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February 2021
Positively TCAPS

News & Events

Partner in Education

Superintendent's Message
TCAPS Families and Staff,

While it may still seem so far away, our team is already busy planning for next school year. In fact, over the next few weeks our schools will be conducting informational sessions and providing opportunities for families to learn more about our programs as we begin enrolling new preschoolers, Young Fives, Montessori Primary, and Kindergarteners, as well as, UpNorth Virtual students for the fall. We are also currently accepting applications from incoming freshmen for the SCI-MA-TECH program at Central High School and West Senior High School. SCI-MA-TECH offers students enhanced opportunities in science, mathematics, engineering and technology, and Advanced Placement (AP) coursework. Middle and high school students are also beginning to think about how they will fill their class schedules next year. I would encourage you to share this information with any families or friends who may be interested in exploring the many opportunities for students that exist within TCAPS.

It is such a privilege to work for an organization that offers so many high quality learning and extracurricular opportunities to families. I am constantly impressed by the offerings of the school district. Now, with the addition of TCAPS teacher-led virtual programming this year, we have further strengthened our already comprehensive programming and found new ways to serve our students and families. We look forward to continuing virtual offerings next year as some parents have found this option is best for their family. Further, with many of our teachers quickly becoming experts in delivering remote instruction, we look forward to continuing to use and build upon the technological enhancements that we have made to the classroom this year. The future offers much opportunity with how we meet the needs of 21st century learners. It is an important silver lining in an otherwise challenging year.

One key part of being able to deliver a world class education to our community’s young learners is getting students safely to and from school. Today, February 22nd, we honor a standout group at TCAPS with School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. We hope you will join us in celebrating the hard work and dedication of a team of nearly 100 individuals who provide a safe, reliable riding experience for our students. Bus drivers are a critical part of our community and our schools. We are so grateful for their continued contributions to the TCAPS team. If you or someone you know would be interested in becoming a bus driver, more information is available at:

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the week and weekend.


Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools





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TCAPS News & Events

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TCAPS Students Named National Merit Scholarship Finalists

All seven students, who were previously selected as Semifinalists, in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program have advanced to Finalist standing in the competition. All Finalists will be considered for National Merit Scholarship awards to be offered in 2021.

“We are so pleased to share that seven of our students now have a chance at receiving one of the more than 7,500 college scholarships offered through this year’s National Merit Scholarship program,” said Dr. John VanWagoner, superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. “To be part of a select few in the nation is a high honor and we are so proud to celebrate this incredible achievement.”

National Merit Finalists

Traverse City Central High School students Elijah “Mac” Chung, Paige Conners, Henry Huschke, Ethan Roe, Amelia Shotwell, and Samuel Simon and Traverse City West Senior High School student Natalie Heitman were among the 15,000 students across the country who have advanced as Finalists in the competition. National Merit Finalists may now be considered for the 7,600 National Merit Scholarships being offered this year, worth more than $30 million. Less than one percent of all U.S. high school seniors make it into the final round of the competition.

In addition, Central High School students Isabel Aulicino, Nicholas Barresi, Sierra Batcha, Lou DeZeeuw, Georgia Heintz, Jack Kernan, Erin O’Donnell, Oliver Phillips, Kyra Stobert, and Shane Taylor and West Senior High School student Levi Fles were named Commended Students in this year’s competition in recognition of their outstanding academic promise.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 PSAT/NMSQT, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants.

