The Big Train

The Newsletter of the Walter Johnson PTSA - APRIL 2015

Volume 45, Number 8

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

The onset of early spring erupts not only the crocuses and the daffodils, but also the pleas of the PTSA nominating committee looking for new officers for the next school year. This year we have recruited all but one position: vice president (leading to president elect).

Yes, it is a two-year commitment, but having held both positions, I can say that you can still hold down your full-time job (like me), and you still have time for the kids (as much as teenagers actually want us around). You can do this because of the very strong network of PTSA committees that actually accomplishes what we do – GAC, Prom, Cluster, Directory, Health & Safety, Publicity and Hospitality, among others. It has been my honor to have worked alongside this group of very dedicated and very organized people who volunteer for the benefit of the entire school – for their children and for yours. I have learned much from them – mostly how to stay out of the way so that they can do what they do best. And I have been fortunate to have worked with an administration and faculty that goes above and beyond every day to make WJ one of the best high schools in Maryland.

So it’s time to share some of that wealth. Somewhere at WJ, Tilden or North Bethesda, there is one more person who wants to be highly informed, wants to make a real difference at this school, and is looking for a way to do it. I’m here to make that transition easy. If you have an interest, please contact the nominating committee (below), or me for more information.

Join the WJ PTSA leadership team.

Contact any nominating committee member for more information.

Robin Feldman

Linda Parker

Karen Clarkson

Thank you,

Barbara Ferry

PTSA President

Dr. Jobes scheduled to speak at our next PTSA meeting

Dr. Jobes, board-certified clinical psychologist and WJ parent, will be speaking to parents about helping our students cope with stress and anxiety at the PTSA meeting on Tuesday, April 21, at 7 pm. Please join us for this important discussion in the Cafeteria. Dr. Jobes was the featured speaker during the Health & Wellness Summit in February. Ask your students about his talk.

News from the Principal's office

Happy Spring! We are beginning the fourth quarter and final stretch of our school year. With just a few more days until our spring break the students and staff are looking forward to some rest and relaxation as we gear up for a strong finish to the school. Nobody is more excited than the seniors. The Class of 2015 has its eye on graduation, which will be held on Friday, May 29. We are very proud of our seniors and the contributions they have made these past four years. We will spend the next couple of months celebrating their many accomplishments and talents. it is always hard to say goodbye, but they are definitely ready for the next phase of their lives.

Our school staff members spend a lot of time planning activities with regard to student well-being and safety. Our recent Health & Wellness Summit was a great example of the commitment of our entire WJHS community as members came together in February on behalf of our students. At the end of March, we were also able to present the Every 15 Minutes program to our students. The program brings awareness to the potentially serious and life-threatening consequences of drinking and driving. Although portions of the program can elicit strong emotional responses, it also creates a hopefully lasting impression for our students about making good choices. I would like to thank the SGA and student leaders who helped plan the program. I also truly appreciate the parents and students who participated.

This spring, do not miss the WJ S*T*A*G*E production of "Shrek the Musical." It is sure to be a spectacular display of talent. Do not miss the opportunity to see this show. The performance dates are April 17, 18, 24 and 25. Purchase your tickets early using the online ordering system at Another great opportunity to see student work showcased is at our annual Art Festival. This year the festival will be held in our auxiliary gym April 27-30. Be sure to make time in your schedule to enjoy an evening or two immersed in the arts. These shows are the culmination of many hours of practice and the artwork and performances are always outstanding.

As always, I look forward to seeing you cheering on our athletes at your favorite spring sport. Track, lacrosse, co-ed and boys’ volleyball, gymnastics, boys’ tennis, baseball and softball all are competing now. Our teams have had an extremely successful year and this spring promises to add to the many WJ wins. Go Wildcats!

Also, thank you to all of our athletes and students who came out to support our Booster Club during the mulch sale. It is always a day filled with a lot of hard work, but our Booster Club does so much for the school and it is great to give back to such a supportive organization.

Buddha once said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Although it is often more difficult for students to concentrate during fourth quarter it is very important that they stay focused on the present. With AP testing, PARCC, High School Assessments and final exams beginning soon, concentration is critical to a strong finish.

Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to seeing you very soon at one of our upcoming events.

Jennifer Baker

WJHS Principal

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Students participate in the Every 15 Minutes program.

A somber reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving.

MCPS to Make Up One Snow Day on Monday, June 15

MCPS will extend the school year by one day to make up some of the instructional time lost due to inclement weather. The last day of school this year will now be Monday, June 15, which will be an early release day. Friday, June 12 will now be a full day instead of the previously planned early release day.

