Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
|Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology|
|6560 Braddock Road
Alexandria, Virginia, 22312
|School type||Public, magnet high school|
|School district||Fairfax County Public Schools|
|Staff||approximately 106 full-time staff|
|Color(s)||Red, white, and navy
|Athletics conference||Liberty District
|Average SAT scores (2013)||2153|
|Communities served||Northern Virginia|
|Feeder schools||Northern Virginia schools|
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST, TJ, Jefferson) is a Virginia state-chartered magnet school located within Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. It is a regional high school operated by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).
As a publicly funded and administered high school with selective admissions, TJHSST is often compared with notable public magnet schools, although it did get rid of non-application based admission after the class of 1988. Attendance at TJ is open to students in six local jurisdictions based on an admissions test, prior academic achievement, recommendations and essays. The selective admissions program was initiated in 1985 through the cooperation of state and county governments, as well as corporate sponsorship from the defense and technology industries. TJHSST occupies the building of the previously FCPS non-selective Thomas Jefferson High School (constructed in 1965). TJHSST is one of 18 Virginia Governor's Schools, and a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school the best public high school in the nation from 2007 to 2013. In 2014, TJHSST once again placed first in Newsweek's annual "America's Top Schools" ranking.
The school is currently undergoing a major renovation, which should be completed by the end of 2016. The renovation cost of about $89 million includes $67.4 million for construction, plus other costs related to permits, design fees, utilities and equipment. A replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello dome will grace the school’s entrance. The renovation overhauls the school's aging facilities, many of which have not been updated since the school was built in 1964.
- 1 Admissions and enrollment
- 2 Curriculum
- 3 Awards and distinctions
- 4 Recent developments
- 5 School features and activities
- 6 VHSL sports championships
- 7 Notable alumni
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Admissions and enrollment
Each fall, the TJHSST Admissions Office accepts applications for freshman admission from eighth-graders who live in eligible areas in Northern Virginia. Students must be enrolled in Algebra I or a higher math course in order to apply, except for special instances where the student did not have the ability to have taken Algebra I in his or her middle school.
After paying a registration fee, all applicants take an admissions test, which consists of a standardized mathematics and reasoning test that lasts 2 hours. (In the past, students also wrote an essay at the same time as the test.) Using a sliding scale, the math and reasoning test score is combined with the student's middle-school GPA to form an overall, objective ranking; the admissions office designates the top scorers as semifinalists, a group generally about three times as large as the planned freshman class. The semifinalists submit further information, including teacher recommendations and the Student Information Sheet/Essay, which details a student's achievements and previous experiences in science, mathematics, and technology. Two selection panels review this information and select the next year's freshman class.
Rising sophomores at other schools can still apply to Jefferson (they must live in the eligible areas in Northern Virginia), even if they applied unsuccessfully in the past, or if they have moved from another county. Even though these applicants do not take the admissions test, they are required to submit scores from either the PSAT/NMSQT or SAT.
There is no determination of semifinalists as such, so all applicants are expected to submit further information, similar to the information that the eighth-graders submit, with a few more questions on scientific situations. By the end of June, the new entrants to the Jefferson sophomore class are decided. By the end of the 2007–2008 school year, only 15 out of the 70 students who applied were accepted for the 2008–2009 academic year. At the end of the 2009–2010 school year, only 18 out of the 95 applicants were accepted for the 2010–2011 academic year. Admissions reached to 23 out of 68 applicants during the 2013-2014 school year.
Rising juniors may only apply to TJHSST if they have not already applied in the past, and they must live in an eligible part of Northern Virginia. They go through an interview process to determine selection. Usually, very few applicants are accepted. In the 2013-2014 school year, one junior was accepted to TJ.
While most local high schools base entering class size on the number of rising eighth-graders, Jefferson controls its freshman enrollment through its selective admissions process. Of the approximately 3000 freshmen who apply, only about 480 are admitted. This target class size has slowly grown since the school was founded, beginning at 400 students per class for the class of 1989. The class of 2009 contained about 450 students. For the 2011 and 2012 classes, enrollment has been increased to 480 students. There were 1,812 students enrolled for the 2010–2011 school year. Effective July 31, 2007, a cumulative, unweighted GPA of at least 3.0 is required for students to remain enrolled at the school. If this GPA is not maintained, the students will be transferred to their original high school at the end of the school year.
