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December 2020
Back to School

News & Events

Partner in Education

Superintendent's Message
TCAPS Families and Staff,

As 2020 comes to an end, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

This year has asked a lot of each of us. We’ve all been asked to extend ourselves in new and different ways. Fortunately, I have witnessed such grace from so many and I have seen so many rise up to meet new challenges. For that, I am truly grateful. As a way to celebrate our schools and to fill the air with the sounds of the season, I invite you to listen to these beautiful compilations of our very own student musical talent. We hope their joyful sounds lift your spirits and help create memorable moments for your family this holiday.

I also wanted to take a moment to share some information with you to help keep our community safe and to support our schools as we prepare to open for face-to-face learning after the holiday break. (Please see detailed calendar information below). Please take a moment to read the December 18, 2020, community letter regarding the upcoming holiday recess and guidance for your family to consider before, during and after a gathering to stay safe this holiday season. This information is being shared as a joint collaboration of area leaders representing the medical, educational, public health, and business communities.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday! I hope that you are able to rest, appreciate the little things, and restore new energies for 2021.


Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

College for Kids




Partner in Education

TCAPS Food & Nutrition Services
TCAPS News & Events

TCAPS Food & Nutrition Services has distributed more than 350,443 free meals as of November 2020.

Meal Distribution Through the Holiday Recess

School day meals continue to be available at each secondary building from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. through Tuesday, Dec. 22nd. Bulk meal distribution during the holiday recess is available at West Middle School from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on the bus ramp off of Franke Rd. on the following days:
  • Wednesday, Dec. 23rd (bulk meals available for all students)
  • Monday, Dec. 28th (bulk meals available for all students)
All students can pick up breakfast and lunch on Monday, January 4th, from any school building from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Additional meal information can be found at Tuition-based preschool and toddler programs will run as normal on Monday, January 4th. School resumes for all other students on Tuesday, January 5th. For additional information, visit:

Silver Lake Elementary Provides Over 300 Gifts to 60 Children

Silver Lake Elementary School organized a virtual “Giving Tree”, which is an annual community event that provides for Silver Lake families in need. School Social Worker, Kristin Sulecki, has led this effort the past four years. Families share wish lists including clothes, books, a toy, and a favorite local family activity for their Silver Lake Elementary student(s) and their siblings.

This year’s “Giving Tree” was a huge success thanks to the generous donations of Archer Contracting, Hagerty Insurance Agency, Sojourn Church, Pirates Cove, Rico’s Cafe, Silver Lake Elementary families, Silver Lake Elementary staff, and surrounding community members. Every request from 27 families was able to be fulfilled. The Silver Lake Elementary School community loves this annual event and loves being part of spreading joy during the holiday season!

TCAPS to Host Upcoming Hiring Events

TCAPS will host multiple hiring events throughout the month of January with opportunities to interview onsite, no appointment necessary. Simply stop in during one of the designated days and times. Many open positions require no prior experience and provide on-the-job training. Interviews will be conducted in accordance with current Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic orders.

TCAPS will host hiring events on the following dates and times:
  • Wednesday, January 6th
    7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
    Boardman Administration Building (412 Webster Street)
  • Thursday, January 14th
    3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Boardman Administration Building (412 Webster Street)
  • Monday, January 18th
    7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    TCAPS Transportation Department (1183 Cass Road)
Learn more about employment opportunities at

TCAPS Job Fair

Positively TCAPS

TCAPS staff have been invited to share their favorite quotes in hopes that the messages shared via social media over the next several weeks will spread happiness, mindfulness and peace. We recognize the importance a happier and more positive mind-set can have in helping us to achieve the extraordinary in our work and in our lives. We hope you will join in! Staff wishing to submit a quote can do so by filling out the form found on the TCAPS For Staff webpage. This Moment of Mindfulness was submitted by Larry Burden, TCAPS Creative Services Manager. #PositivelyTCAPS
Positively TCAPS

Central High School Debate Team Competes in State Finals, Huschke and Taylor Place 3rd

