Discover the Largest High School in New Jersey (And Notable Alums)

Written by Kathryn Koehler
Updated: September 12, 2023
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The hallways of large high schools are a mosaic of personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. Students traverse these bustling thoroughfares with urgency, rushing to classes, and creating a vibrant vortex of youthful energy. From casual to preppy to quirky to goth, individuality is expressed through hairstyles, clothing, and accessories. These hallways are not merely transit corridors. They are the backdrop to countless friendships forged, knowledge exchanged, and memories created. At New Jersey’s largest high school, Passaic County Technical Institute‘s hallways thrum with the collective energy of 3,400 teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. Continue reading to discover more about the largest high school in New Jersey and its notable alums.

"Welcome to New Jersey" sign along southbound New Jersey State Route 444 (Garden State Parkway) entering Montvale, Bergen County, New Jersey from Chestnut Ridge, Ramapo, Rockland County, New York

Continue reading to discover more about the largest high school in New Jersey and its notable alums.

©Famartin / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

Wayne, New Jersey

Wayne, New Jersey is a suburban enclave located in Passaic County, in the Northeastern part of the state. The town combines suburban living with easy access to the cultural and economic opportunities of the greater New York City metropolitan area. Wayne provides easy access to major highways, making it a desirable place to live for those who work in nearby cities like Manhattan. In addition to major highways, Wayne is served by New Jersey Transit bus routes, making it accessible for commuters. Commuting options are important for many residents who work in the region. Wayne, New Jersey is a family-friendly town with a variety of residential neighborhoods, ranging from quiet suburban streets with single-family homes to more densely populated areas with townhouses and apartments.

The area has several parks and green spaces, including William Paterson University‘s extensive campus, which has walking trails. The Dey Mansion, circa 1780, harkens back to Colonial times, and the High Mountain Park Preserve allows for opportunities to commune with nature.

Discover the Largest High School in New Jersey: Passaic County Technical Institute at a Glance

What is the largest high school in New Jersey?Passaic County Technical Institute
Where is it located?Wayne, New Jersey
When was it established?1917, as Paterson Vocational School
What type of school is it?4-year public vocational-technical high school
How many students are enrolled?3,404
What is its team mascot?Bulldog
What are the school colors?Blue and white
What is the student/teacher ratio?12:1
What is the graduation rate?99%

Discover the Largest High School in New Jersey: PCTI

Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) is one of New Jersey’s premier vocational-technical high schools, serving students from Passaic County and the surrounding area. It is located on a sprawling 55-acre (22-hectare) campus. The PCTI campus is also home to a second high school, Diana C. Lobosco STEM Academy. The STEM Academy adds 1,000 more students to the mix. However, the two schools operate as separate entities.

PCTI provides its students with a well-rounded education, practical skills, and a strong foundation for future success. Students at PCTI may pursue higher education or enter the workforce directly. PCTI’s principal focus is on vocational education. The Academy of Biotechnology, which was introduced for the 2023-2024 school year, joins a dozen other areas of study. Other options include:


  • Academy of Criminal Justice: This area of study prepares students for careers in local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. From EMT and Corrections officer to attorney and Homeland Security Specialist, this path leads to a wide variety of career choices.
  • Academy of Finance: Students obtain firsthand knowledge working at the full-service branch of Columbia Bank which is conveniently located on campus! In this track, students can focus on banking, accounting, and even international finance!
  • Academy of Information Technology: This academy trains and prepares the IT workers of tomorrow. As you can imagine, the curriculum in this track is being updated consistently. Instructors must also keep all of their various certifications current. Areas of concentration include programmer, systems manager, and engineer.
  • Academy of Health and Medical Sciences Cutting-edge equipment, professional labs, and medical supplies define this program. From x-ray technicians and physical therapists to hygienists and ultra-sound technicians, students have 18 separate areas of study, with many leading to college.

