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TCAPS Builds Support System for Students

TCAPS aims to give students equal opportunities no matter what their background may be
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  TCAPS has a large variety of students from different economic backgrounds. Certain margins of students from less fortunate environments, such as students without a home, occasionally need possible support systems that the school can supply. However, students without a home are not considered “homeless”, as defined by the Mkinny Vinto Act, which is the required federal law saying that all U.S. schools require education for all children experiencing a lack of housing.

  “The federal definition of homeless, according to the Mkinny Vinto Act, is any student who lacks fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. If they are missing any of those three things at any point, even if it is for one night, they can still qualify for services for the rest of the school year. The other thing is that people think that when you hear homeless, they think of people sleeping on park benches or sleeping in tents, or literally in the streets, but a lot of times that’s not really the case,” student specialist Haley Mcdonald said. 

  Recently, a student support network has been in the works to provide services for students going through economic and family issues. The service is located near the middle school and will be used to further students’ education. 

  “We have our student support network which has an entire department that oversees all of the efforts to provide services for all students, for whatever their need is. A section of that is for our homeless students, and there is another section that falls under the same for students who aren’t necessarily homeless, but maybe have a lot of family struggles or fiance struggles in their home. So maybe they just need assistance with buying shoes, or books, or whatever it is that they need to ensure that they can come to school and feel that they have what they need to be successful,” student specialist Ginger Smith said. 

  Even though the school has set up multiple programs to support those lacking an at-home support system, both the community and fellow students can set up fundraisers and out-of-school activities to support those in difficult situations. 

  “In the high school, we have Fight the Freeze, which we just recently did, which was the basketball game against Central; we did a hockey game in December. There are always a few high school events, especially when you’re talking West vs. Central, that will do fundraisers for the students. We also have fundraisers, like soup and bread at Little Fleet last year, where families could come and have all the soup they wanted, then buy a donation for however much they wanted to. Traverse City Horse Shows does a fundraiser for us every year, where all the proceeds that paid for tickets to attend go to the students. Those are just a few of the that we do. Many of them are during the holidays, like Hagredy will work together and will [host] a Christmas drive. They will either collect their items, or they will have food or finances, and bring those to us as well. We do rely a lot on community partners,” Smith said. 

  Students who are subject to Mkinny Vinto’s definition of homelessness are kept under the radar by staff, making it unapparent to fellow students.

  “We have a share with us that supplies items for the students that are potentially homeless or coach surfing on our radar. Sometimes teachers notice something and report that to the wing principals,” Sparta wing principal Kali Meyers said.

  TCAPS has also built a district-wide support system. At West, there is a foot pantry, and clothing drive that students can donate to year-round. Another location to drop items off at is the District Office of Boardman. TCAPS is also able to provide transportation so that students can get to and from school. 

  “The Student Support Network helps with basic necessities for all students and we assist with things like clothing, hygiene items [and] school supplies. We have a food pantry here and also transportation assistance so that we can help with BATA passes. Occasionally, we can help with gas cards, and we also help with bussing and setting up bus routes for students. Overall, my role here is mostly to be a supportive adult for students to come talk to, and refer them to other services that can help them and help benefit them,” Smith said. 

  Besides the Student Support Network and fundraisers, other students can decide to participate in the donation process. Mrs.Mcdonald is always taking clothing, school supplies, and other types of donations. TCAPS is always working to give each and every student the same opportunity and make sure that they offer everything they can to do so. 

  “We don’t like to define students as being homeless, we usually don’t use that label when speaking with them. We use terms like they are in housing transitions, or they are in a temporary living arrangement, a lot of the time students don’t even know that they are “Homeless” a lot of them don’t even view themselves as being homeless,” Mcdonald said.

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About the Contributors
Sydney Fleming
Sydney Fleming, Podcast Coordinator, Photographer
Sydney Fleming is a freshman at West Senior High. She is taking the newspaper because she enjoys writing, and wanted to try something new and different from any class she has taken before. Her current position in the newspaper is a writer. Outside of school Sydney is playing softball, working out, or outside.
Tess Tarchak-Hiss
Tess Tarchak-Hiss, Section Editor, Page Designer
Tess Tarchak-Hiss is a sophomore in her second year of newspaper. She is currently a journalist and chose to take this class to improve her AP writing skills, and because she has an interest in journalism. In her free time, Tess likes to roller skate, play guitar, and watch movies.  

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