State Farm Teacher Assist Program Awards $2,500 to Westwoods Elementary School Teacher

Westwoods 1st grade teacher, Izaak Kramer, is the recipient of a $2,500 grant as part of the Michigan State Farm Teacher Assist Program. The grants, totaling $100,000, are designed to help 40 recipients across Michigan bring their ideas to meet the challenges of teaching and learning during a pandemic to life. “As a company, we have a long history of working with teachers, educators, and students across the country. We are heartened by the immense response received from teachers sharing their solutions to overcoming challenges,” said Annette Martinez, State Farm Senior Vice President. “Congratulations to the winners. We are proud to support you and help you reach your goals!” Learn more about the Michigan State Farm Teacher Assist Program at:

East Middle School Teacher Receives Human Rights Commission Grant to Purchase Books by Diverse Authors

East Middle School social studies teacher, Alison Sullivan, has received nearly $500 in financial support from the Traverse City Human Rights Commission (HRC) to purchase a classroom set of the book, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds. The book is the young-adult version of the 2016 National Book Award Winner for Nonfiction, “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi. The book aligns with 8th Grade U.S. History curriculum as well as the mission statement of the HRC. The HRC sponsorship was granted after an application process and a presentation to their board.

Student Support Network

Central High School Students Recognized in 2021 West Central Michigan Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Competition

Students from Central High School received recognition in the 2021 West Central Michigan Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. The following students were recognized:

Sophia Locricchio, Honorable Mention, The Beauty of Palestine, Painting
Lilian Pitser, Honorable Mention, Field of Ferns, Photography
Evan Reister, Honorable Mention, Indigo Bunting, Photography
Andrew Theophilus, Gold Key, Depression Obsession, Photography
Andrew Theophilus, Silver Key, Eye Spy, Photography
Andrew Theophilus, Silver Key, Pipe Wave, Photography

In earning a Gold Key, the top regional award, Andrew Theophilus’ artwork will be sent to New York for national judging. If selected during the national competition, the piece will be exhibited as a national award winner. More than 1,100 individual art entries were received in the 2021 West Central Michigan Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Competition, and of those, there were 167 Gold Keys, 277 Silver Keys, and 328 Honorable Mentions awarded. Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) will host a virtual award ceremony to recognize this year’s awardees on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. View an online exhibition of awarded works.

TC West Senior High School Virtual Exhibition & Art Sale

The Traverse City West Senior High School Visual Arts Department is proud to present their first End of Semester Virtual Exhibition. The exhibition features over 125 two-dimensional and three-dimensional student artworks from over 100 high school student artists in an interactive, online exhibition space. Now more than ever, our young artists have realized the importance of personal art making. Art has a capacity to bring joy, awaken curiosity, provide solace, and to bring a glimpse of hope during a time that is so challenging and difficult. This virtual exhibition is dedicated to their unwavering passion, talent, and perseverance. Congratulations to all the featured artists that demonstrated excellence in their craft during virtual and in-person learning. Check out the virtual exhibition.

Today is the last day to participate in the Visual Arts Department virtual student art sale. The sale includes a collection of student produced photos, drawings (both digital and traditional), and paintings, which are available as prints in either 8x10 inch or 11x14 inch sizes, or as notecards with envelopes. To browse the selection, please visit the shop at: All proceeds from this sale will directly benefit students in the Visual Arts Department. Cash or checks can be made out to TCAPS, payment and delivery/pick-up information is in this linked google form.

Central High School Receives $2,000 MiSTEM Grant for SCI-MA-TECH Program

Traverse City Central High School was recently awarded a $2,000 MiSTEM grant. The grant was awarded to science teacher, Keith Forton, who will use the grant to support student learning in his SCI-MA-TECH classes. The grant will allow for the purchase of supplies and materials to study in thermos heat retention, the battery reserve capacity of different brands of batteries, and light bulb emission mapping. Within these guided projects, topics such as experimental design, data collection, methods of data presentation, controlling experimental variables, timelines, manuscript writing, and peer review will be addressed. After completion of these guided projects, students will then have the foundation to start their projects of interest for their SCI-MA-TECH symposium class. To learn more about the SCI-MA-TECH program and how to apply, visit:

TCAPS Tuition-Based Preschool Registration Now Open

The early registration period for TCAPS' 2021-2022 tuition-based preschool programs is now open, and will run through April 9, 2021. Families wishing to enroll in tuition-based preschool (ages 3-5), toddler Montessori (18-36 months) or the primary preschool Montessori program (ages 3-5) are encouraged to register during the early registration period. Families will be notified mid-April of their placement status. For program information or to register, visit:
Preschool Early Registration

