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April 2021
Positively TCAPS

News & Events

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Superintendent's Message
TCAPS Families and Staff,

This year has presented many challenges for our students, our schools, and our community. From the ongoing response to COVID-19 to the need for open and honest conversations about equity and inclusion, our entire school district is committed to put in the hard work required to make real change happen and to ensure our students receive the highest quality of education in a safe and welcoming environment.

Given the challenges before us, it seems particularly appropriate that the TCAPS Board of Education has declared next week Staff Appreciation Week. I hope our school community will join us in celebrating the education heroes who work tirelessly to help our students grow and our community thrive. It is an honor to work with such a dedicated group of professionals who continue to approach each day with adaptability, perseverance, and grace. You can submit your “thank yous” by emailing or by sending a private message to our TCAPS Facebook page (additional details below). Notes of staff appreciation will be shared with school district employees and the community throughout the week.

As we head into May, we begin to look forward to upcoming end of year events like honors convocation, spring concerts, commencement ceremonies, and more. While things are still a little different this year, I know that working together, we can ensure that our children’s learning milestones are celebrated and recognized and that everyone from our “graduating” kindergarteners to our graduating seniors have a wonderful experience as they prepare for what’s next.

On behalf of our entire TCAPS community, we are looking forward to the joy and happiness the end of a successful academic year brings and to sharing those special moments with our families.


Dr. John R. VanWagoner II, Ph.D
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

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TCAPS Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Statement

As many are likely now aware, a racist, anti-Semitic, and discriminatory “slave trade” Snapchat was being circulated by several TCAPS students, as well as students in other districts. It was brought to the attention of school officials by students, who were then immediately able to begin an investigation and to take appropriate action to address the posts. View the full statement as presented by Dr. VanWagoner at the Board of Education meeting on April 26, 2021.

Staff Appreciation May 3-7, 2021

Staff Appreciation Week is May 3rd-7th and we would like to invite you to share your stories about how our dedicated staff make a difference in the life of your child. You can share your “thank yous” by emailing or by sending a private message to our TCAPS Facebook page. We will be compiling responses and sharing them throughout the week as a way to show our deepest gratitude and appreciation for our amazing staff. A little story goes a long way in brightening someone’s day. Thank you in advance for taking the time to recognize our wonderful staff.

Grand Canyon University

Traverse City Central FIRST Robotics Team Earns District Chairman’s Award, Safety Animation Award

Traverse City Central High School’s FIRST Robotics Team was one of 25 teams across the state of Michigan to win a District Chairman's Award for the 2021 season. There are more than 500 FIRST Robotics teams in Michigan. The award is the most prestigious award at FIRST Robotics, honoring teams that best represent a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the program’s mission. They now move on to compete for the State Chairman's Award. Special recognition is given to Leilani Sigsbey and Ethan Roe who prepared the application and did the interview for the award along with Grady Luyt. The Traverse City Central High School FIRST Robotics team was also one of only three teams in the world to win a Safety Animation Award this season. Their video “Safety is Caring” was chosen Runner Up: Most Creative. Tegan Worthington and Sage Brown designed and created the video.

Anderson's Market

Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan Finalists Selected

Four TCAPS students were recently named finalists in the 27th Annual Italian Songs and Arias Vocal Competition for Michigan High School Students.

Sara Fox, 12th Grade, Central High School - Mezzo Soprano
Lily Jenkins, 11th Grade, Central High School – Soprano
Lily LaFaive, 9th Grade, West Senior High School - Soprano
Audrey Michael, 11th Grade, West Senior High School – Soprano

Ten finalists were selected from preliminary auditions held in March. For the final competition, finalists will perform in the Concert of the Finalists on Sunday, May 2, 2021, at the Italian American Club of Livonia Banquet Center. Each finalist will receive a monetary prize (first prize is $1,000).

The competition, recognized as one of the state’s top singing competitions for high school classical and opera vocalists, is hosted by The Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan in cooperation with The Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation, The Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan, The Italian American Cultural Society, The Michigan Opera Theatre and Under the Auspices of the Consulate of Italy in Detroit. Learn more at:

Biggby Hiring

TCAPS Students Recognized in Crooked Tree Arts Center 2021 Youth Arts Exhibit

The following TCAPS students were recognized for their artwork in the Crooked Tree Arts Center 2021 Youth Arts Exhibit. This year’s exhibit was held virtually.

