Secondary News and Updates (10/07/22)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

A Message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

We are almost there! One more week until Fall Break. I don’t know about you, but I truly feel these first two months have flown by. Our students are growing academically, socially, and emotionally by leaps and bounds! This is not to say we aren’t running into our share of behavior bumps in the road; however, these bumps are part of the growth process, and we treat each incident as a teachable moment. I am truly grateful for all of your support as we work through these issues with your students.

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

  • Reminder: Next Wednesday is a virtual day for 6th graders
    • As has been shared in previous newsletters, next Wednesday is a virtual day due to testing. Please be sure to have your student check each class’s Canvas Home page and Daily Agenda.
  • Fall Conferences
    • This year’s fall conferences will take place NEXT WEEK on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 3:30-7 p.m. in person in the MS and ES cafeterias and adjacent hallways/classrooms. The second day of conferences is Friday, Oct. 14, from 12-3:30 p.m. From 12-1 p.m., conferences will be virtual for those families who cannot make it in person. From 1-3:30 p.m., teachers will conference with families in person. If your child is struggling in a class, please consider attending conferences. If your child is excelling in all of the classes, there is no need to attend. You will receive an email with a Sign-Up Genius link from those teachers who feel it is important to attend. If you do not receive the Sign-Up Genius link but would like to attend still, please reach out to the teacher directly to check their availability.
  • 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, they should scan the QR Codes on one of the posters around the school to put their name on the Secondary ID Replacement Request Form to have a new one printed. 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!
  • 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. Here is the link to nominate your favorite teachers:

A huge thank you to our PTO! Thank you to our PTO and all the families who donated to our staff lunch this Wednesday! We love our PTO and our parents! Our entire staff is very grateful.

October 13-14 – Parent-Teacher conferences
October 15-23 – Fall Break
November 3 – Prospective Spartan Showcase Night – 5-7 p.m.

Have a wonderful weekend!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

A Message from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Spartan Students and Parents,

Wow, I can’t believe it is already October, where did the time go? The last message I wrote about Homecoming week. It was a great week and ended with an amazing Homecoming Dance. The Student Government did an excellent job with the planning and decorating, and all of the students seemed to enjoy themselves.

This week we are heading into Parent-Teacher Conferences. Conferences at STEM are geared more toward providing the opportunity for students and their parents to meet with their teachers, if the teacher believes that there is a need. For that reason, teachers will send sign-up forms directly to families if they would like for them to attend their open conference session in the High School Commons. Families who would like to attend and who have not received the sign-up from the teacher,, should reach out to the teacher directly to check their availability on either day.

On the athletics side, our girls’ volleyball team has had an amazing week. On Monday, they hosted their Pink-Out game and defeated Aurora West Prep, while also raising money for cancer research. Then, on Wednesday, they went to William Smith and defeated them in four straight sets.

Tonight, they are hosting DSST Conservatory Green for their Senior Night. It should be a great game! Our boys’ soccer team has also had a strong week defeating Addenbrooke last Friday 5-0! Our cross-country team is also competing hard. This week, they will compete in the league meet on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Expo Park in Aurora. Our Middle School cross country team will also be there competing in a Middle School race at the same time. This is a wonderful opportunity to come out and support all of our STEM Harriers as they compete for league championships.

Looking forward, it is time to start thinking about winter sports. Next week, registration will open for boys and girls basketball. We will send out information once the window opens, but if you have a student interested in playing basketball for us this year, please join us for an information session at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11 in the High School Commons. The meeting is for both boys’ and girls’ basketball, so if you are interested, we look forward to seeing you there.

