The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Lead Editorial: Where are we going?

During a period of constant change, it’s important to identify the direction we’re headed
Evelyn Li
After a variety of changes to Jefferson as a whole, in what ways will the school and its culture adapt?

From the December 2022 Issue of tjTODAY

Jefferson is known fondly for its quirks and traditions, from Homecoming, to our 8th period structure, to our single-block lunch eaten throughout the school. At face value, we’re a community of learners, with academic opportunities such as our IBEST program, senior research labs, and expansive course catalog undebatably acting as cornerstones to what makes TJ, TJ. But jumping up cheering at Homecoming pep rallies, performing iNite acts, and stuffing our faces while simultaneously emptying our wallets at J-Day booths also serve as integral parts of the Jefferson experience. 

At our core, we are a conglomerate of the two; a balance of working hard, and playing harder. This unique dichotomy has been, and will ideally remain, defining factors of Jefferson’s culture.

It is important, however, to acknowledge that Jefferson has an uglier side — students bragging about how little sleep they’ve gotten, comparing class ranks, a dependence on our GPA’s and college acceptances to judge us, and assign us value as human beings. 

Change is more than welcome to that side of Jefferson.

And recently, we’ve experienced change, both big and small. While an obvious answer lies in our new admissions system, it’s worth taking a deeper look into the subtler changes alongside those that make headlines to evaluate the direction Jefferson and its students are headed in the coming years. 

First and foremost, it is important to identify the possible effects these changes will have on the aspect of Jefferson’s identity originally mentioned, our unique habits of study and celebration. 

Many of the events engrained in Jefferson’s culture will likely see no substantial change. Waltzers at the Viennese Ball will continue to be waltzing, dancers at MEX and iNite will continue to be dancing, and participants of the Canned Food Sculpture will continue  canned-food-sculpting. While we may see changes in the makeup of our student body, the activities they enjoy throughout their time at Jefferson will remain the same.

As for our academics, seniors may be quick to point out the changes already made to the esteemed, wretched, iconic, freshman year Robot Project. And while yes, there is merit to this point of contention, it is worth noting its existence as a thing to complain about is a step up from our pandemic days wherein the Class of 2024 knew it only as a myth. Identifying the long term impact of certain modifications must be evaluated against the short term stunts offered up by over a year of virtual learning in order to more fully grasp present conditions.

The far more substantial change to freshman year takes hold in the addition of Research Statistics into the IBET curriculum, creating the more functional yet worse sounding acronym of “IBEST.” This change by no means alters the fundamentals of the program that make it worth pursuing, that being the shared group of classmates, final research paper, and interwoven curriculum. As a result, while it may be too close for a definitive answer, Jefferson’s work culture will presumably suffer no substantial effects in the long term. 

But what about the new admissions system? Assuming the appropriate curricular measures are taken to bring everyone up to speed, and that incoming students are willing to conform to the rigor associated with Jefferson’s name, the two should reach common ground in time for the many academic challenges that define our school.

As for the negative side of this culture, the changes to the admissions system may actually result in progress in these areas. With larger, more diverse incoming classes, certain niche clubs and courses may see increased interest, while the powerhouse computer science track still maintains a steady flow of students. Such deviations in what is considered the “conventional path” at Jefferson may break down the constant and frankly unreasonable standards of comparison that plague our community today.

As Jefferson continues to return to normal from COVID and adjust to these changes, we look forward to seeing the new Jefferson unveil itself — a more collaborative environment, but still displaying the same quirks that make us unique.

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