TJ Tackles Second Semester! - TJHSST February Update

Principal's Message

Dear TJHSST Families:

February is a time filled with love for so many reasons! Please join us in spreading joy.

We kicked off second semester celebrating the Lunar New Year. In honor of The Rabbit, we wish everyone longevity, peace and prosperity! What I really love about our cultural celebrations at TJ is how we honor family and traditions. Beyond the beautiful decorations as seen in our photo gallery below, the display areas were filled with personal items from our families’ homes, many of which had been handed down through generations. I look forward to more family connections as TJ recognizes Black History Month where we will celebrate the history, culture, and achievements that Black Americans have contributed to our nation’s history.

Within TJ, we are showing our love to all the Teachers and Staff of the Year. Thank you to the many parents and students who nominated our phenomenal professionals for recognition. See more information below about awardees.

This is also an important time of year as your child embarks on academic planning for 2023-2024. We appreciate how many parents attended our recent curriculum information night, and all the resources remain available online. Continue to have open family conversations about where your child's interests lie. Think about how to balance workload and additional activities at school and home. You may find the time management scheduling tool from Challenge Success useful. You’ll be amazed at how quickly all the minutes in a day are used- only so much can go toward school while still keeping a child healthy and happy.

I continue to be proud of our school's ongoing leadership in STEM. Student research, in particular, has taken front stage. This edition of our newsletter contains accomplishments from the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition, adventures in space, and innovative applications. We look forward to seeing more showcased research this weekend with students entering projects at our local science fair.

Starting second semester, I ask students and teachers to revisit strategies that help them build community. Learn a fun fact about each other, learn all the names of peers in classes, or take time to share what hobbies we pick up in our down time. When we build personal relationships, we build a culture of belonging and love. We also learn to understand and appreciate the diverse backgrounds and talents that all of our students and staff bring to TJ.  


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus 

TJHSST Proud Principal

Course Selection Information for 2023-24 School Year

Whether or not you were able to attend the Curriculum Night on January 10, you may appreciate the opportunity to review the information presented about TJHSST course selections for the 2023-24 school year.

On each of the Academic pages of our website, you can see a recording of the presentation that was provided at Curriculum Night. There is also valuable information about each subject on those pages:

Computer Science

Fine Arts



PE, Health, and Driver Education

Science and Technology

World Languages


Frequently Asked Questions

In addition, we have created a new FAQ page that answers many of the questions that we see the most grouped by subject. If you still have a question, please reach out to your child's counselor. 

Academic Advising Schedule for 2023-24 School Year

Students will meet individually with their counselors to discuss and lock-in course requests for the 2023-2024 school year.

We ask that you ensure that your student has entered their course requests, including alternates, in SIS StudentVue prior to these meetings.

  • Rising Seniors, Class of 2024 – Meetings have already begun. They are occurring in Physics or AP Physics between January 30-February 10
  • Rising Juniors, Class of 2025 – Meetings will occur in World History/Geography 2 between February 13-February 24
  • Rising Sophomores, Class of 2026 – Meetings will occur in IBEST between February 27-March 10

Four TJ Students Named to Regeneron Science Talent Search Top 300!

The Regeneron Science Talent Search put on by the Society for Science is one of the most prestigious science research contests in the nation for high school seniors. Each year students are invited to submit original research in important scientific areas of study. Once again TJ is well represented amongst the winners, as we had four students earn a spot among the top 300 finalists! They are:

  • Alvan Caleb Arulandu, Physics-Informed Neural Networks for Informed Infectious Disease Policy
  • Tanish Jain, In silico Prediction of Drug Permeability Through an Inflamed Blood-Brain Barrier Using Molecular Feature Modeling
  • Lynn R. Tao, D-SCRIPT+C: Incorporating Protein Contact Maps in a Multiphase Deep Learning Model for Structurally Accurate Protein-Protein Interaction (PPI) Prediction
  • Suraj Vaddi, Tar Print: Convolutional Remote Sensing Techniques To Quantify Urbanization and Study Water Quality Through Macroinvertebrate Assemblages

Each winning scholar received a $2000 prize, while TJ received a $2000 donation to its science programs for each winner as well ($8000 total). Way to go everyone!

Four TJ Students who won Regeneron Science Talent Search top 300 spots

Impressing our Local Representatives! Several TJ Groups Earn Congressional App Awards

The annual Congressional App Challenge encourages students to create unique mobile apps to help solve real world problems. Nearly every member of the House of Representatives holds their own contest for members of their district. This year, TJ had three winning groups in two different districts!

