Community expresses opinions on mascot removal

Decision sparks controversy among students, alumni, faculty, parents

During the Board of Education’s meeting Monday night held on Zoom, over 50 community members voiced their opinions regarding the Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills Mascot and nickname. Community members were able to call-in to the meeting during comments from the public. 

Alumni, current students, parents, and faculty members urged the district to remove the Indian head as PV’s mascot. After the removal of the schools’ mascots was approved, many expressed their opinions on Twitter and Instagram. Comments from the meeting and Twitter are listed below.

“The Pascack Valley Indian mascot has been brought up in 2004 prior to my enrollment at the high school and again in 2015 when a series of petitions went around supporting and opposing the change. Both times the school made the conscious decision to stay silent, allow the ignorant racist majority to win, and keep the Indian as our mascot despite the fact that sports teams across the country have been addressing this issue and making necessary changes since the 1960s.”

— Rebecca Riley, 2019 graduate

“In the context of current cries for social justice the time for change is now. ”

— Olivia Jones, 2020 graduate

“Monolithic stereotypes the reduce all Indians to a single image and relegate them to a people of the past teaches our students that stereotyping is acceptable and shows the broader community that Pascack Valley High School does not stand up to images of injustice.”

— Leah Jerome, PV history teacher

“This is a scientific fact that demonstrates the psychological harm that Indian mascots have on native American youth.”

— Steve Myers, PV student and family resource liaison and guidance counselor

“Native American people have made it clear that they don’t want people to use Indian mascots because of the harm it is doing to their people. The images are contributing to prejudice and racism against Native Americans. This is the perfect opportunity to give the marginalized a voice and respect their wishes in changing the mascot.”

— Charleen Schwartzman, PH mathematics teacher

“It is clearly a racist caricature of real people who have had their lives and land stolen. Native Americans are just that ––– Americans, and to treat them as a mascot is downright disgraceful.”

— Sam Riley, 2016 graduate

“We have an enormous amount of pride here at Valley, and it is important that the mascot is a representative of our school’s pride and passion, without insulting or dehumanizing native people.”

— Dana Corasaniti, PV mathematics teacher

“We have learned of the danger of this mascot, we can’t continue to appropriate the native American culture that we committed genocide against. Our students have educated us. We have an opportunity to amplify all of our students so they know they are being seen and their voices are being heard.”

— Caitlyn Murphy, PV mathematics teacher

“Pascack Valley is teaching students about Native Americans, but it is teaching all the wrong lessons.”

— Jacob Ricco, 2017 graduate

“The mascot is not what makes Pascack Valley great, it actually mars what Pascack Valley stands for.”

— Ambrogio Mclean, 2015 graduate

“I ask my students to be conscious citizens as they explore human rights violations in our world today, challenging them to think about how marginalized groups need us to use our voices to help them and their rights. I would be remiss if I did not voice my support in changing the mascot.”

— Valerie Santo, PV English teacher