Second Semester Underway! February TJHSST Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

February is our month to put the finishing touches on returning to the TJ brick and mortar building we all love!

Remember, we will follow five key mitigation strategies: masks, social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, and contact-tracing documentation.

FCPS has launched a new campaign, titled “Stop the Spread,”  to reiterate the 5 CDC mitigation measures in the school community. The campaign focuses on teaching and reinforcing the what, why, and how of implementing each mitigation strategy. Please take time to watch the community video.

All staff will participate in a required professional development that highlights their role and responsibility as an employee to ensure the mitigation measures are being used across the division with fidelity.

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! And don't worry- for those remaining at home with online instruction, we will continue to personally connect with each other. We are one TJ!

Within the next week or so we will advertise a Q&A forum for parents.

Thanks to all for supporting a safe transition and acknowledging the tremendous work of our teachers who continue to deliver instruction at the highest levels of excellence.



Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus


Second Quarter/First Semester Grades Now Available

To our Parents/Guardians: Second Quarter / First Semester grades have been completed and can be accessed in SIS StudentVUE and SIS ParentVUE. Additionally, a PDF of the report card can also be found to download, save, and print. Access SIS ParentVUE accounts by visiting this website.

New Bell Schedule Begins Feb. 16

While the return to in-person learning for TJ has been set for March 2 (9th and 12th grade) and March 9 (10th and 11th grade), a new bell schedule will be in place beginning Feb. 16 when the first students in FCPS begin to return to their respective schools. The new bell schedule accommodates FCPS transportation needs.

TJ's new school day will run from 8:40 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. Despite being 15 minutes shorter, no instructional time was removed. Time was shaved from transitions. Also, the new schedule incorporates two lunch shifts so students can be safely socially distanced in multiple locations while they eat.

Why would we start the lunch shift schedules on February 16 if students don't return until March 2? Good question! Practice, practice, practice. We need to develop our new habits for the rest of the year and work out any glitches prior to students' first day back in the building. 

Effective February 16, the TJ Bell schedule will be as follows:

Blue Day Red Day
Period Time Period Time
1 8:40-10:05 a.m. 5 8:40-10:05 a.m.
2 10:20-11:45 a.m. 6 10:20-11:45 a.m.
3 (A-Lunch)

Lunch - 11:45 a.m.-12:25 p.m.

Class - 12:40-2:05 p.m.

7 (A-Lunch)

Lunch - 11:45 a.m.-12:25 p.m.

Class - 12:40-2:05 p.m.

OR   OR  
3 (B-Lunch)

Class - 12:00-1:25 p.m.

Lunch - 1:25-2:05 p.m.

7 (B-Lunch)

Class - 12:00-1:25 p.m.

Lunch - 1:25-2:05 p.m.

4 2:20-3:45 p.m. 8A 2:15-2:55 p.m.
    8B 3:05-3:45 p.m.


Teachers will inform students which lunch period they will be participating in. Keep in mind that they could be in A-Lunch on Blue Days and B-Lunch on Red Days (or vice versa).

TJ Employees of the Year

In an earlier News You Choose newsletter, we revealed the TJ Employee of the Year award winners. This month, we want you to hear directly from them, along with some thoughts from Principal Dr. Bonitatibus.

Dan Tra headshot

Outstanding Teacher

Dan Tra, Computer Science Teacher

Mr. Tra says: "Good computer science people are extremely valuable. Great computer science teachers, like the many we have at TJHSST, are priceless. It is an honor to be recognized as a teacher who connects with students. One that is approachable and serves as a mentor to support and guide without passing judgment."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Mr. Tra brings unparalleled enthusiasm and energy to his work each day. Even though STEM is serious business, Mr. Tra never takes himself too seriously and has fun! We are proud of how he empowers students and nurtures their love of CS."


Outstanding New Teacher

Kelsey Stuart, Astronomy Teacher

Ms. Stuart says: "My first reaction to winning the award was that I wish I could could award credit to others. I have been so supported by my mentor, my division leader, my AP, the other lab directors, the other tech teachers, Great Beginning coaches, the 8th period office, IBET teachers, other new teachers (without whom I may still not have a badge!), and so many more. Thank you everyone, sincerely, for the outpouring of love and support that provided a great start to this interesting first year of teaching! Teaching is a team effort and I certainly have a great team here at TJ!

