Closing Out the First Quarter Strong! TJHSST October Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST  Families,

Welcome to October where the air is brisk, the colors grand, and TJ spirit high! The opening seven weeks of school have been joyous and rewarding. Many students, staff, and parents have commented on how they are embracing the feeling of normalcy. Last year we had to relearn how to "do school." Positive and productive habits have returned, along with time-honored traditions.

Among our treasured traditions have been TJ Homecoming and in-person family events. We thank our SGA, class leaders, and faculty sponsors for reviving previous HoCo traditions and bringing new ideas. See the HoCo photo gallery below. We also loved seeing our families in person at our Back to School Bash, Back to School Night, and PTSA-sponsored events. Putting names and faces together, along with smiles and handshakes, helps us build important relationships.

Speaking of relationships, we continue to emphasize a culture of belonging at TJ. Our teachers have worked hard in the opening weeks to cultivate positive learning communities that are personalized for individual student needs. All students, with recognition of their diverse backgrounds and interests, are affirmed and accepted each day.

Next month our annual School Improvement and Innovation Plan should be finalized and published with our goals for the year. Student learning is at the forefront as we ask ourselves what our students need to know, how we know they have learned, and how we respond when they do or do not demonstrate mastery. Student wellness, belonging and relationships continue to be important as we dedicate ourselves to knowing all students by name, by need, and by at least one other fun personal fact not related to academics. Finally, in alignment with FCPS Portrait of a Graduate, we are focusing on helping freshmen with effective communication skills. Look for more specific details to be communicated next month.

Underpinning all that we do are the goals we established four years ago as a result of joining the Challenge Success network of schools. We have made progress on decoupling workload from rigor, managing expectations, and emphasizing the importance of sleep. We haven't hit the sweet spot of perfect balance, but we are by far much healthier and remain on a positive trajectory. 

Finally, thank you for all you have done to emphasize the importance of keeping our community physically healthy. We had a spike in COVID cases the week of and following Homecoming, most likely due to many large social events. Thankfully, our trend has gone back down. Remember to keep your children home when they are not feeling well, and consider masking up for a few days after returning from an illness.

I continue to have deep gratitude for the support and partnership that all TJ families bring to our school. Working together, we create a vibrant learning community that is healthy in mind, body and spirit!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus

Proud Principal, TJHSST 

Successful Homecoming in the Books

For the first time since 2019, we were able to hold our entire Homecoming celebration! That included pep rallies during every lunch, a bunch of unique competitions run by our Student Government Association, the Homecoming Football game with the court and float ceremonies during halftime, and a Homecoming Dance on Saturday. 

Our students had a great time dressing in their costumes, participating in some friendly competitions, and most importantly coming together as one TJ. Please enjoy this photo gallery of some of the festivities (Credit Medha Valluri '26 for the Friday Pep rally photo and Jaydon Sun '25 for Homecoming Dance photos).

Collage of photos from Homecoming WeekCollage of photos from Homecoming Week

Oct. 12 PSAT/NMSQT and SAT Schedule Reminder

Note: The following went out as an E-Notify on Sept. 30. It is being republished here as a reminder.

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the PSAT/NMSQT (10th and 11th grades) and SAT (12th grades) will be administered at TJ. We will have an early release schedule with school ending at 1:30 p.m. for those who are coming into the building. What your child will be doing that day depends on what grade they are in.

Freshmen – Since most staff will be needed to administer the PSAT and SAT freshmen will have an unscheduled school day and will not report to the building. They are encouraged to complete any missing work or assignments that need to be completed prior to the end of the first quarter.

Sophomores and Juniors - Sophomores and juniors will take the PSAT/NMSQT unless a student’s family specifically communicates a desire to refuse this assessment opportunity.

Seniors – Seniors who have registered will be taking the SAT. All other seniors will not attend school that day and are encouraged to complete any missing work/assignments or use this time to work on college applications.”

Students who attend school this day should report by the normal 8:40 a.m. start time. Testing will begin at 9:00 a.m. TJ will have a lunch period from 12:45-1:30 p.m. with dismissal happening immediately afterwards.

If you have any questions about testing, please contact our Assessment Coach Lisa Broadhead at

Unique Educational Experiences - DARPA's Biological Technologies Office (BTO) visits TJ's Engineering Labs

On September 14, 2022, senior research students in the Engineering and Computer Science labs welcomed Dr. Kerri Dugan and Dr. Teddy van Opstal of DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Biological Technologies Office to TJ’s Robotics Lab. 

Dr. Dugan and Dr. van Opstal discussed DARPA’s research process including the Heilmeier Questions. They also discussed different projects in the Agency’s research portfolio. DARPA’s latest projects include using plants and marine life as natural sensors, water resourcing in austere environments, and waste stream reutilization efforts. 

The 45-minute talk inspired research students to think about the natural world as a source of inspiration for their engineering and computer science projects.  

Thanks to Dr. Dugan and Dr. van Opstal for sharing their passion with TJ students.  

