The evolution of STEM School Highlands Ranch

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In eight years, STEM School Highlands Ranch has grown from 400 students in grades six through nine to roughly 1,800 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, with a waitlist.

Until two years ago, the school was known as STEM Academy with a curriculum that focused on science, technology, engineering and math. In August 2017, the name changed to STEM School Highlands Ranch, the tagline to “Never Stop Innovating.” The school kept its mascot, the Spartans.

The charter school needed a name change to clear brand confusion, executive director Penny Eucker said at the time. Many students and parents didn’t know what “academy” meant — which refers to the school’s enrichment program of clubs and after-school offerings — and the school was often confused with other STEM programs in the region.

Unlike other public schools, STEM School is tucked in a business center in the central region of Highlands Ranch, near Town Center and Central Park. The campus is made up of three buildings: high school, middle school and elementary school. Recess takes place in the parking lot.

Students who attend STEM live not just in Highlands Ranch or Douglas County, but come from around the metro area.

On its website, the school says its curriculum has a “college preparatory focus with emphasis on developing core liberal arts skills in reading, writing, mathematics and science.”

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