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Our Community

May 2014    


In This Issue

Superintendent's Message


Student Spotlight


Alumni Profile


A Day in the Life


Community Connections


A Piece of the PIE


Global Competency


Your Input Requested

Partners in Education

Click here to learn how you can support TCAPS through The Larkin Group
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Click here to learn more about upcoming college planning workshops
Click here to get your BBQ tickets or for more information
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Click here to view current community events and opportunities


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Central High School AP Bio Teacher Tom Czarny attends Presidential Scholar ceremony in Washington DC with Nicole Tubaki (2013 CHS graduate)


Last week, we celebrated TCAPS Staff Appreciation Week. The Board of Education designates one week out of each year as a time when we stop to thank the people who make learning at TCAPS engaging, inspiring and challenging and ensure that learning happens in a safe and healthy environment. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire community to raise 10,000.


We are always thankful of our highly qualified and professional staff, but nothing says “thank you” better than the stories you shared with us about the TCAPS employees who have made a difference in your lives. Over the course of a week, we received more than 150 emails and many people commented on our TCAPS Facebook page to echo the kudos given to our staff.


In the TCAPS strategic plan, we commit to providing immediate, client-centered service. While we are always looking for ways to continue to improve the quality of the services we provide, looking back over the stories shared last week, I believe we have taken major steps toward achieving this goal. Thank you.










Steve Cousins


Traverse City Area Public Schools

Superintendent Transition Update


During the Board of Education’s May 12th regular meeting, the Board unanimously voted to approve the selection of Paul Soma, currently TCAPS Associate Superintendent for Finance and Operations, as the interim superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools. Soma will serve as superintendent beginning July 1st and will serve for up to one year. The Board’s Superintendent Transition Committee is also moving forward with developing a request for proposals to identify a firm or human resources consultant to help conduct the search. The desired outcome would be to have the new superintendent in place by July 1, 2015, if not sooner.


Online Opportunities Are a Hit


For homeschool student Anna O’Hara, the only thing missing from her education was a chance to play on a more competitive sports team. Her dream was to play college volleyball, and she decided that in order to pursue her goal, she needed to play at a higher level. Anna found just that opportunity at Traverse City West Senior High School, through TCAPS’ online school options.


TCAPS online programs offer high quality education outside of the traditional classroom. For O’Hara and other homeschool students, this allows the students to play sports on a team or participate in other extracurricular activities offered by TCAPS, without having to physically come to school every day. Anna was personally able to get involved not only in volleyball, but softball as well.


“For some students, a program where all of the coursework can be done online is a great fit,” said Dan O’Berski, assistant principal at West Senior High School. “In Anna’s case, TCAPS’ online offerings allowed her to continue to be homeschooled, while also allowing her to play sports.”


This year, O’Hara took advantage of the new TCAPS Online Academy, while also dual enrolling through NMC. Dual enrollment is another resource that TCAPS is able to offer, that online homeschooled students can take advantage of.


What TCAPS resources have been most helpful to you in your online education?


A: The people! Mrs. Inglis my counselor has been awesome; she helps identify available courses, and makes sure we have our needed credits to qualify for extracurricular activities. Mr. Tibaldi, Mr. Kolbusz and Mr. Oberski have definitely helped me feel comfortable and at home, when the occasion comes that I am actually at the school. They treat me just like any other student.


What has been the best part about playing on TCAPS sports teams? Which teams are you on?


A: I have been able to achieve what I set out to do and earn a scholarship to play collegiate volleyball. With the more competitive program, teammates, and a more competitive conference, I have been able to improve my skills immensely. I have enjoyed participating in the many sports that TCAPS offers, specifically softball and volleyball.


Would you recommend online learning to other homeschool students interested in participating in extracurricular activities and sports at TCAPS?


A: Absolutely. I have had a very positive experience while enjoying the extracurricular activities that TCAPS offers. Many homeschool students use online programs through other companies at a high cost and which often lack one-on-one support. Going through TCAPS, we have the one-on-one support and it’s free. The opportunities that TCAPS offers its students are so broad that almost anyone’s interests can be met, and it is definitely something that all homeschoolers should enjoy.


