Busy Times Here at TJ! - TJHSST March Update

Principal's Message

Dear TJHSST Families:

I hope you are enjoying the longer sunlit days. Remember clocks get moved one hour ahead on Sunday, so set the alarms correctly for Monday morning to rise and shine and be to school on time!

This year we have had many opportunities to celebrate academic successes, which fall in the cognitive domain. We now are celebrating our gains in daily school culture, which fall in the affective domain. For instance, we compared last school year’s fall SEL screener 2021 to this past fall’s SEL screener 2022. TJ has improved in all three domains! We have a 6% increase in students’ positive perceptions of their skills and competencies to excel in school and life. We have an 8% increase in students’ positive feelings about school supports and environment. Most gratifying, we have a 14% increase in students’ positive feelings about their well-being and relationships with others!

The positive feedback about our TJ culture extends to staff, as well. In the Employee Engagement Survey administered this past fall 2022, approximately 90% of our faculty and staff highly agreed or agreed with the following indicators: colleagues help create a positive work environment, colleagues are held to high professional standards, having materials to do their jobs, colleagues supporting them, and having committed colleagues. Trends have significantly increased over time. In in the fall of 2016 survey, 66% of staff were classified as highly engaged or engaged. By the 2019 employee survey, 68% of our staff were classified as highly engaged or engaged. Fast forward to this year, 76% of our staff are now classified as highly engaged or engaged. Teachers and staff who work in a positive environment and feel engaged in their work will translate that level of satisfaction into the classroom and other interactions with students.

I would like to personally thank our families who have supported our students, faculty and staff over the years. Our patience, perseverance, purpose, and positivity has resulted in performance, both in cognitive and affective domains. We will continue to excel, grow, and support each other as a TJ community! Read more below about progress made to date in our School Innovation and Improvement Plan.

Within the next week or so, 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.

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.   

Spring is around the corner. This is a perfect time to reflect, celebrate where we are, refresh, and bring new life to the next steps we take together as a TJ family!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus 

TJHSST Proud Principal

TJ Making Progress on Our SIIP

We have continued to make progress toward our 22-23 School Improvement and Innovation Plan (SIIP) goals in the areas of academics, student wellness, and Portrait of a Graduate communicator skills.

Among our students' achievements are the following:

  • English teachers are providing direct support to students through a new 8th period opportunity called “English Work Time.” Students can opt in or teachers can assign students to sessions to support their analytic thinking, reading, and writing skills.
  • As 9th graders have moved from Research Statistics 1 in math to the next sequential math course, teachers continue to use ALEXS, a digital resource that provides personalized learning with immediate feedback on algebraic skills and concepts.
  • Recently, advisory students and teachers provided feedback to assist us with developing meaningful and relevant advisory topics. Lessons during the months of March and April are being developed by student committees.
  • IBEST Teams have been working with 9th grade students to develop their communication skills as an essential attribute of the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate. Students will apply these skills while working together with classmates on their IBEST project this spring

Read the complete list of our progress on our SIIP page.

Academic-Year Governor's School Evaluation April 17-19

On April 17-19, TJ will be hosting a group of visitors from several Governor’s Schools in Virginia. The Virginia Board of Education polices require Academic-Year Governor’s Schools (AYGS) be evaluated through a full-site visit every six years. The evaluation process is comprised of the following:

  • Interviews (staff, students, parents, community partners, central office, etc.)
  • Classroom observations
  • Review of school documents (master schedule, school profile, achievements, goals, calendar, etc.)

We are evaluated on the following categories: Learning and Development, Assessment, Curriculum Planning and Instruction, Learning Environments, Programming, Professional Development. The last time TJ was evaluated in 2017, we were given valuable feedback that led to programs like Challenge Success, increased professional development opportunities for staff, and increased emphasis on student advocacy. 

If you have any questions about this process, please contact Assistant Principal Shawn Frank.

TJ Summer Programming Update

Information for the TJ's 2023 Academic Summer School is available now. Information on Summer Enrichment Modules and the Middle School Summer Institute (MSTI) will be available in April.

Registration opens April 24.

Visit the TJ Summer Programming Website for more information.

