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June 2020
Farewells and Greetings

News & Events

Partner in Education

Superintendent's Message
TCAPS Families and Staff,

It has been an interesting and challenging year. At the same time, it has been a year that has allowed me to reflect on how special our TCAPS and Traverse City area communities truly are. Thank you to each of our parents for stepping into new roles and for making sure that our children continued to stay connected to their classrooms after we switched to remote learning. Thank you also to our incredible staff, who worked tirelessly to ensure our students and families continued to receive critical services and support during this time.

I know many of you are anxiously looking ahead to the fall and wondering what school will look like. Rest assured, we are, too. I also know that many of you recognize that there is still much uncertainty about what lies ahead. However, where there is uncertainty there is also opportunity. Therefore, we are actively working to develop plans to allow us to be flexible and to deliver under multiple models of instruction. This planning is designed to ensure that we are prepared to continue providing high quality education under multiple circumstances.

Planning includes preparing for three potential scenarios:

Traditional face-to-face, in-person instruction
  • We will be prepared to reopen as we do each fall.
  • On top of our traditional preparation for a new school year, we will also be preparing to incorporate additional health and safety measures and protocols, in line with guidance from local, state and federal health officials.
  • In addition, thanks to the community’s support of the August 2018 capital bond, we have been able to secure highly effective cleaning and sanitation resources for each school as well as for use on buses to reduce the spread of germs and viruses.

Hybrid model
  • This model includes a combination of face-to-face, in-person instruction and remote learning.
  • For example: one scheduling option could be two days of in-person instruction and three days of remote instruction.
  • Planning for this type of model also helps the district prepare to move quickly and easily between in-person and remote instruction should schools be forced to close again in the future.

Virtual program
  • This option would provide students and families with a one hundred percent virtual experience.
  • Our recent parent survey results indicate that up to 10 percent of families may be looking for educational opportunities that allow them to keep their child learning at home, while still receiving the benefits of a TCAPS education and connections to the traditional school experience (opportunities like extracurricular activities, school events, and access to local teachers). Therefore, we are working to develop a completely virtual program option, too.

Our final plans for the fall will be announced after we receive direction from the state about what will be allowable for the 2020/2021 school year and what guidance must be followed. We will then adjust our plans, as necessary. There are multiple workgroups and a Return to School Advisory Council that have been formed at the state level to provide recommendations to the Governor about how to safely reopen our schools this fall. They are expected to deliver their recommendations in mid-July. In the meantime, we are continuing to enroll students for the fall and will be prepared to welcome students into our learning community, as always.

On a personal note, I want to express my sincerest appreciation for the opportunity to serve the district as interim superintendent this year. It has been an exciting, demanding, and rewarding experience. While I will always be a strong advocate for public education, and especially for TCAPS, it is now time for me to take on a different role helping our new superintendent, Dr. John VanWagoner, to transition into the position.

I have a great amount of respect for Dr. John VanWagoner, and I believe his deep knowledge of the issues facing schools, as well as, his curriculum and business experience will be key for the district in these difficult times. I also believe that his relationship building skills and innovative thinking will be incredible assets for our district moving forward. Dr. VanWagoner is currently serving as Superintendent of Alpena Public Schools and is expected to begin his job with TCAPS on July 15, 2020. I hope you will join me in welcoming Dr. VanWagoner and his family to Traverse City.

Thank you for your continued support of our schools and for helping to make our community great.

Wishing you a safe and restful summer.


Jim Pavelka
Interim Superintendent
Traverse City Area Public Schools




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"As an institution, we are committed to continuing to work tirelessly to provide safety and security for EACH of our students, as well as for our staff and families."

TCAPS Statement on School Safety, Diversity and Inclusion

On behalf of Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS), we would like to publicly reaffirm our commitment as a Board and school district to ensuring the safety and inclusion of EACH student and to valuing diversity within our institution. Under the Blueprint, the district’s strategic plan, one of TCAPS’ core values is to provide a learning environment that is grounded in a safe, orderly, and respectful environment for students. Furthermore, the Board’s Anti-Harassment Policy 5517.01 supports providing safe learning environments for all students by prohibiting harassment due to an individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or disability.

