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Double subject classes for PV juniors add new perspectives to traditional curricula

PV juniors attend a double-period American Studies class.

Molly Heintze

PV juniors attend a double-period American Studies class.

Allison Botwinick, Staff Writer

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When the period ends, all of Pascack Valley files into the hallwayexcept for the American Studies students. For them, class is only halfway over.

Juniors at PV have the option of taking two double-subject classes: American Studies, in which they study both history and literature, and Physics and Technology, in which they learn about physics and engineering. The classes are taught over two periods.

“History influences literature,” American Studies teacher Mr. Connor Quinlan said. “When you’re reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, it’s playing directly off of the sentiments of the Great Depression. You see history reflected back from the English component of it. At the same time, you also see how the literature side influences the history.”

They keep you engaged and it doesn’t really feel like you’re in there for two periods.”

— Junior student Megan Thorn

Quinlan co-teaches this course with Mr. Brett Conrad, an English teacher.

“Getting to work with Mr. Quinlan has been incredibly rewarding,” Conrad said. “He’s incredibly knowledgeable about the subject matter. He is willing to experiment and try different ideas and we have this mutual respect where we consider what the other person needs to do to fulfill the curriculum and we go from there.”

Mr. Luciano Cofrancesco and Mr. Shawn Buchanan teach another section of American studies together.

Junior Megan Thorn is currently taking American Studies and finds the double period to be successful.

“It goes by pretty quickly,” Thorn said. “They keep you engaged and it doesn’t really feel like you’re in there for two periods. They keep it entertaining for you.”

Since the two teachers come from two subject backgrounds, they are able to contribute different views on the subject matter.

We both come with different backgrounds, different perspectives, and different experiences.”

— Mr. Connor Quinlan

“I’m a couple years older than Conrad and we both come with different backgrounds, different perspectives, and different experiences,” Quinlan said. “I’ll weigh in on the English side, he’ll weigh in on the history side and I think that that helps the kids see that even teachers have different opinions and perspectives.”

American Studies is a larger class than a traditional one-subject course, consisting of about 50 students, and is taught in the lecture hall.

The large class size opens the opportunity for discussions that are different from those held in smaller classes.

“It is what I consider, from what I’ve seen, most like a college-level course that you can get at the high school level,” Quinlan said. “I think that if college is something that people are considering as their next step, this is a course that will help them peek behind the curve and see what is in store for them for the next couple years.”

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