Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
|Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology|
6560 Braddock Road
|School type||Public, magnet high school|
|School district||Fairfax County Public Schools|
|Teaching staff||107.52 (on a FTE basis)|
|Student to teacher ratio||16.93|
|Color(s)||Red, white, and navy|
|Athletics conference||Gunston District|
|USNWR ranking||1 (2020)|
|Communities served||Northern Virginia|
|Feeder schools||Northern Virginia schools|
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (also known as TJHSST, TJ, or Jefferson) is a Virginia state-chartered magnet school in Fairfax County, Virginia. It is a regional high school operated by Fairfax County Public Schools.
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. The school occupies the building of the previous Thomas Jefferson High School (constructed in 1965). It 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. In 2016, the school placed first in Newsweek's annual "America's Top High Schools" rankings for the third consecutive year and fifth in US News & World Report's 2016 High School Rankings.
Attendance at the school is open to students in six local jurisdictions based on prior academic achievement, recommendations, and essays. TJ removed the application fee and admissions exam from its selection process in October 2020.
The school is part of the Fairfax County Public Schools system of Fairfax County, Virginia. Students from Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and from the City of Falls Church are also eligible for admission.
In 2015 and 2016, the ratio of acceptances to applications was 17% and 17.9%, respectively. The ethnic demographics of the students admitted in the graduating class of 2022 was 65.2% Asian/Asian American, 22.9% Caucasian/white American, 5.1% other (including people of Native American, Pacific Islander, and multiple racial backgrounds), 4.7% Hispanic or Latino American, and 2.1% African American or Black. Hispanic and Black students make up less than seven percent of student body, while the same groups constitute about thirty percent of the student population in the area.
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.
The 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.
Computer Systems Lab
The school's computer systems lab is one of the 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, which is on display as of 2020.
The lab also supported a number of Sun Microsystems thin clients for use by students enrolled in AP Computer Science. In 2008, the school received a grant from Sun Microsystems for $388,048, which was student-written. 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. By 2014, the Sun Ray clients were decommissioned, and replaced with Linux-based thin clients running LTSP.
Since 2000, students have built and maintained an Intranet application used to give students access to school resources remotely, and to manage the Eighth Period program. Three iterations of the application have been developed: the original system, built in 2000 as an early PHP application; Intranet2, known as Iodine, which used object-oriented PHP; and Ion, written in Python using the Django web framework.
The school underwent renovation, completed in April 2017, for a cost of about $89 million, including $67.4 million for construction. A replica of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello dome graces the school's entrance, colloquially known as "The Dome" by students and staff. The renovation overhauled the school's aging facilities, many of which had not been updated since it was built in 1964.
Awards and recognition
In its 2019 report evaluating almost 18,000 public high schools, U.S. News & World Report ranked TJ as the best overall high school in the United States. In 2016, the school placed first in Newsweek's annual "America's Top High Schools" rankings for the third consecutive year. Previously, it ranked 8th in the 2013 rankings and 10th in the 2012 rankings, the first year it was included. It was ranked fourth in "America's Best High Schools" by U.S. News and World Report in 2019. In the same rankings, it placed third in 2018, sixth in 2017, fifth in 2016, third in 2015, fourth in 2014 and 2013, and second in 2012 and 2011. The average SAT scores for various graduating classes has consistently been above 2150.
In 2007, for schools with more than 800 students in grades 10–12, TJ 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 2014, 3864 AP Exams were taken by students; over 97% earned a score of 3, 4, or 5.
- Chris Avellone, game designer
- Sandra Beasley, poet
- Bob Bland, fashion designer and activist
- Ian Caldwell, author
- Lisa Desjardins, political journalist
- Mike Elias, baseball executive
- Mark Embree, Rhodes Scholar
- Toby Fox, developer of the 2015 indie game Undertale
- Eric Froehlich, World Series of Poker
- Stephanie Hannon, CTO of Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2016
- Darius Kazemi, programmer, artist, and co-founder of Feel Train
- Andrew Kirmse, game developer and computer programmer
- Ehren Kruger, screenwriter
- Christo Landry, professional long-distance runner
- Howard Lerman, entrepreneur
- George Little, former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
- Jose Llana, actor
- Ashley Miller, screenwriter
- Aparna Nancherla, comedian
- Amna Nawaz, broadcast journalist
- Thao Nguyen, vocalist
- Michael H. Park, United States Circuit Judge
- Emma Pierson, Rhodes Scholar
- Conor Russomanno, creator of OpenBCI
- Robert Sarvis, lawyer
- Monika Schleier-Smith, experimental physicist and MacArthur Fellow (2020)
- Andrew Seliskar, swimmer
- Ravi Shankar, poet/editor/professor
- Joshua Specht, history professor at University of Notre Dame, author of Red Meat Republic
- Chris Sununu, Governor of New Hampshire
- Vlad Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood
- Dustin Thomason, author
- Anne Toth, executive
- Greg Tseng, businessman
- Staci Wilson, soccer player, olympian 
- Sophia Kianni, American climate activist
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