Until as recently as two years ago, TJ’s building looked about the same as it did when we graduated, whether that was in 2008 or 1990. Today our School is undergoing a renovation that will completely replace the aging facility with one designed for TJ’s unique program.
The first two phases are already completed. The school now features a two-story Research Lab wing, a majestic dome entrance, several common areas that are used for lectures, meetings, and socializing, two courtyards — one with a greenhouse and the other with an amphitheater — a renovated gym, wrestling room and locker rooms, dozens of new classrooms and seminar rooms, conference rooms, an art gallery, and much more.
Along with the expansion and improvement of the physical plant there are accompanying equipment and technology needs, athletic needs, humanities/arts needs, and other programmatic needs. The renovation provides opportunities to make a long-term impact on research and learning capabilities, and on curriculum. As has long been the case, the work undertaken in the Research Labs is largely dependent on the available equipment, with such acquisitions as the Chemical Analysis Lab’s Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer, the Quantum Physics Lab’s Atomic Force Microscope, and the Biotechnology Lab’s DNA sequencer opening up new areas for research over the past several years. These needs go well beyond lab equipment. For example, if green projects such as solar panels and a rainwater cistern can be funded, students can use the new building for alternative energy research. If the School obtains turf fields, there will be fewer practices cancelled, which coaches believe will not only improve play but also help prevent injury.
Budgetary and political constraints limit the public finds available for needs that go beyond bricks and mortar, so private funds must fill the gap. TJ Partnership Fund, the school’s non-profit foundation, is working together with the School Administration to take full advantage of the opportunity provided by the renovation so that the TJ name can remain synonymous with excellence, innovation, and leadership. An ambitious $8M campaign is raising private funds from the entire TJ community as well as from corporations and foundations who appreciate what a leading institution like TJ contributes to Northern Virginia and the nation.
Supporting the School’s STEM Mission
The School’s first priority is to outfit the brand new labs with up-to-date equipment and to ensure that all labs and classrooms have the latest technology. The cost of these improvements is estimated at $6M.
Equipment and technology needs fall into four main categories:
- Replacements for, duplicates of, and upgrades to existing equipment: For example, a state-of-the-art Planetarium for the Astronomy Lab to enhance research and outreach; replacements for the outdated aquaria and other equipment in the Oceanography Lab; a newer laser cutter for the Robotics Lab; and an industrial-sized CNC router system that will allow Prototyping Lab students to complete projects faster and to fashion larger components.
- New types of equipment: For example, the live cell fluorescence microscope system that the Biotechnology, Neuroscience, and Oceanography Labs will share; and the Chemical Analysis Lab’s table-top nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer.
- Professional-grade furniture and fixtures: These include items such as hands-free faucets to allow Biotechnology Lab students to maintain aseptic technique, mobile lab benches to accommodate various project set-ups for the Chemical Analysis and Neuroscience Labs; and industrial-quality furniture, including large material storage racks, for the Energy Systems and Prototyping Labs. It also includes such specialized furniture as the research-grade optical benches and vibration isolation systems needed by the Quantum Physics & Optics Lab.
- Technology: This includes new computers, printers, software, and smart-boards for research labs, classrooms, and other spaces; and video and other hardware to enable a secure network that can enhance outreach as well as collaboration between students and research professionals, including alumni.
Another high priority is improving our athletic facilities. As the last FCPS high school without turf, TJ badly needs that field improvement. The County will be installing two turf fields (with one available for community use), but a portion of the cost of those fields must be funded by private donations.
The Campaign’s long-term vision has always included a fund for humanities and arts needs so that major purchases could be made in the same year they’re first identified, and a fund for educational green building projects that would improve energy efficiency while providing models for environmental research.
The Campaign for TJ, which kicked off in the fall of 2013, has already raised $6M in donations and pledges, primarily from our generous corporate partners and devoted parent community.
Now that our Alumni Association and non-profit foundation have become one organization, renovation and Campaign news has reached alumni through the quarterly newsletter, Facebook group, and other channels. Nobody appreciates more than we do the life-changing experience of a TJ education. Not only did TJ push us to try harder, open our mind wider, and introduce us to a diverse group of amazing peers, but it also opened doors to vast educational and career opportunities. That’s why it’s critical that we do what we can to strengthen the school and its reputation for future generations of students.
Help equip the labs to support meaningful research, upgrade technology throughout the school, improve athletic facilities with turf fields, and more. Donate NOW to our historic Campaign for TJ!
- For a donation of $1,000 or more you can place your name on a plaque on a seat in the renovated auditorium. There are also numerous Recognition Opportunities at higher levels.
- Take advantage of corporate matching opportunities and donate through your company’s workplace giving programs, including United Way (8705) and CFC (81947).
Raise Your Class Consciousness
- Help your TJ Class compete for highest number of donors participating (see class giving statistics and Alumni Donor List by class).
- Members of the current reunion Classes — 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 — can contribute toward their respective Class Reunion gifts.
Impact Education at TJ and in the Community it Serves
- Serve as an informal mentor to TJ research students (email the Alumni Association President for more information).
- Explain your work or encourage career interest at the School’s tjSTAR research symposium (remote participation is welcome – see photo above).
- Speak about what inspires you — life after TJ, the nuts and bolts of your work, how you started a company, or anything else you know students are interested in. Keep an eye out for various 8th period and special-event opportunities throughout the year.
- Recruit students at TJ’s annual Internship Fair.
- Get profiled in our newsletter, Newsworthy, so the entire TJ community can learn about your accomplishments, career, company, or projects (contact newsletter editor Hilde Kahn).
- Volunteer to serve as a liaison between TJ and a local elementary or middle school where TJ student STEMbassadors are helping with STEM clubs and activities.
- Volunteer to design a class and/or teach youngsters for a week at MSTI (Middle School Tech Institute), TJ’s own “intro to STEM” camp (contact program director Craig Lewis).
Encourage Your Employer to Get Involved
- Supporting the Campaign for TJ
- Fostering student research and education through internships and mentorships
- Participating in our annual tjSTAR research symposium
- Joining in our many outreach efforts
- Nominating a representative to serve on our Corporate Advisory Board
- Network and socialize at alumni events in DC and around the country.
- No event listed in your area? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how the Alumni Association can help you make something happen in your town.
- Get the details on class reunions.
- Check out Newsworthy‘s articles about alumni accomplishments and activities.