Dr. Dugan and Dr. van Opstal visiting TJ

College and Career Center News

Here is the monthly update of items that our College and Career Center (CCC) would like you to be aware of. if you have any questions please contact Samantha Wolf, College and Career Specialist,

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hybrid Festival

DATES:  October 7 (Virtual) and October 8 (In-Person)

More information on the Alfred Street Baptist Church HBCU webpage.

Registration is required.


National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS) Virtual College Fair

TJHSST is a member school and is pleased to invite our students and their parents to the NCSSS Virtual College Fair

DATE:  October 13, 2022

TIME:  5 PM – 7 PM

LOCATION:  Virtual 

Register by clicking here.


FCPS College Fair and Postsecondary Week

DATE:  October 16, 2022

TIME:  4 PM – 7 PM

LOCATION:  Eagle Bank Arena at George Mason University | Register at:

Approximately 250 colleges will be represented at this annual college fair held on the campus of George Mason University. Students & families can attend virtual events each evening of that week to learn about and better prepare for the different types of post-secondary options students may consider.


Financial Aid Webinar for Class of 2023 Students and Parents

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened on October 1, 2022 to apply for financial aid for college.

College Access Fairfax will host an online session for FCPS on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at 10 AM.  Zoom link to access the webinar:  LINK 


TJ Schoology Parent & Guardian Course

College and Career Center Newsletters:  CCC Newsletters


TJ SEALs are Leaders in Search for Belonging and Equality in Learning Environments

TJHSST celebrates our Student Equity Ambassador for Leaders (SEALs). This is our third year of student leadership at the school and county level featuring students who advocate for belonging and equity in their learning environments.

Seniors Michael Owoyemi and Alison Chavez, junior Anya Dutta, and sophomore Akansha Bagga fulfill critical leadership roles as SEALs at county wide meetings to help explore and advocate for our broader student community within FCPS.

SEALs also work with school-based equity leads to engage staff, students, and families in county and school-based equity initiatives. They lead the Student Equity Coalition (SEC) in helping students celebrate and elevate their varied and valued community experiences. These celebrations range from heritage months, holidays, and other initiatives that are significant to students at TJHSST. We recently hosted a speaker to discuss Hispanic Heritage Month and highlight the experiences of immigrant communities. 

"Joining the SEALs has given me the ability to make a significant difference in students' lives, one that I believed was impossible for high schoolers," said Michael Owoyemi. "Not only do you get to meet with brilliant and diverse people across Fairfax County, but you get the opportunity to implement initiatives that directly and positively affect members of FCPS, and I believe that’s almost impossible to find. The lessons I’ve gained as one of TJ’s representative SEALs will stick with me for years to come, and I’m thrilled I decided to apply to the program."

"Being a part of SEALs has allowed me to meet so many diverse, inspiring, and acclaimed individuals across FCPS," commented Alison Chavez. "They have been an inspiration to pursuing my passions in spreading equity, diversity, and community. Through the SEALs program, I have also met an amazing group of people at the TJ Student Equity Coalition (SEC) to promote equity and host  cultural events in the TJ community, events that I have proudly shared at county-wide SEALs meetings! SEALs is a life changing program, and I'm grateful to have been a part of it for these past two years."

All students are invited to join SEC and hear from the SEALs on Fridays during A block.

Group photo of TJ SEALs

TJ Hosts Hispanic Heritage Celebration

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, TJ hosted a Hispanic Heritage Celebration afterschool on Sept. 30. It featured cultural dances, clothing, and food. Thank you to the TJ PTSA for putting on the event. Below is a photo gallery of some of the fun!

Collage of Photos of the Hispanic Heritage Celebration

Challenge Success Virtual Workshop on October 13

Challenge Success Logo

The college admissions process can be stressful for the whole family. The Challenge Success organization is hosting a virtual event to address important questions such as What do college rankings really measure? Are students who attend more selective colleges better off later in life? What is “fit” and why does it matter? The workshop will present research-based, practical strategies to help reduce pressure around the college admissions process and identify ways families can support a student’s well-being.

Challenge Success Virtual Workshop

A Healthier Approach to College Admissions

Thursday, October 13th, 2022 7:00 – 8:15pm

Click here to register for the workshop (registration costs $10). Participants will receive a link to attend the workshop on Oct 13 and a recording of the workshop (sent Oct 14).



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

  • Congratulations to the the TJHSST Model UN Club on winning the Best Large Delegation award at the McLean Model UN Conference on Oct. 1! They would like to give a special shout out to counselor Andrea Smith who kindly assisted them in chaperoning the conference and helped make this success possible.

    In addition to the club’s overall award, 27 students also won individual accolades!

