A Time of Gratitude - TJHSST November Update

Thanksgiving = Time for Family

Dear TJHSST Families:

The entire TJ faculty and staff extend a heartfelt thank you for supporting our amazing school!  We would not be who we are today if not for your tireless dedication, volunteerism, sacrifice, and pride you bring to us each day. You have helped your child transition back to fulltime in-person learning and you have reinforced COVID protocols to keep our school healthy.  

For these reasons and more, we will continue in our tradition of giving families the gift of time during major holiday breaks.  No short-term homework will be assigned over Thanksgiving.  This means no new work is due on Monday, November 29, assessments will not be given on that day, and we are discouraging major assessments for the Tuesday and Wednesday of return.  We want our students to enjoy a mental wellness break and have time to safely connect with family and friends.

To that end, you may find this Playtime, Downtime, and Family Time for teenagers a valuable resource as shared by our Challenge Success network of schools.

We also must recognize that as we continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic, the disappointment of not traveling and seeing loved ones and friends during the holiday season can cause stress and depression. Please reach out to a school counselor if you see your child struggling. Also, families may contact CrisisLink (703-527-4077) or Crisis Text (text NEEDHELP to 85511).

During this season, if you have an opportunity, please reach out to a teacher and express your gratitude. Our faculty continues to find creative ways to reduce workload, emphasize depth over breadth, and give students voice and choice. Teachers remain flexible, consistently refine their approaches, and endeavor to meet the needs of individual students. Teachers are working above and beyond with their normal duties and assuming additional responsibilities with health protocols and covering classes due to substitute teacher shortages.

We are a strong community learning together. If you would like to learn alongside our students, consider volunteering to help supervise at lunchtime, or perhaps apply to be a substitute at TJ. When we have highly qualified adults helping cover classes and other duties, we are able to plan for continuity of instruction and support our teachers. Please contact assistant principal Ms. Chrystal Benson cpbenson@fcps.edu  who oversees parent volunteers and substitute arrangements.

We extend our gratitude to you. Enjoy a healthy and fulfilling holiday!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus 

TJHSST Proud Principal

Twitter @TJAnnB 

GRADitude! Save the Date - Class of 2022 Graduation Set for June 4

While giving gratitude, we are thankful to begin planning our GRADitude for TJ seniors and families! We are excited to confirm that our graduation date for the class of 2022 has been set for Saturday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. We will be returning to our traditional location of Eagle Bank Arena on the campus of George Mason University.

We will have more information as it becomes available.

Gratitude for Veterans on Nov. 11

Veterans Day is a time to show gratitude and reflect upon the heroism of those who have served in the military with heroism, patriotism, and self-sacrifice for the good of our nation. We would like to invite veterans in our TJ community to a special flag-raising at 8:00am on November 11. If you are available to participate in this honor, please RSVP to our Communication Specialist Mike Roth at mbroth@fcps.edu. 

Gratitude for Those Who Serve

As we celebrate Veterans Day later this month, we want to give special recognition to our staff members for their individual military service or for being a part of a military family. We thank them all for the service and sacrifices they have made for our country. Thanks, also, to TJ military service members and families.

Individual service: Rob Culbertson (Air Force), Andre DeMegret (Air Force), Kathy Juster (Navy), Barry Potoker (Navy and Reserves), Stephen Rose (Air Force), Kelsey Stuart (Air Force)

Military Family: Anne Applin, Steve Ballard, Armond Bass, Joanne Claytor, Teresa Hamrick, Suzette Henry, Tanya Holloway, Rae Kobren, Mary Beth Kochman, Kristen Kucko, Thomas Larson, Charles Lord, Rachel Mills, Laureen Nelson, Virginia Pendleton, Vicky Plescow, Jennifer Seavey, Ashley Slifka, Shawn Stickler

Challenge Success Workshop Scheduled for Nov. 16

Workshop Title: Helping students find balance: Managing workload and prioritizing sleep

Date: Tuesday, November 16th

Time: 7:00-8:30pm

Where: Franklin Commons @ TJHSST (located on second floor near dome entrance of school)

School is back in person! Students are in the classroom and benefitting from face-to-face instruction. They are also adjusting to busier schedules that include commuting to school and participating in a full range of extracurricular activities. The most recent Challenge Success parent workshop, “The Well Balanced Student”, provides a framework for parents to think about the amount of time their students spend at different activities such as school, homework, extracurricular activities, family time, chores, media, unstructured time, and sleep.

