Thoreau Matters - May 10th Issue

Message from Mr. Azimi

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dear Thoreau Community,

Today culminates our celebration of Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week and this is my opportunity to publicly state my gratitude for the dedication and commitment of the 130+ Thoreau faculty and staff.  This is my 4th school year as the principal of Thoreau and it has given me tremendous personal satisfaction to work alongside and lead a group of educators who have our students' best interest at heart.  I truly am proud of these exemplary professionals.

As I wrote in the last issue of Thoreau Matters, I invite students and parents to celebrate our teachers and staff by writing emails/letters to express appreciation.  It costs nothing, yet those kinds of messages carry so much weight for educators and I know they save them forever.  Thank you so much to those of you who have sent in emails all week long.  The Thoreau staff directory can be found here and please feel free to cc: me at  It is not too late to honor a teacher who has made a difference for you!


Yusef Azimi

PS - A special thank you to our Thoreau PTA and NFCU for helping us celebrate this week.

Staff Appreciation

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Tuesday, May 7th - Thursday, May 23rd:  SOL testing
  •  Monday, May 27th:  Memorial Day Holiday
  • Thursday, May 30th:  Last day of after-school activities and buses
  • Thursday, June 13th:  Last day of school, 11:15 AM dismissal

Madison HS Athletics

Madison 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.

Madison Fall Sports

Madison's athletics department has released information regarding their fall sports programs.  This flyer gives details about a sports physical night, contact information for the coaches of eight sports, and tryout details.

Oakton Athletics Training Program

The Oakton athletics training program is hosting pre-participation physical exams (PPEs) for the 2019-2020 school year.  The physicals will be held on Monday, May 13th from 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM at Oakton HS.  Please see this link for details and how to register.

Thomas Jefferson HSST Open House

Thomas Jefferson HSST is having their annual open house on Saturday, June 1st from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.  Parents and students can register here.  The address for the school is 6560 Braddock Rd., Alexandria, Virginia and the contact email for more information is

Student Services Updates

Spring SOL Testing Calendar

Thoreau 7th and 8th graders will be taking the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests from Tuesday, May 7th - Thursday, May 23rd with make-up testing and expedited retakes continuing into the month of June.  These tests are required of all Virginia students in grades three through twelve.  SOL tests measure the extent to which students have learned the content and skills specified in the Virginia Standards of Learning.  Most Thoreau students will be tested with their grade level team according to this schedule.  Please note that some students will be testing on alternate days in order to meet individualize student needs.

There is a flipped bell schedule on Wednesday, May 22nd and Thursday, May 23rd to accommodate for our testing schedule.  The flipped schedule can be found here for your planning purposes.

Please assist your child in doing well on these test days by making sure he/she is well-rested and eats a good breakfast on his/her testing days.  Also, if possible, avoid scheduling appointments on days your child will be tested.

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) Award of Excellence

The Award of Excellence is presented annually by NFCU to a Thoreau student for outstanding service to the school and/or community.  His or her name will be engraved on a plaque displayed in the school entrance.

The award is presented to a student who exemplifies the qualities of service and volunteerism within the school and/or community.  In order to qualify for the award, a student must submit this application.  The applications will be reviewed by a panel of representatives from Thoreau and NFCU.  The recipient of the award will be named at Thoreau's annual awards ceremony in June.

Thoreau Letter Award

The Thoreau Letter is an award given based on participation and accomplishments in the following areas:  service to the community, academic recognition, extra-curricular activities, and leadership.  See this link for details and to apply. Recipients will receive the Thoreau Letter at Thoreau's annual awards ceremony in June.

This is the link to the student services web page.

Mr. Christoff's class

Thoreau history teacher Ryan Christoff took his 7th period class out to our beautiful new courtyard to work on their World War II essays and enjoy the great weather.

What is Your Middle School Child Doing this Summer?

Like you, we believe your child is a Very Important Person and deserves a summer experience that is safe and full of fitness, friends, fun, and enrichment.  FCPS and Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (DNCS) have teamed up to offer a five-week camp called VIP for rising 7th and 8th graders from six middle schools (rising 6th graders attending Glasgow, Poe and Holmes are eligible).  Bus transportation will be provided from various pick-up locations which will be communicated in June prior to the start of camp.