The Traverse City Central High School Debate team participated in the 2020 Michigan State Finals Tournament, held virtually December 11-12, 2020, the final event of its competition season. Team members Luke Appleford, Ethan Schweitzer, Amelia Shotwell, Lily Jenkins, Henry Huschke, Shane Taylor, Amara VanWagoner, and Lilian Kerby debated against schools from across the state. Seniors Henry Huschke and Shane Taylor placed 3rd in the state. In addition, team members Erin O’Donnell, Regan O’Connor, and Sara Fox provided support to the team at the event by coaching and judging. Learn more about the Michigan Interscholastic Forensics Association and its annual high school debate competition at:

TBA Credit Union Awards Classroom Improvement Grant

TBA Credit Union recently awarded a classroom grant of $1,000 to Alicia Richards of Traverse City West Middle School to go toward her classroom. Richards, Instructional Aide at TC West Middle School, is utilizing grant funds to set up a new Sick Room at the school. The grant will help in purchasing a rolling and lockable cabinet to house essential supplies, a refrigerator and freezer to hold cold water and ice packs, and at least three privacy partitions to keep students comfortable.

TBA Classroom Grant

TBA Credit Union allocates $8,000 every calendar year to classroom improvement grants. Educators may apply for grants up to $1,000 starting January 2, 2021. Visit to learn more. For more information about TBA Credit Union, visit or call 231.946.7090.

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TCAPS Text Alerts for Inclement Weather School Closures

While remote learning provides new opportunities to continue education from home, given that some students and teachers in our community must travel to access reliable internet service, for the 2020-2021 school year, TCAPS will continue to call snow days. In the event of an inclement weather day, staff in cooperation with the GT Road commission, work to determine if roads are safe enough for transportation and travel to schools.

TCAPS has recently expanded its communications features to include text messaging. This will allow the district and schools to share important and timely information with staff and families via text messaging, including snow day alerts. To opt in, send the word YES to 87569 and make sure your phone number is on file with the school.

Texting is limited to contact numbers tied to the district’s staff and student databases, therefore is not available to the general public. To learn more about how snow day decisions are made or how snow day school closures are announced, visit

Take Time for 10 and More Parent Resources

The Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center has shared a campaign directed at parents and caregivers to help them take a break from stressful situations. There has been an increase in the number and severity of child physical abuse in the Grand Traverse region. With the stresses of COVID-19, especially during the holidays, we thought this and these other opportunities would be helpful.

Now - Jan. 29 - Michigan State Police Seeks Participants for National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest

The Michigan State Police (MSP) Missing Children’s Clearinghouse invites fifth grade students statewide to participate in the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. The annual contest creates an opportunity to promote child safety while discussing the issue of missing and/or exploited children. There are almost 700 missing children in Michigan currently. Michigan’s top winning artist will have a shot at the national contest, which includes a free trip to Washington D.C. and their artwork featured as the National Missing Children’s Day poster. Artists from Michigan have won the national contest in 2015 and 2018. Submissions must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, and must be mailed to: Michigan State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, Attn: Ms. Jolene Hardesty, 7150 Harris Drive, Dimondale, MI 48821. View contest rules and how to submit your application here.

This Just in…

  • Courtade Elementary School started their "Kind Cougar Sightings" and are celebrating students for showing impressive acts of kindness. Go, Cougars!
    Kind Cougar Sightings

  • Long Lake Elementary School second graders played an “apart-ner” math game proving they can stay safe while having fun.
    Long Lake apart-ner

  • Traverse Heights Elementary School “WE ARE” campaign continues! WE ARE CLEVER: Students in 1st grade read school librarian Mrs. Mapes’ favorite winter book titled Bear Noel and made their own animal tracks in the “snow” during library time.
    We Are Clever Book Reading

  • Westwoods Elementary School was able to reach and exceed their fundraising goal of $25,000 to have 32 individual solar panels mounted into one large frame to form a ground-mounted array. Way to go Wings!
    Westwoods Solar Panels

  • Cherry Knoll Elementary PTO had “Can’t Mask the Love for Cherry Knoll” t-shirts made for Paw Pride Day.
    Paw Pride Day

