Entering the Home Stretch! May TJHSST Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

We are entering the last few weeks of a school year that has been unlike any we have experienced. Most remarkable is where we are today as we approach a light at the end of a tunnel. Our classrooms are bustling with energy, our athletic fields are bursting with competition, and our performing arts are brimming with talent. 

This past week we celebrated Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week. Thanks to the PTSA Hospitality Committee for the tasty Panera luncheon. Students gave small gifts and made bulletin boards with thank you cards to teachers and custodians. Parents sent teachers appreciation notes. Administrators showed their thanks by giving everyone a TJ polo shirt, purchasing a publications bundle with the yearbook, leaving snacks in work rooms, and conducting a scavenger hunt with daily prizes. Our teachers and staff are loved by all!

May is Asian and Pacific American Heritage month. TJ has a rich blend of cultures, nationalities, and heritage that we celebrate. We also must recognize the past year in particular that has taken a toll on Asian Americans who experience escalated discrimination and hate crimes. And within world health, India has seen a resurgence of the pandemic, resulting in our own families having friends and relatives falling ill in a stressed medical system. Our families may also be affected by travel bans that will impact graduation or summer visitation plans. We are here for you, all our families, and are supporting all our children each day. We will continue to embrace our diversity with voices signifying compassion and unity. Read more below about how we are learning as a community and seeing the diversity within.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for information on textbook and laptop collection from students at home and in person. Details about graduation will continue to be shared with parents of the Class of 2021. We are so excited to bring our seniors together and honor them!

Speaking of seniors, they have completed their research capstone experiences and will be showcased in our annual tjSTAR research symposium on May 17. This will be a blend of asynchronous and synchronous activities. Seniors are creating a video library of their research and underclass students will have access to see research across all labs in a way they've never been able to do before. We're also thrilled to have guest speakers livestreaming their message to students.

I look forward to bringing our school year to a successful close with students and families eager to return to 5 days of school in the fall.

We are OneTJ and we got this!



Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus


Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week

Teachers collecting free lunch from Panera courtesy of PTSA

This past week (May 3-7) was Teacher/Staff Appreciation week. The PTSA was very generous in hosting a staff luncheon on Monday featuring boxed lunches from Panera! Thank you PTSA for taking such good care of us!

TJ Staff and PTSA meeting, along with pictures of the Panera box lunches

PTSA meets with the staff/sandwiches available from Panera!

Bulletin boards with staff appreciation notes from students

A few examples of the bulletin boards that our SGA put up with student messages of appreciation.

The SGA organized a few Staff Appreciation bulletin boards, allowing students to give their thanks to both the faculty and the custodians for all their hard work this year!

Orchestra performing for Staff Appreciation

The TJ Orchestra performing during lunch.

On Thursday, members of the TJ Orchestra serenaded staff during lunch. Here is a video of their performance

Final Exams and Final Grades Reminder

FCPS sent a reminder earlier this week reminding all families of adjustments made to final exams and final grades:

  • 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 high school 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. As referenced above, for the 2020-21 school year, final marks of “F” will automatically receive a No Mark, “NM.” 
    • Action Needed: Should you wish to designate one or more courses as Pass - No Mark status, the attached form must be submitted to your school counselor by May 17 (seniors) or June 1 (Grades 9-11). Please note that we have extended the previous deadline to allow more time for students and families to gain more information about their fourth quarter progress before making the decision to request a “P”. 
    • The course title is required on the form, but the course number may be left blank if you do not have it available.

Students and families are encouraged to carefully consider the option for Pass. Additional information including translated forms, considerations,  and frequently asked questions are available at the FCPS website here

AP Testing Information

AP testing got underway this week and will continue until the end of the school year. Here is some important information your student needs to know, depending on if they are taking their test digitally or via paper/pencil.

