Thoreau Matters - October 11th Issue

Message from Mr. Azimi

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dear Thoreau Community:

I have written to you before that we are focused on specific multi-year instructional initiatives at Thoreau.  One of those initiatives is Steps to Success, our executive functioning program, and I would like to briefly bring you up to speed as to what we have been accomplishing.   This is the third year of our three-year formal plan to embed this work as part of the culture at Thoreau with the intent of nurturing and supporting the holistic child.   

To put it succinctly, EF skills are those processes within the brain that allow a person to manage oneself and one’s resources in order to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. There are a number of EF skills, but the Thoreau faculty is focused on the three skills of planning, time management and organization with our students. In addition, we explore topics like persistence, mindset and goal setting with them.  We have a committee of teachers who work together to develop lessons that classroom teachers then deliver to their students on days when we hold Steps to Success lessons.  Among many other items, students will learn test-taking strategies and study skills this year, how to keep a growth mindset, and how to keep an organized notebook and locker. Thoreau’s overarching goal with this focus on executive functioning is to plant seeds in our middle schoolers of skills that will serve them well throughout their adolescence.  

I encourage anyone interested in viewing the content of previous lessons to visit our Steps to Success page on the Thoreau website. Hopefully these topics will foster relevant conversations at home as well.  I hope you will enjoy viewing what our teachers have created and the skills students are working on that will be of great benefit to them in the years ahead.  


Yusef Azimi

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Monday, October 15th:  Author Alan Gratz visits Thoreau
  • Monday, October 22nd - Friday, October 26th:  7th grade science classes visit Accotink Creek
  • Monday, November 5th: student holiday/teacher workday
  • Tuesday, November 6th:  student holiday/teacher workday

R. Jones

Ms. Eshbaugh's 7th grade art student Roshan Jones shows his school pride.

Grade 8 Wellness Screening

As originally communicated in our back-to-school packet, Thoreau Student Services will be conducting a wellness screening for our 8th graders this fall.  The dates are Tuesday, October 16th and Wednesday, October 17th, and the screening will take place through our 8th grade health & physical education classes. 

In order to ensure this is a meaningful learning opportunity for our students, we must closely partner with our parent community. To that end, an informational parent portal is supported and maintained by a nationally recognized organization, Screening for Mental Health, Inc.  This portal will not only allow you an opportunity to review the materials and topics the counselors will cover in our screening, but will also connect you with resources and educational materials related to adolescent mental health issues.  

This information is available to all Thoreau parents. Please know that if you have opted your 8th grader out of the wellness screening, we will ensure he/she has plans for an alternate location on our screening dates. Regardless of participation, we remain committed to the well-being of your child and consider this to be valuable information for you to have access to in the comfort of your own home.

Parent Login Information:

Username: thoreau-par

Password: thoreauSOS

If you have any questions, please contact Thoreau director of student services Rebecca Aguilar at 703-846-8012 or

Thoreau Health Room Volunteer Training Opportunity

There is a one-time training provided by the Fairfax County Health Department that is required for anyone volunteering in the Thoreau school health room.  The training is Wednesday, October 17th, from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, at the Annandale District Office, Heritage Building. The location is 7611 Little River Turnpike, Suite 400E, Annandale, VA 22003.  No pre-registration is required.

Mr. Blackford's class

Mr. Blackford's 7th grade science students take a walking field trip to observe and discuss changes to the environment based on the renovation to Thoreau.

Thoreau Theatre Department News 

The Theatre Company has been announced for this year’s fall play, “Game of Tiaras!" The artistic team was so impressed with auditions and interviews as potential cast members were prepared and took their work seriously. The company lists can be found at 

Rehearsals will take place after school from 2:25 PM to 4:30 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Our production is on Friday, November 30th and Saturday, December 1st at 7:00 PM. Tickets go on sale for the general public on Thursday, November 1st. Congratulations to our cast and crew!

2018-2019 Thoreau Yearbook

Our yearbook is on sale now. There are two places to purchase a copy:

  • A generic version can be purchased for $30.00 on
  • A customized version can be purchased at  This site will show the customized prices and options. 

Yearbook prices increased October 1st and will increase again January 1st.  To date we have sold 55% of our 850 copies.   

Questions? Please contact Thoreau yearbook sponsor Ms. Galeet BenZion at  

Attention Swimmers

Madison High School Swim and Dive will be hosting a swim clinic on Saturday, October 27th featuring Olympic gold medalists Josh Davis and Katie Meili. The clinic will focus on helping develop our swimmers’ starts, turns and underwater kicks. There will also be an inspirational talk and an opportunity to get autographs and take pictures with Josh and Katie. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis so please register ASAP. The cost of the clinic is $100. A copy of the brochure with all of the details is available here.  The clinic is available to all interested swimmers.

PTA News and Announcements

Join the PTA Facebook Group
Thoreau PTA's Facebook group is a great way to stay updated in real time on PTA events and news. It is also a place where we post additional activities of interest at area pyramid schools, as well as volunteer opportunities for parents to support the Thoreau community and service hour opportunities for students to help the wider community. Join our Facebook conversation here. 

Dining for Dollars at Foster's Grille
The Thoreau PTA organizes monthly Spirit Nights at local restaurants who donate to us a percentage of their sales from these events. You can help the PTA raise funds to support our school simply by eating out and inviting family, friends, and neighbors to do the same! Our next Spirit Night will be an all-day opportunity on Monday October 15th at Foster's Grille, 138-A Maple Avenue W., Vienna. Enjoy a meal anytime between 11:00 AM and 9:00 PM.  Place your receipt in the marked box next to the cash register to be counted.

Just a reminder that Spirit Wear orders placed during our fall campaign are now ready for pick-up at the Thoreau Store in the cafeteria. The store is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM. Please ask your student to stop by the store at lunchtime to pick-up your order, or parents may come by if they wish to pick-up their orders personally.

Upcoming Dates
Out next PTA meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, October 25th.  We do plan to have some evening meetings throughout the year and will update you as we get those scheduled.


Emily Korff, Thoreau PTA President 


Thoreau Food Program

In partnership with the PTA, Thoreau Student Services will be packaging and sending home weekend food bags for families in need.  We are looking for donations of non-perishable food items as identified on this Amazon shopping list. For your convenience, these items may be ordered from Amazon and delivered directly to the school. Donations may also be purchased and dropped off in the Thoreau front office to the attention of Director of Student Services Rebecca Aguilar.  Gift cards are also greatly appreciated.