Brianne Farley, Children’s Book Author, Ike’s Incredible Ink



What year did you graduate from TCAPS (Titan or Trojan)?


A: 2002 as a Trojan



What is your favorite memory of school?


A: Just one?? My most vivid memories of school are of times spent with friends. My friends were a very motivated, creative bunch which gave me room to grow creatively myself.



How did TCAPS help prepare you for your job today?


A: I went through the TAG program, which allowed me to be a nerd and be interested in learning and art and writing and exploring the world creatively. I also took advantage of the AP classes in high school, which gave me a leg up in college. I have especially fond memories of Ms. VanderZee's AP Language Arts and Mr. Czarny's AP Biology class. Mostly I think the classes that challenged us to think and express our thoughts uniquely were the ones that have helped me most in the long run.


What lessons from your book Ike’s Incredible Ink do you think are important for students?


A: Ike goes on a long journey to find the right ingredients for his ink so that he can write an incredible story. This could be seen as a story about procrastination (perhaps, maybe, a personal challenge of mine) but it's mostly about getting out and finding your story by having your own adventure and getting your hands dirty. My favorite thing about Ike is that he isn't afraid. He wants to go to the moon so he just starts building a rocket. He clearly doesn't know what he's doing, but he just goes for it. I want to be like that. So, some lessons are: procrastination is ok if you're learning from it, and, you can accomplish a lot with some optimistic enthusiasm, elbow grease, and a rocket ship.


What makes you excited for the future?


A: This is my dream job, so I'm excited to just keep working and improving. I'm working on another book with Candlewick Press that I'm excited about. I also think this is an exciting time to work in publishing. Writing and illustrating are changing so much in the digital age, and it's opening some new and unexpected doors.


What would you like to see next for TCAPS?


A: I hope that TCAPS leaves plenty of room in the curriculum for kids (and young adults) to be creative. The arts ultimately teach innovation and communication, skills that are essential to a successful adulthood. I would also love to continue to see community gardens grow at TCAPS. Gardens are good at teaching the importance of optimistic enthusiasm and elbow grease.


Secondary School Principal


For Traverse City Central High School principal, Dr. Rick Vandermolen, the days begin early and continue well into the evening. But, it’s all worth it. As he says, “We serve 1,400 students, their families, our alumni and the community, which is a job we take very seriously. Every day I walk through the halls and witness something that makes me proud, from hearing students practicing for the Choral-Aires to helping each other with math problems to standing up to prevent bullying, I see reminders of our school’s greatness every day.”


What does your typical day look like?


A: A typical day begins at home with some exercise—either cardio or strength training—a review of the day's upcoming activities and meetings, and responding to emails. Then it’s off to school, where I hit the ground running. I greet students and staff, and I check-in with key personnel, including my administrative assistant, security team and assistant principals. We plan the work that needs to be accomplished in the day, which could be anything from addressing student concerns to supporting our staff and the work they are doing with students.


By mid-morning, I try to do another building and classroom check-in and fill in wherever necessary, for example, helping to supervise the cafeteria during lunch periods, while also returning phone calls and checking emails. The afternoon is generally spent meeting with students, parents or staff, or attending district-level meetings. For example, I may have an interview with our student-run newspaper, meet with student senators, or I may head to a principals meeting to discuss topics like strategic planning or the budget. I also like to do classroom visits.


I wrap the day by talking to students as they head out of the building. I also circle back with our team to ensure we have accomplished the day's tasks. Then, it’s time to put on my parent hat and pick up one of my sons from soccer or basketball practice and head home for a bite to eat with my family. Several nights per week I then return to campus for a meeting with parents or staff. Most likely however, I am returning to see our students in action, as they participate in a variety of extracurricular and sporting events.


What is most rewarding about your job?


A: Students! It is an amazing privilege to have the opportunity to be involved in and influence their lives as they learn and grow into adults. Watching them find out who they are or who/what they may want to become is unbelievably rewarding. High school students can be so creative, intellectual and put great thought into solving so many complex issues. They are "idea generators." For example, our students contributed to creating personalized, small learning communities at our big, Class A high school and we as teachers, staff and administrators have enjoyed watching our students flourish as a result.