The student demographic at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has shifted dramatically in the past decade. Asians are significantly overrepresented at TJ, comprising around 60% of the student population in 2013-14, far exceeding the approximately 20% in the general population of Fairfax County. Asians became the school's largest racial group in 2009-2010, at 46.38%, while whites comprised 43.63% of the population. In contrast, blacks and Hispanics comprise a much smaller percentage of the student body (<4%) than is present in the populace of the participating localities (approx. 10% and 16%, respectively).
When looking at admitted students, in 2004, approximately 54% of admitted students in the Class of 2008 were identified white, while 32% were identified as Asian. By 2014, only 24% of admitted students in the Class of 2018 were white, while 66% were Asian. Male students also make up 60% of students admitted.
In 2004, the Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) commissioned a study to determine what steps, if any, should be undertaken to remedy the underrepresentation of certain racial or ethnic groups, as well as low-income students, among enrollees. Prior to the study, admissions decisions were based mainly on middle school grades and students' scores on the admission examination. In 1998, attorneys working for Fairfax County Public Schools published an interpretation of law that restricted "soft affirmative action", which led to a severe decline in enrollment among black and Hispanic students. The FCSB commission concluded that a change to the admissions policy was necessary to mitigate the underrepresentation, by taking into account other factors, such as gender, ethnicity and other socio-demographic characteristics, as "plus" factors in a holistic review of applicants. Despite efforts at increasing outreach, however, the percentage of minority students only increased moderately, and only for a few years.
During the 2013-14 school year, the black student population of the school was 1.21% and the Hispanic population was 2.31%. Students admitted in 2010 were 2.42% African descent and 3.84% Hispanic, although these two ethnic groups constitute more than 25% of the student population in Fairfax County.
In 2012, a civil rights complaint against the school was filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights by Coalition of the Silence, an advocacy group led by former county School Board member Tina Hone, and the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP. In response, the Office of Civil Rights, in September 2012, opened an investigation.
While TJHSST is operated by the Fairfax County Public Schools system (which serves residents of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax), residents of Arlington, Loudoun, Fauquier, and Prince William counties, as well as the City of Falls Church also apply to and attend the school. A particular number of admission slots is allotted to each participating locality. In March 2006, the Alexandria School Board voted 7–2 in favor of allowing a maximum of two students from Alexandria to attend the school, although a subsequent vote (5–4) in September 2006 rescinded that earlier decision. Each school district shares in the cost of operating the school. The independent cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, although surrounded by Prince William County, have declined to fund spaces for their students.
TJHSST offers an extensive mathematics and science curriculum, including courses in organic chemistry, neurobiology, marine biology, DNA science, and quantum mechanics. Most courses at TJHSST are taught at the Honors, Advanced Placement, or post-Advanced Placement level; language classes below the AP level, most music classes, and physical education classes are not. All students are required to complete Calculus (AB or BC) before graduation. All students are required to complete an introductory Java computer science course before their junior year, or, subject to a placement test, an accelerated introductory Python and Java computer science class.
The school also offers a strong humanities and foreign language curriculum. Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), and Russian are taught in addition to the more traditional German, French, Spanish, and Latin. Every other year, Pskov State Pedagogical University students from Russia visit TJHSST. In 2013, the language department celebrated the twenty-year anniversary of its sister school relationship with Chiben Gakuen High School, a Japanese high school famous for its baseball program. Each year in March, ten exchange students and one teacher come to spend a month in the US. TJ students are given the opportunity to reciprocate during the summer with the school's Chiben Summer Program.
TJ also offers its IBET (Integrated Biology, English, and Technology) program to ninth graders. Students spend nine class periods a week with the same group of peers, and the IBET teachers work together to produce an integrated curriculum. The technology aspect of the program (Design and Technology; formerly Principles of Engineering and Technology) stresses drafting, CAD, and basic electronics skills. Integrated humanities courses are offered in 10th and 11th grade, known as HUM 1 and HUM 2, respectively. An option to integrate Chemistry into 10th grade humanities, similar to IBET, is available as the "CHUM" concept. There are also several integrated programs available for seniors.
