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November 2021
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News & Events

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Superintendent's Message
TCAPS Families and Staff,

You may have read recent reports of school districts across Michigan closing buildings or reducing transportation due to staffing shortages. While TCAPS has not had to close buildings due to staffing shortages, it has had to reduce services such as bus transportation and extended day care programming. As we continue to deal with the pandemic and enter the time of year when we experience increased seasonal illnesses, TCAPS remains concerned about how the staffing shortages may impact our ability to continue services without interruption. In order to be prepared for any type of closure, we would like to remind parents of the following:

  1. District and school building closures due to inclement weather and/or staffing shortages may occur from time to time with minimal notice. The decision to close the district or a particular school building will generally be determined by 7:00 a.m.
  2. The TCAPS website is updated each morning and will reflect any closures in the district. The website will also note if a particular school building is closed for the day when the rest of the district is open or if a particular bus route will not be running. Parents may find it helpful to check the TCAPS website each morning.
  3. In addition, TCAPS families will be notified of closures through news media and if opted-in, a district text message. Information is also shared through social media, and the district’s bus hotline. The determination is typically made by 5:00 a.m., if possible, and by 7:00 a.m. at the latest. If you do not already receive texts, you can always opt-in at any time by texting the word YES to 87569, as long as your phone number is already on file. If your cell phone number is not on file with the school and added to your child's account, you will not be able to receive text messages. Texting is limited to contact numbers tied to the district’s staff and student databases, and therefore is not available to the general public. Additional information is available here.
  4. Like all districts in Michigan, TCAPS may be required to reschedule student instructional days that have been cancelled due to inclement weather or staffing shortages. The district’s 2021/22 school calendar identifies June 16 through June 22, 2022 as “make-up” days if needed.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation. We will keep our TCAPS families updated on this situation as needed.


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

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TCAPS News & Events

We exist to educate. Education improves the quality of life for all.

Patriot Game Raises Over $10,000 For Reining Liberty Ranch

On Thursday, November 11, 2021, Veterans Day, Student Senate Governors, Everest Noyes (TC Central) and Zac Featherstone (TC West), presented a check for $10,760.00 to Reining Liberty Ranch Executive Director, Becki Bigelow and her staff, including two horses, Caesar and Jake, who work with Veterans at the ranch. This donation was greatly appreciated, as the ranch has struggled with not being able to fundraise or find ample volunteers in recent years due to COVID-19. The funds raised will be used to continue enriching the lives of Veterans through work with their horses and to start a mentoring program for children and Veterans.
Patriot Game Donation

The annual Traverse City Patriot Game takes the crosstown football rivalry game between the TC West Titans and TC Central Trojans and unites to honor Veterans, first responders, active-duty military and area heroes who have died while serving our country. Each year, Student Senate members from both schools determine a beneficiary of the event and sell commemorative t-shirts to students, staff, families, and community members in order to raise funds for the charity.

For more information about Reining Liberty Ranch, visit or their Facebook page.

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November is Native American Heritage Month

While November is Native American Heritage Month, Traverse City Area Public Schools' Indigenous Education Program works hard year-round to celebrate and meet the needs of Native American and Alaska Native students.

The Indigenous Education Program focuses on two key areas: academic support and cultural support. The cultural support aspect provides students a sense of inclusivity, helps them develop their Native identity, and encourages community involvement. TCAPS' Cultural Director, Cindy Winslow, takes a yearly approach with the program, meeting these focus areas through monthly events, rotating school exhibits on various topics, working directly with Native students, and educating staff and students about relevant topics and cultural sensitivity. Rotating exhibits feature a different topic each month and include a cultural, historical, and material culture component. This month’s exhibit has three topics: Thanksgiving Myths, Traditional Foods and The Grandfather Teachings. Winslow has also created an Anishinaabe Expressive Culture Series, which highlights various cultural education topics and includes language, art, music, dance, regalia, and artistic elements. The program has a number of upcoming events, including Thanksgiving Myths and a Native American Craft Fair.

The Indigenous Education Program is funded by a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and is administered through the Office of Indian Education. The program is further supplemented through additional grant monies from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians' Community 2% Funds. For more information on the Indigenous Education Program and to view educational resources, including the department's Anishinaabe Expressive Culture Series presentations, visit

TCAPS Makes Computer Science Fun, Starting with an Hour of Code

Hour of Code

Computer Science Education Week is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science. With technology changing every industry on the planet, computing knowledge has become part of a must have, high demand, well rounded skill set. The good news is, TCAPS is on our way to change this. The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify coding and show that anybody can learn the basics. This annual, nation-wide program has allowed millions of students to discover how accessible and fun computer science can be by doing just one Hour of Code.

