Spring is Around the Corner! - TJHSST March Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

I hope you are enjoying the longer sunlit days, even if we have to turn clocks ahead one hour on Sunday. Remember to set the alarms correctly for Monday morning to be on time to school!

Next week parents of rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors will receive verification notices regarding students' course requests for next year. These requests influence which courses will actually be scheduled, in addition to influencing staffing decisions that must be made within FCPS hiring timelines this spring. The school district's response to recent outcomes regarding TJ admissions could impact some of our decision-making processes. To the best of ability, we will plan ahead and keep you informed regarding next year's instructional design. 

Beyond the big picture impact on programs and personnel, the choices made now contribute to the academic fulfillment and personal wellness of your child. We want our children to explore their passions and engage in high-quality academic experiences while being mindful of their physical and emotional state. Even if life doesn't have perfect balance, it has to be harmonious among school, home, and other activities. When you receive the course request verification form, please take time to talk to your children about the choices that will position them for academic and personal success.   

Finally, I am very proud of how our community has navigated recent shifts in pandemic guidance. We have maintained a healthy and positive school climate while respecting individual preferences. Our students and teachers truly are the best, and I deeply value our parental support and commitment to all we do at TJ! Continue reading below to see how we are thriving as a TJ Family!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus 

TJHSST Proud Principal

Twitter @TJAnnB 

Meet Our 2021-22 TJ Outstanding Employees

Last month we announced our 2021-22 Outstanding TJ Employee awards. This month, we want you to hear their thoughts, as well as Principal Dr. Bonitatibus', on earning these honors.


Headshot of Sean Burke

Outstanding Professional Employee - Sean Burke, Department of Student Services

Mr. Burke says: "Thrilled and honored. Surprised! I feel beyond fortunate to work with the TJ students, parents, faculty, and my counseling peers. I am so grateful to be a staff member at TJHSST. Special thanks to my director, Ms. Genetin, and assistant principal, Ms. Benson, for their support and guidance."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Mr. Burke keeps his finger on the pulse of TJ, and no one gets more steps walking around the school than Mr. Burke! Most of all, he is a champion for students, supporter to parents, and a resource to his colleagues. Mr. Burke’s ability to connect to students has been most valuable during the mental health challenges of virtual and post-virtual instruction. We can rely on Mr. Burke to create a safe space for students to share concerns."


Volita Russell Headshot

Outstanding Leader - Volita Russell, Assistant Principal

Ms. Russell says: "It is a honor and privilege to be nominated. But what is more rewarding is reading the nomination entries from my dear teachers. I strive every day to make a difference and impact in our division. I am grateful that my leadership isn’t in vain and is appreciated. I am inspired by the team to always do better and be better so we can be the best. One of my motto’s is: Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best. Thank you."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Ms. Russell is a true community-builder at TJ. Her goal is to establish a positive relationship with all stakeholders in order to benefit students. In addition to her duties as an assistant principal overseeing the Science and Technology Division, along with the sophomore class, Ms. Russell co-sponsors the Black Student Union and the Social Change Club. At every opportunity, Ms. Russell seeks to build a culture of achievement, collaboration, and belonging. She’s also been known to showcase her vocalist skills singing at school events!"


Joanne Claytor Headshot

Outstanding Operational Employee - Joanne Claytor, Finance

Ms. Claytor says: "I am very grateful that my colleagues and staff consider me worthy of this award. I try to do my job to the best of my ability and I appreciate the recognition. We work as a team in finance, so it’s not just an acknowledgement of my efforts, rather those of the entire team. I am honored to be this year's recipient."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "When I first arrived at TJ there was no doubt the finance responsibilities at the school were daunting, and we needed an expert willing to take on the challenge and commit to learning all the unique aspects of our school’s finances. Ms. Claytor has met and exceeded every expectation. She is an ambassador for the entire finance team. Faculty have commented that Ms. Claytor and her teammates are 'quick to help and keep a can-do attitude throughout all of the policy changes. Plus, they are all so enjoyable to work with!' Best of all, we’ve learned she’ll win any costume contest!"