Areas of Study

  • School of Applied Engineering: Architectural Drafting and Design/CAD and Prototype Machining and Design are the primary pathways. Students in the Prototype Machining and Design are contractors with NASA, supplying lockers to the International Space Station each year.
  • School of Automotive Technology: This area teaches to evaluate, problem solve, and repair. Students may choose between automotive repair or collision repair. The school strives to keep up with the ever-changing industry standards.
  • School of Business Careers: Marketing, Global Management, and Global Logistics are the focus of study. students in this track are also eligible to earn certifications, including Microsoft Office technician.
  • School of Communication Arts: There are three career paths in the school. Advertising Art and Design, Graphic Design and 3D Animation, and Audio Visual Production are the choices. State-of-the-art studios provide students with opportunities to be in front of and behind the camera. They also spend time in the control room of working studios.
  • School of Construction Technology: Carpentry, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and welding are the focus of this option. There is a plumbing lab with working gas and water lines, an HVAC lab with both commercial and residential units, and a modern welding facility.

More Areas of Study

  • School of Cosmetology: From Salon Owner and Fashion Show Assistant to Manicurist and Make-Up Demonstrator, the School of Cosmetology has 18 separate areas of study from which to choose. The school boasts three full-service salons providing hairstyling, manicuring, and esthetics.
  • School of Culinary Arts: There are 17 separate career pathways in Culinary Arts. From baker to caterer to line cook and banquet manager, this option has got your back. The jewel in its crown is Chez Technique, a fine-dining restaurant on campus!
  • School of Education & Human Services: Students who choose this path can become childcare workers or teaching assistants. This option also has opportunities for earning college credits and matriculating to partner colleges, such as William Patterson University.
  • School of Performing Arts: Areas of study are Dance, Instrumental Music, Theatre Studies, and Vocal Techniques. This track gives students the opportunity to perform in front of audiences large and small to hone their skills and tame their butterflies.

As the newest offering at PCTI, the Academy of Biotechnology was implemented to train workers in the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology. Biotechnology includes careers in biophysics, genetics, and forensic science.


PCTI offers the usual gamut of high school sports. Baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and tennis. The school also has some interesting choices including downhill skiing, ice hockey, and fencing. The Bulldogs, whose colors are blue and white, have not historically been considered an athletic powerhouse. However, the school is experiencing an uptick in winning seasons. In 2023 both the boys’ and girls’ swim teams brought home the gold! The boys’ baseball team were Passaic County champs in 2023. In 2021, the girls’ flag football team won the state championship. Several individual records have also been set.


Extracurricular activities abound at PCTI. Many of the options allow students to dive more deeply into their area of study, while others provide opportunities for learning new skills and making new friends. Students may choose from over 50 clubs. Chess club, Dance club, Engineering club, and PRIDE club are a small sampling.

Discover the Largest High School in New Jersey (And Notable Alums)

Whether it’s excelling in a chosen career, making significant contributions to their community, or gaining recognition for their creative endeavors, many people find their true calling and make a name for themselves in the years following high school. These achievements often reflect individual talent, dedication, and hard work. Some of PCTI’s more notable alumni include:

  • Mike Adams played the position of safety in the National Football League (NFL). A 1998 graduate of PTCI, Adams played in the NFL from 2004-2019. As of 2023, he is a special teams coach for the New Your Giants.
  • Derrick Etienneis is a professional soccer player. He attended PCTI but did not graduate from the school. While at PCTI, he led the soccer team to division titles. He left PCTI to attend a soccer academy. Through 2025, Etienneis will be playing for Atlanta United FC.
  • Elease Evans is a 1961 graduate of PCTI. She is a politician who represented New Jersey’s 35th district.
  • Gerald Hayes, a 1998 graduate, played linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers of the NFL.
  • Jim Lampley, who graduated from PCTI in 1978 was a professional basketball player. His most notable season was in 1986. That season he played for the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • We McDonald has been a contestant on The Voice and American Idol. A 2016 graduate of PCTI, We is a singer/songwriter who has been compared to Billie Eilish. She is a socially conscious performer who is working to have clean water available to people everywhere by 2030!
  • Carter Warren is an offensive tackle in the NFL. He is a 2017 graduate of PCTI. As of 2023, Warren is on the roster of the New York Jets.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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