What do you think the most common misconception is about your job?


A: That I am too busy for individuals: parents, students or staff. I may in fact be busy at the time, or look busy as I work to respond to the 100+ emails I receive daily, but that’s because I thrive on work, being organized, and staying on top of all that needs to be cared for in a large high school. I will always try to support students, parents and staff by dropping what I am doing to assist where they need it.


What do you find most challenging?


A: Maintaining a healthy balance between work, family and my own health has been challenging over the years. I find there is not enough time in the day to always spend the quality time with my two sons and wife that I would like. That continues to be a challenge, but I have a very understanding family and they see and value the importance of my work.


What would you like to see next for CHS or TCAPS?


A: I am excited to see our school continue to focus on using qualitative and quantitative data to identify where individual students can benefit from our classroom instruction. We have so many good things going for us and our continued efforts to look at the "fine grain" detail in the data/feedback will only serve to expand our knowledge and help us attend to each individual student’s needs to graduate and go on to post-secondary education or a career. It is a huge challenge but I know our staff has the expertise and the courage to stare that challenge down and overcome it.


I have always considered it an honor and privilege to serve the families and staff at CHS. I hope to continue in this capacity and to provide leadership that encourages others to lead. Leadership is an activity that one engages in with others, it is not about one individual's effort.


Let’s All Do the NMC BBQ - May 18th

Author: Christine Guitar, Chief of Communications for TCAPS


Click here to get your BBQ tickets or for more information This year, I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board of the Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) BBQ. The annual community barbeque draws in more than 10,000 hungry revelers each year on average, and raises about $40,000 for special projects around the college. Last year’s funds supported nine projects, including installation of eight water bottle filling stations at the highest traffic areas of NMC’s campuses. The stations are designed to make filling reusable water bottles easier and to encourage their use. In the first year, NMC has reduced its disposable plastic water bottle waste by 104,000 bottles and made a positive impact on the environment.


This year’s barbeque will be held on Sunday, May 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on NMC's main campus. It will feature the same great menu items as in years past, including buffalo burgers, hot dogs and sides, provided courtesy of Oleson’s Food Stores. This year’s event will also help support early childhood education for preschool age children in our area. For every ticket purchased online before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 16th under the “Buy Tickets To Support TCAPS" category, one dollar will be donated to provide scholarships for local families who want to provide their child a great start, but may not have the resources.


So, join me, the BBQ Board, our great volunteers, and your neighbors and friends and let’s all do the NMC Barbecue! To purchase your ticket, visit: (click the tickets link, then select “Buy Tickets to Support TCAPS” to donate $1 to TCAPS Early Childhood Education programs).

Spring Runs/Walks Highlight School and Community Links


TCAPS schools are proving their students and families are active, not just physically, but in giving back to the community. It seems that beginning in April, every weekend offers some kind of race for the most experienced athlete to the novice looking for motivation after a long winter. This spring, many of those races will have featured, benefited, or been created by TCAPS students or alumni. Here is a list of races that are still to come and the fundraising results from some of the races that have already taken place.


Community Fundraisers

Sunday, May 18th, 1:00 p.m. - Homeward Bound

Traverse City West Senior High School student-organized 5k race and fun walk to benefit Pete’s Place of Traverse City. To be held at TC West Middle School.


Spring Splatter—The Central High School Student Senate hosted a 5k run on April 26th to benefit the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center.


Crosstown Campus—The TCAPS Alumni Network organized their first 10k race on April 26th to benefit TCAPS' Fine and Performing Arts Programs. View photos

Elementary School Run/Walks

Saturday, May 17th, 10:00 a.m.

Westwoods Elementary School 5k Fun Run and 1.2 Mile Kids Run

Register at:


Saturday, June 7th, 9:00 a.m.

“Movin’ to Music Family 5k” Blair Community Trail Run/Walk

Call 231.933.5700 for registration information.

Did you know?


In 2014, more than 100 TCAPS staff members donated to the United Way during the annual workplace giving campaign. TCAPS raised more than $12,000 for the local charity.

