Concurrent Learning Begins! March TJHSST Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

March has come roaring in as we're welcoming nearly 200 faculty and staff and approximately 450 students back to the building. March 12, 2020, was the last day school was in full session, and I still remember the crushing feeling that came with the news that we would have to shut down. 

No one could have imagined it would take a year before we could start to emerge from isolation. Through it all, we have stayed together as a TJ family and supported each other each step of the way!

The energy was pumped up this past week as freshmen and seniors rediscovered TJ. We appreciate the respect and care they demonstrated following our five key mitigation strategies: masks, social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, and contact-tracing documentation.

Students who are remaining at home reminded us how FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a real thing. For that reason we're committed to building community and staying connected as One TJ. We have been livestreaming our orientation sessions so students at home can join and see us wave to them. Also, be on the lookout for TJ Mystery Messages. Students who returned to the building were asked to write short notes that will be mailed to their classmates at home.

I would like to personally thank my administrative team for tending to every detail and positioning the school for success throughout our many transitions this past year: Ms. Fitzgerald, Mr. Frank, Ms. Hawkins, Mr. Hodges, Mr. Kosatka, Mr. Resquin, and Ms. Russell. Our custodian team lead by Mr. Yuan and Mr. Barclay continue their stellar service keeping our building safe and sparkling. Our administrative assistants, instructional assistants, finance team, and food nutrition services staff have also played integral roles. Of course, our teachers and counselors are the backbone to student success and have risen to every challenge. I continue to be in awe of all my colleagues.

I would like to conclude by sharing a portion of a message Geosystems teacher, Dr. Woodwell, recently sent me as it captures the sentiment of so many: 

I am so impressed and humbled by the sense of common purpose and rising to the occasion that we have seen through the pandemic, especially in this run-up to having students in the school. There are so many details.... And it is paying off – in class the past two days the in-school students have been spontaneously turning on their cameras and showing everybody their classrooms and where people are sitting and telling us about lunch with their friends, as though the sun has finally risen. What a pleasure it is to teach at TJ. 

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.

We're TJ and we got this!



Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus


Great to Have Students Back in the Building!

TJ was thrilled to begin concurrent learning this past week. We welcomed back 9th and 12th graders who chose to return to in-person learning with an orientation assembly and a fun scavenger hunt to get them used to finding their way around the building. Here are some photos from those days courtesy of senior Sean Nguyen and Administrative Assistant Bethany Fortier. We can't wait for the Class of 2022 and Class of 2023 to join them next week!


Teachers with Multilanguage welcome signs Collage of Return to School Photos from Tuesday, March 2Collage of Photos from Return to School on March 4


We also want to recognize our students who have chosen to remain virtual. We are One TJ and want to make sure that no one is feeling left out. Just like there are students who are remaining virtual, we have approximately a dozen teachers or other staff members who will be working from home the remainder of this semester. All faculty have personally informed their students and families of their status. We will continue to connect with all our teachers and students who are working from home to make sure they are set up for continued success. We got this TJ!

Assistive Technology Club Nominated for Fairfax County Student Peace Award

Congratulations goes out to the TJHSST Assistive Technology Club as they have been nominated for the Student Peace Award of Fairfax County. These awards began in 2006 with the hope of encouraging people to think more about peace as both a means and an end, and to recognize young people who work as peacemakers.

Recognizing the special needs of elementary school children whose disabilities are so severe they have limited mobility, speech, or hearing abilities, students at TJ formed the Assistive Technology Club (ATC) to use their technology skills to provide support for a group of these children, their teachers, and caretakers. Over a period of more than 12 years, members of the ATC have designed books, enhanced instructional materials, developed games, and implemented specially designed software programs for use with  the children’s specialized communication devices. One example is a tablet with an app that allows a nonverbal child on the autism spectrum to speak and learn vocabulary through touching symbols on the tablet screen.

We are proud of the ATC and the positive difference they have made.

Challenge Success: College Admissions Resources

TJ remains committed to our Challenge Success goals developed with the help of the Chalenge Success school network. We continue to focus on managing expectations, workload, and sleep.

Also, there are many resources we regularly tap from Challenge Success. want to share with you some resources for families exploring college admissions during this time, leading to next year and the admissions process. Please find the resources below and see how to best select a college for your student:


National Athletic Training Month

National Athletic Training Month logo

March is National Athletic Training Month and this year’s theme is “ATs are Essential to Health Care.” It's an appropriate slogan reflecting the important role certified athletic trainers employed by Fairfax County Public Schools play in keeping our students safe.

Nationally certified and state licensed medical professionals, FCPS athletic trainers dedicate themselves to promoting the health and safety of our student-athletes before, during and after practices and competitions. 

TJ’s ATs are Heather Murphy and Caroline Taylor. They provide athletic healthcare to over 1000 athletes playing 19 sports on 43 teams. Over 200 TJ student-athletes were able to attend out-of-season conditioning from July to December, when competitive sports started again. Outside of their regular duties, ATs were responsible for screening for symptoms and capturing data for every student-athlete prior to daily out of season activity. ATs played a vital role in training our coaches about the VHSL cleaning, disinfecting, and participation rules. Normally we celebrate NATM during the Spring Sports season and we are excited to do so during Fall this year!

GIve a shout out on social media to our wonderful ATs and use the #ATsareEssentialtoHealthCare and #VAATsareEssentialtoHealthCare #NATM2021 to share a story about how Ms. Murphy and Mrs. Taylor have been essential to TJ’s Athletic Health Care.

