BOE approves Panthers as new mascot


Allison Varghese

The Board of Education held an in-person meeting on Monday night at Pascack Valley and virtually over Zoom. During the meeting, the BOE approved the Panthers as PV’s new mascot, as well as the Broncos as Pascack Hills’ new mascot.

The Panthers are here to stay.

In a 5-4 vote, the Board of Education approved the Panthers as Pascack Valley’s new mascot during its meeting Monday night held in PV’s cafeteria and virtually on Zoom. Broncos is also set to become Pascack Hills’ new mascot.  

“I’d be so proud to be graduating this year as the first class to graduate with a new inclusive mascot [which] better portrays the values of [our school than] the Indian mascot,” senior Kiera Foster said.

PV Mascot Selection Committee member Vasili Karalewich said during the Mascot Committee Voting Presentation that “the students now on the committee were never heard during this process.” He also said that the tasks given to the committee “were not representative” of the student body’s views of what the mascot should be. 

“I wish the other 1000 plus kids in the school were incorporated into this process,” Karalewich said. “Even though I feel like we represented the committee very well, we did not represent the school well. [The committee was] given a task to present these choices and give the students two days to decide the fate of the mascot which will last for decades.”

While the floor was open to public comments, many community members expressed their opposition to the mascot selection process and to a new mascot overall. River Vale resident Tina O’Brien said she did not feel the selection process was “inclusive at all.”

“I personally do not feel as though this process has been inclusive at all to the students or, for that matter, the families, but more so the students,” O’Brien said. “Why weren’t [the students] given the opportunity last year [or] last spring to say yes or no they want their school mascot to change?”

Montvale resident Carolee Adams said that the board “did not act in the right way” regarding the mascot changes. 

“Perhaps simply using Hills and Valley will help us to rebuild this house on a rock again—having learned the lesson to do things the right way together, from this day forward with respect for our students, for our parents, and taxpayers and all of those who are listening tonight,” Adams said

Hillsdale resident Anthony Oliva asked the board why the mascot selection process was not “transparent.” In response to Oliva’s question, Gundersen reiterated that in a BOE meeting on Oct. 26, the district outlined the mascot selection process. 

“I will state that this process has been transparent,” Gundersen said. “In fact,we had a public board meeting on October 26 where athletic directors outlined the process for the selection of these mascots to conform with what was discussed with regards to the board goals of establishing options for mascots.” 

Other community members,, such as River Vale resident Shirell Gross, said that they believed the mascot selection process was inclusive. 

“Just because there can be other ways of doing something doesn’t mean that the way that it was done was not fair and that it was not inclusive,” Gross said. “If that was the case, no one will ever get anything done ever in the universe.”

Assistant Superintendent Barry Bachenheimer, PV Principal Glenn deMarrais, and PH Principal Tim Wieland gave a Hybrid Learning Mid-Year Update. DeMarrais said that sports and clubs have “flourished” despite the pandemic and recognized clubs such as Camp Rasberry, the Politics Club, and PV Theatre for their efforts in continuing their activities during the pandemic. 

We have things that are feeling a little bit normal, and each day we’re trying to get a little bit better,” deMarrais said.

DeMarrais praised both PV and PH nurses, calling them “the most important people in the district.” 

“[The nurses] have been going way beyond what [they] are being asked to do, so that our kids can be at school as often as possible. So we truly appreciate all of [their] efforts and all creativity that [is] used to help our kids,” BOE President Tammy Molinelli said.

Wieland stressed the importance of celebrating the senior class, saying that in planning, the district created backup plans to ensure that senior activities will occur. Wieland said that the district plans to hold a senior graduation, prom, and “hopefully” a class trip.

“All of those things are scheduled or planned. We have backup plans if for some reason we can’t go forth with the plans that we want,” Weiland said. 

Bachenheimer said that starting March 24, the district will give students the opportunity to take the SATs in school, and “50% of our juniors are taking advantage of this opportunity.” The district will also offer in-person ACTs on March 24. Bachenheimer also said that the Federal Department of Education is still mandating the NJSLA test to be taken in the spring. 

“We will certainly do whatever the state tells us we have to do in terms of [NJSLA] testing, and we will be prepared to break out of whether it’s an online and in-person or a hybrid experience,” Bachenheimer said.

The BOE approved PV students, teachers, and chaperones to travel to France for cultural exploration and immersion from April 14-23, 2022. A trip to Italy was also approved by the board and is scheduled for May 26-June 4, 2022. 

A donation of $1,500 made by Nu Products Seasoning Company to PV’s Robotics Club was also accepted by the BOE. The donation was made on Feb. 23, 2021. 

“[Nu Products Seasoning Company] have been a long-standing contributor to the robotics program, so I know that the Pascack Pioneers very much value Nu Products,” Gundersen said. 

The BOE accepted the resignation of Steven Myers, Student Family Resource Liaison for PV, effective June 30, 2021. Kelly Dunnigan was also approved to become a leave replacement general secretary at PV for Jamie Taylor from April 20-June 30, 2021, and from July 1-Aug. 27, 2021.