Pascack Valley High School
|Pascack Valley High School|
|200 Piermont Avenue
Hillsdale, NJ 07642
|Type||Public high school|
|School district||Pascack Valley Regional High School District|
|Assistant principals||John Puccio
|Faculty||72.40 (on FTE basis)|
|Enrollment||1,230 (as of 2010–11)|
|Student to teacher ratio||16.99:1|
|Athletics conference||Big North Conference|
Pascack Valley High School (PVHS) is a four-year regional public high school located in Hillsdale in Bergen County, New Jersey, one of two high schools in the Pascack Valley Regional High School District. Pascack Valley High School serves the residents of both Hillsdale and neighboring River Vale, while its counterpart Pascack Hills High School serves the communities of Woodcliff Lake and Montvale. The school is often noted for its 1:1 eLearning Initiative, in which the school provided a laptop to every student, teacher, and administrator for educational use.
As of the 2010–11 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,230 students and 72.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 16.99:1. There were 19 students (1.5% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 6 (0.5% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.
Awards, recognition and rankings
The school was the 73rd-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", after being ranked 23rd in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. The magazine ranked the school 25th in 2008 out of 316 schools. The school was ranked 23rd in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which included 316 schools across the state. Schooldigger.com ranked the school tied for 49th out of 381 public high schools statewide in its 2011 rankings (a decrease of 4 positions from the 2010 ranking) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the mathematics (91.8%) and language arts literacy (98.0%) components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). In 2013, Pascack Valley earned a place on the AP District Honor Roll along with Pascack Hills and 475 schools across the US and Canada.
School principal Dr. Joseph Poli died suddenly in 1989. Among the many memorials to Dr. Poli was the renaming of the annual holiday girls' basketball tournament in his memory. The Joe Poli Tournament still attracts top teams from across the region.
In 1997, in an act of support for the proposed school budget which was up for voter approval, up to 700 students (much of the student body) walked out of the school. In the previous three years, the budget had been voted down and if the budget had gone down again, the school would have had to dismiss about one third of its teachers, including all of the teachers who were under the age of 40. In addition to other local activist activities, such as handing out fliers encouraging people to vote up the budget, students staged a walkout and the local media were called to attend the event. Originally, the principal had planned to let students walk only to the back following an all-student meeting, but students took matters into their own hands when the leaders of the group led the walkout to the front. In the end, the budget passed.
2004 mascot controversy
The school's mascot is an Indian. In 2004, there was a major controversy at the school about the appropriateness of the mascot. The school took up the issue after researching high schools and colleges around the U.S. with similar nicknames that had decided to change their mascots. Many of these schools had received complaints from Native American groups about the stereotypes that the mascots reinforced. The student council also discussed rumors that New Jersey would be banning Native American-related mascots, and eventually it was decided that taking up the issue by choice rather than force was the right thing to do. After months of public debate and an official symposium in which students voiced opinions from both sides of the issue, a vote was held among the students and faculty and the motion to keep the Indian was affirmed, 67% voting in favor of keeping the mascot.
2008 death of principal
On January 29, 2008, the school district announced that following surgery on her knee, then-principal Dr. Barbara Sapienza had become comatose and that her recovery was uncertain. Assistant principal Tom DeMaio took over as acting principal, and has remained in that position following Dr. Sapienza's death on March 5, 2008. DeMaio was subsequently appointed principal in his own right.
1:1 eLearning initiative
In the fall of 2000, it was proposed to provide a laptop to every student and teacher for educational purposes. A wireless network environment for the school part of a referendum project. As the concept evolved, school representatives visited districts where such a program was already in place. The school's Steering Technology Committee was responsible for the logistics of the plan from 2000 forward.
For the 2004–05 school year, the school issued all its students laptops, the first public school in the state to do so. The laptops were issued by Sony and were put under a contractual lease for a period of four years, expiring in 2008. While the laptops were hailed as a success by the administration, students largely differed in their opinions.
As a response to a possible drop in academic performance due to non-academic use of the laptops during the school day, computer use was for the first time restricted for all students in the 2005–06 academic school year. Students no longer have access to student email during the school day and are limited to a restricted screen with a single window full of shortcuts to only the applications recognized as being appropriate for student in-class use.
