The Big Train

The Newsletter of the Walter Johnson PTSA - February 2015

Volume 45, Number 6

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

Despite the freezing weather, preparations are well under way for many PTSA events this spring.

Walter Johnson's first Health and Wellness Summit will be held on February 27th. Karen Clarkson and her team have recruited more than 45 health professionals to speak with our students about issues that are important to them: stress, work/life balance, and anxiety/depression. The program will be held during the school day, during two periods. Students and their parents will receive information about all the speakers and counselors, and we are looking into offering a program for parents to support their teens later in the spring.

Another important event this spring is the Prom Breakfast -- that's a free event held for all seniors at WJ after the prom (you don't have to go to the prom to attend the prom breakfast). Parents and volunteers stay until 4am serving food and running games to keep our teens engaged in fun, safe, and non-alcoholic activities. You may have received a note or email from the committee asking for a donation. The entire WJ cluster of schools -- including elementary and middle school PTAs -- contribute to this event. It literally takes a community (and $20,000) to put on such an event. Please give the suggested amount if you can -- or whatever you feel you can spare -- and know that your donation will keep many kids sober and hundreds of our children safe. Here's the online link to donate now. Thanks to the prom breakfast chairs Tonja Olson and Debbie Teicher for all their hard work on this event.

The Guidance Advisory Committee (GAC) also has many events planned, including a parent coffee on college admissions testing, college planning and prep for students who learn differently, and a Naviance parent meeting (if you don't know what Naviance is, and you have a Junior at WJ, you definitely want to attend this meeting!). Check the GAC website for dates times for these and other programs. Look also for announcements regarding Parent Connection meetings -- informal discussions among parents of the same grade.

Finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to our Principal-Intern Afie Mirshah-Nayar. We have been most fortunate to have had Afie throughout what has been a difficult period for the WJ Community. Through it all she has provided both leadership and shown a deep dedication to our staff, students, and families. Her last day as Principal-Intern is February 13th, so please drop her a note or stop by to say thanks. She will also be at our PTSA meeting on February 17th.

Barbara Ferry

PTSA President

2014-15 PTSA upcoming meeting schedule

Feb. 17 (this will combine business from the January meetings that were both canceled due to weather).

March 17

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.

Second Semester Back to School Night

Thursday, Feb. 5th, 7-9pm

6400 Rock Spring Drive

Bethesda, MD

Walter Johnson welcomes parents to Back-To-School Night on February 5th, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Parents begin the evening in their child's 1st period class and follow their schedule for 7 periods. All students should bring home copies of their schedules on February 3rd. Parents, please ask your students for the copy of his/her schedule and if your child does not have it click here to print a blank schedule shell and ask your student to complete it for you before coming to Back-To-School Night.

Bell schedule for the evening as follows:

7:00 - 7:18 1st period (extended for video welcome)
7:25 - 7:35 2nd period
7:42 - 7:52 3rd period
7:59 - 8:09 4th period
8:16 - 8:26 5th period
8:33 - 8:43 6th period
8:50 - 9:00 7th period

The School Store will also be open!

Reflections from our Principal Intern

As I near the end of my six weeks as acting principal, I would like to thank the WJ Community for allowing me to have this incredible professional development experience. I have learned a tremendous amount over the course of the past few weeks and have a new found admiration and respect for Jennifer Baker. Being a high school principal is truly a demanding job, but also one that is incredibly rewarding. On Friday, February 13th the phase of my internship that involves the acting principal experience will end, and Jennifer Baker will return from her experience at Meadow Hall Elementary School. Dr. Doran who has been a wonderful visiting principal will return to his school, Thomas S. Wootton High School. For the remainder of the year, I will continue with my learning and professional development experiences, in addition to being the administrator for the students in the Class of 2018.

