Social Justice Pathway Updates


PRACTICING POETS A Social Justice Pathway English 10-A class works on a poetry assignment. The students choose a social justice issue they are passionate about, write a poem from that perspective, then present the poems to the class. “It [Poetry slam] has the same tenants of revision [as the English classes not in the pathway] and rewriting and critiquing each other and working together and then going deeper into a topic instead of just writing different types of poems” teacher Lizzie DeKraai says. Photo by Gwyneth Wong

By: Gwyneth Wong and Jacquelyn Lai

In the fifth year of the Social Justice Pathway, the project based english and social studies program at Palo Alto High School hopes to encourage more intergrade relations and teamwork. This refinement of the Social Justice Pathway, along with the various projects, field trips and guest speakers will work to create an enhanced experience for students in the unique program.

Major Projects:

10th grade: 

Fall: C-SPAN project in English 10‑A. This year the prompt is “What’s Your Vision in 2020?” Students will create a short documentary on a topic they most want presidential candidates to address in their campaigns, prompting critical thinking about issues within communities. 

Spring: Junk Couture Project in U.S History. Students will read books from a country and its colonial history and then will showcase their learning by creating an outfit for a fashion show.

11th grade: 

Fall: Symposium project. “Students will work on social justice issues that they’re interested in and they’ll have a lot of ability to design what they do, but in the past what they’ve done is exhibits and they’ve had speakers,” World History teacher Caitlin Evans says.

Spring: Fort Laramie Project in History. Students will create an exhibition of posters for the Fort Laramie Treaty.

12th grade:  

Fall: Urban Plan project in Economy. Teacher Eric Bloom says, “The seniors will do a redevelopment of a pretend community where they’ll sort of remove some blight and think about how to design a new development inside a community.”

FUTURE CITY. Seniors Jay Renaker and Sofia Morin work on their urban plan project. “This is a very through very extensive project, it’s going to take us three weeks so the end project should be pretty cool,” says Jay Renaker.

Spring: Although the exact projects are yet to be decided, they will revolve around culture, socialization and deviance.

Field Trips:

Students in Social Justice go on the annual overnight camping trip at Little Basin. This is a chance for inter-cohort bonding within different grades. 


9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco



San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


To be determined at a later date

Guest Speakers: 

All three cohorts of social justice will be attending these presentations and all PALY students can attend.

Oct. 15: Holocaust survivor Ben Stern will speak about maintaining compassion and empathy in dark moments.

Nov. 6: Curt Kinsky on mechanisms to redistribute income and influence individual and group behavior, Enoch Choi on healthcare for the homeless, Loree Draud will talk about gender equality in the military.