2021 Sponsor Awards
Mollie Baker, Central High School, Al and Susan Cogswell Award
Adalyn Davis, Cherry Knoll Elementary School, Fred and Beth Bynum Honorable Mention
Erinn Hale, East Middle School, Fred and Beth Bynum Honorable Mention
Gabriella Johns, Blair Elementary School, Fred and Beth Bynum Honorable Mention
Isabella Kearney, Central High School, Steve Fritz Award
Sophia Morse, Traverse City High School, Steve and Raenette Palmer Award
Ainsley Rosenburg, West Senior High School, Traverse City Area Camera Club Photography Award
Carson Suttle, Central High School, Traverse City Area Camera Club Honorable Mention
Joseph Sturtevant, West Middle School, Fred and Beth Bynum Honorable Mention

Kendall College of Art and Design Awards
Kiah Anderson, West Senior High School
Mollie Baker, Central High School
Kira Bihlman, West Senior High School
Isabella Kearney, Central High School
Kira Kombol, Central High School
MaKenna Malinao, Central High School
Sophia Morse, Traverse City High School
Lexi Radtke, Central High School
Maci Ricks, West Senior High School
Ainsley Rosenburg, West Senior High School
Charlise Schulz, West Senior High School
Ethan Shaw, Central High School
Hanna Stalmack, Central High School
Andrew Theophilus, Central High School
Audrey Umstead, Central High School
Lillian White, West Senior High School

Kendall Awards
Adara Chamberlain, Silver Lake Elementary School
Kathleen Conaway, East Middle School
Sophia Pashchuk, West Middle School
Marlina Ortiz, West Middle School
Adrienne Semeyn, West Middle School

Student artwork submitted in the 2021 Youth Arts Exhibit may be viewed at:
Elementary School -
Middle School -
High School -

TCAPS and Northwest Education Services Launch “Peace Kids” Program

Earlier this month, families were invited to sign up for the “Peace Kids” series, a free program designed to help support the social and emotional needs of elementary-aged students. Developed and facilitated by Ali Fitzgibbon, LMSW from Northwest Education Services (formerly Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District) and Kristin Sulecki, LMSW from TCAPS, this program offers elementary students in grades K-5 the opportunity to join a six-week virtual group with opportunities to make new friends and enhance their social/emotional skills through creative, meaningful activities.
Peace Kids

Peace Kids is expected to be particularly helpful for elementary students who have had big feelings related to the pandemic or those who are struggling with limited opportunities for peer interactions. In addition to just plain being fun, these groups teach important lifelong skills. Research shows that social and emotional competencies lead to positive student outcomes that are important for success in school and in life.

The program is being offered free of charge to families through the school district’s Intense Student Support Network (ISSN). The goal of the ISSN is to remove non-academic barriers to learning, so that students are able to fully engage in their education and be successful in school and in life. To learn more or to donate, visit:

Traverse City’s Safe Routes to School Project Kicks Off

Through careful planning with area partners and community members, the City of Traverse City has launched of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) project.

Today, only 13% of kids actively travel to school, compared to 48% in 1969. Among those living within a 1.4 mile of school, just 56% walk or bike. Safe Routes to School is a movement that aims to make it safer and easier for students to walk and bike to school. Beyond the many health benefits of walking, studies have shown that walking to school can improve academic performance and reduce anxiety. The most successful SRTS programs incorporate the Six E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and equity. Since 2005, Safe Routes to School programs have benefited more than 14,000 schools in all 50 states.

In 2018, the City was awarded with a $2.4 million grant for the SRTS initiative. Partners on the project include TART Trails, Norte, Northwestern Michigan College, Grand Traverse County, Garfield Township, Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Michigan Fitness Foundation, and Michigan Department of Transportation. The City worked with four school districts including Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, Traverse City Area Public Schools, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools, and Trinity Lutheran Schools to identify ten K-8 schools within the City that would benefit from 3.5 miles of trail and sidewalk expansion. School partners include:
  • TBAISD New Campus School, 1100 Silver Dr.
  • TBAISD Oak Park Campus, 301 S. Garfield Ave.
  • TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis, 1009 Oak St.
  • TCAPS Willow Hill Elementary School, 1250 Hill St.
  • TCAPS Central Grade School, 301 W. Seventh St.
  • TCAPS Eastern Elementary School, 1600 Eastern Ave.
  • TCAPS Traverse Heights Elementary, 933 Rose St.
  • TCAPS West Middle School, 3950 Silver Lake Rd.
  • GTACS Immaculate Conception Elementary Schools School, 218 Vine St.
  • Trinity Lutheran School,1003 S. Maple St.
The Safe Routes to School project will be a phased approach throughout spring and summer 2021. To learn more about Safe Routes to School and the City’s Sidewalk Gap and Infill project, including project updates, visit:

TCAPS' Summer Explorers Club Registration Open

TCAPS' Summers 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. 2021 Clubs will be held at Eastern Elementary School, Silver Lake Elementary School, and TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis. Clubs will run June 21st - August 27th, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interested families are encouraged to sign up early as space is limited. For additional program information or to register, visit:

Bulk Meal Distribution - Saturdays, 9 AM - 11 AM

All families may pick up free meals on Saturdays at West Middle School from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on the bus ramp off of Franke Rd. behind Meijer. Weekend meals are available for any TCAPS families that would like them, which include breakfast and lunch meals for Saturday and Sunday. We also offer seven days worth of breakfast and lunch meals for all virtual students and children who are not students at TCAPS. Meals are at no cost to all children 18 or younger or adults with disabilities under 26. The child does not need to be present to receive these meals. Please take advantage of this wonderful program to feed our community children.