Due to this change, we will have a slight change to our second semester exam schedule for underclassmen. The senior exam schedule will remain the same. The revised schedule for all other grades is below.


Monday, June 8th-Exam Review Day
Tuesday, June 9th- 1st & 2nd Period Exams
Wednesday, June 10th- 3rd & 4th Period Exams
Thursday, June 11th - 5th & 6th Period Exams
Friday, June 12th - 7th Period Exam and Make-ups
Monday, June 15th - 1/2 Day, Make-Up Exams

As always, the school year ends for high school students once they have completed all of their final exams.

Health & Wellness Summit Student Feedback Sought

As the PTSA and school administration considers whether and/or how often to hold a school-wide Health & Wellness Summit, we are looking feedback from the community. To that end, WJ students are being asked to fill out an online survey. Some students will have the opportunity to complete the survey in class but all students can provide input by using this link to Google Docs: and completing the survey by Wednesday, April 1. The link also has been sent to Edline users.

Members of the region’s health and wellness community who participated in the summit also are being surveyed. A directory of those who presented to students on Friday, Feb. 27, is available on the school’s website at A summary of findings from the various surveys, including those of WJ teachers and staff, will be presented at the PTSA meeting on May 19.

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Deborah Davies, an associate therapist at Counseling For Contentment in Silver Spring, talks to WJ students about stress and anxiety during a small-group session in the Student Commons.

Noah Marks Fund

The school is still collecting for a special fund in memory of Noah Marks. The family is working out details of how the fund will be spent for the benefit of WJ. At its February meeting, the PTSA voted to support this fund and will be working with the Marks family on the amount needed. If you would like to contribute, please send the check to the school, made out to Walter Johnson High School with "Noah Marks Fund" in the notes field. Thank you.

Thank you for an amazing mulch sale

A big thank you to everyone who lead our efforts with this event and continue to make this fund-raiser a great success. It was chilly and windy and through it all you guys rocked. And it was so much fun.

The students were so impressive. Through the cutting wind, they lifted, hauled and slung those mulch bags with such a positive attitude.

And finally, thank you to everyone who purchased mulch. The checks are still being counted, but it looks to be our most successful year ever.

WJ Booster Club thanks you all.

April Booster Club meeting date has been changed

Wednesday, April 15th, 7pm

Media Center

This month's Booster Club meeting will take place the Wednesday after Spring Break.

Prom Breakfast

The Senior Class and Prom Breakfast Committee continues to work hard on plans for the 2015 Prom Breakfast, which will be held at WJ immediately following the May 1 prom. This post-prom celebration is designed to be a safe, substance-free party running until 4 am and is free to all seniors, whether or not they attended Prom.

Keeping our students safe on prom night poses a unique challenge. Prom season is the time of year when high schoolers start to feel liberated from school and look toward graduation. We need parents to pledge not to have an after party at their homes and let us take care of them for the night.

To get the kids to come and stay all night, Prom Breakfast needs to dazzle them by transforming the school into another setting, wowing them with great entertainment, delighting them with amazing food, and enticing them to stay all night for the opportunity to win hundreds of prizes like movie tickets, dorm supplies, TVs, and even an iMac. But to make this happen, it takes money, and this is where you come in.

WJ believes that Prom Breakfast is a community event. We need the support of all families with students in grades 9-12 to make this a reality for the kids. After all, they will all be seniors one day. Will you please help make this possible for our WJ students?

All donations are welcome and encouraged. If you can, please consider:

  • A contribution of $60 or more if you are a parent or guardian of a senior
  • A contribution of $30 if you are the parent of a freshman, sophomore, or junior

If you have a business that contributes $100 or more, we will include the name of your company on the Prom Breakfast T-shirts, and will recognize your support on the listserv and in the Big Train newsletter.

Checks should be made payable to "Walter Johnson Prom Breakfast" and sent to:

Walter Johnson High School

6400 Rock Spring Drive

Bethesda, MD 20814

Please reference "Prom Breakfast" on the envelope. Our tax identification number is 526070784. Please consult your tax adviser to determine whether your contribution is tax deductible.

Or click the button below to make a secure online donation.

Debbie Teicherand Tonja Olson, Prom Breakfast Committee Chairs

Jane Macedonia, Prom Breakfast Fundraising Chair

Make your Prom Breakfast donation online

We need to raise $20,000 to realize the dream of turning WJ into a Wonka-esque Candyland for a night. Click here to make secure donation. Suggested donations are $60 or more for parents and guardians of seniors and $30 for all others.

Guidance Advisory Committee

The Guidance Advisory Committee -- comprised of parents, students, counseling services staff, and administrators -- assists the Counseling Services Department and fosters communication among parents, students, and the department. The advisory committee sponsors parents' forums that provide information on academic and social issues to help WJ students succeed.

