District approves removal of PV and PH mascots

The+removal+of+the+PV+and+PH+mascots+was+voted+on+and+approved+by+the+Board+of+Education+at+its+virtual+meeting+tonight+held+on+Zoom.+The+decision+to+establish+new+mascots+and+what+those+mascots+would+be+will+be+made+by+the+Board+following+its+retreat+Thursday.+

Ellie Kim

The removal of the PV and PH mascots was voted on and approved by the Board of Education at its virtual meeting tonight held on Zoom. The decision to establish new mascots and what those mascots would be will be made by the Board following its retreat Thursday.

Ellie Kim, Managing Editor

(Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and The Smoke Signal will provide updates once more information is made available.)

The removal of the Pascack Valley mascot as the Indians and the Pascack Hills mascot as the Cowboys was voted on and unanimously approved by the Board of Education at its virtual meeting tonight held on Zoom. The motion to remove the mascots and “at a later date replacing them with something else or deciding to not have a mascot moving forward” was proposed by Board member Arnold Scher. 

Board member Michael Fronte also proposed that a “firm deadline” be put in place for when new mascots would be chosen. However, it was decided that the deadline would be discussed by the Board at its retreat Thursday, June 25. 

I’m not opposed [to getting rid of the mascot], to be clear, but I think that we should [have] a steady and guiding hand in this,” Fronte said. 

The decision was made following two hours of comments from the public. Although the majority of comments were only regarding the PV mascot, Board member Kenneth Ralph addressed the PH mascot. 

“Not only do we promote certain ideals in this district, we promote unity amongst our district and between our schools,” Ralph said. “Perhaps once upon time, before any of us were involved, there was a perception of rivalry between the schools. We don’t foster that kind of environment anymore, so we shouldn’t have nicknames that are in contrast with each other. We should have something that unifies our district.”

Over 50 individuals, many from the PV One Spirit club, the District Equity Team, and the PH Human Rights League showed their opposition to the use of Indians as the PV mascot. 

“Monolithic stereotypes that 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, history teacher and One Spirit co-advisor said. 

Many PV faculty members, community members, and alumni also voiced their position on the school’s mascot and nickname.

“[The mascot] 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,” PV alum Sam Riley said.