All students attending TJHSST must pursue a special TJ Diploma. The TJ Diploma requirements duplicate those of the Virginia Advanced Studies Diploma with additional mathematics, computer science, earth science, and engineering requirements.
Seniors must participate in the Senior Technology Laboratory Research program, which consists of a year-long research project or an off-campus mentorship through one of the school's research labs. These labs are devoted to numerous fields, including computer science, robotics, microelectronics, chemistry, prototyping, optics, computer aided design, astronomy, neuroscience, biotechnology, and oceanography. Recently, labs have been introduced devoted to communication systems and web and mobile apps.
There was formerly some debate over the inclusion of the Video Technology Lab, responsible among other things for producing the school's video morning announcement program. It was ultimately decided that the Video Technology Lab would be closed, despite an active letter writing campaign by students to the Board of Education. However, a similar lab taught by the same teacher, the Communications Systems Lab, was introduced for the 2009 school year.
In 2014, the Jefferson Underclassmen Multidiscipline Project (JUMP) lab was introduced to allow freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to conduct research projects at TJ.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), which is an accreditation division of AdvancED and the regional accrediting body for secondary schools in the region including Virginia, has accredited TJHSST since the magnet program was founded in 1985.
Awards and distinctions
TJHSST fielded more National Merit Semifinalists than any other high school in America for most of the 1990s and 2000s. From 2000 to 2005, it fielded more USAMO qualifiers than any other high school in America and has a distinguished history of U.S. Physics Olympiad Team members and medal winners. In 2007, TJHSST had more Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalists (14) than any other school. TJHSST repeated this feat in 2009 with 15 semifinalists and in 2010 with 13 semifinalists. Over the 2002–2010 period, TJHSST has produced a combined total of 75 semi-finalists, ranking 4th in the entire country, and 7 finalists, tying for 6th place nationally.
TJHSST was ranked as the top high school in the nation by PrepReview in 2004. In that year, TJHSST also had the highest average SAT score among all American high schools, both public and private. It was also ranked No. 1 among "America's Best High Schools" in a study by U.S. News and World Report in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Each year, over a quarter of its graduating class accepts admission to the University of Virginia. The other major schools attended by graduates are the College of William and Mary, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Duke University, and Princeton University in that order. Other graduates attend Ivy League schools and high-ranking public and private schools across the nation.
For schools with more than 800 students in grades 10–12, TJHSST was cited as having the highest-performing AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP French Language, AP Government and Politics, U.S., and AP U.S. History courses among all schools worldwide.
In addition, eight Rhodes Scholars have graduated from TJHSST since its inception, more than the number of Rhodes Scholars from most colleges in the United States.
||This section lends undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (March 2015)|
|Ronald Reagan||The 40th President of the United States, visited in 1986 and addressed a school-wide assembly during which a preselected group of students were able to ask questions.|
|Carl Sagan||This astronomer and astrophysicist, visited and delivered a speech to student leaders at an organizational meeting in the spring of 1988 held at TJHSST with fifteen founding member institutions of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools in Mathematics, Science, and Technology.|
|Valeri Kubasov||In 1992, a Russian cosmonaut on the Apollo-Soyuz mission, visited the school. A student taking Russian served as his translator and guide as he dropped in on science classes giving brief, impromptu speeches and toured the school's tech labs.|
|Benoît Mandelbrot||This mathematician, noted for developing a "theory of roughness" in nature and the field of fractal geometry to help prove it (which included coining the word "fractal"), visited in 1996 and gave a lecture.|
|Al Gore||This U.S. Vice President under Bill Clinton, visited in 1999 to provide the keynote address to the graduating class of 1999.|
|Professor Sylvester James Gates||In February 2000, Professor Gates spoke at TJHSST on his String Theory and physics-related topics. Gates received BS (1973) and PhD (1977) degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on supersymmetry. With M.T. Grisaru, M. Rocek, and W. Siegel, Gates co-authored Superspace (1984), the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry. He is currently the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Gates was a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar at MIT (2010–11) and is a Residential Scholar at MIT's Simmons Hall.|
