire Relief Fund! Please encourage your students to participate and help a great cause!

Have you heard the good news? STEM has been recognized as the 12th-best High School in Colorado by the US News and World Report. There are over 600 high schools in Colorado, and we are the highest-ranking high school in our school district. This ranking is well deserved as our students and staff work extremely hard. It is also due to the type of education that we offer here at STEM. As we approach the open enrollment window, I spend a lot of time going to other Middle Schools and attending their various High School fairs. While it does take time away from home, I love to go because I want all students to know about the amazing education we offer here. I have worked in several schools but have never worked with such an amazing and unique program.

This really is a special place. So, if you know of anyone who may be interested in attending STEM, please encourage them to come to one of our Wednesday tours. Or we would love to have them attend our Perspective Spartan Showcase on Thursday, Nov. 2.

That is all I have for now. Have a wonderful weekend!

Ryan Alsup, High School Director

Upcoming Events

STEM All-Events Calendar

Please take a moment to check the STEM All-Events Calendar on our website.

There are lots of events already scheduled so please take a moment to take a look at the calendar to familiarize yourself with some of the events at the start of school. This calendar will continue to be updated throughout the summer as we get closer to the start of school.

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.

Wednesday, Sept. 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.

Thursday, Sept. 28, during Access Period – Secondary Gym

STEM Unicef will close out it’s fundraising effort on Thursday during Access with a Dodgeball tournament. This will include High School Students and Staff members, with the winner getting a trophy.

Academic Advisement Committee Meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5 p.m. – Mechatronics Lab/P-TECH Building

The Academic Advisement Committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5 p.m., in the Mechatronics Lab of the KOSON/P-TECH Building. The goal of this committee is to provide feedback and suggestions for School Leadership in regard to academics and our curricular resources. If you have any questions, please contact michelle.gasser@

STEM Blast Off 2023
STEM TSA Cookies and Cocoa Flier (Social Square)

News and Updates

FREE Cybersecurity Workshop - Fall Break 2023

Are you looking for something to do during Fall Break? ACC’s STURM Collaboration Campus will host a free Cybersecurity workshop from October 16-19, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Registration deadline is October 11 or until full. See flyer for more information.

Summer Internship 2024 - Merrick & Company

Are you looking for a Summer internship? Merrick & Co is currently accepting applications for their summer internship program. Both positions are excellent opportunities for students who have completed or are currently enrolled in CAD coursework.

Lockheed Martin HS Internship Program

Mark your calendars! Lockheed Martin’s summer intern program application window is from October 5th thru Jan 4th for the Summer 2024 program. Register for one of the upcoming virtual information sessions via their website.

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.

University of Colorado Anschutz CUPS Program

Applications are open for the CU Pre-Health Scholars program. The program is available for middle or high school students. It will expose students to high-impact events, research, STEAM and Healthcare careers.

CUPS One Pager

National Security Agency High School Work Study Program and Scholarship programs now open

Calling all Juniors and Seniors

The NSA currently has programs available to HS seniors and juniors. Applications are being accepted now for next summer and the 2024-25 school year. Reach out to Nicole Ryan (nicole.ryan@ with questions.

Join the Academic Advisement Committee

The Academic Advisement Committee is looking for parent, student, and teacher members for the 2023-24 school year. The goal of this committee is to provide feedback and suggestions for School Leadership in regard to academics and our curricular resources. Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the KOSON Building.
This year, our focus will be on the following:

  • Elementary math curriculum
  • Concurrent Enrollment Credits
  • Course Proposals for secondary
  • Updating our academic planning guide

If you want to join this advisory committee, please complete this form by Wednesday, Sept. 20. If you have any questions, please contact michelle.gasser@

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.

Update about printed School Photos

If you ordered school photos and selected to have them delivered to the school, you should start to receive them next week. Our photographer has indicated that we should receive them next week. It will then take us a day to distribute them to the appropriate teachers. Thank you for your patience.

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.

YANA-BackPack Society-Family Field Day

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

Alliance Invitation

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.

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.

Mental Health Resource

Signs of Suicide (SOS) for Parents and Caregivers

When teens are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, it is common for them to turn to each other. This is why it’s important for every student to know when to ACT. 1) Acknowledge signs of suicide, 2) show their friends they Care, and 3) Tell a trusted adult.

Literacy Resource

Experience Dyslexia(R) Simulation, Hosted by DCKID

Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. – Castle Pines Library

This hands-on simulation session lets participants experience some of the challenges and frustrations faced by people with language-based learning differences. Participants will be guided through different learning tasks commonly encountered in the classroom or workplace, including reading comprehension, fluency, writing, spelling, listening, and processing speed.

Health and Wellness Resource

Concussion Awareness Day

September 15th is Concussion Awareness Day. It is an opportunity for school professionals, community members, families, and peers to raise awareness around the signs, symptoms, and implications of concussions to foster discussions and plan support.

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