Secondary News and Updates (10/06/23)

Secondary-School News

Directors' Updates

A Message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

We are almost there! One more week until Fall Break. Our students are growing academically, socially, and emotionally every day. What about behaviorally, you ask? Let’s say it’s a slower process. These things, however, are part of the middle school growth process, and our job as educators is to teach our children not only academics but also what is socially acceptable behavior. Our students make mistakes, and we treat each incident as a teachable moment. We are truly grateful to our families for their support as we conquer these behavioral issues alongside your students.

Here are a few updates and reminders from the Middle School:

Cyber Safety Assembly

As part of our ongoing efforts to foster a safe and responsible digital environment, this week during Access, we held an assembly on cyber safety. Our presenter, Deputy Gabe Uribe, with his background in law enforcement, delivered a presentation tailored to our middle school students and the activities we are seeing at our school. Our goal is to equip our students with crucial online safety skills while addressing the responsibilities and challenges posed by the digital age. Ask your student about the assembly and continue the conversation at home!

Reminder: Next Tuesday, Oct. 10, is a virtual day for 6th graders

As shared in previous newsletters, next Wednesday is a virtual day due to PSAT testing. Please have your 6th-grade student check each class’s Canvas Home page and Daily Agenda. Students will have to log into their classes virtually. 7th and 8th graders will be taking the PSAT that day. Students must be here by 7:30 a.m. since the test starts at 8 a.m. 7th and 8th graders will resume their normal day schedule after the test.

Fall Conferences – next week!

This year’s fall conferences will occur on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 3:30-7 p.m. in the Middle School Cafe and Middle School Commons. The second day of conferences is Friday, Oct. 13, from 8-11:30 a.m. If your child struggles in a class, you will receive an email from those teachers who feel it is important to attend.

Let’s work together

We have a wonderful community of families, staff, and students. While 95% of parent interactions are lovely and positive, lately, some have been quite the opposite. Our teachers are here for one reason: to support students. They work very hard to communicate with parents. We are asking parents to please communicate with them in a respectful, supportive way. At STEM, we need and want to partner with our parents, and part of a strong partnership is communication, understanding, and mutual respect. We must be good listeners and communicate well when there are concerns. There are always two perspectives in every situation, and as an outsider not present, we need to find a middle ground. If you hear a story from your child, seek to understand through asking questions. If an understanding cannot be reached, please contact me for assistance. I am asking that you treat our staff the same way you wish to be treated, with respect. We all want our children to thrive and be as successful as possible. Please know that it will happen if we all work together!

ID Badge Reminder

Almost all of our students are now displaying their student IDs. Thank you to all families for reminding our students of the importance of wearing their IDs to school. If your child lost their ID, you may request a new one at the secondary front office. The first print is free; after that, they are $5 each. We also have lanyards at the secondary office for any student who does not have one yet! Thank you for helping your student remember to wear his/her ID!

Dress Code Reminder – NO midriffs or ripped jeans above the knee

At the start of the 22/23 school year, we revised our dress code. It is very generous; in fact, some might even call it progressive! STEM students are free to wear a wide array of clothing and styles. However, the dress code does NOT allow students to bare their midriffs. Each day, we see students wearing crop tops. Please look at your child’s top (especially the one under the big zipped hoodie.) Also, we are seeing overly- ripped jeans. Ripped jeans are allowed, but ONLY if the rips are at the knees or below. We have gone over this with all students in our assembly, and we remind them daily, but we still have students not following the dress code. Please check your child before they leave the house.

Apple Awards: Nominate a Teacher!

The Foundation for Douglas County Schools is proud to honor exceptional educators and staff who are inspiring a love of learning in students and are trailblazing extraordinary innovation in our schools. Over the years, the Apple Awards has grown to engage the entire community, bringing in thousands of nominations every year for teachers and staff members across the district. Click here to nominate your favorite teachers or staff members.