|Mandy Moore||In 2000, she performed a concert at TJHSST as a result of a radio contest sponsored by now-defunct local radio station WWZZ (Z104). The contest was conducted via online voting on the Z104 website. Students were allowed to vote for their school as many times as they wanted, for the duration of the contest. However, because the voting system had no way of verifying who was voting, several TJHSST students wrote a number of various computer scripts that generated rapid, automatic votes for TJHSST, randomly choosing a member of the student body to vote as. Lake Braddock Secondary School students followed suit and wrote their own vote-generating script to compete with TJHSST. In an attempt to crack down on these ethically questionable attempts to manipulate the contest, Z104 announced that computer-generated voting was no longer allowed, and that any high school found violating the rule would be disqualified, removing a number of votes from TJ and several other schools that had taken a similar tack. However, when it became apparent that policing such a restriction would be nearly impossible, the organizers of the contest seemed to give up, allowing the votes to count, and giving TJ the victory by a wide margin of votes.|
|Yoshiro Mori||The prime minister of Japan visited in 2001.|
|Rev. Jesse Jackson||On September 27, 2001, Jesse Jackson visited the school. He gave a speech to the entire student body about the recent 9/11 attacks and the need for unity among the people of the nation. His speech culminated in Jackson leading the student body in a chant of his famous line, "I am somebody."|
|Ian Anderson||Ian Anderson of the classic rock band Jethro Tull visited the school on October 12, 2005, along with classical violinist Lucia Micarelli. He answered questions from students about his work, being on tour, and illegal file sharing. The visit was the subject of articles in The Washington Post and The Washington Times|
|Frank Close||Frank Close, a physicist and author, visited the school from November 13–14, 2008, giving a speech to the freshman class on particle physics and scientific writing. He also gave a speech to the students in AP Physics, Computational Physics, and Optics about the Standard Model.|
|Scott McNealy||Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems visited the school and gave a presentation to students on March 11, 2009.|
|Arne Duncan||The US Secretary of Education, visited TJHSST on May 28, 2009 as the keynote speaker for the inaugural tjSTAR (Symposium to Advance Research) event.|
|Lisa P. Jackson||The US Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, visited TJHSST on June 9, 2009 as a speaker for TJ's solar panel initiative kickoff event. Local media and politicians were also present at the event.|
|Steven Chu||The US Secretary of Energy, visited TJ on September 8, 2009, to speak about global warming and world population growth.|
|Chef José Andrés||José Andrés visited TJHSST on June 2, 2010 as the keynote speaker for tjSTAR.|
|Harold Varmus||This Nobel Prize winner in Medicine visited TJ on October 21, 2010 to speak to the student body.|
|Atul Jain||Atul Jain, CEO and Chairman of TEOCO Corporation visited on October 27, 2010 to speak to members of TJ's Future Business Leaders of America Club|
|Barack Obama||The 44th President of the United States, visited TJ on September 16, 2011, to sign the America Invents Act. He was given a tour of the school, including a special session that showcased some of the current projects, including TJ Cubesat, a mind-controlled wheelchair, a FIRST robot (allegedly named Derp, rumor has it that President Obama said "Huh, Derp." after being told its name), and a bioluminescence buoy. Obama also saw a banner that said "Homecoming, Mr. President?" and replied with "Only if I can bring Michelle." At 11:10 am the president entered the school Gymnasium, where he spoke about the importance of patent reform in promoting long term innovation and economic growth through the return of manufacturing to the United States. In his speech, the President also touched on his proposed American Jobs Act. After giving the speech, he signed the America Invents Act into law.|
|Ken Cuccinelli||Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia, visited TJ's Teenage Republican Club to talk about the state's healthcare lawsuit on September 30, 2011.|
|Wes Bush||Wes Bush, the CEO and company president of Northrop Grumman, visited TJ on October 3, 2011 to speak about innovation in the STEM field and some of the company's ongoing projects.|
|Tara Sonenshine||Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, visited TJ on December 19, 2012 to speak about STEM opportunities for women in public policy.|
|Azar Nafisi||Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, visited TJ in 2013 to discuss her book, as well as her life in revolutionary Iran.|
|Daniel H. Pink||Daniel Pink, former speechwriter for Al Gore, visited TJ in September, 2013, to talk about his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, which was assigned as a summer reading assignment to all of the TJ students.|
|Mike Massimino||Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut and the first person to use Twitter in space, visited TJ on October 10, 2014 to give a presentation on his life and career as an astronaut.|
|Daniel FitzGerald Runde||Daniel Runde, the director of the Project on Prosperity and Development and holder of the William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, visited TJ's Teenage Republican club on October 17, 2014 to talk about the 2014 midterms and civic engagement.|
|Robert Sarvis||Robert Sarvis, a TJ alum (1994) and Libertarian candidate for the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election and the 2014 Senate election, visited TJ on October 24, 2014 to speak about his campaign.|
In March 2004, TJHSST announced a partnership with nearby George Mason University. Among the proposals set forth in the partnership are the relocation of TJHSST to the George Mason University campus and instruction by university professors at the high school. This proposal was scratched in 2007 when George Mason decided to build a conference center in available space. In the 2005–2006 school year, a small group of Thomas Jefferson students piloted a program in which they took college-level courses at GMU's Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering. Currently students are able to pursue a dual enrollment for some courses at the undergraduate level.
