Secondary News and Updates (12/02/22)

Secondary-School News

Director Updates

Update from Mrs. Ridder, Middle School Director

Dear Middle School Families,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break with your families. I was grateful to have all three of my daughters home with me for several days, but alas, they were soon off again. I am telling you, parenthood is a feast or famine. One minute you are drowning in school work, soccer games, and sleepovers; the next minute, the house is empty. This is why I love my job. It always fills my bucket to welcome our sweet students back to the building after breaks. I truly cannot express how happy their sweet, smiling faces make me. Thank you for sharing them with me!

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

December Spirit Calendar!

Now that we are in December, as you know, things move quickly. Let’s try to enjoy each day and savor this season. In that spirit, I have invited our students to join our staff in celebrating each day of our December Spirit Month. Click here to view the calendar, which was also emailed to our students this week. Please understand that this is optional, and its purpose is to share our silliness with our students.

Come out and join us for Comedy Night!

Please come support Mr. Schwartz and our talented comedic and Improv students. I can promise you that you will roll in the aisles with laughter!
When: Thursday, Dec. 7, starting at 6 p.m. in the Theater Room. Tickets are $5 and concessions will be available for purchase.

National Honor Society Toy Drive

Our National Honor Society is sponsoring a holiday toy drive. Please consider sending in a new, unwrapped toy with your student. The bin is in the secondary lobby.

Important Dates

  • Thursday, Dec. 15 – Secondary Music Concert – 7 p.m., ES Gym
  • December 23 – January 9 – Winter Break

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

In partnership,

Maura Ridder, Middle School Director

Update from Mr. Alsup, High School Director

Dear STEM Students and Families,

Wow, can you believe it is already December? The time sure flies by! These next two weeks are always a lot of fun at school. While it is a festive time of year, each of us must remain focused and finish the semester strong. We are instituting something new this year with a High School Finals Schedule. Please take a look at it below so you can have a better idea of when your student is taking their final. Please note our last finals are scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 21, and all first-semester grades will be finalized at that point. So, if your student has any outstanding work to make up, please ensure they follow all of the teacher’s deadlines so the work can count.

In athletics, we successfully wrapped up our fall season and started Boys’ Basketball. We are proud to announce that our team has grown and is quite a bit bigger than it has been over the past few years. The Spartans are off to a great start and are really looking forward to playing a game in our new gym next semester!

On a final note, now that we have entered CHSAA, we recognize the need to form an Athletics Booster Club to help meet the financial demands of the growing programs. With that in mind, I held a meeting last week with many of our families to discuss the need for the Booster Club and to solicit volunteers to serve in this club. I hope that all of our parents of student-athletes will participate in some way. If you were unable to attend the meeting but would be interested in learning more about our Athletics Booster Club, please click on this link to complete the sign-up form.

If your high school son or daughter is competing in high school sports, please take a moment to complete this form to show us the level of involvement you would be interested in having with the new booster club.

Thanks, everyone! Go Spartans!


Ryan Alsup, 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.

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 lasya.gudur@s. or Mischa Dvoretsky: at mischa.dvoretsky@s. with any questions.

NHS Holiday Toy Drive

KOSON/STEM Search Committee

Monday, Dec. 5, from 12-1 p.m., via Zoom

The KOSON/STEM Search Committee will be meeting on Monday, Dec. 5, from 12-1 p.m. via a Zoom Webinar to continue their work on the search for the KOSON CEO position. Anyone can attend this Zoom as an attendee using the link below.

The KOSON/STEM Search Committee was set up by the KOSON/STEM Board of Directors back in September to develop the next steps for the future of the KOSON CEO position. Currently, Dr. Karen Johnson is serving as the interim CEO. Agendas and minutes of the KOSON/STEM Search Committee can be found on the Board of Directors’ page on the website.

SBL Parent Information Meeting

Monday, Dec. 5, from 6-7 p.m., via Zoom

What will be covered:

  • Status of where teachers/staff are with the implementation of SBL
  • Next Steps and what to Expect
  • Tutorials on how to use and understand the grade book

There will be an opportunity to answer questions at the end if time allows. If you have questions, it would be helpful to email (michelle.gasser@ them in advance so they can be covered in the presentation.

KOSON/STEM Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 5:30-7 p.m – Mechatronics Lab (P-TECH/KOSON Building

The monthly STEM Board of Directors’ Meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 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 communications@

France/Germany Trip Parent Information Night

Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 6-7 p.m. – Zoom

French teacher Ms. Tomic would like to invite interested High School families of students taking French to attend a France/Germany Trip Information Meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 7 via Zoom. This meeting will be for high School Families of students taking French. The trip would be during Spring Break of 2024. Questions should be emailed to Abby.Tomic@
Zoom information to come soon.

Comedy Club Show

Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 6-7 p.m – Secondary Theater Room

The STEM Comedy Club will be hosting its Comedy Club Show for families starting at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 and concessions will be available for purchase. Please park in the Secondary Parking Lot and enter through the Secondary Entrance. Please contact Max Schwartz at max.schwartz@ with any questions.

STEM PTO Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 6:30-8 p.m. – 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.

Parent Coffee Connection at the Center (Sponsored by STEM PTO)

Thursday, Dec. 15, from 7:30-9 a.m. – Center for Strength

STEM PTO will be hosting a Parent Coffee Connection at the STEM Center for Strength. Stop by after you drop off your students to meet other parents, tour the Center and create lasting connections.