Join members of the Challenge Success team to talk about two of the specific areas of focus for the TJ school community: decoupling workload and rigor and the importance of sleep. A panel representing TJ parents, teachers, and students will talk about issues related to student workload and sleep, followed by an open discussion.

To register for this session, please click here https://forms.gle/ZrfH4wBxb9SGEP4v5.

Questions - email tjcsparentreps@gmail.com

Gratitude for the TJ Writing Center: 10th Anniversary Celebration

We are showing gratitude to TJ peer writing coaches who have served hundreds of students over the years. The TJ Writing Center is open every 8th period block for students to receive peer tutoring and support. This year, the center is celebrating its 10-year anniversary as a community resource.

On Friday, Nov. 5 we held a celebration of the center and our tutors. Here is a photo gallery of the day's events.

Tutors from the TJ Writing Center

Gratitude for Educational Experiences - IBET Teams Look at Local Stream Health

Four IBET teams recently participated in a project that looked at the health of the local Indian Run stream, which is located about a half mile west of TJ. Dr. Kathy Morrow submitted a summary of the project, plus a photo gallery is available below:

Students in 4 IBETs (Morrow, Holman, Lee, and Morrow/Lee) spent much of September learning about Experimental Design and the Scientific Process through examples related to stream ecology and our urban watershed. Students used interactive virtual resources such as Map my Watershed to find their local sub-watershed, a stream near their home, and where this water drains to. They learned about chemical water quality analysis testing, which included tests for dissolved Oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, copper, chloride, transparency, velocity, etc. They also learned about the importance of pairing chemical testing with biological water quality testing, and learned how to enumerate E.coli and coliforms in addition to identifying major macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) that are indicators of stream health. The students practiced scientific reading and presentation skills by working in pairs to present a 1-slide presentation on a scientific paper related to one of the key stream ecology topics we plan to focus on for their yearlong IBET projects.

All of this preparation culminated in a half-day field trip to Indian Run, a stream that runs behind TJ near Randolph Dr. This reach (or section) of stream has never been surveyed by the county and its water quality status was unknown. We collaborated with education specialists from Trout Unlimited and the Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District for permitting and site access. These experts also provided a macroinvertebrate sampling demonstration and some fantastic background information about Indian Run. Students broke into groups and conducted a full suite of chemical and biological water quality measurements, which they compiled into a group google-spreadsheet.  Finally we came to conclusions as a class about the water quality of Indian Run.

Unfortunately, although the chemical water quality testing results were generally good, our biological assessments paint a different picture. We found way above the recreational limit for E.coli/coliforms and the macroinvertebrate diversity suggests that the stream is in an unacceptable ecological condition. The highly eroded stream banks are also covered in invasive plants such as English Ivy. Students will be studying different aspects of stream health through their IBET projects this year, ending by developing a technological solution that might help mitigate some of stressors faced by streams and the organisms that depend on them in our own backyards.


Photo College of Indian River Stream Project

Gratitude for Educational Experiences Part 2 - IBET Team Works on Phototherapy Project

The Fisher, Iyengar, Klein, Hamblin IBET joined Engineering Tomorrow’s founder, Dr. William Woodburn, and Program Coordinator Constance Chiplock for a week-long phototherapy project designed to measure the potential benefits of blue light therapy on health.

Students completed lab investigations under the guidance of the Engineering Tomorrow team representatives at Purdue, Notre Dame, and Johns Hopkins and then met with NASA’s Milton Davis, Spacecraft Manager for On-orbit Servicing Assembly and Manufacturing Mission 1 (OSAM-1), to discuss potential applications of the project and the patenting process.

Students were given bags of equipment by the Engineering Tomorrow team and traced their body outlines in order to take measurements. Below is a photo gallery of this unique experiment. 

