Getting in the Swing of Things - TJHSST October Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

It is hard to believe we're entering October. The first six weeks of school have been joyous and rewarding! Beyond reunification in classrooms, TJ was able to be whole again with Homecoming activities that brought out our school spirit. We thank our SGA, class leaders, and faculty sponsors for refreshing old traditions and adding new ones. See the HoCo photo gallery below.

We're all learning how to be fully engaged in school again following a year-and-a-half in a virtual environment. Students are finding their way socially, emotionally, and academically. We are asking students to give us their honest feedback in an upcoming survey. The collective information will be valuable, but it is your individual child's experience that is most important. Many students report being happy and successful. There are others who are struggling, sometimes silently. If you notice a change in your child's behavior and happiness, please reach out to teachers, counselors, or administrators for help.

Next month our annual School Improvement and Innovation Plan should be finalized and published with our goals for the year. Much will be driven by academic and wellness interventions designed to support our students' return to in-person learning.

Finally, thank you for all you have done to emphasize the importance of our layered COVID mitigation protocols. Our students are vigilant about wearing masks and sanitizing. As a community, we continue to promote being healthy in mind, body and spirit!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus 

TJHSST Proud Principal

Twitter @TJAnnB 

TJ is Now On Twitter!

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is now on Twitter! Visit @TJHSST_Official  for news, upcoming events, reminders of important deadlines, and updates of all the fun activities going on at the school.

Be sure to give us a follow!

Successful Homecoming in the Books

We were proud to hold an in-person Homecoming Week this year. The classes came together for some friendly competition, creating class songs, videos, floats, and banners - plus they performed some amazing MEX (Musical Extravaganza) dances.

TJ students also used Homecoming to help those in need. The annual Money Wars competition raised $9,585.25 for Miriam's Kitchen in Washington D.C. They also brought in nearly 3,000 cans of food to be delivered to the AFAC food drive.

Take a look at some of the highlights! 

Homecoming pictures from the weekHomecoming BannersHomecoming Pep Rally and Football Game

Student Support and Engagement Survey to Be Administered During Advisory on Oct. 4

Over the past few years, TJ has set school-wide goals related to students’ overall wellbeing along with student engagement in school. Now that we're over halfway through first quarter, we want to ask our students how they are transitioning back to in-person instruction and getting the support they need. 

During Monday's (Oct. 4) advisory, students will take a short survey developed by our staff that will ask questions about time spent on homework, which classes take the most effort, what keeps students engaged in class, and what experiences might be causing stress. We also want to know how students feel about belonging and a being part of a community of learners. They will also have the opportunity to give us feedback about advisory periods so far this year. Their participation in the survey is voluntary. All data collected is confidential and will only be used internally by school staff. 

Results of the survey will be used to benefit the school as a whole and the results will inform our school-wide goals, strategies for reaching those goals, and how we can better support our students' behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement in school. The survey should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.

Student Rights & Responsibility Booklet Now Available for Parents to View

We are extremely happy to have your child in our school with us this year!

FCPS’ updated Student Rights & Responsibility booklet is now available online and in the ParentVue section of the Student Information System (SIS). The SR&R booklet explains expectations for student behavior, and adult responses to enhance school safety and to create a fair, equitable, and supportive school environment. 

Each year, we ask parents to review, sign, and return the SR&R to their child’s school. In ParentVue, you may now download and digitally sign the SR&R. Every parent/guardian with a ParentVUE account will see the SR&R upon login to ParentVUE until the SR&R acknowledgement has been completed.

Once you log on, you will see the following message:

picture of parental acknowledgement form

Your name in the digital signature box must match the parent/guardian’s first and last name in SIS exactly before the signature will be accepted.

Please take a moment to log into ParentVue in your child’s SIS account to access the SR&R. Signatures are due by October 29, 2021.

Please contact Assistant Principal Shawn Frank at if you are having difficulty accessing the booklet.

Challenge Success Team Begins 2021-22 School Year

The TJ Challenge Success team is excited to kick off the new school year! For those of you new to TJ – in 2018 TJ began a partnership with the Stanford-based Challenge Success initiative, which focuses on student balance and wellness by redefining what it means to be successful.

