Welcome to 2021! January TJHSST Update

Welcome to 2021!

Dear TJHSST Families:

I hope you enjoyed the recent winter break and all that the holiday season had to offer. As we usher in a new year, it is a time to commit to dreams and actions leading to a brighter future. 

This past week our citizenry was shaken about the future of our nation and democracy. We recognize many TJ families have been impacted in your own homes and neighborhoods. I am sorry for any anxiety, worry, or confusion our students in particular may experience.

Teachers have been sensitive to their students' needs. Also, counselors and administrators have been available for whatever support is requested.

Our children are our hope and make us realize our dreams for a brighter future. They will lead our nation and protect our freedoms. I am proud to know there are over 1800 TJ students who will carry out our school's mission to contribute to the shared interests of humanity.

Also this past week, Dr. Brabrand informed staff and families that Return to School plans have been paused with further evaluation in the coming weeks. While there is disappointment that the metrics do not support in-person instruction, we continue to plan for the eventual return to school. (Please reference the January Calendar Reminders* section below for a complete list of logistical updates.)

To ensure a healthy environment, we will follow five key mitigation strategies: masks, social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, and contact-tracing documentation. When students return to school in person, we will have safety videos and other training to emphasize our protocols. We also are planning student orientations to get re-acquainted to the building and develop our famed TJ community spirit!

On behalf of the entire TJ faculty and staff, thank you for your support in making our first semester a successful one!



Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus


Curriculum Night January 13, 2021

As we enter scheduling season for the 2021-2022 school year, we invite you to attend our Curriculum Night for Parents on Wednesday, Jan. 13 from 6-8 p.m. There will be an opportunity to learn about the course offerings from each of our four divisions. They are:

  • Computer Science and Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Humanities (English and Social Studies)
  • WLAMPE (World Language, the Arts, Music and Physical Education)

Each division will host four sessions virtually (6-6:25 p.m., 6:30-6:55 p.m., 7-7:25 p.m., and 7:30-8 p.m.). Parents can visit any department during any session and in any order they choose. Links to the sessions will be sent via E-Notify on Jan. 13 so be sure to check your email for that message. 

In addition, parents may submit questions ahead of the sessions by using this form. Parents are welcome to ask questions during the sessions as well. We ask that parents come at the start of each session.

All information being shared on the 13th is also going to be accessible on the TJ Website, and more detailed information about the curriculum is always available on each of the TJHSST academic departmental web pages

Students will review the same information on Jan. 13 at the Curriculum Fair for Students during 8th period.

Questions regarding the Curriculum Fair for Parents may be directed to the Director of Student Services, Brandon Kosatka at bpkosatka@fcps.edu.


In each newsletter we want to give some quick shout outs to TJ staff, students, teams, and alumni:

  • The Society of Science announced its top 300 Semifinalists in its Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021. The Regeneron Science Talent Search provides students a national stage to present original research and celebrates the hard work and novel discoveries of young scientists who are bringing a fresh perspective to significant global challenges. The 300 scholars and their schools will be awarded $2,000 each. An incredible six TJ students earned this honor! Each has a chance to become one of 40 finalists when they are announced on Jan. 21. 
    • Siddharth Krishnakumar
    • Sreenidhi Sankararaman
    • Jason Wang
    • Charles H. Wu
    • Kaien Yang
    • Sarah Zhang
  • Late last spring our very own Principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus was named the FCPS 2020 Region 2 Outstanding Principal! Conferring of the awards to all employees of the year was delayed due to the pandemic. The award ceremony will premiere this Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. on Red Apple Channel 21. A live stream can be watched here. Remember to keep checking future News You Choose releases as we feature our 2021 TJHSST Employee of the Year award winners!
  • TJ Journalism teacher Erinn Harris was interviewed by WJLA ABC News 7 after receiving the National Scholastic Press Association's highest honor, the Pioneer Award!
  • Congratulations to Emma Glass ('17) for graduating cum laude from William & Mary with a degree in applied mathematics! She wanted to personally thank Dr. Alouf Jirari Scavotto for lighting the spark in her to continue pursuing the study of math in college.
  • TJ graduate Dr. Justin Romberg ('92), the Schlumberger Professor for Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech,  recently earned the Kilby Medal from the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).
  • TJ alum Dr. Danny Avula ('95) has been tapped by Governor Ralph Northam to lead the state of Virginia's effort to speed up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. He currently works as the Director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments.

How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men

Dr. Esther Barkat, TJ psychologist, will discuss ideas from the book How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men by Dr. Michael C. Reichert. She will conduct two sessions of this presentation, on Jan. 12 and 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. These presentations are brought to you by the PTSA Health & Wellness Committee.

Relationships, valuing emotions, and building social connections are important to healthy development. Reichert says, “The paradigms about boys needing to be stoic and manly can actually cause them to shut down. The key to changing the culture lies in how parents, educators, and mentors help boys develop socially and emotionally.” In his book, he gives step by step guidance.