Digital Exams

  • Digital exams are to be completed at home unless the student has requested to take the exam on school grounds.
  • In-person students can attend their classes virtually on the day of their exams, or their parent can excuse them from classes on exam day. Students should make their teachers aware of their intentions ahead of time.
  • Parents can excuse virtual students from classes on test day by notifying the attendance office.
  • Students must complete the Four Steps to Take Before You Can Test prior to their exams. The first two steps should be completed as soon as possible (information has been shared through AP teachers and via email sent to students and parents).
    • FCPSOn devices – must install the software from the Software Center in the Start Menu
    • Personal computers – must install the software from the College Board website
  • If something happens on test day and you are unable to take your test, you can request to move your exam to admin 3 through the testing app.

Paper/Pencil Exams

  • Morning exams will begin at 8:40am, afternoon exams will begin at 12pm.
  • Transportation will be provided to those students who have requested it.
  • Specific testing locations will be emailed to students and parents closer to the individual exam dates.

Canceling or Moving an Exam

  • Students should contact our Assessment Coach, Lisa Broadhead if they wish to cancel an exam.
  • Exams can be moved to the Administration 3 date up to 7 days prior to the admin 3 date.

For any questions related to AP Testing please contact our Assessment Coach, Lisa Broadhead, at LKBroadhead@fcps.edu or 703-750-8352.

Graduation Updates for the Class of 2021

We have a couple of updates on graduation from Assistant Principal Shawn Frank. The date remains June 5 (rain date June 12) at 9:00 a.m. outdoors at Woodson High School stadium in Fairfax. All current capacity guidelines and health mitigation protocols issued by the Governor will be followed.

Your student received a link via email and Google Classroom to this survey. It asks seniors if they are planning on attending graduation and how many guests they are planning to bring (up to nine) among other questions. It must be filled out via your student's fcpsschools.net email address. Please complete this survey by COB on May 10. Questions can be directed to Mr. Frank at sjfrank@fcps.edu.

Graduation rehearsal will be on Thursday, June 3. More information on that will be coming soon, but we can let you know that caps and gowns will be distributed at the rehearsal. Student information regarding sizes was collected back in September and we placed the order for them about two weeks ago. If a student is not planning to participate in graduation, they will get their cap/gown when they receive their diploma by appointment the week after.

Reminder for seniors that there is a one-time request of $50 collected as dues to defray costs for a variety of items that include culminating senior events, caps, gowns, and diploma covers. If you still need to make this payment, please log into MySchoolBucks, click on the magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner of the screen and type “class of 2021” into the search bar. 


Challenge Success Committee Attends Virtual Conference

The TJ Challenge Success team attended the Spring Challenge Success Conference virtually on Saturday, May 1. This was an opportunity for our team to collaborate with other Challenge Success schools across the country. We as a school and Challenge Success community had very fruitful discussions and continued our work of supporting students to be independent, adaptable, ethical, and engaged critical thinkers.

While in a mostly virtual environment this year, there was a great sense that we as a team need to recognize our successes as a school this year to build for the future. Here are some of our key takeaways: 

  1. It is helpful to appreciate what worked in a difficult year for not only our team but also our school and community.
  2. There was a recognition as a Challenge Success team that many teachers, students, and families could authentically see the benefit of trying new things.
  3. How will we reconcile progress this year (with CS, SEL, and equity) with things "going back to normal" next year?
  4. It’s important to recognize stakeholder well-being. What are the main sources of stress and anxiety that students, teachers, and parents have from this year and moving forward (example, “fear of the unknown”)?
  5. How can we hold on to some of the positive changes that we made so far as a school (for instance, building classroom community, reducing homework load, using authentic assessments, prioritizing sleep, etc.)?
  6. Resilience takes time and effort; it's not easy, and it's not the same thing as grit (plowing through no matter what). This relates to the Challenge Success focus area of Managing Expectations. We are all born resilient; we are hard-wired to try, fail, learn, and grow. So what are we doing now? Becoming more aware of how we would respond to setbacks helps to adjust and find meaning in that response.

May is for Celebrating

From Ramadan, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, to Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, May marks a time of celebration and commemoration for many communities across the country.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

The Asian American and Pacific Islander community at TJ is a rich tapestry of cultures. Here are some of the many related languages spoken in our TJ households: Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Burmese, Cantonese, Chinese/Mandarin, Farsi/Persian, Gujarati, Hindi, Indonesian/Bahasa, Japanese, Kannada, Kashmiri, Korean, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya/Odia, Pilipino, Punjabi, Russian, Sinhalese/Sinhala, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Most recently FCPS has hosted a series of seminars for educators focused on Asian American contributions, experiences and challenges. A heritage sight has been specifically designed for teachers and staff with rich resources that broaden understanding and contribute to a diverse curriculum.

