Thoreau Matters - March 22nd Issue


Message from Mr. Azimi

Friday, March 22, 2019

Dear Thoreau Community,

Over the past three years, Thoreau teachers have dedicated time, energy and resources to Project-Based Learning (PBL). PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and hone critical thinking skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem or challenge.  A true PBL activity has essential elements to ensure it provides a quality learning experience for students.  It culminates with students having the opportunity to present their learning in front of an authentic audience.  PBL is currently one of our multi-year schoolwide instructional initiatives and I am proud of our faculty who have been trained in significant PBL professional development for the benefit of our students. I have observed higher levels of student engagement as students are asked to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge. They are practicing real-life skills such as collaboration and research skills.

One terrific example to share with you from this year is our 8th graders completed a cross-curricular civics and English PBL regarding problems in our society. In their English classes throughout quarter 2, students first researched a societal problem of their choosing, such as climate change, immigration, mental health wellness, and discrimination. Then in quarter 3, students utilized their newfound expertise to develop realistic and innovative solutions for these issues. In their civics classes, students developed their knowledge about current legislation on the societal problems while in English they developed their persuasive skills in order to convince audiences that their solutions were both necessary and plausible. Finally, students participated in a week-long share fair held in our library in which they presented their projects to members of our community, including their classmates, parents/families, teachers, administrators, and members of the Town of Vienna government. PBL opportunities are happening all over our building so please ask your child about his/her experiences and what was learned through the process.


Yusef Azimi

8th grade PBL8th grade PBL8th grade PBL

8th grade students share their PBLs during the civics and English cross-curricular presentations held during the month of February.

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Friday, March 29th:  Rising 9th grade activities fair, Madison and Marshall High Schools (Students leave from Thoreau on buses in the morning.)
  • Thursday, April 4th:  Crosstown Hoops basketball game at Marshall High School; doors open at 5:30 PM
  • Tuesday, April 9th:  Rising 7th grade parent Meet and Greet in the library, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Monday, April 15th - Friday, April 19th:  Spring Break

Rising 7th Grade Parent Meet and Greet

The final rising 7th grade parent Meet and Greet will be held on Tuesday, April 9th, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM.  This is an opportunity for rising 7th grade parents to meet the administration and learn a little more about Thoreau.

Rising 9th Grade Activities Fair

Madison and Marshall High Schools will hold their respective activities fair on Friday, March 29th.  Our rising 9th graders will go on a field trip that day to participate in their future high school's activities fair.  Students can expect to receive important information about extracurricular activities and learn more about their upcoming transition to high school.  Students who will be attending Oakton HS will remain at Thoreau as there will be representatives from Oakton at Thoreau to review transition information with those students.  If your child will be attending a school other than Madison, Marshall, or Oakton, please have him/her see Assistant Principal Buck Condill, After-School Specialist Shannon Campbell, or his/her counselor.  See this flyer for additional details.

Permission slips were due to science teachers by Wednesday, March 20th.

  • Madison-bound students will depart Thoreau on buses around 9:30 AM and will return at approximately 11:45 AM.  These students should bring a bagged lunch or money to purchase lunch from Thoreau's cafeteria.
  • Marshall-bound students will depart Thoreau on buses and will return at approximately 12:45 PM.  These students will eat lunch at Marshall so they need to bring a bagged lunch or $3.25 to purchase lunch from Marshall's cafeteria.  (Our students' lunch PINS will not work until they are actually in high school.)

FCPS Family Engagement Survey

FCPS will be conducting a survey to gather information about family engagement in our schools.  Relationships are important to us, and your opinion is critical to help us support your engagement in your child's education.  Your feedback will also help us determine how well we are reaching the goals for Caring Culture we have set in our Strategic Plan.  Survey translations will be available, and the survey can be taken on electronic devices, including smartphones. 

Survey administration is scheduled for Sunday, March 24th - Friday, April 12th.  You will receive more information about how to take the survey in the near future.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Optimist Oratorical Winners

Five Thoreau students competed in the Optimist Oratorical speaking contest on Sunday, March 10th coached by Thoreau English teacher Michelle Gabro.  Each student presented a five-minute speech on this year's topic:  "Is there a fine line between optimism and reality?"  The students competed against high school students and were scored by a panel of judges.  Mia Goldberg and Leslie Payne won 2nd and 3rd place respectively and will be presenting their speeches at a dinner event on Wednesday, March 30th.  Mia will be advancing to districts in Richmond, Virginia in May with Leslie serving as the backup. 


