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January 2020
Designing the Future

News & Events

Partner in Education

Superintendent's Message
TCAPS Families and Staff,

As I visit schools each week, I continue to be impressed by the high quality learning experiences I see happening in the classroom. In fact, the district was just recognized as one of only eight districts in Michigan and 250 in the U.S. and Canada to be named to the 10th Annual Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll.

While rankings like these are only one measure of success, they highlight excellence in education at all levels. We know that we are achieving successful outcomes when our students are finding the confidence to enroll in college level coursework in increasing numbers and qualifying to receive college credit. We also know that their education is a journey, requiring masterful teachers at all levels to support students as they reach for the highest levels of success. I am proud to be working with the incredible pre-K-12 team that we have at TCAPS.

Last month, we shared a video featuring the Hour of Code, which focused on teaching and engaging students, and, in my case, at least one lifelong learner (see last month’s video), the basics of computer programming. This month, we explore the SCI-MA-TECH program, which offers enhanced opportunities in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) for high school students. Students join the program as freshmen. Along with earning one full credit each year in math, science and technology, students visit colleges and businesses, conduct authentic research, complete an internship, and participate in extracurricular activities such as the underwater ROV building competition. I hope you enjoy the video.

Finally, January is School Board Recognition Month. I would like to thank each school board trustee for their tireless commitment to our children’s education and for their service to the community.


Jim Pavelka
Interim Superintendent
Traverse City Area Public Schools

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Partner in Education

TAG Program
TCAPS News & Events

"The TAG program provides essential peer stimuli allowing children to learn and share their ideas as well as enhance their emotional growth."

Register by January 23rd - 2020 CogAT for the Talented & Gifted Program

TCAPS will administer the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) in February for all current 3rd grade students interested in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program next school year. Students identified through the process are invited to attend the TAG magnet school located at Central Grade School. The registration deadline is Thursday, January 23, 2020. TCAPS’ TAG program provides a learning community where each student is surrounded by a peer group of academically talented and gifted learners throughout the day. The TAG program provides essential peer stimuli allowing children to learn and share their ideas as well as enhance their emotional growth. Admission to TAG is based on CogAT test scores and NWEA scores, in addition to teacher input. CogAT testing will take place at each elementary school from February 3rd - February 14th, 2020. To register and view an informational video, please visit: You will receive separate communication from your homeschool with information regarding testing dates and times. CogAT testing for Non-TCAPS 3rd grade students will take place at the location of your choice. To register a 3rd grade non-TCAPS student for testing, contact Kimberly Bails in the Office of Curriculum and Instruction at 231.933.1779.

Register by January 24th - Volunteers Needed - FIRST Robotics Competition - Feb. 27th - 29th

Volunteer for First Robotics
The 2020 FIRST Robotics Competition to be held February 27 - 29, 2020, is seeking volunteers to serve as judges, inspectors, security, EMTs, crowd control, team querers, photographers, AV, etc. on competition days (Feb. 28th and Feb. 29th, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), as well as, to assist students in field set up and take down (Feb. 27th and 29th, 5:00 p.m.). No experience is necessary, just a willingness to have fun.

Training will be provided. Please help us make this district sponsored event a success for our TCAPS students and those students coming from 35 schools around the state. Descriptions of volunteer roles and links to register as a volunteer can be viewed here. Please register by January 24th. Email Catherine Hansen at with questions.

Eastern All-Star Carnival—January 31st

Eastern Elementary School will host its annual “Eastern All-Star Carnival” on Friday, January 31, 2020, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the school (1600 Eastern Avenue). The all-school event is a fundraiser to benefit the annual fifth grade end-of-the-year field trip and the Eastern Elementary PTO. The event will include a bounce house, carnival games and hair salon. The purchase of a wristband buys unlimited access to all carnival games and activities. 1-2 wristbands ($10 each), 3-4 wristbands ($9 each), or $40 per family. Food and concessions will also be available for purchase. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The event is open to the public and the community is welcome to attend.

East Middle School Students Featured in Exhibit About the Risks of Vaping - Now - January 31st

Students from Traverse City East Middle School interviewed their fellow students as part of a new exhibit by local photographer, Alan Newton, called “The Other Traverse City: Vaping…the New Addiction.” East Middle School students provided their perspectives about vaping for the exhibit, which explores questions such as “What are the risks of vaping?” and “Why is vaping more dangerous for school age youth?” The exhibit will be on display at City Opera House (106 E. Front Street) from January 6-31, 2020, and is available for public viewing Monday-Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Young Fives Kindergarten Opportunity - Register Today!