IBET Phototherapy Group ImagePhoto Collage of Phototherapy Project

PTSA Health and Wellness Committee to Host Virtual Seminar Nov. 18

The TJPTSA Health and Wellness Subcommittee cordially invites you to attend our first virtual presentation on Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from COVID-19 on November 18, 2021 from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Dr. Esther Barkat, the TJ psychologist, will be speaking. Please contact Dr. Ming-Feng Chin at mchin4@hotmail.com if you have any questions.

Please complete this form to register for the presentation: https://forms.gle/kFD7jxwJQMpvMhXj6

TJ Students - Orchestra to Host Viennese Ball on Nov. 19

The Viennese Ball is back! TJ’s favorite dance will take place Friday, November 19 from 7PM-10PM in Gym 2. Dress up and come enjoy an elegant evening of waltz music and delicious food provided by the TJ Orchestra. 

Pre-sale tickets will be sold during lunch the week of the Ball for $15 in the Nobel Commons and online using MySchoolBucks. Tickets at the door will cost $20.  

See you at 7:00 for a waltz lesson followed by two and a half hours of dancing to beautiful waltzes and an interlude from the TJ Jazz Band.

Reminder – this dance is for TJ students only and masks must be worn at all times in Gym 2.

Namaste Club Celebrates Indian Heritage

Namaste is an 8th period club that celebrates South-Asian culture. It recently hosted a Garba dance in celebration of the Festival Navratri. Club member JJ Sandhu had more details on the event.

"Namaste at its core is a club built around celebrating the South-Asian community at TJ. Accordingly, we host a lot of cultural celebrations involving the ethnically diverse South-Asian heritages of TJ students. Most recently, we had an event entailing the tradition of Garba, a Gujarati folk dance typically used in celebration of the Festival Navratri. At the event, we had a full showing of approximately 160 total students. We served Samosas and Indian mango beverages, took pictures in Indian clothing, and danced to Garba music. Overall, we had a good time as a TJ community celebrating South-Asian culture, which is what Namaste is all about."

Group Photo of the TJ Namaste Club

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!


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

  • On Oct. 30 the Varsity Math Team’s top team, TJA, took first place overall in Yale University’s Math Majors of America Tournament for High Schools (MMATHS)!  This was a virtual competition that the students participated in together at TJ.  
  • The College Board annually releases stats of those receiving a perfect score on AP exams. Congrats to the Computer Science department who has 9 students with perfect scores (out of a total of only 356 throughout nation). TJ also had a student score a perfect score on the AP Art Drawing exam.
  • The College Board also awarded the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award to TJ for the second year in a row.
  • Congratulations to our Fall Athletic teams on successful seasons! Here are some of their accomplishments.
    • Golf - finished 2nd in National District
    • Football - went 6-2 and started 4-0 for the first during the TJHSST era
    • Cheerleading - competed in both the National District and Occoquan Regional Championships! They showed great improvement between Districts and Regionals, placing 13th.
    • Field Hockey - finished 2nd in the National District and 3rd in the District Tournament. They were able to host a Regional Tournament game.
    • Volleyball - in midst of historic season, they finished 2nd in National District and as District Tournament runner-up. TJ has won its first two Region Tournament matches, and is in the Region Semifinal for the first time in at least 17 years (probably longer). TJ will take on Alexandria City on Monday at 7 p.m. (at Alexandria City). The winner will advance to the Region Championship, as well as the State Tournament.
    • Boys Cross Country - won the National District!
    • Girls Cross Country - finished second in National District! 

Scoliosis Fact Sheet

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. A spine affected by scoliosis has a sideways curve, making it appear more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line. Untreated scoliosis can lead to limited motion, back pain, deformity, and in extreme cases, impaired function of the heart and lungs. Early detection and treatment may prevent scoliosis from progressing.

Please check out this Scoliosis Fact Sheet courtesy of FCPS.

Important Calendar Reminders

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

Nov. 12: TJ Film Society presents its student remake of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in the auditorium on Friday (11/12) at 4:30. There is no charge for this event.

Nov. 19: TJ Orchestra hosts its annual Viennese Ball 

Nov. 24-26: Thanksgiving Holiday - No school for students or staff

Dec. 8: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Bodhi Day)

Dec. 17: Last day of school before Winer Break.

Dec. 18-Jan. 2: Winter Break - No school for students or faculty