Our Community

January 2017

Superintendent's Message

TCAPS Families, Staff and Friends,

More than 500 of our 5th through 12th grade students will travel to Grand Rapids this week to present the opening night concert at the Michigan Music Conference. There they will showcase our TCAPS K-12 music program at the premier music conference in the state. I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride and appreciation for the dedicated teachers, parents and volunteers who make such a spectacular and unforgettable event possible.

From putting in the time and energy required to attend rehearsals, learn new music, and collaborate with hundreds of others, it is plain to see why our music students and staff are widely recognized as being the best. Their commitment to excellence can be heard in every note they play and every song they sing. It is clear that music is part of the fabric of our community, which is reflected in our school system.

Music is an integral part of almost everything we do and we are fortunate to be able to offer world class music education opportunities to our students. It is such an honor to be part of such a prestigious event and I look forward to seeing many of you there. You can preview one of the songs that will be performed here (Warning: prepare to be wowed!).

Photo credit: Wendy Nienhouse


Paul A. Soma
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Student Spotlight

West Senior High School Student Spaceflight Experiment Readies for Launch


An experiment submitted during the 2015-16 school year by a team of students from West Senior High School is ready to be launched into space as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). A total of 2,466 proposals were submitted by student teams to be considered for Mission 9 to the International Space Station. Of those, 21 were selected to be performed in space, including one from WSH. Two other experiments from WSH were selected as honorable mentions.


Selected for Flight: Growth of Blue-Green Algae in Space

(pictured left to right) Robbie Lohr, Ryan Hayes, Hayden Holmes and Sam Church

The student experimenters have prepped the minilabs with the algae they are sending into space. The blue-green algae will be put in the capsule with water, a rock, and plant fertilizer for nutrients. A duplicate will be kept on Earth. The students are testing the growth of blue-green algae to see if the growth changes when it is put into space. Blue-green algae produces hydrogen and oxygen which could be used to breathe and create fuel.


Congratulations to Mr. Gillespie and to all students who participated.


Honorable Mention: Difference in Oil Absorbency Between Gravity and Microgravity

Lauren Camp, Joel Cerny, River Leachman, Alexis Zoutendam


Honorable Mention: Cell Growth in Microgravity

Ashley, Caughell, Anna Jarvis, Ana Walters


Participation in the project was made possible through a $20,000 grant from the Michigan STEM Partnership. The SSEP is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. The NCESSE is a nonprofit organization that inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers by engaging their natural human impulse to be curious and explore. This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.


To learn more about the SSEP: http://ssep.ncesse.org.


News & Events

TCAPS Board Coffee Conversation—Jan. 26

The TCAPS Board of Education will host its monthly Coffee Conversation on Thursday, January 26, 2017, at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Attendees will also have the opportunity to discuss any other topic of interest with a TCAPS board member at the meeting.



Traverse City High School to Host Maverick Minds All Arts Fair—Jan. 26


Traverse City High School will host its annual Maverick Minds “Giving Back” All Arts Fair on January 26, 2017, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Traverse City High School (3962 Three Mile Rd. N.). Students will display a variety of talents at the event, ranging from art to music to academics. There will be artwork on display, live performances, and a dinner, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., for the community to enjoy. The focus of the event is to give back to the community that gives so generously to Traverse City High School.




Chinese Spring Festival—Jan. 28

Students preparing for the spring festival.


On Saturday, January 28, 2017, West Senior High School will host a Chinese Spring Festival from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (5376 N. Long Lake Rd.). The free event will include traditional Chinese dance, musical performances, and food. The show will take place in the school’s auditorium. The event is being sponsored by China Fair.



Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission Public Listening Session—Jan. 30

Michigan Education Commission logo

The Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission’s Northern Michigan Listening Tour stop has been rescheduled to Monday, January 30, 2017, 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.

Who: The Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission

What: Listening Tour - Northern Michigan Stop

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

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

RSVP here to participate. In order to accommodate the session’s format, registration will be capped at 150 attendees. Learn more about the commission: www.mieducationcommission.com.



West Senior High School to Host Dance Fundraiser—Feb. 11


The West Senior High School Senior Class Council will host a daddy-daughter dance on February 11, 2017, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The event is for children ages 4-12 and their parent or guardian. Tickets are $30 per parent/guardian and child pair and $5 for each additional child. The dance is an opportunity for elementary school aged students from across Traverse City to attend a fun night including a photo booth, refreshments, prince and princess meet and greet, and crafts. Proceeds from the event will go to support the West Senior High School food pantry. Tickets can be purchased at www.mynorthtickets.com.



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/programs/preschool.



Central High School Debate Team Wins State Championship


The Traverse City Central High School debate team won the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association (MIFA) Varsity State Championship. The varsity team of Sam Franz and Jill Murdock took first place at the event held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids on January 6-7, 2017. It is the second consecutive state championship win for the team. The team has also qualified for the national Tournament of Champions, which will be held at the University of Kentucky in May.



TCAPS Offers School Breakfast Program


Traverse City Area Public Schools is proud to offer the school breakfast program, which is available to all students every weekday morning. Students do not need to register in advance and may eat breakfast at school every day or only occasionally. The breakfasts offered are well balanced and follow standards backed by the best nutritional science available. For menus and meal pricing, visit: www.tcaps.net/menus.



Local Harvest of the Month: Parsnips

Parsnips are a root vegetable that grow well in Michigan. They look like a white carrot, but are actually sweeter than a carrot if they are harvested after a frost. The cold temperature is necessary to turn the starch in the parsnip to sugar. Parsnips are high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.


Baked Parsnip Fries with Rosemary Recipe


  • 2 1/2 pounds parsnips (or carrots), peeled, cut into about 3 x 1/2” strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin



  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic and oil on baking sheet.
  • Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  • Spread out evenly onto baking sheet.



TCAPS Calendar Reminders


Education in Action

Area Youth Homelessness Initiative Receives $1.3 Million Grant


The Homeless Youth Initiative, a committee of the Greater Grand Traverse Continuum of Care, has been selected to participate in the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. More than 130 communities around the country applied for the grant program and ten were selected. Over the next four years, $1.3 million will be available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop programs addressing youth homelessness. As a national demonstration site, the work in the Grand Traverse area, (including Benzie, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Antrim counties) will help inform future national policy aimed at ending youth homelessness. Partner organizations and individual volunteers, involved in the project include: Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, Child and Family Services, DHHS, the TCAPS Students in Transition Empowerment Program (STEP), Traverse Area District Library, and Rotary Charities. Northwestern Michigan Community Action Agency will be the local lead agency facilitating the Demonstration Program.


Partner in Education

TC Music Boosters Win Swingshift and the Stars Media Package

TC Music Boosters receive $38,000 in community donations.


At the conclusion of a successful Swingshift and the Stars season, the Traverse City Music Boosters team was awarded with a check for more than $38,000 in community donations, as well as a media prize package worth several thousand dollars. Thank you to all of the supporters of TCAPS' music programs, especially Wendy Nienhouse and Philip Leete for the sacrifices they made to dance on behalf of TCAPS students and for investing their hearts, families, tired feet and souls into a winning combination.



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.



Share This Newsletter With A Friend

Sign up now to receive TCAPS' district e-newsletter.

Great Community, Great Schools

In This Issue

Partner in Education


Copyright (c) 2016
Traverse City Area Public Schools
Contact Us: info@tcaps.net