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Ms. Stuart has arrived at TJ like a supernova- exploding on the astronomy scene and shining as bright as a galaxy! She has been a strong supporter of colleagues and regularly volunteers to help with TJ events."

Kelsey Stuart headshot
Miruna Tecuci Headshot

Outstanding Professional Employee 

Miruna Tecuci, School Based Technology Specialist

Ms. Tecuci says: "I am extremely touched to have been nominated and selected by my colleagues, especially this year! I’m also very proud of how much progress teachers have made in their technology integration and am honored to have had a helping hand in that learning."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Ms. Tecuci has supported teachers throughout online teaching and learning. Whether it was figuring out Blackboard or presenting in Google Classroom, she has made even the most complicated instructional technology processes seem easy!"

Outstanding Operational Employee 

Margaret Wilson, Front Office Administrative Assistant

Ms. Wilson says: "Truth to tell, my initial reaction to the annual call for nominating 'Outstanding' colleagues, in this year like no other, was 'How about we nominate everyone at TJ to receive this award?' I am inspired daily by the not so random acts of gritty patience, unstinting collegiality, and round-the-clock tenacious, good-hearted problem solving.  This hospitable TJ Norm – now on hyper pandemic drive – came clear to me as I burned through my Rookie Card beginning in August 2018. New to TJ, Fairfax County and Virginia, my numerous questions were met in that spirit by mentors extraordinaire, especially the '12-month club'. Likewise, my appreciation to anyone then and now who asks me a question: each is a navigation tool through the everchanging labyrinth that is FCPS.  Thank you kindly for this recognition, and please, keep those questions coming."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Ms. Wilson is truly an earthy person who touches our souls every day. It is easy to connect with her calm and caring disposition. And of course, we know administrative assistants really run the show!"

Margaret Wilson headshot

TJ Earns Computer Science Diversity Award

TJHSST has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A during the 2019-20 school year.  It was one of 232 high schools in the AP program to earn this honor.  In TJ’s case, female to male ratio in the sophomore elective Data Structures with AP Computer Science A matched the ratio of females to males for the whole school, about 40% to 60%.  We are proud of how we have expanded our young women’s access to AP computer science classes and for the important steps they’re taking to reach gender parity in the field.


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

  • Congratulations go out to the Model UN Club. On Jan. 8 they participated in the CHMUN conference held at Chantilly High School and won Best Large Delegation! Individually the team members earned several awards for their committee work, including: 7 Verbal Commendations (4th place), 7 Honorable Mentions (3rd place), 10 Outstanding Delegate awards (2nd place) and 6 Best Delegate awards (1st place)!
  • On behalf of the Activities Office, the Athletic Training Staff, and our Principal Dr. Bonitatibus, we extend our gratitude to our Winter Athletic Coaches, THANK YOU!. TJ is blessed with a  very talented, dedicated, and devoted group of Winter Coaches. Our Coaches went above and beyond to make sure that our athletes were provided the most positive experience possible, and at the same time effectively handled some very unusual and uncertain circumstances throughout the winter season….well done!
  • The TJ Counseling Staff wants to recognize the SGA leaders for their collaboration with Student Services in creating engaging SEL lessons for the TJ community. We appreciate your efforts to make SEL relevant to TJ students!
  • Congratulations to the 165 new members of the TJ National Honor Society that were (virtually) inducted into the Challenger Chapter on Jan. 8! A quick reminder that new members need to pay their dues on My School Bucks before Spring Break.
  • Our students had an amazing performance at the 2021 Scholastic Writing Regional Competition. In the most competitive environment ever, TJ students produced more Gold Keys (14) than ever before, and some students had multiple Golds. Those students with Gold Keys will now be forwarded to the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers for national award consideration. There will be local recognition at the 2021 Online Awards Ceremony to be announced by our local sponsor, Writopia Lab DC.
  • The TJ Chess Team is competing in the ongoing Virginia State Scholastic Chess Championships. This year, the championships are being held online in a series of three qualifiers, where participants can qualify for the April invitational tournament based on their performance in the qualifiers. Previously, the state chess championship was just one tournament, and TJ has won it continually for 20 years. So far, the team has been doing extremely well. In the first qualifier, on January 9-10,  they placed first by over a 50% margin. Congratulations to all the players!