TCAPS is pleased to announce the opportunity for families to enroll in the Young Fives kindergarten program at Courtade Elementary School, Eastern Elementary School, Long Lake Elementary School and Silver Lake Elementary School for the 2020-21 school year. The Young Fives program is for young learners turning five years old with late birth dates (between July 1 and December 1). The program is designed to provide younger children additional time to develop their abilities and skills prior to entering kindergarten the following year. Young Fives is a five day, full day program and is provided at no cost. Students are eligible for transportation if they live within the boundary area of the school they are attending. Students will receive math, reading and writing instruction daily and science and social studies instruction regularly. Music, art, and physical education are also a part of the program. Curriculum materials are different than what will be used in kindergarten, but follow Michigan kindergarten standards. Teachers spend additional time teaching lessons and focus on supporting the developmental needs of each child to help prepare students for success the following school year. In addition, time for play is also built into the program. A minimum of 20 students are required to be enrolled at the individual site on or before August 1, 2020, in order to be able to run the program at the school. For more information, visit

Tuition-Based Preschool - Early Registration Opens February 3rd

The early online registration period for TCAPS’ 2020-2021 tuition-based preschool programs runs February 3, 2020, through March 31, 2020. All interested families are invited to sign up during this time. Families who register during the early registration period and have completed all required forms will be notified in early April of their approval/placement status. Families interested in enrolling in TCAPS’ Montessori program should contact the school directly at 231.933.6420 during the early registration period to enroll their child. For more information, visit

Summer Explorers Club - Online Registration Opens February 3rd, Information Fair February 8th

TCAPS’ Summer Explorers Clubs are designed to engage preschool through fifth grade learners during the summer months. Clubs run Monday through Friday, June 22 - August 28, 2020. Each week features different theme-based activities, field trips and/or special guests. An Information Fair will be held on Saturday, February 8th, at Eastern Elementary School (1600 Eastern Ave.), from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., for families who have questions or need additional assistance with the enrollment process. Translation services are available by appointment. Please contact Kelly Gignilliat (231.933.1759) to schedule. Children are welcome. Families are not required to attend the event in order to enroll in the program. For more information about TCAPS’ Summer Explorers Club and/or the registration process, please visit

Preschool Information Fair - February 8th

A Preschool Information Fair will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at Eastern Elementary School (1600 Eastern Ave.), from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., for families who have questions or need additional assistance with the preschool enrollment process. Translation services are available by appointment. Please contact Kelly Gignilliat (231.933.1759) to schedule. Children are welcome. Families are not required to attend the event in order to enroll in a preschool program. For more information about TCAPS’ preschool programs and/or the registration process, please visit

Traverse City Central High School Student Receives Top Score in the State on CTE Certification Exam

Owen Suhy
TCAPS is pleased to announce that Owen Suhy, a junior at Traverse City Central High School, was recently named the Microsoft Office Specialist Word 2016 State Champion. Suhy achieved a perfect score on the Word 2016 MOS Certification Exam, and also earned 864 out of 1000 on the Word 2016 MOS Expert Certification Exam.

His score qualifies him to participate in the U. S. National Championship competition in Dallas, Texas, June 15-17, 2020, where he will have the opportunity to compete with top scorers from around the country. In order to qualify, students between the ages of 13 and 22 must have earned the highest score in the state in their category. Learn more about the MOS U.S. National Championship. Read 9&10 News’ GT Pulse story featuring Suhy.

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CHS Student Wins 2019 Traffic Safety Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission

Traverse City Central High School senior, Mitchell Stachnik, was selected to receive the 2019 Student Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC). The award recognizes a high school or college student engaged in a traffic safety program. Stachnik was nominated by Trooper David Prichard of the Michigan State Police Cadillac Post for his role in creating and implementing a schoolwide educational awareness week about the dangers of drinking and driving. Stachnik, along with the school’s Student Senate and members of the Grand Traverse County Drug-Free Coalition’s Students Together Against Negative Decisions (STAND) committee, created a publicity campaign, complete with posters, statistical information, and wristbands with the word “sober” written on them, which were handed out to students who committed to make good decisions during prom and the school year. Stachnik has been invited to attend the GTSAC Traffic Safety Awards Luncheon in East Lansing, Mich. in March where he will be recognized. In addition, he received a special challenge coin from Trooper Prichard for his efforts to improve traffic safety awareness. Learn more about GTSAC here.

Traffic Safety

Central High School Receives National Athletic Trainers’ Association Safe Sports School Award

TCAPS is pleased to announce that Central High School is the recipient of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Safe Sports School award for its Trojan Athletic Program. The award champions safety and recognizes secondary schools that have met the recommended standards to improve safety in sports. The award recognizes schools that prioritize keeping young athletes safe and reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention, and treatment. To apply, schools complete an in-depth questionnaire that assesses adherence to best practice standards and recommendations. In addition to this year’s NATA award, Amy Ream, Central High School’s athletic trainer, was also named the Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society in 2019.