During the second week of December (12/6-12/12), all students are invited to participate in TCAPS Hour of Code! Teachers will be opting in for their classrooms to participate and the classes with the most student participation will win a pizza party. There will also be other prizes, giveaways, and opportunities to meet and hear from IT and STEM professionals along the way. Families can even join in on the fun and are encouraged to participate from their home with their children. Hour of Code has opportunities for everyone! We encourage all parents to discuss and emphasize the importance of computer science and coding with their child(ren) to help get them excited about this year’s Hour of Code. For more information, click here.

Student Breakfast and Lunch Reminder

Don’t forget! Breakfast and lunch are FREE for ALL students at all TCAPS buildings this year. Be sure to take advantage of this wonderful program and opportunity for your child(ren) to enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal every day! For more information, click here.

Thank You to All Strategic Planning Participants

Thank you to all of the students, staff, parents, and community members who participated in the recent focus groups to assist with TCAPS strategic planning. Your participation and input are greatly appreciated and will help improve the education and lives of all TCAPS students! In addition to the focus groups, comprehensive needs assessment surveys will be shared in the coming months. The result of this multi-step process will be an extensive, multi-year strategic plan for the district. Results and information will be shared along the way online. Questions about the strategic plan can be emailed to

TCAPS Superintendent Monthly Office Hours – January 18, 2021

Based on feedback from the community, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Superintendent, Dr. John VanWagoner, provides a monthly opportunity for community members to attend “office hours” alternating each month between in person and virtual meetings. In person office hours are held at Horizon Books, 243 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49684. Virtual office hours will be held via Google Meet and can be accessed here or by calling +1 707-785-6547 and entering PIN: 692 435 167#. All meetings begin at 5:00 pm. The alternating schedule will be as follows:

  • Tuesday, January 18 - Horizon Books
  • Tuesday, February 15 - Google Meet
  • Tuesday, March 15 - Horizon Books
  • Tuesday, April 19 - Google Meet
  • Tuesday, May 17 - Horizon Books
  • Tuesday, June 14 - Google Meet

TCAPS Board of Education Monthly Office Hours - November 18, 2021

The Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education will host its next monthly “office hours” in person on Thursday, November 18, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Boardman Administration Center (412 Webster St., Second Floor, Conference Room C). TCAPS Board office hours provide community members with the opportunity to talk to a school board trustee. This month is Sue Kelly. Visit the Board calendar to view the board schedule in its entirety, or visit:

Grand Canyon University

2021-2022 School Year Calendars

Please review the 2021-2022 school year calendars linked below. Dates to pay special attention to include: half days, early release days, winter and spring breaks, last day of school, and potential inclement weather make-up dates.

Upcoming Important Dates:
  • November 18: Half Day BL/TH students
  • November 24: No School, full day for staff
  • November 25-26: No School, Thanksgiving Break
  • December 22-31: No School, Holiday/Winter Break

Inclement Weather Alerts and School Closures

Winter is coming! Families of TCAPS students will be notified of inclement weather school closures through news media and if opted-in, a district text message. Announcements will also be posted to the TCAPS website, social media, and bus hotline. The determination is typically made by 5:00 a.m., if possible, and by 6:00 a.m. at the latest. If you do not already receive texts, you can always opt-in at any time by texting the word YES to 87569, as long as your phone number is already on file with the school. If your cell phone number is not on file with the school and added to your child's account, you will not be able to receive text messages. Texting is limited to contact numbers tied to the district’s staff and student databases, and therefore is not available to the general public. At any time, families may also call the Bus Hotline at 231.933.1955 to hear a daily message with information about school closures or transportation delays. For additional information about inclement weather closures, alerts, and snow day FAQs, click here.

Upcoming Events

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This Just In….