  • Willow Hill Elementary School held 5 DAYS OF GIVING - The holiday tradition continued at Willow HIll with their 5 Days of Giving to benefit the Father Fred Food Pantry and the Grand Traverse Baby Pantry. Students and staff brought in what was the theme of each day; Monday was canned/jar goods, Tuesday was boxed food, Wednesday was baby items, Thursday was personal hygiene items, and Friday was snacks.
    Willow Hill 5 Days of Giving

  • Eastern and Westwoods All School Sing Along Goes Virtual - Every year Westwoods and Eastern have an All School Holiday Sing Along. While they could not gather in the gym this year, music teachers, Mrs. Williford and Mrs. Bui, taught each class a different holiday song and will record the class singing that song to be shared with all.
  • Mrs. Radakovich’s Classes Raise Money for Silver Muzzle Cottage - Mrs. Radakovich's class at Eastern Elementary School has been doing odd jobs to raise funds for Silver Muzzle Cottage, an organization that provides medical care and homes for senior dogs. Students have cleaned showers, made beds, folded laundry, read a book with an old dog and many other helpful deeds to earn a dollar a day. Parents have generously donated a total of $240 dollars to Silver Muzzle.
    Eastern Silver Muzzle Donation

  • Central Grade, Courtade, Eastern, and Long Lake hosted Virtual Giving Trees. School families adopted an item from the tree to make someone else’s holiday brighter. Thank you to all who donated and supported our families.
  • Westwoods and Eastern Elementary held Holiday Spirit Days - The schools geared up for winter vacation with Holiday Spirit Days. Theme days included flannel day, Christmas color day, pajama day and more to get kids excited about the winter break.
    Eastern Ugly Sweater Day

  • Santa paid a visit to Eastern and Traverse Heights!
    Eastern Santa Visit

    Traverse Heights Santa Visit

  • TC Central High School Junior Achievement students were able to present a $406 check to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan (BBBS). Funds were raised through the Junior Achievement business plan that vowed to donate $1 per hat sold to BBBS.
    Big Brothers Big Sisters Check

  • TC West Senior High School Senate held a fundraiser to support a Make-A-Wish child who is hoping to go to Disney World. They partnered with Potter’s Bakery to raise funds through a holiday cookie dough sale. Together, they were able to raise over $2,000 to support the Make-A-Wish campaign.

Important Calendar Reminders

Dec. 23rd-Jan. 4th, Holiday Recess - No School
Jan. 4 - Professional Development Day - No School for Students K-12
Jan. 4 - School Resumes for Tuition-Based Toddler/Preschool
Jan. 5 - School Resumes for Students K-12
Jan. 12 - Superintendent Virtual Office Hours - 8:30 a.m.
- To participate in the virtual session, click here to access the Google Meet or call +1 484-403-0627 and enter PIN 810 142 163# to access via phone

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Blair/Traverse Heights School Year Calendar
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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.”

TCAPS Students Receive Holiday Gifts from Hagerty CARes Program - 100 gift boxes and a book for each 2nd grade student

On Thursday, December 17, 2020, representatives from Hagerty delivered 100 gift boxes to TCAPS students as part of its Hagerty CARes program. The Hagerty team also delivered the book “If I Built a Car” to all of the school district’s second grade students.

Hagerty CARes

“We are so grateful to be part of a community that truly cares,” said Christine Guitar, Executive Director of Communications for Traverse City Area Public Schools. The TCAPS Communications Department helps to coordinate community partnerships and philanthropy for the school district. “By providing an inspiring and beautifully illustrated book to each of our 2nd grade students, Hagerty is helping to advance literacy in our region and to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in our young learners. As if that wasn’t generous enough, their staff also personally shop for gifts for our students each year to help make their holiday season bright.”

The gift boxes are filled with books, crafts and more. In total, 100 students received a gift basket and their parents also received a $25 gift card to further assist their families during the holiday season. The Hagerty CARes program has been providing gift boxes to TCAPS schools for 15 years.