Class of 2023 Families - Graduation and Prom Information Now Available

Class of 2023 families, Senior Prom and Graduation are closer than you think. On Friday, March 10, we sent out an E-Notify to all parents/guardians of the Class of 2023 which had all sorts of important end-of-year senior information.

In addition, we have a website that answers FAQs about both prom and graduation. Please bookmark it as we will update it as we get more information.

Class of 2023 - Senior Student Obligations

Class of 2023 parents/guardians, please make sure all obligations are cleared from your child's account prior to graduation.

In addition to checking MySchoolBucks (MSB) for outstanding obligations, please have your child check their fcpsschools.net email account.  Since not all obligations automatically appear on your child's MSB account, personalized obligation email reminders were sent out to students on Feb. 24. Any TJ books or materials from last year (or prior) can be returned to the Finance Office (Room 105.)  

For further instructions, please refer to the Class of 2023 senior information letter that was sent out via E-Notify on Friday, March 10.

More than Fairly Successful, TJ Students Showcase their Projects at Science and Engineering Fair!

Collage of TJ Science and Engineering Fair award winners

Small sample of the many award winners at the TJ Science and Engineering Fair!

TJ held its annual Science and Engineering Fair on February 4. It was amazing showing of TJ talent as we had 77 presenters showcase 52 very interesting projects. We will send 24 projects on to the Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair that will be held March 17-19 at Robinson Secondary School. 

We honored all of the participants with their certificates of achievement at a ceremony during lunch on March 6. 

Here are all of the Outstanding rated projects that will be advancing to the Regional Fair:

  • Alvan Arulandu
    • Physics-Informed Neural Networks for Infectious Disease Modeling
  • Zarif Azher and Aiden Cheong
    • Hierarchical Modeling for Interpretable Deep Learning-Based Multiomics for Cancer Analysis
  • Sanchali Banerjee
    • Using Long Short-Term Memory Networks to Predict Future Tropical Forest Cover with Data from the DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer
  • David Cao and Khoi Dinh
    • Implementing Hamiltonian Simulations by Applying the Ising Model
  • Kiran Donnelly and Manav Gagvani
    • A Novel Methodology for Safer Hard Gold Deposition
  • Sara Elanchezhian
    • AI in School Safety: Deep Learning Graphological Features to Recognize Psychosocial Attributes Indicative of Violent Behavior in Students and to Perform Threat Level Assessment for School Shootings using Feed Forward Neural Networks
  • Ashrita Gandhari
    • A Revolutionary Improvement to IVF Treatment Utilizing Convolutional Neural Networks to Eliminate Human Error for the Selection of Transferred Embryos
  • Shinyoung Jeon
    • MoodBox: Vocal Screening for Depression and Gamified Relief
  • Seoyoung Jun
    • Solar Tree: Bioinspired Solar Panel Design and Performance Review
  • Rohan Kalahasty
    • Hybrid Plasticity: A Biologically Realistic Meta-Learning Algorithm to Increase the Adaptability and Efficiency of Artificial Intelligence Systems
  • Ronit Kapur
    • The Effect of Gravity Darkening on the Atmospheric Dynamics of KELT-9b
  • Aryaman Khanna and Mihika Dusad
    • HypeFL: A Novel Blockchain-Based Architecture using Federated Learning and Cooperative Perception for a Fully-Connected Autonomous Vehicle System
  • Ryan Kim
    • Implementing a Hybrid Quantum-Classical Neural Network by Utilizing a Variational Quantum Circuit for Detection of Dementia 
  • Omkar Kovvali and Sritan Motati 
    • OtoScan: A Novel, Inexpensive System for Comprehensive Diagnosis of Middle Ear Infections with an Intelligent Mobile Otoscope
  • Madeline Levorson
    • The Enemy of My Enemy is My Phage: Year 2
  • Anirudh Mantha
    • Tracking Microplastics via Remote Sensing and Mathematical Analysis
  • Archishma Marrapu
    • Project Pill Track: The Advanced and Automated Pill Tracking Bottle
  • Phoebe Pan
    • Advancing Gender Fairness in Machine Learning through Multiple Debiasing Techniques
  • Samvrit Rao
    • In-vitro aided computational approach to identify preclinical drug targets to treat Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)
  • Sathvik Redrouthu, Dhruv Anurag, and Steven Lu
    • An Optoelectronic Hardware Accelerator for Data-Intensive Applications
  • Lynn Tao
    • D-SCRIPT+C: Incorporating Protein Contact Maps in a Multiphase Deep Learning Model for Structurally Accurate Protein-Protein Interaction (PPI) Prediction
  • Sravya Tathicherla
    • Plant Synthesized Silver Nanoparticles for Effective Food Packaging
  • Athan Zhang
    • Rehearsal-based Continual Learning for Human-like Disease Classification
  • William Zhang
    • A Polarization-Based Approach to Reduce Glare of Vehicles at Night

