Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
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|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||Capital Conference 13
5A North Region
|Average SAT scores (2016)||2198|
|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 located within Fairfax County, Virginia. It is a regional high school operated by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).
As a publicly funded and administered high school with a selective admission process, TJHSST is often compared with notable public magnet schools, although it discontinued non-application based admission after the class of 1988. Attendance at TJHSST 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. In 2016, TJHSST 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.
- 1 Students
- 2 Curriculum
- 3 Awards and distinctions
- 4 Recent developments
- 5 School features and activities
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
In 2015 and in 2016 the ratio of applications to acceptances was 17 and 17.9%, and there were 1,792 students enrolled for the 2016–2017 school year. Students of Asian origin constitute around 60%-70% of the student population in 2013–14 and also in 2016-2017. The ethnic demographics of the students in the TJHSST Class of 2019 were 21.8% white, 74% Asian, 1.7% Black, and 2.6% Hispanic. Hispanic and Black students make up less than four 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 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.
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TJHSST offers an extensive mathematics and science curriculum, including courses in artificial intelligence, computer vision, parallel computing, organic chemistry, neurobiology, nanobiotechnology, marine biology, DNA science, signal processing, computational physics, and quantum mechanics. The school also offers a rigorous mathematics program, offering courses such as differential equations, complex variables, multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, and concrete math. All courses at TJHSST are taught at the Honors, Advanced Placement, or post-Advanced Placement level. All students are required to complete Calculus (AB or BC), in addition to either AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition and AP United States Government and Politics, before graduation. All students are required to complete an introductory Java or an accelerated introductory Python computer science course before their junior year, or, subject to a placement test, an Advanced Placement Computer Science A plus Data Structures 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. TJHSST students are given the opportunity to reciprocate during the summer with the school's Chiben Summer Program.
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.
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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.
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
In 2016, TJHSST 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. TJHSST was ranked No. 1 among "America's Best High Schools" in a study by U.S. News and World Report from 2007 to 2010. In the same rankings, it placed 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, 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 2014, 3864 AP Exams were taken by TJHSST students; over 97% earned a score of 3, 4, or 5.
The school is currently undergoing a major renovation, which should be completed by the end of April 2017. 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 graces the school’s entrance, colloquially known as "The Dome" by students and staff. The renovation overhauls the school's aging facilities, many of which had not been updated since the school was built in 1964.
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
Computer Systems Lab
The Computer Systems Lab (CSL, often shortened to "syslab") at TJHSST is one of the rare 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.
In 2013, several Sysadmins began a Python rewrite of the Intranet application (codenamed "Ion") using the Django web framework and responsive web techniques. It replaced Intranet2 in November 2015 and, like previous versions of the TJHSST Intranet, will continue to be developed indefinitely as a student-run project of the Computer Systems Lab.
The lab also supported a number of Sun Microsystems thin clients for use by students enrolled in AP Computer Science. In 2008, TJHSST was awarded 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. 
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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 orchestra program is currently directed by Allison Bailey.
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. TJHSST's Model UN also won the Outstanding Large Delegation award at ILMUNC XXVI. TJMUN hosts its own conference each spring, TechMUN.
School teams have won 18 VHSL state titles in athletic activities, all at the AAA level until 2013, then it moved to the newly formed 5A Division:
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