Hagerty CARes

In addition, as part of Hagerty’s annual Giving Tuesday effort, Hagerty staff members typically deliver a copy of the book “If I Built a Car” to each TCAPS 2nd grade student and then read the book to their classrooms. However, things were different this year as Giving Tuesday was Dec. 1st and students were not in the buildings that day. Instead, books were delivered yesterday, and classrooms had the opportunity to watch Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty read the book as part of a special episode of the Live from the Opera House: It’s Storytime! series filmed earlier this year. The front of each book was also inscribed with a special message from a Hagerty staff member.

Thank you, Team Hagerty, for another terrific day!

Community Reaches Out to Support Students in Need

So far, in the month of December, the district has received $5,247 to support students in need as well as TCAPS programs. Specifically....
  • $4,125 to the Intense Student Support Network (ISSN)
  • $200 to EMS Orchestra
  • $520 to Food Service Assistance
  • $100 to TC High School Student Support
  • $302 to Students in Transition Empowerment Program (STEP)
Thank you to everyone who has shown their support and donated to help our students. So far this year, we have delivered food, grocery gift cards, gas cards, football cleats, shoes, an alarm clock, white noise machine, many school supplies, boots, snow pants, coats, toiletries and clothing to students. Learn more about the ISSN and how you can help at

PetSmart Shares Stuffed Animals for Students in Need

What a surprise from our friends at PetSmart! Their PetSmart Charities donated 200 Chance and Lucky stuffed animals to TCAPS to share with students in need. For every Chance and Lucky stuffed toy purchased in their stores, 10% of the sale is donated to PetSmart Charities which helps pets find forever homes. Purchasers can either take the toy home to their furry friend or donate it to a charity. Thank you, PetSmart, for thinking of our students and for being a Partner In Education.

PetSmart DonationPictured: PetSmart Staff Daniel Wray, Cameron DeBartoli and Erin Jones

TC Central Benefits from Peak Health and Performance, an MSU Extension Partnership

Over the last six weeks, students in Mike Gle’s and Doug Gle’s strength classes at Traverse City Central High School have been participating in a program in partnership with Michigan State University Extension. Peak Health and Performance is a free, six-lesson curriculum designed to provide young athletes with sound nutrition education aimed at improving athletic performance as well as overall health. Topics include healthy nutrition practices, timing of intake, hydration, and more. To end this interactive program, students were invited to attend a live Q&A session with former Detroit Red Wings player, Justin Abdelkader, provided in partnership with Milk Means More – a non-profit dedicated to nutrition education to youth on behalf of Michigan’s dairy farm families.

Justin Abdelkader

Throughout the session, Abdelkader stressed the importance of preparation: preparing to eat nutrient-dense foods, plans to stay hydrated, stressing the importance of getting enough sleep, as well as practicing their sport. “If you want to be at the top of your game, prepare,” said Abdelkader. When asked about his alternative plan if professional hockey had not panned out, he emphasized the necessity of completing an education. Abdelkader had made a promise to his parents that no matter what success hockey would bring him, he was determined to finish what he set out to do – complete his education. While training with the Detroit Red Wings, Abdelkader’s studies didn’t miss a beat. Balancing his course work with getting paid to play a professional sport, he finished his requirements for a general business management degree from MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business in 2015. “You may never become a professional athlete and one day, I won’t be playing professional hockey. School is important. Communicate with your teachers, make sure to ask for help,” he said.

Shop Your Community Day Results

Shop Your Community Day, held in downtown Traverse City November 12th-14th, was a huge success, especially when you consider the challenges of shopping during a pandemic. The five percent fundraiser for 35 area non-profits totaled $11,380.88 with $260.06 going to support students in need via TCAPS’ Intense Student Support Network. Thank you to everyone who shopped downtown and contributed to these organizations that continue to make a difference for so many families in our community.

Costco Supports Sunshine Rotary Backpacks for Kids Program

Many thanks to our friends at Costco for donating 150 backpacks to our Backpacks For Kids partnership with Rotary Club of Traverse Bay Sunrise. These backpacks are a great addition to the program. Each year, the Sunrise Rotary Club fundraises for, packs and provides hundreds of backpacks and school supplies to area families to ensure students have the tools they need for a successful school year. We are so thankful for this ongoing community partnership and are thankful for Costco’s contribution to this great program.


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Traverse City Area Public Schools
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