We have so many wonderful events planned for February. Our second Back-to-School Night is on Thursday, February 5th. This night gives us a chance to show off the wonderful teaching and learning that happens in our classrooms daily. Our staff is excited to see you visiting their classrooms. In collaboration with our PTSA, we will be hosting our first Health and Wellness Summit on Friday, February 27th. The students will have the opportunity to participate in a large group session with two keynote speakers and one small group session. We have over 40 professionals who will speak with our students about ways that they can promote their own physical and social/emotional wellness. Finally, it is Pennies for Patients month! Our student leadership has planned a month of wonderful events that will be fun and exciting for our community. We look forward to raising more money than ever before for such an important cause. Please support our students by participating in this huge fundraising effort.

Afie Mirshah-Nayar

Principal Intern, Walter Johnson High School


As January comes to a close, the SGA and Leadership class are transitioning from a period of diligent planning to anticipate one of the biggest fundraising months in Walter Johnson's history. We encourage students and the community to join us for the many fun and charitable events this February, Pennies for Patients. You can find the 2015 #WJP4P calendar in the following link. Can't make it? Online donations will be accepted through the entire month.

One of WJ's newest addition to Pennies for Patients is WJ Thrift, a community consignment event. We are currently reaching out to the greater community for gently used clothing. Donated clothes should be left with the main office. Please come by and shop our thrift store on Feb. 27th from 2:30- 7pm and get some great deals on a new outfit!

This Monday, WJ students have the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for the Pennies for Patients kick-off with thirty three 11th grade students from our new sister school in China. These students will shadow a handful of Wildcats for the day to gain the full experience of school here in America.

Feb. 2-6 also marks National School Counseling Week, so be sure to recognize the counseling department staff for their hard work and dedication to excellence.

With Valentines day just around the corner, candy-grams will soon become available for purchase. Candies and a personal message will be hand delivered to your sweetheart or friends! Candy gram sales start 02/09 through 02/12.

We also want to remind students to submit their college admittances to Mrs. Evans in the College and Career center. The acceptance wall has grown extensive and colorful. What a great photo-op!

Please stay tuned for further information on upcoming events during this exciting season.


Student Government Association

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Pennies for Patients Schedule of Events

In February WJ participates in this important fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. WJ has been the top fundraising high school in the D.C. area for six of the last seven years, raising close to $300,000. In 2012 WJ raised almost $58,000 for the Society and ranked 1st nationally! This year's goals are $20,000 online and $85,000 overall.

  • February 2-27 - Paw Print Sales, daily during lunch. Purchase a paw print to represent your class for $1. Kiosk/Hallway outside Rm 148.
  • February 2-27 - General Collection, daily during lunch. Look for the leadership students in the hallways and give generously.
  • February 3-5 - WJ Olympics, 2:30-5:30 p.m. - Main Field
  • February 7 - Feeder School Carnival, 12:00-4:00 p.m. - WJ Cafeteria. Entry fee $5. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • February Dates TBA - "Stuck for a Buck", during lunch outside the Main Office. Pay $1 per piece of tape to tape your favorite teachers to a wall.
  • February 9-13 - Candy Gram Sales with Delivery on Friday 2/13
  • February 10 - "Family Feud" Game Show, 5:00-8:00 p.m. - WJ Auditorium. $5 per person for mandatory 5 person teams to compete. Sign-up thru Feb 4 near the kiosk during lunch.
  • February Dates TBA - Classroom Competitions, 1st Period. Students make donations in their first period classes. The class that raises the most money will receive a pizza party and the runner up will receive a donut party.
  • February 12 - "WJ Bachelors", 6:00 p.m. - WJ Auditorium. Bring your cash and bid on a date.
  • February 17 - Game Night, 6:30 p.m. - WJ Cafeteria. price?? sign-up??
  • February 18 - PPP Tournament, 6:00-9:00 p.m. - Student Commons. Sign-ups ?? for $?? during lunch at the kiosk. $?? to watch
  • February 20 - WJ Students vs. Staff Basketball Game, 7:00 p.m. - WJ Gym.
  • February 21 - Mini Marathon
  • February 23 - WJ Thrift, Lunch & 2:30-7:00 p.m. - WJ Student Commons. Bring unwanted clothing & shoes, clean and in good condition, to the WJ Main Office until February 20th. Sale proceeds to Pennies for Patients and all unsold items donated to charity.
  • February 27 - WJ Glow, 8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. - WJ Gym