Ryan Elder Headshot

Outstanding New Teacher - Ryan Elder, Physics

Mr. Elder says: "Beginning my career at the nation’s top high school was tough, but the students and faculty have been so welcoming and supportive. Despite the challenges we all faced over the last few school years, I’m humbled to know that my teaching has made a positive impact. Being named TJ’s Outstanding New Teacher is an honor.  I’m excited to continue to have shocking demonstrations, electrifying lab experiences, and charged lectures with all of my students in the near future."

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Students in Mr. Elder’s classes describe him as energetic, accommodating, and understanding. Mr. Elder helps students to problem solve by sharing many of his personal stories or life lessons. Any student who has been in Mr. Elder’s class or in the Rocketry Club will speak of Mr. Elder’s jokes and puns. Students recall times where Mr. Elder would laugh so hard at his own jokes, that they would be compelled to laugh with him, even if the joke wasn’t that funny! Mr. Elder’s students are truly lucky to have such a warm, caring, eager, and energetic teacher."

Kai Sam Ng Headshot

Outstanding Teacher: Kai Sam Ng, Mathematics

Mr. Ng says: "I'm really honored, and it was a little shocking to find out at first! I was motivated to enter teaching because as a student at Stuyvesant High School, I had teachers who nurtured and pushed me, and who showed me how to find joy in learning. I owe a lot to my teachers. If I can replicate even 20% of what my teachers did for me, for the students here at TJ, then I'd be satisfied at the end of the day." 

Dr. Bonitatibus says: "Students in Mr. Ng’s classes describe him as caring, passionate, and understanding. Mr. Ng understands the obstacles, both academic and personal, that our students encounter. In true 'math teacher' fashion, he works with them to find a solution. Mr. Ng continuously encourages his students to focus on the learning, rather than focusing on grades. Also, he has been an innovator creating the Experimental Research and Statistics course using R programming. Each day he brings personal passion to his work and goes the extra mile for his students and for the TJ community."

Parent Seminars: Learn Schoology!

We are using Schoology this year as our new learning management system.  Many of your student’s teachers use this to house important course information.  You can log-in to this platform using your same credentials as your SIS Parent VUE account.  For more information about Schoology, please use this link.

On March 14 and 15, our school will host four optional half-hour virtual sessions exclusively for parents so you can learn more about how to access and navigate Schoology.  The dates, times, and Zoom links are below.  If you have any questions you would like to make sure we cover, please share them in advance of our meetings using this form.

Monday, March 14, 11am – Zoom Link

Monday, March 14, 5pm – Zoom Link

Tuesday, March 15, 10am – Zoom Link

Tuesday, March 15, 6pm – Zoom Link

Summer Program Information Now Available

TJ Summer Programming 2022 Information Now Available! Please visit the main webpage for more information.

Basic Information:

Academic Summer School will be held June 21 to July 29 for full credit courses.
Full-year courses: June 21 - July 29
Semester courses: July 5 - July 29

Middle School Technology Institute will be held June 21 through July 15.
Session 1: June 21-24
Session 2: June 27-July 1
Session 3: July 5-8
Session 4: July 11-15

Academic summer school is open to TJ students only.
The Middle School Technology Institute is open to all FCPS students.

Challenge Success Monthly Update

Challenge Success Logo

Thanks to all the parents who participated in one or both of our TJ Challenge Success sessions on “What You Heard Is Not What I Said” Communication (and Miscommunication) Around Expectations!

An extra big thank you to Ms. Danielle Armstrong, our TJ Social Worker, who designed and led the program, and to the students on our fishbowl panel who shared such valuable insight on what teens need to better communicate with their parents. 

For those of you unable to join us, please feel free to access the handout we provided on ‘7 Expert Tips for Talking With Teens’ from the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. 

We are planning a Challenge Success book discussion event for April. If you are interested in finding out more, please fill out our interest form.

TJ Holds Black History Month Cultural Celebration

The TJ PTSA sponsored a Black History Month cultural celebration event on Feb. 25. TJ students got a chance to learn more about Black culture, history, and achievements through various speakers, food, art, and music. 

Here is a photo gallery of some of the event! 

Collage of photos from Black History Month cultural celebration

Spanish Honor Society Inducts Newest Class

On February 23, the Spanish Honor Society officers and sponsors (Sra. Mateo and Mtra. Rayas) welcomed the new inductees to the Spanish Honor Society!