Retirement of Elizabeth V. Lodal
From 2000–2006, Elizabeth V. Lodal served as the principal of Thomas Jefferson. In the spring of 2006, Lodal announced her retirement after 40 years as a public school educator and principal of four Fairfax County secondary schools. The timing of her retirement closely followed a situation in which Lodal stated that the pressures Asian parents are widely perceived to place on their children to excel at TJHSST resulted in Asian students committing a disproportionally high percentage of the cheating and theft incidents uncovered by the administration. After a negative response from the Asian community, Principal Lodal wrote a letter in the Parent, Teacher and Student Association Newsletter clarifying her remarks. During her tenure, Lodal advocated an increase in the diversity of the school; she pushed for new admissions procedures designed to increase acceptance of minority students, which the school board passed in 2004. She was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine to be a delegate from Virginia on The Education Commission of the States. Dr. Evan M. Glazer, former director of Roanoke Valley Governor's School for Science and Technology, was chosen as her replacement.
TJHSST Systems Engineering Course designed and built a CubeSat which was launched on November 19, 2013 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital Sciences Corporation donated the CubeSat Kit to the school on December 6, 2006 and provided the launch for the satellite. After a successful launch at 8:15PM, TJ3SAT became the first satellite launched into space that was built by high school students. The launched satellite contained a 4-watt transmitter operating on amateur radio frequencies, and a text-to-speech module to allow it to broadcast ASCII-encoded messages sent to it from Jefferson.
TJHSST employee Susan Thanh Litwin of Woodbridge, Virginia embezzled more than $279,000 from the school between about March 2008 and January 2010. Working as a finance technician and using her signature authority, she was able to transfer funds that were intended for school use into her personal accounts, which she then used to support a gambling addiction. She was arrested on March 5, 2010. She pleaded guilty to the charges on May 6, 2010 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison on August 13, 2010.
School features and activities
The current hybrid class schedule allows eight periods to meet on Mondays, with "block scheduling" (four classes per day) the rest of the week. Though no formal academic classes are offered during eighth period, it is a required part of a school day. Monday, Wednesday and Friday's eighth periods are devoted to study halls, clubs, athletic teams, and other extracurricular activities. The eighth period is possible with TJ's longer (than other FCPS high schools) school day. As a magnet school, students may live more than an hour away, making "staying after" a challenge. (An elaborate school bus network provides all students with free transportation.) Every Thursday, the school day known as Jefferson Learning Community (JLC) begins at 9:00 rather than 8:30, compacting the four periods' time slightly, and allows for teacher collaboration and conferences.
Computer Systems Lab
The Computer Systems Lab (CSL, often shortened to "syslab") at TJHSST is one of very few high school computing facilities with a supercomputer. In 1988, a team from the school won an ETA-10P supercomputer in the SuperQuest competition, a national science competition for high school students. The ETA-10P was damaged by a roof leak in the 1990s. Cray Inc. donated a new SV1 supercomputer, known as Seymour, to the school on December 4, 2002. The supercomputers have been used in research projects by students and may be used in a course for students taking the advanced computer science class entitled Parallel Computing (formerly Supercomputer Applications).
