STEM School Highlands Ranch

STEM School Highlands Ranch, formerly known as STEM School and Academy, is a public charter school with a curriculum focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The school building is located in an office park next to Central Park,[2] a retail center. The school serves as a K–12 for over 1,700 students from across the Denver Metro Area.

STEM School Highlands Ranch
8773 S Ridgeline Blvd,


United States
Coordinates39°33′22″N 104°59′52″W / 39.5560°N 104.9979°W / 39.5560; -104.9979
Other nameSTEM
Motto"Never Stop Innovating"
Established2011 (13 years ago) (2011)
School districtDouglas County School District RE-1 (DCSD)
CEEB code060741
DirectorMatt Cartier
Officer in chargeDeputy Gabe Uribe, DCSO
Enrollment1,875 (2018-19)[1]
Average class size136
Education systemStandards-Based Learning
Campus size10 Acres
Campus typeOffice Park
Color(s)Royal blue and gold
AthleticsBasketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, baseball
MascotStanley the Spartan
RivalsMountain Vista High School, Thunder Ridge High School
YearbookOrganized Chaos

History edit

The school originally opened as STEM School and Academy to 480 students, grades 6–9, o August 15, 2011.[3] It was led by principal David Floodeen.[3][4] In 2012, the board of directors hired Dr. Penny Eucker as executive director. A grade was added every year until they had grades 6-12 in 2014. That year, STEM finished its renovations and turned its gym into a two-story high school, containing a weight room, art room with kiln, and a chemistry lab. In the years since opening, the school moved from being ranked one of the lowest-performing in Colorado to number 10th in the state (SAT Scores). And ranked 9th in the country by US News, and World Report.[4]

STEM's first graduating class consisted of 1 student in 2015. The board of directors wanted to expand, which resulted in the leasing and remodeling of the conjoining building and adding the first 5th grade class in fall of 2015.[4] Of the original 113 5th graders, only 25 remained at STEM for the rest of their elementary, middle, and high school educations and graduated as the class of 2023, these students were known as the "Original 5th graders"

Grades K-4 were added in fall of 2016, officially making the school a K-12.[4] Becoming a part of KOSON Schools in 2017, the school re branded and changed its name to STEM School Highlands Ranch, adopted a new tagline, new mission statement, and new logo.[4]

In 2018, anti-suicide programs were implemented to help lower chances of suicide and school shootings.

In the fall of 2019, STEM School Highlands Ranch purchased the building that housed grades K–5.

In the fall of 2020, STEM purchased the neighboring building to house its P-TECH program (Grades 13 and 14) and the Business Offices for STEM School Highlands Ranch as well as the Charter Network Main Offices of KOSON Network of Schools.

Campus and facilities edit

The main school buildings have three engineering labs, four computer labs, a chemistry lab, a weight room, two gyms (Secondary and Elementary), and three parking lots which encase the building on all but the north sides of the school facility. The eastern side of the school has a playground for grades K-5. The north side of the building has a recreation area with picnic tables where high school students can eat lunch. South of the elementary building there is a small building for the P-TECH college course, there are 3 classrooms primarily for P-TECH courses, however some high school level classes are held in this building.

Additions and remolding edit

In the fall of 2021, the school finalized a master plan which includes four new classrooms, a secondary gym, middle school commons and a grand entry way. The planned finish date was in late 2022, but construction finished in early 2023.

A grand opening ceremony was held on February 1, 2023, and students got their first look at the new secondary gym, weight room, locker rooms, gender neutral bathroom, middle school commons, FRHS storage spaces, and grand entry way.[5]

The new gym allows the school to be a part of CHSAA[6]

KOSON Network edit

KOSON Network of Schools was founded in 2017, and is a collection of charter schools in Colorado. Currently, there is only one school in their network, STEM School Highlands Ranch. Two other proposed schools, STEM School Denver and STEM School Sterling Ranch, have been denied by Denver Public Schools and Douglas County School District.

The efforts for replicating the flagship campus of STEM Highlands Ranch began in earnest in the fall of 2021, the school hired a Replication Officer and officially organized KOSON as the Charter Network organization. The applications for STEM School Denver (K-5) and STEM School Sterling Ranch (K-12) were submitted in March of 2022, however, the applications were denied by Denver Public Schools and Douglas County School District RE-1.

KOSON currently operates inside STEM School Highlands Ranch's P-TECH building, also known as the Charter Network Main Offices.[7]

CEO and CIOs edit

Matt Cartier currently holds the position of CIO.

In 2012, Penny Eucker was named CEO, she resigned from her position in 2022.[8]

Dr. Karen Johnson became CEO after Penny Euker's resignation,[9] however, in May, 2023, she announced her retirement from KOSON Schools.

In the Fall of 2022, the KOSON/STEM Board of Directors established the official Search Committee to review the current CEO Roles and Responsibilities to provide edits and suggested changes for the revamped KOSON leadership role. The Search Committee determined that the role may be a CEO role officially, switching to using Chief Innovation Ambassador as a descriptor.

The CIO is responsible for strategic vision, building stakeholder relationships, fundraising, replication, overall accountability for the KOSON Schools Network, and maintaining alignment with the policies and strategic direction of the KOSON/STEM Board of Directors. The position will report directly to the KOSON/STEM Board of Directors and work to accomplish Board established yearly objectives and benchmarks.

The CIO will also be an effective spokesperson for KOSON Schools to represent, communicate, and advocate on behalf of KOSON at authorizing agencies, relevant school districts, local and state government agencies, and business partners.[10]

Notable alumni edit

Gitanjali Rao (Class of 2023), 2020 Time Kid Of The Year, Inventor[11]

Mass shooting edit

A shooting incident on May 7, 2019, left one student dead and eight others injured.[12] The shooting was carried out by two students from the school.[13]

References edit

  1. ^ "STEM SCHOOL HIGHLANDS RANCH". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  2. ^ "Central Park development in Highlands Ranch shaping up to have healthy living theme". 12 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "STEM to host parent meetings". Colorado Community Media. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Our History – STEM School Highlands Ranch". Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  5. ^ Bostel, Nicole. "Secondary News and Updates (02/24/23) | STEM School Highlands Ranch". Retrieved 2023-07-28.
  6. ^ "Member Schools List & Map". Retrieved 2023-10-25.
  7. ^ "Welcome to KOSON Network of Schools | KOSON Schools". Retrieved 2023-07-28.
  8. ^ "Eucker unexpectedly resigns as KOSON charter CEO: STEM to continue efforts to open new schools". Colorado Community Media. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  9. ^ Bostel, Nicole. "Karen Johnson Named Interim CEO of KOSON Schools | STEM School Highlands Ranch". Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  10. ^ "Matt Cartier | STEM School Highlands Ranch". Retrieved 2023-10-25.
  11. ^ "Meet TIME's First-Ever Kid of the Year". Time. 2020-12-03. Retrieved 2023-10-25.
  12. ^ Associated Press. "Shooting at suburban Denver school leaves 18-year-old male student dead, sheriff says". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  13. ^ Healy, Jack; Stack, Liam (May 7, 2019). "School Shooting in Colorado Leaves 1 Student Dead and 8 Injured". The New York Times.