Taking a Bite of the Green Apple!

Green Apple next to classroom door.


There has always been an emphasis on collaboration at TJ. The faculty truly enjoys working with each other and feel they can learn from each other as well. 

Starting in March the Humanities Department took it a step further with Green Apple invitations. If a fellow staff member wants to stop by and see what their colleague is doing, they are welcome to walk right in! We also have red apples if it isn't a good time (such as when a teacher is giving a test, or a sub is in). 

So far, many English and Social Studies teachers have taken advantage of the open invitations, which will most importantly benefit our students!

Students Meet STEM Mentors at Black Engineer of the Year Awards Global Competitiveness Conference

Collage of photos of TJ students at BEYA Conference


On Feb. 10, several students traveled to the Gaylord National Hotel for the Stars and Stripes ceremony portion of the Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) conference. This is part of the BEYA Sustained Mentorship Program that they have been participating in throughout the school year.

At this event students had the chance to visit several tables, listen to different mentors' stories about how they got into STEM related fields, and hear about the experiences they have had throughout their careers.

TJ has been involved in the Sustained Mentorship Program for several years. Mentors will visit the school once a month during JLC to speak about specific topics the students are interested in.

National Honor Society Spring Induction Reminder

The National Honor Society (NHS) Spring 2023 selection window will be closing on Monday, March 13! This past fall, 105 TJHSST students were inducted into the TJ Challenger Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS). We want to remind you that we have opened another opportunity for eligible TJHSST students to be inducted this spring. Those who are eligible were notified via E-Notify and Schoology on Feb. 24.

What: Review the TJ NHS Selection Procedures and accompanying application materials in Schoology and be sure to submit your candidate information form by the March 13 deadline.


  • The deadline for submitting the Candidate Information Form is Monday, March 13.
  • Candidates will be notified of admission decisions by Wednesday, March 29.
  • The Spring 2023 Induction Ceremony will be held Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30PM  in the TJHSST Auditorium.

Sophomores: Prepare to apply for consideration in NHS in the fall of your junior year now by completing at least 6 service hours approved and verified in x2vol between June 18, 2023 and the deadline for submitting the candidate information form in the fall of 2023.

English Worktime Opportunity During 8th Period

As a reminder, the TJ English Department remains available for students to get help on their English assignments during certain eighth periods. 

Students are able to sign up through Ion for English Worktime during the upcoming 8th periods in March and April:

  • 8A on Friday, March 17
  • 8B on Friday, March 24
  • 8A and 8B on Wednesday, March 29
  • 8A on Friday, March 31
  • 8A on Wednesday, April 12
  • 8B on Wednesday, April 18
  • 8A and 8B on Friday, April 28

There will also be a special session during 8B on March 24 for English 10 students who would like instruction and practice with literary analysis, specifically writing a thesis about a theme and integrating evidence.

Please encourage your student to take advantage of English Worktime! If you have questions, please contact Humanities Division Leader Susie Lebryk-Chao or Assistant Principal Cynthia Hawkins.

PTSA Hosts Black History Month Celebration

Collage of photos from PTSA Black History Month Celebration


Celebrating the rich tapestry of our community, the TJ PTSA hosted a celebration of Black History Month on Feb. 17. It featured poetry, a fashion show, student performances, and some great food! Thank you PTSA for putting on such a wonderful event.

Enjoy the photo gallery above. To see parts of the student performances click here and here.