One of the aspects of this lab is student involvement. Since the early 1990s, designated student system administrators (often referred to as "sysadmins") have maintained the lab's workstations and servers, including the upkeep of the school's E-mail, web site, and intranet, among other services. The syslab is currently running Gentoo Linux on most of the CSL resources. Over the years, students in the Computer Systems Research course as well as the sysadmins have worked to improve the computer resources in the school. A system administrator understudy program is in place in order to train aspiring sysadmins. Understudies learn common tasks such as workstation maintenance and Linux installation, as well as CSL-specific administration procedures.
One project developed in the "syslab" was the TJHSST Intranet. This large web application was an early venture into PHP, and is known for bringing Rasmus Lerdorf, the original creator of PHP, to the school for a visit. It was made as a replacement for the aging mechanically based Eighth Period scheduling system, but now it also provides features such as access to files on the school's intranet and the student directory. In recent years, the Intranet2 project has been developed in order to redesign and reimplement the Intranet system with object-oriented programming and modern versions of PHP in mind. It was released on May 18, 2006, but will still continue to be developed indefinitely.
Sun Ray at TJ
The lab also supports a number of Sun thin clients for use by students enrolled in AP Computer Science. In 2008, TJ was awarded a grant from Sun Microsystems for $388,048. The Syslab was given 7 Sun workstations, 12 Sun servers, and 145 Sun Rays for distribution throughout the school. These were placed in the existing AP Computer Science Lab and the science classrooms, support backend services, and serve as kiosks placed around the school for guests, students, and faculty. However, the Sun Rays were taken out of the AP Computer Science Lab due to teachers' objections. The grant was student-written.
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The drama program has performed three major plays each year. One of these productions is entered as a Cappies show in the National Capital Area chapter. Another is the annual Knight of One Axe (Night of One Acts), which consists of mostly student-directed plays and occasionally has student-written plays. The independent Shakespeare Troupe student group performs Shakespeare plays throughout the year.
The choir program holds several concerts over the course of the year, the largest of which is Spring Show. Spring Show is held during second semester and involves both curricular and extracurricular singers. A Cabaret is held during the fall and choir students participate in caroling in the winter. There are five major student-led co-curricular ensembles at Jefferson sponsored by the TJ Choir program. The Madrigals is mixed a cappella group that performs more classical repertoire. The Sirens is a women's a cappella group that performs a wide range of repertoire, from Disney and pop to Christmas carols. Manchoir is the men's a cappella group that performs a wide range of repertoire similar to the Sirens. Show Choir is a mixed group that performs both a cappella and accompanied music including show tunes and repertoire similar to the Sirens and Manchoir. The fifth is a service choir, a non-audition choir that sings around the community. These choirs sponsor an annual a cappella concert during 8th period in the winter and in the spring. Madrigals placed 1st at the East Coast A Cappella Summit in 2008, while Manchoir placed 3rd and 2nd at the similar SingStrong in 2009 and 2011. Sirens and Show Choir have been selected to compete at SingStrong in 2014.
The orchestra program consists of a symphonic orchestra and a concert ensemble. They perform four concerts each year, including the judge-evaluated Spring Festival. For the past several years, the orchestra program has achieved the rating of "superior" at this event. In addition, the symphonic orchestra won the title of "Best Overall High School Orchestra" at the 1991 International Quebec Music Festival.
TJ's band program consists of two concert bands (Symphonic and Symphonic Wind Ensemble) and two jazz bands (Jazz I and Jazz II) in addition to a number of extracurricular ensembles. Each year, the bands has performed in several concerts, including a Fall Preview concert in conjunction with the orchestral and choral programs, Winter Concert, and the District XI VBODA Concert Band Festival. In 2013, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble was one of 15 schools who attended the 2013 Music for All National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis.
