PATERSON, NJ – Over the next four years, the current group of fifth-graders at School 7 will have a new classroom – the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.
As part of partnership between Paterson Public Schools and the National Park Service, that class will experience a curriculum using the Great Falls for place-based lesson plans on art, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to Park Ranger Ilyse Goldman
The program will involve all grades at School 7, but the primary focus will be the current fifth-graders who would graduate in 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, officials said.
“The National Park Service is looking forward to a second century of stewardship of America’s special places. But to be successful in the next century we have to begin teaching the values of historic and natural preservation to the next generation of park stewards,” said Darren Boch, park superintendent.
Eventually, the fifth-graders would perform a service project to enhance the visitor experience at the park, officials said.
Boch said he hoped the “adopt-a-class” initiative would become a springboard for other programs between the park service and school district.
School 7 principal JoAnn Cardillo said she “has a strong belief that the National Park Service could offer many educational and job-related opportunities for our students while instilling a sense of pride for the role that their city played in developing the nation.”
The federal government officially designated the Great Falls as a national park about 13 months ago. The 77-foot-high waterfall is the second largest by volume and width east of the Mississippi River, according to the park service.
But the park designation focuses as much on the area’s historical significance as it does the natural beauty. Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and Paterson’s founder, picked the location to harness water power to drive manufacturing and help start America’s Industrial Rvolution.