Bike Safety Rodeo - June 7th

Bike Safety Rodeo on June 7th for students in grades 2-6.


On Saturday, June 7th, TCAPS is joining a variety of community sponsors to hold Traverse City’s first “Bicycle Safety Rodeo” at Central High School from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The event is intended for students in 2nd – 6th grades and their families. Registration is free and starts at 10:30 a.m.


Upon completion of the program the first 300 registrants will receive a goody bag with a reflective vest, LED tail light and bell plus other safety items and literature. Registrants need to bring their bike and a helmet if they have one.


“Our goal is to get 250 or more children and parents out to the event,” said two of the event organizers Laura Otwell and Seamus Shinners. “We want to create greater awareness within our community about cycling and to offer safety education to area children who we hope will become avid, and safe, bicyclists.”


Attendees will learn about safe bicycle skills, proper bicycle and helmet fit, traffic laws, safe riding techniques, bike maintenance, and elementary first-aid all in a fun and safe atmosphere. Besides the police and fire safety instruction, the registrants will participate on their bikes in an eight station skills course run by Ty and Johanna Schmidt, founders of the Norte! TC Youth Cycling Club. In addition, the Traverse City Fire Fighters’ Association will bring their fire truck for free rides for the children. Food and ice cream will be available.


The private and public community partners include the Traverse City Police and Fire Departments, both Grand Traverse County and Traverse City Parks and Recreation Departments, TART Trails, the Cherry Capital Cycling Club and Norte TC Youth Cycling club. We thank our major sponsors: Schulz Orthodontic Offices, the Kelly Boyce Hurlbert “Remember To Love” fund and the Cherry Capital Cycling Club.


For more information, see the Cherry Capital Cycling Club website:


An Important Message from Partner In Education Larkin Group

w82txt -wait to text


Larkin Group, an independent agency representing Auto-Owners Insurance, would like to share the importance of not texting while driving. Driver distraction is a leading cause of car accidents. Each year, cell phone technology becomes more complex and becomes more integrated into our daily lives. This leads to an increase in distracted driving, particularly related to cell phone use.

Texting while driving increases the risk of an accident 23.2 times over unimpaired driving


Texting while driving results in longer response times than even drunk driving


In the moments before an accident, drivers spend almost 5 seconds looking at their phones, which is enough time to cover more than the length of a football field going normal highway speeds


Though 95% of drivers surveyed said texting behind the wheel was unacceptable and unsafe, at least 21% admit doing it anyway


Facts taken from a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

With all of the year-end school activities upon us, please consider this important reminder not text and drive.


Link to w82txt:

TCAPS Partner In Education Program


TCAPS’ Partner In Education (PIE) program works to connect community members, businesses and organizations to our schools. This year, the program has continued to grow and has helped TCAPS better serve students by offering free, reduced or low cost programs that could not be provided without partner support. Learn more:



CAMP TC: The Chinese Elementary Exchange Experience


This summer, 15 students ages 10-12 from the Weiming Education Group will visit Traverse City for 10 days. Students arrive July 18 or 19 and will depart July 28 or 29. They will stay with host families and attend TCAPS Summer Adventure Day Camp the week of July 21 – 25. Host families provide food, housing and transportation for the student while during the summer visit. Students can share a bedroom but must have their own bed. Visiting students come with their own spending money and have health insurance. Host families can either accept a $100 reimbursement from Weiming or have their own elementary student attend Summer Adventure Day Camp complimentary that week. If you are interested in hearing more about hosting an elementary student from China this summer, please contact Karyn Hertel at 231-933-5654 or


(Pictured above: 2011 Camp TC field trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - Katie Bonne, TCAPS International School at Bertha Vos Director with Camp TC visitor.)


TCAPS is also seeking host families for male and female high school students for the 2014-15 school year. Families can host from a minimum of 3 months to the entire 10 month school year. High school exchange host families will receive a monthly $400 reimbursement allowance from the tuition to help offset additional expenses incurred. Please call Karyn Hertel for more information. Learn more


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Traverse City Area Public Schools

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