The high school ceased use of the Sony Vaio laptops given to students and teachers during the years 05-07 in order to integrate 1.6 GHz MacBooks from Apple. for the student body and administration's use for the 2007–2008 school year. Several classes were used as "guinea pigs" with the MacBooks in order to test the students' abilities to adapt to Mac OS interface, and assess the laptops' value for use with school activities. The MacBooks run Mac OS X Tiger and feature all the standard Mac programs as well as having a digital camera built into the top of the screen. The "test runs" of the MacBooks were successful. However printer driver issues arose but were addressed during the 2007– 2008 school year.
Pascack Valley High School has a wide range of facilities and a large campus, including a track (with new surface as of Spring 2006), surrounding an artificial turf football field. The school grounds also have four tennis courts, a softball field and one baseball field. The school has two levels and is mainly arranged in a rectangular fashion.
The campus underwent major renovations in 2005 that added several wings and a total overhaul of the athletic complex and auditorium.
Like most other area high schools, Pascack Valley offers a wide range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities, including:
- Academic Decathlon
- Animal Rights Club
- Art Portfolio Club
- Audio Visual Club
- Bro Squad, the all-male a cappella group
- Chemistry Olympics
- Chess Club
- Computer Club
- Debate Team
- PVHS Theatre
- French Club
- French National Honor Society
- Gay/Straight Alliance
- Habitat for Humanity
- HOPE (Helping Other People Every Day)
- Human Rights League
- Interact Club
- Investment Club
- Italian Club
- Italian Honor Society
- Jazz Band
- JAC (Just About Caring)
- Knitting Club
- Literary Magazine
- Marching Band
- Mathematics League
- Model United Nations
- National Honor Society
- Pascack Pi-oneers, the school's US FIRST robotics team, operated together with sister school Pascack Hills High School (team 1676)
- Pascack Volunteers
- Science League
- Science National Honor Society
- S.E.A.A (Students for Environmental Advocacy and Action)
- The Smoke Signal, the school newspaper published on a quarterly basis
- Spanish Club
- Spanish National Honor Society
- Spring Musical
- This Week in Politics, a club to discuss current events
- Tri-M Music Honors Society
The Pascack Valley High School Indians now compete in the Big North Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Prior to the realignment in 2010, the school had participated in the North Bergen Interscholastic Athletic League. There are 10 boys interscholastic sports activities and seven girls interscholastic sports activities.
Football: Varsity, JV, Freshman
Boys' Soccer: Varsity, Freshman
Girls' Soccer: Varsity, Freshman
Girls' Tennis: Varsity, JV
Girls Volleyball: Varsity, JV, Freshman
CoEd Cross Country: Varsity
Cheerleading: Varsity, JV
Girls' Gymnastics: Varsity
Girls' Dance: Varsity, JV
Boys' Basketball: Varsity, Junior Varsity, Freshman
Girls' Basketball: Varsity
Boys' and Girls' Swimming: Varsity
Boys' and Girls' Bowling: Varsity
Boys' and Girls' Indoor Track: Varsity
Boys' Wrestling: Varsity
Boys' Ice Hockey: Varsity, JV
Boys' and Girls' Swimming: Varsity, JV
Girls' Dance: Varsity, JV
Boys' Baseball: Varsity, JV, Freshman
Girls' Softball: Varsity, JV
Girls' LAX: Varsity, JV
Boys' LAX: Varsity, JV
CoEd Track and Field: Varsity
Girls' Dance: Varsity, JV
The school has had considerable success in basketball and football. The girls' basketball team, led since 1972 by New Jersey's winningest girls basketball coach, Jeff Jasper, has won 30 consecutive league titles (1979 through 2008), and seven county championships to go along with multiple state titles. On March 9, 2008, the Indians won the Group II State title with a 58–52 win against Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, qualifying for the state Tournament of Champions, and giving Jasper the 800th coaching victory. Jasper was inducted by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association into its Bollinger High School Hall of Fame in 2006. The 2010 girls basketball team was NBIL champions and won the North I, Group III state sectional title, defeating top-seed Teaneck High School 51-47. Jasper achieved his 900th win on January 26, 2013.