The school's extracurricular bands include the marching band, known as the Thomas Jefferson Marching Colonials (TJMC), a winter drumline and a winter color guard. TJMC rehearsals begin in the early summer, and the band's season runs through early November. In addition to performing at football games, the marching band participates in several competitions throughout the fall, including the JMU Parade of Champions, Bands of America, and the USBands National Championships. In the 2014-15 season, TJMC placed first overall at the JMU Parade of Champions (defeating 42 other bands), 6th at prelims and 7th at finals at BOA at the University of Delaware, and 2nd place overall at the USBands Championships in Annapolis. The winter guard (TJWG) and drumline (TJWDL) seasons begin in late November and end in early April. In the 2009–2010 season, TJWG took 5th at the Atlantic Indoor Association's finals, and TJWDL took 1st. In the same year, TJWDL went on to the world championships in Dayton, Ohio, and received 9th place in finals in the A-class. There were 54 groups in the class that year. They received a wild card spot after both preliminaries and semifinals in order to advance.
In addition to the Chiben Gakuen student exchange, TJHSST also hosts the annual week long Jefferson Overseas Schools Technology Institute during the summer for American-based overseas school educators. Also, guest instructors from overseas frequently teach at TJHSST for an academic year, and have hailed from countries such as Germany and Latvia over the past decade.
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Academic teams at TJHSST have competed at the state, national, and international levels. Teams that have maintained perennial success include those competing in debate (Student Congress, Public Forum, Policy, and Lincoln-Douglas), chess, the American Regions Math League competition, Odyssey of the Mind, and both the Regional Virginia and National Science Bowls. In certain cases, teams have held a winning streak of several years or have won multiple times. TJHSST is also known for its strong performance in the It's Academic high school quiz tournament, which is produced and broadcast in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. The team went up to the finals round in the 2012-13 season of It's Academic. TJHSST's It's Academic team routinely performs strongly in national tournaments such as NAQT's High School National Championship Tournament and the PACE National Scholastics Championship. The school also has a long history of supplying qualifiers for the United States Physics Olympic Team, many of whom have gone on to win gold medals for the United States. In recent years, TJ has also sent teams to the DC Regional Botball competition, with multiple top-5 wins in 2008 and 2009. TJ also has a very strong National Ocean Science Bowl team, which consistently places in the top three at regional tournaments and advanced to the National finals in both 2015 and 2014 after breaking a three-year losing streak at the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Bowl. TJ is also noted for its Science Olympiad team, which consistently places in the top three at Regional tournaments and recently advanced to the 2013 National Finals after a first-place finish at the Virginia State Competition.
Model United Nations
The Model United Nations club is the largest regularly meeting organization in the school, with roughly 150 regular participants. Its Officer Corps includes over 20 members, including the Secretariat (Secretary General, Under-Secretary General, Senator and Arbitrator). The club has been successful in national competitions, competing for awards at conferences hosted by the University of Virginia, William and Mary, and the University of Pennsylvania (ILMUNC), and winning the Best Large Delegation award at WMHSMUN XXII and XXIII and the equivalent award at VAMUN. TJ's Model UN also won the Outstanding Large Delegation award at ILMUNC XXVI. TJMUN hosts its own conference each spring, TechMUN. TJMUN has a winning streak at local conferences that extends back to the beginning of last decade. TJMUN is known for producing a great number of incredibly successful delegates.
Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
FBLA is the second largest regularly meeting club at Jefferson with over 100 regular participants. It is known for its annual MarketPlace event in which students sell products to other students in the school as well as for bringing in many guest speakers. Due to stringent state rules and the lack of a business class at TJ, they are not allowed to compete in state competitions. TJ's FBLA also participates in the March of Dimes' March for Babies event held in DC every year. They regularly place in the top 3 for donations among high school organizations.
On October 18–20, 2007, approximately 350 students from member schools of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science, and Technology (NCSSSMST) attended a three-day conference hosted by TJHSST and its university affiliate, George Mason University.
The goal was to have a conference completely student planned for the other students; a group of about 20 students planned the conference under the supervision of Milde Waterfall. The students created and maintained a website about the conference.
The conference provided opportunities for bright, dedicated students to explore innovations in math, science, and technology. Students participated in interactive presentations by professionals, GMU professors, peers, and Jefferson alumni. Events also included a dance social function on a boat down the Potomac, a trip to the International Spy Museum, and a high-profile Climate Change panel. The collaboration aimed to motivate students to use their talent to the best of their abilities to solve diverse problems, inspiring a synergy among the students which will remain with them in college and beyond.