TCAPS Montessori Groundbreaking Ceremony

TCAPS hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new TCAPS Montessori school on Thursday, April 15, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (4053 Franke Rd.). The groundbreaking ceremony marked the official beginning of the construction of the new school building, which is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2022. The event was livestreamed on Facebook for families and community members to view. A larger grand opening celebration is expected to take place after the school’s completion.
Montessori Groundbreaking

This Just In….

  • Cherry Knoll did the Kids Heart Challenge to benefit the American Heart Association raising $7,600.16 for the cause. This also helped the school physical education department get $1,400.00 in U.S. game gift certificates for PE equipment. The kids also dedicated a paper heart to someone who inspires them to lead a heart healthy lifestyle or to someone who is in need of heart health. The hearts were then posted in the hallway by the gym.
    Kids Heart Challenge

  • Huge shout out to Blair Elementary School Reading Interventionist Emily Witte for creating and implementing a "Camp In" day at the school. Students received a bag of s'more trail mix and a flashlight, and made blanket tents in their classrooms. There was an all school read aloud via Google Meet as well. A fun day was had by all! Thank you, Ms. Witte, for encouraging the passion of reading and closing out "March is Reading Month" with such a wonderful celebration.
    Camp Read-A-Lot

  • Long Lake Elementary School second graders adopted residents at Joy Givers Senior Home. Even though they can’t visit in person this year, that doesn’t mean that they don’t spread joy. Look at these beautiful handmade flowers for the centerpieces!
    Flower Centerpieces

  • Traverse Heights 3rd graders tackled the Ninja Warrior course in the gym, designed to go along with the book they read in library time.
    Ninja Warrior

  • In partnership with Courtade’s PTO, the TBAISD Farm to School program, and Mr. and Mrs. Rasho from next door, this spring we will be working toward improving the landscaping at the front of our building and developing a small garden right here at Courtade. If you are interested in volunteering to help with these projects or have connections to secure donations, please complete this volunteer form. Thank you!
  • Traverse Heights Elementary School will host the first inaugural ‘Amazing Shake’ competition for 4th and 5th grade students on Tuesday, June 8th. Students will compete in demonstrating manners, discipline, respect, and how to conduct him or herself in a professional environment. The final two students earn the privilege to have lunch with our Associate Superintendent and our Superintendent to decide the Student of the Year at Traverse Heights.

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Important Dates: We are in the home stretch!

  • 5/18: Two-hour early release for students, full day for staff
  • 5/31: No school, Memorial Day holiday
  • 6/16: Last half-day for students, end of fourth-quarter/second semester

District School Year Calendar
Blair/Traverse Heights School Year Calendar
School Dismissal & Bus Route Drop Off Times

Student Support Network



News & Events

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Intense Student Support Network
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“The Intense Student Support Network provides tools for staff to effectively nurture and support students whose non-academic needs may create obstacles to high achievement.”

PNC Foundation Donates Grow Up Great Packages for all Preschool Students

In celebration of their Grow Up Great program, The PNC Foundation provided 300 packets for all preschool and GSRP students. Each kit included a variety of items including activities and books created by their partners Sesame Workshop and the Fred Rogers Company;
  • Sesame Street Learning Resources - digital storybooks, games, etc.,
  • “No Red Sweater for Daniel” Book,
  • “Growing Together” growth chart,
  • “Growing Together” Family Activity Book, and more!
Visit for more free resources.

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.
PNC Grow Up Great

North Sky Raptor Sanctuary Complements Montessori Read-a-thon

Thank you to Kaitlyn Bohnet, Executive Director of North Sky Raptor Sanctuary, who came to celebrate the WHOOO’s Reading Read-a-thon with TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis students. She brought two of her Ambassador birds: Vega, a Red Tailed Hawk and Sprocket, a Saw Wet Owl. Kaitlyn shared age appropriate presentations all day on Raptors, their environment, and conservation. Thank you to J.D. Sissen for capturing these great photos to share!
North Sky Raptor Sanctuary

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Traverse City Area Public Schools
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