Our Community

December 2016

Superintendent's Message

TCAPS Families, Staff and Friends,

Earlier this month, we had the honor of hosting State Superintendent Brian Whiston. The visit began with a stop at Central Grade School to see an innovative pilot that blends physical education with a reading program to help students learn. Next, the State Superintendent visited Traverse City West Senior High School where he heard a choral performance, saw the Autism Spectrum Disorder mentoring program in action, and visited the Model UN class to talk to students seeking their 12th “Best Prepared School” award.

In the coming months, our district will host other state educational leaders. One of those visits will be from Chris Wigent, the head of the Michigan Association of School Administrators. He heard about the Administrative Internship Program we launched this year to allow staff to explore administration, help grow potential new administrators, and create a system that builds skillsets and utilizes staff talents. Mr. Wigent was excited to learn about our staff development efforts and asked to participate in one of the sessions to offer his own personal insights and advice to aspiring administrators.

Another visit will be from the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission. The commission was created to offer recommendations to improve Michigan’s education system to better prepare students for a global economy. During their visit to TCAPS, the commissioners will be learning about Traverse City Central High School’s SCI-MA-TECH program and will host a public listening session to hear from the community about our vision for education into the future.

Our district’s work to educate students while operating in a changing and challenging environment is leading the way in the state. Our successes are something that we can all be proud of and we are honored to have the opportunity to share them with leaders across the state.

Wishing you and yours a safe and joyous holiday season.


Paul A. Soma
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Student Spotlight

Students, Families and Staff Give Back This Holiday Season

The holiday season brings out the spirit of giving in our community and our schools are no exception. Here are a few highlights of the many displays of holiday cheer that were shared by TCAPS students, families and staff though their generous donations of time, talents and treasures.



Central High School Holds “Can the Principal” Food Drive

Principal Jessie Houghton's office is filled during the annual "Can the Principal" food drive.


The Traverse City Central High School Student Senate held its annual "Can the Principal" food drive. Food and toiletry items donated during the drive will help stock the pantry at CHS and Traverse City High School. Any extra items will be donated to the Father Fred Foundation. Thousands of food and personal care items were collected.



West Senior High School Holds “Band Together” Food Drive

The WSH band trailer begins to fill up as the food drive gets underway.


Traverse City West Senior High School held a food and personal care items drive called “Band Together” to benefit the pantries at WSH and Traverse City High School. The TC West Band and Senior Council led the community service project with a goal of filling the band trailer with non-perishable food and personal care items. The drive collected 150 toothbrushes, 150 full tubes of toothpaste, 100 full size bars of soap and deodorant. At least 500 shelf stable ready to eat meals, 50 boxes of cereal, 40 jars of peanut butter, 1000 granola bars, 50 bottles of shampoo, 100 disposable razors, and many more items.



TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis Students Adopt Two Families for the Holiday Season

Montessori students pose with the gifts collected for the families the school adopted for the holidays.


The 6th graders at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis led a school effort to adopt two families for the holiday season. Every classroom was assigned a specific gift (such as a winter coat) that they would collect donations for and purchase. Left over money was used to purchase gift cards for the familes. The school collected donations November 28th through December 7th. Sixth graders were responsible for the marketing campaign and wrapped all of the gifts on December 9th.



Elementary Students “Shop with a Hero”

Elementary students get ready to shop with a hero at Meijer.


Students from Westwoods Elementary School and Silver Lake Elementary School "shopped with a hero" at the local Meijer store to purchase gifts for Toys for Tots. The students shared their knowledge of the best toys for children their age to help the heroes purchase gifts. The presents will be distributed to families in need this holiday season.



Westwoods Elementary School Volunteers for Toys for Tots

Westwoods families help sort Toys for Tots donations at the USCG station.


Westwoods Elementary School staff and students have been volunteering to help Northwestern Michigan Toys for Tots sort the donations collected for children in our region.



Eastern Elementary School Students Carol at Traverse City Senior Center

Eastern students singing "Snow Day" at the Traverse City Senior Center.


Fourth and fifth graders from Eastern Elementary School caroled and spread holiday cheer at the Grand Traverse County Senior Center. Their performance included holiday classics, like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and a song called “Snow Day” complete with choreographed dance moves. View 9&10 News story.



TCTA Drive for Socks

Bus drivers Ruthann Segovia and Marti Alvarez.


The Traverse City Transportation Association (TCTA) held another successful Drive for Socks just before Thanksgiving weekend! A total of 1,075 pairs of socks were collected and distributed to TCAPS schools. This made for a grand total of 5,375 pairs of socks collected in 2016. In addition, many mittens, gloves, hats and scarves were collected and over $600 in financial contributions, including support from Michigan Education Association, will be used to purchase snow pants for students in need.


