We are Thankful for our TJ Family! 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 moment.

We will continue 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 28, 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 recognize that as we continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic and this season’s flu, 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 the coming month, if you have an opportunity, please reach out to a teacher and/or staff member 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 each day to deliver an exceptional educational experience for your children. Last month I previewed for you some key concepts in our School Innovation and Improvement Plan which includes goals, strategies and supports for students. You may read the approved and published plan here (our school is listed as Jefferson Sci/Tech High School).

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.

Often, though, the best support you can be to your child is to be there for them at home as they take up their studies. Ask them about their day and one or two things they learned as opposed to asking about a specific grade on a quiz or test. With the start of second quarter, the curriculum continues to build and skills may become more complex. Remember that free online tutoring services are available around the clock every day of the week for a multitude of courses included AP classes and beyond. Through your child’s Schoology account, sign in to tutor.com. Read more about this free on-demand service below. TJ already has over 300 students taking advantage of the service and they rate it 4.6 out of 5 stars. Now that’s something for which to be thankful!

Enjoy a healthy and fulfilling holiday!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus

Proud Principal, TJHSST 

Thankful that TJ Students Have Access to the Very Helpful Tutor.com at No Cost to Families

As we continue to be thankful heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to remind you of a very valuable resource that we think you will be thankful for in that it will take some of the stress away for your student (and yourself) during this holiday season. Tutor.com can provide resources and 1-on-1 help for virtually every class TJ offers (even classes as advanced as multivariable calculus!).

All FCPS students continue to have unlimited access to live, 24/7, 1-to-1, online tutoring services through Tutor.com 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 Tutor.com Online Tutoring Services website.

TJ students can access Tutor.com via a link in Schoology. Additional information about how to log in and access a tutor is provided to families via the following informational videos: Elementary - How It Works (for TJ families that have younger siblings) and Middle & High - How It Works.

Questions not answered in the posted resources may be sent to onlinetutoring@fcps.edu.

Thankful for our Veterans - Come to our Annual Flag Raising Ceremony November 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.

Last year's Flag Raising Ceremony

Scene from last year's flag raising ceremony.

Thankful for our TJ Staff - Outstanding Employee Nominations Open Now

Nominations are open for Outstanding Employee Awards!

To submit a nomination for a TJ Outstanding Employee in the categories below, please read the criteria and complete the nomination by using this form.

You may nominate one employee from TJ or multiple employees, but you must use a separate form for each nomination.

All that is required for a preliminary nomination is a short paragraph or two about how this employee demonstrates exceptional work based on the criteria listed.


Outstanding Teacher 

Eligibility: Has at least three years of experience as a teacher (in any school/school district); librarians are included in this category.

Nominees must be teachers or librarians who: 

• Instill in students a desire to learn and achieve.

• Understand the individual needs of students, encourage their talents, and foster their self-esteem.

• Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of subject matter and the ability to share it effectively with students.
• Foster cooperative relationships and engage with their colleagues and the community.

• Demonstrate outstanding leadership.

• Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding New Teacher

Eligibility: Has up to three years of experience as a teacher (in any school/school district); librarians are included in this category.

Nominees must be teachers or librarians who:

• Exhibit superior instructional skills.

• Interact exceptionally well with students.

• Demonstrate excellent ability to communicate and engage with faculty, staff, parents, and the community.

• Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciate and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding Principal

Eligibility: Has at least three years of experience as a building principal (in any school/school district)

Nominees must be principals who:

• Manage effectively.

• Demonstrate and encourage creativity and innovation.

• Foster cooperation between the school and the community.

• Maintain a continuing dialogue with students and parents, as well as faculty and staff.

• Keep abreast of developments in the field of education.

• Encourage team spirit.

• Demonstrate leadership and exemplify commitment.

• Continue to play an active role in the classroom.

• Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.                                            

Outstanding Leader 

Eligibility: At least one year of experience in their current position as a Schedule-C or School-Based Administrator scale employee (that is not the building principal):

Common positions in this category: Assistant and Associate Principals, Director of Student Activities, Director of Student Services

Nominees should be school-based leaders who:

• Provide a unique and exceptional contribution to FCPS through their work.

• Demonstrate commitment and leadership in their field.

• Foster cooperative relationships with colleagues and/or the community.

• Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding Professional Employee 

Eligibility: At least one year experience in current position as a Schedule-B employee or other non-instructional employee in a school that supports school leadership

Common positions in this category: School-Based Technology Specialist, Technology Support Specialist, Assessment Coach, Career Center Specialist, Instructional Coach, Psychologist, Social Worker, School Counselor, Safety and Security Specialist, Resource Teachers that serve in an administrative role in a school

Nominees should be school-based employees who:

• Provide a unique and exceptional contribution to FCPS through their work.

• Demonstrate commitment and leadership in their field.

• Foster cooperative relationships with colleagues and/or the community.

• Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding Operational Employee

Eligibility: At least one year of experience in current position as Schedule-A or Classroom Instructional Support Scale employee

Common positions in this category: Administrative and Office Staff, Safety and Security Assistant, Custodial Staff, Food Service Staff, IA, PHA, PHTA, All Parent Liaisons

Nominees should be school-based support employees who:

• Provide a unique and exceptional contribution to FCPS through their work.

• Demonstrate commitment and leadership in their field.

• Foster cooperative relationships with colleagues and/or the community.

• Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, November 18, 2022.

Bailey Elementary Thanks TJ Club for Refurbished Laptops

TJ's PC (re)Builder's Club is an eighth period activity where students can learn how to build computers and repair broken systems. They will then donate those refurbished computers to the local community.

Three seniors, Tianhao Chen, James Henry and Connor Humphreys recently help complete a project where they donated several rebuilt laptops to Bailey's Lower Elementary School. They are being put to good use by Bailey's Family Literacy program.

"We can not begin to thank the TJ PC Builders enough for providing the Family Literacy program with laptops," said Micheline B. Lavalle, a Family Literacy Specialist with the Office for ESOL Services at FCPS. "Most of our families at Bailey's Lower have been listening to our classes on their phones, and some have phones with broken screens so they could only listen to the class. I know that they will be so grateful to receive a laptop. The laptops will make a huge difference for all of our students in our ESOL virtual classes!"

Henry, who is the president of PC (re)Rebuilders mentioned that the club has grown significantly over the past three years. It averaged only 10 signups per eighth period during his freshman year, but now regularly maxes out at 30 signups. 

"(For this particular project) We received these laptops from a combination of government agencies' and local school systems' surplus because they had become obsolete," said Henry. "We've been working on these particular laptops for four years now, so it was really big for us to be able to send them off fully refurbished. We had to replace some batteries, hard drive covers, and more parts, and we installed an open-source version of Google ChromeOS on the laptops."

"PC Rebuilders Club is a place where I can connect and hang out with other PC enthusiasts," added Chen. "It's also a place for me to learn more about PC's as I work on fixing old laptops with the rest of the club members. Seeing the laptops I've worked on being used to help others in need makes me feel happy and proud of the work I've put into the club."

The PC (re)Builders Club wanted to give thanks to its former club sponsor Mr. Ng for helping spearhead this project and looks forward to more projects like it in the future.

Connor Humphreys, James Henry, and Tianhao Chen pose with refurbished laptops

Connor Humphreys, James Henry, and Tianhao Chao of Pc (re)Builders pose with some of the refurbished laptops.

College and Career Center News

Each month we will feature important reminders and advice from our Student Services department. 

Transcript Request for Seniors Only:

  • 1 college application deadline - Transcript request deadline is Nov. 4
  • 1 and later college application deadline - Transcript request deadline is Nov. 22

Class of 2023 parents, an email was sent to you from Student Services regarding the college process.  Please contact your student’s counselor if you have questions.