There is a $50.00 registration fee for the camp plus field trip fees for students who plan to attend the weekly field trips.  More details will follow about these trips.

The staff is led by local after-school specialists and trained DNCS staff.  Electives include:  art, technology, sports science, drama/tech crew, history, world languages, cooking, gaming, sports/group games, and strengthening skills in math and English for our students of other languages.  Spanish for fluent speakers will also be available.

  • Dates:  Monday, July 1st - Thursday, August 1st, excluding July 4th and 5th and August 2nd.  Campers are encouraged to attend all five weeks.
  • Time:  8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Location:  Holmes Middle School
  • Registration:  Sign-up here or visit Thoreau's main office by Friday, May 3rd.  You will receive notice of acceptance or wait-list status. Spaces are limited.
  • Please note that the deadline for registration has been extended until Friday, May 24th.

Contact Thoreau after-school specialist Shannon Campbell at or 703-846-8089 with questions.

Town of Vienna News

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 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.

Viva Vienna Volunteer Service Opportunity

The Rotary Club of Vienna presents the annual Viva Vienna event held in downtown Vienna on Saturday, May 25th - Monday, May 27th.  100% of the net profits go to local, regional and international non-profit organizations.  The weekend is free and includes rides, crafts, music, food, a children's stage, and a Memorial Day tribute.  Middle and high school volunteers are needed on Sunday, May 26th and Monday, May 27th for general clean-up throughout the site, food court area clean-up, and handing out brochures and maps.  See this link to sign-up and volunteer.  It is mandatory that all students provide emergency contact information.  Questions can be directed to volunteer coordinator Nancy Garcia at

This link provides additional details about the event.

Theatre Department Updates


Shrek the Musical Jr.

Follow the adventures of Shrek, his sidekick Donkey, Princess Fiona, Lord Farquaad and everybody's favorite fairy-tale creatures.  With an original new score, this show proves there's more to the story than meets the eye...

Dates and Times:  Thursday, May 9th - Saturday, May 11th at 7:00 PM and Saturday, May 11th at 2:00 PM.  The performance will run for 1.5 hours with a 15-minute intermission.

Tickets:  Tickets may be purchased by either visiting this link beginning Friday, April 26th or at the door when you arrive.  Cash and major credit cards will be accepted.

Institute For The Arts (IFTA)

IFTA is an FCPS arts enrichment and academic program for students currently in grades 6-11.  Students select four classes from a course list of 80 including dance, music, theatre, visual art, and fashion.  Students entering grade 9 may take the online Health & PE (HPE9) course and students entering grades 9-12 may take the self-directed Economics and Personal Finance (EPF) course as one of their four class choices.

This flyer lists FAQs for Shrek the Musical Jr., as well as details about the Institute For the Arts.

Follow TMS Theatre for a look behind the scenes and upcoming productions here or on Instagram @tmstheatre.

Thoreau Yearbook News

2018-2019 Yearbook Sales

With more videos than ever before and pictures of life at school, this year's yearbook is a valuable memory to have.

The yearbook can be purchased at  Distribution will take place the last week of school in June. 

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

2019-2020 Yearbook Committee Application

The yearbook committee has had a fantastic year.  We are looking for rising 7th and 8th graders who are interested in joining our dynamic production team.  If you like creating projects and are interested in acting, singing, drawing, general art, graphic design, journalism, writing, interviewing, editing, or photography please apply here.

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

Poetry Slam

7th grade English students wrote and performed original poems for the annual 7th grade Poetry Slam in the Thoreau library during the last week of April.  The driving question was, "How can you, as a poet, write and perform an original poem that showcases your individuality?"  Topics ranged from social/emotional issues, family, friendship, passions, ambitions, and beyond.

Thoreau 2019 Art Show

You are invited to a reception in honor of Thoreau's student artists and their families.  The art show will take place at Navy Federal Credit Union, 820 Follin Lane, Vienna, Virginia on Tuesday, May 21st from 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM.  Thoreau's Ovation Ensemble will provide musical entertainment during the show.  Adult volunteers are needed to help take down student artwork.  If you are able to help, please sign-up here.  See this art show flyer for additional details.

