Panthers mascot makes debut in cafeteria

Sophomores Sophia Loeser and Jillian Suarez completed a mural in the Pascack Valley cafeteria that showcases the new Panthers mascot.


Students work to finish the final touches of the Panthers mural in the picture above.

Maya Schlessinger, Staff Editor

The new panther mural in the cafeteria was completed Tuesday, March 22, by sophomores Sophia Loeser and Jillian Suarez. 

“[Principal John] Puccio had asked me what I thought about doing the mural [in the cafeteria] as a way of promoting our new mascot and logo,” Pascack Valley art teacher Stephanie DiGiacopo said.

According to Puccio, there was no better way to start introducing the new mascot than through the students.

“PV is all about our students, so that’s why I spoke with DiGiacopo, and she asked some students that would be interested,” Puccio said. “I thought the first mural of our new panther logo should be done by our students.” 

DiGiacopo selected the two artists to complete the project because of their art experience and work ethic.

“Sophia and Jillian are just incredible students,” DiGiacopo said. “I have Sophia and Jillian in my Honors Studio Art II class. They’re both incredibly talented, driven [and] generous with their time. When I asked them about it, they were very excited and took ownership of [the project].”

Suarez was happy to take the job to leave a legacy at PV.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to make our mark on the school. This is also the first mural that has ever been painted with the new logo,” Suarez said. “I think that it’s a really nice way to remember what we did in high school.” 

Loeser and Suarez worked on the mural together every day during their art classes for four weeks, along with many days before and after school. Sophomore Irene Antonopoulos helped them during her Pascack Period.

“Our teacher gave us a projector and we were able to project [the logo] on the wall. Then, we outlined everything in pencil and just started painting within the pencil lines,” Suarez said.   

The cafeteria was chosen for various reasons. In the past, the Indian head was displayed in this location and was a focal point of the room. 

“I walked around the school a little bit with Puccio and we looked at possible locations,” DiGiacopo said. “We chose the cafeteria because it’s so centrally located and there were some big open spaces that were just crying out for some artwork.” 

Puccio believes that the mural is only going to help with school spirit and pride. He thinks students will be supportive of their talented peers. 

Increased school spirit is not the only important outcome of the mural. The coloring of the mural is also a key part of the mascot transition process. Puccio has been working to find a “Pascack Valley” green.

“When we do new murals or [sports] uniforms, we want to use a consistent green because if you look around, we’ve had a lot of different color greens,” Puccio said. “That’s one of our goals and we’re going to do our best to stay with that. We are looking at the big picture and making this more systematic.”

This is not Suarez and Loeser’s first time painting a mural. They have experience through painting their class council mural and projects throughout middle school.

Some people might go to a gallery to look at paintings. Other artworks that are placed out in a public square [reach] people who don’t typically look at artwork because it’s in their space,” DiGiacopo said. 

The untraditional canvas brought on new challenges.

“The canvas is obviously a lot larger, and there’s a lot more texture on the wall. It can be trickier to be able to get the lines smooth,” Suarez.

This mural may not be the last to mark PV’s walls this school year. Puccio has a possible spot selected and hopes the artists can fit the project into their schedule.

“I’m looking forward to a great spring and keep your eye out for potentially another mural coming up before the end of the year,” Puccio said.