Experiencing TJ - Poe Middle School Visits

Collage of photos from Poe Middle School's visit to TJ


On Feb. 23 and 24, the entire 300-member 6th grade class of Poe Middle School (150 students a day) visited TJ for a special program. The groups got a tour of the school led by TJ students, and they visited biology and chemistry labs for a chance to look through microscopes and perform some simple experiments. 

Please enjoy the photo gallery above of the Poe Middle School visit.

TJ Earns Prestigious Patriotic Employer Award from NOVA Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

TJ Presented the Patriotic Employer Award

Dave Arthur, Nick Thompson Dr. Ann Bonitatibus, Barry Potoker, Col. Richard Erenbaum, Caroline Taylor, and Rodney Boyle with TJ's Patriotic Employer Award.

Health and Physical Education (HPE) Teacher Barry Potoker has served in the Reserves for the better part of the past three years. During that time our HPE department has mentored a variety of long-term subs and have creatively reorganized classes or taken on additional students to support Barry’s duty.

Col. Richard Erenbaum, Employer Outreach for the NOVA Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, recently visited TJ to give the school a Patriotic Employer Award for contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force. 

We were humbled to accept this award, and the entire HPE department was excited to see Barry!

Make Sure Your FCPSOn Laptops are Ready for SOL Testing

Spring End of Course (EOC) SOL testing is right around the corner and will affect our ninth, 10th, and 11th grade students. In order for SOL testing to run smoothly, all students who have been issued an FCPSOn device will need to make sure their device is ready for testing, as all EOC SOL exams must be completed on FCPS issued devices. Students earn Verified Credits that are required for graduation by taking the SOL exams, so it is imperative that students are fully prepared with their device on exam day. Students who do not have a device ready on exam day will not be able to test that day and will have to miss class during our make-up testing days.

Students that have already dropped their FCPSOn device off to our tech team and have been notified that their device is ready should pick up their device as soon as possible and return their loaner.

Students should follow the steps outlined below no later than March 24:

SOL Test Readiness for Student Laptops

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 log on 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.


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

Collage of photos from HackTJ
  • On Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5 over 400 students, staff, and TJ community members came together for Hack TJ 10.0 at CVent in Tysons Corner!
    • The overall winning hack was a project designed by TJ students entitled vitality that used AI to talk with someone on hold with the National Suicide Hotline while they waited, summarize the conversation, and deliver the summary to the representative who eventually talked with the person on the hotline, meaning the person never felt like they were alone while waiting. 
    • Another winning team that included TJ students designed a mobile and web app called DiaCare to help diabetic patients order the food they were prescribed to eat from a food pantry based on a program run by Children’s National Hospital, one of Hack TJ’s main sponsors this year. 
    • The event was a huge success and a big congratulation and thank you goes out to the student planning team, and in particular the student directors, Simrith Ranjan and Taein Kim!
    • Check out the photo gallery from the event above. The photo in the top left corner is the full Hack TJ 10.0 team!
TJ Science Bowl Regional Participants

TJ's National Science Bowl Team

  • On Saturday, February 4, the National Science Bowl Team at TJ won the regional National Science Bowl competition online, moderated by Jefferson Labs in Newport News, Virginia! Their next stop is the 2023 US Department of Commerce Office of Science National Science Bowl that will be held from April 27-May 1 in Washington, D.C. Good luck, TJ!
TJ's Innovation Summit Finalists

Connected Crosswalk Assistance Team on the left; UltraGrasp Team on the right.

  • Our mentorship director Armond Bass was pleased to reveal that two teams made up of TJ students have been named finalists in the Innovation Summit of the 2022-23 Conrad Challenge! The winning projects were Connected Crosswalk Assistance, which allows for the remote activation of crosswalks in addition to warning users of potential dangers while crossing the street, and UltraGrasp, which is a prosthetic forearm that is not only cost-effective and non-invasive, but also comfortable autonomous, and environmentally friendly.
  • Congratulations to senior Lynn Tao for being named a 2023 Coca-Cola Scholar! One of only 150 winners throughout the nation, she earns a $20,000 collage scholarship. Here is the link from Coca-Cola for more information. Way to go Lynn! 
  • Athletic Trainer Dr. Heather Murphy was recently recognized as one of the "FCPS Heroes." This is a monthly video series in the employee newsletter that recognizes FCPS employee who go above and beyond. You can see the video here.
TJ's Senior Computing Team Holds its First Place Award