(From book description) Featuring the latest insights from psychology and neuroscience, How to Raise a Boy will help those who care for young boys and teenagers build a boyhood that will enable them to grow into confident, accomplished and kind men. 

If interested in attending join the Google Meet Link (same link for both sessions), or call in at 224-306-2736 (PIN: 327 154 666#).

Challenge Success: Playtime, Downtime, Family Time (PDF)

We on the TJ Challenge Success team want to wish all of you a happy New Year! Challenge Success has the mission to cultivate learners that are independent, adaptable, ethical, and engaged critical thinkers. We began our journey over two years ago by seeking student input, and as a result have placed an emphasis on addressing workload, managing expectations, and the importance of sleep within our TJ community. Moving into the second half of the school year, the team wants to emphasize the importance of playtime, downtime, and family time (PDF). These are challenging times for all of us so please check out the link for “PDF” Tips during COVID-19. These tips are great ways for all of us across all ages in the TJ community to take a step away from academics and build PDF into our daily routine

Alumni Profiles

Be sure to check out the TJ website often. In addition to good news about current happenings at TJ, we will feature profiles of alumni who are doing big things in the world! The updates will also be featured prominently in this newsletter. This month, let's find out what Peter Andringa ('16) and Brian Tubergen ('09) are up to!


Peter Andringa

Peter Andringa ('16) - TJ's Newest Rhodes Scholar

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology alumnus Peter Andringa recently earned a huge honor as he was named a Rhodes Scholar. He will study in Oxford beginning in the fall of 2021. Andringa graduated from the University of North Carolina this year with degrees in journalism and computer science. He currently works at the Washington Post for its Newsroom Engineering Team. Andringa recently was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on TJ and his future over email.

Click here to read an interview with Peter Andringa


Brian Tubergen

Brian Tubergen ('09) - Forbes 30 Under 30

Forbes magazine recently released its annual 30 under 30 lists, which honor people under 30 years of age for impressive accomplishments in their various fields. Two TJ graduates were among the honorees, including Brian Tubergen, who was honored in the finance category. Tubergen has become heavily involved in the emerging cryptocurrency world. He founded his company CoinList, which is an investment platform that allows people to track and invest in different types of cryptocurrencies. He was kind of enough to give his thoughts on his time at TJ and how it helped prepare him for his current life.

Click here to read an interview with Brian Tubergen


Classroom Monitors

As we mentioned last month, we may need classroom monitors to supervise in-person students whose teachers are not returning to the building and will be teaching virtually during the spring semester. If interested please notify TJ directly by completing this form here. After completing the form, you can apply with FCPS here. A staff member from TJ will be in touch to set up interviews as needs arise.


January Calendar Reminders*

January 11: Those who have books that we are collecting (list was provided in E-Notify message on Jan. 5) should drop them off at TJ between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at their convenience. Make a clear label with the student’s name and student ID number for the front cover of the book. Use a Post-It Note or slip a piece of 8-by-11 paper folded in half between the cover and title page for the student info. Please drive around the school to drop off texts at Door 12. Place books on the carts outside Door 12. 

January 12: Previously, a new FCPS bell schedule with TJ dismissing 15 minutes early was to start on this date. With a change in FCPS Return to School plans, the existing bell schedule will remain in place pending future updates from FCPS.

January 13: Virtual Curriculum Fair for parents takes place 6-8 p.m. Details with log-in information will be sent to parents in an E-Notify message the afternoon of January 13.

January 19: Synchronous Blue Day instruction for periods 1-4. Previously a teacher work day, but with a change in the FCPS Return to School plans, this is now a day of instruction.

January 20: Inauguration Day. Schools closed for students and staff.

January 21: Synchronous Red Day instruction for periods 5-8. Previously a teacher work day, but with a change in the FCPS Return to School plans, this is now a day of instruction.

January 22: Second Quarter/First Semester ends with 2-hour early release for students. Synchronous instruction with abbreviated periods 1-7.

January 25: Sophomores and seniors textbook pickup for second semester. This was previously scheduled for January 19.

January 26: Third Quarter/Second Semester starts. All TJ students remain at home for online instruction pending Return to School updates.

February 1: Freshmen and juniors textbook pickup for second semester. This was previously scheduled for January 21.

February 2: Return to School updates from Dr. Brabrand to school board.

* Dates/purposes subject to change based on health metrics, instructional needs, and systemic decisions by FCPS.


Helpful FCPS Resources

Mental Health Resources and Emergency Services Information

Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment form


Return to School

Student Health and Safety Guidance Document

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Permission to Return to School/Child Care Form

Virginia Department of Health


Riding the Bus

Return to School Daily Procedures

If you or someone you know is struggling, contact CrisisLink (703-527-4077) or Crisis Text (text NEEDHELP to 85511)