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success. Learn more here about Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month. 

Jewish American Heritage Month

These 31 days are also designated as Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) when we pay tribute to the achievements and contributions made by American Jews throughout our nation’s history. 

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who have helped form the fabric of American history, culture, and society. -  More information is available online.

Additional Resources:

New Physical Form Required to Participate in Athletics During 2021-22 School Year

For the 2021-2022 School Year, the VHSL has released a NEW physical form. The January 2021 form will be the ONLY form accepted for the 2021-2022 school year. Sports physicals must be new EVERY school year. For next year, it must be dated after May 1, 2021. Make sure you take this form with you to the office! Here is a copy of the form.  


The Sports Physical Event will be back in 2021! TJ is teaming up with Westfield HS to host this very popular event on Tuesday July 27, 2021 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. This event will be a fundraiser for TJ & Westfield Athletic Training Programs and the Colonial Athletic Boosters. The physical examination will be $50. All money from TJ students will go to TJ Athletics. Registration details will be shared soon through a News You Choose. We will also be looking for medical professionals (MD, DO, NP, PA, PTs, & RNs) to volunteer at our event.

Have questions regarding forms needed to play sports or about the VHSL physical? Please visit our website and follow us on social media - Instagram @TJColonials1; Twitter: @cab_tj and @TJHSST_AT. Still have questions? Email head athletic trainer Heather Murphy at Heather.Murphy@fcps.edu.

TJ Eighth Period Club Feature: Latin Certamen

Latin Certamen Club Members Anand Advani, Thomas Donohue and Owen Grannis

At TJ students can participate in over 150 unique eighth period clubs. This month we are featuring the Latin Certamen club, an organization that allows students to learn the Latin language, as well as showcase their knowledge of Greek and Roman history, mythology and literature.

Certamen is a game, played in a quiz-bowl style. Questions are asked from one of four categories – Latin language, Roman history, Greek and Roman mythology and at the top levels of the competition, Latin literature. TJ sends multiple teams to competitions throughout the year with its “A” level team often competing against schools that are dedicated to Latin, such as the powerhouse of the competition, the Boston Latin School.

Three seniors have regularly competed on the “A” team, each with their own specialty. Owen Grannis focuses on Roman history. Thomas Donohue specializes in Latin literature after spending most of his high school career as the “Latin grammar guy.” Andrew Hadikusumo has taken over the role of Latin language specialist.

“I just got really into it,” said Hadikusumo as he talked about why he joined the club, “I liked the tension within the game, the hype was a lot of fun. There are so many benefits you get from joining this team. Most people see that you get better at Latin and you do better in the classroom, but it has also been a great community for me. I’ve made a lot of good friends.”

Grannis, Donohue, and Hadikusumo credited students from previous years for mentoring them when they joined the team, giving a special thanks to Class of 2018 for helping them when they were freshmen. They’ve tried to pass those lessons on, training and giving advice to the underclassmen who will be competing on the “A” team in future years.

“I think it is real important for the mentees to become mentors as we become older,” said Donohue. “It creates a self-staining cycle that will keep the team great for years to come.”

Grannis provided a list of eight competitions that the Latin Certamen teams competed in this season, the majority of which featured schools throughout the East Coast.  The “A” team won the VSCL Kickoff Certamen this year, while finishing second in two competitions and third in three others. They were most proud of a sixth-place finish in the Harvard Certamen, which is a prestigious national competition that they were close to winning.

“My time with Certaman has helped me practice studying,” said Grannis, “With a competition that has at times lower stakes, it has been very useful when it comes time to study my schoolwork.”

Grannis, Donohue, and Hadikusumo will continue with their Latin Certamen studies after graduation as they will each tryout for a spot on Team Virginia in June. Members of Team Virginia will compete at the National Junior Classical Convention later in the summer.