The football team, coached by Craig Nielsen, has enjoyed recent success. The program has made 13 NJ state playoff appearances all-time, including 6 sectional final appearances, and 2 sectional titles (1990 and 2013):
- 1989 (Final North 1, Group 3)
- 1990 (CHAMPIONS North 1, Group 3)
- 1999 (Quarterfinals North 1, Group 3)
- 2004 8-3 (Semi-Finals North 1, Group 2; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
- 2005 10-1 (Semi-Finals North 1, Group 2; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
- 2006 10-2 (Final North 1, Group 2; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
- 2007 8-4 (Final North 1, Group 2; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
- 2008 9-2 (Semi-Finals North 1, Group 3; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
- 2009 8-2 (Quarterfinals North 1, Group 3; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
- 2010 5-5 (Quarterfinals North 1, Group 3)
- 2011 9-2 (Semi-Finals North 1, Group 3; Big North Independence Division Champions)
- 2012 11-1 (Final North 1, Group 4; Big North Independence Division Champions)
- 2013 10-2 (CHAMPIONS North 1, Group 4; Big North Independence Division Champions)
The Baseball team also won the 2010 Bergen County Championship.
The Pascack Valley Regional Dance Team has been the National Grand Champions for the past two years at the National Dance Alliance Championship. In 2007 they were state champions as well. The Pascack Valley Regional Dance Team was on the cover of the February 2008 issue of The Record's Sports Magazine. In 2008 they took home two first place trophies in the Large Pom & Small Team Performance categories at the NDA National Championship. They were state champions in 2008 as well.
The Pascack Valley High School Student Government Association consists of five councils. Each grade has a class council, and the PVHS Executive Council governs the entire student body. Each council consists of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and eight elected and appointed representatives. In 1996, two district students, Matt Kracinovich of Pascack Hills, and Ryan Shell of Pascack Valley, successfully lobbied the Board of Education to accept a special student representative from each school to sit on the board. In the following year, the 1997–1998 school year, Kracinovich and Shell became the first students to occupy the new positions officially known as the Non-Voting Student Members of the Board of Education.
The Executive Council recommends appropriation of funds for student activities, with the approval of the Board, for the school. It is also very deeply involved in organizing activities and events for the school. The next step down the ladder of the student government consists of the four class councils, which participate in the running and operations of the school with the Executive Council, but represent and are responsible to the electing class.
Elections to the class councils are held at the end of every year for various positions, and in the fall for the freshman class. There are two positions to which candidates must be appointed. The Executive Council, which is separate from the constituent class councils, holds elections in the spring.
Core members of the school's administration are:
- Thomas De Maio, Principal
- John Puccio, Assistant Principal
- Debbie Squiccimarri, Assistant Principal
- 99% of the senior students of the past year received a diploma.
- 96% of the seniors planned to attend college.
- As of the 2009–10 school year, four world languages are offered: Spanish, French, Chinese and Italian.
- 14 Advanced Placement (AP) classes are offered: AP Computer Science, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP European History, AP French Language, AP United States Government, AP Physics B, AP Spanish Language, AP Statistics, and AP United States History.
- Pascack Valley participates in the Honors program.
- Tyler Cowen (born 1962), economist, author, and blogger.
- Rob Delaney, (born 1984), pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization.
- Peter Enns (born 1961), Old Testament scholar.
- David Remnick (born 1958), Editor for The New Yorker, who was editor-in-chief of Smoke Signal while in high school.
- Garrett Zablocki (born 1985), former guitarist for Senses Fail.
- Heather Zurich (born 1987), former Rutgers University women's basketball player.
- Data for Pascack Valley High, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed December 10, 2012.
- Pascack Valley Regional High School District 2010 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed March 22, 2011. "The district is comprised of two high schools. Pascack Hills High School, which is located in Montvale, receives students from the towns of Montvale and Woodcliff Lake. Pascack Valley High School, located in Hillsdale, enrolls students from Hillsdale and River Vale."
- Staff. "The Top New Jersey High Schools: Alphabetical", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2012. Accessed August 27, 2012.
- Staff. "2010 Top High Schools", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2010. Accessed March 22, 2011.
- "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008: By Rank", New Jersey Monthly, September 2008, posted August 7, 2008. Accessed August 19, 2008.
