Secondary News and Updates (11/11/22)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

A message from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

I told you these weeks would fly! One week until Thanksgiving Break. Our 7th-grade Seacampers are heading home, and last week’s students are back safe and sound. All had a great time. A big shout out to Ms. Dwyer for leading this terrific trip. Another big shout out to Ms. Dillon for taking our 8th graders on their second annual Boston trip. All the students I spoke to enjoyed an incredible experience! Please join us in encouraging all students to turn in any missing assignments over the next week. After that, I hope you enjoy a peaceful, relaxing Thanksgiving break.

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

The Prospective Spartan Showcase Event was a success!

THANK YOU to all of the staff, students, parents, families, PTO, SAC, Board, Enrichment clubs, and visitors for coming out in the snow to support our first annual Prospective Spartan Event (to include the middle and high school.) It was a terrific turnout, and we are excited to watch our waiting list expand!

Come see STEM’s Production of Little Women

Please come support Mr. Schwartz and our talented cast and crew of Little Women. Production dates and times:

  • Friday 11/11 at 6:30 pm – ES cafe
  • Saturday 11/12 at 2:30 and 6:30 – ES cafe

Annual Food Drive

Each year, our Elementary School collects canned foods to assemble Thanksgiving baskets for needy families. We are now reaching out to our Secondary families to lend a hand. If you are able, please consider sending in canned foods, boxed potatoes, stuffing, or other nonperishable items. We will have bins located in our secondary lobby. If you are planning to come to see our play, please consider bringing a donation to the show! We will be collecting through next Friday, 11/16. Thank you!

Thank you, PTO

Thank you to our PTO for providing breakfast for our teacher PD day.

Important Date

  • Tuesday, November 15th – Coffee with Admin – 8-9 am – ES cafeteria
  • November 21st – 25th – Thanksgiving Break
  • December 23 – January 9th – Winter 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,

To begin, I would like to take a moment to thank any of our veterans and wish you a happy Veteran’s Day. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service to our country. Thank you for your time, dedication, and sacrifice to make this a great nation.

As the High School Director, I am always enthused by the energy of our students and the dedication of our staff. These past two weeks have been no exception. On Thursday, Nov. 3, we hosted our Prospective Spartan Showcase Night. It was a huge success. We recognize that this is a busy time of year for everyone, but our students and staff dedicated their time to show off what our school offers. It always brings me joy when people from outside the STEM family get to see how special this place really is.

On Friday, Nov. 11, we hosted our first in a series of shadow days for any student interested in attending STEM High School. When I sought out volunteers, we had a large number of students who were interested in helping and showing off this amazing school. I would like to send out a thank you to all of the staff and students who made both of these events possible.

To recap the past two weeks, all of our fall sports completed their first-ever CHSAA seasons, ending with the boys’ cross country team placing 15th at state. It was an extremely competitive season, and I am so proud of all of our student-athletes. This weekend, our Theatre department presents Little Women. It is an amazing show, and the cast and crew have done an excellent job. I was able to attend Friday night and was thoroughly impressed. Nice work, everyone!

Looking ahead, we only have a few more weeks left this semester. With that in mind, we must finish strong. In the next few days, we will release a Finals Schedule for our high school students, so please watch your emails for that. Students, please continue to monitor your grades and complete your practice work so you can demonstrate proficiency on the assessments. If you have any questions about your progress, please feel free to reach out to your teachers, and they will be more than happy to give you a better idea of how you are doing.

Thanks, everyone! Go Spartans!


Ryan Alsup, STEM High School Director

Proud to be a Spartan!

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 Elementary School Food Drive

October 31-November 16

We are collecting non-perishable Thanksgiving items (canned veggies, instant potatoes, pasta, etc) and $20 grocery store gift cards to donate to a local school in need. Donations may be placed in the box in the front lobby of the Elementary Schools. Gift cards to Ms. Bench or office staff. For more information, email

Elementary Food Drive

Parent Coffee with Administration

Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 8-9 a.m. in the ES Cafeteria

Join us for our monthly Parent Coffee with Administration from 8-9 a.m. in the Elementary School Cafeteria. This is your opportunity to get to know our administration team, ask questions and learn more about the ins and outs of STEM. Please park in the ES parking lot and check in at the Elementary School Front Office.

