Our Community

February 2017

Superintendent's Message

TCAPS Families, Staff and Friends,

Throughout this school year, we have worked to align and strengthen our K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning opportunities. We have chosen to focus on STEM for a number of important reasons:

  • STEM learning and job opportunities exist for all students.

  • Half of all STEM jobs do not require a four year degree, yet typically pay 10% more than other fields.

  • In Michigan the median earnings in STEM jobs are $34.48 per hour versus the median for all other jobs, which is $17.99 per hour.

  • The STEM field is expected to grow 11% through 2024.

Just a few examples of our STEM efforts include piloting the Engineering is Elementary program in the science curriculum at Eastern Elementary School and Central Grade School. The program starts by sharing a story about a child from another part of the world and asks students to use their science and math know-how to help. It offers students a global perspective and provides practical, hands-on learning experiences as students work to find solutions to problems.

We have also enhanced our offerings to encourage more girls to participate in science, engineering and math activities. For example, Tech Girls was a new after school pilot program launched for 3rd to 5th grade girls. The last meeting of the program will be held at Central High School and will allow participants to engage in a final competition, work with female high school students from the SCI-MA-TECH program, and meet adults involved in various STEM professions.

Finally, new in the fall of 2017, our high schools will be offering an AP course in computer science principles. This will further enhance our STEM high school course offerings. We will also continue to explore STEM pathways that both complement and extend beyond robotics programs we currently offer.

Those are just a few examples that demonstrate our commitment to offering high quality, sustainable programs that will help prepare our students and set them apart as they to go on to college, career and life after graduation. There are so many unbelievable learning experiences available to our students, which are backed by world class teachers who understand how high quality instruction builds student success. With our focus on building 21st Century skill sets along with our dynamite teachers, we have a winning combination!


Paul A. Soma
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Student Spotlight

Traverse City Area Public Schools Celebrates & Expands STEM Opportunities



Michigan STEM Education Grant Supports Underwater Robotics Engineering Club

First trials of deploying a sonar pod in the city marina.


The Traverse City Central Enterprise Club is a weekly after school program open to all students that offers the opportunity for club members to develop projects using a submersible vehicle as a tool of investigation. Central Enterprise takes advantage of Michigan’s vast water resources as well as engineering challenges that are unique to an underwater environment. The club exposes students to STEM skills in a hands on way that also allows them to explore careers in marine technology fields.

Central Enterprise provides students with engineering challenges that allow them to learn about advanced technologies and incorporate them into their projects.



Creative Thinkers Wanted


Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles (CSP) has been added to the 2017-2018 course options for high school students. Wherever you look in today’s world, computer science is there. From 3-D animation to medicine, fashion, engineering, visual design, finance, music production, statistical analysis, and much more, computer science powers the technology, productivity, and innovation that drives the world. Students don’t need to know coding or have computer science experience to be successful in AP CSP. Algebra I is the only recommended prerequisite.


Students who took AP CSP say that it:


  • Allows them the freedom to pursue their passion
  • Prepares them for many different jobs
  • Enables them to investigate computing innovations
  • Provides an opportunity to work together with classmates to solve problems


Learn more about the possibilities: Computer Science is Changing Everything Video



SCI-MA-TECH Inspires & Challenges Students

View the full SCI-MA-TECH brochure here.



West Middle School VEX IQ Team Heading to States

Team Wall-e's Peanut Butter Jar 3.0.


The TC West Middle School VEX IQ Robotics Team, Wall-e’s Peanut Butter Jar 3.0, qualified for the VEX IQ Middle School State Championship tournament to be held in Charlotte, Mich. on Sunday, February 26th. Congratulations! 

News & Events

TCAPS Preschool Enrollment Fair—Feb. 18

Preschool student crawling through a tunnel.

Families wishing to enroll their child in preschool next year are invited to attend TCAPS’ preschool enrollment fair from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on February 18, 2017, at Eastern Elementary School (1600 Eastern Ave.). Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about TCAPS’ preschool programs, tour a classroom, and complete the registration process. For more information, please call 231.933.1759 or visit: www.tcaps.net/preschool.