“On behalf of our kids, thank you!,” said Marti Alvarez, TCTA driver and founder of Drive For Socks. “Our children are like jewels, they light up and sparkle so brightly and it means so much to us to have received so much help for a very basic need for our less fortunate students. Special thanks go to Hagerty Insurance for their generous contribution to the collection!”

News & Events

Lend Your Voice – Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission Listening Session

Michigan Education Commission logo

Traverse City Area Public Schools is pleased to be hosting the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission on January 5, 2017, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Traverse City Central High School. The 21st Century Education Commission listening tours are designed to gather input directly from residents about the current state of education in Michigan and the education systems citizens envision. The input will help shape the commission’s final report and set of recommendations, which will be released at the end of February 2017.

Who: The Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission

What: Listening Tour - Northern Michigan Stop

When: Thursday, January 5, 2017, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Traverse City Central High School (1150 Milliken Dr.)

Please RSVP here to participate. Any interested northern Michigan resident is welcome to sign up to attend.



Eastern Elementary School Receives Recognition from Honor Guard

Eastern receives recognition for its Trick or Treat for Troops program.


Members of the Cherryland Post 2780 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States presented a certificate of appreciation and a 48 star flag to Eastern Elementary School in recognition of the school’s effort, under the leadership of teacher Jackie Stremlow, for the Trick or Treat for Troops program. Over the course of the program, the school has collected nearly 2,000 pounds of candy and personal care items for those serving overseas.



TCAPS Board Coffee Conversation—Dec. 22

The TCAPS Board of Education will host its monthly Coffee Conversation on Thursday, December 22, 2016, at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss any topic of interest with a TCAPS board member at the meeting.



Local Harvest of the Month: Carrots

Carrots are a root vegetable, grown underground. They are rich in beta-carotene - a nutrient our body converts into Vitamin A. They are also a good source of Vitamin C (when fresh), B-Vitamins, and antioxidants. Carrots on often on the salad bars at schools and frozen local carrots are often served roasted with hot lunch choices.



TCAPS Calendar Reminders


  • Dec. 22 - Holiday recess begins after the full day
  • Jan. 3 - School resumes
  • Jan.16 - No school, Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
  • Jan. 19 - Half day for students, full day for staff
  • Jan. 20 - No school, full day for staff
  • Feb. 8 - Student Count Day
  • 2016-2017 District School Year Calendar
Education in Action

TechGirls LEAP Program Ready to Take Off

Central Grade School students engaged in a lesson from Engineering is Elementary curriculum.


TechGirls is a new after school program through LEAP to encourage 3rd – 5th grade girls to pursue their interests in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities. Students will design, build and compete with vehicles constructed out of recycled materials based on the Go Green extracurricular materials from the Engineering is Elementary curriculum. The last meeting of the course for both the Eastern Elementary School and Central Grade School sessions will be held jointly at Central High School on Thursday, February 9, 2017. Both groups of TechGirls will be able to share ideas, engage in a final competition, participate in various STEM activities, work with some of the female high school students from SCI-MA-TECH and meet adults in various STEM professions. Learn more about TechGirls.



Central High School SCI-MA-TECH Program Tours Michigan State University

SCI-MA-TECH students enjoying their college visit at MSU.


Students enrolled in the SCI-MA-TECH program at Central High School had the opportunity to go on a college visit to Michigan State University. The day long visit included a private tour of the National Cyclotron Superconductor Lab, a program at the Abrams Planetarium, a campus tour, and an opportunity to meet with an MSU admissions counselor. The SCI-MA-TECH program offers students enhanced opportunities in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Students join SCI-MA-TECH as freshmen and participate in the program for four years, earning one full credit each year in math, science and technology. SCI-MA-TECH students also visit colleges and businesses, hear from speakers, conduct authentic research, complete an internship, and participate in extracurricular activities, including the FIRST Robotics Competition and underwater ROV building competition. Learn more about SCI-MA-TECH.


Partner in Education

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


This year, TCAPS has received an increased amount of requests for winter gear and other items. Area businesses, organizations and individual donors have offered incredible help in these times of need.

Student being sized for boots.


Boots For Kids has donated 762 boots to 17 agencies in the five county area including 215 to TCAPS students this year. Each year Don Schmuckal, Boots For Kids Chairman, and Bill Golden, owner of Golden Shoes, lead the charge in measuring and fulfilling the need for boots for as many kids as they possibly can. TCAPS is very grateful for their long-standing support of our students.

Hagerty Insurance Youth Advocacy Coordinator Rachel Flynn, Affinity Communications Manager Tabetha Hammer, Vice President of Public Relations Jonathan Klinger, and Eastern Elementary School Principal Biz Ruskowski.


Hagerty Insurance delivered gifts to 100 students in need. In addition to these generous gifts donated by a Hagerty staff member, Hagerty Insurance matched each gift with a $25 Target gift card.