The Senior Class and WJ Prom Breakfast Committee are working hard on plans for the 2015 Prom Breakfast, which will be held May 2nd beginning at 12:00 am immediately following Prom. This post-Prom celebration is designed to be a safe, alcohol-free party running until 4:00 am and is FREE TO ALL SENIORS (and their dates)!

To get the kids to come and stay all night, Prom Breakfast needs to dazzle them by transforming the school into another setting, wow them with great entertainment, delight them with amazing food, and entice them to stay with the opportunity to win 100s of prizes like movie tickets, dorm supplies, TVs, and even an iMac! To make this happen it takes money, and this is where we need your help!

The Walter Johnson High School Prom Breakfast is a community event. At one time all of our children will be seniors and you will want to know that the WJ community is looking after the safety of your child. Please help us continue this wonderful tradition by helping to ensure the safety of our prom-goers.

YOUR DONATIONS ARE NEEDED NOW! All donations are welcome and encouraged. Please consider donating the following:

  • A contribution of $55 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 and make a donation of $100 or more, we will include the name of your company on the t-shirts that are given to all students who attend the prom breakfast, and will also recognize your support of the event on the Walter Johnson Listserv and in WJ's Big Train newsletter.

Do you have connections with a business that might be willing to donate? Please encourage them to do so. Whitman and Churchill routinely out-fundraise WJ for prom breakfast—we can’t let them beat us!

Donations can be made by check or by using our PayPal link, found on the WJ Prom Breakfast webpage.

Checks should be made payable to "Walter Johnson Prom Breakfast" and returned to school in the enclosed envelope either by mail or delivered to the Main Office. Our tax identification number is 526070784. Please consult your tax adviser to determine whether your contribution is tax deductible.


Debbie Teicher & Tonja Olson Prom Breakfast Committee Chairs

Jane Macedonia – Prom Breakfast Fundraising Chair (


In preparation for the 2015-2016 school year, the nominating committee is forming now. There are many ways, big and small (but all FUN), where you can serve within the WJ Booster Club. Please plan to attend our February meeting -- even if you've never been to a meeting before! Everyone who attends the February meeting will recieve a special edition WJ coffee mug.

If you would like to serve on the Nominating Committee, or have any questions about the open positions, please contact James and Jill Joseph.

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Wednesday, Feb. 11th, 7pm

Walter Johnson Media Center

Your RSPV is not required to attend the meeting, but it will help us with planning.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

We provide the dough so WJ kids can rise

Click here to join the WJ Booster Club online using Visa or Mastercard

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Congratulations to the Wildcat Wrestling team!

WJ Wrestling is now 26-1 and sets a new school record for wins in a season! WJ has been wrestling for 57 years.

Time to send in your donations for the WJ Used Book Sale

Used book, DVD, Vinyl Record, and music CD donations are now being accepted for the Walter Johnson Used Book Sale. [Please no VHS or cassette tapes, magazines or encyclopedias.] You can drop your items in sturdy boxes and bags on the school loading dock during school hours, or during book-sorting Saturdays in the Cafeteria on Feb. 14 and 28 from 9 am - 12 pm. you can also sign up to help organize, sort and sell. The sale March 7-8, the first weekend of the month, from 9 am to 2 pm. The Used Book Sale is sponsored by the WJ All School Booster Club, which benefits all clubs, sports, and activities at WJ. Questions? Contact Gail Gleeson at

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.