TCAPS Preschool Raffle


TCAPS' annual preschool raffle is underway. The raffle was designed as a way for TCAPS to help offset the cost of preschool for families. Its success has allowed TCAPS to continue to offer reduced tuition and scholarship options to qualifying families. To purchase a ticket, please stop by the Early Childhood Office (412 Webster St., 2nd floor) before March 17th. Tickets are $10. Proceeds benefit TCAPS' tuition-based preschool scholarship fund. The following prizes are being raffled:


  • First Place: One full year of preschool tuition (up to $6,000 value) or $1,500 cash
  • Second Place: One half year of preschool tuition (up to $3,000 value) or $1,000 cash
  • Third Place: $500 cash



TCAPS Board Coffee Conversation—Feb. 23

The TCAPS Board of Education will host its monthly Coffee Conversation on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The topic will be World Language. Attendees will also have the opportunity to discuss any other topic of interest with a TCAPS board member.



West Senior High School Presents Shrek The Musical—Mar. 3-12

Shrek The Musical Graphic

Traverse City West Senior High School’s Music Department will present Shrek The Musical from March 3rd-12th. The musical includes smart humor, amazing dancing, and songs you will leave the theatre singing! Shrek The Musical is the story of an ogre who retreats to a swamp to exist in happy isolation. When a gang of fairy-tale characters (Pinocchio, Cinderella, the Three Pigs, etc.) raid his sanctuary, saying they’ve been evicted by Lord Farquaad, Shrek strikes a deal to get their homes back. But when Shrek and Farquaad meet, the Lord strikes a deal of his own: He’ll give the fairy-tale characters their homes back, if Shrek rescues Princess Fiona. Shrek obliges, yet finds something appealing and strange about this pretty princess. He likes her…a lot. But why does she always run off when the sun sets? Come see the show, and watch how this musical comedy unfolds like you never expected. Tickets are $12 - $22 and can be purchased at www.mynorthtickets.com or 1.800.836.0717.



Eastern Elementary School End of an Era Event

On March 10, 2017, Eastern Elementary School will host “Eastern’s End of an Era Celebration” from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (1600 Eastern Avenue). Current and former students, parents, teachers, staff, and the entire community are invited to attend. The gathering will offer an opportunity to look back and reflect on the many great memories and accomplishments that happened in the more than 50 year old school, before the building undergoes a reconstruction. The celebration will include an opportunity to stroll down memory lane by walking through history in the “Eastern Museum,” see the new school building designs, dance the night away at a Sock Hop in the gym, sign the wall in the school’s lobby, and a chance to purchase classroom art.



Eastern Elementary School Reconstruction Timeline


Activity Deadline
Transition to Bertha Vos April 3, 2017
Abatement Work April–Mid-May, 2017
Bid Process May–June 2017
Utility Disconnect June 2017
Mobilize Construction Site June 2017
Construction Begins July 2017
Construction Completed August 2018



Opportunity to Host Performers from The Young Americans—Mar. 25-30


The Turn Up The Music National Tour, presented by The Young Americans, is coming to Traverse City Area Public Schools during spring break. The tour is an educational performing arts workshop that is available to all 3rd through 12th grade students in the surrounding area. During their visit to Traverse City, performers with The Young Americans are looking for homestays. The performers will be arriving at Central High School the evening of Sunday, March 25th and will be departing the morning of Thursday, March 30th (1150 Milliken Dr.). Host families need to provide the following: sleeping accommodations for two or more cast members (air mattresses are acceptable), breakfast and dinner for each day of their stay, and transportation to Central High School each day. As a thank you, each family is given two free VIP tickets to the finale performance on the evening of Wednesday, March 29th. The Young Americans is a non-profit performance, educational and charitable organization whose main focus is to use music as a way to inspire self-confidence, teamwork, respect and understanding among youth and audiences around the world. If you are interested in becoming a host family, please contact Janna Deering, LEAP Director at deeringja@tcaps.net or 231.933.1722 for further information.



Four TCAPS Students Named 2017 National Merit Scholar Finalists


Traverse City Area Public Schools is pleased to announce that four students have been named Finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholar Competition. Traverse City Central High School students, Gavin Carpenter, Erin Huls and William Kroes, and Traverse City West Senior High School student, Hannah Ellery, made the 2017 finalist list. National Merit Scholar Finalists are high school seniors who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Approximately 15,000 Semifinalists advanced to Finalist standing and will now have the opportunity to receive one of 7,500 scholarships worth approximately $33 million. Finalists will receive notification beginning in March and continuing to mid-June if they won a scholarship.