TCAPS' Summer Explorers Club Registration Open

Registration for TCAPS' 2021 Summer Explorers Clubs is now 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:
Summer Explorers Club

TCAPS Board of Education Monthly Office Hours – February 25th

The Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education will host its next monthly “office hours” with a school board trustee on Thursday, February 25, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. The office hours will be held virtually in compliance with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Epidemic Order MCL 333.2253. TCAPS Board office hours provide community members with the opportunity to talk to a school board trustee. Click here to attend via Google Meet or call +1 954-900-9078 and enter PIN 567 121 493#.

TCAPS Receives State Grant for 10 Cents a Meal Program

Traverse City Area Public Schools is one of the 138 school districts named by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) as a recipient of a 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms grant for the 2020-2021 school year. 10 Cents A Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms (10 Cents a Meal) is a state-funded program providing schools with matching incentive funding up to 10 cents per meal to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Initially a pilot program launched in 2016, 10 Cents a Meal has been expanded and is available to schools statewide for the first time ever. TCAPS has been a participant in the program since its inception. Through the program, schools and early childhood education centers are able to purchase locally and invest in Michigan’s agriculture.

MDE is assisted in the program by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which provides expertise on Michigan-grown products and participates in food service director trainings; the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, which conducts monthly food service director surveys for evaluation; and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which conducts stakeholder interviews and provides communications support. View the list of 2020-21 award grantees.

Bulk Meal Distribution - Saturdays, 9 AM - 11 AM

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. Students who are face-to-face will receive breakfast and lunch for Saturday and Sunday. All virtual students and other children not in school will receive food for seven days worth of breakfast and lunch. Meals are at no cost to all children 18 or younger or adults with disabilities under 26. Please take advantage of this wonderful program to feed our community children.

Applications for the 2021-2022 SCI-MA-TECH Program Now Being Accepted

Applications for the district’s SCI-MA-TECH program are being accepted now through March 15, 2021. Any current eighth grade student within the Grand Traverse Area is invited to apply. The SCI-MA-TECH (SMT) program offers students enhanced opportunities in science, math, engineering and technology, and Advanced Placement coursework. Students join SCI-MA-TECH as freshmen and participate in the program for four years earning credit in AP classes, SMT Math, SMT Science, and SMT Technology and Engineering. SCI-MA-TECH students also visit colleges and businesses, hear from speakers, conduct authentic research, complete an internship, and participate in extracurricular activities. The program is offered at both Traverse City Central High School and Traverse City West Senior High School. Learn more about SCI-MA-TECH and how to apply at:

Kindergarten Virtual Parent Meetings Coming Soon

TCAPS elementary schools will host virtual kindergarten parent meetings for families interested in learning more about TCAPS’ kindergarten programs and the enrollment process. Links to the individual parent Google Meets will be shared in the near future and posted on the district’s website ( Virtual parent meetings dates are as follows:

  • Blair: April 12, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Central Grade: March 9, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Cherry Knoll: March 4, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Courtade: March 23, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Eastern: March 10, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Long Lake: March 11, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Silver Lake: March 11, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • TCAPS Montessori: April 13, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Traverse Heights: February 25, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Westwoods: March 22, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Willow Hill: March 11, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

TCAPS Young Fives Kindergarten Interest Survey

In preparation for the 2021-2022 school year, TCAPS is conducting a short survey to help determine interest in the Young Fives kindergarten program. Young Fives is a tuition-free, all day/every day kindergarten program specifically designed to meet the needs of some of our youngest kindergarten students. To be eligible, students must be turning five between July 1 and December 1. Participating students would spend one year in Young Fives kindergarten, then move to kindergarten the following year, then on to first grade. Transportation is only available to students who live in the "home school" boundary area of the school that they are attending. Young Fives will tentatively be offered at Courtade, Eastern, Long Lake, and Silver Lake elementary schools (pending enrollment). If you or someone you know is interested in enrolling a child in the Young Fives program for next school year, please complete this short survey. For more information, please call 231.933.1779 or visit

