Pascack Valley High School

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Pascack Valley High School
Pascack Valley High School is located in Bergen County, New Jersey
Pascack Valley High School
Pascack Valley High School
Pascack Valley High School is located in New Jersey
Pascack Valley High School
Pascack Valley High School
Pascack Valley High School is located in the US
Pascack Valley High School
Pascack Valley High School
200 Piermont Avenue
Hillsdale, NJ 07642
Type Public high school
Established 1955
School district Pascack Valley Regional High School District
Principal Thomas DeMaio
Asst. principals John Puccio
Debbie Squiccimarri
Faculty 93.6 FTEs[1]
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1,185 (as of 2014-15)[1]
Student to teacher ratio 12.7:1[1]
Color(s)      Kelly green and
Athletics conference Big North Conference
Team name Indians[2]

Pascack Valley High School (PVHS) is a four-year comprehensive regional public high school located in Hillsdale in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, serving students in ninth through twelfth grades as one of two secondary 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.[3] As part of its 1:1 eLearning Initiative, the school has provided a laptop to every student, teacher, and administrator for educational use.

As of the 2014-15 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,185 students and 93.6 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.7:1. There were 27 students (2.3% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 16 (1.4% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.[1]

Awards, recognition and rankings[edit]

The school was the 39th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology.[4] The school had been ranked 73rd in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 23rd in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.[5] The magazine ranked the school 25th in 2008 out of 316 schools.[6] The school was ranked 23rd in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which included 316 schools across the state.[7] 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).[8] 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 attracts top teams from across the region.[9]

1997 walkout[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Mascot controversy[edit]

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.[citation needed]

In 2015, the school district decided to change the logo to one using the initials "PV" while deferring a decision on the mascot name.[10]

2008 child pornography scandal[edit]

In 2008, four freshman students were caught with nude pictures of underage girls. These pictures were shown to have been transmitted through school laptops.[11]

2008 death of principal[edit]

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.[12] Assistant principal Thomas DeMaio took over as acting principal, and has remained in that position following Dr. Sapienza's death on March 5, 2008.[13] DeMaio was subsequently appointed principal in his own right.[14]

2015 white supremacy scandal[edit]

On May 10, 2015 an open letter from the school's Human Rights League was published on the website of the school's newspaper, The Smoke Signal.[15] The letter referenced "incidents of racism" at the school, including a swastika being drawn on a hallway wall and white supremacy hand signs being flashed at sporting events. Media in northern New Jersey and nearby New York City picked up on the report, and the Anti-Defamation League visited with the school superintendent on Thursday, May 21. School officials revealed in media reports that five students were suspended, although the school would not make it clear what, if any, involvement these students had in these incidents. To protest against white supremacy and to promote racial equality, school students put up a banner in the hallway for students who want racial tolerance and diversity to sign.

1:1 eLearning initiative[edit]

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 ran the Mac OS X Tiger OS and featured 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 dance/recreational room equipped with a ballet bar, 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.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Like most other area high schools, Pascack Valley offers a wide range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities, including:


The Pascack Valley High School Indians[2] compete in the Big North Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).[16] With 890 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2015-16 school year as North I, Group III for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 786 to 1,074 students in that grade range.[17] Prior to the NJSIAA's realignment in 2010, the school had participated in the North Bergen Interscholastic Athletic League.[18] There are 10 boys interscholastic sports activities and seven girls interscholastic sports activities.

School colors are Kelly green and white. Interscholastic sports offered by the school include:[2]

  • 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
  • Cheerleading: Varsity
  • Boys' Wrestling: Varsity
  • Boys' Ice Hockey: Varsity, JV
  • Boys' and Girls' Swimming: Varsity, JV
  • Girls' Dance: Varsity, JV
  • Boys' Bowling: Varsity, JV
  • Girls Bowling: Varsity, JV
  • Boys' Baseball: Varsity, JV, Freshman
  • Boys' Tennis: Varsity, JV
  • Girls' Softball: Varsity, JV
  • Girls' LAX: Varsity, JV
  • Boys' LAX: Varsity, JV
  • CoEd Track and Field: Varsity
  • Girls' Dance: Varsity, JV

The school participates as the host school / lead agency in a joint boys' / girls' swimming and ice hockey program with Pascack Hills High School, under an agreement that expires at the end of the 2016-17 school year; Pascack Hills is the host school for a joint gymnastics program.[19]

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. The girls' basketball team won the Group III state championship in 1981 (vs. Camden Catholic High School), 19882 (vs. North Hunterdon High School) and 1989 (vs. Mainland Regional High School), and the Group II title in 2005 and 2008 (vs. Rumson-Fair Haven High School in both years).[20] In 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.[21] Jasper was inducted by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association into its Bollinger High School Hall of Fame in 2006.[22] 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.[23] Jasper earned his 900th win in January 2013, joining Bob Hurley as the only other coach in state history to reach that mark.[24]

The football team, coached by Craig Nielsen, has made 14 NJ state playoff appearances all-time, including seven sectional final appearances, and three sectional titles (1990, 2013, and 2014):[25]

  • 1989 (Final North I, Group III)
  • 1990 (Champions North I, Group III)


  • 1999 (Quarterfinals North I, Group III)