STEM SAC Meeting

Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Mechatronics Lab of P-TECH/KOSON Building

The meeting will also be available to watch via Zoom as a trial. 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.

KOSON/STEM Board of Director's Working Session

Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the P-TECH Conference Room

The KOSON/STEM Board of Director’s will be holding a Working Session on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the conference room of the P-TECH/KOSON Schools Building. Members of the community may attend to observe, however there will be no Public Comment.

CSHS AMC Private Theater Movie Night (HS Students Only)

Saturday, Nov. 19, from 6:45-10 p.m. – AMC Highlands Ranch 24

CSHS has rented out a private theater at AMC Highlands Ranch 24 to allow the first 47 students to sign-up to see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Attendees must bring their student ID to confirm their signed-up name and grade. Attendees must pay for their own food and drinks at the theater if they so desire. Entrance to the movie is FREE with sign-up using the form below.

Those not in CSHS must be a high schooler to sign-up for and attend the movie. It’s first come, first serve.

NHS Holiday Toy Drive

November 28-December 19

This year our National Honor Society chapter is organizing a toy drive! We will collect toy donations from Elementary, Middle, and High Schools from November 28th to December 19th. After all the donations have been collected, they will be donated to the Toys for Tots foundation. We hope everyone is willing to send in their donations!

Please drop off new toys at either the Elementary or the Secondary School Lobby.

Contact: Lasya Gudur: at or Mischa Dvoretsky: at with any questions.

NHS Holiday Toy Drive

News and Updates

YESS Program - Special unit covered in Middle School

YESS – Youth Education & Safety in Schools Program is a special unit covered each year in the Middle School Computer Science electives. The curriculum is taught by a Douglas County Deputy who comes in as a guest speaker for class.

A general overview of our YESS Program breakdown of the lessons is as follows:

Relationships- covers friendships, tools for healthy relationships, peer pressure, tolerance/acceptance/resilience, bullying/harassment, boundaries (physical and emotional), consent for intimate contact, sexual harassment, dating violence/grooming, and associated legal issues.

Digital Citizenship- covers internet safety, cyberbullying, cyber-predators, hackers, sexting, human trafficking, and associated legal issues.

Substance Use- covers nicotine products and vaping, marijuana, alcohol, opioids, various illicit drugs, addiction, physical and mental effects of use, and associated legal issues.

Please feel free to reach out to any of the MS Comp Sci teachers for more information.

Fall 2022 STEM SAC Parent Pulse Survey

As we continue to focus on further improving our school, we look to the STEM families for feedback. We are asking for feedback related to the teaching staff, curriculum, school culture, and parent engagement. This survey is a shortened version of the end of the year Parent Survey and only contains 11 questions.

Please take a couple of minutes to complete the Fall 2022 STEM Parent Survey (please complete one per student) regarding the 2022-23 school year so far.

We greatly value your feedback. As an organization, we are committed to ongoing improvement in all facets of our school to better serve our students. This survey will be open through Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.

Thank you,

School Accountability Committee (SAC) & STEM School Administration

Intent to Return/Not Return Form

It’s that time of year! We’re starting to prepare for the 2023-24 School Year (can you believe it?!?) and we need our CURRENT STEM Families to complete the Intent to Return/Not Return process.

This information will help our Leadership Team plan for the new school year as it pertains to budgeting, facility use, staffing and more. This process also helps us to know how many new students we will have openings for in the upcoming school year so that we can invite students off our waitlist in December.

Please complete a separate form for each of your CURRENTLY ATTENDING STEM students so that we know your student is either returning or not returning to STEM. Completing the form does not require your student to attend STEM for next year should you change your enrollment plans. The form allows you to update your submission should you change your mind over the next few months.

Current Families with Siblings Wanting to Attend STEM

Does your current STEM student have a sibling who is interested in attending STEM for the 2023-24 school year? Did you know that they have priority on our waitlist? Please add them to our waitlist now. STEM’s open enrollment is open and we will begin notifying families of accepted spots for the 2023-24 school year beginning December 1, 2022.

DCSD Open Enrollment Window Information

The Douglas County School District’s Open Enrollment Window is now open, however current STEM families who wish to stay at STEM for next year DO NOT complete that process. Your student(s) will be automatically enrolled. The DCSD Open Enrollment Process (via their website) is if your student is interested in attending their neighborhood school, or another school that uses the DCSD Open Enrollment Process.