We know that children who attend public school have broader educational experiences, because on top of the opportunity to master academic concepts and skills, students also have a chance to meet and interact with people who are not like them and who come from different and diverse backgrounds. As an institution, we are committed to continuing to work tirelessly to provide safety and security for EACH of our students, as well as for our staff and families. We are also committed to creating welcoming school environments, to celebrating all that makes us unique and special as individuals, and to protecting each child’s right to a free and fair public education.

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Congratulations Graduates

Senior Walk and Diploma Presentations

In honor of TCAPS’ 748 graduates, Senior Walk and Diploma Presentations were held in lieu of each school’s traditional whole group Graduation/Commencement (which was scheduled for TC Central and TC West on May 31st at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and for TC High School on May 29th at Lars Hockstad Auditorium). Each graduate had an opportunity to walk through their school one more time in their cap and gown, receive their diploma, and have a professional commencement photograph taken. Senior families were then encouraged to take the “Commencement Cruise” to show off their diplomas and get some photos around town, including at locations where banners have been hung in the Class of 2020’s honor. Due to COVID-19 and restrictions on large gatherings, the 2020 Commencement Walks were intended for graduating seniors and their immediate families only. Health and safety protocols were in place for those participating. A livestream was available to view during the senior walk. A full video version of commencement, including senior speeches, will be produced as a keepsake after the event. See below for photos taken during West Senior High School’s June 4th Senior Walk and Central High School’s June 5th Senior Walk. Traverse City High School will celebrate their graduates with a Senior Walk on Saturday, June 13th, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Visit for more Class of 2020 information, including graduation programs, commencement videos (once available), and honors convocation information.

West Senior High School Senior Walk - June 4th

Congratulations Graduates
photo credit: TC Rick Photo

Congratulations Graduates
photo credit: TC Rick Photo

Congratulations Graduates
photo credit: TC Rick Photo

Central High School Senior Walk - June 5th

Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations Graduates
photo credit: TCRick Photo

Congratulations Graduates
photo credit: TCRick Photo

Commencement Quest Photos

Graduates and their families have been invited to revisit the path of their learning journey by participating in the Class of 2020 Commencement Quest. Senior families are encouraged to show off their diplomas and get some photos around town, including at locations where banners have been hung in the Class of 2020’s honor (see the Commencement Quest map for locations). Banners come down June 21st, so be sure to finish by then.

Commencement Quest

Commencement Quest

Honors Convocation Videos Celebrate Class of 2020 Achievements

In May of each year, Traverse City Central High School and Traverse City West Senior High School host Honors Convocation ceremonies to recognize seniors for their many accomplishments and hard work throughout their high school journey. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures, Honors Convocation videos were created and shared with families on May 22nd. Please join us in celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2020 by taking a moment to view these wonderful videos.

Central High School
Honors Convocation Video
Honors Convocation Program

West Senior High School
Honors Convocation Video
Honors Convocation Program

TCAPS Employee Retirement Ceremony Video Available June 17th

Each year, TCAPS celebrates its retiring employees during a special recognition celebration. Since we were unable to hold an in-person celebration this year due to the COVID-19 state-mandated closures, we will celebrate our retirees with the release of a very special video that honors our 34 retirees. A link to the video will be shared upon its official release on Wednesday, June 17th.

Grand Traverse Pie Company

End of Year Celebrations

Cap and Gown Pick-up

Music Teacher Hellp

I'll Miss You

Eastern Elementary School Hosts Virtual Talent Show

Eastern Elementary School students, families and staff shared their talents and creativity during the school’s virtual talent show. Check out this wonderful rendition of “Lean on Me.” View all videos submitted for the talent show here.

Eastern Talent Show

Central Grade School Spirit Week

During the first week of June, students and their families, along with Central Grade School staff participated in a virtual spirit week participating in events such as Fun & Funky Field Day, Tourist Day, Celebrate Reading Day, Take a Photo with Your Pet Day, and Appreciation Day. View all spirit week photos here.

Central Grade Tourist Day

Westwoods Elementary School to Host Drive Through Parade

Westwood Elementary School students and their families are invited to participate in a drive through parade this evening, June 11, 2020. Staff will be there to wave good-bye as students begin their summer vacation.

East Middle School 8th Grade Farewell Drive Through

Tonight, June 11, 2020, East Middle School 8th grade students and their families will participate in a farewell drive through. Staff will be lined up along the route to cheer on students and say a final good-bye as they complete their middle school learning journey at East. Students will also have an opportunity to pick up their 8th grade certificate of completion and any additional awards earned.