Important Dates:

  • October 12-13 – Parent-Teacher conferences
  • October 14-22 – Fall Break
  • November 2 – Prospective Spartan Showcase Night – 5-7 p.m.

Have a wonderful weekend and a lovely fall break!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A Message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Spartan Students and Parents,

Wow, I cannot believe it is already October. Where did the time go? Last weekend, I took a drive into the mountains, and as I looked at the snow-covered peaks and the golden aspen leaves, I was struck with the beauty of our place. If any of you are leaf peepers, I would suggest taking a drive before they are all gone!

Speaking of snow-covered peaks, this week, I received the first frost warnings. Winter is coming soon, and I wanted to remind you of our winter weather policies. As a school, we follow the Douglas County School District. If the district cancels classes for snow, we do as well. However, if the district has a delayed schedule, we move to a virtual day. On a virtual day, all of our classes will start on time. Students will log into Canvas and will have instructions on how to join their virtual classrooms. You must follow the instructions to avoid being marked absent!

On Wednesday, we had a school assembly to discuss cyberbullying. Deputy Gabe did an excellent job with the presentation, and it was well received by our students. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is an issue here. We have received tips about Instagram posts and other social media sites that are being used negatively. We are doing everything we can about this. However, it is exceptionally difficult to prove who is creating the posts and whether or not the school has any authority over them. We will continue to do our due diligence, but this issue is larger than the school and will take the community to stop. Parents, please talk with your students and make sure their social media accounts are private. Some of the pictures posted on these sites were captured from personal accounts. Also, please take a look at your accounts as well. Some of the students have stated the photos of them were taken from their parents’ accounts. And if you see an inappropriate Instagram or other social media post, please report it to them. They are the only ones with the authority to take a post down, which can be the quickest way to handle the situation.

Looking ahead…

On Tuesday, Oct. 10 our students will have a virtual day for the PSAT and SAT. All 11th graders taking the SAT will need to attend. Seniors who signed up will take the SAT on 10/11, but we will have a class for all other students that day.

Parent/Teacher Conferences
We will host our annual conferences on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 3:30-7 p.m. and on Friday, Oct. 13, from 8-11:30 a.m. in the secondary gym. If your child struggles in a class, you will receive an email from those teachers who feel it is essential to attend.

Prospective Spartan Showcase

On Thursday, Nov. 2, we will host the Spartan Showcase Night. You have probably read about it in previous newsletters, but I want to stress the importance of this night. The Showcase provides our students with an opportunity to demonstrate to the public some of the lessons that they have learned by showing off projects or other demonstrations of knowledge. We have also invited 5th and 8th-grade families from across the district to come and see as well so they know what it is like to be a STEM Spartan. I am truly excited about this event and am proud of the work that our students and staff have put in to make it a memorable night. So, if you are available Thursday night, please feel free to come and see what is going on here at STEM!

With each update, I sign off that I am Proud to be a STEM Spartan.  I feel very fortunate to be part of such a fantastic school. Every day our students amaze me and make me so proud to be part of their lives as they grow into adulthood. Last week, our UNICEF club hosted several events to raise money for those impacted by the fires in Hawaii. They walked up and down the driveline traffic, asking for donations. They also hosted a 3v3 basketball tournament and a students vs staff volleyball game. They also hosted a GoFundMe page to help with their efforts. During the week, they were able to raise over a thousand dollars to help out the people in need. I would like to thank the parents and students for their generous donations and would like to thank the UNICEF students for all of their hard work to help those in need. Nice work, Spartans!

That is all I have for now.  I hope you have a great 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.

SAC Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – KOSON/P-TECH Building (Mechatronics Lab)/Zoom (until 6:30 p.m.)

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.

PTO Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 6:30-8 p.m. – Middle School Cafeteria/Zoom

Join the STEM PTO for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 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.