  • The IBEST team of Dr. Morrow, Ms. Iyengar, Ms. Harris and Ms. Lipman, along with counselor Mr. Burke were able to lead a successful walking fieldtrip to Green Spring Gardens on a beautiful fall afternoon last month. Students enjoyed the day learning about the chemical and biological water quality of the stream, and had a fun picnic lunch. The IBEST cohort also had wonderful volunteers from Trout Unlimited and Virginia Save our Streams join them to provide additional perspective and guidance throughout the day. Running an 80+ person field trip is always an undertaking and Dr. Morrow wants to give a shout out to the entire team for their help making the event run smoothly so they could all enjoy the day.   
  • Congratulations to TJ Rocketry’s SLI team on being selected to participate in the 2022-2023 NASA Student Launch Challenge!  The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Communications Office will be issuing a national Press Release announcing the selection of teams for the NASA Student Launch Challenge in the coming days.  That press release, along with more information on the Student Launch, can be found on their website.   

  • TJ Theatre Arts (TJTA) would like to send a congratulations to all students who auditioned for the fall play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Each student performed a Shakespeare monologue for auditions and attended group callbacks. Rehearsals are off to a wonderful start with the Athenians, Rude Mechanicals, and the Creatures of the Fairy Realm all coming together. Save the date! "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be performed December 1, 2, and 3 at 7:00pm and December 3 at 2:00pm. See for more information and updates.

  • Congratulations to all TJ students in the TJ German program who earned the prestigious DSD1 German diploma this year. The official DSD Diploma Ceremony will take place at TJ on Monday, October 17th at 5:00 p.m. Special guests include Dr. Anna Faure, the head of the Cultural Affairs Department from the German Embassy Washington, as well as the chair of the DSD Exam Committee, Mr. Helmut Kehlenbeck. All students and families are welcome to attend the celebration. Refreshments will be served. DSD (Deutsches Sprachdiplom) is an official German language certificate of the German education authorities and the German Foreign Office (State Department), certifying advanced language proficiency that prepares students for university studies in Germany. We could not be more proud of our students’ accomplishment!

TJ Students Have Access to

FCPS students continue to have unlimited access to live, 24/7, 1-to-1, online tutoring services through at no cost to families during the 22-23 school year. Student participation is optional and parents/guardians can opt their student(s) out of accessing the services. Detailed information and FAQs are available on the Online Tutoring Services website.

Students can access via a link in Schoology. Additional information about how to log in and access a tutor is provided to families via the following: Elementary - How It Works and Middle & High - How It Works.

Questions not answered in the posted resources may be sent to

TJ Athletics Update

It was another successful month for TJ Athletics and its fall sports programs. That included a win for football at the Homecoming game and a second place finish at districts for the golf team! Here is a photo gallery of some of their events courtesy of Head Athletic Trainer, Dr. Murphy.

Highlights from TJ Athletics during September and early October

Top Row (L-R): Golf senior night, Varsity VB win over Justice, Field Hockey senior night. Middle Row (L-R): Girls XC, Cheer from Hoco, Boys XC. Bottom Row (L-R): Football win at Hoco, Golf 2nd districts, JV fh win.

Partners for Safe Teen Driving Assembly 2022-2023

TJ will be offering 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 may not attend. One parent or guardian must attend with each student.  

Assembly Dates for the 2022-2023 School Year

  • Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022
  • Monday, Jan. 9, 2023
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2023

*No sign-up required. Event will take place 7-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium. Dates subject to change. 

Ninth Grade Parent Book Club Third Session

The following message is from the Department of Student Services and is intended for our ninth grade (Class of 2026) families.

Dear 9th Grade Parents/Guardians,

Greetings!  We had 2 wonderful and engaging sessions of the "How to Raise an Adult" book club so far.  If you have missed the last 2 sessions, there is a third and final session coming up.  You don't need to read the book in order to join the book club.  We just love to see parents connect with each other.  

Our third session will be held in person (the PTSA Health and Wellness Committee will provide coffee and light refreshments)Session 3 will cover chapter 12-22 of the book. 

We are conducting a survey to see what date/time can fit most people's schedule. If you are interested, please fill out this form before October 14 for planning purposes

Scene from book club meetingScene from book club meeting

Affordable Connectivity Program Now Available

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a new FCC program to lower internet costs for families with children who have been eligible for free or reduced-price meals within the last 12 months. A qualifying household will receive $30 per month toward internet services and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Families can check their eligibility and register at or by calling 877-384-2575.

TJ is On Twitter!

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is 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

Oct. 10: No school, staff development day

Oct. 11: Anchor Day - students attend all seven classes.

Oct. 12: PSAT (10th and 11th grade) SAT (12th grade)  - Freshmen do not report to school, seniors only report if registered to take the SAT. Early release time of 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 19: Fall Orchestra Concert - Auditorium 7 p.m.

Oct. 24: No school for students or staff - Diwali holiday

Oct. 26: Fall Band Concert - Auditorium 7 p.m.

Oct. 28: End of first quarter - Modified Red Day with 2 hour early release

Oct. 31: No school, teacher workday

Nov. 1:Religious or Cultural Observance Day (All Saints Day/Dia de los Muertos) - school remains in session with normal hours.

Nov. 2: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Dia de los Muertos) - school remains in session with normal hours.

Nov. 8: No school for students or staff - Election Day

Nov. 11: No school, staff planning day

Nov. 23-25: No school for students or staff - Thanksgiving