In Representative Gerry Connolly's Virginia District 11 contest, TJ had two winning groups. Lakshmi Sritan Motati and Omkar Kovvali earned first place honors, while Sol Song and Ryan Kim's app took second place. Connolly personally stopped by TJ in early January to present the students their award (along with the third place winner from West Springfield).

In Representative Jennifer Wexton's Virginia District 10 contest, Samvrit RaoRohan Kotla, and Soham Jain took first place. Congratulations to all the winners!


Congressman Connolly with his Congressional App winners, four of which were from TJDr. Ann Bonitatibus with Congressman Wexton's Congressional App Contest winners, all from TJ

Up, Up and Away! NASA Awards TJ Astronomy and Chemistry Students a Grant as Part of Techrise Contest

Students from the Chem Analysis Lab and Astronomy Lab partnered together and submitted a proposal to the NASA Techrise competition. On Jan. 12 they learned they were one of only 60 schools across the nation selected as winners!

As a result they have won a $1500 grant to build their experiment that will be flown on a high-altitude balloon this summer.

The photo below shows the students moments after learning they had won while watching NASA's live stream broadcast from the planetarium. 

TJ NASA Techrise project winners watching winners' ceremony online

Congratulations to our 2022-23 TJ Outstanding Employees!

We want to congratulate our 2022-23 TJ Outstanding Employees! The FCPS Outstanding Employee Awards program celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of exceptional school-based and nonschool-based employees from throughout the district. 

Each of the TJ winners (pictured below) will be our nominee in the FCPS pyramid level competition. Our winners are:

Outstanding Teacher: Kristen Kucko - Robotics Lab Director

Outstanding New Teacher: Dalton Savage - History and Social Studies 

Outstanding Leader: Cynthia Hawkins - Assistant Principal

Outstanding Professional Employee: Kerry Hamblin - Student Services

Outstanding Operational Employee: Quang Du - Custodian

TJ Outstanding staff winners for the 2022-23 school year

(L to R); Kristen Kucko, Cynthia Hawkins, Kerry Hamblin, Dalton Savage, Quang Du

A Fantastic Celebration! TJ PTSA Provides Lunar New Year Fun Afterschool

Taking advantage of the early release day on January 25, the TJ PTSA put on a Lunar New Year celebration afterschool for students and staff. The celebration features food, artwork, information, and performances representing several Asian cultures. 

Enjoy a bunch of photos of the event, several of which are courtesy of the TJ PTSA.

Collage of photos from Lunar New Year celebrationCollage of photos from Lunar New Year celebration

Important FAFSA Information for the Class of 2023 - College Access Fairfax is Here to Help

It’s time for high school seniors and their families to complete college financial aid forms. Most colleges require that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) be completed by Wednesday, March 1, to receive the maximum financial aid possible in fall 2023. Some schools have even earlier priority deadlines, so check the individual college’s financial aid office website for deadlines and specific forms to complete. To begin the FAFSA, you will need to create a FSA ID

A funding opportunity is available for students who are unable to complete the FAFSA; the Virginia Alternative State Aid (VASA) program. Visit the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia website for help in determining which aid option is right for you.

There are several College Access Fairfax recordings, virtual workshops, and resources available for viewing College Access Fairfax website. College Access Fairfax’s Financial Aid Champions also provide help completing the financial aid forms. To request a one-on-one appointment, please email

Families can also contact their high school's college and career specialist or school counselor if they need additional help. 


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

  • The TJHSST Scholastic (Quiz) Bowl Team won the National District and Occoquan Regional Scholastic Bowl championships on Jan. 21-22! They will represent the region at the VHSL Scholastic Bowl finals in Williamsburg on February 2/25. Be sure to check out some members of the team as they represent TJ on an airing "It's Academic" on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. on WETA. TJ takes on a pair of District schools in Gonzaga and Washington Latin in that match.
  • Our Visual Arts Teacher Jayne Matricardi wanted to give congrats to the 16 students who were recognized at the 2023 Regional Scholastic Art competition. Gold Key winners will move on to the national level competition, while all Gold and Silver Key winners have the option of putting their work in an exhibition at the Ernst Cultural Center at Northern VA Community College.