TCAPS Recognized in 10th Annual AP District Honor Roll

AP Honor Roll
Traverse City Area Public Schools is pleased to announce that the district is being recognized as part of the 10th annual Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll. The school district is among eight in the state and 250 in the U.S. and Canada to make this year’s list.

“We are so proud of the comprehensive offerings we provide to our students, and we are grateful to the many highly qualified teachers at our high schools who

inspire and encourage students in these classes every day,” said Jim Pavelka, interim superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. “Giving students the opportunity to gain experience with the rigors of college level courses, which currently includes access to 19 different AP courses, helps to prepare them for life after graduation. AP classes also contribute to saving families in our community more than $4 million annually by helping students earn college credit while still in high school.”

According to the College Board, the AP District Honor Roll recognizes school districts committed to increasing access to AP for underrepresented students while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. AP District Honor Roll recipients are committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds. Click here to learn more about the AP District Honor Roll.

Superintendent Jim Pavelka Celebrates Decades of Service in Education

Jim Pavelka
This month, Superintendent Jim Pavelka celebrated a significant milestone. As of January 2020, Mr. Pavelka has served all or part of seven different decades as an educator and served as superintendent in all or part of six decades.

“The changes I have witnessed in education over the decades are unbelievable,” said Jim Pavelka, interim superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools.

“From educational experiences that have moved beyond the classroom, to technological advances that make one decade look very different from the next, to the best practices in school construction, much has changed in education over the years and the changes are impressive. However, the constants that keep our schools among the top in the state and nation, decade after decade – great teachers, administrators and staff, commitment to each student and their learning, and dedication to the responsible stewardship of our community’s resources – are as strong today, if not stronger, than when I began my career.”

Pavelka has been a classroom teacher, an assistant principal and athletic director, principal, served 19 years as the superintendent of an intermediate school district, and was previously the superintendent of TCAPS from 2000 to 2005.

Traverse City and TCAPS Middle Schools Welcome Students from Japan

Students and their chaperones from Koka, Shiga, Japan visited Traverse City January 10-17, 2020, as part of a student exchange program between the two sister cities. Six Japanese middle school students stayed with host families from both West Middle School and East Middle School. The exchange students attended classes with their host student and participated in activities including meeting Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers, visiting downtown, touring the Grand Traverse Commons, exploring NMC, snow sports, and visiting other area attractions. Students from Traverse City will visit Japan in late February. See the UpNorthLive story about the visit.

TCAPS Students Performed, Teachers Presented at the 2020 Michigan Music Conference

Seventeen students were named to all-state bands and honors choirs, and three educators participated as a conductor/accompanist team and as a session presenter at the 2020 Michigan Music Conference (MMC).

Every year, music educators from across the state of Michigan attend the Michigan Music Conference. MMC features school ensemble concerts, performances by Honors Choirs, All-State Bands, and Orchestras, professional development clinics, and hands-on workshops. The conference is attended by approximately 9,000 teachers, administrators, students, and speakers annually.

Congratulations to the following students and staff who participated in the 2020 Michigan Music Conference which was held January 16-18, 2020, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place Convention Center Auditoriums in Grand Rapids, Mich. The students and ensembles listed were selected to participate in the MMC through an extensive, competitive audition process.

All-State for the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA):

High School All-State Band
Sam Hicks, 9th grade, percussion, WSH
David Oosse, 10th grade, percussion, WSH
Daniel Peacock, 12th grade, oboe, WSH
Michael Riccobono, 12th grade, trumpet, WSH

State Honors Choirs for the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA):

All-State Jazz Choir
Jack Kernan, 11th grade, bass, CHS
Henry Parvel, 12th grade, bass, CHS
Noah Manning, 12th grade, tenor, CHS

6-7-8-9 SA Honors Choir
Katie Brazee, 8th grade, soprano, WMS
Will Collins, 6th grade, alto, WMS
David Dee, 6th grade, alto, WMS
Piper Dee, 8th grade, soprano, WMS
Lily LaFaive, 8th grade, alto, WMS
Avery Verschaeve, 8th grade, soprano, WMS

6-7-8-9 TTB Honors Choir
Van Collins, 8th grade, bass, WMS
Liam Hoxsie, 9th grade, tenor, WSH
Caleb Mienk, 8th grade, bass, WMS
Coby Sipple, 9th grade, tenor, WSH

Erich Wangeman, conductor and Emerick Dee, accompanist led the 6-7-8-9 TTB Honors Choir during the MSVMA 6-7-8-9 Honors Choir Concert. Wangeman was selected to conduct the 2020 TTB Honors Choir by MSVMA. Both Wangeman and Dee are choral directors at West Middle School.

Stephanie Schall-Brazee is a general music specialist at Willow Hill Elementary School and Eastern Elementary School. Brazee presented with the Michigan Music Education Association headliner, Dr. John Feierabend.