Challenge Success: Time Management Worksheet

Students have begun the academic advising process this week and are starting to make their course selections for the 2021-22 school year. One challenge for many enthusiastic and ambitious TJ students is managing the time demands of academics, extra-curricular passions, family commitments, sleep, and social life.

Every student is different, but the one thing they all have in common is that they only have 24 hours in their day. This worksheet was created by students at another Challenge Success high school to help kids get a realistic view of the demands on their time. This document is on the Challenge Success website and places a focus on helping students maintain balance when making course selections. Please take a look at this link to a Student Time Management Worksheet.

In addition, along with the PTSA Challenge Success subcommittee, we are finalizing plans for an upcoming Challenge Success Presentation for Parents. The date for this virtual event will be coming soon. It will include our progress to date, student initiatives, teacher initiatives, and our future plans to implement our TJ focus areas. This event is designed to update the parent community and educate parents of newer students less familiar with the goals of Challenge Success.

SEL Lesson - Self Awareness

This week’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lesson during 8th period focused on the SEL core competency of Self-Awareness.  The Self-Awareness competency is characterized as recognizing and reflecting on the role of one’s values, feelings, interests, abilities and multiple facets of identity in shaping one’s thoughts and actions. The topic of discussion during homeroom was Anxiety & Stress.  Learn more about the lesson in The Suite Life, Student Services Newsletter.

The SEL lesson offered tips to deal with stress and testimonials from our teachers, former TJHSST students and our very own FCPS superintendent, Dr. Brabrand. Click this link to view his video message for our students:  .

“Together” by Vivek Murthy Book Discussion

Parents, staff, and students are invited to a book group discussion on “Together” by Vivek Murthy – led by Danielle Armstrong and Esther Barkat and hosted by the PTSA Health & Wellness Committee. There are two sessions, Feb. 23 and March 2. Both will run from 7-8:30 p.m.

RSVP here

Join us to discuss his suggested strategies to intentionally build connection and decrease loneliness, and share your thoughts! Start reading (but feel free to join us even if you don’t have a chance to). 

More about the book

Important Calendar Reminders*

February 1-12: Class of 2022 meeting with assigned counselor to finalize 2021-22 course selection.

February 15: President's Day Holiday, no school for students and staff.

February 15-26: Class of 2023 meeting with assigned counselor to finalize 2021-22 course selection.

February 16: New bell schedule begins. TJ school day will be from 8:40 a.m.-3:45 p.m. See story in newsletter above for more details.

February 19: Catch-Up Day for students. Follow regular synchronous schedule to log attendance. No new work will be assigned, but teachers will be available to help with questions and instruction or give independent time to work on other content.

March 1-12: Class of 2024 meeting with assigned counselor to finalize 2021-22 course selection.

March 2: Ninth and 12th graders begin Hybrid Return to Learning schedule. Those who have chosen to return in person whose last names begin A-K will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and virtually on Thursday and Fridays. Those with last names beginning with L-Z will attend virtually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in person on Thursday and Fridays. Parents/Guardians who have chosen to send their students back for in-person learning must fill out the health screening commitment form prior to their student's return. Those who have chosen to remain all virtual will follow their regular daily schedule.

March 5: 2-hour early release. TJ will run modified Red Day schedule.

March 8: Staff development day. This is a student holiday with no asynchronous learning.

March 9: 10th and 11th graders begin Hybrid Return to Learning schedule. Those who have chosen to return in person whose last names begin A-K will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and virtually on Thursday and Fridays. Those with last names beginning with L-Z will attend virtually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in person on Thursday and Fridays. Parents/Guardians who have chosen to send their students back for in-person learning must fill out the health screening commitment form prior to their student's return. Those who have chosen to remain all virtual will follow their regular daily schedule.

* All 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)