Long Lake Elementary Virtual Field Day Activities Make for Great Summer Fun

In place of their annual year-end Field Day, Long Lake Elementary School hosted a virtual Field Week. The activities they came up with looked so fun, we thought we would share them with you and invite your families to participate in some of these "Field Day" activities throughout the summer. We hope you have fun with it! As you complete the challenges, feel free to post on Facebook and tag #TCAPSfieldday. You can also email us pictures or videos for sharing on our Facebook page at Videos containing directions for each event were created by Long Lake Elementary teachers Mr. Mead and Mrs. Westfall and can be found here or below:

Traverse City Area Public Schools Has Served 178,730 Meals

As of Thursday, June 11, 2020, TCAPS has served 178,730 meals since launching a meal distribution and delivery program on March 18th in response to the state mandated in-person school closures due to COVID-19. The effort by TCAPS’ Food & Nutrition Services staff has been a tremendous undertaking and the district is so proud to have the best staff working so hard to make sure no one goes hungry.

TCAPS’ Food & Nutrition Services

“Our slogan is ‘Nourishing Young Minds,’” said Tom Freitas, director of the TCAPS Food and Nutrition Program. “Providing meals that fuel our students’ learning is our passion, so it was never a question of if, only how, we would continue to serve meals after schools were closed. Since that time, it has been humbling to see the gratitude for our kitchen staff and it has shown even more deeply the impact that our food service team has on the lives of the families we serve. We are so proud to work for TCAPS and for this community.”

In addition to the meals, free boxes of produce and dairy are being distributed to students and families each week. LaGrasso Bros. Produce, which is the supplier of produce to TCAPS under the Michigan Farm to Freezer program, is providing the fresh produce. The effort is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

TCAPS is pleased to announce that beginning on June 15th, the district will continue to distribute meals throughout the summer months at three locations: Silver Lake Elementary School, Long Lake Elementary School and Traverse Heights Elementary School. Nutritious bagged meals will continue to be distributed through August 31st. The East Middle School location will close for the summer after the Friday, June 12th meal distribution.

Please note: Meal distribution sites will be closed Friday, July 3rd, in honor of the Fourth of July holiday. During that week, sites will be open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Additional meals will be provided to families on Thursday to get them through the weekend.

TCAPS will continue meal distributions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The distribution sites are open from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and location addresses are: Long Lake Elementary School (7600 N. Long Lake Rd.), Silver Lake Elementary School (5858 Culver Rd.), and Traverse Heights Elementary School (933 Rose St.).

Additional distributions of items to support families during this time will continue to occur during the summer as well, as long as supplies are available, and as pop-up pantries and other item distributions are coordinated at the sites.

Titan and Trojan Athletics Return to Activity

We are pleased to announce that plans have been completed to reopen our campuses to TCAPS high school students and TCAPS based high school programs for a “Return to Athletic Activity” beginning June 15th, 2020. A comprehensive TCAPS plan has been established based on the Governor’s existing active Executive Orders and MHSAA/NFHS guidelines. Coaches have received training specific to this plan.

The following is a summary of key points within the plan:
  • All students must be registered in Final Forms.
  • All coaches & athletes that participate in workouts will be screened prior to participation.
  • Stations with gloves, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and face masks will be set up at each site, with proper social distancing markings.
  • Screening will involve a series of questions and a real time temperature check.
  • Anyone that answers yes to one of the questions, or has a temperature exceeding 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit shall not participate in activities, will be sent home, should self-isolate, and contact their primary care provider or other health professional for clearance to return.
  • Responses to screening questions will be recorded and stored in Final Forms so there is a record of everyone present in case a student/coach develops COVID-19. These records will be kept confidential.
  • Must maintain 6 feet distancing.
  • Athletes must bring their own water bottles and must not share. We are not using our watering station or providing cups.
  • Gallon containers are highly recommended.
  • No locker rooms will be used. Designated restrooms with sanitation stations will be available.
  • Students should report to workouts in proper gear and immediately return home to shower at the end of the workout.
  • Workouts will be conducted in “pods,” beginning with outdoor sessions in week 1 and no sport specific equipment.
  • Week 2 will reintroduce indoor workouts in the same “pods” with individual and partner equipment.
  • No competitions; only workouts (week 1) and skills practices (week 2) are allowed.
Please keep in mind that we are taking this slow and steady in June so that we are not jeopardizing July and August for our fall athletes. Also, keep in mind that every school district is its own entity and everyone might not be on the exact same schedule.