Opportunity for Veterans to Receive a Diploma


Traverse City Area Public Schools is proud to offer the opportunity for veterans to receive a diploma. Under Public Act 181 of 2001 and Public Act 55 of 2014, the board of a Michigan school district can award high school diplomas to WWII, Korean Conflict and Vietnam Era veterans in recognition of their service and sacrifice. The law permits WWII veterans who left high school between December 16, 1940 and December 31, 1946 for immediate military service, and did not subsequently receive a high school degree, to now apply for a diploma. Korean War veterans who left high school between June 27, 1950 and January 31, 1955 may also apply. Veterans of the Vietnam Era must have been drafted or enlisted between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 to qualify for this diploma. Family members may apply on the behalf of a living or deceased veteran. For more information, please contact Mary Beth Stein at 231.933.1718.



Central High School Teacher Holds Reading of New Novel

Left to right: Central High School Teacher-Librarian Kerry Woughter and Teacher-Author David Hendrix.


Traverse City Central High School teacher, David Hendrix, read from his new book, The Fifth Finger, and held a question and answer session with students on February 10th. The Fifth Finger is a thrilling story about surviving each day in the rift that is created when the light and dark of life meet - freedom and manipulation, sun and storm, family and followers, love and loss. Mr. Hendrix shared his experiences writing and self-publishing a novel and provided his personal insight into how to stay focused in order to bring a personal creative effort to life.



Attorney General Bill Schuette Visits Cherry Knoll Elementary School

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette spent time with students at Cherry Knoll Elementary School.


Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette visited Cherry Knoll Elementary School on February 9th to be a guest reader. He read one of his family’s favorite books, The Three Havelinas, to 3rd grade classes, then AG Schuette visited classrooms to listen to students read selections from books they are currently studying and stopped in to test out some of the school’s 21st Century classroom furniture.



Local Harvest of the Month: Beets

The February Harvest of the Month is beets. Visit this link for fun facts, recipes and crafts using beets.



TCAPS Calendar Reminders


Education in Action

Northern Michigan Partnership Classes Begin

Superintendent Soma stops by to see how the first day of classes are going for the Northern Michigan Partnership students.


The Northern Michigan Partnership is a pilot program developed in collaboration with area homeschool families to provide access to elective, non-core courses. The partnership offers classes to homeschool students, grades K-12, living in the five-county area of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD) and any contiguous ISD (including Manistee, Wexford-Missaukea, C.O.O.R., Charlevoix-Emmet, and Cheb-Otsego-Presque Isle) to supplement their at-home instruction. Classes are available to students enrolled in the partnership and are taught by certified teachers and community experts. Classes began February 1st. Learn more about the Northern Michigan Partnership.



Japanese Exchange Middle School Program Continues

Middle school students visiting from Japan take the opportunity to explore the Grand Traverse Commons.


Six students from Japan experienced American middle school life at East Middle School and West Middle School from January 6-13, 2017. The students from Japan stayed with middle school host families and had an opportunity to practice their English, go tubing, eat pizza, and enjoy getting to know their host family and new friends. They even got to experience a snow day! When one of the teachers involved in making the exchange program happen, Melanie Rizzo, was asked about how students from Japan would say learning is different in the United States she said, "You might be surprised to hear that there is limited computer access in Koka schools. Students do not have laptops and phones in schools are rare." TCAPS middle school students will travel to Koka, February 22-March 3, 2017, to experience middle school life in Japan.

Partner in Education

Pi Day Competition—3.14.17

On Tuesday, March 14 (3.14), Partner In Education Grand Traverse Pie Company (GTPC) will serve a free slice of ABC (Apples, Blueberries ,Cherries) pie with purchase in honor of Pi Day, a day noted by math enthusiasts around the world.


As part of the Pi Day celebrations, GTPC will again run the popular video contest offering prizes for schools to win $500 in cash for supplies and individuals to win gift cards and free pie for a year. Rewards will be given for reciting Pi digits and for the most informative and entertaining video showing how Pi is used in our everyday lives. To get some ideas, visit past Pi Day video entries.


“We are thrilled to be celebrating Pi Day! Its special ties to education create pie memories and helps others in the process. That’s the Power of Pie and Pi together,” said Mike Busley, GTPC cofounder.


Winners will be announced March 16, 2017. For more information, visit http://gtpie.com/2017/02/pi-day-contest-2017.



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