The First Round of the Open Enrollment Window for DCSD will close on December 1 at 4 p.m. The Second Round of the Open Enrollment Window will open on January 23 at 8 a.m. and close on August 1, 2023, at 4 p.m.

(Note: Parents of any students who wish to go back to their neighborhood middle school for their 7th-grade year must file an intent to return form, by January 10, 2023; applicable also for parents of 6th-grade students whose attendance area is within the Cimarron Middle School, Rocky Heights Middle School and Sagewood Middle School boundaries.)

An Update on Standards-Based Learning from Mrs. Gasser (11/4/22)

I wanted to provide an update on Standards-Based Learning and some tips and tricks for you as you are trying to determine your child’s grades. Our teachers have been working very hard to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge on standards and have been recording them in the grade book.

For Secondary Parents

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. Below 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-two subject each night to look at so students can plan what they need to complete and/or redo.
  • Grades
    • In the second video below, I show how to access grades, how to determine what your child needs to work on, and how to calculate your child’s final grade in each course.
  • 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 the 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.
  • Resubmissions
    • It is important to be an observer of your student on canvas so that you are receiving the teacher announcements. Deadlines for resubmission, and requirements, will be communicated on Canvas announcements.

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 systems, 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 website at, and click on student support, academics, and Standards-Based Learning.

Thank you,

Michelle Gasser, Director of Professional Development

Parking and Loitering in the surrounding Business Park

The Building Manager for the Office Building where the Center for Strength is located has informed the Center, as well as STEM, that several students have been caught inside of the empty offices that are being renovated. They are asking us to inform families to please speak to their students about this behavior and to refrain from “hanging out” inside the building. Students should only be inside the building if they are visiting the Center. If this behavior continues, the Building Manager has indicated that it will ask the Center to vacate its offices and the building.

Additionally, the Building Manager has indicated that students and parents are parking in their lot in the morning, throughout the day and in the afternoon, which is in violation of their business park rules. If you or your student is doing this, please stop. They have indicated that they have been very understanding neighbors but they feel as if their requests to the community to stop this behavior have not been heeded. They do not want to resort to towing and ticketing cars because they do not want to put that expense on the student or parent, but if the behavior does not cease, they will be forced to move forward with ticketing and towing.

Please help be good neighbors and stop parking in their parking lot. This also goes for the Hotel Parking Lot.

UNC Science and Engineering Fair

Free Chromebooks for Free-Reduced Lunch Students

We are happy to share that we will be offering students who are part of the Free and Reduced Lunch program the opportunity to get a Free Chromebook if the following parameters are met:

  • Chromebook is signed out by a parent
  • The student must remain enrolled at STEM for three years. (if the student leaves STEM during those three years, they will need to return the laptop)

Laptops can be kept over the summer. For more information, please email to confirm your Free and Reduced Lunch Program status. Not sure if you qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch? DCSD recommends that you apply regardless so that they can assist you further. Click the button below to access the application.

Community Service Hours Reminder

If you have not turned in your community service hours please turn them in to Mrs. Fletcher in the counseling office. Seniors need 20 hours for graduation requirements and STEM Scholar needs 100 hours. The deadline is approaching quickly!

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

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.

Parent and Student Learning Mastery Gradebook Video Tutorial

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.

$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

Life can be challenging at times! The great news is you have the power to overcome these challenges by integrating purposeful pauses throughout the day to calm both your brain and body. Maybe you need a quick nature fix, a guided relaxation practice or some quiet music in the background. Enjoy it all and explore! Be careful, some of these links can be rather mesmerizing — you may want to use a timer ;-).

Literary Resource of the Week

Survey for Elementary School Teachers and Families

The Douglas County School District wants to hear from our elementary school educators and families about their perceptions of our new core reading programs Wonders and Benchmark. Please take a few moments to complete a short survey by Friday, November 18. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Parent University - Teenagers and Substance Use with Author Laura Stack

Hosted by Sky Ridge Medical Center and Douglas County School District

Wednesday, November 30 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Join this very special Parent University Webinar hosted by Laura Stack, Author of “Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story: The Dangerous Truth about today’s Marijuana” as we discuss Teenagers and Substance Use (Marijuana, Fentanyl, Vaping, etc.) and Mental Health (effects on teenage brain development). This is a free event. Please register to receive information on joining the webinar.

Comments are closed.