Parents also reserve the right to hold their children out of these workouts if they feel that their son/daughter may be in harm's way. This will absolutely not affect their status for any sport as opportunities at the beginning of the season will allow coaching staffs to evaluate their athletes for team selection.

Coaches will publish specific calendars with dates, times and locations of screening areas and practices in the next few days. We look forward to a safe and controlled return to activities next week. Please feel free to contact the athletic office with any questions.

TC Central Athletics - 231.933.6575
TC West Athletics - 231.933.7780

Young Fives Openings for 2020-2021 School Year Still Available

If you have a young child at home who will turn five between July 1st and December 1st of this year, the Young Fives program may be just the program for your family. This program is designed to provide younger children with additional support and time to develop their abilities and skills prior to entering kindergarten the following year.

Young Fives follows the school year calendar and is a five day, full day program provided at no cost to families. Openings are available at Silver Lake Elementary School (933.3580) and Courtade Elementary School (933.5800). For more information, contact the schools directly or visit

Summer Explorers Clubs Opening July 6th - Register Today

TCAPS’ Summer Explorers Clubs are designed to engage preschool through fifth grade learners during the summer months. Each week features different theme-based activities. Sign up for every week or just a few. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the postponement of the original start date. However, we are excited to announce Clubs will begin operation on July 6th and will run through August 28th. Club hours are Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Due to regulations and recommendations, Summer Explorers Club will take on a new look for summer 2020 and procedural adjustments have been made in order to operate. Our planning is based on feedback from the health department, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and the CDC to ensure the safety of our students and staff. To view procedural changes, learn more about the program, or to register, please visit

tcapsloop weekly podcast

Summer Academy Registration Open - Sessions Begin July 1st

Online registration is going on now for the TCAPS Summer Academy which is open to all incoming 9th-12th grade students. No residency required. The Academy is a great opportunity for students needing to recover credits, wanting to accelerate, or looking to free up an hour for electives such as choir, band, or theatre. TCAPS Summer Academy is a hybrid model of an online platform with in-peron teacher support and/or workspace. Edgenuity will be providing the online platform which includes online assignments, video lectures, and assessments. Classes combine the best of highly qualified TCAPS teachers with the effective use of interactive technology. Courses can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at school and at home. The programs provide rich multimedia presentations that engage students in the learning process. Summer Academy will run July 1st-31st, Mondays through Fridays. To learn more about the program or to register, please visit

Please note: Depending on Michigan and CDC guidelines in upcoming months, organization of in-person instruction may be modified. We will strictly adhere to all guidelines and will communicate those plans to students and families. If in-person classes are not allowed in July, a remote model will be used with teachers available for Google Meets during the office hour times.

TCAPS Middle School Students to Compete in National History Day Finals - June 14th-20th

Congratulations to four TCAPS middle school students, Ian Finfrock, from West Middle School, and Lucy Poppleton, Isabel Seymour, and Ava Shotwell, from East Middle School, who will compete in the 2020 National History Day competition, which will be held virtually June 14-20, 2020.

“Our students are currently living through a moment in time that will become part of future history lessons,” said Jim Pavelka, interim superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. “As a former history teacher myself, I have been impressed by the level of discussion facilitated by our teachers and the depth of understanding our young men and women demonstrate in the classroom. So, it is no surprise to see our students competing at the highest levels.”

National History Day

To qualify for the national competition, students placed either first or second place at the Michigan History Day State Finals competition, which was held on May 9, 2020. View qualifying submissions, additional recognitions, and read the full story here.