  • Robotics Lab Director Kristen Kucko was pleased to announce that both TJ Space and the TJ UAV teams presented at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum January 25, 2023 at the Gaylord Hotel at the National Harbor. The AIAA SciTech Forum is the world’s largest event for aerospace research, development, and technology. 
  • Betsy Sandstrom was excited to reveal that two TJ students were recognized as National Russian Scholar Laureates by the American Council of Teachers of Russian!
  • Congratulations to the TJ Model United Nations Club for their amazing performance at the Ivy League Model UN conference held by Penn in Philadelphia on Jan. 28! We had 54 students from TJ recognized for their diplomacy and scholarship - more than any other school in attendance. The club brought home 11 Verbal Commendations, 10 Honorable Mentions, six Outstanding Delegate awards, and five coveted gavels for Best Delegate! Their next competition is the North American Invitational Model UN Conference hosted by Georgetown University Feb. 16-19 in Washington, DC. Many thanks to the club members’ fantastic parents and the larger TJ community for its continued support of this successful program!

  • Jennifer Seavey wanted to recognize the 32 TJ students who won either Gold Keys, Silver Keys, or Honorable Mention awards at the regional level of the Scholastic Writing Awards. In many cases, students won multiple honors! All of those who earned Gold Keys will advance to the National level of the competition. The Regional Award winners will be honored at a ceremony hosted by the regional sponsor Writopia Lab DC on March 5.
  • Congratulations to TJ Alum Ehren Kruger ('90) who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Top Gun: Maverick!
  • Another alumni congratulations goes to Lieutenant Katie Martinez ('10). A fighter pilot in the US Navy, she has been selected to fly a Super Hornet in the flyover during the pregame of Super Bowl 57!
  • Finally Jayne Matricardi held her annual Winter Paint Party on Jan. 25 allowing several staff members to learn how to paint a winter scene. The photo below shows a few of them showing off their final products!
Teachers with their pictures after the Winter Paint Party

Keeping Us Safe! Meet TJ's New Security Team

For those who may be unaware, our longtime Safety and Security Specialist Bob McCormick retired at the end of October. In addition, Safety and Security Assistant Charles Phillips took a new job in Prince William County (he's still the head coach of our highly successful co-ed Wrestling team however!). Also Officer Steve Richards retired from the Fairfax County Police Department after spending the past decade as our School Resource Officer.

We are excited to announce that our Safety and Security Team is back to full strength and wanted to introduce you to the people who keep our students and staff safe when they are on the property.

Frank McNulty- Safety and Security Specialist - Second Year at TJ

Frank McNulty was promoted to the head of our Safety and Security team after spending the last year as a Safety and Security Assistant. Previously he was a Social Service Specialist with Fairfax County, Department of Family Services, Child Protective Services, McNulty retired from there after 31 years of service. 

Interesting Facts About McNulty: Coaches Girls Basketball here at TJ. Has gone bungee jumping. Is a licensed high school basketball official and a certified soccer official.

Amal Abdelhaq – Safety and Security Assistant - 26th Year at TJ

Interesting Fact About Abdelhaq: When not at TJ she is a Career Grandmother!

Calvin Robertson- Safety and Security Assistant

He has ten plus years as a Juvenile Probation Counselor, Robertson created and facilitated The Father Engagement Parenting Group “Just for Dads.”

Interesting Fact about Mr. Robertson: He is well known around here for his open fire grilling.

Carl Klein- Safety and Security Assistant

Mr. Klein came to TJ from Annandale High School (8 years) and Irving Middle School (1 year). Prior to that he served in the US Army Infantry.

Interesting fact about Klein: In 2018 he represented the U.S.A. in London, England. He competed in the World Championships for Obstacle Course Racing.

Officer Main - School Resource Officer

Has spent 21 years on the police force. He was recently the SRO at Key Middle School.

Interesting fact about Main: He wrestled in college.

Team photo of the TJ Security Team

From L to R: Calvin Robertson, Amal Abdelhaq, Frank McNulty, Officer Main. In the inset: Carl Klein

TJ PTSA Hosts Black History Month Celebration on Feb. 17

Please note: The following information is courtesy of the TJ PTSA

Black History Month Celebration

When: Friday February 17 4:30-6:30pm

Please join us in celebrating Black History Month after school on Friday, February 17 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Nobel Commons!

Students interested in performing at the event, please sign up now! 

Parents, please consider volunteering or making a donation

Interested in helping with the planning? Please contact Michele Hyde at

Tenth Annual Hack TJ Event Around the Corner!

