Social Studies Highlights and Special Programs

  • On May 18, 2016, twenty seniors in Mr. Donnelly's "Holocaust, Genocide, & Modern Humanity" elective course visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.  After getting a guided tour of the museum, the Passaic Valley students then met privately with Holocaust survivor Sol Rosenkranz.  Mr. Rosenkranz was born in Krosniewice, Poland.  While living in the local ghetto, he managed to convince five gentile families in his city to each hide one of his family members.  While Mr. Rosenkranz and his brother were working in a labor camp, he learned that the rest of his family was being transported to a death camp.  Eventually, he and his brother were transported to different concentration camps.  He found his cousin while in Buchenwald and, after being transported to several camps (Mr. Rosenkranz was in six camps - two each in Poland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia), they were eventually liberated in Terezin.  Only one of his brothers survived the camps.  Today, Mr. Rosenkranz is a Gallery Educator and participates in the Speakers Bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

    Passaic Valley High School’s American Law Mock Trial Team, under the direction of Mrs. Patricia Murray, competed in the New Jersey State Bar Foundation's Vincent J. Apruzzese High School Mock Trial Competition held at the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson.  This year’s case tackled a very difficult criminal case in which four teenage intruders broke into a beach house leaving one of the teenagers dead at the hands of the homeowner – was it murder, manslaughter, or self-defense?

    The Passaic Valley team included Maxwell Kohutich and Rafael Santana as the Prosecution Attorneys, Joseph Savittieri and Taina Vasquez as the Detectives, and Brianna  Thompson-Singh as one of the teenagers. Taylor Puluse and Marissa Lambert were the Defense Attorneys , Ali Aljarrah was the defendant, and Samantha Bugliaro and Nicholas Quintero were witnesses for the defense.

    The students prepared for several months for the competition, and were assisted by lawyers brought in by Mrs. Murray to work closely with the team.

    The opening round took place on January 19 and the PV team advanced to the semifinal round after defeating the teams from Manchester and Hawthorne Christian Academy.

    Ms. Kathleen Menake took her Contemporary Issues through Videoconferencing classes to Chelsea Piers in New York City on Wednesday, November 4.  The Fieldhouse at Chelsea Piers provides a Team Building session designed to help schools by delivering a custom-designed program that focuses on developing leadership skills and achieving team building goals.  The students participated in physical, intellectual and creative challenges, including an obstacle course, which utilize trust and communications exercises to encourage students to bond and build camaraderie.

    On Wednesday, November 11, approximately 80 students, accompanied by Mr. Nelson Colon and Mr. Jeff Francisco, attended the annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Wilmore Park in Little Falls and observed the over 1,400 personalized American flags (one for each fallen NJ soldier of the Vietnam War) in a special Memory Flag Display established for Veterans Day.

    On Monday, November 16, students from Mr. Block’s Advanced Placement United States History class took a field trip to Philadelphia, PA, to visit the Independence National Historic Park.  Students visited the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall (where both The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were written and signed), the Liberty Bell Center, Congress Hall (where the U.S. Congress met from 1790-1800), and Old City Hall (where the U.S. Supreme Court met from 1791-1800).  The students also took part in a walking tour of the historic area of Philadelphia.

    Seniors in Mr. Donnelly's Holocaust, Genocide, and Modern Humanity elective course visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 11, 2016.  After viewing the museum's Permanent Exhibition, the P.V. students met with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Margit Meissner.  Margit was born in Austria and grew-up speaking Czech, French, English, and German.  With antisemitism on the rise, she and her mother moved to Paris.  After the Nazi invasion of France, Margit's mother was sent to a detention camp near the Spanish border.  Margit found her mother and they snuck out of occupied-France to Spain and Portugal, eventually settling in New York with Margit's brother, Felix.

    The students in Mr. Block’s Advanced Placement U.S. History class took their second field trip of the school year as they journeyed to Hyde Park, N.Y., on Monday, March 21, to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.  The students got the opportunity to work with actual documents from the Roosevelt presidency while visiting the on-site Education Center, and toured both the presidential museum as well as F.D.R.’s home in Hyde Park.

    Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th District) visited Passaic Valley High School on Thursday, January 28, to meet with students from Mr. Deeney’s Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics classes.  Mr. Frelinghuysen engaged the students in a lively discussion on a variety of topics, including the primary elections, the Syrian refugee crisis, and a variety of foreign and domestic policy issues.  Mr. Frelinghuysen answered questions with candor and expertise that was appreciated by the students and offered unique insight to the workings of the U.S. Congress and the federal government.

    On Wednesday, March 23, Ms. Menake's World History Honors students attended a docent-led tour of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library (more widely known as the Main Branch of the N.Y.P.L. located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street).  The students then attended a performance of “An American in Paris” at the Palace Theater.  This musical has won 4 Tony Awards and is based upon the 1951 movie of the same name.