Academic Extra Help and Support:

A reminder of resources for academic support:

  • 8th-period academic support sessions with teachers.
  • Mr. Forgash - SOSA (Systems of Support Advisor) helps students with time management, organization, and study skills. Mr. Forgash is located in the Student Services suite. 
  • Tutor.com – a FREE tutoring service to all FCPS students - Use this link to access the steps.
  • Peer Tutoring – sign up on ION found in the useful links section.

Student Services Department Contact Information:

If you need to contact a member of our Student Services staff please visit this page and click on the name of the person you need to contact. You can fill out a form that will send a message straight to their email.

Thank you Student Services for all that you do!

Thankful for the Opportunity to Celebrate Together

In honor of Diwali, the TJ PTSA hosted a Diwali celebration afterschool on Oct. 28. It featured students putting on cultural-based performances, and lots of food. Thank you to the TJ PTSA for hosting the event as we celebrated the shining light we have at TJ!

Below is a photo gallery of some of the fun!

Collage of Photos from Diwali Celebration

Thankful for Educational Experiences - Classes Visit Smithsonian American Art Museum

In late October, Ms. Jennifer Seavey's two English 10 classes took a trip to the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of an art appreciation field trip. It is a trip that she had her students do for many years, but they hadn't been able to take it since 2019 for COVID reasons. 

The purpose of the trip was for students use the art to think about themselves and develop their own unique perspective. The staff at the SAAM put together some writing activities for our students. They went to several stations to observe artwork and the wrote down what they thought using the see, think, wonder method. 

See - Look at the painting, don't analyze, just write down what you see.

Think - Think about what you just saw, what is your interpretation of the artwork?

Wonder - What do you want to know about the artwork and what the artist was thinking about when they created it?

One of the points Seavey wanted to impress upon her students was that the artwork they looked at was mostly created by immigrants. She wanted them to consider how their family background and histories may have helped influence the project.

Seavey also wanted to thank head librarian Anne Applin and fellow English teacher Stephanie Glotfelty for helping chaperone the trip. Once the students returned, they used what they learned to help them write personal narratives about their own family history and ethnicity and how it influences them today.

Here is a photo gallery of the visit. 

Seavey Smithsonian American Art Museum Visit Collage

Kudos (Some More Things We are Thankful for!)

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

  • This is late breaking news! On Thursday (Nov. 4) at the The National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools' (NCSSS) national conference in Atlanta, TJ Space was named the 2022 Innovative STEM Student Program of the Year for its work in finishing the TJREVERB project that will see a CubeSat launched to the International Space Station later this month. Keep your eye on TJ's website for a feature story on this incredible program, with further updates to come in next month's News You Choose newsletter. For now, a huge congratulations to everyone involved with TJ Space!

Photo of the NCSSS award that TJ Space won
  • Congratulations to all students who won a seat in the highly-competitive Senior Regional Orchestra this year! By winning a seat, they are eligible to audition for All-State in February.
  • The TJ Quiz Bowl Team did extremely well at the tournament at Centennial High School on Oct. 21, a significant area tournament of 34 teams. TJHSST teams won first place and third place in the tournament division (varsity), as well as second place in the standard (JV) division. On the individual level, our students also won first place, third place, seventh place, and ninth place in the tournament (varsity) division, as well as eighth place in the standard (JV) division. Individual winners won prizes of 5-million-year-old fossils; we also took home three team trophies. 
  • It was a special treat having USCYBERCOM’s Brig Gen Matteo Martemucci (USAF) , Mr. Hunter Ragsdale, and SSgt Avery Safely (USAF) stop by the Robotics Lab last week. The Engineering research lab students learned about all things Cyber and how important it is to design engineering projects with Cybersecurity as a top priority.

Gracias! Spanish Honor Society Recognizes Dia de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives of departed loved ones. To learn more about Día de los Muertos, watch this video.

During eighth period on Wednesday, Nov. 2, the Spanish Honor Society recognized this holiday with some traditional face painting. Here is a look at some of their designs.