TJ's Senior Computing Team

  • On Feb. 23, the TJ Senior Computing team competed against 30 other high schools at the University of Maryland High School Programming Competition and got the first place award, which is $2000.00! Impressively, all of our team members are only juniors! Congratulations everyone!
Varsity Math Team on MIT campus

TJ's Varsity Math Team on MIT's campus

  • The Varsity Math Team travelled to Boston to compete in the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament on Saturday, February 25. TJ’s A Team finished ninth in the Team Round and seventh overall!  Congrats to all of VMT that competed in this highly competitive tournament! 
  • During the March 4 weekend, nine TJ students placed at the Virginia History Day District 5 contest! That included one first place award (Individual Exhibit), one second place award (Group Website), two third place awards (Group Documentary and Individual Paper), and one Special Award (Citizenship Award).
  • Congrats to the TJ Model UN club on their performance at the Virginia Invitational MUN Conference hosted by Langley High School, March 3-4. The club’s 48-person team brought home the coveted BEST LARGE DELEGATION award, along with 27 individual and partner awards. That included seven gavels or first place accolades! Looking forward, the club will now focus its full attention on  preparations to host its own much beloved TechMUN at the end of March. 

Safe Community Coalition Hosting "Improving Your Family's Emotional Health" Presentation on March 15

The following information is from the Safe Community Coalition:

Lynn Lyons, licensed independent clinical social worker and best-selling author of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents and the newly-released The Anxiety Audit, presents: Helping Your Family’s Emotional Health: Practical, Strategic Skills and Solutions for Managing Anxiety, Enhancing Flexibility, and Creating Wellbeing.

This program takes place March 15th from 7 to 9 pm at The Alden Theatre, 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, VA. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at their website. Space is limited.

TJ Athletics Update - March is National Athletic Training Month

National Athletic Trainer Month Logo

March is National Athletic Training Month. This year the theme is There is an AT for that.

Do you want to know the that? Nationally certified, state-licensed medical professionals, FCPS athletic trainers provide comprehensive athletic healthcare services, including conditioning, injury prevention, injury treatment, and rehabilitation services in FCPS high schools. 

The FCPS Athletic Training Program (ATP) was recognized at the Feb. 23 School Board meeting. Check out this 2 min video the FCPS ATP made to highlight our unique skill set!! 

Stay up to date with TJ sports schedules on our Athletic Website!

Winter Sports Senior Nights

Collage of Winter Sports Senior Nights

Winter Sports Senior Nights

Some of the students our Athletic Trainers took care of wrapped up highly successful winter sports seasons in February. Take a look at the gallery above to see all of our winter sports teams respective Senior Nights. Thank you for all your hard work this season!

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. Heather.Murphy@fcps.edu


Take Your Learner's Permit Test at TJ!

When: 8th period - specific dates below

Where: Room 107

Cost: $20

2022-23 Dates: additional dates may be added based on demand and upon school approval

  • March 22
  • April 19
  • May 17

For more Information: 

Who can take the test  Visit FCPS ACE and sign up for a specific date.

Send any questions to Mr. Thompson (ncthompson@fcps.edu)

Students Ride Free on Fairfax Connector

Did you know that FCPS students can ride free on Fairfax Connector busses? For more information visit their website.

Poster promoting Fairfax Connectors free student bus pass program

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

March 22: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Ramadan begins at sunset) - school remains in session with normal hours, no afterschool or evening activities

March 23: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Ramadan) - school remains in session with normal hours, no afterschool or evening activities

March 30: iNITE takes place at NOVA Alexandria at 7 p.m.

April 3-7: Spring Break - No school for students or staff

April 10: TJ will follow Red Day schedule on this Monday.

April 13: End of third quarter, modified Blue Day - two hour early release.

April 13: Next News You Choose newsletter is released (delayed a week because there is no school on April 7)

April 14: Professional Work Day - No school for students