PTA News and Announcements

Message from the President

It's been a year since I was elected as PTA President.  Since my youngest child is finishing up 8th grade, we both will be moving on to Madison next year.  As my term comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what the PTA was able to accomplish this year and all of the wonderful volunteers who made it all happen.

  • The PTA granted $8000 directly to staff members to fund projects and items they requested to help support their work.  A big thanks to treasurer Amanda Dixon who worked hard to make sure the grant checks were provided on a timely basis and member Jennifer Alford who helped compile the grant requests.
  • The PTA's hospitality committee provided monthly treats for the staff including a week-long staff appreciation event.  Hospitality co-chairs Nene Spivey, Gayle Schlueter and Margaret Herbold worked all year (for the second year in a row) to coordinate these events.
  • The PTA-run school store helped ensure that students had access to needed school supplies during the school day.  Each week a half-dozen parents came and helped operate the store.  A big thanks to chairs Tana Keefe and Pinar Turhan for coordinating the inventory and volunteers.  We also provided families the option to order school supplies at the beginning of the school year.  Thank you to the hard work of chairs Lucy Arrington and Cheryl Bredehoeft.
  • Our website, newsletter and Facebook page helped disseminate information to families.  A big thanks to webmaster Withers Hurley and newsletter editor Andrea Kramer who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure those were updated and shared regularly.  We also were able to move to an electronic directory this year due to the hard work of chairs Mike Paruti and Michelle McHenry.
  • Our 7th Grade Family Dinner, which usually has a fall theme, had to be rescheduled after a fluke early snow day closed the school.  The planning committee regrouped and planned the event for the spring.  A big thanks to members Jennifer Bacon, Karyn Patino, Karla Mihalak, Dawn-Marie Singleton and Mimi Chou who worked tirelessly to make that happen.
  • We continued to earn donation income through rebate programs, box tops, and dining for dollars.  A big thanks to chairs Ishita Yameen, Megan Pauley and Missy Dixon for their work in bringing money into the PTA/school.
  • We fostered school spirit by providing spirit wear and supporting Crosstown Hoops.  A big thanks to spirit wear chairs Natacha Moore, Mike Paruti and Karyn Patino.
  • The PTA hosted the Thoreau Spelling Bee due to the hard work of chair Eliza Morss. The old continued was nurtured under the care of chair Alecia Fowler.
  • We will finish off the year by hosting the 8th grade party under the leadership of chairs Mary Pat Julian and Kristyn Woldow.

We had families who helped by making financial donations, donating items for hospitality events, or volunteering time for events.  We all pitched in and helped support the school, students, staff, and administration to help provide the best learning environment possible.  And, of course, we couldn't do all of what we do without the hard work of membership chair Stephanie Bollini and my fellow board members, VP Stacey Leimbach, treasurer Amanda Dixon, and secretary Debbie Gardner.  I was honored to be part of this great group and wish next year's PTA well.


Emily Korff, Thoreau PTA President 


Next PTA Meeting

Our final PTA meeting of this school year will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, May 23rd.  We will elect our officers for next year and take a moment to appreciate our volunteers.  Please come join us! 

Our officer slate for 2019-2020 is:

  • Andrea Kramer, president
  • Irina Smirnoff, vice president
  • Amy Vernon, treasurer
  • Wendy Pearson, secretary

Volunteers Needed

The school year's end is approaching and that means it will be time to celebrate our 8th graders!  The PTA's 8th Grade Party Committee is planning for a fun-filled dance event on Friday, May 31st from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM in the gym.  All 8th grade students are invited to attend this free social event.  The committee is requesting help from Thoreau families to make the evening special.  Donations of food, paper ware, and small gift cards for door prizes are requested.  Please sign-up here if you can contribute.  Volunteers are needed to setup and monitor the party.  Please sign-up here if you can help.

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.

Mia Goldberg

Congratulations to 8th grade Mia Goldberg who competed in the Optimist Oratorical competition in Richmond last weekend.  Mia competed against other statewide middle school regional winners.