Collage of Spanish Honor Society Facepainting

AP Classroom Information for Those Self-Studying for AP Exams

Join codes were sent out this past Monday, October 31 to students who have signed up to self-study exams. Students enrolled in AP courses and who are self-studying for exams should check AP Classroom to ensure all of their courses/exams are listed. 

All questions pertaining to AP exams should be directed to our Assessment Coach – Lisa Broadhead at LKBroadhead@fcps.edu

The final order will be submitted on Tuesday, November 15 at 4:00 pm. Anyone who joins after that will be subjected to a $40 late fee.

Thankful for Another Successful Fall Athletic Season

Our fall sports season came to its conclusion this week. Congratulations to all of the participants on their successful seasons and thank you to our seniors for all their hard work! Courtesy of Dr. Murphy, here is a collage of all the teams' Senior Nights. 

All of our Fall Sports Teams Senior Day pictures

Winter Sports Tryout Dates

Winter sports will start on Monday November 7, 2022. TJ’s winter sports are basketball, winter track, girls gymnastics, swim & dive, and co-ed wrestling.

Tryout information is on the www.tjsports.org website and our social media accounts.

Students need to have a valid VHSL physical on file (January 2021 version dated after May 1, 2022) and athletic registration for 2022-23 school year completed before they can try out. Click here to complete registration

Questions regarding these required items can be directed to DSA Mr. Forshay and Athletic Trainer Dr. Murphy dtforshay@fcps.edu or hrmurphy@fcps.edu.

Tryout Dates and contact information for Winter Sports - this information is also available at www.tjsports.org

Community Review of Secondary World Languages Basal Instructional Resources

Fairfax County Public Schools will adopt new Secondary World Languages Basal Instructional Resources for the 2023-2024 school year.  Basal resources are the primary instructional resources used to teach a given subject.  A review committee composed of community members, administrators, and teachers will meet in November and December to review the instructional materials under consideration and community feedback.  The process for selecting new resources includes an opportunity for the public to review the instructional materials being considered.

Secondary World Languages Basal Instructional Resources public review will begin Monday, November 7, 2022, and will end on Thursday, December 8, 2022.  The instructional resources may be accessed in person and online.  Digital materials for public review and comment will be available at the following link https://www.fcps.edu/node/46713.  Those reviewing instructional materials may complete an electronic comment sheet available at the following link https://forms.gle/UeMhvzDYgoJM9z1g8.  Please note that the digital resources and comment will be updated and made available on November 7, 2022. 

Hard copies of instructional materials will also be available at Pimmit Hills Center, Room 207 at 7510 Lisle Avenue, Falls Church, Virginia 22043.  Ask about the World Languages instructional resources at the main office reception desk.  All community feedback will be shared with the review committee and with School Board members before the vote at the School Board regular meeting. 

FCPSOn Laptop Update Reminder

If you have not returned your FCPSOn laptop to get updated, please bring in your laptop to Room 281 to get updated and checked for testing readiness.

If your FCPSOn laptop is not working or needs repair, please submit a Student/Parent Technology Support Request and bring your laptop to Room 281 before school, during lunch/JLC or 8A for assistance.

Free Student Bus Pass Program for Fairfax County Students

FCPS and Fairfax County have teamed up to provide free bus service on the Fairfax Connector and the Cue service to all middle school and high students in Fairfax County. 

For more information on the program please view this video.

If your child is interested in a bus pass, please contact TJ Safety and Security Assistant Mr. McNulty at femcnulty@fcps.edu. They can also stop by his office in Room 130. 

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

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

Nov. 11: No school, staff planning day

Nov. 14: Modified Anchor Day - One hour advisory and no JLC

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

Dec. 1-3: TJ Theatre presents its fall play - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Dec. 2: December edition of News You Choose will be released.

Dec. 5: Modified Anchor Day - One hour advisory and no JLC

Dec. 8:  Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Bodhi Day) - school remains in session with normal hours.

Dec. 13: Winter Band Concert

Dec. 17-Jan. 2: Winter Break - no school for students and staff