High School Finals Week Schedule

For the first time, our High School will be testing out a Finals Schedule from December 15-December 21. Over the last few years, we’ve received a lot of feedback from our students that a more consistent schedule for finals would help reduce stress and allow for greater success. Teachers are doing their best to accommodate this schedule and how it aligns with their syllabus and instruction. students should confirm with their teacher when their finals are as there might be a few classes that could not adjust to this schedule at this time. Questions about the finals schedule should be directed to Ryan.Alsup@

Finals Schedule Winter 2022

Thursday, Dec. 15 Monday, Dec. 19 Tuesday, Dec. 20 Wednesday, Dec. 21
7:50-9:30 Period 3 PERIOD 2 FINAL PERIOD 3 FINAL Period 2
9:35-11:10 PERIOD 5 FINAL Period 4 Period 5 PERIOD 4 FINAL
A Lunch- 11:15-11:45
B lunch 12:00-12:30
C Lunch 12:45-1:15
1:20-2:55 PERIOD 9 FINAL Period 8 Period 9 PERIOD 8 FINAL

STEM has also partnered with the Center for Strength to provide therapy dogs at the center during Lunch Hours for students to visit with to reduce stress. STEM’s therapy dog, Daisy, will also be on hand for any students who cannot make it to the Center during lunch. She will be in the High School Commons outside of the lunch hours on Thursday and Tuesday.

Secondary Music Concert

Thursday, Dec. 15, starting at 7 p.m. – ES Gymnasium

Our Secondary Performing music ensembles will be performing a concert, Beginning Band, Advance Band, Choir and Orchestra to close out the semester. All are welcome to attend. Join us in the Elementary School Gym starting at 7 p.m. Please park in the Secondary Parking Lot and enter through the Secondary Entrance.

STEM PTO Cookie Exchange - A Merry & Bright Gathering

Wednesday, Dec. 21, from 5-7 p.m. – Prost Brewing

Join STEM PTO on Wednesday, Dec 21, from 5-7 p.m. at Prost Brewing for a STEM cookie exchange. Bake or buy three dozen of your favorite cookies. Stay for a snack or a drink. Let’s chat and be merry. Bring a container if you want to take cookies home. We’ll pack boxes for the teachers and deliver them to the school on Thursday, Dec. 22, for the Staff Professional Day.

News and Updates

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.)

SBL Update for Secondary Parents (11/29/22)

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Secondary Families,

Yesterday a teacher shared a video with students about SBL and there was some confusion about grades and what they mean. In response to the questions, I wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate and clarify what was shared in the video. This message was also shared with Secondary Students today.

Here is an explanation of final grades:

In your Student’s grade book:

  • 4-3 = A
  • 2.5-2.99 = B
  • 2.0-2.49 = C
  • 1.0- 2.0 = D

For HS, your student’s GPA converts just like it always has:

  • A = 4.0 GPA
  • B = 3.0 GPA
  • C = 2.0 GPA
  • D = 1.0 GPA

Check out the video to the right that was put together on what the Student’s Grade Book looks like and how you can locate all of the data that you need for final grades. Teachers will be going through this with students during class sometime this week.

Thank you,

Michelle Gasser, Director of Professional Development

College and Career Newsletter

College and Career Planning Resources Graphic

STEM After Prom Committee Volunteers Needed

Hello STEM parents/guardians,

It’s that time of year to start planning our annual After Prom, and we need volunteers. We need help with all aspects, from planning to executing the night of. We have detailed notes from the previous year, and we already have a co-chair who worked on AP last year. So, no experience is needed, just many who want to help make this night safe and fun for our Juniors and Seniors. Family members are welcome to help as well, so grab mom/dad/aunt/uncle/brother/sister to lend a hand.

We can’t continue this STEM tradition without the generous support from our STEM community. Freshman and Sophomore parents/guardians, soon your student will be upperclassmen and getting ready for their prom, so it’s never too early to participate in this amazing event.

Sign up below if you are interested and want to find out more. The first meeting will be scheduled after Fall Break, so keep an eye out for that email.

Have a great Thanksgiving break!

STEM After Prom Committee

After Care Program for Secondary Students

Did you know that STEM has an affordable and safe option for your middle or high school student(s) when they need to remain on campus after school or after their club/activity? With the freezing winter temperatures upon us and Colorado’s often unpredictable weather, After Care is peace of mind that your student(s) is warm, able to access water and bathroom, and with a trusted adult in case of an emergency that can be utilized as needed. Drop-ins are welcome!

The After Care program is operated by STEM Enrichment in the Middle School Cafe and is available from 3-6 p.m. every day, school is in session throughout the school year. The cost is only $8/day.*

SmartCare allows parents to know that their student(s) are safe, as well as make easy payments online. Contact hiroko.ichijo@ to get your student registered with After Care today.

*Students that receive FRL benefits can attend After Care at no cost to the parent. FRL contact ashley.westfall@

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.

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 ashley.westfall@ 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.

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.

Center for Strength News and Events

Rays of Resilience with vendors
Rays of Resilience Wellness Fair

DCSD News and Resources

Mental Health Resource of the Week

Parent University Recording: The Dangerous Truth About Today’s Marijuana

Watch the recording of this very special Parent University Webinar. Laura Stack, Author of “Johnny Stack’s Life and Death Story: The Dangerous Truth about today’s Marijuana” discusses Teenagers and Substance Use (Marijuana, Fentanyl, Vaping, etc.) and Mental Health (effects on teenage brain development). This recording will only be available until the end of December.

Literary Resource of the Week

Top 10 Family Reading and Writing Ideas for the Winter Holidays

The winter holidays are a great time to create low-key learning opportunities centered around books, storytelling, writing, and family adventures.

Health and Wellness

Tips to Keep Kids Warm All Winter

Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the following tips can help keep your children safe and warm.

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