The TJHSST mascot is a stylized image of an American Colonial. Through the 2012-13 school year Jefferson teams played in the AAA Liberty District and the Northern Region of the Virginia High School League. Beginning in 2013-14, a rearrangement by VHSL of schools for playoff purposes was instituted, with Jefferson placed in Capitol Conference 13 of Region 5A-North. Historic "district" competition and champions will continue, but VHSL records will reflect (only) conference, region, and (six, in most sports) state champions. The VHSL change aims to "even things out" based (mostly) on school population.
The Colonials are well known for their strong cross country, swim & dive, crew, track & field, golf, and tennis teams. Additionally, the boys soccer team won the 2007 VHSL AAA State Championship, the football team went to the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Division 5 Northern Region playoffs and the 2013 Region 5A-North playoffs, the boys' basketball team qualified for the 2012 AAA Northern Region playoffs, and the boys' lacrosse team consistently participates in the regional playoffs.
TJ Crew is a dominating force in Virginia rowing, winning 11 of the last 12 boys varsity eight state titles. Both the girls and boys teams have won medals at the prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta and Scholastic Rowing Nationals regattas.
The boys tennis team had a 10-year run (2002-2011) as district champions, won seven of 14 regional championships between 2000 and 2013, was a state finalist in 2010, and won the state championship in 2013. The girls tennis team was a state finalist in 2008 and 2009.
In 2002, TJ became the first AAA school to win both boys and girls swim & dive state championships in the same year, capping undefeated seasons.
The tongue-in-cheek bumper sticker We Came For The Sports, long associated with the school, belies the reality of significant athletic accomplishments, which, along with the many other (award-winning) extracurricular activities contribute to TJ's comprehensiveness as a well-rounded, "full-service", American high school.
VHSL sports championships
The Colonials have won 14 VHSL state titles in athletic activities, all at the AAA level until 2013, then it moved to the newly formed 5A Division:
- Boys Tennis: 2013, 2014
- Boys Soccer: 2007
- Boys Cross Country: 2002, 2004, 2007
- Girls Swimming and Diving: 2002, 2003, 2004
- Boys Swimming and Diving: 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2014
- Girls Indoor Track: 1997, 1998
The Colonials have been state runners-up eight times at the AAA level and four times in the newly instated 5A level:
- Boys Swimming and Diving: 2013
- Girls Swimming and Diving: 2001, 2013
- Boys Tennis: 2010, 2012
- Girls Tennis: 2008, 2009
- Boys Cross Country: 2003, 2005, 2014
- Girls Cross Country: 2002, 2013
- Girls Softball: 1991
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- Stephanie Hannon, 1992, CTO of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign for US President. 
- Andrew Kirmse, 1990, game developer, Meridian 59; computer programmer (Google Now).
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- Jose Llana, 1994, Broadway actor, The King and I, Rent, Flower Drum Song, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
- Robert Sarvis, 1994, 2013 Libertarian nominee for Governor of Virginia. Received 6.5% of 2.24 million votes cast.
- Staci Wilson, 1994, soccer player, member of the US Women's team that won the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
- Anthony Myint, 1995, chef/restaurateur, chef/owner of Mission Bowling Club in San Francisco.
- Jonathan Shainin, 1996, web news editor New Yorker, co-editor, The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent (book).
- Greg Tseng, 1997, Founder and CEO, Tagged.
- Howard Lerman, 1998, Serial entrepreneur, founder of Yext and Intwine.
- Sandra Beasley, 1998, poet, 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize.
- David Rosenthal, 1998, Co-developer on game that was the winner of the first Independent Games Festival in 1999, and founder of database company FoundationDB 
- Geoffrey von Maltzahn, 1999, inventor and entrepreneur, winner of the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2009.
- Eric Froehlich, 2002, winner, World Series of Poker, two-time WSOP bracelet winner.
- Thao Nguyen, 2002, vocalist, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down.
- S. R. Sidarth, 2003, referred to as "Macaca" by George F. Allen in the 2006 United States Senate election
- Kathryn Minshew, 2004, the CEO and co-founder of The Muse, a career-development platform.
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