The Latin Certamen club is always on the lookout for new members. Previous Latin experience is not necessary. For information on participating during the 2021-22 school year, please contact club sponsors Ms. Lister at phlister@fcps.edu or Ms. Conklin at clconklin@fcps.edu.

“Even if you don’t take Latin, if you are willing to come to the practices, it is really fun,” said Donohue. “Certamen has been my favorite part of high school. You don’t have to be able to speak Latin to know stuff about Roman History or mythology. It is not like we have this exclusive community, if this interests you, go for it!”

Amazing Homecoming Week!

We want to give a shoutout to our awesome SGA for putting on an amazing Homecoming Week April 12-17. Under the most unique circumstances in the 36 year history of the school, we had weeklong celebration that allowed all students, virtual and in-person and regardless of class come together as OneTJ! 

To see videos of all the Spring Homecoming 2021 content visit here

Below is a photo gallery of some of the festivities. Thank you to Sean Nguyen, Elaine Li, Katelyn Chen, Yeefay Li, Yulee Kang, Zac Baker and John Kim for their excellent photography work!

Photos of Spring Homecoming 2021 Photos of Spring Homecoming 2021 Photos of Spring Homecoming 2021 Photos of Spring Homecoming 2021


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

  • Congratulations to a group of 5 TJ students who won the local (Fairfax County)  Envirothon 2021 competition. They won in the topics of aquatics, wildlife, and water resources management, which led them to the overall victory. Through this competition they were able to learn about Virginia's wildlife, forests, waterways, soils, and how to protect them.
  • The TJ Varsity History Bowl team won the Divisional Championship in late April after a tough finals battle with another former National Champion in Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek won in 2019 and TJ won in 2018. The TJ JV team also qualified for the National Championships scheduled for May 15-16. 

  • Our very own Athletic Trainer Heather Murphy was named the George Mason University Adjunct Teacher of Distinction on May 7! Congratulations Ms. Murphy!
  • Congratulations to the Exobytes, a team composed of juniors from TJ, who won the Excellence Award in the Showcase MidAtlantic VRC VEX Tournament on April 24 at the Seton School in Manassas. Forty teams from different states competed in the tournament. The Excellence Award is the highest award in this tournament which comes with a special qualification for the 2022 VEX Worlds Championship. Prior to this win, the team also won as the Robot Skills Champion in the VRC VA State Robot Skills Championship last April 18. This win qualifies them for the 2021 VEX Worlds Championship.
Exobytes Team

The Exobytes won the Excellence Award in the Showcase MidAtlantic VRC VEX Tournament!

Important Calendar Reminders*


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

May 22: Senior prom will be held at TJ.

May 25: This will be an asynchronous Blue Day due to the significant number of in-person AP Exams taking place at TJ.

May 26-June 1: Senior final exams take place. These are all full days of school and students should attend their classes as normal whether in person or virtually. 

June 4, 8-10: Final exam days for grades 9-11. These are half days of school, beginning at 8:40 a.m. and dismissing at 11:55 a.m. 

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

June 8: Online synchronous day of instruction. Due to FCPS schools being used as polling sites for primary elections, all students will stay home this day and follow their schedule online.

June 11: Final day for students and it will only be a two-hour day beginning at 8:40 a.m. and dismissing at 10:40 a.m.

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


Important Information on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are behaviors that can lead to serious health problems.  These behaviors can begin as a child, and affect both girls and boys. When discovered early, eating disorders are treatable. In 2013, Virginia passed a law requiring every school system provide annual information to parents of students in grades 5-12 about eating disorders. 

It is important to note that eating disorders are not identified based on weight changes as much as behaviors and attitudes. Signs of eating disorders may differ between males and females and in different age groups. Often, a young person may not recognize the signs that they might have an eating disorder. Parents/guardians and family members are in a position to notice behaviors that cause concern. It is important that a child with an eating disorder be treated early by someone who understands this type of care.

Please see this Eating Disorder Fact Sheet. After reviewing the information, if you think your child may be showing signs of a possible eating disorder, please contact your doctor, school nurse, or one of the resources listed below.

Additional resources may be found at:

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)