Developing a new generation of scientists, scholars, and leaders.
No one can visit the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia, without realizing it is one of the most remarkable public schools in the United States -- remarkable for the talents of its selected students, the skill of its staff, the technologies it employs, and the support it receives from the school district and business community.
It is remarkable for something else as well. Its schedule is different; every school day at Thomas Jefferson is lengthened by one period, during which every one of its 1,600 9th to 12th graders is required to participate in a student activity or related coursework such as tutoring, laboratories, or guidance activities. Daily schedules are also flexible enough to let classes meet for extended times as required. This arrangement also provides flexibility for professional development time for teachers.
The selectivity of the school -- and corporate sponsorship of state-of-the-art technological environments in areas such as optics, energy systems, telecommunications, biotechnology, and industrial robotics -- makes it easy to overlook the school's schedule as a factor in its success.
What does the extra period mean in practice? According to sophomore Paul Helms, "It is one of the most important things in the school. I use it to go to both the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and to a Latin Honors class." Senior Seth Mitcho: "Eighth period has helped make this school the center of our lives and often of our families."
The following statements express Thomas Jefferson's vision:
All students complete a college preparatory program of 25 credits. A longer school day permits each student to complement the core curriculum with advanced placement courses, elective courses, mentorships, and extracurricular activities.
Fine arts are part of both the academic and activities program. Course work in the visual, musical, literary, and dramatic arts are complemented with cocurricular programs in the arts, with literary publications, art displays, dramatic productions, and musical performances.
For additional information:
Thomas Jefferson High School
6560 Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22312