Elementary Parent-Teacher Conferences

Secondary Parent-Teacher Conference Week (Facebook Post)

Colorado Free Application Days

Colorado Applies Month

Tuesday, Oct. 17 to Thursday, Oct. 19

Mark your calendars—students will be able to apply to any public college or university and many private institutions for FREE from Tuesday, Oct. 17-Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. For more information, check out the link below.

Enjoy Your Fall Break (Presentation)

News and Updates

College and Career Newsletter

College and Career Planning Resources Graphic
CUPS One Pager

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.

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.

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 ( with questions.

Student Support Services during Conferences

STEM’s Student Support Team will be available for Secondary Conferences, coming up on October 12 and 13. To sign up for a conference with your middle or high school counselor, please click on their name below to be taken to their sign-ups.

NMSQT Information for 11th graders

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

On October 10, 2023, 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

ACCESS continues to build as we get deeper into the school year. These past couple of weeks, students have begun to utilize ACCESS to visit teachers and seek extra support on learning concepts, make-up work, and other needs. In addition, we have started having college visits during this time and have spent some time discussing executive functioning and reflecting to identify our strengths and weaknesses. Looking ahead to October, all of the secondary students will continue the conversations around executive functioning strategies and ACCESS teachers will support students with how to utilize Canvas for monitoring work completion and organization of their workloads. Students will also get an introduction and overview of Naviance as they begin their required iCap lessons. ICAP stands for Individual Career and Academic Plan, and is described by the Colorado Department of Education as a process that guides students in the exploration of career, academic and postsecondary opportunities and helps students develop the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and skills to create their own meaningful and powerful pathways to Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness. Middle School iCap lessons for October will focus on career discovery and for high school they will focus on career and personality discovery, academic goals, and college applications. Finally, students will participate in an assembly with Deputy Uribe where the focus will be on cyber safety.

The following colleges will also be visiting in October and November (the schedule is subject to change). All visits will be in Ms. Myrick’s office from 11-11:40 a.m. unless otherwise noted.


  • Wednesday, Oct. 11: Hofstra University
  • Thursday, Oct. 26: Regis University


  • Wednesday, Nov. 1: University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  • Thursday, Nov. 2: University of Denver
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8: Trinity University Dublin
  • Thursday, Nov. 9: Colorado School of Mines – Presentation will be given in Mrs. Graham’s room, not Mrs. Myrick’s office.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 15: Cal Poly: San Luis Obispo
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

Stem Highlands Ranch Senior Yearbook Info

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, 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 system. 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 system 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.

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

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

Webinar: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Depression in Teens – Hosted by ADDitude

Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 11 a.m.

Register to receive link (webinar will be recorded)

Depression in teens has grown increasingly common since the COVID pandemic began and rates of adolescent mood disorders remain concerningly high. Depression and ADHD frequently co-occur, and both conditions must be recognized and treated effectively. When depression is not recognized, the consequences can be serious: Teens are at risk for poor school performance, substance use, early pregnancy, and self-harm.

During this webinar, caregivers and teachers will learn:

  • How to differentiate typical sadness from depression in adolescents and teens
  • How to recognize the symptoms of depression in adolescents and teens
  • How symptoms of ADHD and major depression overlap
  • About the current treatments for adolescent and teen depression
  • Supportive strategies that caregivers and others can provide

Literacy Resource

Dyslexia Awareness Month

The Colorado Dyslexia Handbook is a resource for reliable information for educators, students, families, and community members about dyslexia, comprehensive literacy instruction, and the evidence-based practices for identification, instruction, and accommodation of students who have reading difficulties. This handbook covers everything from the definition of dyslexia, structured literacy practices, assessments, wonderful articles written by respected researchers, and important legislation.

Health and Wellness Resource

Visiting your pediatrician regularly helps ensure that your child is healthy and happy. In addition to covering basic wellness exams, these visits are also important for vaccinations, vision and hearing tests, mental health screenings, physical development and so much more. Plus, these visits are a key part of disease and illness prevention throughout childhood. Learn more about the importance of wellness checks from our friends at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

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