You can find them on Twitter @TJHSST_AT or on TJ’s Athletic Instagram @TJColonials1.

Apply for Student Representative to the School Board

The following notice is from the FCPS School Board and will be of interest for current 9th, 10th, and 11th graders.

Opportunity to Apply for Student Representative to the School Board

Each year, in accordance with FCPS Policy 1802, FCPS students have the opportunity to apply for the position of the student representative to the School Board.  The student representative is not a member of the School Board but serves in a nonvoting, advisory capacity, representing the interests of the students of Fairfax County Public Schools.  Students who are currently in grades 9, 10, and 11 are eligible to apply and they do not need to be current members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SAC).  Applications are due April 7, 2021.  The application and related details can be found at

8th Period Spotlight: TJ Poi Club

A new monthly segment in this newsletter will feature profiles of some of the more than 150 clubs that TJ has to offer during 8th period. This month we are profiling our Poi Club!

Poi is a type of dance where participants swing tethered weights to create rhythmic and geometric patterns. 

TJ's Poi Club is sponsored by mathematics teacher Karilee Schmitt and meets during 8th Period Friday "B" block. The group has around 20 members, including four officers. They have been able to incorporate new freshmen to the group despite the virtual environment by having them create their own "sock poi" instruments at home. 

A few weeks ago, the Poi Club hosted a clinic to teach more people about the art form. They plan on doing more virtual ones this year. If interested in attending one, please contact Ms. Schmitt via email.

The group has also put together two virtual performances. The first was an informal one with members of the ASL club and members of Poi over the summer. The second was done more recently. The team worked on choreography and teaching the moves during its club meetings and then had people submit videos to be edited together. Here are some photos from that performance.


Screenshots from Poi Club performance


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

  • Our TJ Science Bowl Team won the 2021 Regional Championship! They worked very hard to get here and competed (and won) with grace. It was a very long day but they did it and they will now set their sights on Nationals which are in April.
TJ Science Bowl 2021 Regional Championship Team
  • TJ had 24 teams compete in the CyberPatriot competition this year. Two teams earned recognition at the state level with one team earning Platinum status and the other earning Gold status! For the third year in a row, TJ will have a team competing at the national competition! 

    Skillful organization and planning are the primary reasons for their success. Before each round, they planned out a strategy for the images and Cisco networking as a team. They divided up tasks according to each members' specialty. The team is constantly challenged to do predictive researching in an attempt to anticipate nuances the challenge may throw at them.

  • On Feb. 13 the Model UN Club participated in the North American Invitational Model UN conference hosted by Georgetown University. The team took the top overall award as it was named Best Large Delegation! Individually, TJ team members earned 40 awards - 11 Verbal Commendations (4th place), 6 Honorable Mentions (3rd place), 13 Outstanding Delegate awards (2nd place), 5 Best Delegate awards, aka Gavels (1st place) and 5 “Book” awards (given to the student in each committee who has prepared the best research).
  • The TJ Boys Swim and Dive Team won the VHSL Class 5 State Championship! It's their first title since 2018. In wrestling, freshman Ben Rubin won the VSHL Class 5 State Championship at 120 pounds. He was undefeated for the entire season!
  • Congratulations to the Scholastic Bowl Team for winning the Regional Championship and advancing to the VHSL State Tournament on March 20!

Quick Reminders

  • Juniors who still need to take the EOC Writing SOL should be preparing their FCPS issued laptops by restarting daily to ensure all updates are installed before test day and that TestNav is up to date.  Students and parents should be on the lookout for information from our Assessment Coach, Lisa Broadhead, in their emails.
  • Sophomores have the opportunity to participate in the PSAT10 on Monday, April 19.  If you have not already done so, please complete the Intent to Participate form using the student’s account.  Please reach out to our Assessment Coach, Lisa Broadhead, with any questions.
  • Reminder from transportation - In-person students who are riding the bus are requested to take a photo of their bus assignment on their phone so that they have it on them when riding their bus.
  • Spring Sports will start on April 12. That includes Boys and Girls Soccer, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball, Boys and Girls Tennis, and Outdoor Track. All TJ sports information is on Visit often as tryout info will be published soon.

Important Calendar Reminders*

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

March 9: 10th and 11th graders whose last name begins A-K begin Hybrid Return to Learning schedule. Those with last names A-K will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and virtually on Thursday and Fridays. Those with last names L-Z will attend virtually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and in-person on Thursdays 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 9: Orientation for in-person 10th and 11th graders whose last name begins A-K. All other in-person students will go to their first period class for  asynchronous time. All virtual students will have asynchronous time or be able to tune into the orientation.

March 11: Orientation for in-person 10th and 11th graders whose last name begins L-Z. All other in-person students will go to their first period class for  asynchronous time. All virtual students will have asynchronous time or be able to tune into the orientation.

March 15: 11th graders who attend school in-person on Thursdays and Fridays will have opportunity to come into the building to complete their Writing SOL.

March 22: 11th graders who attend school virtually will have the opportunity to come into the building to complete their Writing SOL.

March 26: 3rd Quarter comes to an end. This will be a two-hour early release day. The school day will end at 1:45 p.m.

March 29-April 2: Spring Break for all FCPS students. No homework is assigned over break and no major assessments upon return. Enjoy!

April 5: Staff Development day. This is a student holiday with no asynchronous learning.

* 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)