  • Talented TCAPS students across the district performed in Fall Orchestra, Choir, and Band Concerts.
    Fall Orchestra Concert

    Fall Choir Concert

  • Silver Lake Elementary staff celebrate Halloween!
    Halloween Celebration

  • Alison Lauters, Westwoods Kindergarten teacher, and Kristin Sulecki, Westwoods School Social Worker, were each selected to receive a $300 Geraldine Pagel Grant from Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Mrs. Lauters plans on using the funds to support reading instruction in her classroom and will be recognized during the Spring Phi Chapter meeting when she will share how the grant impacted students. Mrs. Sulecki will be using her funds to attend professional development through the Michigan Association of School Social Workers in November. She will be attending sessions on anxiety, mindfulness and positive behavior support to help guide her work with students individually, in small groups, and in classroom peace lessons. Congratulations Mrs. Lauters and Mrs. Sulecki!
    Westwoods Donation

  • West Middle School students volunteered at the Traverse City Elks Lodge #323 Veterans Buffet Dinner as servers. WMS students also provided handmade cards and their Student Senate conducted a "hat day" fundraiser to cover the cost of dessert for the Veterans.

  • Colin Blackport was recently named to the roster for the 2021 All American Soccer game held in Knoxville, Tennessee in December. The Traverse City West Senior High School senior joins Tanner Hodgson, Anchor Bay New Baltimore, as the only Michigan players among the 43 invited to participate. Blackport is a returning MHSAA Dream Team member and Mr. Soccer candidate for 2021.
    Colin Blackport

  • Kate Heydlauff, Biology and Geometry Teacher at West Senior High School, was awarded a classroom improvement grant from TBA Credit Union. She was awarded $150.00 for Teachers Pay Teachers to help purchase a variety of activities, labs, and assessments to use in class. These activities provide unique learning opportunities for students.
    Classroom Improvement Grant

  • The TCAPS Business and Finance Department was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 16th consecutive year from The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). This honor recognizes districts that have met the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability. Special thanks to Christine Thomas-Hill, Wes Souden, Sandy Low, Julie Gorter, Kerri McCumber, Beckie Cairns, Ashley Wills, Tammi Grabowski, Cindy Farah, and Dawn Smith for their work putting this document together and receiving the award!
    Business and Finance Award

  • Central High School senior, Julia Flynn, was named this year's Miss Cross Country. The Miss Cross Country award goes to the high school senior with the top time at state finals.
    Miss Cross Country

  • Kindergarten students from Eastern Elementary School thanked Veterans and active military members for their service and bravery during a special ceremony on Friday, November 12. Great job, Stars!
    Veterans Day

  • West Senior High School’s Advanced Theatre Program put on an amazing presentation of Radium Girls. Opening weekend was November 12 & 13 and the last chance to catch the show will be November 19 & 20.
    Radium Girls

  • Congratulations to Central High School’s Varsity Football team for winning back to back Regional Championships! They will take on South Lyon in the Division 2 semifinals on Saturday, November 20.
    Regional Football Champions

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TBA Credit Union Gives $9,000 Sponsorship

Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) is pleased to announce TBA Credit Union donated $9,000 to support the district’s Learning, Enrichment, and Athletics Program (LEAP) and the purchase of dry erase markers, water bottles and professional development support.
TBA Credit Union

In addition, TBA Credit Union underwrites the financial literacy program Banzai and Zogo for any classroom that would like to incorporate it into their curriculum. With Banzai, students are assigned jobs, pay rent, pay taxes, get a mock credit card, and more! The program aligns with Michigan's financial literacy curriculum. Zogo is a gamified personal finance app that aims to make financial literacy more accessible – and enjoyable – for young adults.

"This donation is more important than ever as so many of our students have heightened needs due to the pandemic," said Ginger Smith, Executive Director of Communications for TCAPS, whose office helps coordinate community partnerships. "Through the support of partners like TBA Credit Union, we are able to continue to offer programs that enrich student’s educational experience.” For more information about TBA Credit Union, visit or call (231) 946-7090.

True North Energy Donates over $8,000 to Student Support Network

Participating Shell gas stations participated in “The Giving Pump” as part of True North Energy and Shell Oil Company’s Force for Good in August and September. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, staff, and most importantly, our students, thank you to the company’s entire staff and its customers for the donation of $8,732.19 to TCAPS’ Student Support Network (ISSN). This gift makes an impact on the lives of many.

"These times are stressful, especially for our most vulnerable students. Because of programs like The Giving Pump, we can respond to whatever the need is for any student," said TCAPS Partner in Education Coordinator, Karyn Hertel. "TCAPS is proud to say that 100% of requests received from school social workers for support have been provided by the ISSN."

As we make our way through another year of challenges, there is hope and brighter days for all. Thank you for helping us care for our students in need.

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Traverse City Area Public Schools
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