If you have missed any of the GAC events, you can obtain handouts from those meetings here on the Walter Johnson website.

Parent to Parent Meetings

The PTSA would like to invite you to Parent-to-Parent meetings. Parent-to-Parent meetings are held twice a year for each grade level and are facilitated by WJ parents. Parent-to-Parent meetings are informal. There’s no agenda and no action items. The meetings offer parents an opportunity to ask questions, to network with other parents (no staff attends), and to compare approaches on handling various teen issues. These meetings are a great venue to learn how other teens are managing stress and school responsibilities, socializing, using electronics, and how they may be spending their summer. The goal of Parent-to-Parent meetings is to share information, ideas, and concerns. Please note that issues pertaining to faculty members and school policies are not discussion topics for Parent-to-Parent meetings.


Spring Meetings

  • Mon., Apr. 20 – College Admissions Panel Night, 7 pm - Cafeteria
  • Tues., Apr. 21 -- PTSA meeting with Dr. Jobes, 7pm - Cafeteria

Time is running out to order your personalized brick

The WJ Education Foundation is getting ready to place its annual order for engraved bricks for the custom walkway near the athletic center. Over 490 engraved bricks have been installed in the walkway, but we have room for more! Time is running out to add one of your own this year, so please act now.

All funds from the sale of engraved bricks go to the WJ Education Foundation to support student programs, faculty development, and modernization of the campus. Our contributors have enabled WJ to make upgrades to the auditorium, stadium lighting, and courtyards, along with state-of-the-art equipment for the new language lab.

Please consider contributing a personalized, engraved brick for the walkway. Your bricks can be engraved with the name of a student, family, teacher, coach, club, or team and will remain a permanent part of the WJ campus. Your contribution of $100 purchases the installation of a standard brick with your custom text, including clip art. Purchasing a brick also entitles you to purchase mini replica bricks to keep or as gifts. A mini replica brick costs $20. For more details, please see the attached order form and the illustrations of available clip art.

As seen below, there are a number of bricks in honor of the WJ community- Ms. Walker was a long-time volunteer after working at WJ. She passed away not long after her brick was presented at a volunteer dedication last fall. Her commitment to WJ will be remembered.

You can contribute your brick using the attached order form or by going to our website for on-line ordering at We need to receive your order by Sunday, April 19, in order to be able to add your brick to the walkway this summer.

The WJ Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, and your donations are tax deductible. If you have questions about the brick project, please feel free to email me at For more information about the foundation, please visit our website at

Thank you for your support of Walter Johnson High School!

Best wishes,

Lee Moersen

Brick Fundraiser Chair

Marney Jacobs

President, WJ ED Foundation

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"Shrek the Musical" Coming to WJ in April

WJ S*T*A*G*E's spring performance is "Shrek the Musical."

It will be performed Friday and Saturday, April 17, 18, 24, and 25 at 7:30 pm. There will also be a special matinee performance on Sunday, April 19, at 2 pm. Ticket prices for the Sunday matinee will be $20, slightly higher than the evening shows, but this will include a meet the cast and crew party with snacks, activities, and a chance to take pictures with cast members.

Online ticket sales will stop at 5 pm on the nights of the evening performances. Tickets may be purchased after that time at the box office through cash or check only. Patrons should also know that tickets purchased after the 7:30 pm curtain time will be general admission only with seating in the back.

Paul and Celine Silver Memorial 5k

Sunday, June 7th, 9:30am

Tilden Woods Local Park, North Bethesda


This year, the Paul and Celine Silver Memorial 5k walk/run will take place on June 7 at 9:30 am. Please save the date and plan to participate as a walker, runner, part of the cheering squad or just by contributing to the fund at

Remember that this event is the only fundraiser for the Paul Silver and Celine Silver Memorial scholarships at Walter Johnson. More detail will follow closer to the date of the event. Thank you for your support.

Get Geared up for Spring Break at the WJ School Store


The School Store is located in the hallway outside the cafeteria. We are open most school days from 10:45 am to 11:30 am. Credit cards, checks and cash accepted.


Nominations sought for Hall of Fame Awards

Are you looking for a way to tell your favorite teacher or staff member at WJ just how special they are to you or your child? Here are two great (and convenient) ways to say thank you.

  • Nominations have been opened for our Hall of Fame Awards for an outstanding faculty and staff member. Nominations close Thursday, April 30. Click on the link below and nominate your favorite today. One nomination per category per family, please.
  • Help at Awards Night on Monday, May 18. Not only will our Hall of Fame Awards be presented, but many of our extraordinary WJ students will be honored as well. We need volunteers to set up, serve, and clean up at the dessert reception. Stay tuned in April for further sign-up details.