Cherry Knoll Elementary School Fuels Up to Play 60

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a free, national program that empowers students to make healthy food choices and participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The Cherry Knoll Elementary School Wildcats were guided by a powerhouse of 5th grade student leaders, and MSU Extension, to motivate and encourage their peers to make healthy choices. The student team gathered with their “coaches” to design a school-wide assembly to announce their participation in Fuel Up to Play 60 and encourage their peers to bring healthy snacks to school. The team then led the whole school in a short physical activity to kickstart the new year. What’s next for the Wildcats? Currently, the school is being challenged to complete a Wellness Bingo card that features activities like yoga, eating breakfast, playing outside, and more. Students who complete the Wellness Bingo Challenge are eligible for a variety of prizes. We’re excited to see what other healthy challenges Cherry Knoll chooses to do next!

Blair and Eastern Elementary Schools Trained to Refresh Recess

Along with MSU Extension and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM), Blair and Eastern Elementary Schools worked with their Fuel Up to Play 60 teams and partnered with Playworks to help create play environments where students are not only active but are also building valuable life skills.

Kirsten Morgan, principal at Blair Elementary, recognizes the importance of safe play for students. “Recess is one of the most important parts of a child's school day,” says Morgan. “It is often overlooked in the pressures to keep up with the academic demands of school.” Staff, such as instructional aides, principals, physical education teachers, school social workers, and upper and lower elementary teachers were invited to attend the four-part training.

Biz Ruskowski, principal at Eastern Elementary, participated in the training. “Playworks offered us a planned approach to coach students on the playground,” said Ruskowski. Participants were able to engage in strategizing organized play options, developing systems for smoother play-to-classroom transitions, creating consistent behavior expectations, as well as learn and play many games throughout the training.

In the spring, the two schools will work with Playworks, MSU Extension, and UDIM to help assess recess progress, expand on the Playworks plan, and create new initiatives that help guide play. Both schools will use their Fuel Up to Play 60 student and adult leadership teams to help make these changes. Morgan also participated in the training alongside her school staff and noted that, “I’m excited for our students to have an opportunity to work on cooperative, supportive, and organized play for the recess period. This was a terrific opportunity to explore how to enhance the experience of play for all students.” The most valuable part of the training, as mentioned by all participants, was being given time to develop a building-wide team approach to assess recess behavior and structures. Says Ruskowski, “We often forget that the playground is the biggest classroom we have in our schools. With the Playworks training and their models, our staff is now set-up for success in creating predictable, consistent recess routines, and mixing in fun chants and new games for students to explore.”

This Just In….

  • The Central High School Science Department got a visit from the Trojan Woot Woot Wagon with treats for staff to show appreciation of their hard work!
    Woot Woot Wagon

  • Traverse Heights PTO celebrated staff with the Meep Meep Mobile!
    Meep Meep Mobile

  • The Central Grade WHOOOO’S READING program has raised over $12,000 with over 200,000 minutes read! Keep up the reading!
  • Traverse Heights students have been working hard in their PE Learning Lab.
    PE Learning Lab

  • K9 Unit Visits Courtade - Thank you to Chief O'Brien and the Traverse City Police Department for providing an opportunity for Officer Adam Verschaeve and Drago to visit Courtade! Students and staff didn't mind the wind and cold because it was so awesome to learn about the K9 unit and see what Drago can do. Thank you for protecting us!
    K-9 Visit

  • No better way for Eastern Stars to learn the anatomic differences of species than to cut them open and see for yourself! Students were able to inflate a salmon's swim bladder with a straw and trace the blood flow through a pig's heart! They loved it! Both 5th grade classes got to participate with Mr. Cooper.
    Mr. Cooper's Class

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Important Calendar Reminders