Finally, boys’ lacrosse. Last spring, we agreed with Highlands Ranch High School to have a unified boys’ lacrosse program. That means that any STEM High School student who wants to play lacrosse must play for the combined HRHS/STEM team. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to compete at a high level. For those who are interested in playing high school lacrosse, Highlands Ranch High School is hosting a kickoff meeting next Thursday, Oct. 13, from 7-9 p.m. at Highlands Ranch HS. This is a great opportunity for the parents and new students to get to know one another as we prepare for the upcoming season. This is also a great opportunity to meet the coaching staff, and ask any questions that you may have about the program. Once again, if your student is interested in playing boys’ lacrosse this year, I highly encourage you to attend the meeting.

We are still looking to fill a few coaching positions. If you are interested in coaching, please email me at ryan.alsup@

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

Lockdown Drill

Monday, Oct. 10, after 1 p.m.

On Monday, Oct. 10, we will be conducting our first Lockdown Drill of the school year. Students will practice this drill using the Standard Response Protocol. Deputy Uribe, other Douglas County Sheriff representatives, and Douglas County School District personnel will be on campus to assist members of the STEM Leadership Team with this drill.

The drill will begin with students hearing an announcement over the loudspeakers throughout the school from an administrator. Then the re-recorded Lockdown Drill message will be played over loudspeakers. Each teacher will also be asked to discuss the drill process with their class before the start and during the drill.

Our Student Support Services Team, along with mental health professionals, will be on-site to assist students and staff that need assistance after the drill is complete. Therapy dogs with Go Team Therapy Dogs will be available at the Center for Strength for students to visit after the drill. STEM’s therapy dog, Daisy, will be in the Elementary School Gym for students who need and cannot make it to the Center for Strength. Please keep in mind that therapy dogs are available to those who need assistance with coping with the impact of the drill.

Before this drill, please take a moment to discuss the Standard Response Protocol with your child. Please note that these drills are mandatory. We know these drills may be difficult for some students, and we appreciate your support in practicing our safety response. Please reference our Mental Health Supports page if you need additional resources.

Please email with any questions or concerns you may have.

2022 STEM DECA Innovation Invitational

Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – ES Gymnasium

Our STEM DECA and FBLA students will be taking part in our second annual STEM DECA Innovation Invitational on Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. This in-house event is designed to help our 40 students prepare for their upcoming District events. Students will have a brief period of time to analyze a business scenario and develop a solution to the task or challenge outlined in their scenario. These scenarios will typically involve a sales promotion or operations situation or related customer service concerns. Students will then have up to 8 minutes to meet with a judge and present their response in an interactive “role-playing” format.

We’re still looking for judges, so if you’re interested, please click the button below to sign up. Each judge will be given a “section” of approximately 3-4 competitors. Each competitor will be attempting to solve an identical business challenge. Judges will be provided with a copy of the challenge, suggestions about how to interact with the competitors, and a detailed, task-specific score sheet for each student. In a nutshell, you will interact with each student and then score and rank them based on how well they accomplished the tasks listed on the score sheets.

Breakfast will be provided for judges. We also invite our judges to join us for a complimentary luncheon after the competition is finished, prior to our conference awards session. Coffee and tea will be provided throughout the morning.

Monthly STEM Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 5:30-7 p.m – Mechatronics Lab (P-TECH/KOSON Building

The monthly STEM Board of Directors Meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Mechatronics Lab of the P-TECH/KOSON Building. The STEM BOD is comprised of parents and community members who volunteer their time. The Board’s role and purpose is to provide oversight of the Executive Director, who implements the policies set forth by the Board. The Board also provides support and direction of STEM’s long-term vision and mission. Additionally, the Board is active in making sure that STEM remains in compliance with all DCSD, state and federal compliance requirements, as well as STEM’s Charter Contract.

Meetings are open to anyone to attend. Anyone who would like to address the Board Members must sign-up in advance by completing the Public Comment Form no later than 12 p.m. the day of each Board meeting. If written testimony or a handout is submitted, presenters are asked to supply one (1) copy via email to

Boys' and Girls' Basketball Interest/Information Meeting

Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 6-7 p.m. – HS Commons

Meeting to gauge interest and give information for the 2022/2023 Basketball season. Parents and students are encouraged to come. Contact Ryan Alsup at ryan.alsup@ with any questions.