Meals for Musicians - Jan. 29 and Feb 11

Come support TC Central Choirs with their Meals for Musicians campaign. On Wednesday, January 29, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the Filling Station (624 Railroad Place) will host an open mic and pizza night and will generously donate 25% of select pizza sales to support the choir program! Takeout orders are included!

In addition, The Boathouse (14039 Peninsula Drive) will host a fabulous three course meal on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person. The evening will also include a raffle and entertainment provided by the TC Central Choral-Aires. The menu includes smoked whitefish pate, a Boathouse salad, sliced beef tenderloin and 4 oz Maine Lobster Tail with fingerling potatoes, parsnip puree, asparagus, tomato jam, lemon caper and beurre blanc, and for dessert a vanilla bean creme brulee caramelized sugar and fruit compote.




News & Events

Partners in Education

Arby's Supports TCAPS
Partner in Education

"Thank you to the entire team at Arby’s for your generosity in helping us give our students the best."

Arby’s - They Have the Meats...and Support for TCAPS Students

We are happy to announce our newest Partner In Education, Arby’s, owned by Shawn Zipser of Zeez Management Services, Inc. Shawn reached out asking how he could help our schools just about the same time we were looking for someone to sponsor new backboards and rims at Traverse City Central High School. The existing equipment was very dated and becoming unsafe for student use. “We feel that this is a chance to give back to a school that has graduated three of my children and currently houses my fourth,” said Zipser. Thank you to the entire team at Arby’s for your generosity in helping us give our students the best.

Celebrate National Pizza Day for Students In Need - Feb. 9

B.C. Pizza
Eat pizza and give back! Sunday, February 9th, is National Pizza Day! To celebrate, B.C. Pizza of Traverse City (3186 Lafrainer Rd.) will host its 2nd Annual Pizza for a Cause and give 100% of the day's net revenue to TCAPS' Food Service Assistance Program to help pay off lunch balances for students in need.

The restaurant is open from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the offer is good for dine in (including 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. buffet), carry out, and delivery. Everything counts! Please visit the B.C. Pizza Traverse City location on Sunday, February 9th,  and tell them you are there to help raise funds for students in need!

In addition, B.C. Pizza will be giving away a free pizza buffet for a year to someone! Simply use the hashtag #bctcgivesback and share photos enjoying pizza that day on their Facebook page to be registered to win. Officer Pizzarelli and The TC Pitspitters Monty will be there for photo opportunities from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with goody bags for kids! To order online visit or call 231.995.9900.

Boots for Kids - A Hero For Area Kids

Boots for Kids provides winter boots and more for children in need. Since 2001 they have disbursed over 15,000 pairs of new boots to over 30 different area organizations. This year, 241 TCAPS students were recipients of the lovingly packaged boxes filled with not only new boots, but also with hats, mittens, toothbrushes, toothpaste and more. The snow came early this year so from October through the holiday break, Boots For Kids was busy warming feet, and hearts, all over the Grand Traverse area. Thank you to Don Schmuckal for his leadership and genuine interest in making sure that no child has cold, wet feet throughout the winter. If you are interested in supporting Boots For Kids, visit

Central High School SEA Club Receives Cherry Republic Grant

As part of their 30 Days of Giving, a $500 Green grant from Cherry Republic has been awarded to the Traverse City Central High School’s Students for Environmental Advocacy Club (SEA Club). The club has been working on bringing mixed recycling to the school. Previously, the school only had the opportunity to recycle paper and cardboard boxes. The grant from Cherry Republic will allow the school to include plastic, tin, and metal. The funds will also cover changing out the dumpster and getting new containers for the building. Thank you, Cherry Republic, for your support of our students.

Central High School Receives Traverse City Track Club Grant

The Traverse City Track Club (TCTC) has awarded the Traverse City Central High School Track Program a community grant of $15,420. The grant was awarded as part of a total $78,827.87 in community grants that were presented three area non-profit organizations to support projects that align with the TCTC mission to encourage running and walking as a means to promote health, enhanced fitness, family recreation and competition for all. Profits from the TCTC Bayshore Marathon each May fund the grant program. The funds will be used by the Trojan Track team to support the purchase of hurdles for their home track facility. For more information, go to

Norte Awards Grant Checks to Schools in Safe Routes to School Program

Norte, was recently awarded a $130,000 grant from Rotary Charities to support the Traverse City Safe Routes To School System Acceleration Project. The project will implement a variety of innovative policies, communications, instruction, and planning interventions to improve school accessibility and neighborhood connections across Traverse City. TCAPS beneficiary schools include: Central Grade School, Eastern Elementary School, TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis, Traverse Heights Elementary School, Willow Hill Elementary School, and West Middle School.

Safe Routes to School
Ty Schmidt, executive director of Norte, presents Eastern Elementary School with a check for $5,000 as part of the Safe Routes to School program.

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