As members of the Severo Ochoa Chapter of the Spanish Honor Society, they have promised to dedicate themselves to the study of the Spanish language, with the goal of mastering it someday, remembering that a language can be a strong tie among people of different origin, race, or religion. As citizens of our country, they promised to promote friendship and understanding between our country and other countries around the world.

We are very proud of their accomplishments and passion for the language. 

Collage of Images from Spanish Honor Society Induction Ceremony

PTSA Sponsors...


With an early release day on March 3, the PTSA hosted a Coffee with Counselors event. Families were able to ask questions and gain specific grade-level advice to help their child navigate TJ and course selections.

We thank the PTSA for sponsoring the event and providing the refreshments!

Collage of parents and counselors at Tea with Counselor event



Before school on March 1, PTSA sponsored a Mardi Gras celebration complete with healthy snacks, decorations, and a performance from the TJ Jazz Band! Enjoy a couple of snippets of our TJ musicians here and here.

Collage of TJ Jazz Band and Mardi Gras celebration



Thanks to PTSA for funding supplies for a de-stress event. Art teacher Ms. Jayne Matricardi brought out our staff's inner Bob Ross and Claude Monet! Putting a little cloud here and there helps nourish the soul- just ask English teachers Ms. Pendleton and Dr. Boswell.

Sip & Tea


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

  • Congratulations to the TJ Ocean Bowl Team, who won the NOSB Chesapeake Bay Bowl and is headed to the NOSB National Finals for the third time in four years! The finals will be in May.
  • The Varsity Math Team had a seventh place finish at the Harvard MIT Math Tournament last month. It placed sixth in the proof-based team round and10th in the Guts round.
  • The TJ Model UN Team won Best Large Delegation at both the Chantilly High School Model UN Conference and the Virginia Invitational Model UN Conference this past month. A total of 32 students took home individual or team awards at Chantilly, while another 31 students earned honors at the Virginia Invitational!
  • One of TJ's Ethics Bowl teams placed second at the Clemson University 2022 High School Ethics Case Competition.
  • Congratulations to the TJ Winter Drum Line for their Scholastic Open Class first place finish at the WGI Richmond Regional on March 5 at Powhatan HS. This is their first Open Class championship, after two previous A Class wins in 2014 and 2020. They will be competing in the World Championships in Ohio this April. 
  • Congratulations to the TJ curricular band programs for successful performances at the Virginia Band and Orchestra Director’s Association 2022 State Assessment on March 4. The Symphonic Band earned an Excellent rating and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble earned a Superior rating, which combined with the marching band’s Superior rating in October earns TJHSST the title of Virginia Honor Band for the 10th time in school history.

Mentorship Showcase to Be Held March 23

The TJ Mentorship program provides the opportunity for concentrated research or project development in a specialized field under the leadership and direction of experienced scientists, engineers, and other professionals in scientific and technological businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies, in the D.C. metropolitan area.

This year's annual TJ Mentorship Showcase (open only to participating research students and their mentors) will be March 23. We will highlight the achievements of our seniors and share appreciation to our mentor partners. Congratulations to our 26 mentorship students!

Emerging from the pandemic we are hoping many more future seniors and business partners will join this exciting capstone research program. Contact mentorship coordinator Armond Bass at arbass@fcps.edu. 


March is National Athletic Trainer Month

March is National Athletic Training Month. FCPS Athletic Trainers are licensed medical professionals who dedicate themselves to promoting the health and safety of our student-athletes before, during and after practices and competitions. 

Since the start of the pandemic (March 2020), TJ athletic trainers have provided care to over 445 individual student-athletes in over 5,125 athlete encounters for more than 10,500 evaluations, treatments (wound care, taping, ice, heat, cupping, stretching), rehabilitation exercises, conditioning, and return to play protocols. Even when faced with unprecedented circumstances, our TJ athletic trainers go above and beyond!

Ms. Murphy & Ms. Taylor both said that the best part of their job is the relationships they have built with the student-athletes. "We get to be there to help them on their worst day, celebrate with them on their best day, and care for them every day in-between. We love our job and we love TJ! Follow us on Instagram @TJ_AthleticTrainers & Twitter @TJHSST_AT."

