PV Alumni Turned Teachers Reflect on Their Time at Passaic Valley
Nicholas Busciglio '21 & Chelsea Nakhleh '21
18 December 2020
This is a first in a series of articles celebrating Passaic Valley's eighty-year anniversary. Stay tuned to The Valley Echo and PV's social media platforms for more articles and information about the school's history.
With a wide network of alumni, many beloved teachers have been a Hornet since high school. Over thirty-five Passaic Valley staff members are former graduates of the school, making up a crucial part of the teaching staff, administration, guidance office, child study team, administrative assistants, and custodial staff. The Valley Echo spoke with some of the PV alumni currently working at the school to discuss what Hornet Pride means to them and the changes Passaic Valley has undergone throughout the years.
Chelsea Nakhleh, Valley Echo Reporter:
What was the journey that took you from graduation to here, did you ever picture yourself coming back to PV and teaching?
Mrs. Jamie Picarelli, English Teacher:
Not at first, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, that's what I went to school for, I didn't think I would directly go to PV, it just kind of happened.
How has PV evolved from the time that you graduated?
Mr. Nicholas Andriani, Health and Physical Education Teacher:
Technology has been the biggest thing, I didn't have a school email when I went to PV. There was no Google Classroom or Parent Portal at the time. The students are more independent and responsible than from when I was in high school.
Mr. William Phillian, Science Teacher:
The student body at PV is much more multicultural now. It is also much smaller. There were over 500 students in my graduating class.
Nicholas Busciglio, Valley Echo reporter:
How has PV remained the same?
Mrs. Diana Pasquariello, Guidance Counselor:
Things change, but since we're so unique, being our own district, the people and the culture inside the PV community stays the same…We're so familiar with each other, the people and the love of the school within the community stays the same.
What did Hornet Pride mean to you as a student versus as a teacher?
Mrs. Kathleen Dellanno, English Teacher:
As a student, everyone was so proud to walk around and say they were a Hornet, and now as a teacher I can instill that pride in my students.
Mr. William Phillian:
Back then, Hornet Pride meant upholding high standards of personal conduct, academic excellence, and a winning tradition in athletics. It means the same to me now.
Ms. Lynn Lions, World Language Teacher:
I don't know if I feel a difference. I know as a student I was proud to be a Hornet. As a teacher and alumni it's amazing. I feel proud to have graduated from here, and now I am able to share that pride with my students.
Mr. Michael DeLuccia, Music Teacher:
For me, it's the same thing. Hornet Pride is pride in the tradition of the school, pride in the Green and White, trying to be the best student, best teacher or best district we can possibly be.
Mr. Joseph Benvenuti, Supervisor of Athletics, Health/PE, and Activities:
My father and grandparents went here, and now my wife works here too. Now, as a teacher I am able to teach what Hornet Pride means to students.
Mr. Stephen Smith, Social Studies Teacher:
It never really changes… Going to the school and then becoming a teacher here, you push for it a little more just so that the community knows that you're trying to help out and do what you can.
Mrs. Jamie Picarelli:
As a student, it was a way to connect with my friends by going to football games, baseball games, wrestling matches. Yes, we were supporting our school, but I also saw it as a way to hang out with my friends. Now as a teacher, it's a sense of community, it's an enthusiasm for giving students a way to express themselves.
Ms. Erin Wilks, LDTC - Case Manager:
Hornet Pride doesn’t change. I am very proud of being a Hornet and will always bleed green and white.
Mr. Cornelius Van Ess, English and Journalism Teacher:
As a student, I took it for granted. I was the kid who thought it was cool not to care. I see that same attitude in my classes sometimes. So, every year I make sure to emphasize the things the PV did for me that I didn't acknowledge until much later when I matured. Hornet Pride means to me being a better person [because of] this school.
What is the significance of Passaic Valley turning 80? What does it mean to you as an alumnus?
Mrs. Kathleen Dellanno:
My uncle was in the first class at PV and then my dad graduated in 1940. To see how it's come full circle with me and my children graduating from here, it's so nostalgic.
Mr. Cornelius Van Ess:
It's crazy to think it's been 80 years. My dad graduated from PV also. To think how I graduated too and am now teaching here is surreal. My father likes to tell this joke that he's completely dumbfounded by the fact that his son is teaching a subject he barely passed at PV. To actually hear the school is 80 years old is amazing and shows how PV has been there for many people over the many years.
Ms. Erin Wilks:
I am really proud to be an alumnus. PV is a special place for my family. My parents both graduated from PV and were high school sweethearts. My siblings and I were proud to attend the same school that they went to. I am also excited for my daughters to attend PV down the road.