Spring has Sprung! April TJHSST Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

Spring has sprung as has our hope for emerging from the pandemic in a way that reconnects us.

The other day I asked our faculty to share fun things they did during spring break. Seeing extended family, getting outside for physical activity, and traveling topped the list. One year ago we could not have experienced those same things. Clearly, we have come a long way and will continue to recover in safe and meaningful ways.

Our students, staff, and visitors continue to demonstrate respect and care as we maintain our five key mitigation strategies: masks, social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, and contact-tracing documentation. Students feel at home again and we've welcomed dozens more students to in-person learning. Teachers continue to be heroes as they meet the needs of all students in person and at home.

Please read carefully the information that follows about enacting new 3-foot guidelines from the CDC and how those attending in person for 2 days can return 4 days per week.

We also have exciting confirmation about the Class of 2021 graduation and prom. 

Some of the yearend information will seem overwhelming, and we'll try to streamline everything for you the best we can. Beyond the typical yearend events, we have to remember we're heading into testing season with SOLs, Advanced Placement Exams, and final exams. The coordination of these tests will still take time based on staff and capacity availability. Thank you in advance for your patience as we finalize our calendars and logistics.

A final shout out to the PTSA Health and Wellness Committee who organized the One TJ 5K Virtual Run/Walk this weekend.  I'm looking forward to joining in the fun this Saturday!

We're One TJ and we got this!



Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus


Return to School Update from FCPS

As you saw in the email FCPS delivered to you on Thursday, the school district is officially adapting CDC guidelines to move to 3 feet of social distancing in middle schools and high schools. As a result schools will have the opportunity to invite some students to attend in-person four days a week if they have the staffing and capacity to do so. 

Earlier today (April 9), TJ families who are currently attending in-person two days a week received an email from Dr. Bonitatibus offering the opportunity to switch to a full four days a week of in-person instruction. There is no obligation to switch and students can remain two days a week if they so choose. All parents who received the email are asked to fill out the google form to indicate your preference by April 15.

This offer is only for students already attending in-person. Those who chose four days of virtual instruction will remain virtual at this time.

Graduation and Prom Updates for Class of 2021

We have received some graduation and prom updates from FCPS that we'd like to pass along.

The Class of 2021 will graduate together at the Woodson High School Stadium on Saturday, June 5 at 9 a.m. The rain date is scheduled for Saturday, June 12 at 9 a.m., also at the Woodson High School Stadium. More details (including how many guests will be allowed) will be released at a later time.

FCPS has given all high schools the go ahead to hold a prom on campus, but there is a significant limitation. The prom has to be limited to no more than 100 students on site at a time. The restriction is due to proms being classified by the Governor as entertainment as opposed to educational or athletic. 

TJ Administration is working with the 2021 prom committee to create the best experience possible. To be clear, NOTHING has been decided yet, but here are some potential ideas:

  • Seniors could still get dressed up, come to campus in shifts for pictures, get a gift bag, have music playing, get a snack bag, etc.
  • Seniors could sign up to attend the prom in shifts. Groups of friends could sign up together.
  • Hiring a DJ and setting up a decorated entertainment area.
  • Find a creative way to allow people to take pictures similar to a red carpet arrival.

Again these are just some very preliminary ideas. More information on the final plan, including the date of the event, will come.


Grade Guideline Changes for 2020-21 School Year

As shared in an email from the Superintendent’s Office, FCPS has adopted a series of secondary grading policy changes to help our students achieve a strong finish to the school year.

In conjunction with FCPS, TJ is adjusting its grading policy for the 2020-21 school year to ensure students are not penalized by the challenges brought on by pandemic learning. 

Key policy changes for students are listed below:

  • Final Exam flexibility that ensures an exam can only serve to improve a student’s grade for the year. Teachers will apply this in their grading practices for each class.
  • Use of No Mark, “NM”, instead of “F” grades for all courses. This will be automatically applied for any course in which a student receives an “F.”
  • Allowing students to select a mark of “P” for pass for up to two courses for which a passing grade is earned for the final mark. 
    • ACTION NEEDED: Should you wish to designate one or two courses as Pass - No Mark status, submit this form to your school counselor by May 10, 2021.

Challenge Success: Student Focus Groups and Teacher Interview Results

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.

To make sure these goals are being met, the Challenge Success Team often holds focus groups with students and staff to get their feedback and see if adjustments need go be made. These were some of the takeaways from the latest focus groups.

Student Focus Group

The student group focused on expectations and how students are handling the challenges of a virtual environment. In general, students are happy and feel that they are able to make time for Playtime, Downtime, and Family Time (PDF). They appreciate that it is being encouraged by the administration. They also feel expectations have been appropriately adjusted for virtual learning. 

Their main concerns involved teacher communication around due dates and expectations. They would prefer written communications and calendars over verbally announcing deadlines. Students report their biggest challenge as being focused in class. They find it easier to focus when doing an activity that involves something other than typing or reading online text.

For more details on the major conclusions of the student forum, visit here.

Staff Focus Group

The staff group focused on academic risk-taking. Academic risk-taking (sometimes called intellectual risk-taking) involves having the courage to share tentative ideas, articulate confusion, ask questions, and try something new. It requires one’s willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. Teachers who were nominated by peers as those who encouraged academic risk-taking were solicited by the Challenge Success staff for their ideas.