Picture Gallery of TJ Athletic Trainers Heather Murphy and Caroline Taylor

SOL Test Readiness for Student Laptops

TJ Parents/Guardians - please make sure your students are aware of the following message:

In preparation for SOL testing, students need to bring in their FCPSOn assigned laptop to school and perform the following:

  • Power on your FCPSOn laptop and logon while at school.
  • Run the FCPSOn Health Check.
  • Launch TestNav.
  • Please keep the laptop on during the day to allow the laptop to receive any needed updates.
  • Restart your computer at the end of the day.

If you see Pearson TestNav Client highlighted in red and/or TestNav doesn’t open, please follow the instructions for Updating TestNav. If your FCPSOn laptop is not working, please submit a Student/Parent Technology Support Request and bring your laptop to Room 281 before school, during lunch/JLC or 8A for assistance

AP Testing on May 2 Update (Religious Observance Day)

With the announcement of the religious observation date change from May 3 to May 2, some students may need to move their May 2 AP exams to the late testing window (week of May 16th). If you will be out of school on Monday, May 2 to observe Eid al Fir, please contact our Assessment Coach and AP Coordinator – Lisa Broadhead (LKBroadhead@fcps.edu) – to request the move to the late date by Friday, March 25th. The schedule for the late testing window is below:

  • Chemistry: Wednesday, May 18 at 8:40am
  • Spanish Lit. & Culture: Wednesday, May 18 at 12pm
  • Japanese Lang. & Culture: Thursday, May 19 at 12pm
  • US Gov. & Politics: Friday, May 20 at 12pm

TJ Lost and Found to be Emptied Prior to Spring Break

The TJ Security Office wants students to know that the Lost and Found adjacent to DaVinci Commons will be emptied during Spring Break. If you think you have any item in there, please visit before March 30 to collect it.

Softball Tryouts Continue

TJ Athletics is still filling the roster for the Spring Softball Season. Any students with interest can attend practices next week (March 14-18) from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on the softball field or visit the Activities Office (Room 110). Students will need a VHSL physical completed and complete the athlete registration.

Save the Date - Sports Physicals Returning to TJ June 1

Every athlete needs a new athletic physical every school year so save some time and come out to TJ on June 1, 2022 and support the TJ Athletic Training Program. Need a BOY SCOUT or CAMP PHYSICAL at the same time? No problem, just make sure you bring all the forms with you on June 1ST.

Heather Murphy and Caroline Taylor are coordinating this popular at-school event to ensure that our athletes are ready for the 2022-23 seasons. Medical professionals will perform the comprehensive physicals. The screening will check height, weight, vision, vital signs, whole body flexibility, strength, posture and see the medical professional.  ALL PHYSICALS MUST BE COMPLETED ON THE JANUARY 2021 version!  You can download one from the www.tjsports.org website under files and links.

The physical is $50 for pre-registered students and $60 for walk-ins (taken after 6pm on space availability) and all money goes to support TJ Athletic Training!  FCPS Athletic Trainers get $0 from the county for supplies. We have not been able to hold this event at TJ or earn any money since 2019. Registration link will be posted in April via the website and social media accounts.

Volunteers (MD, DO, PAC, NP, RN, PT) are still needed to run physicals.  We need parents to help make the sports physicals a successful event. Your expertise and a few hours of your time will greatly benefit our TJ athletes.  Students are also encouraged to sign up and get community service hours! Dinner will be provided for the volunteers.

Email Heather.Murphy@fcps.edu if you can volunteer or have any questions.

Learner's Permit Tests Offered at TJ

Learner's Permit Tests are now being offered at TJ.  If your child would like to get their earners permit without going to the DMV they can now sign up to take the test at TJ. They must be 15 years and 6 months old.  The test is given right after school and there are currently 3 dates that they can sign up.

  • March 16, 2022
  • March 22, 2022
  • March 29, 2022

Please click this link to register and for more information.

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!

Important Calendar Reminders

March 31: Modified Blue Day with two-hour early release. End of third quarter.

April 1: Teacher Workday - No school for students.

April 4-8: Spring Break - No school for students.

April 15: Next News You Choose newsletter will be released.