  • 2004 8-3 (Semi-Finals North I, Group II; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
  • 2005 10-1 (Semi-Finals North I, Group II; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
  • 2006 10-2 (Final North I, Group II; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
  • 2007 8-4 (Final North I, Group II; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
  • 2008 9-2 (Semi-Finals North I, Group III; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
  • 2009 8-2 (Quarterfinals North I, Group III; NBIL Division 2 Champions)
  • 2010 5-5 (Quarterfinals North I, Group III)
  • 2011 9-2 (Semi-Finals North I, Group III; Big North Independence Division Champions)
  • 2012 11-1 (Final North I, Group IV; Big North Independence Division Champions)
  • 2013 10-2 (Champions North I, Group IV; Big North Independence Division Champions)
  • 2014 10-2 (Champions North I, Group IV)
  • 2015 8-3 (Semi-Finals North I, Group III)

The girls' soccer team won the Group II state championship in 2005 as co-champion with Haddonfield High School.[26]

The Pascack Valley Regional gymnastics team won state titles in 2008 and 2009, and was selected by the Record as Team of the Year in 2009.[27]

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 and 2014 as well.

Student government[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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 DeMaio, Principal[14]
  • John Puccio, Assistant Principal[28]
  • Debbie Squiccimarri, Assistant Principal[29]

Demographics and curriculum[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d School data for Pascack Valley High School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed December 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Pascack Valley High School, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed May 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Pascack Valley Regional High School District 2015 School Report Card District Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed May 31, 2016. "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."
  4. ^ Staff. "Top Schools Alphabetical List 2014", New Jersey Monthly, September 2, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Staff. "The Top New Jersey High Schools: Alphabetical", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2012. Accessed August 27, 2012.
  6. ^ Staff. "2010 Top High Schools", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2010. Accessed March 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008: By Rank", New Jersey Monthly, September 2008, posted August 7, 2008. Accessed August 19, 2008.
  8. ^ New Jersey High School Rankings: 11th Grade HSPA Language Arts Literacy & HSPA Math 2010–2011, Accessed February 26, 2012.
  9. ^ Doviak, Cory K. "Audio Report: Poli Tournament a fitting tribute",, december 27, 2007. Accessed November 27, 2014. "The Joe Poli Holiday Girls Basketball Tournament is stocked with talented teams and that is the way Pascack Valley head coach Jeff Jasper likes it. The tournament is named in honor of his friend and former colleague, Joe Poli, who was a principal at Pascack Valley High School before passing away in 1989 and is a celebration of his legacy."
  10. ^ Wyrich, Andrew. "In Pascack Valley High's new logo, a quest for sensitivity", The Record (Bergen County), September 2, 2015. Accessed May 31, 2016. "Pascack Valley High School will phase out its 'Indian Head' logo — a stark rendering of a Native American warrior with a painted face and a Mohawk haircut — and replace it with the initials 'PV' in a simple serif font, the district's superintendent said this week."
  11. ^ o'reilly, bill. "o'reilly on teenagers' topless photo scandal". mediamatters for america. Retrieved June 11, 2008. 
  12. ^ Mrnarevic, Karen F. "Principal in a coma", Pascack Valley Community Life, February 6, 2008. Accessed March 5, 2008. " 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."
  13. ^ Levin, Jay. "Beloved Pascack principal dies at 63: Barbara Sapienza called school 'family'", The Record (Bergen County), March 10, 2008. Accessed June 6, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Administration, Pascack Valley High School. Accessed October 3, 2014.
  15. ^
  16. ^ League & Conference Affiliations 2016-2017, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 10, 2017
  17. ^ General Public School Classifications 2015-2016, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, as of July 8, 2014. Accessed October 3, 2014.
  18. ^ League Memberships - 2009-1010, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, backed up by the Internet Archive as of July 24, 2011. Accessed October 3, 2014.
  19. ^ NJSIAA 2016 - 2018 Co-Operative Sports Programs, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 11, 2017.
  20. ^ Public Past State Champions, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 14, 2017.
  21. ^ 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."
  22. ^ 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."
  23. ^ 2010 Girls Basketball Tournament – North I, Group III, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 24, 2011.
  24. ^ Cooper, Darren. "Cooper: Pascack Valley's Jeff Jasper collects win No. 900", The Record (Bergen County), January 26, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2014. "After the Indians' 63-21 victory Saturday over Dumont in the opening round of the Bergen County girls basketball tournament, he is the first New Jersey girls coach to hit 900 wins, and the second basketball coach in the state to reach that number – St. Anthony's Bob Hurley (1,064 wins entering Saturday) is the other."
  25. ^ Goldberg, Jeff. NJSIAA Football Playoff Champions, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  26. ^ 2015 Soccer Championships Program, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, as of December 15, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2017.
  27. ^ 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."
  28. ^ John Puccio, Pascack Valley High School. Accessed October 3, 2014.
  29. ^ Debbie Squiccimarri, Pascack Valley High School. Accessed October 3, 2014.
  30. ^ "PVHS Program of Studies" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  31. ^ Sal Cenicola, New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. Accessed November 16, 2016. "Sal 'Rocky' Cenicola was born Salvatore Cenicola, III at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ.... He was a wrestling standout and champion for Pascack Valley Regional High School where he wound up wrestling for the state championships at Priceton University."
  32. ^ 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."
  33. ^ 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."
  34. ^ Duggan, Amelia; and Spelling, Ian. "Big Name, 'Small' Start: Famous people who entered the world in Bergen",, May 9, 2012. Accessed October 27, 2015. "Veteran soap actor Jeff Phillips was raised in Hillsdale and went to Pascack Valley High School and Ramapo College."
  35. ^ 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."
  36. ^ 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".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°00′30″N 74°01′43″W / 41.008285°N 74.028695°W / 41.008285; -74.028695