  • Mar. 9: Two Hour Early Release; Teacher Collaborative Routines
  • Mar. 26: No School for Students/Teacher Work Day
  • Mar. 27: Spring Break Begins
  • Apr. 6: School Resumes

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



News & Events

Partners in Education

Intense Student Support Network
Partner in Education

“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 Teachers Awarded TBA Credit Union Classroom Improvement Grants

Central High School teacher Doug Gle, Traverse Heights Elementary School teacher Jenny Walter, West Middle School teacher Alicia Richards, and Silver Lake Elementary School and Westwoods Elementary School social worker Kristin Sulecki have each been awarded classroom improvement grants from TBA Credit Union. TBA Credit Union allocates $8,000 every calendar year toward classroom improvement grants. Educators may apply for grants up to $1,000. Visit to learn more and to apply. TBA Credit Union is a TCAPS Partner In Education.

Kiwanis Club of Traverse City Donates 600 Dictionaries to TCAPS 3rd Grade Students

A special thank you to the Kiwanis Club of Traverse City for its recent donation of over 600 dictionaries today to all TCAPS 3rd grade students.

“Kiwanis has been distributing approximately 1,200 dictionaries, which include many other reference materials, every year to all 3rd graders in Grand Traverse County along with their teachers and any teacher aides,” said program co-chair John Hyatt, an eight year member of the Kiwanis Club and board member. "It is a meaningful tradition, and we love to do this. The Dictionary Project is one of the many ways the club supports the community, and particularly the community’s youth.”

The annual program is part of the national Dictionary Project, which has given more than 33 million dictionaries to students nationwide since 1995. The goal of this program is to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come.

The Dictionary Project is one of several key youth based initiatives the Kiwanis Club of Traverse City supports. For more information, please visit www.kiwanis club of traverse

Local Author and TCAPS Parent Donates “Mighty Miss Maya; See It, Then Be It” Books to TCAPS

All TCAPS libraries, Early Childhood Special Education classrooms, and Mild Cognitive Impairment classrooms received a copy of "Mighty Miss Maya; See It, Then Be It" by local author Ann Tisdale this month. The book is about a fierce little girl who doesn’t let anything stand in her way. Maya and her dog, Abby, go on fantastic adventures, seeing new sights, and learning new skills. Sometimes, Maya faces big challenges and feels very stuck. Luckily, she knows just how mighty she is. “See it, then be it,” she reminds herself, and she soon finds that there’s almost nothing she can’t do!
Mighty Miss Maya

Based on the true story of her daughter Maya's real life journey with cerebral palsy, the book and Maya have earned international attention spreading awareness, hope, and Maya's infectious "can-do" spirit to millions of people around the world. We could not be prouder of this TCAPS student. Maya is an inspiration to all! For more information on Mighty Miss Maya, visit

Traverse Heights Partners with Mundos Roasting & Co.

Traverse Heights Elementary School has recently partnered with Mundos Roasting & Co. Anytime a "BLACK and GOLD" coffee is ordered at Mundos, located at 708 Boon St. on the corner of Woodmere, until Feb. 28th, Traverse Heights will receive a $1 donation to their PTO. Funds raised will help make Traverse Heights an even better place to be. Do yourself and the Roadrunners a favor and grab a BLACK and GOLD coffee in February. #sweetblackgold.

Sign Up For "In Partnership with Fraternity of Fathers" (FOF) Group Project

In Partnership with Fraternity of Fathers (FOF) is a 10-week group and research project that aims to support fathers with young children (0-8). This group is specifically tailored for dads and utilizes adventure therapy principles to deliver attachment-theory based content in a fun, interactive, connected format. Learn more here. This interactive, live video program will begin on Tuesday, March 2, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., meeting each Tuesday until May 4, 2021. The 1.5 hour live video interactive program is funded by a grant and is available at no cost, although space is limited. Full information on the program is available on the 5toOne website.

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Traverse City Area Public Schools
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