- New Jersey High School Rankings: 11th Grade HSPA Language Arts Literacy & HSPA Math 2010–2011, Schooldigger.com. Accessed February 26, 2012.
- NorthJerseySports.com – Your High School Sports Address
- Mrnarevic, Karen F. "Principal in a coma", Pascack Valley Community Life, February 6, 2008. Accessed March 5, 2008. "...to a report issued on Tuesday, Jan. 29 by Superintendent Ben Tantillo, Pascack Valley Regional High School (PVRHS) Principal Barbara Sapienza is currently in a coma. She fell into the coma shortly after undergoing knee surgery on Wednesday, Jan. 23."
- Levin, Jay (March 7, 2008). "Beloved Pascack principal dies at 63". The Record. Archived from the original on March 10, 2008. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
- Administration, Pascack Valley High School. Accessed March 24, 2011.
- League Memberships – 2012–2013, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed September 27, 2012.
- Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association League Memberships – 2009–2010, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed July 30, 2012.
- Staff. "Pascack Valley 58, Rumson 52", The Star-Ledger, March 9, 2008. Accessed August 24, 2011. "Their guidance enabled Pascack Valley, No. 7 in The Star-Ledger Top 20, to withstand a late challenge from No. 16 Rumson and present Jasper with a milestone victory by virtue of a 58–52 decision yesterday in the NJSIAA/ShopRite Group 2 state final before 1,975 at the Ritacco Center in Toms River. For Jasper, the state's all-time winningest girls basketball coach, the triumph marked the 800th of his illustrious career and the timing could not have been much better."
- Hall of Fame Class of 1996, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 24, 2011. "Jeff Jasper – Girls basketball coach at Pascack Valley, 26 league championship titles; 6 Bergen County titles; 3 state titles; 695 career victories in girls basketball; 1996 Regional Coach-of-the-Year (WBCA); 2001 National HS Coach-of-the-Year – Woman’s Basketball Coaching Assoc.; 2002 National H.S. Federation Coach-of-the-Year; Bergen County’s Coach-of-the-Century; selected #3 on list of ranking all coaches in all sports of all time in North Jersey; 7 time Bergen County Girls Basketball Coach-of-the-Year."
- 2010 Girls Basketball Tournament – North I, Group III, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 24, 2011.
- Cooper, Darren. "Gymnastics Team of the Year: Pascack Valley Regional", The Record (Bergen County), December 11, 2009. Accessed July 30, 2012. "Pascack, competing for the final time as a co-op team, defended its State team gymnastics championship, becoming the first Bergen County program to win two titles. The Indians are the North Jersey Gymnastics Team of the Year."
- John Puccio, Pascack Valley High School. Accessed March 24, 2011.
- Debbie Squiccimarri, Pascack Valley High School. Accessed March 24, 2011.
- "PVHS Program of Studies". Retrieved October 13, 2008.[dead link]
- Staff. "Rock Cats' Delaney proved he belongs", The Herald (New Britain), September 2, 2008. "'I've been a Yankee fan since I was a little kid and I've been fortunate enough to watch guys like Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland' said Delaney, who attended Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, NJ."
- Dr. Peter Enns, Inspiration & Incarnation. Accessed March 22, 2011. "I was born in Passaic, NJ, (January 2, 1961) to German immigrant parents, grew up in River Vale, NJ and graduated from Pascack Valley High School (Hillsdale, NJ) in 1978."
- Ringle, Ken. "The New Yorker's Literary Lion Cub", Washington Post, August 6, 1998. Accessed May 13, 2007. "He was editor-in-chief of the twice-yearly Pascack Valley Smoke Signal in high school and that was preparation enough."
- Heather Zurich, Rutgers University Women's Basketball. Accessed December 27, 2007. "Averaged 19.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a senior at Pascack Valley High School ... Was named the 2005 Star-Ledger Player of the Year".
- Pascack Valley High School web pages
- Pascack Valley Regional School District official site
- Pascack Valley High School's 2010–11 School Report Card from the New Jersey Department of Education
- Data for the Pascack Valley Regional High School District, National Center for Education Statistics
- Pascack Valley H.S. Theatre