Zack Latteri Foundation continues in PV

Community and retired history teacher carry on former student’s legacy


Photo from Sharon Latteri

(From left) Will Morris, Tiana Giovatto, Lily Ochoa, Sharon Latteri, Rahul Nair, Megan Garrett, Lauren Martinez and Andrew Tateossian hold up a banner representing the Zack Latteri Foundation. The ZLF has continued in Pascack Valley after the class of 2018 has graduated.

When the class of 2018 graduated, they did not want the legacy of their friend Zack Latteri to be forgotten.

Latteri, a former Pascack Valley freshman, died from leukemia during the summer of 2015. The Zack Latteri Foundation was founded to contribute to causes close to Latteri’s heart with the main goal of “paying it forward,” a sentiment that was important to him.

“He wanted to make a difference in the world, and by bringing the community together this does so,” said Kyra Gynregrowski, a class of 2018 graduate and former ZLF Ambassador.

His close friends continued his legacy throughout the rest of their time in PV by dedicating their class cause to Fred’s Team, getting tattoos in memory of him, hosting annual boys soccer games in his honor, dedicating a garden, and wearing orange ribbons on the day of their graduation — the ribbon represents leukemia awareness.

At graduation, PV Principal Tom DeMaio presented Latteri’s posthumous diploma to his mother.

As an effort to raise money for the foundation, the PV girls basketball team hosted The Benefit Games in the new gym on Dec. 16. PV, Lakeland, Old Tappan, Chatham, Secaucus, Demarest, Cresskill, Westwood, North Highlands and High Point’s basketball teams played in the tournament.

The proceeds that were collected from the benefit games are forwarded to schools, local departments of public safety, and individuals in need.”

— PV senior Amanda McGlone

“The proceeds that were collected from the benefit games are forwarded to schools, local departments of public safety, and individuals in need,” said Amanda McGlone, a PV senior and ambassador. 

The foundation has donated equipment to both the River Vale Police Department, the River Vale Volunteer Fire Department, and the Hillsdale Volunteer Ambulance Service. The foundation have awarded scholarships at both Holdrum Middle School and PV.

Former history teacher, Ms. Karen Kosch, began helping lead the Zack Latteri Foundation.

“My role is specifically timely as I know how much the PV class of 2018 wanted to make sure Zack’s legacy continued after they graduated,” Kosch said. “I can continue the story of Zack for them with current and future students of PV.”

To reach out to the community, the foundation has “Zack Pack” care packages to donate to sick kids. Over 100 Zack Packs were delivered to pediatric patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hackensack University Medical Center.

“This was Zack’s idea, now being carried out by others,” Kosch said.  

This was Zack’s idea, now being carried out by others. ”

— former history teacher Ms. Karen Kosch

Gynegrowski, said that Latteri “looked after his friends at school” and the foundation is a way to keep his legacy. She was friends with Latteri since fifth grade.

“He was the most positive person I have ever met,” Gynegrowski said. “He was always there for everyone making sure their day was okay by checking up on them and putting a smile on their faces regardless of the situation.”

A former ZLF ambassador and graduate of PV’s class of 2018, Erin Flanagan, said that she “wanted to keep Zack’s spirit alive, and the foundation does that.”

“Zack was and always will be connected to the PV family,” Kosch said. “The Foundation means a lot to me personally because it keeps me connected to all of the wonderful people in the PV community.”