TJ Community Marks Completion of Four-Year Renovation
The end of Spring Break 2017 marked the close of a four-year renovation that impacted the high school years of no fewer than eight classes of TJ students. At the April 18th PTSA meeting, held on the first day of school after Spring Break, Dr. Glazer announced to applause that the new courtyards and front patio were open for outdoor learning, activities, and lunch, and that it had been TJ’s first day without trailers. The removal of the trailers (aka “learning cottages,” a euphemism that has been abandoned along with the temporary classrooms it referred to) truly marks a new era in TJ’s history, as several alumni sources peg the first appearance of trailers behind TJ to 1987.
Hosts Ribbon Cutting
On April 19th, TJ held a formal ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the new building’s final wing. Fairfax County Public School leadership and local politicians mingled with students and parents at the event, held during 8th period (due to a conflict with a School Board meeting, FCPS leadership was unable to attend the Red Carpet Reception, below). Cheerleaders cheered, the Color Guard flew their colors, and the PTSA provided cake for all.
Flanked by students in lab coats, dignitaries participate in the ribbon cutting for the opening of the new building’s final wing. From left to right, Fabio Zuluaga, FCPS Asst. Superintendent, Region 2; Steve Lockard, FCPS Interim Superintendent; Jane Strauss, FCPS School Board Member, Dranesville District; Irlyong Moon, FCPS School Board Member-at-large; Megan McLaughin, FCPS School Board Member, Braddock District; Barbara Favola, Virginia State Senator, 31st District; Jeffrey Platenberg, FCPS Asst. Superintendent, Facilities; Gerry Connolly, Member US House of Representatives, 11th District of Virginia; Sandy Evans, FCPS School Board Chair, Mason District; Principal Evan Glazer; Mark Keam, Virginia Delegate, 35th House District; Natalie Givans-Anderson, Parent ’19, Diversity Committee Chair, Partnership Fund Parent Chair; Tim Cho, TJ ’17, SGA President; Laura Chu, TJ ’17, FCPS School Board Student Member; Asst. Principal Pam Gravitte; Asst. Principal Shawn Frank (Photo courtesy FCPS News Photographer Karen Bolt).
Partnership Fund Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Campaign Donors
The TJ Partnership Fund has so much to celebrate: the end of the renovation, and a new office off the new building’s front lobby; the culmination of a hugely successful fundraising campaign, with hundreds of new relationships with current and past parents; a strengthening of the TJ alumni network and tremendous growth in alumni participation in all aspects of the school; and significant partnerships with institutions here and abroad. With so much to be thankful for, the PF’s memorable Red Carpet Celebration aimed to send a clear message of appreciation to all the donors who made the Campaign for TJ a success.
The Celebration encouraged guests to venture beyond the front entrance and lobby. Greeters handed out maps labeled with the locations of tables featuring student research, tjSTAR, student non-profits, and more. For the less adventurous, guided tours were available. Food stations were also sprinkled throughout the building’s Commons.
The new Auditorium was the site for the evening’s Formal Program, which included remarks by Dr. Glazer, Virginia Senator Dick Saslaw (District 35), and Biotechnology Lab Director Dr. Andrea Cobb, who presented a slideshow illustrating the impact that Campaign-funded instrumentation has had on the depth and breadth of student research.
The Program opened with a stunning live art performance set to music by ArtBeat Live’s Elliott From (above, right), who with a few quick strokes dashed off a colorful Jefferson likeness that now hangs under the Dome, along with a “Thinker” work he painted in similar fashion to close the Program. Henley Construction, the general contractor for TJ’s renovation, arranged for the performance as a thank-you to the TJ community.
Interactive Donor Honor Wall Graces Lobby
The PF, known for funding instrumentation that promotes student learning, now has its own exciting piece of hardware, an interactive Donor Honor Wall already populated with profiles of several Leadership Donors.
The Wall’s electronic interface lets the PF tell a much bigger story than a static list of names would allow. Visitors can use the touchscreen’s clear prompts to view Leadership Donor profiles, donor stories and testimonials, and a map of recognition locations throughout the school. The interface also allows the PF to keep the donor list current.
Other features include an alumni donor list arranged by class, a history of TJ and of the PF, and a full map of the school. PF intern Tarunikha Sriram, TJ ’18, worked closely with PF Senior Development Manager Samantha Courtney over the past year to narrow down options, customize the software, and design the Wall (see Nov 2016 issue). No wonder it’s attractive, engaging, and complements TJ’s new 21st-century space so well.
Archives Room Opens Today
The last room to open at the new TJ is the one room in the school entirely devoted to recalling TJ’s past. The Archives Room, opening June 10th, is a space that Principal Glazer envisioned years ago as a place that alumni, past parents, retired faculty, and anyone with ties to TJ could come and reminisce.
The room features a video corner where visitors can watch old footage (President Reagan’s visit, Prom from 20 years ago), a file drawer full of old documents (TJ’s creation, tjTODAY from 15 years ago), along with a scanner that can be used to create soft copies for sharing with others, and treasured reminders of the old building (chemical element ceiling tiles, bricks signed by members of the Class of 1989).
Although the Archives Room is open, it’s far from finished. TJHSST has a 30-year history (and Jefferson HS recently celebrated its 50th year), so there are plenty of accumulated memories and memorabilia. Organizing these documents, photos, and objects will take time.
A group of Eagle Scouts, along with other volunteers led by former TJ staff member extraordinaire, Pat Groves, who faithfully created and nurtured the TJ Archives from the time she served as Principal Geoff Jones’s Administrative Assistant, are assisting Dr. Glazer with the organization and display of the items, many of which were donated by alumni and past parents in response to the Principals’ requests.
Turf Field Groundbreaking
Work has already begun on the installation of TJ’s two turf fields. The school’s six new tennis courts are almost completed. The SkyScan planetarium for the school’s renovated Astronomy Lab is also scheduled to be installed over the summer.
This spring, using PF Community Service Grant funds, members of the Cultivator’s Club planted flowers in the beds to the right of the Dome (photo below). Both the Cultivator’s Club and the Greenhouse Club also met with a spokesperson from the Smithsonian to talk about the best locations for native plants, proving that at TJ everything — including the beautification of a new building — is a learning opportunity. Budget permitting, students will landscape around the newly completed Science Patio (on the Dome’s left as you face the building) during the next fall or spring planting season.