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OUR MISSION Thomas Jefferson School gives its students the strongest possible academic background through a classical education. Within a nurturing community, students develop a responsibility for their own learning and a desire to lift up the world with beauty and intellect.

PHILOSOPHY AND PURPOSE • To educate students who have ability and motivation and who want to be challenged academically. • To develop in students qualities that will help them live happily as adults, such as independence, honesty, courage, the habit of hard work, and a sense of responsibility for themselves and the community. • To teach students to live and work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and to respect feelings, beliefs, and customs that are different from their own. • To give graduates an unsurpassed intellectual foundation for college success.

WELCOME TO THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL! I have attended TJ since the seventh grade, but a student could join the TJ community in any grade and be warmly welcomed by other students, faculty, and staff. Because we pursue classical education, we study subjects such as Greek and Latin and read significant literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey, which describes the adventures of a man named Odysseus, who is trying to return home after the Trojan War. The Odyssey and a student’s journey through TJ have some similarities. Lifelong friends are made at TJ. Because classes are small, we quickly become a close-knit group. Since the entire student body is small, students of all different grades easily become friends. In The Odyssey, Odysseus knows he can rely on his friends for support and for help with problems big and small. When he wanted to hear the Sirens sing without falling victim to their spell, Odysseus could rely on his friends to secure him to the mast of their ship. Because TJ students have a considerable amount of freedom, sometimes they need their friends to be voices of reason. When a student at TJ forgets an important book for class or a pen, usually a friend is eager to help. TJ urges students to challenge themselves in the best way possible. Odysseus, like a TJ student, faces many challenges, some of which are unavoidable. Every adventurous journey requires tasks that seem mundane but are necessary for the success of the crew; for TJ students that task is the infamous struggle of O.R. (Outside Reading, our daily writing exercise for English class). Just as Odysseus reaches his destination at the end, so will TJ students. Unlike Odysseus, a student’s journey through TJ is not a punishment, but a gift filled with achievements and fraught with tests and complex problems. The journey is meant to prepare students not only for what comes next (in our case, college), but also for the parts we can’t imagine yet. Sincerely,

Rosie Lopolito Rosie Lopolito ‘20

A STRONG FOUNDATION The principles on which the school was founded still guide our actions: TJ provides the best classical liberal-arts education to some of the brightest students in the world.

THIS IS A FACT: One of our founders, Charles Merrill, remains active in the school today. The Charles E. Merrill, Jr. Eastern European Scholarship brings talented students from Eastern Europe to live and study at TJ. Mr. Merrill’s generosity also

» Today’s students come from twodozen St. Louis-area zip codes, nine other states, and eleven other countries. » Our distinguished alumni live and work all over the world.

supports two, week-long exchanges between students and teachers at TJ and at SPLOT, one of the first independent schools founded in Po-


land after the fall of Communism.

• Started in 1946 as a 9-12 boys’ boarding and day school, to fill an educational void in the Midwest. • Founded by three Harvard graduates who served in WWII together. • Became coed in 1971. • Added middle school in 1982.



The Greek word ή άρετή (“excellence”)

As a TJ student, I...

is our motto. It’s on everything from our front door to our gym floor. It’s a daily

• am personally known by every member of the TJ community—faculty, staff, and students.

reminder that we’re all here to give and

• have friends across all grade levels.

become our best.

• have ready access to teachers for help and advice. • have countless opportunities to be a leader or participate in a variety of activity. • never “disappear,” either in class or out.

THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE ACADEMIC BACKGROUND A Classical Education TJ students are steeped in the liberal arts and all of the critical college-prep areas. » Every year: English, math, science, history, language, art » Languages: All students are required to take three languages at TJ – Latin, Ancient Greek, and either French or Italian. Students learn the mechanics of languages through careful study of grammar in classical languages. » AP courses: By graduation, a typical student will have taken two AP English courses, two AP social sciences, at least one

THIS IS A FACT: Our classes are short, seminar-style sessions that center on discussion, debate, and problem solving — not lectures.

AP math, and at least two AP sciences.

TOOLS Technology at TJ can be a pencil, a laptop, a whiteboard, or a SmartBoard—the teachers utilize whatever tools best enhance instruction and support our learning. •

Technology is used to enhance instruction.

During class, we tend not to use our computers or other devices unless it’s for research or some other academic purpose.

As a G Suite for Education school, TJ can remain true to its liberal-arts core while implementing a 21st-century approach to learning. Google’s system provides products such as Gmail, Docs, and Calendar that enable our community to communicate, share, and collaborate.

The most important part of the TJ experience is the direct engagement we have with our teachers and with each other.

ADVISORS Every student has a faculty advisor, who is like our TJ parent.

THIS IS A FACT: TJ’s median SAT and ACT scores place us among

every Thursday afternoon. •

the top boarding and day schools not only in Missouri but also in the US.

Advisory groups (usually 8 students, from various grades) meet We touch base informally with meetings throughout the week, to check in on how we’re doing, both in our classes and generally.

Advisors keep in close touch with our parents.