The 10th annual Hack TJ, "Hack TJ 10.0", will be happening March 4-5 at CVent in Tyson’s Corner! This event is free for students to attend and is a 24-hour, overnight experience.

All meals and snacks will be provided while at the event and students will spend their time working on putting together an app or website. There will be seminars, speaker panels, and workshops throughout the event to help students learn. 

Most students will work with a team, but some may decide to go it alone.  Judging for prizes and feedback will occur on Sunday morning. 

Anyone interested in information about attending the event as a student participant or adult volunteer should go to They can also reach out to Marianne Razzino, the faculty sponsor.

Registration is open at this point and we will be looking for adult volunteers for many roles soon!

The Hack TJ team

The team behind Hack TJ!

Reminder - New English Worktime Opportunity During 8th Period

The TJ English Department is wants to remind families that students who wish to get help with coursework from their English class or who would like to spend time working on English assignments with a teacher available for support can do so during 8th period B Block on Fridays. During the sessions, students will work on current or missing English assignments individually, in small groups, or with direct teacher support as appropriate in order to master the skills necessary for success.

Teachers may also assign students who need to complete missing assignments to English Worktime so that they are able to use this devoted time to catch up and build their skills.

Please encourage your student to take advantage of this opportunity as needed! If you have questions, please contact Humanities Division Leader Susie Lebryk-Chao or Assistant Principal Cynthia Hawkins. - Extra Help for Students at No Cost to Families

With through Schoology, FCPS students are able to get learning help at any time, even from bilingual tutors! That includes post-AP classes that TJ offers such as multivariable calculus.

Students in FCPS meet with tutors thousands of times each week to practice reading, prepare for an upcoming math test, write computer programs, study for the SAT, or to get feedback on scholarship essays–all at no cost to their families! If you haven’t already, we encourage you to take just a few minutes to connect with a tutor with your child.

More info about in FCPS is available here. promotional image

TJ Athletics Update

Can you believe it's time for the spring sports season already! Spring sports (Baseball, Softball, Soccer, Lacrosse, Track, Tennis, Crew) can start on February 20. Paperwork (physical and registration) due Feb 17. Dr. Murphy will be in the AudLob on Thursday 2/16 and Friday 2/17 during LUNCH to collect paperwork and check eligibility.

Important tryout information is coming soon!!! Look for it on our website, in eblasts, and social media accounts. Spring Coach contact information is on our website.

How to Stay in Touch with TJ Athletics

TJ Athletics Website -

TJ Athletics New You Choose Sign Up -



Link Tree -

Tryout Information for Spring SportsFebruary Sports Schedule

Sports Physicals Save the Date!

Every athlete needs a new athletic physical every school year so save some time and come out to TJ on June 7, 2023 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 7.  The physical is $50 for pre-registered students. All money goes to support TJ Athletic Training.  FCPS Athletic Trainers get $0 from the county for supplies.

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 Dr. Murphy if you can volunteer or have questions.


Information on Eating Disorders

“Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. While no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that it is a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Eating disorders are not fads or phases, and can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.” (Information from the National Eating Disorders Association)

In collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department, FCPS has developed a webpage with detailed information and resources to be provided to parents and guardians of Fairfax County Public Schools. This information may be found at the following link:

Preparing Families for Difficult Conversations about Alcohol & Drugs

The FCPS Student Safety and Wellness Office is inviting parents/guardians to attend an educational event called "Preparing Families for Difficult Conversations about Alcohol and Drugs." For the Annandale + TJ pyramid, it will be held on Monday March 6 from 6-8 p.m. at Annandale High School in their library. More information is in the flyer below.

For those interested who are unable to attend this, FCPS is also hosting a virtual presentation on the same topic on Tuesday, March 21 from 10-11:30 a.m. To register for the virtual presentation visit here.

Flyer for Preparing Families for Difficult Conversations about Alcohol & Drugs event

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

Feb. 20: Presidents' Day Holiday - no school for students or staff

Feb. 22: Band Concert - This is their dress rehearsal (full tuxedos and all) for their VA state Assessment performance (scheduled for March 15 at George Mason) - 7 p.m. in the TJ auditorium

Mar. 2: Modified Blue Day - 2 hour early release

Mar. 3: Professional Work Day - No school for students

Mar. 10: Next News You Choose newsletter is released (delayed a week because there is no school on March 3)