Using research-based strategies and the results of parent and student surveys, TJ’s Challenge Success team of parents, students, staff and administrators prioritized the following key areas:

  •     Decoupling workload from rigor
  •     Promoting the importance of sleep
  •     Managing expectations

The TJ Challenge Success Team had our first meeting of the year this week. We welcomed back student members Lauren Delwiche (2022) and Daniel Kim (2023) along with staff representatives Malcom Eckel, Mary Beth Kochman, Mark Forgash, and Principal Ann Bonitatibus.

The team also includes four new members: parent representatives Renee Rodriguez and Linda Winston, Class of 2024 student representative Vidhi Sharma, and faculty member Mike Miller. 

We know that the pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Hopefully some of the progress that we made in the Challenge Success focus areas helped students, families, and staff better deal with some of the challenges.

With so many new faces at TJ this year, we are excited to share more information about Challenge Success and bring related programming to the TJ community. This fall we will be prioritizing communications and outreach and would love to hear from you if you have questions or suggestions. Feel free to email us at

If you would like to learn more about the Challenge Success program or participate in upcoming online workshops for “A Healthier Approach to College Admissions” and “The Well Balanced Student” please see the links below.

Partners for Safe Teen Driving Assembly 2021-2022

TJ will offer 4 evening traffic safety programs throughout the school year as part of new compulsory attendance requirements for new drivers. The dates for the mandatory 90-minute traffic safety program have been set (see below). This requirement must be met before a student can receive a Driver Education Certificate of Completion which is commonly known as a DEC-1 card.

Please note: This assembly is only for current Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. Freshmen are not eligible to attend. One parent or guardian must attend with each student. Every student will need to register using this link.  Parents or guardians do not need to register.  An email will be sent out 30 min before each session with the link to the virtual classroom.

Assembly Dates for the 2021-2022 School Year*

*(Dates subject to change)

  • Thursday, October 21, 2021, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 7:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 7:00 p.m.

Vision and Hearing Screening: Tenth Graders and Students New to FCPS

On Tuesday, October 12, Thursday, October 14, and Friday, October 15 we will be conducting our Vision and Hearing Screenings in the Wrestling Room and in Health Room 109.  All 10th graders will be screened during their PE/Health class (online PE students should stop by the Health Room at their convenience).

New to FCPS 9th  graders will also be screened over the coming weeks.   

*New to FCPS students do not have to wait for the screening dates and may stop by the health room anytime during their lunch or between classes to be screened. It takes 2-3 minutes to be screened.

Students who wear glasses/contacts need to bring/wear them on the day they will be screened.

Parents, if you are interested in volunteering on any of these days to help conduct these screenings, please contact Tanya Holloway, School Health Aide by e-mailing me at or calling 703-750-8320. Please leave your name, contact information, and date you are available. We will conduct the screenings from 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Training for the screenings can be done 10-15 minutes before the date you choose. Your help is greatly appreciated and necessary to complete these FCPS mandated screenings.

Freshmen Complete Egg Trebuchet Experiment

All freshmen started their year in Design and Technology learning the Engineering Design Process. Students designed and built egg structures using this process and tested them with a trebuchet built by Mr. Seyler.  Students were limited to recycled materials for their builds.

Students had to build a package that would contain a raw unbroken egg. This package would then be flung by the trebuchet. The objective was to design a package that could be launched as far as possible, while completely protecting the egg. The focus of this challenge was to use the design process and document the work done.

Here are a few picture highlights:

Collage of trebuchet experiment

Students Explore the Iliad via Body Biographies

Recently, sophomores in Ms. Jennifer Seavey’s English 10 class, completed “Body Biographies” of character’s from Homer’s famous poem Iliad. The Iliad is not a story with a plot, but at its heart, a narrative about confrontations between pairs.

Students chose one of the pairs and used Homer’s vivid descriptions to draw the characters as accurately as possible.

Take a look at some of their completed works.

Iliad Body Biography Final Projects

Use Etix to Purchase Tickets for TJ Events

You can now purchase tickets online for several TJ events via Etix. For TJ Athletics, football and volleyball game tickets can be bought on the day of the event here: 

Jefferson Athletics Online Ticket Sales 

Our Theater Arts department is also using this site to sell tickets for the Fall School Musical School of Rock, which has 7 performances from Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-9.

