Social Studies



The PHS Social Studies Department logo embodies the principles of citizenship education our department is founded on. The puzzle piece represents each PHS learner as they seek to balance their skills and passions with the needs of the world to become thriving contributors to their local, national and world communities.



PHS Debate Throwdown:

This annual event brings all PHS freshman and many sophomores together to debate topics of their own choosing from history and current events. Debate is deeply embedded in the Social Studies curriculum at PHS because it facilitates learners using information literacy strategies to seek relevant knowledge, developing empathy through the study of diverse points of view and constructing arguments using appropriate evidence. All these skills are critical 21st-century citizenship capacities.



Portola High School Social Studies

Vision Statement

The Portola High School Social Studies Department works to empower students to become curious, engaged and effective 21st century citizens.

Our work is driven by the following values...

  1. Students need to be inspired to dream of a more just future and their part in its creation
  2. For students to thrive, they must first have agency over their own learning journey 
  3. The classroom space should model the civic space as much as possible
  4. Students must learn how to cope with and manage the world's complexity and ambiguity
  5. Students must be able to experiment with ideas and dispositions in an nurturing intellectual space


Portola High School Social Studies

Mission Statement

Our department will serve our aforementioned values by...

  • Empowering students by creating/implementing a diverse curriculum that highlights hard history, grows sociopolitical and cultural consciousness and provides accessible avenues for civic action.
  • Providing students with access to dynamic instructional strategies, which help all learners access our curriculum.
  • Collaborating with all disciplines and programs on campus to empower our learners with the most relevant citizenship development experience we can envision.
  • Exploring the significance of individual and collective identity on personal and civic life.
  • Systematically exposing students to multiple viewpoints and teaching them how to wield diverse analytical lenses to understand the past and present deeply.
  • By creating political classrooms (not partisan classrooms) where students will engage in civil discourse that builds their capacity to advocate, compromise and create solutions.