8th Grade Boston Pre-Trip Zoom Meeting

Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 6:30-7:15 p.m. – Zoom

Families whose student is attending the 8th Grade Boston trip in October are invited to attend a pre-trip Zoom meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 6:30-7:15 p.m. Contact Heather Dillon at heather.dillon@ with any questions.

Monthly DEI Committee Meeting

Wednesday, Oct. 12 and Thursday, Oct. 13, from 4-6 p.m. – Secondary Parking Lot

BEST Robotics and CSHS have come together to create a drive; on October 12 and 13th, from 4-6 pm in the secondary driveline. We are asking students, teachers, and parents to donate unused computer hardware and non-perishable food. The proceeds will go to our computer science department and a local food bank. Please pull up to the field in the secondary drive line and students will help you unload your car. This will greatly impact our community and our teams getting ready to compete in their respective competitions soon, please donate as much as you can.

No need to get out, just pull up and we’ll remove the items from your car. Contact dylan.moran@s. or evan.hunt@s. with questions.

Secondary Parent-Teacher Conferences

Monthly DEI Committee Meeting

Monday, Oct. 24, from 5-7 p.m. – High School Commons & Zoom

If you’re interested in getting involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at STEM, we encourage you to attend to find out more information. Email amie.mcelroy@ with questions.

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 from Mrs. Gasser on Standards Based Learning

Thank you for your patience while our staff is learning about grading through Standards Based Learning.

For our secondary parents, we have finally been able to turn off the averaging function and the decimal point function in your student’s grade book. Here are some tips on how to view your child’s grades:

  • Become an observer of your child in Canvas. This will allow you to view grades, get announcements, and receive emails. Here is a video on how to become an observer.
  • When you click on grades, you will see that it says “no grades.” This is because the averaging feature has been turned off. You must click on the course to view your child’s grades.
    • A tip shared with me by a parent is to choose one-to-two subjects each night to look at so students can plan what they need to complete and/or redo.
  • Students should view their grades in the grade book by clicking on the show more details button in the top right corner. This will show the assignment grade, as well as the learning mastery grade. We ask for some grace for our teachers as they learn all the pieces of the learning mastery grade book. If you notice that there is a mistake in the grade book, please kindly reach out to the teacher via email so that they can look into the issue.
  • If a student has a 2, 1, or — (which means missing), they need to work with the teacher to resubmit this assignment.
  • Teachers will send out emails through Canvas to parents once assignments have been graded if the student has a 2, 1, or is missing the assignment. You will ONLY receive this email if you are observing your child in canvas.
  • Middle School students will do grade checks during study hall and will complete a Google Form listing the assignments that they need to complete or redo.

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 to see their demonstration of knowledge grade.

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 page at

Thank you,

Michelle Gasser, Director of Professional Development

PSAT/MNSQT Questionnaire Letter for 10th & 11th-Grade Families

Dear Families of 10th/11th-Grade Students,

As a part of the College Board (the PSAT/NMSQT testing vendor) resources, students can choose to complete a voluntary data questionnaire and opt-in to Student Search. The College Board’s Student Search Service is a free, voluntary program that connects students with information about educational and financial aid opportunities from nearly 1,900 eligible colleges and universities, and scholarships and other educational programs.

The following information on the data questionnaire is required by the College Board to generate a PSAT/NMSQT score report for your student: Student Name, Date of Birth, Gender, School, Grade Level, and State Assigned Student Identification Number. Completion of the Student Search Service portion of the data questionnaire is optional and voluntary for all students. Your child will have the opportunity to choose whether to complete the Student Search service portion of the questionnaire. The Colorado Department of Education and the College Board have created a consent form for students if they choose to complete the questionnaire to participate in the Student Search Service.