Some of the staffs' main suggestions included focusing on cultivating a safe learning environment for students to take risks, to gradually incorporate/increase opportunities to increase academic risk-taking, and to offer students choice to choose their own paths towards mastery.

For the full Challenge Success Team report on academic risk-taking, visit here.

Having Fun Staying Connected

Even though we may be separated, we find fun ways to connect with teachers and students who may not be here everyday. Hard to believe cardboard cutouts can be so lifelike! Students at home have had an opportunity with SGA to order versions of themselves we can put in the stands at events like Homecoming next week.


Visit the Geosystems commons area to find teacher Dr. Woodwell giving a wave.

Aeternum! Latin teacher Ms. Lister doesn't have to miss her colleague Ms. Conklin anymore when she can step out in the hallway for a chat. Look at how relaxed Ms. Conklin looks!


SGA leaders Tiffany Ji and Sean Nguyen keep popping up by surprise in hallways and offices. Mr. Kosatka played a prank on Dr. Bonitatibus who got startled walking into her office the other morning only to find Tiffany and Sean eager to run the school!

Excellence Award Nominations Now Open

Is there a TJ employee that you feel has done an amazing job this year under these extraordinary circumstances? Here is your chance to honor them by nominating them for the FCPS Excellence Awards! Excellence Award nominations are now being accepted, until Monday, May 10 at 4:30pm.You can nominate TJ staff as individuals or teams (comprised of 2-15 employees) for their excellence in “Growth”, “Impact on Others”, “Innovation” or “Student Achievement”. For more information about these categories, eligibility and process, visit the following pages:

Main Excellence Awards page

To nominate an individual

To nominate teams/groups


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

Congratulations banner for the TJ Yearbook being nominated for the Pacemaker Award
  • The 2020 edition of Techniques was named a Pacemaker Finalist by the National Scholastic Press Association. It is the second consecutive year that TJ's yearbook earned the honor. It was impressively completed under extraordinary circumstances as students finished it from home after the school was closed in mid-March.
  • In addition, the Techniques and and the Teknos journal were awarded Silver Crowns by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, while tjToday/tjToday.org won its second consecutive Gold Crown!
  • On March 12-13 members TJ's Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club for future healthcare professionals attended and competed (virtually) in their first ever Virginia State Leadership Conference. They made quite the splash, taking home multiple awards and qualifying for a multitude of events at the International Leadership Conference which will take place (virtually) this summer. TJ HOSA is planning an outdoor awards ceremony next month to distribute the medals and certificates awarded to our winning competitors.
  • The Scholastic Writing Awards announced its national winners on March 17, with TJ students earning six awards!  They will be honored in a national recognition ceremony on June 9.
  • The TJ Congressional Debate team competed at the Harvard Invitational and WACFL Metro Finals Tournaments in March and had an amazing showing! At Harvard, 10 members broke to outrounds and 7 obtained bids to the Tournament of Champions. The team has accumulated 33 bids to the TOC this year. At Metro Finals, 12 members broke to the final round and 6 qualified to the NCFL Grand Nationals held this May!
  • Congratulations to CyberPatriot Club Team 1282 for its third place finish at the National Finals! Each member will receive a $1000 scholarship.
  • The TJ Model UN Team earned Best Large Delegation at the Virginia Invitational! In addition, TJ students earned 9 Best Delegate awards, aka Gavels (1st place), 8 Outstanding Delegate awards (2nd place), 7 Honorable Mentions (3rd place) and 6 Verbal Commendations (4th place).
  • 17 TJ students, along with four alternates won seats at the All-Virginia Band and Orchestra this year. Over 1,000 students throughout Virginia competed for the limited spots, and TJ ended up with more representation on the band then any other school in the state! The students played a rigorous video audition comprised of scales, prepared excerpts, and sight reading.
  • Congratulations to the TJ Speech Team for winning the State Tournament! Five team members placed first in their event, while three placed second and two placed third.
  • For the sixth straight season, the Scholastic Bowl Team won the Class 5 VHSL State Scholastic Bowl! It was TJ's 18th overall title, more than any school in the state of Virginia!
  • Congratulations to the TJ Science Olympiad Team for winning the Virginia State Tournament! They have officially accepted an invitation to compete in the National Tournament.

Important Calendar Reminders*

April 12: All 11th graders (who did not opt out) will come to TJ to take the EOC Reading SOL.

April 12-17: Homecoming Week for TJ! While it will be a little different this year, each day will allow students both in-person and virtual to get into the TJ spirit. For full details on this year's Homecoming plans, visit here.

April 15: Deadline for families of in-person students to choose if they want their students to remain at 2 days a week, or move to 4 days a week of instruction.

April 17: Homecoming pep rallies at TJ's outdoor stadium. First one is scheduled for 10 a.m.-12 p.m. The second one will run from 1-3 p.m. Each rally is limited to 250 students with sign up being handled by the individual class councils.

April 19: 10th graders who signed up will have opportunity to come to TJ to take the PSAT 10 test.

April 24: Preorder deadline for the 2020-21 Yearbook. Visit this link and enter code 13621. 

April 26: All 9th graders (who did not opt out) will come to TJ to take the EOC Biology SOL.

May 3: All students currently enrolled in TJ Math 3 (who did not opt out) will come to TJ to take the EOC Algebra 2 SOL.

May 17: The annual tjSTAR science and technology symposium takes place virtually.

June 5: Class of 2021 graduates at Woodson High School Stadium.

* 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)