Blair Elementary School Wellness Award

On June 2, 2020, Blair Elementary School was recognized for excellence in creating a culture of wellness in their school. This is the third year Blair Elementary has received a Silver Award for their healthy school endeavors. Blair Elementary School, along with assistance provided by Michigan State University Extension, applied for the School Wellness Award which recognizes schools who are making significant policy and environmental improvements in their environment related to healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco-free lifestyles. Blair Elementary School has had a Healthy School Team since 2016. This team includes staff, students, food service, health instructors, and community organizations. They meet regularly to discuss and implement new programs, activities, and opportunities for students and staff to enjoy creating healthy habits. Among other health initiatives, Blair is an active participant in Fuel Up to Play 60 and the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

To receive an award, schools are graded on areas such as their School Health Team, wellness assessment and planning, health policies and practices, healthy eating and nutrition education, physical education and physical activity, tobacco-free lifestyles, as well as the school environment and successes.

The School Wellness Award is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Action for Healthy Kids, and Michigan’s Health and Wellness Education Workgroup. These partners want to honor schools that are working hard to create healthier school environments.

TCAPS High Schools Among State and Nation’s Best According to U.S. News and World Report

Best High Schools




News & Events

Partners in Education

Grand Traverse County Parks & Recreation logo
Partner in Education

“Creating lasting partnerships that benefit our students while helping to build community is what our school district is all about.”

Share Your Input on the Civic Center Master Site Plan

Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation is developing a master site plan for the Grand Traverse County Civic Center Park and is seeking your input. The goal of the plan is to identify positive changes to the park so that it can best serve the community for years to come. Parents and caregivers, please take this survey along with your students by June 22nd to share your feedback on how the park can best serve children under 18 years of age. Take the survey now.

TCAPS Teams Up with Organizations to Support Students

Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) teamed up with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Michigan Fitness Foundation(MFF) and many community partners to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fun Fridays

What evolved into “Fun Fridays” gave us a tremendous opportunity to reach our students in most need in the food distribution lines. These students may not have things to stay active at home due to lack of resources. So far we have been able to distribute jump ropes, a clay set, and a set of rhythm sticks are on the way. All of these items have come with curricular guidelines put together by our physical education, art and music staff respectively.

“Creating lasting partnerships that benefit our students while helping to build community is what our school district is all about. That is why we could not be more proud to be working collectively with the DDA, MFF, and our community to support our students during this difficult time,” said Jim Pavelka, interim superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. “This effort is a true win-win.”

“Fun Fridays” will continue throughout the summer and will rotate between the four sites and the delivery service each week. All items are first come, first served, while supplies last. Items to come include bug hunting kits, crafts, books, beach balls, frisbees and more!

More than $14,000 worth of items hand-selected from downtown merchants were donated to TCAPS as part of the DDA’s Buy Local, Give Local campaign, which raised a total of more than $61,000 to support Traverse City businesses.

To learn more about how to donate to TCAPS, visit:

Thank You Community Partners

2nd Annual Pizza For A Cause at B.C. Pizza

In honor of National Pizza Day, B.C. Pizza (3186 Lafrainer Rd.) held its 2nd Annual Pizza For A Cause. B.C.'s mascot, Officer Pizzarelli, and the T. C. Pitspitters’ mascot, Monty, were both there to greet people, too! All net proceeds for the day ($1,900) was donated to TCAPS’ Food Assistance Program to help pay off past due lunch balances for students. In addition, $300 in gift cards were also given to share with the Traverse City High School Food Pantry.

Thank you to those who supported the cause. For more information, visit:, or call (231) 995-9900.

Milk Crate Basketball Continues to Grow and Support TCAPS Students

Milk Crate Basketball is a nonprofit organization assisting kids in need with resources to play and enjoy the game of basketball. Since launching Milk Crate Basketball four years ago, the organization has been a TCAPS Partner In Education and has assisted about 130 students with support for LEAP participation fees and shoes. We are so grateful for Milk Crate Basketball’s commitment to helping kids. All donations to Milk Crate Basketball are used to provide kids with a wide range of items needed in order to play and enjoy basketball -- shoes, basketballs, hoops, athletic wear, camps, etc. To read Rod’s story of why he created Milk Crate Basketball and for more information, visit their website at

TADL Summer Reading Club - June 15-July 27

Be sure to sign up for Traverse Area District Library's (TADL's) Summer Reading Club where dragons and adventure are waiting for you! Hear ye, hear ye - The Traverse Area District Library has proclaimed Summer Reading Club 2020 open. Help TADL reach its holy grail of 2,000,000 reading minutes for summer. If you're ready for surprise guests, adventure, projects, and stories galore sign up today. It's fun, free, and fantastic! Learn more at

TADL Summer Reading

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