Thomas Jefferson Falls Short on Scholarships

(By Julie Zhu -- Montgomery Blair High School)
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dear Extra Credit:

My son is a Loudoun County resident and a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, along with about 100 other Loudoun students. As you know, it is a public school, and their education is paid for by our Loudoun taxpayers' dollars.

I have been struggling since November to gain access, for my son and other Loudoun T.J. students, to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholarship for Loudoun students. HHMI has been given enormous tax breaks by the county to set up shop, and it is supposed to benefit Loudoun students, including, I contend, those students who go to a magnet school that serves this county as well as others in Northern Virginia.

The school administration has, frankly, given me a bureaucratic runaround. The policy for this brand-new scholarship ($7,000) has been set so as to give two scholarships to each LCPS high school, and T.J. was simply left out of the equation. And now the LCPS administrators don't want to change it.

HHMI made clear to me that the county sets the policy, not the institute. The LCPS administrators have thrown up one false argument after another to justify their policy but have never given an actual reason for it. The latest argument is that T.J. students have unique scholarship opportunities that are not available to other Loudoun students. This is simply untrue, as my letters and that of Laurie Kobick, T.J.'s College and Career Center director, make clear.

Susan Welsh

Leesburg

I have heard many praises of and complaints about Thomas Jefferson before, but this is a new one. Thank you for bringing it to everyone's attention.

The correspondence you sent me does indicate that Loudoun officials were wrong about there being many unique college scholarship opportunities at Jefferson, and they certainly didn't say much about why they cut T.J. kids off from the Howard Hughes scholarships. But it is pretty easy to guess what is going on.


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