TJ Presents: School of Rock: the Musical - Online Tickets Sales

PTSA Members Update Registration

Please be aware the TJ PTSA communication provider AtoZ Connect has migrated to a new platform requiring updated registration to verify membership and receive PTSA newsletters. If you have already done so, no action is needed.

Visit the TJPTSA website for more information or contact Jun Wang at with any questions you might have.

Special thanks to PTSA for HoCo food truck vouchers to staff. Yum!

Athletes Vaccination Requirement

FCPS is requiring all athletes 16 years and older to be vaccinated against COVID1-19.

This applies to all winter athletes (basketball, dance, gymnastics, track, swim & dive, wrestling) and out-of-season athletes (fall and spring sports) that will participate in athletic activities starting November 8, 2021. Medical and religious exemptions will be accepted.

At this time, athletes younger than 16 years old that do not have proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to provide weekly negative tests to the Activities Office. A negative test is submitted in advance of being eligible to participate the following week.

Starting October 4, TJ students can submit their proof of COVID-19 vaccination to the school. Please submit a photocopy of the card that includes the student’s name, student ID#, and legible vaccination date. Photocopies of the card can be dropped off in secure boxes provided in the Main Office, Activities Office (room 102), and Athletic Training Room (room 98, Door 11). Please do not email photocopies. Parents may mail copies of the card to Heather Murphy at the TJ address. The deadline for submitting vaccination cards is NOVEMBER 6, 2021.

Students needing a religious exemption should complete the Commonwealth of Virginia Certificate of Religious Exemption form. This form must be notarized. Students needing a medical exemption from their family physician should provide a note on the doctor’s official letterhead stating the reason why the student is exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine. Students providing proof of religious and medical exemptions will be required to provide weekly negative tests. The deadline for submitting exemptions to the TJ Activities Office is NOVEMBER 1, 2021.

To help with tracking, if you are planning on playing a winter or spring sport, please register ASAP. Students need to register every school year. Athletes participating in out-of-season sports will need to be registered before they can attend yellow and green days.

More information is to follow. Please make sure you are signed up to receive Keep in Touch emails from FCPS and TJ Athletics. Please follow us on social media accounts (Twitter & Instagram @TJHSST_Sports). Please check the FCPS Athletic Vaccination Requirement FAQ sheet if you have a question. If that document still does not answer your question, please email Director of Student Activities Rusty Hodges or fulltime Athletic Trainer Heather Murphy


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

  • As a group, TJ students continue to perform well on nationally normed exams. We recently had 144 students named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists!
  • Congratulations go out to math teacher Dr. Alouf Jirari Scavotto and CS teacher Mr. Paul Kosek who were recently named 2021 University of Chicago Outstanding Educators as nominated by former TJ students! 
  • German language teacher Ms. Szilvia Oszko signed a TJ partnership with representatives from the German Embassy and the Central Committee of the German Language Diploma on a program that gives potential special language certification to our German students. Wunderbar!
  • TJ Communication Specialist Mike Roth was recently recently recognized as an FCPS Cares employee. He went above and beyond to make our online Back to School Night a success.
  • Our own TJ School Resource Officer Steve Richards was recently named Officer of the Month. We appreciate the service he provides to the TJ community and beyond.

Important Calendar Reminders

Oct. 11: No school, teacher planning day.

Oct. 12: This will now be a modified Anchor Day, featuring a one-hour advisory session. Here is the schedule:

Modified Anchor w/Adv 1 hr






































Oct. 13: PSAT (10th and 11th grade) SAT (12th grade) with 2-hour early release schedule for all high schools. With TJ having a different transportation model, we will confirm the exact time in coming weeks.

  • Grade 9 students do not report to campus and will receive asynchronous virtual learning, focused on high school transition activities and career plans. 
  • Grade 10-11 students will be participating in the PSAT/NMSQT. No in-person or virtual synchronous or asynchronous instruction. 
  • Grade 12 students who returned an intent to participate form will take the SAT exam and if not testing, stay homeNo in-person or virtual synchronous or asynchronous instruction. 

Sep. 15-Oct.15: Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month

Oct. 29: End of first quarter. Modified Red Day with two-hour early release.

Nov. 1: Professional Development Day - no school for students

Nov. 2: Teacher Workday - no school for students

Nov. 4: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Diwali)

Nov. 11: Modified Blue Day with two-hour early release.