THE TJ WAY Our schedule has us practicing college life before we actually get there. The school’s distinctive daily schedule of morning classes gives us the freedom to plan much of our own time for study and activities in the afternoon and encourages the development of mature time-management skills. The student/ teacher ratio of 7:1 ensures that we benefit from a maximum of individual attention. Teachers are available in the afternoon for individual help or group work.

THIS IS A FACT: TJ offers motivated students: • The challenge of a classical curriculum. • The freedom necessary to develop a sense of responsibility for our own learning. • The support of a diverse community that shares and respects our interest in learning.

DAILY SCHEDULE 7:45-8:05 a.m.

Breakfast for boarding students

8:15 a.m.

Day students arrive.

8:30 a.m.-1:10 p.m.

Our academic morning is divided into eight 35-minute class periods, including lunch. ● Students in grades 7-10 take six classes; those in grades 11 and 12 take five. The core academic classes meet every day. (Fine-arts classes meet in the afternoon twice per week.) ● 7th-grade students have an additional prep period at the start of the school day to help them organize their day. ● Generally, we never have more than two 35-minute classes in a row without a free period (time to relax, take a break, finish homework, review for an upcoming class, touch base with a teacher, etc).

1:15-3:30 p.m.

This part of the day involves a combination of supervised or independent study (depending on a student’s grade level), labs, and extra-curricular activities. ● Younger students have more structure, usually involving study hall from 2:00-3:30 p.m. ● Our teachers are available in the afternoon for individual help or group work. ● Labs for AP science and modern language courses meet once a week. ● On Wednesday and Friday afternoons, fine-arts classes meet for an hour.

3:30-5:45 p.m.

All students participate in TJ’s athletic program. ● Team sports practice for an hour four days a week. ● Non-competitive sports meet for 45 minutes three days a week. ● Club meetings tend to happen during this part of the day, but meeting times depend on the students involved. Some clubs meet before school or on the weekends. ● Day students generally go home around 5:00, unless team practices or other obligations require them to stay later.

6:00 p.m.

Dinner for boarding students

7:00-9:45 p.m.:

Evening study hall, with snack break for boarding students from 8:15-8:30 p.m. In-room times: 9:00 p.m. for grades 7-8; 10:00 p.m. for grades 9-10; 10:15 p.m. for grades 11-12

FINE ARTS » 7th and 8th grade students take one semester of visual arts and one of performing arts. » 9th-12th grade students choose from courses in the visual, digital, or performing arts for their year-long fine-arts class. We can continue to go more deeply into one area or elect to try another.

ATHLETICS WE ARE TITANS! One way or another, everyone plays. We’re encouraged (but not pressured) to give team sports a try at some point in our TJ career. But at TJ, we get to choose. We can: » join a team sport or enroll in a non-competitive afternoon athletic activity. » pursue something on the outside if it’s not available at TJ—our flexible afternoon schedule makes it possible

Fine Arts classes:

to maintain such a commitment. (We’ve had students

Digital Production Arts, Painting and Drawing (at four different

involved in gymnastics, crew, swimming, baseball,

levels), Photography and Digital Media, Ceramics, Scenic Design

fencing, ballet, and karate).

and Theatre Tech, Drama, Tap Dance, Yearbook, Visual Art

Athletic options: Team sports: Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball Intramural Sports: Fitness, Tennis, Yoga, Weightlifting, Running

THIS IS A FACT: TJ belongs to the twelve-team Metro Athletic Conference (MAC). This affiliation lets us engage in competition with other small schools, in multiple sports. We’re also an affiliate member of the Missouri High School Activities Association (MSHAA).

THIS IS A FACT: TJ’s Boarding Council organizes a group called TJ’s Food Pirates, who meet and have lunch or dinner at different St. Louis area restaurants each month.




Living and learning at TJ is more like being in a liberal-arts college than in a typical high school. This sets us apart from other college-prep schools.

Students, faculty, and staff eat together daily in the dining hall.

The TJ Boarding Council and Student Activities Committee are constantly organizing activities to enhance campus life.

» TJ’s beautiful 20-acre campus contains seven student houses, with Resident Assistants living in each building. » Day students share space in the dorms with boarding students. » Our Director of Residential Life also lives on campus. » Campus facilities include a gym, work-out facility, dance room, art studio, tennis courts, pavilion, and student health center.

» Our chef prepares healthy and fresh meals to fulfill a range of dietary needs. » Lunch is served for day and boarding students; boarding students also have breakfast and dinner. » Coffee Therapy, a student-run business, sells gourmet coffee and hot chocolate to students and faculty. » Cookie Break is a long-standing tradition, perhaps because teenagers never stop eating! Snacks are put out daily at 10:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

» Outings to Six Flags; various music, food, film, or cultural events; sporting events, ice skating, etc. » Day students are always welcome to join in all weekend activities. » Every student has season tickets to the St. Louis Repertory Theatre; the entire school attends the performances on six Friday nights throughout the school year. We get dressed up throughout the school year, have dinner at TJ prior to the performance, catch the play, and then come back to campus afterwards for dessert.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES Another great thing about being in a small school is that you can be involved in everything! The only limitation – the need for sleep. » Student Council » Mock Trial

»» Pandora, the art and literature magazine

» Music Club

» Chess Club

» Choir

» Math Tutors

» Equality Club

» Spirit Club

» Green Club

» Coffee Therapy,

» Robotics Team » Boarding Council

a student-run business

»» The Declaration, our

» Live-Action Role-

school newspaper

Playing (LARP)


THIS IS A FACT: If you have a passion for something and there’s no club for it, start one!