If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Manning at or Angie Melton at

Thanks for your support.

Nancy Manning

WJ Awards Committee Chair

Angie Melton

WJ Awards Committee Chair-in-Training

“Best Auction Ever”

Those words come straight from the board president of WJ Crew. In other words, "Thank you, Walter Johnson High School" for your very generous support of Float Our Boat, the auction benefit for WJ Crew. The Booster Club is our largest sponsor, which means all of us are in it together pulling for the rowers who represent WJ on waters up and down the East Coast and who serve our school and Bethesda with honors.

March 16 saw the largest attendance at Float Our Boat, our ninth annual auction. WJ students outside of crew attended to show their support for their fellow rowing classmates and to see the legendary Chris Gekker on trumpet with members of the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble. For the first time, we raised more than $20,000, thanks in part to support from friends and family beyond the borders of our school and community.

As we begin the Spring Regatta season, not only do we thank the WJ community for your generous outpouring of support, but we also invite you we to see us row on the Potomac River May 9 for the annual WMIRA Championship Regatta. Bring your cowbells so we hear you on the water, and then stop by our tent and enjoy some tasty regatta food catered by Crew families. There is always plenty to go around.

Again, thank you WJ. You really do float our boat.

Walter Johnson Crew

FACS Department News

The Child Development students have thoroughly enjoyed their time with the preschoolers. They have planned and prepared lessons in all curriculum areas in order to help our preschoolers enter kindergarten. In accomplishing this, they have created lasting friendships for the preschoolers and with classmates as they focus on their own possible career choices in the future. Interacting with peers, teachers, preschoolers and preschool parents makes them more mindful of the need to nurture positive relationships in every aspect of their lives.

The Child Development Preschool is now accepting applications for Fall 2015. Parents should contact Mrs. Connie Pokress at for an application. Preschoolers need to be 3 ½ years old by Sept. 1 and toilet trained. Classes usually meet on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11:40 to 2:00, although the schedule must be flexible to accommodate the high school schedule.

The Food Trends students have had a wide variety of cooking experiences from baking to sushi! We are experiencing a variety of culinary techniques as well as learning about making good nutritional choices. Students especially enjoy learning about the similarities and unique qualities of international cuisine.

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.

Don't forget to order your Yearbook

The yearbook staff invites you to buy the 2015 WJ Yearbook before all the books are sold out. Yearbooks are currently being sold at $65 on a first-come, first-served basis until April 18.

Books will be available during distribution the week of May 11; however, prices will go up. Purchase your son/daughter's copy today!!

  • If paying by check, make it payable to Walter Johnson High School and return to room G84 or mail to:

Kristy Hrin, Yearbook Advisor
Walter Johnson High School
6400 Rock Spring Dr.
Bethesda, MD 20814


You can do this by linking your store loyalty card to Walter Johnson. WJ earns money every time you shop at Giant, Target, Safeway, Food Lion and Harris Teeter, as long as 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 many stores require you to re‐register every year. Please take a moment and follow the links below. Use the following ID numbers and sign up now to help WJ earn.

Target Red Card Visa - School ID: 58206

Harris Teeter - School ID: 7371

Safeway - WJ Group ID: 6679161

Giant - School ID: 00646

Food Lion (including the former Bloom stores) - School ID: 219715

Submit an Item for The Big Train Newsletter

The Big Train is the PTSA monthly newsletter, posted online. There are only two more issues remaining for the 2014-15 school year, with deadlines of April 29 and May 27.

Articles, questions and comments may be submitted via email to with the article in the body of the message or as an attachment (please indicate file type). The Big Train is posted on the WJ website, so please do not include 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.

Please also include photos if you have them. In addition to the newsletter, we will post them on the PTSA Facebook page.

The Big Train is compiled, laid out, and edited by Linda Parker, Stephanie Brown and Jonathan Salant.

2014-15 PTSA upcoming meeting schedule

April 21

May 19

  • PTSA business meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 pm in the Media Center and are open to all parents, students and teachers.
  • PTSA meetings include an update from the principal and committee chairs and a discussion of ongoing business.
  • Agenda items for meetings should be sent to the PTSA president a week prior to the meeting so that enough time can be allocated for discussion.
  • Speakers sponsored by the PTSA are held at various times during the year and are organized by the Guidance Advisory Committee or the Health and Safety Committee.
It's never too late to join the PTSA

The PTSA does not fundraise. your donations and membership dues are our only means of support.