The Big Train

The Newsletter of the Walter Johnson PTSA - Fall 2017

Volume 48, Number 1

Walter Johnson PTSA

The Walter Johnson High School PTSA is a dedicated group of parents, teachers and students who work together in support of the school and community.

PTSA President's Message

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year! I am starting my second year as WJ PTSA President, and this year I will have two kids at WJ. Last year the WJ community well exceeded the previous year PTSA membership, and this year we hope to do even more! We will have membership tables at the class-level meetings, join online at Help us get to 1000 PTSA Members! Your membership helps sponsor the Counseling Advisory Committee’s events including class-level meetings and College Saturday, programming for parents in the evenings about topics including drug and alcohol abuse among teens, and programs for the students including Sources of Strength. The PTSA also provides funding for school requests like the activity buses.

A special thank you to all of the PTSA Committee chairs who make my job easier. We all have busy lives, and the Committee Chairs go above and beyond to plan events, attend meetings on our school’s behalf and make sure our students have the best school experience they possibly can. If you would like to help out with the PTSA or have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Angie Melton

Join the PTSA today

The PTSA does not fundraise; your donations and membership dues are our only support. By joining the PTSA, you have an important opportunity to play a valuable role in the continuing success of Walter Johnson High School.

Principal's Message

By all these lovely tokens

September days are here,

With summer's best of weather,

And autumn's best of cheer.

The piece of the poem, September, by Helen Hunt Jackson, captures a bit of our anticipation and joy as students and teachers return to school. Anyone who has ever stood in the hallways of a school on the first day can attest to the fact that virtually everyone, staff, students and parents alike, are filled with an abundance of excitement, enthusiasm and a touch of anxiety. On Tuesday, September 5th Walter Johnson High School will open our doors and greet our very enthusiastic and boisterous students. As always, the energy and anticipation will be evident as everyone moves through the halls greeting friends and staff. Students will compare schedules, share summer adventures and express their excitement about returning to school. Our new students, along with virtually everyone else, will be hunting for their classes and seeking the most expeditious routes through the vast hallways of WJ. The high expectations that come with the promise of a new beginning will be ever present as students navigate their first day. School hallways are meant to be filled with children and we are thrilled to have ours back in the building.

With the beginning of school, we always observe a few great traditions to get us geared up for the school year. A special thank you goes out to our parent volunteers, staff volunteers, club members and the National Honor Society for hosting the New Family Picnic. The event is a relaxing way for new families to begin to orient themselves to our wonderful school community. I encourage all of our new students to try as many extracurricular activities as possible. One of the extraordinary things about Walter Johnson is we really do have something of interest to offer all students both inside and outside of the classroom. Students who are involved in school have a much richer experience. Parents should also come to our many after school events. Please join the PTSA's listservs to stay informed (

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the senior class officers, class sponsors, staff and parents who helped with the Senior Picnic and shed painting. I know The Class of 2018 will be excellent role models for our underclassmen. They will soon be applying to college, planning a gap year and\or searching for jobs. With life beyond WJ just around the corner our staff is ready to partner with parents and seniors to help make that inevitable transition smooth.

As always, Walter Johnson High School will continue to offer challenging curriculum choices for our students. Great course choices, coupled with our classroom instructional goals that focus on building strong relational trust in our classrooms and creating a welcoming environment for all students, will help to assure that our students receive one of the finest high school educations available. We are proud of our students’ past accomplishments and will continue to strive for continued excellence. More importantly, we hope all of our students enjoy their high school experience and we will work hard to assure a positive experience for all!

There are many opportunities throughout the year for parents to be involved. Please check out our website at: to view the school master calendar of activities. Our PTSA meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. Please join the PTSA and consider donating to our Booster Club and Education Foundation. The purpose of each of these groups is to support our school and students. Forms to join or donate to each organization are found online. Walter Johnson is a special place for a variety of reasons and parent support is critical to our continued success. Without your support, ideas and encouragement we would not be able to provide the robust academic offerings and extensive co-curricular activities we currently offer our students.

I thank everyone for a great beginning to this school year and I look forward to seeing you at our school events throughout the year. Welcome Back Wildcats!

Jennifer Baker


Subscribe to the PTSA Bulletin Board

All members of the WJ community are strongly encouraged to subscribe to this valuable communication resource! Click here for instructions on how to join.


Upcoming Events - Please see for the latest and for more details.

09/18/2017 - Freshman Parent Meeting

09/19/2017 - PTSA Meeting

09/25/2017 - Junior Parent Meeting

10/02/2017 - Sophomore Parent Meeting

10/09/2017 - Understanding APs

10/10/2017 - Fall Admission Testing Coffee

10/14/2017 - Mock ACT

10/16/2017 - Private School Transition

10/17/2017 - PTSA Meeting

10/19/2017 - Parent Connection for Spanish Spkrs

10/23/2017 - Jordan Kanarek

10/30/2017 - Financial Aid

11/18/2017 - Mock SAT

11/21/2017 - PTSA Meeting

11/27/2017 - Mock SAT/ACT Results Meeting

Download the WJ Smartphone App

You'll have information at your fingertips when you download the WJ App from iTunes or Google Play.

