Social Studies Highlights and Special Programs

  • With a welcomed return to “normalcy”, the 2021-2022 school year at Passaic Valley High School began with students returning to in-class instruction fullt-ime for the first time in nearly one and a half school years. This return brought with it some new additions to the department and some exciting developments in the years to come.

    Standing and commanding their classrooms, for their own first normal year of instruction, are Mr. Stephen Smith and Mr. Michael O’Brien. Mr. Smith, himself a PV alumni, teaches World History to a large percentage of the school’s of freshman and Mr. O’Brien, across the hall, does the same with Sophomores and Juniors in United States History. Both these teachers bring the excitement and ideas of youth into every class as they take their students on the journey and excitement of understanding history from entirely new perspectives.

    Within the curriculum of the Passaic Valley Social Studies Department, aspiring and academically motivated students can find an ever expanding list of electives, honors and advanced placement courses. Seniors in Mr. Donnely’s “Holocaust, Genocide, & Modern Humanity” course will thoroughly learn the events and atrocities perpetrated against people around the glode in the 19th, 20th and now 21st century. As students learn in this full-year demanding class, they will visit inspirational locations such as the Museum of Jewish History in New York City, National Holocaustv Museum in Washington D.C., and sit in on numerous presentations and talks such as the esteemed Mr. Sol Rosenkranz of the Speakers Bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. As students learn of the compelling and tragic events of modern genocide and crimes against humanity, they can earn university credits through nearby Kean University of Union, New Jersey.

    In addition to long standing Advanced Placement courses such as Mr. Rob Block’s AP United States History and Mr. Thom Deeney’s AP Government and Politics; Mr. William Goodman’s AP Human Geography, students, and IN A VERY EXCITING WAY, now freshman, will be able to take Ms. Kathleen Menake’s AP World History course starting this coming September (2022). This rigorous course will allow not only motivated and academically successful freshmen, but also sophomores, juniors and seniors to gain an extensive understanding of world history for the past 1000 years plus! Students will be presented with core themes such as humans and the environment, the emergence of systems of governance and economics, as well as the revolutions of technology and innovation that have transformed our modern world.

    Mr. Angelo DeSalvo’s Sports in American Society class, a specialized and focused sociology-aligned course examining the role and influence sports play in modern American society, will again return to MetLife stadium this March for a behind-the-scenes look at not only the physical stadium and the city within a city operations there but meet with representatives from the New York Jets professional football team. Numerous presentations will be given to students in attendance to learn about the divergent fields of marketing, finance, accounting, management, human resources and security and how they all fold into the operations of a professional sports team. Students will leave not only with a complimentary ticket to an upcoming Jets game, but much more importantly a solid take on the “business” of pro sports in the United States.

    Complementing an already vibrant and modern social science curriculum, the social studies department at Passaic Valley will also be adding a new college prep level course titled Latin American History and Studies. Mirroring the national ,state and local demographic trend of Hispanic population growth. This course, envisioned and taught by the veteran history and social science teacher, Mr. Nelson Colon, aims to foster Passaic Valley’s mission statement of enfranchising all students into our community and giving them an understanding of their world and how they will shape it in the decades to come. This class will take a macro view of the history and role of Hispanics in not only North America, which will be a main focus of the class but also extend outwards to include multiple ethnic groups in Central, South America and beyond.

    As they have for many years, and perhaps decades, Ms. Menake’s Contemporary Issues through Videoconferencing class, an institution here at Passaic Valley, will be returning to its yearly tradition of participating in the global effort of international conferencing. With the Coronavirus also causing less disruptions to daily learning and programming, Mr. Deeney’s AP Government and Politics class will once again be welcoming Congresswoman Mikie Sherill (R-11th District) to Passaic Valley aqs she has in the past along with her predecessor Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. Through this wonderful opportunity, AP students are able to engage with their congressional representative on a variety of discussion topics that reflect current issues in national and international policy.