Numerous individuals also responded with donations for families this holiday season. From new coats and sneakers to snow boots, snow pants and gas cards. Jamie Bredahl was happy to respond to the call. "I'm from the area and I know how hard it can be for families to make ends meet, especially during the winter. This city is littered with kind, deserving people, and I am happy to help and hope the student who received the coat and shoes loved them.” The Avis family also joined in the giving spirit by donating gas cards to support the TCAPS Students In Transition Empowerment Program (STEP) and additional items to benefit the preschool program. "When our littlest learners have accidents, it is so nice for the schools to have access to clean replacement clothing. This gift of new underpants and many pairs of blue jeans from the Avis family is so wonderful," said Partner In Education Coordinator Karyn Hertel.


A heart-filled thank you to all who helped a student in need this season! Anyone interested in supporting a student in need, please contact Karyn Hertel at hertelka@tcaps.net.


Matching Gifts


Matching gift programs are an extension of corporate philanthropy designed to support employee charitable giving. The impact this additional gift makes is tremendous for our schools.

West Senior High School Band Director Rachel Linsmeier with band student Alyssa Foley.


For the past three years, Mike and Mary Foley have generously contributed $1,000 annually to the Traverse City West Senior High School band program. This gift is matched 2-to-1 by Mike's employer, Shell Oil Company, through their matching gift program. To date, the band program has received $9,000 due to the Foley family's generosity and corporate match. "Mary and I are very pleased to be able to support the wonderful music program led by Rachel at West Senior High," said Mike Foley.


"The Foley Family's generosity is astounding," said West Band Director Rachel Linsmeier. "Keeping a band operating is an expensive endeavor, and their yearly gift has been an incredible asset to our program. Because of the Foleys we have been able to purchase new instruments and repair the instruments that need it. We can buy new music for our three concert bands, two jazz bands, and marching band to play each year. We are able to participate in performance opportunities that need busing and entrance fees and raise the level of experience and opportunity for all of our students because of it. The Foleys even offered a scholarship for students to travel to Hawaii for a performance who otherwise would not have been able to afford it. Their gift has been the wind in our sails in many ways. We are endlessly grateful for their donations and Shell's matching effort."


It is TCAPS' hope that others who are inspired to give this holiday season consider supporting the TCAPS classroom or program that they are most passionate about, like the Foley family, and ask their employer if they have a matching gift program to make an even greater impact. To make a gift, go to www.tcaps.net/pie or contact Partner In Education Coordinator Karyn Hertel at 231.933.5654 or hertelka@tcaps.net.



Giving a “STEP” Up


Thank you to Resurrection Life Church for their generous donation to TCAPS' Students in Transition Empowerment Program (STEP). STEP Director Abby Jordan was invited by Pastors Tony and Bob to make a presentation to the congregation about the program and the most pertinent, unmet needs of TCAPS students experiencing homelessness. As a result, STEP has received over $20,000 in winter clothing, 70 duffle bags filled with clothing, toiletries, etc. and, most recently, 100 backpacks filled with school supplies and personal items totaling more than $5,000 in value. This offering of kindness and resources helps to remove some of the barriers to learning to those who need it most.



2016 UpNorth Media TC Turkey Trot Sets New Record


Runners getting ready for the 2016 Traverse City Turkey Trot.


This year’s 9th Annual TC Turkey Trot was the largest yet with 2,865 participants! “These numbers are so impressive, especially when compared to Grand Rapids 24th Annual Trot which set their own record this year with 2,000 runners. They have a metropolitan population of over 1 million people so that says so much about our community and its love for all the great things that happen in our town,” said Partner In Education Coordinator Karyn Hertel.


TCAPS Learning, Enrichment and Athletics Program is a beneficiary of the run, again receiving $10,000 this year. In addition to the financial contribution, participants donated a large amount of toiletries and non-perishable items to benefit the TCAPS Students in Transition Empowerment Program pantry. “We are grateful to all of the Trot participants who supported the pantry drive. It’s a very busy time of year and to do this extra donation is completely heartwarming,” said STEP Director Abby Jordan.


Thank you to all participants, volunteers and sponsors for another wonderful event!



TCAPS Partner In Education Program: An opportunity to support schools, teachers, programs, teams and clubs!

The TCAPS Partner In Education (PIE) program works to connect community members, businesses and organizations to our schools through sponsorships, financial contributions, in-kind donations or givebacks. Your sponsorship or donation can benefit the school, teacher, program, team or club of your choice. Sponsor space is available at all TCAPS schools, Thirlby Field stadium and electronically via our e-newsletter. Contact Karyn Hertel at 231.933.5654 | hertelka@tcaps.net or visit www.tcaps.net/PIE to learn more.



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Traverse City Area Public Schools
Contact Us: info@tcaps.net