There is also a list of information that is collected by the College Board in the Student Data Questionnaire. Please review the consent form and discuss it with your child so he/she will know how to fill out the consent form at school and complete the questionnaire. There is no need to fill out the consent form at home. Students may also choose to complete the Student Search Service questionnaire at a later date through their College Board student account.

Your child’s school will be able to answer questions about taking the PSAT/NMSQT. If you have questions about the Student Data Questionnaire or student consent form, please contact:

Colorado Department of Education Assessment Unit: (303) 866-6929

College Board: (866) 433-7728

Thank you – and best of luck to your student on the PSAT!

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.

Updated Snow Day Policy

As the winter season approaches, we want to announce updates to the current Virtual School Day for Inclement Weather policy. Last spring, one of our STEM students presented a proposal and justification regarding changes to our current Virtual School Day policy. As a result, the administration and Board of Directors determined that a change is recommended to the Snow Day Policy. We appreciate the leadership and voice our STEM students display and are happy to announce that STEM will follow the DCSD Snow Day policy with a closure. STEM also reserves the right to modify the calendar, schedule, or this policy, due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or construction that interrupts the required instructional minutes as set forth by the Colorado Department of Education. The following is a reminder of the current policies.

Late Start Schedule

STEM does not mimic the Late Start Policy and schedule put forth by DCSD. In the event that Douglas County calls for a Delayed Opening, STEM’s Virtual School Day Policy will take effect.

Virtual School Day for Inclement Weather

If DCSD determines that the district should follow the Delayed Opening protocol, STEM School Highlands Ranch will abide by its Virtual School Day Policy. When it snows, our school’s operation and instructional expectations will be determined by one of these three scenarios:

  • Updated: Snow Day – Douglas County Schools calls a snow day – STEM is closed (check
  • Late Start Day – Douglas County Schools calls a Late Start day – STEM is closed and implements a Virtual School Day.
  • All Schools Open – Douglas County Schools declare Highlands Ranch area schools open – STEM is open and operating to our regular schedule.

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: 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.
Starting on September 19th, all students must have an ID badge visible while on campus.

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.

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:

$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!

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

Second Wind Fund

The Second Wind Fund is a Colorado-based youth suicide prevention organization that covers the cost of 12 sessions of therapy. In order to provide families with greater access to mental health treatment, Second Wind has made some exciting changes by allowing parents/guardians to make their own referrals for their children. Learn more at

Literary Resource of the Week

Reading is a Process: Strategies to Use Before, During, and After Reading

Check out this and other literacy resources from Reading Partners.

Total Wellness Resource of the Week

Teens and Drug Use: How to Talk About Substance Abuse with Your Teen

Children’s Hospital pediatric addiction specialists share their advice on talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol, how to address the rising dangers of fentanyl and important resources.

2023 U.S. Senate Youth Program Application available

The United States Senate Youth Program application for Colorado students is available. The 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week is being planned for March 4–11, in Washington, D.C. Each delegate will be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.

High school juniors or seniors with demonstrated leadership by serving in elected or appointed positions in which they are actively representing a constituency in organizations related to student government, education, public affairs and community service are eligible to apply.

Applications are due on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

2023 Daniels Scholar Applications Now Open

Colorado high school seniors can apply now to become a 2023 Daniels Scholar and receive up to $100,000 toward their college degree. Apply at by October 15 to be considered for a scholarship.

The Daniels Scholarship Program provides the opportunity for students to attend the college of their choice. The scholarship, based on financial need, provides up to $100,000 for a student to attend any two- or four-year nonprofit, accredited college or university in the United States.

Parent University: Online Safety with Y.E.S.S.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. – Virtual Event

Our children are constantly communicating through phones and online. Learn about the resources that students are educated with in DCSD using the Y.E.S.S. Program (Youth Education and Safety in Schools) to keep them safe online. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sean Heidman, will be presenting on how the Y.E.S.S. Program prepares our students for online safety. Parent University is brought to you by the Douglas County School District and Sky Ridge Medical Center.

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