Pictured left to right: 7th grade students Miguel Pinto, Aubrey Leverett, Leslie Payne, Senem Abudukadier, and 8th grade student Mia Goldberg.

Oratorical Speeches

Mia and Leslie accepting their cash prizes. 

Congratulations on a job well done.

Crosstown Hoops

Crosstown Hoops

The annual Crosstown Hoops basketball games between Thoreau and Kilmer students will take place on Thursday, April 4th at Marshall High School.  This flyer gives details about the event, including how to order tickets, tee shirts, and spirit packs.  Thoreau players are excited and practicing hard.  Come out and cheer on the teams!

Madison High School Athletic Summer Camps

Madison is offering baseball, basketball, field hockey, softball, volleyball and wrestling summer camps.  This flyer gives dates, times, costs, grade requirement, and contact information for coaches of each sport.  This is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door at Madison before the school year begins.

Congratulations Thoreau Bands!

The Thoreau bands had their Virginia State Assessment last weekend at Marshall HS and all the groups had outstanding performances.  Special congrats go the the Concert Band on receiving an excellent rating and to the Symphonic Band on receiving a Superior Rating, the highest possible rating at the State Band Assessment.  Well done!

Vienna's Club Phoenix Offers Shuttle from Thoreau

Thoreau's after-school program is partnering with Vienna Teen Center's Club Phoenix to offer shuttle transportation from Thoreau to the teen center. The shuttle will operate on Friday afternoons beginning Friday, April 26th and running through Friday, May 17th.  This date and time was chosen based on the data received from a parent survey done earlier this year.  Details about the shuttle program can be found here.

Spring Break Trips Through Vienna's Club Phoenix

The Vienna Teen Center's Club Phoenix is offering a variety of fun day trips during the week of spring break, Monday, April 15th through Friday, April 19th.  The details about the spring break trips can be found here.

2018-2019 Thoreau Yearbook

Hurry!  Hurry!  The Yearbook Committee is wrapping up its yearbook production and it is almost on its way to the publisher.  Hundreds of pictures have been taken as well as videos and interviews.  Make sure your child has this lovely keepsake for years to come!

A generic version of the yearbook can be purchased at

To purchase an individualized version, go to

Distribution will take place the last week of school in June.  Questions? Please contact Thoreau yearbook sponsor Ms. Galeet BenZion at  

To check if you already ordered a copy, go to or or check your email as both sites email confirmation of your purchase.

News from the Health and Physical Education Department

If you would like to purchase an additional physical education uniform, you can do so at this time.  Uniforms can be purchased online at

Aiko Barnes

National Record Set by One of Our Own

7th grade student Aiko Barnes (pictured in the center) had a truly commendable 2018-2019 indoor track & field season.  Aiko placed first in her age group in the AAU East Coast Track & Field Championship in the 1500-meter race-walk on March 2nd.   On Friday, March 8th, she went on to place first among 14-year-olds in the AAU Indoor Youth Open & Masters National Championship while establishing a national record for the 3000 meter race-walk. Congratulations to Aiko on this huge accomplishment!

PTA News and Announcements

Dining for Dollars

Thoreau's next Dining for Dollars night will be held on Monday, March 25th at MOD Pizza located at 168 Maple Ave W, Vienna, Virginia.  Join the Thoreau community for an artisan pizza or salad any time between 11:00 AM and 10:00 PM.  Mention Thoreau when paying at the register and MOD Pizza will donate 20% of the proceeds to our PTA to help fund school activities and needs.

Crosstown Hoops Tickets

Tickets are on sale for the annual Thoreau vs. Kilmer Crosstown Hoops basketball event held on Thursday, April 4th, with doors opening at 5:30 PM and games beginning at 6:00 PM.  Tickets, souvenir t-shirts, and spirit packs may be purchased at  Tickets are $5.00 per person and every attendee needs a ticket. 

100% of advance purchase sales goes to Thoreau PTA.

50% of proceeds sales at the door goes to Thoreau PTA so please buy your tickets, t-shirts and spirit packs early! 

For further details, see this flyer.

Help the PTA

Please join the PTA and consider making a donation to our no-fuss fundraiser.

Other easy ways you can earn money for Thoreau are:

  • register your Giant card to support Thoreau with the A+ School Rewards, group ID# 02131
  • register your Harris Teeter VIC card with school code 3258
  • designate Thoreau for your Amazon Smile charity
  • keep collecting and sending in your Box Tops


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.


7th grade student Aidan Salmon presented his project on the Model T during one of the many PBLs Thoreau students have participated in this year.  He also created an electronic ad for the car on his computer.