Walter Johnson High School Education Foundation

Who and What is the WJ Education Foundation? We work with the other parent organizations to advocate for our school, support staff and students but have less restrictions than the other groups in raising funds and what we can spend money on. Originally we were created to fund enhancements to the modernization but now the WJ Ed Foundation now focuses on supplementing school system funding to take WJ’s programs from great to excellent and to provide opportunities for all students to use modern, professional quality equipment in courses taught by broadly trained staff. We work with the administration and staff to identify materials, equipment and technology that will benefit our students. We collaborate with the PTSA and Boosters to support the school with funding for the extracurricular activity buses.

One way to donate and a concrete example of your donations used to beautify the school is the Wildcat Walkway at the rear of the school near the gym entrance. It is an attractive enhancement to the area and will be a focus as alumni return to see the engraved bricks for years to come. We order after we have collected a minimum of 50 orders; please look for order information below.

We need you continued support to meet our goals; please give as generously as you can. Our website is and includes information on getting involved, purchasing bricks or auditorium seat plates, and any upcoming fundraisers. We meet each month on the first Wednesday night and welcome new parents or alumni to join us.

One of our community supporters is the Kensington 8K Race and we encourage you to race, cheer on WJ staff and students, or join us at the final water stop as we refresh the runners. The Kensington 8K is September 23rd and information about registration can be found at

Support WJ by giving generously. Please use the on-line links to donate, order bricks or seats at or send the form to school or mail to WJHS Education Foundation, Inc., Walter Johnson High School, 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD 20814

Marney Jacobs

WJ ED Foundation President

Counseling Advisory Committee (CAC)

The Counseling Advisory Committee (CAC) is a PTSA-sponsored committee that works with the Counseling Services Department to increase communication among parents, students and the school. Together with the Counseling Services Department, the CAC sponsors parent forums/meetings that provide information on academic and social issues to help students succeed at WJ. Watch the listserv for announcements of meetings throughout the year. Also, refer to the bright yellow postcard you received in the mail, which lists all of the meetings we offer this fall. These meetings include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Grade Level Meetings for parents - held during the first few weeks of school, with information relevant to each specific grade. Hear from Mrs. Baker and the corresponding grade administrators, as well as the counseling department.
  • College Financial Aid
  • Understanding AP Classes
  • College Admissions Testing
  • College Essay Writing
  • Meeting specifically for Spanish speakers, and we are able to provide language translation services at any meeting for which anyone makes a request.
  • Mock SAT and a Mock ACT - offered in the fall with follow-up meetings to help parents interpret what the scores mean.

Check out the CAC on the WJ website or email us at

Lisa Moss and Kim Heffernan

CAC Co Chairs

Yearbook Senior Ads

Express friendship, love or congratulations to the special student in your life with a personal ad in the yearbook! Select the desired size and personalize the ad with your own message and photo(s). You will be creating, submitting and paying for your senior’s ad via the on-line Ad Creation website. The sizes and prices are listed below along with the instructions on accessing the website. Please plan on creating and submitting your senior’s ad no later than November 6. Space is limited!

In order to create and pay for your Senior Ad, please go to the following website and enter job number 13650: Choose “Buy a Yearbook Ad” to begin the process. You will be asked to find your student from the school list or you can add your student’s information yourself. You will then be able to choose the ad design, upload your images and type your message. Once you have finished, you will have the opportunity to proof your ad before you pay and submit the ad for production.

Ad Pricing Information:

  • Full Page (color): $365
  • 1/2 Page (color): $185
  • 1/4 Page (color): $95
  • 1/8 Page (color): $60

PHOTOS should be good quality and can be reduced or enlarged to fit the space. ARTWORK should be black or dark ink. Please note that many colored illustrations and newspaper clippings may lack adequate reproduction quality. These must be scanned uploaded to the website. COPYRIGHTED material cannot be reprinted in the yearbook.

If you have questions about your Senior Ad, please contact the yearbook adviser, Ms. Wendy Borrelli via email:

Please be sure to include Senior Ad and the students Name in the subject line.

Want to Raise Funds for WJ without Taking Any Money Out of Your Pocket?

You can do this by linking your store loyalty card to Walter Johnson. WJ earns money every time you shop at Giant or Harris Teeter if you designate WJ as your beneficiary school. You can also opt to support more than one school. But you can’t help if you don’t register. And remember, you may need to re‐register every year, so please check to make sure your cards are still registered. Please take a moment and follow the links below. Use the WJ ID numbers and sign up now to help WJ earn.

Did you know?

Walter Johnson, nicknamed "Big Train," was a major league baseball righthanded pitcher who played his entire 21-year career with the Washington Senators. One of the most celebrated players in baseball history, he was known for his gentle nature and good sportsmanship. He resided in a Bethesda house that still stands just a few miles away from the school on Old Georgetown Road. After retiring from baseball, Walter Johnson became a Montgomery County commissioner.

Submit an Item for The Big Train Newsletter

The Walter Johnson Big Train is the PTSA quarterly newsletter, posted online. The submission deadlines will be posted on the PTSA listserv prior to publishing in September, January, and April.

Articles, questions and comments may be submitted via email to with the article in the body of the message. The Big Train is posted on the WJ website, so please do not included information you would not want to see online. Please supply email addresses as well as phone numbers for contact information whenever possible. All persons associated with WJ are encouraged to submit news and information.

2017-18 PTSA Leadership

President: Angie Melton

Vice President: Debby Orsak

Treasurer: Doug Mader

Secretary: Howie Philips

MCCPTA Delegates: Sharon Gross and Molly Carr

Learn more about the PTSA at