Why We’re Here:

Chicago, Cornell College, Emory, Florida

develop a list of choices and giving us

College Preperation

Southern, Georgetown, Haverford,

feedback on our essays and supplements.

Hendrix, Knox, Rhodes, SLU, UC Berkeley,

When we say we’re a college-prep school, we mean it. •


to four-year colleges, and a large number or professional schools. •

How We Get There

following up with colleges on our behalf.

What Happens Afterward TJ alumni work and live all over the world. •

They’re entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers,

Every student receives a great deal of

scholars, inventors, chefs, journalists,

are admitted to many different colleges and

individual attention throughout the search

librarians, scientists, engineers, educators,

universities throughout the US and abroad.

and application process.

and artists.

There’s no one college “answer.” TJ grads

TJ’s teachers and college counselors help

Beginning in ninth grade, we’re thinking

They run large financial organizations

and talking about college choices.

and not-for-profit groups, fund start-up

We’re counseled by experienced faculty

operations, research the human genome,

TJ grads have chosen American, Beloit,

members who know us and the colleges

serve on the federal bench, and oversee

Boston U., Carleton, Case Western,

very well. They guide us and our families

international trade.

each of us find the best fit for our talents and interests. •

The college counselors spend a lot of time

The list is long, and the possibilities are

100 percent of our graduates are accepted then continue their education in graduate

UCLA, Vanderbilt, and Washington U.

through the entire process, helping us

» TJ seeks students who love learning, who are eager for an academic challenge, and who want to be part of a welcoming and inclusive community. » TJ accepts applications from qualified students for all grades each year. » Applicants are asked to take the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) and to submit those scores directly to TJ before the application deadlines. TJ’s school code is 7660 ( » Students submit their application materials for review using the Standard Application Online. TJ’s school code is 7660 ( For specific admissions instructions and dates, please see our website at

YOU’RE INVITED! Schedule a “TJ for a Day” visit by calling 314-843-4151 or sending an email to We always encourage interested students and their families to visit campus and to observe classes—that’s the best way to see why TJ is such a great school.





TJ is ranked the



of faculty have advanced degrees, including 4 Ph.Ds and 1 J.D.


faculty members are


TJ alumni.



Student Teacher Ratio



SAT AND ACT SCORES place us among the TOP boarding and day schools not only in

MISSOURI, but also in the US.


The college-counseling program is highly individualized. Students have access to a diverse and highly successful alumni group. TJ students work alongside teachers and peers who value and enjoy learning. Students enjoy unusually close relationships with their teachers.

PARTING WORDS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL Dear Students, As an educator, I spend a lot of time thinking about the journey we’re on with you. I know we’re preparing you for something, but what is it, exactly? Yes, we’re a great college-preparatory school, so in the immediate term we’re getting you ready for that next stage of your education. But do we really know what you’ll need as you move through college and into adult life? In a complex world whose hallmark is constant disruption, that question is increasingly hard to answer. Will you be ready? Will you be able to deal with uncertainty? Tolerate ambiguity? Will you be able, as Rainer Maria Rilke expressed over one hundred years ago in Letters to a Young Poet, to “live the questions?” Learning how to live the questions, right here, right now, as you grow and learn, is what will take you to answers. Those answers won’t always be right, of course, but you’ll see that a failed answer is an automatic learning opportunity. Sometimes you’ll find an answer that you don’t like. Or you may get confused by finding more than one answer that seems right. Or there may be no answers at all. My point is this: Wherever you land, you have to be flexible, adaptable, and open to possibility. Whatever you find, you must have the knowledge and skill to confront and understand it. Elizabeth L. Holekamp, Ph.D. Head of School

Along the way, like all students, you’ll inevitably make mistakes and missteps. You’ll take wrong turns. You’ll feel at times as if you’re about to drop off the edge of the Earth. But if we’re doing our job, if we’re educating you well, you’ll recognize that it’s all right not to know exactly where you’re going. What matters is for you to know that you’ll get there. Because you’ll have the necessary tools, including the courage to deal with the fact that there may not be one right answer. Wishing you a wonderful journey,

Lisa Holekamp Dr. Holekamp

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ANY QUESTIONS? Thomas Jefferson School 4100 S. Lindbergh Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63127

Phone: 314.843.4151 Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. CT Fax: 314.843.3527

Need more information? Have additional questions? Please contact our admissions office. 314.843.4151 Ext. 2340

Founded by scholars for scholars


Private School in Missouri

Thomas Jefferson School Prospectus  
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