Winter/Spring Meetings

  • Mon., Feb. 9 - Senior Class Parent Meeting: Graduation, 7 pm - Cafeteria
  • Wed., Feb. 11 – Parent Coffee: College Admissions Testing, 7:45 am - Commons
  • Mon., Feb. 23 - College Planning and Prep for Students Who Learn Differently, 7 pm - Cafeteria
  • Mon., Mar. 2 - Naviance/Family Connections Parent Meeting, 7 pm - Cafeteria
  • Wed., Mar. 11 - Naviance/Family Connections Parent Coffee, 7:45 am - Cafeteria
  • Mon., Mar. 30 - Mock ACT/SAT Results Interpretation, 7 pm - Cafeteria
  • Mon., Apr. 20 – College Admissions Panel Night, 7 pm - Cafeteria
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.

WJ Crew "FLOAT OUR BOAT" Benefit Auction

The Walter Johnson Crew Team proudly announces Chris Gekker will be performing LIVE with University of Maryland jazz combo during FLOAT OUR BOAT, a Benefit Auction for WJ Crew on Saturday, March 14, 2015!

FLOAT OUR BOAT will take place in the Walter Johnson Cafeteria from 7- 10PM. Online bidding for Silent Auction items will begin on March 1st. Admission is free and includes a sumptuous buffet catered by WJ Crew Families. Live entertainment and games will round out this fun evening.

What’s more - WJ Crew and the Booster Club are “Pulling Together So Our Kids Can Rise” Raffle Drawing for a Go Pro Camera and Concept 2 Rowing Machine. Raffle Tickets will be available during the Booster Club Used Book Sale on March 7th and March 8th. Raffle Drawing will take place during FLOAT OUR BOAT on March 14.

For more information about FLOAT OUR BOAT, please write to

Brag a little with WJ Bricks

Dear Walter Johnson Parents, Students, and Alumni,

Please support WJ by ordering a personalized brick for the Wildcat Walkway between the school building and tennis courts. Your personalized brick can be engraved with the name of a student, family, teacher, coach, club, or team and will remain a permanent part of WJ. If you haven't seen the walkway since summer, please take a few minutes to do so. Over 450 engraved bricks have been installed already, but there's plenty of room for yours.

The WJ Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, and your donations are tax deductible. Funds raised from the sale of engraved bricks go to the WJ Education Foundation to be used to enhance academic opportunities for all our students. For more information about the WJ Education Foundation, please visit

Brick detail & pricing:

Your contribution of $100 purchases the installation of a 4”x 8”x 2¼” brick with your custom text including clip art. A copy of the clip art options is attached. Purchasing a brick also entitles you to purchase one or more mini replica bricks to use as a showpiece, paperweight, or gift. A mini replica brick costs $20.00 and measures 1½” x 3”.

How to order:

You can contribute your brick by going to the Foundation's website for on-line ordering at


If you have questions about the brick project, please feel free to email me at

Thank you for your support of Walter Johnson High School!

Marney Jacobs

WJ Ed Foundation



  • Second Semester Back-To-School Night - Thursday, Feb. 5, 7-9 pm
  • WJ'S Annual Pennies for Patients Carnival - Saturday, February 7, 12-4pm


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.


Check for more information.

Kids Ride Free

The Kids Ride Free program provides free rides on County Ride On buses and certain Metro bus routes within Montgomery County to kids ages 18 and under who are Montgomery County residents. The free rides are available weekdays between 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. The program, which is for students, operates year-round.

Students should show their Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Card when boarding buses. School photo identification cards (IDs) have been used in the past but, all student riders should now have a Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Card for to use. Cards can be purchased at all Montgomery County Public Libraries for $2. Please refer to the Kids Ride Free website for more information. You can also purchase them at the following locations below.

  • TRiPS Commuter Store 8413 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring, Mon-Fri, 7a-5p
  • TRiPS Commuter Store 17 Wisconsin Circle, Friendship Heights, Mon-Fri, 10-6p
  • Montgomery County Treasury 255 Rockville Pike, L-15, Rockville, Mon-Fri, 8a-4p


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. The upcoming submission deadlines are Feb. 25, March 25, 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.

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.